Summary: An Encounter with the Risen Lord Strengthens Our Weak Hearts with Simple, Rejuvenating Faith! (the 6 headings in this sermon were heard in a sermon by my mentor Doug Kostowski, Miami, FL. The body of the material is mine)

Short summation of the gospel/crucifixion? Bring up to speed succinctly.

And the story grows on by His mercy

Certain people stand out to me. People that are unusual. Remarkable. Memorable. People that directly or indirectly shape my outlook on life—maybe some even my life itself.

• High school youth group sponsors

• Bill Cosby

• Elisabeth Eliot

• Michael Jordan—Wilt Chamberlain

• Bruce Lee

• U2

• Founders of our country/Constitution/Declaration of Independence

• Martin Luther King Jr

• Thomas Edison/Ben Franklin

• Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Rich DeVos

• 1971 Dophins

• Doug Kostowski (brilliant communicator and preacher who gave me much of the structure and ideas in this sermon)

But there is one particular man that really stands out: A man unlike any other. He wasn’t your usual “unlike any other.”

Not about

• Jumping higher

• How many shiny, powerful, leather seated cars he had in a garage

• Number of talk shows that sought after him

• Gossip columns of Star/People/Us

• Guiness Book of World Records.

In fact in many ways it was hard to tell that he was any different. He did seem like us:

• Wasn’t wealthy

• tired after a long day

• hungry when he was too busy or two focused or too broke to get some food

• clothing was ordinary

• not especially handsome

• slept when he could find time, and even then it wasn’t always enough

• had a mommy that loved him

he was just a regular living, breathing man like us, with skin and bones who would

• bleed if he got cut . . . oh yes, he bled like us. And yet unlike us.

turn to Luke 24:13-35 (This is a story of how he was unlike any other, and yet, two men, so very like us encountered what made him so different.)

Read the Story

How were they like us? Eyes and hearts, questions and disappointment. Confusion and misunderstanding. Wanting, calling, trying to find something to make sense of a world turned upside down. Longing for something real, something simple, something solid that they could hold on to, to lift them up.

Longing for the simplicity, strength, and life of faith that they had lost

Max Lucado (Angels were Silent)

Describes how in a similar way we cry out for something to cut through the clutter of life, turning to faith and religion to give us simplicity, instead finding things just as complicated:

Enter, religion. We Christians have a solution for the confusion don’t we? “Leave the cluttered world of humanity,” we invite, “and enter the sane, safe garden of religion.”

Let’s be honest.

Instead of a “sane, safe garden,” how about a “wild and woolly sideshow”? It shouldn’t be the case, but when you step back and look at how religion must appear to the unreligious, well, the picture of an amusement park comes to mind.

Flashing lights of ceremony and pomp. Roller-coaster thrills of emotion. Loud music. Strange people. Funny clothes.

Like barkers on a midway preachers persuade: “Step right up to the Church of Heavenly Hope of High Angels and Happy Hearts ….”

• “Over here, madam; that church is too tough on folks like you. Try us, we teach salvation by sanctification which leads to purification and stabilization. That is unless you prefer the track of predestination which offers …”

• “Your attention, please sir. Try our premillennial, non-charismatic, Calvinistic Creed service on for size … you won’t be disappointed.”

A safe garden of serenity? No wonder a lady said to me once, “I’d like to try Jesus, if I could just get past the religion.”

He goes on to tell a favorite story of his where this simplicity was found:

Once a bishop who was traveling by ship to visit a church across the ocean. While en route, the ship stopped at an island for a day. He went for a walk on a beach. He came upon three fishermen mending their nets.

Curious about their trade he asked them some questions. Curious about his ecclesiastical robes, they asked him some questions. When they found out he was a Christian leader, they got excited. “We Christians!” they said, proudly pointing to one another.

The bishop was impressed but cautious. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it.

“What do you say, then, when you pray?”

“We pray, ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us.’ ”

The bishop was appalled at the primitive nature of the prayer. “That will not do.” So he spent the day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer. The fishermen were poor but willing learners. And before the bishop sailed away the next day, they could recite the prayer with no mistakes.

The bishop was proud.

On the return trip the bishop’s ship drew near the island again. When the island came into view the bishop came to the deck and recalled with pleasure the men he had taught and resolved to go see them again. As he was thinking a light appeared on the horizon near the island. It seemed to be getting nearer. As the bishop gazed in wonder he realized the three fishermen were walking toward him on the water. Soon all the passengers and crew were on the deck to see the sight.

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