Illustration results for Next Level
Peggy Noonan, speech writer for Ronald Reagan, relates a story about Frances Green, an eighty-three-year old woman who lived by herself on Social Security in a town just outside of San Francisco, California. Peggy was very poor, but for eight years she had been sending one dollar a year to the Republic National Convention. One day Frances got an RNC fund raising letter inviting the recipient to come to the White house to meet President Ronald Reagan. She never noticed the little RSVP card that suggested a positive reply that needed to be accompanied by a generous donation. She thought she had been invited because they appreciated her dollar-a-year support. Frances scraped up every extra cent she had and took a four day train ride across America. Unable to afford a sleeper, she slept sitting up in the coach. Finally, this little elderly woman with white hair, white stockings, an old hat with white netting and an all white dress arrived at the White House. When she walked up to the entrance of where the grand event was to be held she gave her name to the guard. He informed Frances that her name was not on the list. She could not go in. A Ford Motor company executive who was standing in line behind Frances watched and listened to the little scenario. Realizing something was wrong, he pulled Frances aside and got her story. He asked her to return the next day at 9:00 A.M.. Frances agreed. This executive of Ford Motor Company made contact with Anne Higgins, a presidential aide, and got clearance to give Frances a tour of the White House and if possible introduce her to the president. The next day was anything but calm and easy at the White House. Ed Meese had just resigned and there had been a military uprising abroad. President Reagan was in and out of high-level secret sessions. Never-the-less, Frances Green showed up right on time with full expectation and enthusiasm. An executive met her and gave her a personal tour of the White House, then quietly led her to the Oval Office. Members of the National Security Council came in and out while high-ranking generals were coming and going. President Ronald Reagan glanced out of his office and saw Frances, patiently waiting. With a smile President Ronald Reagan motioned for her to come into the office. As Frances entered, President Reagan rose from his desk, invited her to sit down. They talked about her town and family and California. The president of the United States and the White House staff took time out of a very busy day to properly greet Frances Green.
Dr. Bruce Emmert
One of the most touching moment in the Sydney Olympics was when Eric "The Swimmer" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam in the 100-meter free style qualifying heat. The 22-year-old African had only learned to swim last January, had only practiced in a 20-meter pool without lane markers, and had never raced more than 50 meters. By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their athletes don’t meet customary standards, he had been entered in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.
When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. Eric Moussambani was, to use the words of an Associated Press story about his race, "charmingly inept." He never put his head under the water’s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With ten meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop. Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition, the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet and cheered the swimmer on. After what seemed like an eternity, the African reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he had caught his breath and regained his composure, the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter, "I want to send hugs and kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me going."
As Christians, we have a cheering section encouraging us on when we are tired and calling out to us to do better when we are feeling at our best. The author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” What in the world does he mean—great cloud of witnesses? The author of Hebrews is telling us that we are a part of something much richer and deeper than we know. As children of God and as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, we are a part of a family.
Covey states, “Although Habit 2 applies to many different circumstances and levels of life, the most fundamental application of ‘begin with the end in mind” is to begin today with the image, picture, or paradigm of the end of your life as your frame of reference or the criterion by which everything else is examined. Each part of your life-today’s behavior, tomorrow’s behavior, next week’s behavior, next month’s behavior-can be examined in the context of the whole, of what really matters most to you. By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole” (98).
Scripture: Ezekiel 17:3b
“A great eagle with broad wings full of many-colored feathers came to
Lebanon. He took hold of the highest branch of a cedar tree”
"Twigs" written by Chris Harken from Maple Grove, Minnesota USA
A female eagle has an interesting way of picking a mate. She will pick
up a twig and fly high into the air and drop it. Male eagles will fly
beneath her and try to catch the twig. She will do this until a male
has caught the twig three times.
The reason is the female is testing the male for his ability to catch
young eagles as they are directed out of the nest for flight. When its
time for the young eagle to fly on its own the mother eagle pushes her
young out of the nest. She carries the young eaglets on her back up
high into the air and shakes them off. It is the responsibility of the
father to swoop down and catch the young eaglets until they learn to
fly on their own.
