Tag Archives: sermon illustration

Mute the past

samuel-pisarSamuel Pisar became a Harvard-educated lawyer and statesman out of the horrendous beginnings of a Nazi concentration camp. He eluded death sentences twice while watching hundreds of fellow Jews die in gas chambers. He escaped on a death march. A hardened and cruel boy, Samuel survived post-war Poland selling cigarettes and stolen coffee grounds. A French aunt from rescued him from the streets, and he began a new and completely different life.

In doing so, he provides a model for Christians trying to slam the door on the past: “I had to wipe out the first 17 years of my life,” he said. “I muted the past” and “turned to the future with a vengeance.”

When God made us a “new creation” and “born again,” it was to “wipe out” how ever many years were previously lived in sin.

 

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While everyone is collecting pokemon, I’m looking for souls

pokemon_go_3I wish Christians were as “crazed” about what God is crazed about as zillions of gamers are crazed about this game. Sorry for being so passé.

Unheard of!

 

Klose is a true example.

Has this ever happened before??? Miraslov Klose admitted that he scored a goal with his hand, and it was disallowed. Has a footballer ever told the truth???

Thierry Henry scored a goal that qualified France for the 2010 World Cup.

Thierry Henry

Without that goal, France would not have even played. At the end of the match, when it is too late to change the score, he admitted to the ref his foul play. His teammates shamelessly defended his dishonesty. “The end justified the means.”

When Luis Suarez blocked a goal against with his hand, he cried for being red-carded, sent off of the field. His intentional foul aided his

The ever-controversial Suarez

team pass to semi-finals in the 2010 World Cup. He cried, as if the ref’s decision were unfair. Poor him! Boo-hoo.

Against this backdrop, FINALLY, a soccer star acts NOT out of self-interest or out of interest for his team but out of interest for HONESTY. Praise God!

Sometimes telling the truth requires courage. Sometimes you have to lose to maintain your integrity. When you win the game, you lose your character.

 

 

Surviving a lightning bolt

A bolt can measure three times hotter than the surface of the sun, yet a man can survive a strike.

Jerry LaDoux got knocked 20 feet away when he was hit in August 1999 and went unconscious for half an hour. His two-way radio had exploded and teeth shattered. A medical tag around his neck melted.

Survivor Jerry LaDoux

When lightning lets a man live, it tampers with his nervous system, much like a shock can alter the software on a computer. LaDoux experienced short-term memory loss. Others suffer tremors, mini-seizures and sleep disorders. As many as 1,000 become lightning survivors each year; 67 die.

Far greater power surges through you when you pray. So it’s no wonder Samson‘s dad, upon seeing the Lord, feared: “We shall surely die, because we have seen God” — Judges 13:22 KJV.

When you pray, you’re harnessing tremendous power — more than a mere thunderbolt! The only way you can lessen that power is by limiting your faith. While in the Old Testament, it was a fearful thing to come into contact with the Supreme Being, the New Testament encourages us without fear to “boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus” — Heb. 10:19 NLT.

We ought to realize the power available to us. We ought to make use of it. When His power pass through you, it will alter you (for the good, of course!).

** Thanks to Slate for the article on lightning strike survivors. The international conference of lightning-strike and electric-shock survivors provides support for survivors.

An invention for ministry

Zippers were invented to replace 20 to 40 tiny buttons on each shoe. Soldiers in the Spanish Civil War, upset that their chocolates melted in their pockets, imagined a protective, candy coating — giving birth to M&Ms. Charles Goodyear accidentally left Mayan rubber on a warm stove with sulfur and lead and stabilized it.

Inventions have made life quicker, more productive, more enjoyable. These days, smart phones and internet advances are mushrooming at dizzying speed. Disneyland once featured a “house of the future” exhibit that got outstripped by the future itself.

Read about artificial intelligence online and you’ll find pundits who not only foresee robots with human intelligence but humans with artificial intelligence. Implant a chip in your brain, download a course of study, and it will interact seamlessly with biological thinking. Get Italian before you visit Venice!

Somebody should invent a faster, more productive, more enjoyable way to do ministry.

Oh yeah. They already did. It’s called prayer.

Discipline: Unleash your potential

There are two kinds of discipline: 1) self imposed, 2) imposed by others. The second is virtually useless. The teacher, coach, parent, judge punishes the infractor, who supposedly repents and redirects his life. Instead, he resents and seethes.

But the first is the maker of every greatness: athletes, inventors, successful people, ministry leaders. We may be saved by grace through no self work, but we become heroes through much work. We advance God’s kingdom through much work.

