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Staff Picks of Free Sermons and PRO Church Media
The Spirit of Power that we receive is not like the human power that we recognize as strong. It’s a power unlike anything we can do on our own.
A young man growing up in the wrong part of Houston became a bully. He would get in fights in school, in the neighborhood, and began mugging people to get spending money. He even beat up people just for the sake of doing it.
He learned to box, and became pretty good at it. He began to make a lot of money and could have almost anything he wanted. One day, during his training session for an upcoming bout, he heard his mom talking to his sister on the telephone about his favorite nephew. The young boy had had a seizure and now lay in a coma in the hospital. Doctors said he would probably die, but that if he came out of the coma he wouldn’t be able to move his limbs, or speak, or do any of the human functions we consider part of living.
He ran into the room where his mom was on the phone and shouted, “Momma, call the hospital and tell those doctors to give him the best of everything. Tell them I’ll take care of all the bills, to fly in the best doctors from wherever they have to. Tell them who I am, and that I’ll take care of everything — whatever it costs.”
His mom spoke to the doctors, and then told him, “Son, you’re just going to have to pray.”
He realized then how grave the situation was. When someone tells you the only thing you can do is pray, things are looking pretty bad.
Then it hit him. All of his money, his fame, his influence, his friends — none of that could solve this problem. It was out of his hands, out of the doctor’s hands, out of everyone’s hands. For the first time, he was totally powerless.
And for the first time, George Foreman dropped to his knees and prayed.
He wasn’t sure God existed, but he knew that when all else failed, people prayed. He asked God, if he really existed, to help his nephew. Then he got back in bed. A few seconds later, he got back on his knees and offered to give up all his wealth if God would heal his nephew. Then he got back in bed again. A few seconds later he got back on his knees a third time and got angry at God for letting this happen to his nephew, a child who hadn’t experienced life yet. George told God to take his life instead. Let the boy live and take George’s life instead.
The next morning George’s sister called from the hospital. His nephew had woken up and could move his eyes, but the doctors said he wouldn’t ever walk again.
She called later that day, and the boy had begun moving his toes. The next day the boy was talking, and a week later he was on his way home, “walking, talking, and back to normal.” The doctors had no logical explanation. But George Foreman knew God had just given him a miracle.
Three months later in March 1977, George Foreman died in his locker room after fighting Jimmy Young. He collapsed in a heap, and entered what he describes as “a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit.”
In his book, God in My Corner — A Spiritual Memoir, George wrote “I knew I was dead, and that this wasn’t heaven. I was terrified, knowing I had no way out. Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine. If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt. …
“ I screamed with every ounce of strength in me, ‘I don’t care if this is death. I still believe in God.’
“Instantly, what seemed to be like a giant hand reached down and snatched me out of the terrifying place. Immediately, I was back inside my body in the dressing room.”
George accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, and devoted himself to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. He realized his human power, his money, his prestige, were worthless in the next life, and meant to be used as tools to lead others to Jesus during this one.
He went on to win the Heavyweight Championship of the World twice. He was ordained as an evangelist in the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and became pastor of a small church. He also became involved in prison and hospital ministries.
You probably know him best for the George Foreman Grills that continue to sell around the world. And he recently baptized his own 23-year-old daughter who finally decided to dedicated her own life to Jesus.
That’s God’s idea of power.
Last Tuesday night on Prime Time they showed the new Christ, De Jesus from Puerto Rico. He claims to be the better Christ and declares there is no sin, no Satan, and no one will go to hell. They interviewed several church members as to what they thought about their Christ. And they believe in him fully. One Hispanic man and his wife were worth $6 million but had already given De Jesus $2 million and would probably give him more. Why do people follow a man like that? Because their spiritual GPS system is not working. Of course, it may have never worked They don’t know the Word of God and probably don’t even care what the Bible says.
NOT WHY, BUT WHAT
Technically speaking, David Ring was born dead. Quick acting medical personnel were able to get him breathing, but oxygen deprivation left him with cerebral palsy. He suffered from a speech impediment, hands that don’t cooperate, and a limp. As if that wasn’t enough adversity for one person, both his parents died by the time he was fourteen years old, and his hemophiliac brothers subsequently dies of AIDS.
David’s remaining family members feared that David would never have a normal life, because they assumed he would never marry, have children, drive a car, earn a living or take care of himself.
As a young teenager, David came surrender his life to God and came to see his disability as a gift. Once he began to see his circumstances as being chosen for him by God, he began moving forward.
Today he is married, had four beautiful children, drives a car, and speaks to more than 250 audiences a year. At his speaking engagements he sells T-shirts bearing the slogan “Don’t Whine…SHINE!”
David ring has taken responsibility for his life—the bad, the difficult and the wonderful. And he continues to celebrate the difference he is able to make in the lives of others.