Just as the female eagle is testing the male for his reliability, a
believer will be tested by God in his or her faithfulness and
Similarly in our walk with God we often times run into difficult
situations that require us to make decisions. These decisions are
In 1971 Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland starred together in a movie named “Klute”. It was about a small town detective who had come to the big city in search of a killer, who coincidentally was stalking Jane Fonda’s character. At one point in the movie Donald Sutherland’s character, Detective Klute, was hot on the trail of this mad killer and chased him to a spot where there was an open cellar door.
The music, lighting, and the chase all served to build suspense to a chest-constricting level. As Klute approached the cellar door, revolver drawn, and looked down into the darkness, I think everyone in the theater was holding their breath. That is, until my friend, sitting next to me, said out loud, “If he goes down there he deserves what he gets”.
The theatre audience burst out laughing and the tension was released, at least momentarily.
The Apostle Paul is continuing his theme of light vs. darkness in our text verses today. He is warning against entering into; participating in deeds of darkness, for they are unfruitful, disgraceful, and we are rather to expose them.
Those who are of the world and still in darkness cannot help themselves. But based on what I see the Apostle telling us in this chapter, the Christian is light and therefore if he enters deliberately into the darkness for the sake of participation, he deserves what he gets.
Immediately following the Baltimore Raven’s final game last December(1999), Coach Brian Billick gathered the Ravens and said: "We’ve raised the bar. We can’t go back. We are at a new level, and we will move forward. Our fans, the media, the organization - all have new expectations for us. They’re justified in wanting more success. Eight and eight is not going to get it anymore. We need to take the next steps to become a playoff team."
At the elementary school where our kids have attended, they each have had to take timed math tests on their math facts. Each week they had to answer correctly 30 questions in 3 minutes. If they were unable, they had to take the test again the next day until they could pass. For those that passed, they would go on to the next level of questions. For some of us here today, we are still taking the same tests because we have never passed. God is patiently waiting for us to apply His Word to our trial so that we can pass the test and move on in our spiritual development with Him. God wants us to pass the test!
Most of us were shocked in early August when Flip Benham, national director for Operation Rescue, baptized Norma McCorvey, the woman known as Jane Roe in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The events leading to the baptism started with an apology. Earlier this year Benhan relocated OR’s national headquarters next to the abortion clinic where McCorvey worked. That same week Benham spoke to McCorvey. He apologized for an earlier encounter, when he had told McCorvey that she was responsible for millions of abortions.
“‘I saw that those words really hurt you,’ I told her and asked her to forgive me. She said, ‘Oh yes, it did hurt.’” McCorvey forgave Benham and the two struck up a friendship. Even before her conversion, McCorvey spoke freely about the friendship.
“I like Flip,” McCorvey told a reporter in March of this year. “He’s doing his thing.” The unconditional love Benham and other OR workers showed McCorvey eventually broke through. Though an icon to the pro-abortion movement, McCorvey felt used. As she saw firsthand the love of Christ through her new friends, McCorvey eventually felt more comfortable with them than with her clinic co-workers. She even dropped by OR’s offices and sometimes picked up the phone when no one else was available. That love and acceptance led McCorvey to a Dallas area church, where in late July she put her life in God’s hands.
“Jane Roe was who the pro-abortion side cared about most,” Benham says, “but God was always concerned with Norma McCorvey.” The non-condemning love continues today. McCorvey has quit her job at the clinic and ...
strike first, strike fast, strike hard -
Illustration: For years many Karate schools taught this philosophy. In competition these opponents are the easiest to read. They become proficient at initiating a number of specific combinations that lead to quick victories. But there are inherent weakness that become obvious when the match doesn’t end quickly. Time and again I have seen their frustration level soar off the "fun meter" as they loose their concentration and usually their composure. In contrast more and more schools are teaching methods that focus on your ability to take the negative things directed at you and redirect them safely away. The methods I most appreciate are those that take it one step further by considering the opponents safety as well. As Seth prepares to demonstrate one of many techniques we teach at Highlander Martial Arts, I want to introduce another concept we call "full circle liability", a term coined by Tom Patire of CDT International. This term means that as Seth takes control of the attackers arm, he is assuming responsibility for his attackers safety. Seems odd, doesn’t it? Someone throws a punch at you and you’re worried about his safety. But remember, a Christian response is more interested in maintaining a relationship with Christ and the other person than they are about winning the conflict. In this case, Seth has decided that putting this person on the ground in a safe fashion will do more for his relationship with him than getting hit. So watch as Seth decides to "turn the other cheek". Now that happened quickly, so we’ll let you see it again a bit slower.
