Faithlife
Faithlife

If_724

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COMMITMENT

In the cartoon, B.C., the man is sitting beneath a tree writing on his stone tablet: "Do it for God, and it works for good. Do it for good, and it works for God!"

Calvin Peete tells an interesting story of his own life that relates well at this point. Some of you may not recognize his name. He is one of the finest golfers of recent days. Even those who follow golf may not know that Calvin Peete didn't start to play golf until he was twenty-three. He was raised in a very poor family, having been forced to drop out of school to work in the vegetable fields of central Florida for the support of his brothers and sisters.

One thing that he has remembered through the years from the fields to the PGA was his father's words. As they were working in the fields he would say, "Son, God has a plan for your life. One of these days you'll find out what it is and when you do, make sure you work hard to make that plan go places." Many years later, while in upstate New York, some of his friends who had been badgering him to come and play some golf, told him they were going to get some lunch and ended up at the golf course. They said, "You can come and play with us, or sit here in the car." He recounts thinking that anything was better than sitting in a hot car in the middle of a 95 degree parking lot.

As with so many others, he was hooked! He bought a secondhand set of clubs and a bag of balls and began to practice. Those days were long and hard, but within six months, he was shooting below 80; and after only a year and a half, he had broken par. He joined the tour and soon found himself a professional gol­fer.

The first years were hard, a 25th finish here, a 30th finish there. He had begun to think, maybe this isn't God's will at all." One night while talking with his wife, Christine, he said,"I feel like Job. How could God have let me down like this?" she simply answered his questions with a question, "Where's the camera you used to take pictures of your swing?" "In the closet.but..." "And where is your shag bag?" "In the basement. But I go to the driving range now..." On she went and finally said, "You're practicing...but you're not working."

Of course, Calvin Peete went on to be one of the winningest golfers on the PGA, having passed the million dollar mark several years ago. He is still one of the most accurate golfers on the tour. What was his secret—a real faith that worked from the inside out! When we think that outward appearances all are that count, we fool only ourselves!—from a sermon by Don Emmittee.

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COMMITMENT

The Rev. Rodney Croyle writes in his church's newsletter: "Do you like to read?....One of my friends reads detective stories, the kind in which you suspect everybody from the bishop to the butler. (The detective) said in one story, "This was the perfect crime. He never left a fingerprint anywhere." The friend wanted to know if that isn't the perfect crime against life.If you and I never touch any human life or institution or movement with a personal touch, have we really paid the rent for our space on earth? Some persons leave the mark of a great love, of caring for people....

Are you leaving your fingerprints on the way of life or are you getting away with the 'perfect crime,' being careful to touch nothing or nobody as you go from day to day?Our Lord touched the poor, the sick, the outcasts of society, the lame and blind, and even those who were dead. He had nails driven through His hands as he was impaled on a cruel cross. But His fingerprints have been detected on countless lives across the centuries. He leaves the identifying mark of caring love.

Have you...?"--( The United Methodist ofCrafton, Pa., 31187, p. 1).

Dr Richard Francis (retired), former Pastor of the John Street United Methodist Church in New York City and known then as the"Pastor of Wall Street," was preaching at a special service for a cluster of churches and told this story.

He said that years ago when South Pacific opened on Broadway he attended one of the early services. When he left the theater, the shoe shine boy outside asked for his ticket stub and program. Dr. Francis asked why, and the boy said that he was unable to attend the musical, but that he saved programs and stubs and besides that he could sing "Some Enchanted Evening." And he did.

Dr. Francis, of course, gave him the stub and program (All without saying whether or not he took the quarter!). In concluding, he said, "That's the way it is with most of our people who attend church. They will drop a 'quarter' in the of­fering plate, take the 'program' and go home all without having responded to the saving and redeeming grace of Jesus Christ!"

Fishin' Pete (Net Results, 1287, p.8) says: "Ask God for the courage to try, to risk, and to fail. The only thing God can't fix, redeem or resurrect is nothing.!"

