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Sermon Central Staff
WALT DISNEY'S LEADERSHIP
Walt Disney was a remarkable man of vision. He never gave up. Early in his career a newspaper fired him because they thought he had "no good ideas". That just made Disney try harder. When he was starting out in Kansas City he couldn't sell his cartoons. Some hinted that he had no talent but Walt Disney had a dream so he set out to conquer his foes. He found a minister who paid him a small amount to draw advertising pictures for his church. Disney had no place to stay, so that the church let him sleep in the mouse-infested garage. One of those mice which Disney nicknamed Mickey, became famous -- as the world knows.
The early days were tough; but that remarkable, creative visionary refused to give up. Walt would occasionally present some unbelievable, extensive dream to his board about and idea he was entertaining. Almost without exception, the members of his board would gulp, blink, and stare back at him in disbelief, resisting even the thought of such a thing. But unless every member resisted the idea, Disney usually didn't pursue it. Yes, you heard me correctly. Unless everyone RESISTED the idea he would not take it. The challenge wasn't big enough to merit his time and creative energy unless they were unanimously in disagreement! Is it any wonder that Disneyland and Disney World are now realities? This type of faith is required for visionaries in business -- but also for us as Christians. Like Disney we need to dream big and trust in God for the impossible.
When Walt Disney World in Orlando ,FL. opened in 1974, Mrs. Disney was sitting beside Walter Cronkite. Walt Disney has passed away a few years earlier. Walter Cronkite wanted to say just the right thing to Mrs. Disney, so he leaned over to her and said, "Wouldn't it be great if Walt were here to see this today." Mrs. Disney wisely replied, "If Walt had not first seen this you would not be seeing it today."
(From a sermon by Stephen Sheane, Dry Bones, 8/18/2010)
The United States Women’s Softball team won the gold medal in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympic games. They lost only one game but from that loss came a remarkable story about perseverance. In the fifth inning against Australia, Danielle Tyler hit a home run over the center-field fence. The American third baseman floated around the bases with a rush of adrenaline. When she was greeted by a swarm of well-wishing teammates at home plate she let the excitement distract her focus and she did not touch the base. When all of the yelling subsided, the Australian team quietly appealed to the umpire who dramatically called Tyler out.
Rather than scoring a run, Tyler’s blast over the fence netted her team an out. As it ended up, had the lady slugger stepped on home plate, her team would have won 1-0. Instead, after seven innings of regulation play the game was tied at 0-0. In extra innings, Australia emerged with a 2-1 win and the U.S. team took their only loss of the Olympics. (Autoillustrator.com, PERSEVERANCE)
“God’s Algebra!” Romans 8:9-17 Key verse(s) 16:“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
One of the unchangeable and mysterious laws of mathematics is that whenever you multiply a positive number by a negative number you will always get a negative number. I remember my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Kramer, drilling that into our heads. There was no way of adequately explaining why a negative times a positive will always equal a negative. And, for a math underachiever such as myself, it simply was a matter of memorizing the theorem and forgetting the understanding part of it. From a purely logical perspective, it always seemed to me that whichever number was the larger ought to be the determining factor in any equation. It just made sense. The big guy was going to defeat the little guy in a wrestling match. The larger hawk would always overpower the smaller sparrow. If you mixed a little bit of gravel with a lot of sand you would still have more sand than gravel. I always had a hard time understanding the concept of something small overpowering something very large.
This seemed logical to me for the most part. Even daily life as it played itself out around me testified to the fact that the equation embraced faulty logic. For example, when you were having a good day and things were going along pretty well and you stumbled into calamity for some reason, if the amount of good you had happened to collect did not exceed the magnitude of the calamity, the bad would always put the hammerlock on the good sending you down to the mat every time. It was a question of balance. If your alarm didn’t go off in the morning and you were late for class, that could be overcome in general if you simply negated it by hitting a home run at recess and added a couple of good test scores to the mix throughout the course of the day. That seemed pretty logical to 13-year-old kid who was simply trying to make the best of life at the moment and was determined to finish each day with more good on his plate than bad.
