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THE BEGINNING OF LEE

Lee, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a self-professed atheist was sitting at his desk on Christmas Eve. A slow news day he found himself reminiscing about the Delgado family that he had featured while writing a series of articles about Chicago’s neediest people a few days earlier. The Delgado’s were comprised of a grandmother named Perfecta and her two granddaughters, Jenny age 13 and her sister Lydia 11 years old.

He remembered how unprepared he was when he walked into their two room apartment on the west side of Chicago for the interview; bare halls and bare walls, no furniture, no rugs, nothing but a kitchen table and a handful of rice in the cupboards. He learned during the interview that Jenny and Lydia only had one short-sleeved dress apiece, plus a thin gray sweater that they shared. On cold days when the girls walked the half-mile to school, one of the girls would start with the sweater and then give it to the other at the halfway mark. It was all they had. Perfecta wanted more for her granddaughters and would gladly have worked, but her severe arthritis and age made work too difficult and painful.

Since it was a slow news day Lee decided to check out a car and drive to Chicago’s west side to check up on the Delgado’s. When Jenny opened the door he couldn’t believe what he saw! His article on the Delgado’s had touched the hearts of many subscribers who responded with furniture and appliances, rugs, dozens of coats, scarves and gloves. The girls wouldn’t have to share a sweater any longer. There was cartons and cartons and boxes of food everywhere. They had so much food that the cupboards and closets couldn’t contain it. Someone had even donated a Christmas tree, and under it were mounds of presents and thousands of dollars in cash!

Lee was astonished! But what astonished him the most was what he found Perfecta and her granddaughters doing. They were preparing to give most of it away. "Why would you give so much of this away?" Lee asked. Perfecta responded, "Our neighbors are still in need. We cannot have plenty while they have nothing. This is what Jesus would want us to do." Lee was dumbfounded.

After regaining his composure he asked Perfecta another question. He wanted to know what she and the girls thought about the generosity that was shown to them. Again, Lee was not prepared for the answer. She said, "This is wonderful, this is very good." "We did nothing to deserve this; it’s all a gift from God. But," she added, "It is not his greatest gift, Lee. No, we celebrate that tomorrow. Jesus."

Lee was speechless as he drove back to the office. In the quiet of his car he noted a couple of observations. He had plenty and along with it plenty of anxiety, while the Delgado’s despite their poverty had peace. Lee had everything and yet wanted more, but the Delgado’s had nothing and yet knew generosity. Lee had everything and yet his life was as bare as the Delgado’s apartment prior to the article running. And yet the Delgado’s who had nothing were filled with hope, contentment and had a spiritual certainty. Even though Lee had so much more than the Delgado’s, he longed for what they had in their poverty.

(From a sermon by Bryan Fink "Christmas is for all the Lees/Leighs of the World" 12/25/2008)

 
Contributed By:
Doug Lyon
 
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Don’t divorce your unsaved husband or wife. Why? Paul gives this reason: The believer may have a positive, spiritual influence on their unbelieving mate. The unbeliever may get saved due to the believing spouse’s example and lifestyle. 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” I think this is what Peter had in mind as well when he wrote these instructions in 1 Peter 3: “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.”

I think a perfect illustration of this is in the life of my in-laws—Harold and Dorothy Wills. When they got married, mom was a believer and dad was an unbeliever. And dad was content to stay married to mom so they never even considered divorce. Now, Dorothy was careful not to nag Harold with the gospel. She simply prayed for him, answered his questions about the Lord when he asked, and endeavored to live the Christian life in front of him. Finally, in 1987, after 48 years of marriage, at the age of 75, Harold Wills accepted the Lord as his Savior. And I’m convinced that my father-in-law is in heaven today because of the patient, faithful witness of his wife, Dorothy.

So let me encourage you. If you are married to an unbeliever and he or she is content to remain married to you, then don’t divorce. Share the gospel with your unsaved spouses. But don’t nag them with it. Rather, pray for them. And live an exemplary Christian life in front of them. Who knows? Maybe your example will eventually lead them to Christ.

 
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REPENTANCE IN THE WHITE HOUSE

In 2001, Tim Goeglein started running the White House Office of Public Liaison, providing him almost daily access to then President George Bush for seven years. Then it all ended abruptly on February 29, 2008. A well-known blogger revealed the startling fact that 27 out of 39 of Goeglein's published articles had been plagiarized. By mid-afternoon the next day, Goeglein's career in the White House was over.

Goeglein, who admitted his guilt, said that this began "a personal crisis unequaled in my life, bringing great humiliation on my wife and children, my family, and my closest friends, including the President of the United States."

Goeglein was summoned to the White House to face the President. Once inside the Oval Office, Goeglein shut the door, turned to the President and said, "I owe you an..."

President Bush simply said: "Tim, you are forgiven."

Tim was speechless. He tried again: "But sir..."

The President interrupted him again, with a firm "Stop." Then President Bush added, "I have known grace and mercy in my life, and you are forgiven."

After a long talk, a healing process was launched for Goeglein, which included repentance, reflection, and spiritual growth. "Political power can lead to pride," Goeglein later reflected. "That was my sin. One hundred percent pride. But offering and receiving forgiveness is a different kind of strength. That's the kind of strength I want to develop now."

(Warren Cole Smith, "Wins & Losses," World magazine, 10-23-10, p. 11. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Love and Longing, 5/13/2011)

 
Contributed By:
Ritch Grimes
 
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In one of his meetings, D.L. Moody was explaining to his audience the truth that we cannot bring about spiritual changes in our lives by our own strength. He demonstrated the principal like this: “Tell me,” he said to his audience, “how can I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.” Finally after many suggestions, he picked up a pitcher and quietly filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is n...

