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A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening.
He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies, and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind but sometimes Mom would quietly get up—while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places—and go to her room and read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave. My Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them.
Profanity was not allowed in our house—not from us, our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge, the stranger was never confronted. Dad didn’t permit alcohol in his home. But the stranger enlightened us to other ways of life. He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished.
He talked freely about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
I believe it was only by the grace of God the stranger did not influence us even more. Time after time he opposed my parents’ values. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive.
But if I were to walk into my parents’ home today, I would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name? We always called him TV.
Muhammad Ali today is called the greatest. But it hasn’t always been that way. He became the greatest in the eyes of the world over the last 40 years. Muhammad Ali used to “float like a butterfly” and “sting like a bee”. He dazzled crowds with his amazing ability to dodge a punch while he used a very unconventional style, with hands held low, as he bobbed and weaved. Ali won the heavyweight title on February 25th, 1964 from Soney Liston. Ali was a 7-1 underdog and 43 of 46 major press writers picked him to lose. You see nobody really believed that he could be a champion. But he defeated Soney Liston to become the Heavy Weight Champion of the world. Well on his way to becoming the greatest, Ali lost his title and then won it back it perhaps the greatest Heavy Weight fight of all time, the “Rumble in the Jungle”, against then champion Gorge Foreman. Ali played what came to be known as the “rope a dope”. Ali covered up and let the heavy hitter, Gorge Foreman, tire himself out throwing punches, then when Forman was exhausted, Ali knocked him out. Now he became “Americas Champion” and some called him the greatest. Ali would again lose his title to Leon Spinks and then regain it after beating Leon Spinks in a unanimous decision. Now, he had become the only Heavy Weight to win the title three times and many called him the greatest. Ali would go on to lose two more fights to Trevor Burbick and Larry Holmes before retiring in 1981. Ali would have the spotlight once more in 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta Ali, with hands trembling from the Parkinson’s Disease he now suffers from, lit the cauldron to signify the start of the Summer Olympic Games. Many people shed tears as they watched “The Greatest” light the torch. Because of his accomplishments, the world calls Ali “The Greatest”. And while Ali’s story is inspiring and should stir the emotions of our heart, what the world calls great and what the Lord calls great are often two very different things. While Ali became great by winning the Heavy Weight title three times, God isn’t impressed by such accomplishments. While God desires good things in our life, he is immeasurably more concerned with our character than with our trophies. While he enables us to do great things, he desires that we would do his will, and God desires that we would understand what lasting accomplishment is. Faith…Hope…Love… The trophies will gather dust and our bodies wear out with just a little time, but the things of God endure forever!
A musician and an instrument unite to produce sounds which neither would produce without the other. We are living instruments fashioned by the divine Instrument Maker with greater sophistication than any man-made instrument, having our own creativity. Like an instrument maker with his cherished instrument, our Maker longs to blend his ability with ours to produce unique sounds to bless the world.
There were very few of these
Here’s a fun exercise for you to do when you have time. Use your concordance and find all of the scriptures from Acts to Revelation in which you find the word “together” and see what early Christians did “together.” Here’s a sampling: Meeting together. Praying together. Sharing material thi...
In the recent book, Speechless, Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his pastor, Scotty Smith, say this: “In the Gospel we discover we are far worse off than we thought and far more loved than we ever dreamed.” (As heard in the intro of tape #206 from Preaching Today)
Story: According to an ancient Russian Orthodox tradition, the day before Easter was devoted to telling jokes.
Priests would join the people in telling their best jokes to one another. (presumably “clean” jokes!!)
The reason was to reflect the joke God pulled on the devil in the Resurrection.
Satan thought he won on Friday, but God had the last laugh on Easter Sunday.
Sermon Central Staff
THE PARENT TRAP: THE JOY OF HAVING A DAD
Anyone ever seen the original The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills done in 1961? Have you seen the remake from 1998? In the remake Lindsay Lohan plays the twins and Dennis Quaid is the father. If you know the story then you’ll remember that identical twins, separated at birth by their parent’s divorce meet 11 years later at camp and change places. They want to meet the parent they’ve never had.
As Annie James, Lindsay flies home to her father who doesn’t expect anything out of the ordinary. Their conversation goes like this.
She runs to embrace him with a big smile, saying, "Dad! Finally!" The father tells her he missed her and a lot had been happening. Annie responds, "A lot’s been happening to me too, Dad. I mean, I feel I’m practically a new woman!"
In the car Quaid notices she can’t stop looking at him and asks, "What? Did I cut myself shaving?"
Annie answers, "No. It’s just seeing you for the first time. I mean, you know, in so long."
As they drive Annie discusses the camp, ending almost every sentence with "Dad". He asks, "Why do you keep saying ’Dad’ at the end of every sentence?"
Annie answers, "I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was doing it, Dad. Sorry, Dad." They both laugh. "Do you want to know why I keep saying ’Dad’? The truth?"
The father says, "Because you missed your old man so much, right?"
"Exactly. It’s because in my whole life—I mean, you know, for the past eight weeks—I was never able to say the word ’Dad’. Never. Not once. And if you ask me, a dad is an irreplaceable person in a girl’s life. Think about it. There’s a whole day devoted to celebrating fathers. Just imagine someone’s life without a father. Never buying a Father’s Day card. Never sitting on their father’s lap. Or being able to say ’Hi, Dad,’ or, ’What’s up, Dad?’ or, ’Catch you later, Dad.’ I mean, a baby’s first words are always ’Dada,’ aren’t they?"
The father asks, "Let me see if I get this. You missed being able to call me ’Dad’?"
Annie answers, "Yeah, I really have, Dad."
(Source: The Parent Trap 1998 Disney, IMDb.com. From a sermon by Charles Wilkerson, Who’s Your Daddy, 11/10/2009)
12433. Beaten Into Higher Value
A bar of steel is worth five dollars. When it is wrought into horseshoes, it is worth ten dollars. If made into needles, it is worth three hundred and fifty dollars. If wrought into penknife blades, it is worth thirty-two thousand dollars. And if it is wrought into springs for watches, it is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
What a drilling the poor bar must undergo to be worth a higher value. But the more it is manipulated, the more it is hammered, and passed through the f...
"The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers."
TEACH HIM TO WALK, BUT NOT WHERE
A rehabilitation counselor took an early retirement to spend the rest of his life preaching. One day, while addressing an audience, he told of how - early in his career - he found a young boy with several birth defects. He arranged financial and medical help. Skilled surgeons restored the child's facial appearance. Trained therapists taught him to speak and walk. By his teens, the boy was able to take part in all the activities of other young people.
Addressing his crowd the retired counselor asked: "What do you think has become of this young man?" One guessed that since this young man had overcome such physical deformities he may have dedicated himself to becoming a great athlete. Someone else thought that, since his life had been changed by medical doctors, that he had become a skilled surgeon.
"No, none of these," the retired counselor said sadly. "The young man is a prisoner, serving a life sentence for murder. We were able to restore his physical features and his ability to walk and act but we failed to teach him where to walk and how to act."
I was successful in helping the boy physically, but I failed to help him spiritually. From that day on, I have determined to use the rest of my life to help people direct their steps and actions toward glorifying God.
Source: J. Furman Kearley 20th CC From Jeff Strite's Sermon "Wonderful Counselor"