When people wrestle with difficult life experiences, the why question often gets in the way. One of David Rings Axioms is “Don’t ask God why. Ask What. What do you want me to do with this?”
SOURCE: Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop, Seven Keys to Spiritual Renewal (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1989), pp. 85-86.
Stephen Baldwin recounts in (chapter 3 of) his book “the Unusual Suspect” how God’s love was active in his life, even when Stephen was ignorant of and at odds with God:
• as a fourth Grader, singing the 23rd Psalm as David the shepherd boy in an opera that made women weep—and provided a rare “spiritual moment” with his distant dad
• his role in Godspell, proclaiming the Gospel night after night as a high schooler even though he could have CARED LESS about God—about which a friend years later remarked: “There’s NO WAY you could be a part of proclaiming the Gospel over and over and it not have an effect on you” (p. 36)
• his unusual circumstances in how he met his Brazilian wife (who was also unsaved at the time) and how years later, when she hired a Brazilian nanny,
o little did they realize that this nanny—who happened to be a Christian, asked her church to pray for her, AND
o that someone in that chu...
Blessed are the merciful. I learned the truth of this Beatitude from Henri Nouwen, a priest who used to teach at Harvard University. At the height of his career, Nouwen moved from Harvard to a community called Daybreak, near Tornonto, in order to take on the demanding chores required by his friendship with a man named Adam. Nouwen now ministers not to the intellectuals but to a young man who is considered by many a useless person who should have been aborted.
Nouwen describes his friend: “Adam is a 25-year-old man who cannot speak, cannot dress or undress himself, cannot walk alone, cannot eat without much help. He does not cry or laugh. Only occasionally does he make eye contact. His back is distorted. His arm and leg movements are twisted. He suffers from severe epilepsy and, despite heavy medication, sees few days without grand-mal seizures. Sometimes, as he grows suddenly rigid, he utters a howling groan. On a few occasions I’ve seen one big tear roll down his cheek.
“It takes me about an hour and a half to wake Adam up, give him his medication, carry him to his bath, wash him, shave him, clean his teeth, dress him, walk him to the kitchen, give him his breakfast, put him in his wheelchair and bring him to the place where he spends most of his day with therapeutic exercises.”
On a visit to Nouwen in Toronto, I watched him perform that routine with Adam, and I must admit I had a fleeting as to whether this was the best use of his time. I have heard Henri Nouwen speak, and have read many of his books. He has much to offer. Could not someone else take over the menial task of caring for Adam? When I cautiously broached the subject with Nouwen himself, he informed me that I had completely misinterpreted what was going on. “I am not giving up anything,” he insisted. “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”
Then Nouwen began listing for me all the benefits he has gained. The hours spent with Adam, he said, have given him an inner peace so fulfilling that it makes most of his other, more high-minded tasks seem boring and superficial by contrast. Early on, as he sat beside that helpless child-man, he realized how marked with rivalry and competition, how obsessive, was his drive for success in academia and Christian ministry. Adam taught him that “what makes us human is not our mind but our heart, not our ability to think but our ability to love.” From Adam’s simple nature, he had glimpsed the “emptiness that desert monks achieved only after much searching and discipline.
All during the rest of our interview, Henri Nouwen circled back to my question, as if he could not believe I could ask such a thing. He kept thinking of other ways he had benefited from his relationship with Adam. Truly, he was enjoying a new kind of spiritual peace, acquired not within the stately quadrangles of Harvard, but by the bedside of incontinent Adam. I left Daybreak convicted of my own spiritual poverty, I who so carefully arrange my writer’s life to make it efficient and single-focused. The merciful are indeed blessed, I learned, for they will be shown mercy.
Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995), 119-121
Sermon Central Staff
HOW TO PROMOTE GOOD HEALTH IN INFANTS
A person who is "born again" starts a new life similar to that of a newborn infant. Seven rules that promote good health in babies can be adapted and applied to a Christian’s spiritual growth.
1. Daily Food. Take in the "pure milk of the word" through study and meditation.
2. Fresh Air. Pray often or you will faint. Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.
3. Regular Exercise. Put into practice what you learn in God's Word.
4. Adequate Rest. Rely on God at all times in simple faith.
5. Clean Surroundings. Avoid evil company and whatever will weaken you spiritually.
6. Loving Care. Be part of a church where you will benefit from a pastor's teaching and Christian fellowship.
7. Periodic Checkups. Regularly examine your spiritual health.
(From a sermon by Steve Trail, The Character of the Early Church, 9/1/2011)
THE CHURCH'S ROLE IN PARENTING
Recently reviewing the new book by Dr. Tim Kimmel title, CONNECTING CHURCH & HOME, I found my mind and heart really pierced with the current state of our in-church parenting.
Churches and families need each other. And no, I am not referring to our family’s use of the free child care that the church provides to us a few times every week, and I am not suggesting the need of our church leaders for a deep dig into our pockets as the offering plate passes.