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Contributed By:
Richard Tow
 
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CICADAS: SPIRITUALLY DEAD

I grew up in West Texas and there were a lot of Cicada insects. They’re not technically locusts but we called them that. During the hot summer days the loud, shrill sound that the males made would fill the air. You would usually see them in the trees. At times you would come across the lifeless shell they had shed. It was just an empty form of the living creature that had once been there. If you put the slightest pressure on that empty form it would crumble. That’s what I think of when I hear the phrase "a form of godliness." It bears some resemblance to the real thing. But there’s no life in it.

Is there a chance that spiritual decline in Israel’s history could repeat itself in Christian churches? Is there a chance today, that people could be faithfully going through a form of religion that bears resemblance to the real thing; but in reality is dead and lifeless?

 
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RUBY'S PRAYER

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn't share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.

What do you do when faith doesn't make sense? When God doesn't seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.

Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date - May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.

The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. "Going home for keeps?"

"Sure am."

"Well, you're in luck if you're going to Chicago."

"Not quite that far - do you live in Chicago?"

"I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton."

They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.

"Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important." Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.

The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger "This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me."

Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.

She extended her hand "You knew my husband?"

Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. "Can you tell me what day that was?"

"Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army."

"Anything special about that day," she asked.

He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. "Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day."

Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, "I had prayed for my husband's salvation for years. I believed God would save him."

"Where is your husband, Ruby?"

"He's dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!"

(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper's "The Spring of Persistent Public Love", DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

 
Contributed By:
Austin Mansfield
 
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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.

 
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REMEMBERING JOSEPH BAU--COMMUNION MEDITATION

When someone dies, we remember—we remember all the stories that filled their life. Last week a man named Joseph Bau died. It’s a name you probably don’t know, but a story worth hearing.
Joseph Bau was born on June 18, 1920, in Krakow, Poland. He became a young man just in time to experience the German invasion of Poland. He was one of three boys in a prosperous middle-class family that lived in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. Joseph had always been good at art, and at the age of 18, he enrolled in the University of Plastic Arts at Krakow.
But the war interrupted his studies. His family was forced to move to the Jewish Ghetto, and then later to the Plaschow concentration camp. Because of Joseph’s partial education in Art before the war, and because of his talent for Gothic lettering, the Nazis employed him in producing maps and signs for the camp.
Joseph’s job also enabled him to save more than 400 Jews by forging false documents and identity papers that secured their release from the camp. When asked after the war, why he did not forge documents for himself, he replied, “Then who would have done it for the other Jews?”
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, we hear a similar question, “He saved others; He cannot save himself?” And Jesus answers, “What shall ...

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ROLL-UP-YOUR-SHIRT-SLEEVES CHRISTIANITY

When DAVE THOMAS died in early 2002, he left behind more than just thousands of Wendy’s restaurants. He also left a legacy of being a practical, hard-working man who was respected for his down-to-earth values.

Among the pieces of good advice that have outlived the smiling entrepreneur is his view of what Christians should be doing with their lives. Thomas, who as a youngster was influenced for Christ by his grandmother, said that believers should be "roll-up-your-shirt sleeves" Christians.

In his book Well Done, Thomas said, "Roll-up-your-shirtsleeves Christians see Christianity as faith and action. They still make the time to talk with God through prayer, study Scripture with devotion, be super-active in their church and take their ministry to others to spread the Good Word." He went onto say they are "anonymous people who are doing good for Christ may be doing even more good than all the well-known Christians in the world."

That statement has more meat in it than a Wendy’s triple burger. Thomas knew ab out hard work in the restaurant business; and he knew it is vital in the spiritual world also.

Let’s Roll-up-our-shirt sleeves, there is plenty to do.

(Source: Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread. From a sermon by Dennis Davidson, Authentic Faith Works, 10/26/2009)

 
Contributed By:
Davon Huss
 
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MAN IN A HURRY

On the Andy Griffith Show episode "Man in a Hurry"- Malcolm tucker is a wealthy businessman from Charlotte. One Sunday he happens to have car trouble a couple of miles outside of Mayberry. Malcolm walks the rest of the way to town and meets Andy coming out of Sunday morning worship.

Andy offers to assist Malcolm but warns that it is nearly impossible to get anything done on a Sunday in Mayberry. Malcolm begins to lose patience when Wally, the filling station owner, refuses to fix his car because it is his policy not to work on Sunday. Furthermore, Malcolm is dumbfounded when he learns that he can't even use the telephone because the elderly Mindelbright sisters use the party line to visit on Sunday afternoons, since they are unable to get around very well.

Back at the Taylor house, things don't get much better for Malcolm. He explodes into a tirade, screaming that the citizens of Mayberry are living in another world--that this is the twentieth century, and while the whole world is living in a desperate space age, the town of Mayberry shuts down because two old ladies' feet fall asleep.

Out on the front porch Malcolm actually begins to relax as Barney and Andy sing the old spiritual "Church in the Wildwood." But this calm is short lived when Gomer informs Malcolm that his cousin Goober has offered to fix the car. Later, when Gomer returns with the car, Malcolm is surprised that there is no charge for the repair since it was just a clogged fuel line. Goober actually considered it an honor to work on such a fine machine.

As Mr. Tucker prepares to leave, he stops and contemplates the events of the afternoon as well as his return to the activities of his hectic life. Malcolm realizes that the very characteristics of Mayberry life that initially frustrated him so much are, in fact, the priorities he needs to establish in his own life. He decides to put his business on hold and stay the night in Mayberry.

I think the reason the episode is so popular is that we can all see ourselves in Malcolm Tucker. We can all get caught up in our daily activities to the extent that we are blinded to everything else going on around us, and when things don't go our way, we explode! One man said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." The next time that something unexpected or bad happens (not if but when), may our trials make us stronger in our faith.

 
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