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COMMITMENT

Tradition records that James, Jesus' brother became known among the Chris­tian community as a just and perfect man. His death is a powerful illustration of courage amidst suffering. Legend tells us that he prayed so hard for his people that his legs became numb and hardened like a camel's. His ministry was so powerful that the Scribes and the Pharisees came to him and told him to tell the believers to renounce Christ. They set him on top of the temple and yelled at him to denounce Christ, promising to follow him if he would only do so. But he would not, and instead began preaching the resurrected Lord sitting in heaven, saying, "Why do you ask me of Jesus the Son of Man? He sits on the right hand of the Most High, and shall come in the clouds of heaven." This infuriated his enemies, who ran up to the roof and pushed him off. He didn't die in the fall, but turned and fell on his knees, praying to God to forgive his persecutors. Then one man took a club and smashed the righteous man's skull. They buried him at the same spot.

So often the fires of persecution cause us to forget of proclaiming the gospel. Yet that is when the message rings out the loudest.—John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs(Springdale, Pa.: Whittaker House, 1981).

I had just returned from visiting the Little White House in Georgia, President Franklin Roosevelt's retreat, when the following summary appeared in one of our local papers: The Governor of New York has many excellent reasons not to run for president... a funny name though by now familiar...the times are not right...economic bubble punctured...will be target of vicious whispering cam­paign, butt of family jabs, especially about his wife.. .no experience with nations....

The Governor knew that he had excellent reasons not to run. He knew, too, that a lot of his fellow Americans, ordinary hardworking people who felt their lives and futures were at the mercy of unseen forces believed the country needed him. So he ran, in spite of the excellent reasons not to run.

He ran against the odds and indifference...He ran in a wheel chair.-- {NYDaily News, Lars Erik Nelson: "The Governor's Guessing Game," 102387, p. 49).

Max Cleland should be dead. His promising future should have ended in one of those black pine boxes that were shipped home all too frequently in the 1960s from a faraway place called VietNam. Max saw a fellow soldier drop a hand grenade and went to pick it up. When he came to, he had lost a hand, mangled another

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COMMITMENT

Tradition records that James, Jesus' brother became known among the Chris­tian community as a just and perfect man. His death is a powerful illustration of courage amidst suffering. Legend tells us that he prayed so hard for his people that his legs became numb and hardened like a camel's. His ministry was so powerful that the Scribes and the Pharisees came to him and told him to tell the believers to renounce Christ. They set him on top of the temple and yelled at him to denounce Christ, promising to follow him if he would only do so. But he would not, and instead began preaching the resurrected Lord sitting in heaven, saying, "Why do you ask me of Jesus the Son of Man? He sits on the right hand of the Most High, and shall come in the clouds of heaven." This infuriated his enemies, who ran up to the roof and pushed him off. He didn't die in the fall, but turned and fell on his knees, praying to God to forgive his persecutors. Then one man took a club and smashed the righteous man's skull. They buried him at the same spot.

So often the fires of persecution cause us to forget of proclaiming the gospel. Yet that is when the message rings out the loudest.—John Foxe, Foxe's Book of Martyrs(Springdale, Pa.: Whittaker House, 1981).

I had just returned from visiting the Little White House in Georgia, President Franklin Roosevelt's retreat, when the following summary appeared in one of our local papers: The Governor of New York has many excellent reasons not to run for president... a funny name though by now familiar...the times are not right...economic bubble punctured...will be target of vicious whispering cam­paign, butt of family jabs,especially about his wife...no experience with nations....

The Governor knew that he had excellent reasons not to run. He knew, too, that a lot of his fellow Americans, ordinary hardworking people who felt their lives and futures were at the mercy of unseen forces believed the country needed him. So he ran, in spite of the excellent reasons not to run.

He ran against the odds and indifference...He ran in a wheel chair.— [NYDaily News, Lars Erik Nelson: "The Governor's Guessing Game," 102387, p. 49).

