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Archive for December, 2009

What People Are Saying about Christian Speaker Steven Mosley

“It’s not often that our congregation gives standing ovations, but after Steven’s performance, that is exactly what happened.  Steven makes the Bible come alive–and easily understood.  This is a wonderful way to see God’s love unfold.”                                                                              Education Pastor Gary Emmons, Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills (Phoenix)

“It was a tremendous blessing for our congregation to see the whole Bible come alive in dramatic format.  I was particular drawn closer to seeing the Lord’s promises fulfilled in the Gospel in the portrayal of the theme of the garment through the entire redemptive plan of God.  All in under one hour!  Simply amazing.”
Senior Pastor Mondo Gonzales, Yacolt Evangelical Free Church (Portland area)

“Chosen Garment was a feast for the eyes and the spirit.  Steven had his audience of every age spellbound by his creative treatment of the Story of stories.   He moved seamlessly through Bible history with the good news in technicolor!  The little girl who sat beside me never took her eyes off the stage as Mosley changed hats and changed voices to match the character he was depicting.  This was a performance and a portrayal of the gospel that bears repeating…every time Steven Mosley can be in the room!
Connie Kennemer, Worship Director, Pomerado Christian Church (San Diego)

“Steven Mosley’s Chosen Garment was a blessing to our congregation!  Creative, colorful, and captivating, the presentation gives the big picture of the Bible in a way that focuses on Christ and tells the Gospel story with clarity and power.”             Senior Pastor Doug Corlew, Summit Evangelical Free Church, Alta, Iowa

“Our congregation loved it. They were amazed with how the production was performed and were touched by the message.”
Worship Pastor Cory Daker, Auburn Church of the Nazarene  (Seattle)

“I have been preaching now for 44 years on the Bible. I thoroughly enjoyed the Presentation of “Chosen Garment” by Steven Mosley at our Worship Center.  I have never seen anything like it.”
Senior Pastor Glenn Kirby, West Valley Christian Church (LA)

“Steven has a real passion and gift for bringing the Word of God to life so that it can be heard ‘loud and clear’ not only in our heads but also in our hearts.  During “The Chosen Garment” presentation, the love of God in Christ is experienced in unforgettable ways.  Steven was very easy to work with, professional,  others centered, and able to connect with audiences of all ages at the same time.  His work was both a gift and a blessing to our church.”
Education Director Tom Stimson, First Presbyterian Church, Marion, Ohio

“‘Steven exceeded our expectations’ was the feedback often heard by those who witnessed  Chosen Garment.  There are people in our church who are quite artistic and have high standards, but Steven surpassed those standards.  We look forward to having Steven back again to inspire us and help us reach our community.”                                                                        Senior Pastor Brett Cushing, CrossPoint Church, Bloomington, MN

I was so awed by the responses at Fallbrook Presbyterian Church, I just had to write them down.                                                “Wonderful!”
“Amazing how you put it together.”
“Blown away.”
“Very, very touching.”
“Spectacular.”
“Excellent.”
“You blessed us today.”

cross

“Being immersed in the stories you told brought the word home again.  Our parishioners were mesmerized in ways that came as a surprise to them.  God bless your gift of understanding and the revelation of your own devotion to all that is holy.
Mother Evelyn Hornaday  (Senior Pastor)  St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Little Rock, AR

“Our people were inspired and encouraged by the presentation of “Chosen Garment”. I highly recommend this presentation to any church trying to motivate people to interact with the Word of God in a meaningful way.
Gary Lee Webber, Senior Pastor, Southside Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL

“It was fantastic!  The people enjoyed it thoroughly, and I really appreciated the many biblical truths that were shared in such a brief, fascinating manner.  I think the use of humor really framed a lot of the scriptural points you were making, and I believe you made the whole thing so relevant that everyone went away better understanding the challenge of living out the Christian life in a genuine fashion.”
Berry Norwood, Senior Pastor, First Southern Baptist Church, Scottsdale, AZ

“Steven Mosley’s presentation of the ‘Chosen Garment’ was awesome.  It was both thoughtful and inspiring.  As a one-man show, Steven made the grand narrative of the Bible come alive with pageantry and wonder. He really grabs your attention with the different biblical characters he portrays.  We would highly recommend Steven and the ‘Chosen Garment’ to any church for consideration. Well done!”
Bryan Drebes, Associate Pastor, Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park, KS