1. Seth sees the direction the punch is coming and moves just enough to not be there when it arrives
2. To redirect this negative energy approaching him, Seth brushes the fist away and takes control of the arm by trapping the wrist
3. Next, he assumes control of his assailant by taken him off balance
4. Finally, Seth moves both he and his assailant to a safer location where they can work on their relationship
5. Now that he has a captive audience Seth decides this would be a good time to share the plan of salvation with his new friend.
“Sheila-ism?” Matthew 25:14-30 Key verse(s) 24:“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.’”
Taking the safest route is something that my father always taught me to do. If you are moving a large, heavy piece of furniture from one room to another, the best thing to do is to take the time to remove the passageway door from its hinges first, thereby giving you ample room to clear the portal without scratching the woodwork. And, of course, there were the safety instructions connected with riding my bike. Always take care to be sure that your chain guard was in place so that the cuff of your trousers didn’t get caught in the chain and pull you off your bike.
These safety rules were many and varied and they were given for a reason. Parents want the best for their children and will, therefore, impress upon them rules of conduct that promote safety. Because I wasn’t always mindful of the rules there were many times that, because of my disregard, I suffered the consequences. This tendency carried on into my teen years and, of course, manifested itself in some of the predicaments that I found myself in when I first started driving a car. The rule “Always Wear Your Seat-belt” was forgotten, even neglected at times. I live today with a gimpy elbow because of that. Then there were the other oft-neglected rules like “Check Your Oil and All of Your Fluid Levels Regularly!” Perhaps its the nature of a teenager, in that he is so often wont to don the cloak of invincibility and durability, to assume that his well-being was somehow magically inherited by his alter ego sitting in the driveway. You know, “I feel good today. I’m sure that this feeling will somehow pass through the steering wheel, clutch, brake and accelerator pedal to my car as well!” Check the fluids? Perhaps next time. One expensive valve job later and I discovered how invincible my car was and how vulnerable my wallet could be.
Over time and with plenty of hard experience under my belt, I learned that putting safety first is a norm that makes a whole lot of sense. Perhaps it isn’t as much the physical discomfort that led me to that conclusion as it was the financial pain that could result from disregard of the rules. Nevertheless, playing it safe in whatever I did that involved risk has become ingrained to some extant in all that I do today. Note “to some extant.” Much depends upon the nature of the activity. If following the rules of safety dictates that I would have to discover and adopt an involved, even tedious routine to accommodate the procedure, I am still inclined to disregard or at least skirt the issue in favor of a quicker, albeit less safer, route. For example; there are, of course, those tedious instructions that come with almost any item that can be assembled. Rule of thumb, if the instructions are less than four pages, you can read the first line of each paragraph, look at the parts list and read the picture captions. If they are as many as eight pages, there is only a need to look at the parts list and read the picture captions. Anything longer than eight pages requires a blank look, a restless thumbing through and then applied Yankee Ingenuity. No instructions necessary. Safety or no, there are just some frontiers I have never been able to cross by the assigned paths. Self-interest is often more important than personal safety.
But, what about faith? When it comes to strengthening our faith and following the directions that God has put in the instructions, His holy Word, should self-interest or anything else dictate a more facilitating approach to believing? A poll sheds some light on what appears to be a paradox of increased religiosity and, perhaps, decreased morality in America. According to sociologist Robert Bellah, 81 percent of the American people also say they agree that “an individual should arrive at his or her own religious belief independent of any church or synagogue.” Thus the key to the paradox is the fact that those who claim to be Christians are arriving at faith on their own terms – terms that make no demands on behavior. A woman named Sheila, interviewed for Bellah’s Habits of the Heart, embodies this attitude. “I believe in God,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I went to church. But my faith has carried me a long way. It’s ‘Sheila-ism.’ Just my own little voice.” (Charles Colson, Against the Night, p. 98.)
There is a difference between “playing it safe” in terms of self-interest and playing it safe in terms of “soul-interest.” When it comes to eternity we only get one shot at it. There won’t be an opportunity to make regrettable repairs or take the risk and see if it works. When given the tools of Yankee Ingenuity or good, old-fashioned reading of the Instructions, in regard to our souls, the choice becomes an easy one. Soul is spelled G-O-D not Y-O-U.