Think that one person can't make a difference in the world? Harriet Beecher Stowe was one person, but her book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, transformed American attitudes toward slavery. For months after its publication, three presses ran around the clock to keep up with the demand. Her work touched millions of lives. Suppose she had said, "I can't make a difference," and never wrote?
ATTITUDE -- Importance of
Robert L. Whiteside describes a drama instructor who would, in a close audition, give the part to the person with a happier expression, knowing that the more optimistic person will be easier to live with when unexpected delays occur in rehearsal. "Watch, and you will notice that the person with the upturned lips just naturally expects things to work out all right in the long run." (Face Language)
CHANGE - Necessary
"The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." (Charles F. Kettering)
CHURCH -- Called to go to world
"This sanctuary can be a salt-shaker. You can come in here once a week, have a lot of fellowship with all the other salt and think your job is accomplished. Instead, God wants to pick up this sanctuary and shake you out all over this city. He has brought you together as His salt only to scatter you. He wants you to be an influence for Jesus." (John A. Huffman, Jr.)
COMMITMENT -- Abandon old life
The US Congress adopted a plan to put our country on the metric system, which is already used in most of the world. And it is a more logical system, since everything is based on multiples of 10, rather than the odd collection of weights and measures we have now--12 inches to a foot, 5280 feet to a mile, and so on.
Yet it hasn't worked, has it? Most of us know very little about the metric system, because as long as the old system is still visible, we rely on it--no matter how superior the new may be.
So it is with the Christian life. We must eliminate, abandon the old life when we take on the new life in Christ. Otherwise we continue to fall back on the old.
EVANGELISM -- Is our business
Stephen Brown tells the story of Uncle John, who went to a lady who was a member of Boston's affluent society, and asked her if she was a Christian. When she got home that day, she found her husband reading the Wall Street Journal. "You'll never believe what happened to me today," she recalled. "A man came up to me and asked if I was a Christian."
"If I'd been there, I'd have told him to mind his own business," said the husband, to which the woman replied, "Honey, if you'd been there you'd have realized it was his business."
EXCELLENCE -- Christians called to
The former chaplain of the Boston Red Sox counseled a young player who was constantly quoting Scripture: "Son, don't quote Scripture until you hit home runs."
When we publicly profess our faith in Christ and then offer shabby performance in our work or other pursuits, we offer a poor witness to the Lord we claim to serve.
FAMILY -- One-parent homes growing
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in every four American families with children under 18 is a one-parent family. That was 26 percent in 1985, compared to 22 percent in 1980 and 13 percent in 1970. Nine of every ten single-parent families is headed by a woman, and they are disproportionately black and poor. (Light)
A man observed a fellow driving a group of sheep across a field, beating the stick and urging them forward. "I thought shepherds led their sheep," said the man. The answer came: "I'm not the shepherd; I'm the butcher."
LOVE - Persistent
For more than 40 years, a shy Welshman went to his neighbor's door each week and slipped a love letter underneath. Because of an argument they'd had years before, she refused to speak to him through the years. Finally, after writing 2,184 love letters with no response of any kind, the 74-year-old man went to the door, knocked on it, and asked the 74-year-old woman to marry him. Much to his surprise, she said yes and they soon tied the knot. (Richard Armstrong, Make (Your Life Worthwhile)
Love is like that. It keeps on trying, even when it faces rejection. And the ultimate example of the persistence of love is God.
HUMILITY -- Need for
In his Lectures on Preaching, Phillips Brooks reminded his audience of ministerial students of the man hired by Philip of Macedon to remind him each day, "Philip, remember thou art mortal." That is a reminder each of us needs daily.
MOTIVATION -- Produces results
A factory foreman called an employee into his office. This worker was the only one in the entire factory who hadn't pledged in (the United Way drive.
"Now son, if you don't participate, you're not going to be working here much longer," said the foreman. The young worker replied, "Why, I believe I'd like to give. Nobody ever explained it to me that way before!"
If people are properly motivated, they'll act!
MORAL ISSUES -- Teen pregnancy rises
According to a recent study, more than a million American teenagers become pregnant each year, and four out of every five are unmarried. Many become pregnant in their early to mid-teens; some 30,000 are under the age of 15.
Time magazine points out (12/9/85) that teenaged mothers are "many times as likely as other women with young children to live below the poverty level. According to one study, only half of those who give birth before age 18 complete high school (as compared with 96% of those who postpone childbearing). On average, they earn half as much money and are far more likely to be dependent on welfare."
PURPOSE -- We all have
John Henry Newman pointed out the meaning each of us has:
"God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission ...
"I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught ... Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away ... He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about."
"Don't be misled into believing that somehow the world owes you a living. The boy who believes that his parents, or the government, or anyone else owes him his livelihood and that he can collect it without labor will wake up one day and find himself working for another boy who did not have that belief." (David Sarnoff)
SERVANTHOOD -- Doesn't claim credit
There is an old folk tale of the man who took his ox for a day in the fields. All day long a flea sat on the ox's nose. At day's end, as the farmer led the ox through town on the way home, the flea grandly proclaimed to the townspeople: "We've been plowing!"
The servant of Christ recognizes that it is He who produces the result. We are given the privilege of participating in the journey.
Every day Americans consume 28 tons of aspirins, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. Stress is big business.
WARNINGS -- Not always heeded
The little boy went to the store and asked the clerk for a box of Duz detergent. "What do you need that for?" asked the clerk, and the boy answered, "To wash my dog."
"That's pretty strong stuff for washing a dog," warned the clerk, but the boy insisted that Duz was what he wanted, so the clerk sold it to him, reminding, "Now be careful when you wash your dog. That detergent is strong, and could kill him."
A week later the boy came in the store again and the clerk asked, "How's your dog?" The boy explained that the dog was dead. The clerk said, "I'm sorry, but I tried to warn you that Duz was too strong."
The little boy shook his head and said, "I don't think it was the Duz that did it. I think it was the rinse cycle that got him."