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Archive for January, 2011

Saved At Sea

After a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church’s pastor
once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very
brief introduction of his childhood friend. With that, an elderly man
stepped up to the pulpit to speak, "A father, his son, and a friend of
his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast," he began, "when a fast
approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves
were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor,
he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the
ocean."

The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two
teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began,
looking somewhat interested in his story. He continued, "Grabbing a
rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of
his life…. to which boy would he throw the other end of the line. He
only had seconds to make the decision.

The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that
his son’s friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be
matched by even the torrent of waves. "As the father yelled out, ‘I
love you, son!’ he threw the line to his son’s friend. By the time he
pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared
beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His son’s body was
never recovered."

By this time, the two teenagers were listening very attentively,
waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth. "The
father," he continued, "knew his son would step into eternity with
Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping
into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. Oh,
how great is the love of God that He should do the same for us!"

With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as
silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service ended, the
two teenagers were at the old man’s side. "That was an awesome story,"
said one of the boys, "but I don’t think it was very logical for a
father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would
become a Christian."

"Well, you’ve got a point there," the old man replied, glancing down
at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once
again looked up at the boys and said, "It sure isn’t very logical, is
it? But I’m here today to tell you the fact THAT story gives me a
glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me."

"You see, boys… I was the son’s friend."

A Candle

One evening a man took a small candle from a box and began to climb a
long winding stairway. "Where are we going?" asked the candle.

"We’re going up higher than a house to show the ships the way to the
harbor."

"But no ship in the harbor could ever see my light," the candle said,
"it is so very small."

"If your light is small," the man said, "just keep on burning brightly
and leave the rest to me."

When they reached the top of the long stairs, they came to a large
lamp. Then he took the little candle and lit the lamp. Soon the large
polished mirrors behind the lamp sent beams of light out across the
miles of sea.

We are God’s candle! Our job is to keep on shining. The success of our
work is in His hands. A tiny candle or match can start a forest fire.

The little flame of your good example can actually change the lives of
others without you knowing it. Be a light to them like the beacon
light in the story which guide the ship to safe harbor.

Harbor or Horizon

Once there was a young captain assigned to an old ship. The day the
captain arrived, he could tell that his new ship was in need of some
work and that the morale of the crew was low. And he was not surprised
when he was told that the ship had not left port in a long time.

The hull of the ship was rotting. The deck was stained and some of the
planks were gone. The sails were torn and old, repaired with large
patches. Some of the crew members had jumped ship, looking for another
ship on which to serve, a ship that was going some place, any place.

The very next day, the captain called the crew together. He ordered
the ship to be dry docked so the hull could be scrapped, sanded and
then painted. Over the next weeks and months, the deck was repaired.
The cabins were cleaned and many improvements made. New sails were
sewn and hoisted to the yards. The old ship was coming back to life!

Then the day came when the captain called the crew together. Some of
the old crew members who had jumped ship had returned because they
heard and saw what was happening. And other members were new, bringing
with them great excitement and love for the sea.

The captain said, "It is time that we made plans to leave this
harbor." The crew looked around at each other. The captain, knowing
that some of them were fearful, said, "This ship was not made for the
safety of the harbor… but for the horizon," and he pointed to it.
"But you are the crew. You must decide. Will it be the harbor or the
horizon?"

For what seemed an eternity there was silence. The sounds of wind and
waves were all one could hear. Then, one crew member in a hushed
voice, said, "Horizon!" And another, "Horizon!" And others joined in,
"Horizon!" Until the winds and waves were drowned out with the shouts
of, "HORIZON!"

The captain, so proud of them that he could barely speak, gathered
with members of the crew to plan their first voyage. The excitement
grew until the day arrived that they had planned to haul up anchor and
make way out of the harbor.

The captain gathered the crew in a circle on the bow. He thanked them
for their hard work, their courage and faith. And then he asked them
to bow their heads while he prayed, "Lord of the land and the sea,
what a joyous day this is! A day most of us wondered if would ever
come! But you have given this ship, this crew new life, new hope, and
we praise you. But Lord, you know that we are a little fearful, for we
have not set sail for the horizon for a long time. We fear what awaits
us there. We know there will be high winds and waves, storms and
difficulties. But we also know that you created us for the horizon,
not the harbor, and that, best of all, you will be our Captain,
guiding and protecting us. So, our Captain, we have heard your order
to set sail for the horizon, not knowing all that’s ahead for us, but
knowing all we need to know… that you are with us. Amen."

The ship sailed out of the harbor that day, never to return to rest in
the harbor again. The people on the shore heard all kinds of stories
about the ship… how it sailed the seven seas, came through storms,
and discovered new lands.

Like that ship, our church was meant for a risky adventure. Like the
wise servants, we can rise to the challenge and aim for the horizon.
Or like the unwise servant, we can cower in fear, avoid risk and
change, and stay safely in the harbor. Which will it be for you?

Harbor or Horizon ?