Summary: God’s good is not our comfortability, but our conformity to Christ.
The Promises of Predestination
Rev. Brian Bill
How many of you have memories of swimming in the Humiston Pool? Summer has gone by so fast, hasn’t it? Some have started school already and for others summer ends tomorrow. Ken Fulkerson’s mom Gladys wrote a poem that reflects what many of us are thinking.
The days of summer
Are swiftly passing by
Let’s have another picnic
And eat some chocolate pie
Let’s go down to the old swimming hole
And jump from the limb of a tree
Or we could play in the park again
Our lives so happy and free
The school bell will be ringing soon
Our fun will soon be o’er
But summer’s been a great time
I can only wish for more.
It’s significant that we’re meeting here at Chautauqua Park this morning. I recently learned that the name Chautauqua originally comes from Lake Chautauqua in New York, where Sunday School teachers would gather annually for a week of Bible study in the late 1800s. This movement grew to include a traveling circuit of preachers (did you know that the evangelist Billy Sunday preached right here in the 1920s?), performers, musicians…and people who blew up Diet Coke bottles with Mentos (just kidding on this last one). At its height in 1924, these week-long programs were held in 12,000 towns with 32 million people in attendance. These events provided opportunities for rest, recreation and religious talks…not to mention refreshment (we’re going to keep that part alive with our picnic right after the service).
Teddy Roosevelt was so taken by the original Chautauqua tours, that he once exclaimed, “The Chautauqua is the most American thing in America.” As with most movements, the spiritual emphasis was eventually replaced by a secular view of success.
Two of the most popular lecturers were William Jennings Bryan and Russell Conwell, whose lecture “Acres of Diamonds” was delivered six thousand times. The theme was, “Get rich you man, for money is power and power ought to be in the hands of good people. I say you have no right to be poor.” With the spread of radio and movies, plus commercialization, the Chautauqua movement ceased to exist.
Fortunately, our very own Vermillion Players are helping to revive this tremendous tradition – John Gaum, who is the president has helped us get ready for this service and is here this morning – John, thanks for all your help! I understand there was a 100-year anniversary celebration right here in 1998 to relive the events that took place in this community.
It’s a bit eerie to read how the early organizers described the problems in our country, for they haven’t changed much in a hundred years: “The conditions which surround us best justify our cooperation; we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin.” This morning I’d like to draw your attention to a passage of Scripture that permeates with promises. It’s my prayer that God’s Word will revive anyone feeling ruin today.
After John 3:16, Romans 8:28 may be the most treasured passage of Scripture. Let me read it right now – it’s printed on the top of your song sheet: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Some of us may feel like this passage has gone by the wayside, much like the Chautauquas of the past. It sounds good but when everything’s going bad, it’s hard to believe. Sometimes we may feel like the parakeet in Max Lucado’s book, “In the Eye of the Storm.”
Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said “hello” when “sssopp!” Chippie got sucked in.
The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do…she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.
A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. “Well,” she replied, “Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares.”