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The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south." Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north."
The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am the captain!" Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a seaman third class Jones."
Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am a battleship." Then the reply came: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a lighthouse." There are plenty of voices shouting at us through the fog. We need the clear and solid voice of a lighthouse in our lives – a friend who is there with the right advice about where to go and how to get there.
I remember our friend Taylor Hendley who took teams of missionaries to Russia when it first opened it’s doors to us. He described how people would walk from miles around (many all night) to come to worship in a small one-room church with no heat. How to accommodate as many people as possible they could not sit but would stand for up to four hours singing and praying and worshipping.
A man has been lost and walking in the desert for about five days. One hot day--actually, they’re all hot--he comes to the home of a preacher. Tired and weak, he crawls up to the house and collapses on the doorstep. The preacher takes him in and nurses him back to health. Feeling better, the man asks the preacher for directions to the nearest town. The preacher tells him the directions, and offers to lend him his horse to make it. The preacher says, "However, there is a special thing about this horse. You have to say ’Thank God’ to make it go and ’Amen’ to make it stop."
Anxious to get to town, the man says, "Sure, okay" and gets on the horse. He says, "Thank God" and sho ’nuff, the horse starts walking. A bit later he says louder, "Thank God, thank God," and the horse starts trotting. Feeling really brave, the man say, "Thank God! Thank God! THANK GOD!" and the horse is soon up to a full run!
About then he realizes he’s heading for a huge cliff and yells "Whoa!" But the horse doesn’t even slow! It’s coming up REAL QUICK and he’s doing everything he can to make the horse stop. "Whoa, stop, hold on!" Finally he remembers "AMEN!!!"
The horse stops a mere two inches from the cliff’s edge, almost throwing him over its head. The man, panting and heart racing, wipes the sweat from his face and leans back in the saddle. "Oh!" he says, gasping for air, "Thank God."
“A Bruise Is Better than A Bite!” 1 Samuel 1:1-8 Key verse(s): 8:“Elkanah here husband would say to her, ‘Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?’”
“Constructive criticism is when I criticize you. Destructive criticism is when you criticize me.” If we could make this clear and plain to everyone we met, all our lives would be so much easier. If people just realized that criticism is applicable to everyone but the person delivering it, it would be a lot easier getting along with folks. Unfortunately, no one seems to grasp this basic concept of human co-existence.
As silly as it sounds, rare is the individual that does not at least think this from time to time. For many of us criticism is one of the hardest things in this life to bear. I know! Comparing the pain of a compound fracture to that of the well-aimed criticism, I would prefer the ache of the break to the sting of the sling. If confessions are appropriate, I must own up. Like most people I try to avoid criticism and I certainly am not the kind of person who goes around seeking it. Reacting to just criticism isn’t fun; but reacting to unjust criticism is even less of a picnic. Since it is so difficult sometimes to differentiate between the two, perhaps avoiding any criticism at all costs is the better path to take.
Unfortunately, life presents us with both types of criticism on a pretty frequent basis. Dealing with the just requires patience and forbearance. Dealing with the unjust requires a deep kind of loving patience and forbearance. Criticism well directed and delivered with care may still cause bruised feelings. But criticism that is unloaded upon us, inflicted and perpetrated on us breaks the skin of our lives and opens gaping wou...
TASTE IS ALL WRONG
I remember one of the stories from the Chronicles of Narnia from the book "The Last Battle." It was the story of a number of dwarfs who just didn't believe in Aslan (who represented Jesus Christ in all the books). They were blind to reality refusing to be "taken in" by those believers. Aslan observes all this: "Aslan raised his head and shook his mane. Instantly a glorious feast appeared on the Dwarfs' knees: pies and tongues and pigeons and trifles and ices, and each Dwarf had a goblet of good wine in his right hand. But it wasn't much use. They began eating and drinking greadily enough, but it was clear that they couldn't taste it properly. They thought they were eating and drinking only the sort of things you might find in a stable. One said he was trying to eat hay and anther said he had got a bit of an old turnip and a third said he'd found a raw cabbage leaf. And they raised golden goblets to their lips and said 'Ugh! Fancy drinking dirty water out of a trough that a donkey's been at!'"
“Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gif, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo. Seven Deadly Sins. p. 21)
This last week I was thinking about this priority of love and I saw an incredible example of it on Dateline NBC. It seems that two members of the same church participated in a 40 day prayer and fasting time to seek God’s will for their lives. One of the woman badly needed a kidney transplant, and at the end of the 40 day time of prayer and fasting, the other woman felt strongly that God was leading her to donate her kidney to this other woman. People couldn’t understand why, after all they weren’t family, they weren’t even friends before that, one was white the other was black. Her response was simply, "She has a need and God has given me the ability to meet that need…that’s what loving each other is all about."
BLOOD FLOWS IN THE BOMOKANDE
In November 1964, anarchy broke out in the Belgian Congo. Assemblies of God missionary J. W. Tucker knew he was at risk, but he stayed where God had placed him. One day, a mob attacked and killed him with sticks, clubs, fists, and broken bottles. They took his body, threw it in the back of a truck, drove a good distance, and then tossed his corpse to the crocodiles in the Bomokande River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
J. W. Tucker had risked everything, yet he seemingly had nothing to show for it. But 30 years later, John Weidman, a close friend of Tucker’s, was in the country (by then known as Zaire) and learned how God used that missionary’s sacrifice.
The Bomokande River flows through the middle of the Mangbeto tribe, a people virtually without the gospel. During a time of civil war, the Mangbeto king became distressed with the violence and appealed to the central government in Kinshasa for help. The central government responded by sending a man called the Brigadier, a well-known policeman of strong stature and reputation who came from the region of Isiro. J. W. Tucker had won the Brigadier to the Lord just two months before he was killed.
The Brigadier determined to reach the Mangbetos with the gospel, the only way to peace. Being a relatively new Christian, he did his best to witness, but he was met with no response. Then one day he heard of a Mangbeto tradition that said: "If the blood of any man flows in the Bomokande River, you must listen to his message." This saying had been with the Mangbetos for as long as anyone could remember.
The Brigadier called for the king and all the village elders. They gathered in full assembly to hear his address. "Some time ago a man was killed, and his body was thrown into your Bomokande River," the Brigadier began. "The crocodiles in this river ate him up. His blood flowed in your river. But before he died, he left me a message.
"This message concerns God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to this world to save people who were sinners. He died for the sins of the world; He died for my sins. I rece...
There is little doubt to the fact that every person here has most likely heard the old adage, “Seeing is believing.” In a world filled with insatiable claims it has become commonplace for a person to respond, “I won’t believe it, until I see it.” It is this very principle that brought Robert Ripley to open his first odditorium in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. It was the birth of what we all know so well as “Ripley’s Believe it or not.” The problem with this old adage, “Seeing is believing,” is simply that it doesn’t always hold true. Have you ever seen something that even though you were an eyewitness to it, you still just couldn’t believe your eyes? We have all come face to face with unbelievable things.
Sermon Central Staff
On a Palm Sunday some time ago, 5-year-old Stephanie sat on her aunt’s lap while they listened to the pastor’s sermon together. He described Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem and how the crowds cried, "Hosanna, Hosanna!" At that, Stephanie perked up and began to sing, "Oh, Hosanna, now don’t you cry for me!"
(Brenda Fossum, Duluth, MN, "Heart to Heart," Today’s Christian Woman. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, We Want To See Jesus, 4/14/2011)