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Sermon Central Staff
IS THERE HOPE FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF EVANGELICALS?
Russell Moore recounts a conversation with the evangelical theologian Carl Henry. As Moore and some of his friends were lamenting the miserable shape of the church, they asked Dr. Henry if he saw any hope in the coming generation of evangelicals. Dr. Henry replied: "Of course, there is hope for the next generation of evangelicals. But the leaders of the next generation might not be coming from the current evangelical establishment. They are probably still pagans. Who knew that Saul of Tarsus was to be the great apostle to the Gentiles? Who knew that God would raise up a C. S. Lewis or a Charles Colson? They were unbelievers who, once saved by the grace of God, were mighty warriors for the faith."
Russell Moore added: "The next Jonathan Edwards might be the man driving in front of you with the Darwin Fish bumper decal. The next Charles Wesley might be a misogynist, profane hip-hop artist right now. The next Billy Graham might be passed out drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon might be making posters for a Gay Pride March right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now."
(From a sermon by David Ward, Gospel Without Walls, 8/15/2012)
TONY EVANS ON GETTING UN-STUCK
Tony Evans, a popular black preacher from down in Texas, spoke of being on an elevator in a high-rise building. He said he’d never been particularly comfortable on such elevators. There was something about riding up and down in a little box several hundred feet off the ground that has never sat well with him. He worried that something would go wrong.
One day it did. The car he was riding in got stuck in between floors way up in the higher floors. He noted that some of the people in the car became frantic. They began to beat on the door hoping to get someone’s attention. Others began to yell in the hopes that their voices would get someone on the surrounding floors to come to the aid. But nobody heard their noise or their cries.
Then Evans quietly made his way to the front of the car, opened a little door in the wall and pulled out a telephone. Immediately he was connected with someone on the outside. He didn’t need to beat on the wall to get their attention. He didn’t need to speak loudly in the phone to receive their help. He could have whispered and they would have heard him.
Evans said that - in this world, we’re going to get "stuck" in places we aren’t comfortable with. Some people begin to beat against the walls, others cry out in dismay. But the person who trusts in the power of confident prayer knows there’s someone on the other end who hears their call and comes to their aid.
Hebrews 10:19ff tells us that we now can have "boldness" (KJV) to enter into very presence of God because of the blood of Jesus. We can think this way only because Jesus has opened the way for us to approach God’s throne and earnestly ask whatever we desire according to His Will.
"Leslie Weatherhead tells of a little boy who was admitted to an orphanage after his parents were killed. One of the first items on the agenda was to find him a new set of clothes. He was given a new pair of pants, a new shirt, and a pair of shoes that shinned as he saw his face in its glow.
Lastly, he was offered a new hat. But he refused to take it. He hung on to his worse- for the-wear—hat. Finally the Sister was able to coax him into trying on the new cap. He tried it on, liked it, but then did something very funny. He reached inside his old cap and tore the lining out and placed it in his pocket.
Noticing the Sister had a puzzled look on her face, he said said, "The lining is a part of my mother’s dress; it’s all I’ve got left of her and somehow it seems to bring her back."
In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, neurologist Oliver Sacks tells about Virgil, a man who had been blind from early childhood. When he was 50, Virgil underwent surgery and was given the gift of sight. But as he and Dr. Sacks found out, having the physical capacity for sight is not the same as seeing.
Virgil’s first experiences with sight were confusing. He was able to make out colors and movements, but arranging them into a coherent picture was more difficult. Over time he learned to identify various objects, but his habits--his behaviors--were still those of a blind man. Dr. Sacks asserts, "One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person....
The latest statistics clearly show that Christians in America are not doing a good job of resisting the devil. In fact, it appears that we are embracing the devil, or discounting that the devil even exists. The truly sad fact as we will see is that Christians in America think and behave no differently from anyone else. Here are some examples taken from a 1997 OmniPoll survey:
Donated any money to a non-profit organization in the past month:
47% Christians 48% Non-Christians
Have been divorced:
27% Christians 23% Non-Christians
Volunteered time to help at a non-profit organization in past week:
29% Christians 27% Non-Christians
Bought a lottery ticket in the past week:
23% Christians 27% Non-Christians
Gave money to a homeless person or poor person in the past year:
24% Christians 34% Non-Christians
One man was always worrying. He worried about his children, his job, his wife, his health. One day a friend of this man noted that he was extremely calm and peaceful. "Why are you so calm?, he asked. "You always worry about every-thing. What happened?" The former worrier replied, "I just hired a man to do the worrying for me." "Well, how much are you paying him?" His friend inquired. "A thousand dollars a week," the man replied. "A thousand a week? You can’t afford a thousand dollars a week." The worrier responded, "That’s his problem!"
