Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sermon By Russell H. Conwell
Sunday Morning, December 1, 1912.

Courtesy of Grace Baptist Church of Bluebell, PA.

We are here to unveil this picture of Hattie May Wiatt, a little girl who died in 1886. Years have gone rapidly by, but she still speaks. We intend to put this picture in the pastor's study, in the most prominent place, and keep it there through the years to come, that people as they pass through may ask: 'What meaneth that picture?' And the story, simple and wonderful, may be told.

Little Hattie May Wiatt lived in a house near the church in which we then worshipped, at Berks and Mervine, which is now occupied by the Christian Church. It was a small church and was crowded, tickets of admission were obtained sometimes weeks in advance for every service. The Sunday school was as crowded as the rest of the congregation, and one day when I came down to the church, to attend Sabbath school, I found a number of children outside. They were greatly disturbed because they could not get in, on account of the crowd of children already in the Sunday school rooms of the church, and little Hattie May Wiatt, who lived near by, had brought her books and a contribution, and was standing by the gate, hesitating whether to go back home or wait and try to get in later. I took her up in my arms, lifted her to my shoulder, and then as she held on to my head - an embrace I never can forget - I carried her through the crowd in the hall, into the Sunday school room, and seated her in a chair away back in a dark corner. The next morning as I came down to the church from my home I came by their house and she was going up the street to school. As we met, I said: 'Hattie, we are going to have a larger Sunday school room soon', and she said: 'I hope you will. It is so crowded that I am afraid to go there alone'. 'Well', I replied, 'When we get the money with which to erect a school building we are going to construct one large enough to get all the little children in, and we are going to begin very soon to raise the money for it'. It was only in my mind as a kind of imaginary vision, but I wished to make conversation with the child. The next that I heard about it was that Hattie was very sick, and they asked me to come in and see the child, which I did, and prayed with her. I walked up the street, praying for the little girl's recovery, and yet all the time with the conviction that it was not to be.

Hattie May Wiatt died. She had gathered 57 cents - some have written 54 - which was left as her contribution towards securing another building for the children. After the funeral the mother handed me the little bag with the gathered 57 cents. I took it to the church and stated that we had the first gift toward the new Sunday school building; that little Hattie May Wiatt, who had gone on into the Shining World, had left behind her this gift towards it. I then changed all the money into pennies and offered them for sale. I received about $250 for the 57 pennies; and 54 of those cents were returned to me by the people who bought them. I then had them put in a frame where they could be seen and exhibited them, and we received by a sale of the $250 changed into pennies money enough to buy the next house north of the church at Berks and Mervine. That house was bought by the Wiatt Mite Society, which was organized for the purpose of taking the 57 cents and enlarging on them sufficiently to buy the property for the Primary Department of the Sunday school. In the Wiatt Mite Society was Mr. Edward O. Elliott ( now one of our trustees) who has charge of this picture, and was then a member.

Then when the crowd became so great we could no longer get in there, the thought impressed itself upon our congregation, 'We ought to have a larger church and a larger Sunday school room'. Faith in God was the characteristic of this people, and they said, 'We can do it', notwithstanding the fact that the church had a mortgage on it then, I think, of $30,000, and that we had no money in advance. Yet the conviction was strong that we ought to build a larger church, and some ventured so far, though then it seemed absurd, to say that we might 'build on Broad Street somewhere'. But the Wiatt Mite Society, using the influence of Hattie May Wiatt's first deposit, raised the money to pay, as I said, for the house, and then the undertaking was before us, whether we would go out and try to build a large church. I walked over to see Mr. Baird, who lived on the corner where the German Athletic Association now has its meetings, and asked him what he wanted for this lot on which the Temple now stands.

He said that he wanted $30,000. I told him that we had only 54 cents toward the $30,000, but that we were foolish enough to think that some time we would yet own that lot. Encouraged by what he said, and with no opposition on the part of the Board of Deacons, I went around again to talk with him, and asked him if he would not hold the lot for five years. Mr. Baird said: 'I have been thinking this matter over and have made up my mind I will sell you that lot for $25,000, taking $5,000 less than I think it is worth, and I will take the 54 cents as the first payment and you may give me a mortgage for the rest at 5%. I went back and so reported to the church, and they said: 'Well, we can raise more money that 54 cents', but I went over and left the 54 cents with Mr. Baird and took a receipt for it as a part payment on the lot. Mr. Baird afterwards returned the 54 cents as another gift. Thus we bought the lot, and thus encouraged of God step by step, we went on constructing this building. We owed $109,000 when it was done, but we had courage and faith in God then. We could hardly have dreamed then that in the number of years that followed this people, without wealth, each giving only as he could afford from his earnings, could have paid off so great a debt without any outside help. The only outside help that we really received was from Mr. Bucknell. Although our church was then called the Grace Baptist Church, he was not willing that we should call the new building a church until the mortgage was paid. He gave us $10,000 on the condition that we call this building by some other name than the Grace Baptist Church, and that accounts for its being called The Temple instead of the Grace Church. Afterwards, when we did pay off the mortgage accounts, we dedicated the building and have a right now to call it whatever we choose, but after 21 years of being named as it is, there is no reason why we should change it, and there is no hope of doing so if we should undertake it. It will always be known as The Temple. I must state here also that in the house purchased by the sale of the 57 cents was organized The Temple University.

Now, giving simply that brief introduction to the history of Hattie May Wiatt, I wish to call your attention to two or three important lessons in connection with it:

Who are the really great of this world? Who are the mighty? Is it the king, the emperor, the president, the famous, estimated by the kingdom of heaven and on the books of God? How little we know. Our nation has given credit to Washington, to Jefferson, to Lafayette,t o the great Pitt of England, to the great generals and writers, and to great financiers like Morris, but there is one person hardly over mentioned in our history who had so much influence in our affairs that as a nation we ought to have her picture in every public hall and in every school; yet because she was a young woman she seems to have been lost to the sight of the world. That was the Princess Elizabeth, sister of Louis XVI, of France. That little woman who was a treasure of femine loveliness, with a heart as pure and bright as any that ever beat in the breast of woman; she who lived in the aristocracy of that time, but who plead for the starving, common people and protested again against Marie Antoinette's use of the public money as she did at Versailles, and spent her life in charity and loving kindness. She laid the foundation for the victory of this nation. Those who read history know that we could not have hoped for freedom if Rochambeau had not come to this country, if the French had not indorsed us, and if the French had not fought England on the waters and lands of Europe while we were trying to fight our battles here. If it had not been for Yorktown and its surrender we could never have hoped to obtain our freedom from what was then the tyrannous king of England. Who sent Rochambeau, who used the influence that brought his coming about? In some of the correspndence of Benjamin Franklin, who represented us at the Court of France, we find that the princess, a lovely young woman, was well acquainted with him and liked to talk with him upon philosophy and upon American ideas. She served as a 'go-between' with Franklin and the queen, who used her influence with the king; for Louis XVI reminds one of Henry Ward Beecher's statement with reference to his church in Ohio, when he said: 'It had only 19 members, 18 were women and the other one was nothing'. Louis XVI was really nothing, and Marie Antoinette was the power indeed behind the throne, and behind Marie Antoinette was the Princess Elizabeth. It was she who opened the way for Franklin to reach the ear of the king. It was she who went to the Prime Minister of France and secured from him the condemnation of the arms, which were sold for a few cents apiece to America, yet were just as good as the best made in the world. It was she who secured the influence of the king to declare war on England in order that he might help America to her liberty. It was that young woman, acting all the time with continued energy, with prayer as well as with her social influence as one of the royal family, who really secured to us our liberty. Yet how little is said of her. In the great records of the history of mankind she should occupy a leading place. When I think of that innocent, sweet woman going to the guillotine on that morning in the old cart, encouraging all the humbler ones in the cart with her to keep up t heir courage, to hold their faith in God and to believe in a future world; when I see that noble, patriotic martyr going to that great square where she was beheaded, I see one of the great martyrs of earth. Yet in history, I say, we find our nation remarkably silent concerning her. And so in the history of Hattie May Wiatt - the name is new to some of you. She was a school girl, living in one of the homes of the industrious, honorable, upright and saving classes of society, not of the wealthy and great, yet think how her life was used; think what God did with her and the great, yet think how her life was used; thaink what God did with her and the 54 cents that was used of hers. A glance at it would put many to shame. Think of this large church; think of the membership added to it - over 5600 - since that time. Think of the influence of its membership going out and spreading over the world. Think of the influence of the Sabbath school carried on in this great building for more than twenty years. Then think of the institutions this church founded. Think of the Samaritan Hospital and the thousands of sick people that have been cured there, and the thousands of poor that are ministered to every year. I received the report of the Samaritan Hospital for October last Saturday and find that during the month 2540 had visited the dispensary. By multiplying that by twelve to get the average for a year, we find that over 30,000 people every year go to the dispensary of that one hospital, and that does not include the inner wards for the poor or the private rooms. Then there is the other hopital, the Garrestson, also taken up by the poeple of this church. Without this church, it could never have been started. There they ministered in one single year to over 14,000 workmen, wounded and broken and dying. When we think, I say, of the ministrations of these hospitals that were started by the influence of this church and supported in the .... in the beginning by members of this church, what a long roll it is of the deeds of Christian kindness. Think of how in that Wiatt house were begun the very first classes of the Temple College. The Wiatt Mite Society provided the seats, the books and the teachers. Thus it began as an evening school, and it has gone on growing and developing through the years. That house, bought for 54 cents in the first place, was sold and the proceeds given to the Temple College in order that it might open on Park avenue, and when we moved out of the original church that was given bodily to the Temple College, and the college sold it to the Christian Church and used the money to erect a building next door to us on Broad Street. Think of the influence of that 57 cents just for a moment. Almost 80,000 young people have gone through the classes of the Temple University, and think where they are. A year ago we estimated that there were 500 young men and women in the business department who earned nothing before they went there and who, after six months' instruction, were earning from $5 to $15 a week. Think of the added income, of the added comforts, which even the smallest departments had given, and then think of the Departments of Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Theology, Household Arts, the Normal School and the Teachers' College - nearly 4000 are now going in and out its various doors in various parts of the city. Just estimate how they will go and teach thousands more, and how those thousands will in turn teach many thousands more in their lifetime; think how it sweeps the world in a century with one techer, multiplying himself or herself a hundred times, perhaps, nearly every year. Two years ago - the smallest year of that work, - we took statistics of the Temple University students to learn their religious connection, and, of course, we found all kinds of religions because it is an undenominational institution. We ascertained that 504 young men of all denominations were studying for the Gospel ministry, in a single year. Now, if we graduate - and certainly we do - at least a hundred a year into the ministry of the various denominations, think what must have come to pass in twenty years. Think of it - two thousand people preaching the Gospel because Hattie May Wiatt invested her 54 cents; because she laid the foundations and gave her life for it.

I wish I had time to extend these remarks until you could realize more than one can without details. But I want to draw one or two more lessons and at once. In the first place, the people had faith in God, and they went ahead, trusting Him, and He has followed all the way. He has kept and protected us through every step with great care, and the future is just as safe, certainly, as is the past. Hattie May Wiatt was being used to do a mighty work. We sometimes think that when a life stops in eight years, or in ten, it is a shortened life, and that it is a broken life, that it was never completed. But in God's sight, every life is complete. Whether taken at eight, ten, twenty, thirty, fifty, or seventy years, every life is complete, when God takes it; hence, that is the case with the life of Hattie May Wiatt. Think of the sorrow that was in that home. I shall never forget the broken-hearted state of the family and friends who came to the funeral. Think of that mother sorrowing through all these years. I am making her heart more tender every moment as I speak, I am arousing within her the memory of those days which a mother can never forget. But Hattie died at the right time, she was called of God at exactly the moment when it was best for earth and for the kingdom to come that she should go. Her life was filled out, it was complete, and when we think of the influence of it upon the world, upon all the ages, we feel as though she was one of the greatest of earth who had accomplished that which leaders of armies had failed to do, and that which kings upon their thrones could not accomplish. Her life was just as long as any other.

The other thought that I would have dwelled upon if I had the time, is that being dead she yet speaks. Men may have powers of eloquence, they may sing with all the sweetness of angelic voices, and yet they may not speak as Hattie May Wiatt speaks tonight, as she will speak through your life as you go out and do differently from what you would have done if you had not been here. Hattie May Wiatt is speaking in tones of eloquence, sweet, divine and powerful, moving on upon the ages. Many men are counted great, many men are given credit for that which they do not do, but here is a life filled with motive power that sweeps on for all time. Twenty years and more have gone, and is she twenty years older in Heaven? When her mother meets her there will she be twenty years older than she was when she went?

When that little lad brought five loaves and two small fishes to be used of Christ for His great work of feeding the five thousand, it was precisely the same thing that Hattie May Wiatt did when she brought her 57 cents, and that lad and Hattie May Wiatt are now in the land on high. Does she see us? Yes, she does. It is one of the great comforts of life that every person is used of God, that every individual is loved just as closely and in careful detail as though he were the only person on this earth. Think of that, my brother, my sister, if there were not another person living on earth God could not take any more individual care of you than He now does. He sees and knows you; though you may think your life is humble, unknown, hidden, yet God sees all, and your life has probably just as great an influence for the uplift of mankind and the progress of His kingdom as has been the life of those who are seemingly great, seemingly famous in this world. There is no difference before God. The humblest of His Christian servants is doing just as much for His kingdom, when waiting, or doing faithfully their little duty, as are the seemingly great; and Hattie May Wiatt looks down from the towers of Heaven upon this world and sees all these myriads of powerful influences moving out upon the earth and shaping the course of the world beyond anything we can dream. She is happy on high with the thought that her life was so full, that it was so complete, that she lived really to be so old in the influences she threw upon this earth.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Some good background on the Beatitudes.

On site.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Next Sunday, in the first Beatitude, I will preach on, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven. Tevyia gives us an insight into his desire to wish wish. The sweetest thing of all would be to discuss the Torah seven hours a day.

What are true riches?

Enjoy the song.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Pay Day Someday by R.G. Lee

"Enjoy" this classic.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Giving Tree - Narrated by Brennan Manning

Monday, October 08, 2007

The SELAH version:

Also ... God Bless the Broken Road

I Needed This Today ...

May it bless you as it blessed me.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thoughts from the Leadership Summit, 2007

Here are a few thoughts from some of the speakers.

Carly Fiorina:

"Everyone is afraid of something. Every time you overcome, you are stronger."

"Leadership is about unlocking potential in others."

"Every time someone took a chance on me, it motivated me."

"There is a gift in everything if we will see it."

"Innovation means taking risks."

- Carly Fiorina at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, 2007 (in an interview with Bill Hybels)

Floyd Flake:

" ... moving people beyond their self-serving motives." (When describing one of the goals of leadership)

"You don't need a unanimous vote, but you need a majority support."

- Floyd Flake at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, 2007

Marcus Buckingham:

"Build on strengths and manage around weaknesses."

"You cannot understand excellence by studying bad examples." (paraphrased)

"What percentage of a typical day do you spend playing to your strengths?"

Marcus Buckingham at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, 2007

John Ortberg:

Ortberg told this joke:

Man to wife: When I think about facing (any challenge), my palms get sweaty.

A little while later, same man to wife: When I think about (same challenge), my mouth gets dry.

Wife: Why don't you just lick your palms?

He spoke about a leader's greatest fear. "The greatest fear is not what can happen to us, but what can happen in us."

From Esther, he drew out this question: "Why have you been brought to this place in your life?"

he noted several examples, from Esther of the difference between one's mission and one's shadow mission which is just a click or two off of the real mission, but keeps us from fulfilling it.

John Ortberg at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rare Footage of Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday is preaching in support of Prohibition.

St. Crispen's Day Speech

The privilege of service and sacrifice for the sake of Christ is far greater than that expressed by Henry in Henry V, in Shakesphere's rendering of St. Crispen's Day speech. Our resolve in Christ to stand together as borthers and sisters with our Lord Jesus is shored up by the sheer honor and fellowship of it.

Here is the Partial text:

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Birthday Quotes

You never know when you might need them ...

A Few Thoughts for your upcoming birthday:

“Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever, and we'll meet now and then when we wish, in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.” - Richard Bach

“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” - Abraham Lincoln

“The older the fiddler, the sweeter the tune.” - Pope Paul VI

“The old believe everything; the middle aged suspect everything: the young know everything.” - Oscar Wilde

"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
the last of life,
for which the first was made." - Robert Browning

“The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.” - Lucille Ball

May the milestones of your life
Be the ammunition to
Confront the millstones in your way.
May each be smooth enough
To give pleasure to your touch
Before you launch it ruthlessly
Into your obstacles
Shattering them into a million
Milestones. - Tom Sims

Happy Birthday This Very Week!

The Dream Factory
My Blogger Blogs

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Are you a novice to the habit of smiling. I will suggest a begining exercise that may help. Not only will you feel better, but it pays well too.

S - Stretch your cheeks as far as they can go to the left and the right.

M - Make yourself hold that position.

I - Inhale, but hold your facial position.

L - Lighten up your stance by tensing and relaxing your muscles.

E - Enjoy the giggle that is now turning from a checkle to a cackle.

Practice this process until it comes naturally. Maintaining the habit will not be nearly as challenging as starting. Others will reinforce it by miling back and you will feel like a million dolars. - Tom Sims

Sunday, May 06, 2007

That's My King
Preached by the great S.M. Lockridge

You Will Be Blessed!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trailer for the film, "Facing the Giants" while we are on the theme of giants.

Max Lucado on "Facing Your Giants"

To order your copy:
Pastor Rick Warren describes his own challenge to find renewed purpose in the wake of his book's success, and his belief that God's intention is for each of us to use our unique talents and influence. Warren became one of the most influential Christian voices worldwide, following the runaway success of his book The Purpose-Driven Life, which has sold more than 30 million copies. His Saddleback Church, which began as a small group in his home, now hosts more than 20,000 congregants. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 21:46) - More TEDTalks at «

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Not Everything Can Be Fixed

'My Cancer' icon

"When Elizabeth Edwards announced last week that her cancer had returned, Leroy Sievers noted how familiar her words were to anyone who's had cancer: "It's a chronic disease; it can be managed. But there is no cure." Web Extra: Read the 'My Cancer' blog"

I have been following this journal on NPR for some time. I remember when i took training as a hospice chaplain. The instructor wrote, in bold letters on the board, "FIX IT."

Then she said, "You can't."

She then proceeded to explain what our ministry was as people who walk alongside the dying and their families.

We pray that Elizabeth Edwards is not dying, but she does has something that cannot be fixed. How does that sort of material impact your approach to preaching the good news in the midst of crisis?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Holiness of the Ordinary

I have accepted the self-imposed and other-reinforced assignment of considering the holiness of the ordinary. How does that which is such a part of the backdrop of our human experience as to be profaned take on the air of eternal significance and other worldly importance?

What sets apart one activity, object, or person from the other in the eyes of God and, eventually, of spiritually enlightened man?

As I often do, I went to the scriptures of my answers, initially focusing on the few uses of the word, “ordinary” in the New International Version from which these biblical quotes come.

Any of these scriptures would be sufficient fodder for a sermon on the subject. I offer these as note-crumbs from my morning’s biblical feast.

1 Samuel 21:4
But the priest answered David, "I don't have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women."
1 Samuel 21:3-5 (in Context) 1 Samuel 21 (Whole Chapter)

Here is an example of how something sacred, holy, and consecrated was used for very ordinary purposes. The priest wanted to make sure that the men in David’s band had not been with women in recent days. David replied that they had been too busy fighting a war to have had relations with women. In fact, the women had stayed away from them.

It makes you wonder if David had a twinkle in his eye.

Whatever his demeanor, David made a point that while the men in his company had been doing something very secular, even profane, God had consecrated them almost against their will.

Holiness had been thrust upon them by circumstances.

Isaiah 8:1
[ Assyria, the LORD's Instrument ] The LORD said to me, "Take a large scroll and write on it with an ordinary pen: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.
Isaiah 8:1-3 (in Context) Isaiah 8 (Whole Chapter)

In Isaiah, a very sacred task is being conducted with a very ordinary tool. The sacred and awesome Word of God was to be penned with a common instrument.

God still uses common instruments – people – to accomplish His ends and communicate His truth.

Acts 4:13
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:12-14 (in Context) Acts 4 (Whole Chapter)

Here, God uses ordinary men to communicate an extraordinary message. It was their ordinariness that grabbed the attention of the community. Otherwise, they might have been written off as speculative intellectuals spouting irrelevant eccentricities of philosophical curiosity.

The conclusion of the observers was that these men had been with Jesus who takes ordinary things and makes them holy.

Holiness in this case, is defined as something dedicated to God’s exclusive use as were Peter and John. Being with Jesus marked them forever. It did not removed their humanity but it made them forever immune to insignificance.

Acts 7:20
"At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for in his father's house.
Acts 7:19-21 (in Context) Acts 7 (Whole Chapter)

Moses is distinguished as something beyond ordinary, even from birth. His parents could see it. The king’s daughter would see it. Perhaps no one else could. As he grew, he became more ordinary on the outside, but God always knew who he was and what he had been made to be.

When God found Moses after a long hiatus from the limelight, he was doing ordinary work in an ordinary place. Every day was most likely filled with certain repetitive tasks that a man of his intellect and past cultural exposure may have found boring.

But Moses seemed to relish the boredom of the ordinary because it was his refuge. It gave him security. However, he could not stay in the rut. There was something more. He had been created for a purpose. For him to stay one more day in Midian than God intended, would have been to desecrate that which was holy – his life.

Acts 21:39
Paul answered, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city. Please let me speak to the people."
Acts 21:38-40 (in Context) Acts 21 (Whole Chapter)

Rome was no ordinary city. But it was not a holy city. It was just important and powerful. Just! It would be consecrated at a later time by the blood of martyrs and the birth of the underground church.

Galatians 4:23
His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
Galatians 4:22-24 (in Context) Galatians 4 (Whole Chapter)

Abraham had two sons. One was born by ordinary means, the other by extraordinary intervention of God’s promise and power to activate His promise. Yet, pregnancy and birth look about the same to the naked eye. Though as old as the hills, Sarah participated in an extraordinary and holy event through the same old tired, crude, time-honored methods.

It made the ordinary holy.

Galatians 4:29
At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.
Galatians 4:28-30 (in Context) Galatians 4 (Whole Chapter)

What makes the ordinary holy is the activity and influence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our times and routines. Isaac was born by the power of the Spirit. When men and women are born anew that way today, it does not necessarily change their appearance (though smiles and attitudes do change a lot in the countenance). It doesn’t mean that our base bodily functions begin to take on a sweeter aroma. We don’t stop eating, sleeping, and perspiring. We still need baths.

What it does mean that the most ordinary things we do daily are somehow sanctified by who we are and what we are becoming in relation to God and His purposes. We can no longer wash dishes without it being a religious experience.

Everything is life has reflective value. Every tidbit of the life experience has theological significance for us to uncover and celebrate.

Celebration of the ordinary is the rightful expression of the holiness of the ordinary.

Humanity becomes a dance of grace.

Everything is uplifted and stamped with God’s seal of “The Lord saw that it was good.” (See Genesis 1 to be reminded of all the created elements and life forms that God called good.)

Hebrews 11:23
By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
Hebrews 11:22-24 (in Context) Hebrews 11 (Whole Chapter)

The writer of Hebrews may have heard Stephen’s last sermon – or he may have heard about it from Paul, but it deserved repeating in a fresh context. The message here is faith. It is our faith response to the Spirit’s activity and God’s intentions that makes the holiness of the ordinary real to us. Even in the presence of something extraordinarily scared – whether a moment or an object, without faith, we are oblivious to reality.

Faith, according to Hebrews 11, is substantive and evidentiary. It illuminates the spiritually obvious for souls in oblivion.

When considering the holiness of the ordinary, faith is the lens through which we view the profane and humdrum world when we are gasping for the fresh air of wonder.

So then, what sets apart one activity, object, or person from the other in the eyes of God and, eventually, of spiritually enlightened man? It is nothing less than the activity and influence of the Spirit and the response of faith.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pointers for Easter Sunday

You have probably started thinking about your Easter sermon. I have a few ideas to add to the ones you already have:

  • Preach the resurrection. Is this a no-brainer? Apparently some preachers haven't heard.
  • Keep it simple. The temptation is to want to do a year's worth of preaching to those who won't be back. If you do, they won't. Count on it.
  • Preach in your style. You want to give first timers a sample of what they can expect if they return.
  • Preach with a warm heart in the power of the Holy Spirit, but don't get worked up into a frenzy. Be real.
  • Cast a net and draw it in in an appropriate manner, but don't expect to cluster all your results into one Sunday. There will be a great deal of seed-planting.
Add that to a lot of other advice that you could give yourself and have a blessed Resurrection Sunday.