Don’t wait for God to discipline you. It will be unpleasant. Discipline yourself. Salvation is free and easy. But doing good and getting blessings from are the product of effort. Without self-discipline incalculable potential is only wasted. Unleash your dynamism today. People will marvel at your impact. You’re destined for greatness but it remains unseen because of lack of discipline.

Discipline yourself to pray. Discipline yourself to Bible study, to church attendance, to fellowship.

Without discipline, Joseph’s dreams would have remained only dreams. Without discipline, Elijah’s vision for apostate Israel never would have sparked revival. I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. — 1 Cor. 9:27 NIV.

Teams, not individuals, win

Fernando Torres, winner of the Golden Boot

Spain showcased masterclass soccer yesterday to beat Italy 4-0 and become the first nation to win three major titles consecutively: Euro Cup, World Cup, Euro Cup. And it did so without a clash of egos.

By contrast, Netherlands melted down in group stage and fell well short of expectations. Arjen Robben ripped his jersey off and stormed out of the stadium  because he was upset over being substituted by the coach. The rifts were evident.

Unity leads to victory

Spain demonstrated how to win. Top-notch players weren’t selfish, setting up goals for others instead of taking it themselves. Fernando Torres humbly hooked a pass to a comrade on a shot he could have easily made himself. It was the last goal of Cup. Such selflessness could have cost him the Golden Boot award.

This team triumph is a lesson for the church. Our culture tells us that individuals get the victory (Superman, Rambo and a host of movies promote this myth). But the Bible tells us it is His church, a collection of people, that will prevail. I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. — Mt. 16:18 NIV.

To achieve this utterly crucial unity (see Acts for examples of unity = revival), there is a need for humility, always out of vogue with the flesh. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. — Lu. 14:11 NIV. Robben should learn from the Bible.

Wayne Rooney and visualization

They don’t give Wayne Rooney any credit for soccer intelligence. But maybe he’s not as dumb as they say — they call him a “natural” player (no thinking involved).

Maybe he´s not as dumb as they say. Part of his formula for success is to visualize himself doing well the night before. He’s so serious about this mental preparation that he even goes to staff and asks which uniform they will be using the next day. Visualization is the cutting edge of sports psychology: to block out distractions, knock down discouragements and steel up nerve. Once on the field, the player enjoys a heightened level of concentration.

What is the difference between visualization and prayer? Not much. The biggest difference is that we actually have God involved too.

Visualization is a significant element in prayer. When you confess with faith, you see yourself triumphing beforehand. You bat down depression, failure, and fear of failure. Then you spring out of your prayer closet ravenously ready to grab blessing, revival, favor, and God’s help. He is pleased by this kind of faith.

In the most exhilarating goal of the English Premier League this year, Rooney fired an overhead kick, squeezed between two defenders, to win against crosstown rivals Manchester City. The eye-popper silenced critics, who were downgrading Rooney’s status of legend.

Today, blast an overhead goal — with the power of God — in whatever you do. Shut up naysayers with some positive visualizing in prayer.

Foresight, hindsight, no sight

My little kids soccer team bombed its final. If I would have known the defense was going to fall apart, I would have drilled them to tedium on practice. But since I didn’t FORESEE, I did other drills. The adage: HINDSIGHT  is 20-20. It means exactly what happened to my team. I saw the problem during the game, not before the game. Coaches win because of FORESIGHT.

Christianity is neither foresight nor hindsight. It is no sight. We live by faith, not by sight. — 1 Cor. 5:7 NIV.

I’m not saying to hurtle forward recklessly without planning, wisdom or counsel. Yes, there is a role for FORESIGHT. But with God, sometimes it is NOT FORESIGHT that is key, but prayer.

Prayer changes the problems you cannot FORESEE. It is NO SIGHT because it takes care of those things we cannot anticipate.

In regards to my soccer team, I don’t think prayer would have given us the victory. Prayer is for more important matters: saving souls, wresting finances, bringing healings. The soccer story is only an illustration for what is truly important.

It’s good to have foresight and hindsight in a limited capacity. It’s also good to let God take care of problems you can’t even see: pray!

God’s investment

Manchester City hadn’t won a national championship for 44 years. That’s a loooooong time. But this underdog English team just flouted critics and one-upped their overbearing, always-winning neighbors, Manchester United. I’m not a City fan, but I like people beating the odds.

Their victory was purchased at a high price. Oil-rich owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan dished out an estimated $2 billion to assemble some of the best players in the world on his new team. It’s the new reality of soccer. Whoever pays most, wins.

But the most interesting thing about this is the comparison to the Kingdom of God. Because our Heavenly Father bought us for His team too. And His purchase was for extremely much more than $2 billion. It was the blood of His one and only Son. Think about it, if you have undiminishable riches, then any price is nothing. But then if you have only one son, that’s going to hurt you to fork over.