In my role as layman/teacher, I am continuing to witness many families assigned the great responsibility of training up children to those church workers. Parents who depend on the church to do the bulk of the spiritual heavy lifting, are seldom satisfied. No matter how hard we work and try to mold and sculpt behavior in the 2-3 hours of time we have with the kids every week, the co-dependent parents regularly seem to communicate how the church should do more. Jokingly, I wonder if the "do more" is simply their petition to open the doors on Friday night in order to provide another opportunity at free child care.
As Kimmel states in his book, the church is to teach and train, but it’s supposed to be in complement to what’s happening at home, not in place of. There’s the issue.
The role of a parent is to connect to the heart of his or her child in such a way he or she prepares that child to more easily connect to the heart of God. Strong churches don’t make strong families. "Strong families make strong churches."
The best thing churches can do for parents is to equip and encourage them to bring Jesus home.
The best thing parents can do for churches is to bring a carload of family members filled with Jesus back to church each week.
When God’s truth, love, mercy, and grace are what is happening in church on Sunday and in our homes throughout the week, the world will take notice.
MORE INFORMATION from Tim Kimmel’s publisher can be found at:
Brandon A. Bradley told his story in Pray magazine last year: “I am a surgical assistant—the surgeon’s right-hand man. At one point in my career, I lost my passion. I wanted a job with spiritual significance, and I prayed for that. Imagine my shock when God led me to a position in plastic surgery. Why would God want me in a hotbed of vanity? I wondered. During my quiet times, the Lord assured me that this was part of his plan, and that I should wait upon his direction. So I obeyed, continuing to pray that the Lord would use me in this job. The first thing I heard him say when I started my new position was, ‘Gather and pray in my name.’ There were only a few Christians who worked in the plastic surgery department, but I started with them. ‘I’m going to start praying for our workplace each Monday, 15 minutes before we clock in,’ I told them. ‘I’ll be in Operating Room 2, and I hope you will join me.’ We met each week, praying for our work, our colleagues, and our patients. Soon we were praying boldly for opportunities to witness. By the end of that year, God had answered many prayers, which included 10 friends who accepted Christ as their savior God has blown me away with his answers, and he has given me a purpose far beyond patient care. He expanded my circle of influence by transferring me to the main surgery department, where I now rotate through all four surgery departments in the hospital campus. I have been able to start several prayer groups throughout the hospital. Each group focuses on invi...
J. GHANDI SAID IT BEST WHEN HE SAID, “OUR CIVILIZATION TODAY, IS LIKE A MONKEY WITH A BLOW TORCH IN A ROOM FULL OF DYNAMITE.” K. JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU A FRENCH CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHER WHO WRITES, "THE END OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE WAS A MINOR EVENT COMPARED WITH WHAT WE BEHOLD. WE ARE LOOKING AT THE LIQUIDATION OF WHAT IS KNOWN AS THE ’MODERN WORLD.’" M. A BRITISH JOURNALIST NAMED MICHAEL SMITH SAID RECENTLY, "I HAVE TO REPORT THE AFFAIRS OF A WORLD WHICH HAS LOST ITS FAITH; WHICH IS LIKE A DROWNING MAN DESPERATELY THRASHING AROUND FOR LACK OF OXYGEN. SINCE THE TIME OF CHRIST, THERE HAS BEEN NO PERIOD IN HISTORY WHERE THERE HAS BEEN THE SAME FEELING OF...SPIRITUAL POVERTY." O. A GERMAN SOCIOLOGIST NAMED MAX WEBER WRITES, "OUR CIVILIZATION IS COLLAPSING BEFORE OUR EYES AND NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE." P. EIGHTY YEARS AGO, DR. FRANCIS PEABODY OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY, SAID, "WE DO NOT KNOW WHENCE WE COME, OR WHITHER WE GO, AND WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT, WE DO NOT CARE; WHAT WE DO KNOW IS, THAT WE ARE MOVING FASTER THAN ANYONE EVER MOVED BEFORE TOWARD THE KINGDOM OF GOD."
Russ Blowers is active in his local Indianapolis Rotary club. At club meetings each week a member gives a brief statement about his job. When it was his turn, Russ said: "I’m with a global enterprise. We have branches in every country in the world. We have our representatives in nearly every parliament and boardroom on earth. We’re into motivation and behaviour alteration. We run hospitals, feeding stations, crisis pregnancy centers, universities, publishing houses, and nursing homes. We care for our clients from birth to death. We are into life insurance and fire insurance. We perform spiritual heart transplants. Our original Organizer owns all the real estate on earth plus an assortment of galaxies and constellations. He knows everything and lives everywhere. Our product is free for the asking. (There’s not enough money to buy it.) Our CEO was born in a hick town, worked as a carpenter, didn’t own a home, was misunderstood by his family, hated by enemies, walked on water, was condemned to death without a trial, and arose from the dead--I talk with him everyday."