I remember well when the Holy Spirit helped me come to a conviction that I was a sinner and needed a Savior. I was a young adult of 20, married, and the father of one child at the time. I had been running with the boys and come to the place of desiring a divorce from my wife. Also, I was doing drugs, dealing drugs, and had an unhealthy fear of dying. I decided to go to a “fortune teller” along with one of my friends to find out more about my fate. It was there in Buena Vista, Georgia that the Holy Spirit continued the process of convicting me that the Help I needed was God.
This evil fortune teller asked questions and planted thoughts in my mind that would later be used by the Holy Spirit to convict me of my sinfulness. Questions like is your wife pregnant? Has she ever had a miscarriage? Just be patient, wait, you’ll get your divorce in a year or so.
Well, we drove back home and when I got to the house Kathy asked me what the fortune teller told me. Of course, I didn’t tell her everything, but as we talked she said to me, “Bruce, you know the Lord gives you something and if you don’t live right, He’ll take it away!” At that moment the Holy Spirit convicted me that something was not right in my life.
My friend had asked me earlier if I realized I had been talking about death for over a week. Well, I was under conviction! I went on to work on Monday morning, but by 11:00 am I could stand it no longer. I went to my dad and said, “I’ve got to go.” He replied, “Where are you going?” “I don’t know, but I’ve got to go.” I walked right out with Dad’s mouth standing wide open, got into my car, and reached down for a Winston cigarette when a pain in my chest drew me to a fetal position in intense pain and weeping. “Help, help I yelled!” Then I sought to get myself under control. As this intermittent pain and suffering occurred I drove in front of the First Baptist Church in Dadeville where I had joined as a 10 year old and made a rededication as a teenager.
My thought was, “This pastor doesn’t know me and I don’t know him, but if I can just get all this stuff off my chest I’ll be okay.” As I stood in front of the Secretary this pain came one more time and I fell to the floor rolling and yelling, “Help, help!” Well, I finally got with the Pastor and shared with him for over an hour everything I had ever done wrong. His response was, “Bruce, everything you’ve shared with me is what the Bible calls sin and it says, ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ Bruce, what you need is Jesus.” I said, “If Jesus is what I need, Jesus is what I want.” Right there in the Pastor’s Study we knelt and I prayed to receive Christ as my Savior. And it was the Holy Spirit who helped me know that it was Jesus I needed.
Fred Craddock, who taught at Candler School of Theology, Emory University, once said: “To give my life for Christ appears glorious. To pour myself out for others ... to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom — I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory. We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table — ‘Here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all.’ But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.”
That’s radical conversion. It is being faithful when no one cares and no one notices. It is spending our 25 cents doing the right thing when no one is watching — when we could have easily given into the wrong thing. It is being faithful in the mundane and ordinariness of everyday life, when it may have been more exciting to do something else, or give in to laziness by doing nothing at all. It is being faithful to God when it doe...
Sermon Central Staff
THE BANYAN TREE
The Banyan is native to India, but they can be found in the United States and other parts of the world, especially Asia. It grows as a young tree and then, as it gets larger, the heavy limbs put forth roots which drop to the ground to form a secondary trunk to support the large limbs. Step under an old Banyan tree, and you are stepping into what looks like a mini-forest. They can grow, therefore, to an absolutely enormous size, and have a long life span. If you look you can see all of the secondary trunks supporting the older, heavy limbs. I saw a large area under which people could gather, as indeed they do in many Asian communities, to discuss issues and concerns of a village. And I saw a metaphor for the church.
This sermon, then, is a sermon about the nature of the church. A large host trunk, many long, large and heavy limbs extending in all directions, supporting trunks and root systems, a huge shaded area where people could gather in community, find shelter from the storm, or rest from their labors.
(From a sermon by Ryan Napalo, The Banyan Tree, 5/10/2012)
A number of years ago Norman Cousins wrote an editorial in the Saturday Review in which he reported a conversation he had on a trip in India. He was talking with a Hindu priest named Satis Prasad. The man said he wanted to come to our country to work as a missionary among the Americans. Cousins assumed that he meant that he wanted to convert Americans to the Hindu religion, but when asked, Satis Prasad said, “Oh no, I would like to convert them to the Christian religion. Christianity cannot survive in the abstract. It needs not membership, but believers. The people of your country may claim they believe in Christianity, but from what I read at this distance, Christianity is more a custom than anything else. I would ask that either you ...