“It was a great experience for our crowd. And we’d definitely do it again.
Senior Pastor, John Reed, Terranova Church, Lake Forest, CA

“It was a tremendous blessing having Steven Mosley and the Chosen Garment at GateWay City Church. The congregation was entertained, educated, but most of all gripped by the power of God as they concluded that each one of us are chosen by the Father. I would highly recommend this program for outreaches, Special Services, or holiday events, I am sure your people will be touched. “
Mike Brock, Director of Communication, GateWay City Church, San Jose, CA

“Your presentation was engaging, creative, humorous, heartfelt and Christ-exalting.”                                                            Executive Pastor Stephen Trammell, Champion Forest Baptist Church, Houston, TX

“Steven provides a mesmerizing service with ‘Chosen Garment.’  The presentation of the Gospel message is clear and carefully entertaining.  Our young and old raved about this drama presentation and I cannot encourage you enough to take hold of this opportunity to have Steven Mosley share his ministry with your congregation and community.”
Pastor Michael Higley, Riverside Wesleyan Church, Sacramento

“Chosen Garment is one of the best one-man dramas I have ever seen.  The drama, the images, the sound track, the clever use of word and rhyme, were truly endearing.  At some points you laugh, then you are cut to the heart, touched and really challenged by the sincerity of the Gospel being presented.”
Pastor Jim Nicol, Ocean Hills Church
San Juan Capistrano, CA

“We had Steven Mosley for a Christmas banquet at our church this year and his presentation of the Old Testament, the coming of Christ, and the gospel was very well done and very well received.  It is a very unique experience to hear the greatest story told and acted out in a fresh way.  I highly recommend Steven Mosley to you.”
Pastor John Durham, First Baptist Church
Irving, TX

“Steven has a God-given and humble way of sharing through drama, a deep understanding of the God who has always been a “righteous God and Savior” through the flow of history. Characters come alive through narrative and characterization so that we see glimpses of ourselves in them. We watch Jesus loving the street urchin and all people who may have jobs, but to that point had no real living Vocation. I heartily endorse Steven Mosely’s Christ-centered ministry.”
Rev. Mike Ireland, Orchard Park Presbyterian Church,
Indianapolis, IN

Presentation Journal 2009 – 2010

Christian Speaker Steven Mosley’s Journal

Through the Bible in Bloomington, MN

CrossPoints Church – December 19

Enjoyed a white Christmas in Minneapolis, yea you can feel this air when you take it in!  Great congregation.  Pastor Brett Cushing reverberated with my story about how Chosen Garment started—-seeing a poster for Accelerated Shakespeare.  A troop of actors race through his major plays, summarizing plots in a rapid, humorous way.  They are making Shakespeare accessible for people who just couldn’t sit through Hamlet or even Romeo and Juliet.  What if you could do that with the Bible?

Through the Bible in Davis, CA

Calvary Chapel Davis – December 10

Before this Christmas dinner presentation I walked around the campus of UC Davis—where my brother got his PhD in philosophy.  Bit of nostalgia there.  And it’s always great to celebrate the climax of the Bible in the greatest gift of all—the Chosen Garment which represents Christ’s perfect life offered to us.

Through the Bible in Las Cruces, NM

Sierra Vista Community Church – November 21

Worship is alive and well in the New Mexico desert.  Finally have CDs of my workshops to offer, and the book table went quite well.  Pastor Ruben Ortego recently made a fascinating trip to the Middle East with a group exploring how Hispanic culture may have special contact points with Muslim culture—as a means of outreach.

Through the Bible in Fallbrook, CA

Fallbrook Presbyterian Church – October 24

It’s the avocado capital of America, between LA and San Diego.  And Pastor Jerome Marroquin and worship leader Brenda Tapley have brought together quite a diverse, and lively, congregation.  I was frankly overwhelmed at the book table—after the standing ovation.  See comments at “Latest Endorsements.”  One of the highlights of my year.  I feel so blessed doing this—it’s almost scary at times.

Through the Bible in Little Rock

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church – October 17

My Dad was born in Texarkana; I know the barefoot country folk in these parts.  And here’s a very classy, sophisticated church in the lush green of Arkansas.  Best of both worlds it seems, as I stayed with Jim and Diane Hobson, wonderful hosts.  And enjoyed getting to know Rev. Evelyn Hornaday as well at a fabulous supper.  The combination of high-church liturgy and my dramatic presentation rang some original bells there.  Wonderful comments.