Max Cleland should be dead. His promising future should have ended in one of those black pine boxes that were shipped home all too frequently in the 1960s from a faraway place called VietNam. Max saw a fellow soldier drop a hand grenade and went to pick it up. When he came to, he had lost a hand, mangled another

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COMMITMENT

Tracy Kidder, The Soul of a New Machine, a 1981 book about how a team of hardworking inventors built a computer by pooling their efforts, begins with a metaphor of their treacherous journey to success. The first page of the novel begins:"All the way to the horizon in the last light, the sea was just degrees of gray, rolling and frothy on the surface. From the cockpit of the small white sloop-- she was 35 feet long— the waves looked liked hills coming up from behind and most of the crew preferred not to glance at them.. .Running under shortened sails in front of the Northeaster, the boat rocked one way, gave a thump, and then it rocked the other. The pots and pans in the galley clanged. Sometime late that night, one of the crew raised a voice against the wind and asked, "What are we trying to prove?" The author uses this metaphor to illustrate what the journey to success is like in the world of invention. It also serves a poignant visual image of the spiritual journey, complete with the angry waves and banging pots and pans that are so central an element of human experience. No doubt all of us, in the darkest hours of the stormy night, have looked skyward and shouted against the wind, "What are we trying to prove?" Jesus answers that question for us in John 20. Suffering is not some malevolent punch line of an other worldly punster. No, it is the price one pays for aligning himself with a kingdom that is at war. The price is high, but the spoils of victory are far higher.

Mickey Rooney: "If I could change one thing about myself, I would give more time to God."

When a football player comes around after having been knocked out, he just sees a couple of fingers. But when a player is injured during a game, he's usual­ly the worst judge of his condition. Most players will say, "I can go back, I'm all right, I can go back." If the doctor doesn't let them, they stomp around like little kids. Sometimes they'll even succeed in sneaking back into the games. To prevent that possibility, the Giants came up with the best solution. Hide the player's hel­met. No matter how goofy a player is after his bell is rung, he won't try to sneak back into the game without his helmet.But the Giant's players soon got wise to that trick. Onetime when Joe Morris got knocked dizzy, he sat on the bench with his helmet jammed between his legs. Nobody was going to hide his helmet.—John Madden, One Knee Equals Two Feet, (New York: Jove Books, 1987).

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COMMITMENT

It is said of one of the famous composers that he had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his father and mother had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, he would go to his father's piano and slowly, as well as loudly, play a simple scale, all but the final note. Then leaving the scale uncompleted, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile the father, hearing the scale minus the final note, would writh on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was unresolved. Finally, in consternation, he would stumble down the stairs and hit the previously unstruck note. Only then would his mind surrender to sleep once again.

God's labor seems never to be complete until the final note on the scale, the concluding still time, a pause that looks backward and pronounces completion and value.-- George MacDonald, Restoring Your Spiritual Passion.

Consider how our common "Call to discipleship" at "St. Mary's by the Gas Sta­tion" comes across:

"Aw, come on, be an usher. Anyone can do it, and it only takes an hour a month."

"Why don't you attend the Youth Group just once? It's really a rip, there's no holy-holy stuff, and they hardly even get the Bible out."

"Join our church. The pastor doesn't make a big fuss about coming every Sun­day, and his sermons are usually pretty funny." "Hey, come with me some Sun­day. We're never in church for more than an hour; nobody will bug you about doing anything, and they never talk money."

"There is a hymn in most church hymnals that I love dearly, but I rarely choose it for singing at church service because part of it describes a church I know noth­ing about and Christians I've never seen: "Jesus, I my cross have taken; All to leave and follow Thee. Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, henceforth, my all shall be!!!" Proclaim 7/26/87, p.2.

"I wonder why it is," an Anglican bishop once pondered, "that everywhere the Apostle Paul went they had a revolution, and everywhere I go they serve a cup of tea?"

