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Summary: This is the first message in my SURVIVOR series, focusing upon God’s Word as the true guidebook for life (09-15-2002).

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Opening Comments

Today we begin our new SURVIVOR series. Our theme will be “Surviving the Challenges of Life.” This is not, of course, an original idea. It is based upon the wildly popular reality TV show called “Survivor.” The fifth installment of that show begins this Thursday night.

Now, I realize that not all of you are familiar with “Survivor,” so let me give you a rough idea of how it works. Sixteen people, divided into two tribes, are placed in a remote, deserted location … most often an island. They are allowed to take one luxury item of their choice. Many people take things like a pillow, hairbrush, or stuffed animal. They have to survive off of the land and take part in very difficult physical and mental challenges. At the end of each episode, one person is voted off of the island. At the end of the season, one person remains as the ultimate survivor, and wins a prize of one million dollars.

I want everyone to know that my message series is in no way an endorsement of the show. It does contain things that are not appropriate for young children to see. So, I’m not encouraging you to go out and watch the show.

But, I do like it myself. I see in it a microcosm of our overall American culture. I see in it a perfect example of what greed and lust can lead a person to do. And it is a huge part of our culture today … so we need to be relevant … we need to take something that ordinary people relate to, even if it is a stupid TV show, and use it as a vehicle to teach spiritual truth. So that’s what we’re doing for this next ten weeks. I plan to have fun with this one. I plan to use video clips from the show, on occasion, as teaching opportunities.

So, as we begin thinking about this theme of SURVIVOR, let me tell you about a man who was shipwrecked on a desert island.

Lead-In Illustration

Sadly, he was the only man from his ship who survived. So he had to struggle and scratch out for himself a life on that lonely, deserted island.

Some years later, a ship passing nearby the island saw a thin trail of smoke in the distance, so it altered course and headed for the smoke, and it headed right for his island. As the ship approached, the captain looked through his binoculars and saw three huts, one with smoke coming out of it, and a long-haired, dirty man.

The ship anchored off shore and the captain led a small launch to the beach. He stepped off onto the shore to meet a very happy and newly rescued man.

The captain shook the man’s hand, looked around, and asked, “Where are the others?”

The man gazed back at the Captain with a puzzled look and said, “There are no others.”

The captain pointed at the three huts and asked him, “Well, why, then, are there three huts on this beach?”

The man glanced over at his three huts and said, “Oh, that … Well, the one in the middle is the hut that I live in and the one on the right is where I go to church.”

The captain asked, “Well, what’s the other hut for?”

Then the man said, “Well, that’s where I used to go to church, but there were some problems and I felt like I needed to leave.”


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