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Babe Ruth had hit 714 home runs during his baseball career and was playing one of his last full major league games. It was the Braves versus the Reds in Cincinnati. But the great Ruth was no longer as agile as he had once been. He fumbled the ball and threw badly, and in one inning alone his errors were responsible for most of the five runs scored by Cincinnati. As the Babe walked off the field after the third out and headed toward the dugout, a crescendo of yelling and booing reached his ears. Just then a boy jumped over the railing onto the playing field. With tears streaming down his face, he threw his arms around the legs of his hero. Ruth didn’t hesitate for one second. He picked up the boy, hugged him, and set him down on his feet, patting his head gently. The noise from the stands came to an abrupt halt. Suddenly there was no more booing. In fact, hush fell over the entire park. In those brief moments, the fans saw two heroes: Ruth, who in spite of his dismal day on the field could still care about a little boy; and the small lad, who cared about the feelings of another human being. Both had melted the hearts of the crowd.
Ted W. Engstrom, The Pursuit of Excellence, 1982, Zondervan Corporation, pp. 66-67.
In 1996, the Chicago Tribune ran a story on Buddy Post, a lottery winner who is “living proof that money can’t buy happiness.” In 1988, he won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania Lottery. Since then, he has been convicted “of assault, his sixth wife left him, his brother was convicted of trying to kill him, and his landlady successfully sued him for one-third of the jackpot.”
“Money didn’t change me,” insists Post, a 58-year-old former carnival worker and cook. “It changed the people around me that I knew, that I thought cared a little bit about me. But they only cared about the money.”
Post is trying to auction off seventeen future payments, valued at nearly $5 million, in order to pay off taxes, legal fees, and a number of failed business ventures.
He plans to spend his life as an ex-winner pursuing lawsuits he has filed against police, judges, and lawyers who he says conspired to take his money. “I’m just going to stay at home and mind my p’s and q’s,” he said. “Money draws flies.”
Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999), 169-170.
Sermon Central Staff
BULLET-PROOF VEST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Terry Schafer, a young wife, lived with her husband in the small city of Moline, Illinois. She had a special gift she wanted to give to her husband for Christmas but was afraid that they would not be able to afford it. She started shopping for it in September, knowing it was a specialized piece of equipment and not every store would sell it. She finally found it -- and to her dismay it was way beyond their budget. But she came up the idea of laying it away and making payments to the storekeeper. She pitched her idea to the store manager. The business man sympathized with her situation and said, "Since your husband is a policeman, I doubt that you're going to take advantage of me. Why don't you give your first payment today -- and I'll let you take the gift home. Make sure you make the other payments and pay it off before Christmas." She agreed.
The only problem was she was one of those people who couldn't keep a secret. She couldn't wait till Christmas to give the gift to her husband. That September night she stood there beaming with a wrapped present on the table of their small home. She said Merry Christmas and gave her husband a peck on the cheek.
Neither one of them realized at that moment how significant that gift would end up being. In fact in the not-to-distant future it would mean the difference between life and death for her husband.
On Oct. 1 of that same year Patrolman David Schafer was working the night shift and got a call on his police radio. A drugstore robbery was in process. Racing to the scene he arrived just in time to observe the suspect getting into his car, starting the engine and speeding away. Quickly David switched on his siren and began the pursuit. Three blocks later the getaway car suddenly pulled over the side of the road and stopped. The suspect was still behind the wheel of his car as David cautiously approached. He got about three feet from the window when the suspect fired an automatic pistol sending a .45 caliber slug into David's abdomen.
7:00 AM the next morning -- Terry answered the door of their home to face a police officer telling her that her husband had been shot trying to apprehend a robbery suspect. As he detailed the news, he said he had bad news and good news. As she listened, she was glad that she didn't wait till Christmas to give her husband the gift. David had been shot point blank with a 45 caliber pistol and survived. She was very glad the shopkeeper had let her take that gift home that day. The gift Terry had purchased for her husband was a bullet proof vest -- and it had saved his life. He was in the hospital with deep bruises to his chest, not a bullet wound. She had given her husband the gift of life.