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COMMITMENT

When Henry M. Stanley found Livingstone, the great missionary who spent thirty years in darkest Africa, and who had been lost to the world for over two years, he wanted him to come back home to England with him, but Livingstone refused to go. Two days later he wrote in his diary, "March 19, my birthday; my Jesus; King: my Life ; my All. I again dedicate my whole self to Thee. Accept me, and grant, O gracious Father, that ere the year is gone I may finish my work. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen." A year later his servant found him on his knees dead.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1945, "There are no victories at bar­gain prices."

From a cartoon in the United Methodist Reporter (5/29/87), the man says:"One of the best texts for the church is 'Go ye.' We must go find the unchurched, the unconcerned, the lonely, the pained and the discouraged."A reply: "I get it. You mean our Bibles should be bound in shoe leather."The man says, smiling as he leaves: "That's not the King James but it's a pretty good translation."

After the tragic bombing in Lebanon some of the wounded and dying were shipped to a West German hospital. In one hospital bed lay a severely wounded Marine who was moments away from death. His commander walked up to the Marine's bed to speak with him and offer some encouragement. The Marine peered up from his deathbed, and struggled to voice the words, "Semper Fi." Always faithful.

Philip Guedella was an accomplished biographer. He wrote many famous lives, and on one occasion he shared with a group some of the secrets of this trade. How is it that a biographer comes to write a biography that is revealing and il­luminating about the individual whom he has chosen? He said it is easy enough to find out what the famous person said, where he went, what he did. Normally with a famous individual that information will be easily at hand. But Guedela

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COMMITMENT

said that in attempting a good biography you do not stop there. You keep sear­ching, hoping to find some little clue that will allow you to know what your sub­ject was really like. He said, "Now take the time when I was working on the life of the Duke of Wellington." He said, "I was very fortunate indeed. I had studied, I had researched, I had gathered my information," but he said, "I didn't really feel like I knew the Duke of Wellington. But then I chanced upon the stubs of his checkbook." Suddenly the duke's personality came alive and the biographer had an inside track for understanding his subject.—Dr. Peter Rhea Jones.

Often, we confuse God's word with our own, and understand obedience not as a matter of responding to God's will but of responding to the expectations of our culture. Eavesdrop for a moment on this real life conversation:

"I am in earnest about forsaking 'the world' and following Christ. But I am puzzled about worldly things. What is it I must forsake?" a young man asks.

"Colored clothes, for one thing. Get rid of everything in your wardrobe that is not white. Stop sleeping on a soft pillow. Sell your musical instruments and don't eat any more white bread. You cannot, if you are sincere about obeying Christ, take warm baths or shave your beard. To shave is to lie against Him who created us, to attempt to improve on His Work."

Author Elizabeth Elliot comments on the above dialogue, "Does this answer sound absurd? It is the answer given in the most celebrated Christian schools of the second century! Is it possible that the rules that have been adopted by many twentieth-century Christians will sound as absurd to earnest followers of Christ a few years hence?"

Elliot also questions our contemporary conception of what actions truly con­notate "service" and which ones do not. Must we all be Jonahs, in the thick of hostile territory? Is the subliminal maxim, "If it's a drag, God must be pleased" accurate? Elliot offers some light on those questions. She begins her discussion by quoting a letter she received from a friend while on the mission field.

"I wish I were giving my life to the Lord. I give myself many excuses—my un­saved wife, my unsaved children, my job. I have no Christian companions. I work from 8 to 4:30 every day, with 150 people, and not one Christian among them. Nothing ever satisfies the longing that I be really used by the Lord. You are the one who is in the thick of the really important things in life...."

She comments, "This is from a letter I received recently. It is not the first of its kind that has disturbed me deeply—not because the man does not have a chance to served God, but because he does not see his chance. He has missed the true meaning of 'being used by the Lord.'"— Elizabeth Elliot, The Liberty of Obedience (Nashville, Abingdon, 1968), pp. 45-46, 66ff.

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