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The American businessman was at the pier of a small costal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. The Mexican replied, "Only a little while." The American then asked why he didn’t stay out and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time? The fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senior."
The American scoffed, "I have a Harvard MBA and I could help you." You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senior, how long will all this take?"
To which the American replied, " 15 to 20 years."
"But then what, senior?"
The American laughed and said that’s the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions, senior? Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll into the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
When I was a boy, I saw a stereo at Foley’s department store that I wanted. My father agreed to pay for the stereo on the condition that I pay him back with the money I received from mowing lawns that summer. It was my first real loan in some ways. I received the benefits of the stereo immediately. I wore that stereo out too. But, I paid my father off as fast as I could with the lawn mowing money. In time it was completely paid off. Some of us seem to act as though that is the same way salvation works. That God did something for us and now we are trying to pay him off with service or church attendance or good works of some kind. But, that is an insult to the grace of God. When someone gives you a gift, it is meant as a act of kindness. You only have to receive it
Actually my wife Laurel found something at Hastings the other day that might be able to help us out: "Its called "Wash Away Your Sins - Soul Saver Pack"... "For liars, cheaters, and wrong-doers."
"It says its Bishop tested" and "Cardinal approved". Its contents are two bottles and an instruction book:
One bottle: "Holy Water" are for those little sins: "1) Remove cap - 2) Pour into palm - 3) Admit wrong doing - 4) Think pure thoughts - 5) Anoint forehead and - 6) Go fourth purged from sin, ready to do it again."
The second bottle: "Bubble bath" are for those more major sins: "1) Kneel before thy tub - 2) Reflect upon wrong doing - 3) Run warm bath water - 4) Pour in enough bubble bath to equal your sins "(I would need a 55 gal. drum)" - 5) Soak in blessed bubble - 6) Arise cleansed from sin, and ready to do it again." The instruction book adds "that you should soak 3 minutes for each deadly sin committed." Though you are to soak "15 minutes per each large deadly sin committed". Now if you commit an "extra large mortal sin", "which includes lying to your mother" then you must "add two capsuls of holy water", "soak for twenty minutes" and when exiting the bath "annoint your forehead with the blessed holy water".
Now if this were reality, we would at least know the sinners, because they would be the ones walking around with their skin all shrieveld up. And we would be going "Hah, lied to your mother again didn’t you?" And if this were the method by how you got clean from your sin, it would be really no different then the ancient practice of animal sacrifice. I mean, some of us would be living out by the barn. "What’s Joe-bob doing out by the barn". "Well slaughtering some more pigeons, and another calf. He sinned again".
“Joy is the byproduct of obedience” (Sou...
South East Christian Church in Louisville, KY is a congregation of about 15,000 members. It’s so huge they have a very specialized paid staff. For example, they have a staff member in charge of something they call the “wedding department.” One Sunday, a staff member from that department was privileged to be asked to baptize a new convert. On the Sunday he was to baptize his friend, something must have unsettled him – maybe it was the size of the congregation present, or the pressure of the moment.
Whatever it was, that morning, in front of the entire congregation he took the man’s confession and then declared: “I now pronounce you….” And then stopped as he realized what he’d said. Then he smiled as he continued: “I now pronounce you… baptized!”
Samuel Logan Brengle was one of the truly great leaders of the Salvation Army. A man of scholarship as well as of singular spiritual power, he outlined the road to spiritual authority and leadership in these challenging words: "It is not won by promotion, but by many prayers and tears. It is attained by confessions of sin, and much heart-searching and humbling before God; by self-surrender, a courageous sacrifice of every idol, a bold, deathless, uncompromising and uncomplaining embracing of the cross, and by an eternal, unfaltering looking unto Jesus crucified. "It is not gained by seeking great things for ourselves, but rather, like Paul, by counting those things that are gain to us as loss for Christ. That is a great price, but it must be unflinchingly paid by him who would be not merely a nominal but a real spiritual leader of men, a leader whose power is recognized and felt in heaven, on earth and in hell."
Submitting totally to God’s plan for us and our loved ones, is difficult to do. But, it is a must for any Christian seeking the “whatever it takes” solution to the difficult problems in life. In 1878, when William Booth’s Salvation Army was beginning to make its mark, men and women from all over the world began to enlist. One man, who had once dreamed of becoming a bishop, crossed the Atlantic from America to England to enlist. Samuel Brengle left a fine pastorate to join Booth’s Army. But at first General Booth accepted his services reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, “You’ve been your own boss too long.” And in order to instill humility in Brengle, he set him to work cleaning the boots of other trainees. Discouraged, Brengle said to himself, “Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to black boots?” And then, as in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen. “Lord,” he whispered, “you washed their feet; I will black their shoes.”(K Hughes, Liberating Ministry From The Success Syndrome, Tyndale, 1988, p. 45.)
FIXING THE FOUNDATION
On December 2001, the “Leaning Tower of Pisa” was finally reopened to the public, after having been closed for almost a dozen years. During that time, engineers completed a 25 million dollar renovation project designed to stabilize the tower. They removed 110 tons of dirt, and reduced its famous lean by about sixteen inches. Why was this necessary? Because the tower has been tilting further and further away from vertical for hundreds of years, to the point that the top of the 185-foot tower was seventeen feet further south than the bottom, and Italian authorities were concerned that if nothing was done, it would soon collapse. What was the problem? Bad design? Poor workmanship? An inferior grade of marble?
No. The problem was...
SACRIFICING THE SON
There was a Pastor, who after the usual Sunday Evening Hymns, stood up, walked over to the pulpit and, before he gave his sermon for the evening, briefly introduced a guest minister who was in service that evening. In the introduction, the Pastor told the congregation that the guest minister was one of his dearest childhood friends and that he wanted him to have a few moments to greet the church and share whatever he felt would be appropriate for the service. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit and began to speak.
"A father, His son, and a friend of his were sailing off of the Pacific Coast," He began, "When a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.
The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. The aged minister continued with his story, "Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. "As the father yelled out, ‘I love you son!’ He threw out the lifeline to his son’s friend.
By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of the night. His body was never recovered." By this time, the two teenagers were sitting up straight in the pew, anxiously waiting for the next words to come out of the old minister’s mouth. "The father," he continued knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus and could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into eternity without Jesus.
Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save his son’s friend… With that the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. The Pastor aga...