So you have been bought with a HIGH PRICE. And you are part of God’s winning team. Live inspired today, tomorrow and forever. Let this knowledge motivate you to minister your “utmost for His highest.”

When underdogs win

When plaudits say “improbable” and “underdog,” they’ve grabbed my attention. Chelsea won the European Champions League for the first time ever a few days ago against a powerful foe. No one expected them to win against the talented Bayern Munich, which man-for-man outgunned the Blues.

I feel elated. I almost always root for the unfavored. That’s because we Christians — and our ministries — are always facing a daunting uphill struggle. The world has flush budgets and flashy pizazz. It’s hard for us to compete.

In the case of Chelsea, they exploited their defensive toughness to hold on through wave after wave of attacks. With just minutes to the final whistle, Bayern finally shot a torpedo that would sink Chelsea. It was what everybody expected.

But Chelsea didn’t sink. They remained buoyant. A corner kick and a header from Didier Drogba resulted in a tie score. When extra time couldn’t resolve the deadlock, the game fell to penalties. Chelsea’s ace goalie prevailed. While the favored were crushed, the underdogs could pride themselves with satisfaction.

No matter what the odds are, we Christians win in the end. Hold tight to faith as you battle in your ministry. Don’t allow that sinking feeling to sink your ship. God will bring the corner kick that will lead you to overtime, and you will prevail in the end.

Admirable humility

Lionel Messi is arguably the best soccer player in the world at present. In 2,009, 2010 and 2011, he won FIFA’s best player of the year award. He has won five Spanish league titles with his club FC Barcelona, as well as three Champion’s Leagues. A lefty, Messi weaves through the world’s best defenders as if he lived in another dimension.

Strangely, he is humble.

The Argentine feels awkward when given an award at ceremonies, and he never talks trash about competitors. He always recognizes a debt of gratitude to his club, FC Barcelona, because it paid for his treatment of growth hormone deficiency when he was 11 years old.

In an post-Joe Namath age when super-athletes trumpet their own greatness, Messi is breath of fresh air. He is an example of Christian character even though he is not an evangelical Christian.

Why? Because he is grateful and humble. When we pray for finances and revival, we must remain grateful for what God has already given us, we must remain humble in patiently praying and waiting on God. Prayer is humility — it is an acknowledgement of our inadequacies and our dependence on a Higher Source.

From losing to winning

When you’ve got a winning team, it’s easy to keep it up. When you’ve got a losing team, it’s easy to keep losing. But how do you go from losing to winning? This is one the most difficult feats. Probably 98% of ministers and businesses would like the answer.

Too many books promising success are written by successful people! They promise the secret to success but, in fact, often miss it themselves because, as I said, once you have success, it’s too easy to maintain. Those who enjoy success don’t really know what the key is. They just enjoy it. They write books without knowing. We think they know, but they don’t. We buy the book looking for the key and don’t find the key. Not enough has been written about turnarounds.

I had a winning team in soccer. At the same time, I was coaching a losing team. With the losing team, we worked the defensive line so hard that they actually starting blunting the opponents’ attacks. And the team started winning!

Two secrets: Identify what is deficient and work on that until it is corrected. Secondly, as Jim Collins says, remember that the worst enemy of “excellent” is “good” — not “bad.” In other words, if you are doing good, it is too easy to congratulate yourself and desist from improvement. Break up your status quo and don’t settle for anything less than “excellent.”

As Christian leader, a good place to start changing may be prayer. How much time do you pray? What is the intensity of your prayers? It’s not some marketing trick or cutting-edge ministry that’s going to draw in people. It’s God. So a back-to-the-basics approach may be best. Of course, I can’t address every situation in this short blog. But I can address the heart of a leader who longs for greater things. Keep longing, because that is part of the solution. Pray and let God guide you to the solution.

God picked you

One of my teams wins, the other loses, so it’s not the coaching that makes the difference. It’s the kids.

As I watched my Napoli team demolish their foes, I realized the victory lay not in brilliant tactical coaching or in superior training. The victory was won when I picked the kids. Simply put, I picked players who worked well as a team, each efficiently executing his position.

God picked you for His team! And of course, He has a winning team. For we know, brothers loved by God, that HE HAS CHOSEN YOU. — 1 Thes. 1:4 NIV (my caps).

You were chosen for salvation. You were chosen for ministry. God picked a winning team, and you are part of it! Let motivation fill your heart as you face another day of unappreciated labor. Your unapplauded work for the Kingdom is part of the victory.

In soccer, people cheer the goal scorers. But soccer launches from the defense. It progresses forward through the midfield and only culminates with the strikers. Everybody who gets a touch on the ball has his part in the victory. You are fulfilling the plan of God.