Through the Bible in the LA area

Santa Clarita SDA Church – October 9

I’ve been to Magic Mountain here with the kids, and family during holidays.  There’s a bit more green here in these hills just north of the LA basin.  And yes it was a beautiful sunny October day in Southern California.

Through the Bible in the Bay area

Hillside Covenant Church – Webster Groves, CA – October 3

They have two packed services here in the green hills east of Oakland.  Loved the atmosphere—and the responses.  Flying up to the Bay area from LA (as opposed to travelling to Atlanta or DC) is like walking down the block.

Through the Bible in Missouri

Webster Groves Presbyterian Church – September 26

Woe, this is a cathedral-like, grand place in a St. Louis suburb.  Worship Director Shawn Portell was a gracious host.  Enjoyed doing “Chosen Garment” for their contemporary service, and also the workshop “Books into Pictures” for their study time.

Columbia Adventist Church – September 25

Just had to come out here in the middle of the state because this is the town I was born in.  Wonderful to be able to celebrate the riches of the Word in the place where my life began.  And Pastor Sam Whatley has a great conversion story—coming out of an abusive childhood.  Driving by the Mizou Tiger stadium—hmm, I guess I better root for this guys; got Missouri blood in me.

Through the Bible in Tulare, CA

Tulare First Baptist Church – September 19

There are many more American Baptist churches in California than I realized.  Seems quite Bible-based.  Had a wonderful time talking with Pastor Robert Medcalf about his ministry.  We have Campus Crusade in common.  Great worship band with Daniel Elias.  Yea, contemporary (euphemism for rock-and-roll) gets me going.

Through the Bible in Springfield, MO

Macedonia Baptist Church – September 12

Interesting name.  Good, solid Baptist folk there in the heartland.  Well football season is here.  Pastor Rich Jenkins took me out to eat after the service—and there were the games, all up on HD screens.  Yea, the screams about an NFL team don’t quite elevate like the sounds of worship.  But it was a great day to wind down after giving it up in the service.

Seminole Baptist Temple – September 12

Then in the afternoon rushed over to this huge church for a special evening event.  Pretty full house.  Rev. Don Baier had one of the cleverest, funniest offering appeals I’ve ever heard.

Through the Bible in Kansas City

Bethany Lutheran Church, Overland Park – August 29

There was something about that large wooden cross out a very tall window behind the pulpit, surrounded by tree leaves rustling in the wind.  Made that symbol of the earthshaking sacrifice that changed the world a very living thing that day.  Sometimes a more traditional worship service warms me in a different way.  I enjoyed it.  And it was a pleasure doing “Chosen Garment” for a special afternoon gathering.  Also doing it for chapel at Lutheran High on Monday.  Check out Pastor Bryan Drebes’ wonderful comment at “Latest Endorsements.”

Through the Bible in Orlando

Orlando Central Church – August 28

Quite a diverse group there, with skyscrapers in the neighborhood.  I’m sorry I couldn’t stay for lunch gracious people, had to fly out.

Through the Bible in Jacksonville

Southside Baptist Church – August 25

Jacksonville has a great skyline, looking over the midtown bridge, and the church had a great supper this Wednesday night.  In the city named after Andrew Jackson, it’s great to show the Bible as the most compelling of histories.

Through the Bible in Phoenix

First Southern Baptist Church, Scottsdale  – August 22

See, you take Phoenix in August, yes blazing hot, almost melted out there at the book table after “Chosen Garment,” but you know what stands out?  That southern hospitality.  Yea my son Jason, who was there helping me, great fun, noticed it as well.  They just have a knack for easy fellowship.  Great to share with your congregation Pastor Berry Norwood.

Through the Bible in DC

Sligo Church – August 7

At the close of World War II, navy officer Ramon Mosley returned to his young bride in the Washington D.C. area and they attended the Sligo Church.  Recently I read my mother’s journal and discovered what a huge blessing it was for them to listen to the church leaders and scholars who spoke at this large church week after week.  So it had special meaning for me to give back—on their Homecoming Weekend.  And I’ve never seen such a swarm around the book table, couldn’t really keep up with all folks asking about materials.  And yes I love trying to do something beautiful for God (Chosen Garment) in a beautiful sanctuary.  The next day I did Atholton Church in Columbia, MD.  Pastor Steve Jencks and his wife were wonderful hosts.  Oh my all that greenery, trees arching overhead as you drive through suburbs, really strikes us Southern California people.

