In Sunday’s sermon, we continued a series we have been working through on the last Sunday of each month, called: Regaining Our Spiritual 2nd Wind. We have been examining different aspects of waiting on God by overcoming our mistakes (Peter), overcoming difficult people (Moses), overcoming Sin in the Camp (Joshua), and this week – overcoming Great Victories (Elijah).
Overcoming great victories is not something we normally think we need to do! The illustration I used, though, was from an article I read about Olympic Athletes suffering from Post Olympic Stress Disorder (POSD). If you are wondering what that is or how it applies to Elijah or the Christian’s faith today, check out the audio and outline posted at: http://www.churchofchristatclover.org/?page_id=183&sermon_id=11. Hope you have a blessed weekend, and remember to be safe this Labor Day holiday!
So have you seen any of the pictures from the Mars Rover, “Curiosity,” yet? Apparently taking pictures isn’t the only thing the Martian exploration vehicle can do. In what scientists are calling an ‘interrogation,’ Rover blasted a rock called, “Coronation,” (technically Martian Rock N165), with 14 millijoules of energy 30 times over 10 seconds. That is more than “a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second,” a NASA statement said. Rover then analyzed the obliterated rock dust with “ChemCam,” a special camera, to see what could be learned from the ionized gases that were left.
I couldn’t help but think of 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 and 2 Peter 3:10-12 when I read the article from CNN.com. In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Paul reminds the Corinthians that there will come a day when our work will be revealed by fire. When that happens, each man’s work will be shown to remain based on what he built on and how he built it. In 2 Peter 3:10-12, Peter reminds his readers that the elements will be hit with an intense heat, burning up the Earth itself and everything in it. He asks the question, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?”
No one looks forward to being judged by fire – not me, not you, and if it could think, not N165 either. We will be exposed, in that day, for our words and deeds in this lifetime. God’s camera will analyze us in much greater detail than Curiosity’s “ChemCam” ever could. What will it reveal? Will it be a trust and faith in Christ and a life of one who tried to live righteously? Or will it be a life spent in denial, investing time and energy in this world only with no consideration to the next? Give it some thought!
So I have preached a long sermon or two in my day. I try to be respectful of time, but I also want to develop and explain my points appropriately; sometimes that takes more than 25-30 minutes we set aside. I once had someone joke with me that I had just preached the best two sermons they had ever heard on that particular topic! Well, we can laugh about that kind of thing because no one got injured, but what if someone were to get hurt from a sermon that went too long???
Fortunately no one has ever been injured because of my sermons (to my knowledge), but that is exactly what happened in scripture to a young man named Eutychus. Eutychus, meaning “happy” or “fortunate” was the young man of Troas who fell asleep during Paul’s long sermon. (Here’s what happens to people who fall asleep during sermons, kids!) He fell off his window seat, broke his neck, and was taken up as dead.
Wow! Seriously? I suppose I am not shy about preaching a few minutes into the “lunch hour,” but I hope no one ever falls to their death because of my sermon! I’m not sure what I would do, but I imagine it would be devastating to learn someone had died from my sermon. Paul, however, endowed with the a miraculous gift from the Holy Spirit, simply revived him (Acts 20:7-12).
I say it would be devastating for someone to die during my sermon, but looking at it another way, isn’t that what we are after? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if someone died every time? Of course, I don’t mean physical death like Eutychus, but rather the death, burial, and resurrection of baptism. What a blessing it would be to cause someone’s old self to die and a new birth/reviving every Sunday!
If you know of anyone who wants to study these things further, please put us in touch – the life you help die today in the waters of baptism might just be your next brother or sister in Christ!
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. When they asked me to come to the front for a “pounding,” I wondered if this was some kind of hazing for the new preacher. My mind even went back to the paddles at the frat house for a moment! I’ve taken a few knocks, and life has handed me a beating or two, but what was this thing in the church called a “pounding?” And why were they going to do it with my family present? Well, of course, I’m exaggerating a little. As the picture shows, this was a wonderful gift that looks more like a Thanksgiving cornucopia of pantry items than just a mere “pound of sugar, etc.” But it did make me think…have you ever had one of those moments when you thought trouble was ahead but God had something else in mind and your worries were for nothing?
When Jacob was returning to the land of his birth (Gen 31,32) with his new family, servants, and all that God had given him, he was alarmed when he heard that Esau was coming out to meet him (32:7). He knew that he had “deceived” (27:12) Esau and Isaac, and he knew that his brother had it in his heart to kill him (27:41). What he didn’t know was that God had other plans. As Jacob lifted his eyes and saw Esau coming (33:1), I can only imagine what went through his mind. I’m pretty sure, though, that he never imagined what would actually happen – “Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept” (33:4). Jacob never imagined such a blessing as that!
I’ve never had a church “pounding” before, but what a blessing! We have been tremendously blessed by God ever since entering the ministry, both in Knoxville and now in Clover. We are so thankful for this congregation and for all they have done for us since coming to SC. What an unexpected and undeserved blessing! And I am especially glad there were no paddles! Next time it looks like trouble ahead, we should all trust that no matter what happens here, God has good plans in store for us in heaven.