One of the saddest terms for me to come out of World War Two was the phrase, “displaced persons”. A displaced person is someone who is forced to leave their home country because of war, persecution, or natural disaster. There are displaced persons in the world today, not just 70 years ago. You may have difficulty believing this, but Christians are “DP’s” in a spiritual sense. Our real home is with the Father in heaven, not here on earth. C.S. Lewis said that modern people look at the earth as the real world; the next world is the “never-never land” of fiction. In reality, this world is the “never-never land”; the real world is to be with Christ forever!
Has your life ever been spared? Yes, no, not sure? I think that someday in eternity we just may found out about the time or times that our lives were spared. We talk about a friend of mine who was pronounced dead at a hospital in Las Vegas years ago when he was 22 years old. He had been in a terrible auto accident. The Catholic chaplain on duty administered the last rites. His parents were called back in Atlanta to inform them of the news. Then a second call was made to them: he was alive but barely hanging on. It was quite an emotional roller coaster to say the least. He has something to say about God sparing your life and mine! What Pat says about life, death, and God’s purpose for your life just may change your life today!
HOW GOD WORKS!
What would it take for God to use a life to witness to someone about the Gospel of Christ? Some would say knowledge; others might even say eloquence, communication skills, or a persuasive personality. I don’t mean to sound crude, but what about just taking an elderly person to the bathroom? Could God use that to open the door to witnessing? You better believe it! Listen to this story that is admittedly a little uncomfortable to listen to perhaps; it’s also one that could change your attitude about sharing your faith in Christ with another human being. God works in ways you and I can’t even imagine!
The Bible is replete with stories of God using unlikely people to accomplish His purposes in this world. Moses had a speech impediment, yet God chose him to be His spokesman to the Pharaoh of Egypt for the people of Israel. (A public relations firm of today would never have chosen him.) A boy named David was chosen to take on a giant warrior of the day. In case you haven’t heard, David won! Gideon had his army reduced from thousands to 300 and defeated the enemy. In much the same way, we tell of a young man with cerebral palsy nicknamed “spastic Charlie” to lead junior high students to Christ and the mission field! What could the same God do with you and your life?
It’s the “unspoken” sin of most people’s lives. We are strangely tongue tied about the subject. Unfortunately, we’re not hesitant to talk about a lot of sin in people lives, including our own. But most people rarely discuss greed as a driving force in our lives! This story by Dr. Clarence McCartney of Pittsburgh dramatically describes the power of greed in one man’s life. Can you and I possible relate, even a little? I think we can!
What determines whether or not a letter is a “keeper” is not necessarily the content, but the signature at the bottom of the letter. The “who” of the letter, rather than the “what”, is more often than not the determining factor in our keeping the letter. I love this story told by a British pastor about the importance of a letter’s signatory, or the person who signs it. If you believe in the inspiration of the Bible, then we have God’s “signature” so to speak on His word! God’s signature is on your life and mine!
There are stories that can bring a smile to your face. This is one. But it’s more than simply that, it confirms a great truth of scripture. A man by the name of Paul Schleicher recalls a childhood memory of attending a major league baseball game in St. Louis. He’s there with his two brothers and two “little old ladies” as he puts it. What happens will make you smile, but also covey a great lesson about what it means to belong to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! His name is Jesus! Do you belong to Him?
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
I truly believe the Lord can and does speak to us today. How? Through His word for starters! He speaks to us in what the Bible calls that “still small voice” of the Spirit. He can use circumstances; He can use people to speak to us. Ravi Zacharias tells a most powerful story of the voice of a man’s deceased son on a cassette tape conveying a message of truth to the grieving father. It will speak to you about the Lord’s ability to convey a message to you today!
I’ve come to the brilliant conclusion in life that you and I are either honest or we are not. We either can be trusted or we can’t. There’s really nothing in between. Forgive my bluntness, but a woman is either pregnant or she is not pregnant. I think you get the point! This story by businessman Clay Doss, speaks volumes about honestly in a brief story about his young son. After you listen, what would the people closest to you say about your honesty and trustworthiness? Not sure? Then I would ask what makes you wonder?
One of the definitions given for the word, “matter” has to do with the idea of importance. If something is important, it matters. Oxygen is important to life, therefore it matters. It takes money to build a house; therefore money is something that matters. I think you get the point. You matter to the Creator of the universe. He made you and He bought you with the blood of His only Son, Jesus Christ. This story out of the life of Mary Ann Byrd beautifully illustrates the importance of you and I mattering to anyone! If this story doesn’t touch your heart, I honestly don’t know what will!
A SOLDIER’S PRAYER
Ravi Zacharias has preached around the world, including Viet Nam as a young 25 year-old preacher. God has used him in a mighty way and still does. Listen as he shares the written prayer of a young soldier, seriously wounded in the conflict in Southeast Asia. He really didn’t know much about life to be facing death. And yet he discovered the God of creation by observing the creation. He discovered Christ by looking at the cross of Christ. We all have the same opportunities! Have you come to the point in your own journey where you discover forgiveness, love, and peace through knowing the Prince of Peace? You can today! Come to the same One this young soldier did years ago!
