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A few years ago the Birmingham, Alabama, paper had a headline on the sports page: "The Most Exciting Moment Of My Life." It showed a picture of Jack Nicklaus writing out a $5,000 check for charity. As a matter of fact, it was second $5,000 check that day. It happened because of a game of golf he lost.
A man by the name of Charley Boswell lives in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1937, he was the captain of the Alabama football team that played in the 1938 Rose Bowl. In World War II he was a captain in the infantry. He stepped on a land mine and blew his eyes out. Charley Boswell is stone cold blind! But for nine holes of golf he can shoot par golf. He hits a ball he canít even see. The caddy rattles the pin in the cup, and the noise tells him where to putt. How does he do that? He said, "Holding mental pictures."
Jack Nicklaus went to Birmingham to help raise money for a Boysí Ranch and gave $5,000. They had a banquet to honor Nicklaus for helping the fund-raiser and for his $5,000 check. Halfway through the meal, Charley Boswell stood at a table in the back of the room. "Mr. Nicklaus, they tell me you play a little golf." There was silence. "Yes, Iíve been known to play a round or two." "So do I, and I think I can beat you! Iíll play you nine holes of golf. If you can beat me, Iíll give $5,000 to the Boysí Club. And, if I beat you, you give another $5,000. And to make the contest fun, exciting, and fair, you choose the course where we play, and Iíll choose the time we play -- day or night."
Guess what time Charley chose? Night, of course. The Birmingham paper had a full length picture of Nicklaus writing out his second $5,000 check. The headline said "The Most Exciting Moment Of My Life." Someone asked him about that headline. Why had he made that statement? "You have won every trophy, award, honor, accolade. Why would this be so exciting?" Nicklaus replied "I met a person today who refuses to let fear control his life."
Christian author and speaker Joni Eareckson Tada writes: I’m a quadriplegic, yet I can drive a van (my hand is secured to a big joystick so I can steer, accelerate, and brake). I enjoy being independent, so if there’s something I can do, I will - even if it means tackling the drive-thru at a fast-food restaurant by myself.
Remember, my hands don’t work. That’s why last week when I cruised into the drive-thru lane to order hamburgers and Cokes, I prayed for the fellows at the pick-up window. "Lord, give them patience, and give me a smile." Then I moved to the intercom to place my order.
When I’d finished explaining "no cheese" and "extra mustard packets," I told the voice on the intercom that I was disabled. There was a pause. Then, "Okay, no problem."
I pulled up to the delivery window and smiled. Sticking my arm out the window, I asked the cashier to take the 10-dollar bill that was folded in my arm splint. That was a cinch.
While he fished for my change, I asked him to place it in the paper bag along with the hamburgers. At that point, the server bagging my order looked over his shoulder. Both boys, confused, gave each other a look that said, "Do you know what she’s talking about? ’Cause I don’t!" I smiled and slowly repeated my instructions.
They got the message - and even wrapped my change in a napkin before they dropped it into the bag with the food. Then they handed me my order. I had to ask, "Could you please lean out your window and wedge the bag between me and the van door?" Both boys looked at each other again. "I can’t reach for the bag. Remember?"
"Oh, yeah," they laughed, then hung halfway out the pick-up window to lodge the package between my wheelchair and the door. "Are you set? Are you okay?" they asked in all sincerity.
"Great job," I assured them. "God bless you guys!" They slapped the side of my van as I drove off. When I glanced in my rearview mirror, they were waving good-bye. Thanks, God, for answering prayer. That could have been awkward, but it turned out to be fun!
This is the daily stuff of my life. It always involves more than simply picking up hamburgers or the dry cleaning. It involves a chance to make God real to people. A chance for them to serve, to feel good about themselves, to experience a new way of doing things.
Problems are often God’s way of prying us out of our rut.
Our daughter Carrie and her husband Shannon have a dog; rather he is a small horse. He is called Coltrane. Cole does not realize he weighs 150 pounds. He also does not realize he has "drooling issues". (Now that may be caused by the fact that my wife brings hot dogs to the house whenever we visit...the dogs are for the dogs...Cole starts drooling when we turn on their street. The sound of our carís engine is like music to his ears!)
Whenever we visit Cole comes charging; he has only two gears, wide-open and stopped (on top of your chest, after youíve been slammed to the ground). The hound is not going to miss hot dog call!
Coltrane eats before saying "hello". (Got his priorities straight, that dog does!) Once the Ball Park dogs are inside the dog (is that an "inside-the-park-dog"?), then comes a gregarious welcome. The welcome always includes generous portions of "slime". A 150-pound Rottweiler who has just consumed 18 hot dogs can produce impressive amounts of saliva!
Needless to say, I have learned to wear my yard clothes when we visit. This is for two reasons --
1. I canít afford to buy clothes as often as we are at Coleís place.
2. I love the dog...even the way he says "hello".
When that hound comes to me, everything living (or that which wants to stay living) has to get out of the way. He is going to get his ears scratched and his tummy rubbed. In fact, if you rub his belly long enough, he just slides down to one side, flops-over and falls asleep while you "say hello". "Keep rubbing...a little to the left...harder, thatís it....ahhhhh."
This is so much like Godís acceptance of me. He wants me close to Him, even with all the goofy things I do, and the mess which I bring. He loves me and calls me friend, even with my sin and betrayal. He loves me and calls me friend, even though it meant taking on all my slime, my sin. He is still called, the Friend of Sinners!
A good illustration of this comes from an old parable of the end time judgment with all the people who have ever lived being brought before God. Not submitting to God they come with a complaint. One group made the claim that they suffered persecution. They had died in gas chambers and concentration camps. They wanted to know how God could judge them. What would he know about their suffering? Another group were ones who had been slaves and suffered. They had no homes and no place to lie down to sleep. They had been poor and just had made enough to pay for their needs. There were others who had been sick most of their lives. How could God judge them? God lived in heaven where there is only goodness and light, no tears, no worries, no fears, no hungers, no mistreatments. These groups appointed a committee to draw up a case before God. They stated that before God could Judge them he must first endure what they went through. They said He would have to live on earth and be subject to all they had gone through. They cried out, ďLet him be born a Jew! Let Him be poor! Let him be rejected by his people! Let him have friends who betray him! Let him have false charges brought on him! Tried before a jury! Convicted by a judge! Abandoned by his friend! Let him be lonely! Let him be tortured! Let him die at the hands of enemies!Ē The crowd stood back and gave approval to each sentence. Then there was hush to be heard all over the room, for they then realized God already had served that sentence. For Jesus in His coming as a man identified with us, in his suffer...
"The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living."
Sermon Central Staff
A FLAT TIRE SAVES A LIFE
On May 11, 1996, Demingo Pacheco had a major problem. He was on a tight schedule to catch his plane out of Miami when the left rear tire of his Cadillac blew out on the Palmetto Expressway. For more than hour he sweated under that broiling Florida sun changing that tire. Just as he finished changing the tire, he got a call on his portable phone. It was his mother. She said, "Where are you?"
He said, "Iím stuck on the freeway, having just hanged a flat tire, and I have missed my flight."
She shouted, "Turn on your radio and thank God. The plane you that you were going to be on just crashed in the Everglades."
Demingo Pacheco would have been aboard ValuJet Flight 592 except for that flat tire.
(From a sermon by Ricky Nelms, Joseph, 7/16/2010)