Sometimes being a Christian and having to deal with the bad and negative things in our lives also has this same underpinning of illogical calculation. Life can real deal out some pretty heavy blows sometimes. Even worse, when we are already down for the count, there are even those days when bad piles on bad. If we use the logic of the 13-year-old boy just trying to make it through the day, days like this become unbearable. There simply isn’t enough good within our grasp to deal with all the bad. That’s when despair steps in to put its heavy boot on the back of our neck to keep us down for good.
Thank God for they mystery of His Holy Spirit. When He is inserted into the equation of life, what Mr. Kramer taught me in 7th grade mathematics starts to become even more illogical, however in a reverse sort of way. Whereas algebra dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a negative, God’s textbook, the Bible, dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a positive. When life becomes overpowering it doesn’t matter how much of it is negative. When we put the Holy Spirit of God into the equation the outcome is always the same; we get the help we need to cope and to restore our faith. This is a mystery that flies in the face of earthly logic but it is trustworthy. Sorrow and Affliction x the Holy Spirit = Patience. But God’s algebra doesn’t stop there. Patience x Experience = Faith. It doesn’t seem logical at the outset, but no matter how big sorrow and affliction are, they never come out the winner in this equation.
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents." After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy, and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students. Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Sta...
A little girl walking in a garden noticed a particularly beautiful flower. She admired its beauty and enjoyed its fragrance. “It’s so pretty!” she exclaimed. As she gazed on it, her eyes followed the stem down to the soil in which it grew. “This flower is too pretty to be planted in such dirt!” she cried. So she pulled it up by its roots and ran to the water faucet to wash away the soil. It wasn’t long until the flower wilted and died.
When the gardener saw what the little girl had done, he exclaimed, “You have destroyed my finest plant!”
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t like it in that dirt,” she said. The gardener replied, “I chose that spot and mixed the soil because I knew that only there could it grow to be a beautiful flower.”
Often we murmur because of the circumstances into which God has sovereignly placed us. We fail to realize that He is using our pressures, trials, and difficulties to bring us to a new degree of spiritual beauty. Contentment comes when we accept what God is doing and thank Him for it.
John Williams III
FINDING REAL POWER
Someone has wisely said what it takes to find freedom in the power of the Holy Spirit.
"It costs much to obtain the power of the Spirit. It costs self-surrender and humiliation and the yielding up of the most precious things to God. It costs the perseverance of long waiting and the faith of strong trust.
But when we are really in that power we shall find this difference, that whereas before it was hard for us to do the easiest things, now it is easy for us to do the hardest things.
James Hervey, the friend of the Wesleys at Oxford, describes the change which took place in him through his anointing by the Spirit: that while his preaching was once like the firing of an arrow, all the speed and force thereof depending on the strength of his arm in the bending of the bow, now it was like the firing of a rifle ball, the whole force depending upon the powder back of the ball, and needing only a finger-touch to let it off".
SOURCE: A. J. Gordon as quoted by Walter B. Knight. Knight’s Master Book Of New Illustrations. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Company, 1986, p. 292.
Sermon Central Staff
RUN WITH ENDURANCE
Unlike most competitions however, running the race in spiritual terms is not to try to be first, but to be faithful and finish! The Christian race is not a competitive event to see who comes in first, but an endurance run to see who finishes faithfully.
It’s like the experience of Bill Broadhurst, who entered the Pepsi Challenge 10,000-meter road race in Omaha, Nebraska. Ten years earlier, surgery for an aneurysm is the brain had left him paralyzed on his left side. But on a misty July morning in 1981, he stood with 1,200 lithe- looking men and women at the starting line. The gun cracks! The crowd surges forward. Bill throws his stiff left leg forward, pivots on it as his right foot hits the ground. His slow plop-plop-plop rhythm seems to mock him as the pack fades into the distance. Sweat rolls down his face, pain pierces his ankle, but he keeps going. Six miles and two hours and twenty-nine minutes later, Bill reaches the finish line. A man approaches from a small group of bystanders. Bill recognizes him from pictures in the newspaper. He’s Bill Rodgers, the famous marathon runner. "Here," says Rodgers, putting his newly won medal around Bill’s neck. "You’ve worked harder for this than I have." Broadhurst had also been a winner. He didn’t win but he was faithful and finished the race.