Dr. Denny Kinlaw is the son of Dennis Kinlaw, the former president of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky. His story of being raised in a Christian home by godly parents, then rejecting that heritage is dramatic. What’s even more dramatic than that is his coming back home spiritually. As a medical doctor doing surgery, Denny had a brush with death. The patient was full of hepatitis. The other surgeon’s hand slipped and cut into his gloved hand. He soon faced a life and death struggle with illness himself. What he also was faced was a confrontation with the Living God! His encounter with the light of Christ will touch you in a powerful way. When Jesus claimed to be the light of the world, He meant that all light emanates ultimately from Him! Perhaps you need to come to the light of Christ in your journey. Life will never be the same once you do.
An epitaph is the inscription that goes on a gravestone or cemetery monument about the person buried at that site. But it also can be a brief poem in remembrance or praise the deceased person. Either way, it is written about a past life! As morbid as it may sound, what kind of epitaph will be written about you? What will people remember about your words, your actions, and your beliefs that ruled your life?Hopefully, your epitaph will include a relationship with the God who made you and who was the center of your universe. Or will it say something less, a lot less? In a sense, we write an epitaph each day by the way we interact with others and how we relate to the Living God! What does your epitaph say today? What will it say after you leave this life? Think about it as you listen to this powerful story of Dr. Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize.
THE MAIN DISH
Occasionally one hears a story that brightens their day and refreshes their spirit about people. This one did that for me and I think will do the same for you. It’s obviously from a “different day and different culture” than today. (Some might say that it’s from a different planet!) And yet I hope you get the point of the story that people matter more than money and things. Are people the “main dish” of your life, or are they the side dishes? This story may help you figure that out.
This just may be the most sensitive subject matter in your life. It’s called shame. It’s not the same thing as guilt, though many people think it is. Shame is what flows out from the guilt in our lives. It’s a feeling of unworthiness, uncleanness, and never measuring up. It’s worse than guilt! It’s a pit that many people feel is permanent in our lives. Romans 10:11 says that when a man or woman comes to Christ, “they will never be put to shame”. That’s good news for someone reading this right this moment!
The word prejudice actually comes from the term “pre-judging”. We prejudge people when we declare a verdict on them, acting as their self-appointed judge. Have you ever been on the receiving end of that kind of experience? Sure, we all have! How did you feel? Matthew, the tax collector of the gospels was hated for his occupation and place in the culture of the day. And yet, the Lord saw something in him that no one else could see. Don’t you think He can do the same thing with you and those you know?
This story was actually written by Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia Christian College in Columbia, South Carolina. It’s the deeply moving story of a man facing the onset of Alzheimer’s in his wife, Muriel. The journey was painful then as it is for anyone today. The premise for sharing this story is this: we are either submitting to the will of the Father, or we’re submitting to our own will. We all eventually submit to someone’s will in life. Which is it for you and me?
Love has power; so does hate. You’ve seen their power in your life and so have I. The Apostle John would say in his first letter, that “anyone who does not love remains in death!” The person doesn’t just enter into death; they simply don’t come out of it in the first place! Listen to this story about love and hate from Steve Saint, whose missionary father was murdered by a man who would eventually baptize Steve! It’s one powerful story.
Most people have a multitude of regrets. Some of them are regrets involving people who died without us saying this or saying that. You know what I mean; perhaps you have those regrets. We all do. Maybe you have regrets about saying something you wish you hadn’t. The sister of a minister friend of mine regrets saying, “I wish you were dead” to a younger brother. Thirty minutes later, he was. What phone call do you need to make, what letter do you need to write? What apology needs to be offered? You know, don’t you? We all do. Listen to this powerful story of author Lewis Grizzard.
According to the word of God, the three areas of life that we boast in are 1) boasting in what we have (riches), 2) boasting in what and whom we know (wisdom), 3) boasting in what we do or have done (strengths). Isn’t that true with you and me? And yet the same passage in Jeremiah 9:23-24 says that if we are going to boast in anything, we are to boast that we understand and know the Lord! That’s counter-intuitive, yet that’s where the power is in your life and mine!
The Lord can use anyone or anything to reach out to a soul He is pursuing. He can use a professor of theology or a picture on a greeting card to touch someone’s heart. That’s what this story is about: God using both in the case of a young clerk at a drug store. We may think that what we might say to a person or what we might give to a person will have little to no effect on them spiritually. Let the Lord make that decision; just do and say what you feel led to do or say! Let Him work!
Some of you will remember a famous book and film from the 1970’s called “Love Story” by Erich Segal. People wept unabashedly at theaters when they saw that movie. And yet the greatest story of love has to do with the Lord’s love for you and me as described by the prophet Jeremiah of the Old Testament. He quotes the Lord Himself telling His people, “I have loved you with an everlasting love!” This story of a mother’s dying love for her children in a house fire helps us to understand God’s love in a profound way.
The word is “quaint”. It’s defined as something that is “pleasingly different, odd, or old-fashioned”. Jean Gietzen writes a story that I would define as quaint. It’s a story from Christmas of 1943 in the colder part of the United States, North Dakota. And yet, the first time I read it, it brought a lump to my throat. When you hear it, you’ll understand why! Let it speak to you about your Christmas, wherever you may be. It just may move you to do something special for someone you don’t even know!
When this story was originally given, it generated far more response than I personally thought it was due! After all, it’s just a story about the game of chess. But for some reason, it resonated with men who said it spoke to them in a powerful way. I’m curious how you will react to it. It’s not your typical story; it’s actually what I call a little “quirky”! But God just may take this story and use it in your life today. He really could!