The reason Christ came -- was to provide for us a vest of righteousness. He paid the price with His blood that he might protect us with a shield that sin could not penetrate. Put it on. The only way you can lose is if you take it off.
(From a sermon by Tim Vamosi, The Breastplate of Righteousness, 1/4/2011)
A. Todd Coget
Green Bay Packers’ [now Seattle Seahawks] head coach Mike Holmgren looks back at a heartbreaking moment, when he was cut from the New York Jets as backup quarterback to Joe Namath, that directed him to a bigger plan.
"I had committed my life to Jesus Christ when I was 11, but in my pursuit to make a name for myself in football, I left God next to my dust-covered Bible.
But after getting cut from the Jets, I pulled out my Bible and found comfort in a verse I had memorized in Sunday school: ’Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path...
CREATED TO BE USED
In his book The Pursuit of Excellence, Ted Engstrom wrote these words: "I was cleaning out a desk drawer when I found a flashlight I hadn't used in over a year. I flipped the switch, but wasn't surprised when it gave no light. I unscrewed it and shoot it to get the batteries out, but they wouldn't budge.
"Finally, after some effort, they came loose. What a mess! Battery acid had corroded the entire inside of the flashlight. The batteries were new when I'd put them in, and I'd stored them in a safe, warm place. But there was one problem. Those batteries weren't made to be warm and comfortable. They were designed to be turned on -- to be used.
It's the same with us. We weren't created to be warm, safe and comfortable. You and I were made to be 'turned on' -- put our love to work, to apply our patience in difficult, trying situations -- to let our light shine."
A young man learns what’s most important in life from the guy next door.
It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.
Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday." Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. "Jack, did you hear me?" "Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.
"Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ’his side of the fence’ as he put it," Mom told him. "I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said. "You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life," she said. "He’s the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral," Jack said.
As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.
The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped suddenly.
"What’s wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked. "The box is gone," he said. What box?" Mom asked. "There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ’the thing I value most, ’" Jack said.
It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. "Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said.
"I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.
Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.
"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these word s engraved: "Jack, thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."
"The thing he valued most...was...my time."
Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. "Why?" Janet, his assistant asked. "I need some time to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way, Janet...thanks for your time!"
Christopher Roberts (Barrister)
Who’s Going To Wake Jesus Up?
The bible offers us a variety of types of prayer, which we can offer up to God, depending on what our circumstances are. We can pray for provisions, or lost souls, or that God might bring relief to the suffering. But what kind of prayer should we offer up to God when the storms of life hit us? Quite frankly, and this will surprise you until you read on ahead, but we should offer up no prayers when the storms sweep over us.
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus got into a boat, with the disciples in hot pursuit. Suddenly, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. There are a number of key words in this passage, but one of them is the word ’suddenly’. When difficult circumstances hit a Christian suddenly, to the point of overwhelming the soul, such circumstances area not from God. For one thing, it is rare for God to act suddenly. This is not to suggest that God cannot act suddenly. A sudden circumstance sweeping over the soul often, but not always, can come from the enemy. But, that does not mean that the enemy has the last say in the matter. A storm thrown up by the enemy, is permitted by God, and controlled by God, which is something that the disciples had not worked out. And to be fair, if I had been up in the boat with the disciples, I would have acted no differently to them.
A key observation from Matthew 8:23-27, was that Jesus was asleep in the boat. Now, unless Jesus talked in his sleep, Jesus would not have much to say while he was asleep. And this is exactly the same situation when we face storms. Jesus is with us, but he may not be saying much to us. And just because he is not speaking, does not imply that he is not with us in the storm. The mistake that the disciples made was to wake Jesus up and ask him for help. Let me ask you one question to consider. If the disciples had not woken Jesus up would the boat have sunk? I’m going to take a guess here. My guess is that the boat would not have sunk. But, because the disciples lacked trust in Jesus, they woke him up and asked for help. After he had given the disciples a bit of a telling off, and I would have too if someone had woken me up from a nice sleep, Jesus calmed the storm, and they all arrived safely at their destination.