Scott Hamilton Olympic skater, shortly after winning his Gold medal was quoted as saying when asked why he was looking at the medal so intently: "It was a moment to be shared……What I was doing was looking at 16 years of my life." May we when we look at the prize of eternal life be able to look back at our lives filled with training, discipline and obedience knowing that we have run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
(From a sermon by Tim Smith, The Amazing Race, 10/19/2009)
THE CHEERING CROWD
Picabo Street first joined the U.S. Ski Team when she was only 17. She went on to become the only American skier to ever win the World Cup downhill championship. In 1996 she tore a crucial ligament in her left knee. The 30 year-old Street went through extensive rehabilitation just to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Street said this about her Olympic experience: "The last four years for me have been about that one moment coming into the finish when I heard the Americans roar and saw kids' faces painted red, white and blue. That's when I felt the pride of being an American in an American Olympics."
And You have a crowd cheering for you.
Picaboo Street did not win the gold, or the silver, or the bronze medal this year. She finished 16th in her downhill competition. But the crowd cheered for her just the same. The Americans screamed and cheered because one of their own had finished the race. And you have a crowd cheering for you. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off ev...
I live in Guernsey in the Channel Islands. I remember back in the 1950s there was a short period of freak tides and currents around our coast that swept up great shoals of fish to the beaches. Before this phenomenon only relatively few people were interested in fishing but now it was so easy to catch fish that hundreds of people took to fishing and became champion fishermen overnight. Unfortunately, after a few days the sea conditions changed, the fish less plentiful and so did the amateur fishermen. The wave of enthusiasm had risen high, but didn’t continue. Fellowship in the Gospel is more demanding than that!
Perseverance is a vital element of the Christian life. I used to work for an American bank that had the slogan "Quality Loyalty Consistency - QLC". This was drummed into its employees as a means of getting the most out of them. A colleague thought they were too demanding and countered the slogan - in private - with his own interpretation of what QLC stood for: "Quality of Life Counts!" meaning that he wasn’t going to stir himself too much. But God expects more that from us - it must be "Quality Loyalty Consistency". That’s what Paul meant when he refers to "fellowship in the Gospel". Let’s be sure to put it into practice.
Some words of Jim Elliot, a Mission Aviation Fellowship colleague of Nat Saint who was martyred in bringing the Gospel to the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1955 are worth quoting: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."
Toilets and Stamps! (07.19.05--Pride--Nehemiah 3:5)
The goal was now in sight! What I had worked so hard for, was suddenly staring me in the face and it was so great to have achieved what I had worked so hard for. Potential realized, the prize won, perhaps now, I could let up a bit.
I had been trying for weeks to get a feature printed in a local newspaper; one that highlighted the work that I was doing with a local non-profit program. Having carefully written the story and making sure that the proper photos were provided for, the wait was on. Would the local newspaper print the story? Would they even print it with the photo?
When I opened the weekly paper the following Wednesday and found the story and the picture on page two, I was, needless to say, delighted. You might even say I felt a little puffed, as a feeling of self-satisfaction quickly coursed through me. The work had paid off. There was the story, every word I had written, and the picture looked great. I went to the office that day feeling pretty good about the whole thing. The hard work, the perseverance had paid off. My confidence had been stroked and it felt pretty good. Unlocking the office door and turning on the lights, I walked over to my little office and put the paper down on my desk right next to a sticky note that read, “Don’t forget! Pick up stamps today. Office toilet needs to be cleaned.” My soaring spirit landed with a thud.
Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about over-confidence:
“It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, ‘Congratulations.’ I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don’t forget a mistake like that; you just learn from it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven’t in the 30 years since.” (Carol Mann, The 19th Hold, Longmeadow.)
No one is too good, talented or successful to deny that honest good work is what brings success; not what we’ve achieved but what we are doing at the moment makes all the difference. Humble task or not, it really doesn’t matter. The Bible tells us that no one is too good for hard work. When the God calls us to get our fingers dirty, there’s no time for resting on our laurels. Sometimes toilets and stamps are as important as nice pictures and stories in the paper.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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