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Staff Picks of Free Sermons and PRO Church Media
James H. Cook, Jr.
I heard of a couple who, as they were paying for groceries in the check-out line, were discussing their soon to be 50th wedding anniversary, when the young cashier interjected by saying, "I can’t imagine being married to same man for 5o years!"
The wife wisely replied, teaching the young girl a lesson at the same time, "Well, Honey, don’t get married until you can ."
A man by the name of Max DePree related the following heart-touching story:
Esther, my wife, and I have a granddaughter named Zoe, the Greek word for life. She was born prematurely and weighed one pound, seven ounces, so small that my wedding ring could slide up her arm to her shoulder. The neonatologist who first examined her told us that she had a 5 to 10 percent chance of living three days. When Esther and I scrubbed up for our first visit and saw Zoe in her isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit, she had two IVs in her navel, one in her foot, a monitor on each side of her chest, and a respirator tube and a feeding tube in her mouth.
To complicate matters, Zoe’s biological father had jumped ship the month before Zoe was born. Realizing this, a wise and caring nurse named Ruth gave me my instructions.
"For the next several months, at least, you’re the surrogate father. I want you to come to the hospital every day to visit Zoe, and when you come, I want you to rub her body and her legs and arms with the tip of your finger. While you’re caressing her, you should tell her over and over how much you love her, because she has to be able to connect your voice to your touch."
God knew that we also needed both his voice and his touch. So he gave us not only the Word but also his Son. And he gave us not only Jesus Christ but also his body, the church. God’s voice and touch say, "I love you."
But one time about six years ago I was complaining to someone about the Christian church, when suddenly an image flashed in my mind of a bride and a groom on their wedding day. In that mental image I walked up to the groom and said to him, "Your bride sure is ugly." Now no one would ever do that because no matter how unattractive I may personally find a bride, to the groom that bride is wonderful, she’s radiant and beautiful. Then then Lord spoke to my heart and said, "Tim, every time you criticize my church you’re telling me, that my bride is ugly."
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...
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"I recently read a moving story that David Jeremiah wrote about the founder of World Vision, the international Christian relief agency. Bob Pierce had advanced leukemia, but he went to visit a colleague in Indonesia before he died. As they were walking through a small village, they came upon a young girl lying on a bamboo mat next to a river. She was dying of cancer and had only a short time to live.
Bob was indignant. He demanded to know why she wasn’t in a clinic. But his friend explained that she was from the jungle and wished to spend her last days next to the river, where it was cool and familiar.
As Bob gazed at her, he felt such compassion that he got down on his knees in the mud, took her hand, and began stroking it. Although she didn’t understand him, he prayed for her. Afterward she looked up and said something. "What did she say?" Bob asked his friend.
His friend relied, "She said, ’If I could only sleep again, if I could only sleep again.’" It seemed that her pain was too great to allow her the relief of rest.
Bob began to weep. Then he reached into his pocket and took out his own sleeping pills, the ones his doctor had given him because the pain from his leukemia was too great for him to sleep at night.
He handed the bottle to his friend. :You make sure this young lady gets a good night’s sleep," he said, "as long as these pills last."
Bob was ten days away from where he could get his prescription refilled. That meant ten painful and restless nights. That day his servanthood cost him greatly. But even in the midst of his suffering, God had infused a supernatural sense of satisfaction that he had done the right thing.
Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, 95
The Injured Bride
Because of past experiences the list of questions and advice grow as I perform Weddings. Another important statement I make to the bride and groom during the Wedding Rehearsal is to put hand lotion on their hands when they get home that night and to not force the ring on the finger during the ceremony. In one particular Wedding, as the groom was putting the ring on the bride's finger I noticed she began to cry. Now for a moment I thought it might have been because the ceremony was so touching, but when I realized that the groom had broken her finger I understood the tears. Naturally she was nervous and so her hands were swollen. As he tried to put the ring on her finger it would not go over the knuckle so he put a little oomph into it and broke her finger. This wasn't my best ceremony, but the woman's finger healed nicely and the couple is still happily married although the broken finger thing comes up occasionally.
South East Christian Church in Louisville, KY is a congregation of about 15,000 members. It’s so huge they have a very specialized paid staff. For example, they have a staff member in charge of something they call the “wedding department.” One Sunday, a staff member from that department was privileged to be asked to baptize a new convert. On the Sunday he was to baptize his friend, something must have unsettled him – maybe it was the size of the congregation present, or the pressure of the moment.
Whatever it was, that morning, in front of the entire congregation he took the man’s confession and then declared: “I now pronounce you….” And then stopped as he realized what he’d said. Then he smiled as he continued: “I now pronounce you… baptized!”
A BETTER VOW
Eric Snyder, Minister of the Farwell Church of Christ tells this story:
I recently did a wedding. During the wedding rehearsal, the groom pulled me aside and made me an offer.
He said "Look, I’ll give you $100 if you’ll change the wedding vows. When you get to me and the part where I’m to promise to ’love, honor and obey,’ I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave that part out." He gave me a $100 bill and walked away.
The day of the wedding the bride and groom were in front of me and we were to that part of the ceremony where the vows are exchanged. When it came time for the groom’s vows, I looked at the young man and said "Will you promise to bow down before her, obey her every command and wish, serve her breakfast in bed every morning of your life and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall
The groom gulped and looked...
The Flaming Wedding Dress
In one of my first weddings I learned to ask an important question. I now ask each bride if her dress has long sleeves. Why? In one particular wedding, the bride and groom approached the unity candle and as they were lighting the candle, the bride's sleeve caught fire. The groom quickly beat out the fire. The bride was unharmed, but as you can tell, the ceremony just wasn't quite as special from that point on.
At a recent wedding I was at a table with many unchurched people, the man beside me was coming back from the open bar with beer two at a time and sitting one of them in front of me so he would not appear to the hosts as being "greedy"
I later found out that a family, one of whom had witnessed this wedding, left our church because of my drinking. I should point out that I was not drinking although that is a matter of personal taste not religious conviction. The truth is I would rather associate with the two fisted beer drinker than the judgmental believer. How will we ever reach the lost if we continue to cling to silly legalist ideas and avoid people while claiming we are avoiding "the appearence of evil"?