Now let us presume that, later in the day, the disciples got in the boat and returned home. Let us presume that another storm arose while Jesus was taking a nap. This time, would the disciples have woken Jesus up, or would they have trusted him to get them to the other side? My guess is that no one would have woken Jesus up. I once went through a difficult circumstances, where I spent a lot of time and effort praying and fasting that God would help me. Over time, God came to my rescue. Recently, I went through the exact same circumstance, but this time I did not utter a word in prayer to God. I just trusted him in the matter. And I got the same results as I did from the first time I went through the same circumstances, when I spent a lot of effort in prayer and fasting. I learn that when the storms of life hit us, and the waves sweep over our soul, it is not necessarily a time to wear ourselves out in prayer, trying to get God to change my circumstances. In fact, it would have probably served me well to have prayed and asked God to keep me in the storm, until I had learnt the lesson he was trying to teach me, but I was not that brave.
So, if you are going through the storms of life, and you feel that the waves are sweeping over your soul, remember! Jesus is in that boat with you. And although you cannot hear his voice, this does not mean that he is not with you, because he is. So the final question is this, are you going to wake Jesus up and cry for help, or are you going to learn to trust Jesus to get you through the storm, and safely to the other side?
WHY WE CELEBRATE THE 4TH
But there is a reason why we celebrate on the 4th and we can’t forget that! It was the day the day the colonies declared their independence from England. Freedom was declared in some famous words of the Declaration of Independence, which starts:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
And it was signed first by John Hancock and then by representatives from all the states. We still honor John Hancock by saying, "Put your John Hancock on there," whenever we ask for a signature. If you want to get a blank stare, ask someone for their "Josiah Bartlett." He’s the second guy to sign, but nobody remembers him.
This was an exciting day! A day of joy and celebration. But what followed was anything but a simple joy or easy. You see, every Independence Day, my thoughts race ahead to what followed July 4th. Actually they run all the way to December of 1776. They go to this point in history because it’s here that that history shows us how brittle and fragile was the hope of independence.
George Washington was commanding an army that was disintegrating before his eyes. It looked as if all hope for victory was gone. He had made a military blunder that had lost New York to the British Army. The Congress had fled from Philadelphia because the city was seen as a lost cause. The Continental Army was low on gunpowder, guns, food, and other supplies. The civilians that had celebrated so heartily on July 4,5,6th, were now wondering if it would be wisest just to give up at this point. Most of the soldiers would finish their enlistments on December 31, and other didn’t wait that long and simply deserted. George Washington’s Army was about to be destroyed by British troops and German Mercenaries (Hessians). The future of America was hanging on by a thread.
Which makes the events of Christmas Day 1776 all the more amazing. Washington led his troops across the Deleware River against incredible odds. There was hail and sleet, and iceflows. The operation took hours longer than originally thought. Two of the generals failed to join in the fight because of the bad conditions. But Washington led his troops against all odds on a nine mile march and defeated the better trained and equipped Hessians and turned the war around. An almost impossible mission completed, and a seemingly undefeatable enemy, defeated. The future hung by a thread, but a thre...
Tammy Faye Baker in one of those TV reality series went to a book signing and several other celebrities were with her – She was asked “What advice would you give to a parent who first finds out their child is gay?” – She responded, “Love them anyway – love them unconditionally” – she blew everyone away (especially Vanilla Ice) by her acceptance and her love. To be honest it was an extremely touching moment for me as well just to hear her talk of love. But I had to go back to some things the scripture says in about 5 places. That if someone is a so-called believer (AND THAT IS IMPORTANT!) and they are living in sin that we are to have nothing to do with them. Who said this? Jesus that loves everyone to the max guy - in Matthew 18:17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
-truth and love should never be separated – they go together - sometimes people do lack love in their pursuit of truth – that is why we have to grow in understanding and truth from the Word of God
THE ROOT BEARS THE FRUIT
A farmer one planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property. The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields. As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit. One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house " the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill. As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed " the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack. Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible. Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream. After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it. Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house.
The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation.