Today's Word for Pastors...
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Today's Preaching Insight...
Going to the Fishing Lodge but Never Fishing
The last time we were up on the island one of the men in the church shared a memorable story. He told about his friend who owned a popular fishing lodge. Guests come year after year and spend their days fishing. Then at night they gather around the fireplace and tell tall tales about 'the one that got away'. This man told about one guest who came to that lodge. He was outfitted with the finest gear. He looked like a real fisherman. But he never fished! Day after day he spent reading or maybe walking along the lakeshore. But he never dropped a line in the water.
Finally someone asked him why he stayed at a fishing lodge but never fished. The man simply said, "Well, I used to fish, but not so much anymore. You can't find finer folk than fishermen. So I just come to be around them and to listen to their stories." (This story is adapted from Lloyd Oglivie, The Other Jesus, Word, 1986, p. 199).
It's hard to imagine, isn't it? With bluegill and bass just waiting to nibble and strike, this man preferred to sit in the fishing lodge or stroll along the shore! It's always easier to talk about something than to go out and actually do it. But does staying in a fishing lodge make you a fisherman? I think not. The lake, not the lodge, is where the fish are biting. The only fish that end up in a fishing lodge have already been caught.
Let's think about this from a spiritual standpoint. Fishing, of course, is a metaphor in the Bible for missions and faith sharing. Along with worship, discipleship, service and fellowship — our outreach to nearby ponds and to distant oceans fulfills one of the five purposes Jesus intends for us to carry out as his church.
So when it comes to faith sharing and missions, we're not talking about a "resort vacation". Instead, as Jesus' disciples, we're talking about our real vocation. We're talking about decisions and deeds today that can make a real difference in persons' lives for all eternity.
(To read the entire article, "Got Fish" by Gary Bruland at Preaching.com, click here).
Birth in a Grave
Human tragedy is never ultimate. Purpose often springs out of chaos and light from the darkness.
Paul Tillich tells of a moving event that came to light during the Nuremberg War Trials. It seems that in Wilna, Poland, in an effort to escape the clutches of the Nazis, several Jewish people resorted to hiding in graves in a nearby cemetery. There, in such an unlikely place, a young woman gave birth to a child.
An 80-year-old grave digger was the only one there to assist in the birth; and, as he saw what was happening, he said in awe: "Great God, hast thou finally sent the Messiah to us? For who else but a Messiah could be born in a grave?"
The old man was wrong as to the identity of the child because the emaciated mother had no milk and very soon the child died. But he was right in another sense, for only God could do something as incredible as cause life to be born in a grave.
This is exactly what did happen on Easter morning and is the greatest of all symbols of God's ingenious resourcefulness. Out of that awful matrix of death and tragedy, healing began to flow.
(Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations, 1955, chapter 20. Sadly this book is out of print but this insightful chapter can be seen online here. Quoted in Easter Sermon by John Claypool, Tragedy and Hope.)
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