Through the Bible in Houston, TX

First Baptist Church – July 28

“Chosen Garment” for the final evening of their Bible conference there, in Katy, a suburb on the west side of Houston.  Pastor Randy White is beginning televised sermons now.  And he has a great sense of humor.   At a dinner afterwards he had me believing some young seminary professors at the table were actually his kids!

Through the Bible in Birmingham, AL

Green Valley Baptist Church – July 26

They have a Summer Night series featuring special guests.  Especially enjoyed this gathering, hosted by Education Pastor David Byrd.   Alabama gets it—a taste of the Crimson Tide that flows from the spotless life given up by Christ.

Through the Bible in Las Cruces, NM

First Baptist Church – July 18

Great to be back again, from last summer.  This time I presented “Where’s the Plan?  The Whole Bible in One Testimony” Sunday evening, the third Whole Bible dramatic church presentation I’ve created.  Let me tell you it is a lot of work tweaking and getting new props and memorizing a presentation you haven’t done as much.  This is the more poetic one.  And yes, when you lift it up to Him, it’s undeniably rewarding.

Through the Bible in Ventura, CA

The River Community – July 11

Yes you can take in the ocean surf in the breeze wafting through this sanctuary.  And you can take in a piece of God’s Spirit there.  You know one thing that sticks with me.  The circle of prayer with the staff before the service.  Really lifting everything up to the One vaster than the ocean.

(Vacation – Mountain biking with my brothers in Sedona, Arizona.  Now there’s a pretty jazzy, colorful example of God’s creation.)

Through the Bible in LA

Terranova Church – June 27

The weekend actually started Saturday with a young adult group in the Vallejo Drive Church, Glendale.  I presented my testimony about how the Word changed in my life—from boring dinner guest to electrified text.  It’s such a privilege to share it now through dramatic church presentations.

Then on Sunday I went down to Lake Forest to a very cool, seeker-oriented church led by Pastor John Reed who was starting a trip through The Story of the Bible.  I love it when others get into the Big Picture.  I believe it’s a neglected aspect of the Word’s inspiration.  The comments at the book table really got to me.  Made a note of some of them:
Very impressive.
Really enjoyed it.
That was spectacular.
It was fabulous.

Through the Bible in Houston, TX

Champion Forest Baptist Church – May 23

What a wonderful venue to do this presentation in!  Walking around the high glass in the foyer, on my way to setting up the book table, I almost felt like I was in an opera house.  And the comments afterward from folks really blew me away.  Houston humidity–we have no problem.  It’s the spirit of the folks there that counts–enjoying the richness of the Word presented in dramatic fashion.

Through the Bible in Milpitas, CA

Calvary Assembly of God – May 16

OK here’s a God thing.  I’ve been working on a TV special for weeks and the demands on my weak back started straining me.  Travel takes a toll too.  So this morning Pastor Stan Rutkowski noticed I was stressed (chronic pain does that to you; wears you down) and offered to pray.  He asked for Christ’s healing touch before the worship service started.  Five minutes into Chosen Garment I realized something—I felt more energy than I have in weeks—even without the back pain issue.  Really felt healed—even after my time at the book table, time wrapping up my garments and props, even after driving all the way from the Bay down to LA.  Have to say Christ’s healing touch is alive and well in our world.

Conference Workshop – May 15

Sunset Christian Center – Rocklin, CA

Spoke again at the Preteen Leaders Conference led by Sean Sweet.  In “Secrets of Jesus Touch” I talk about how we can touch things in people (in kids) that turn to gold.  There’s hidden treasure to be found in everyone—and Jesus shows us how to find it.

Through the Bible – home in LA

Westlake Lutheran Church – May 9

I love being able to honor Mom, doing Chosen Garment on Mother’s Day.  I tell the story about how she was able to be a gracious hostess—even on her death bed.  Cannot thank God enough for all that my loving, godly parents gave me.

The Bridge Bible Fellowship – May 7

Thank God that I got well from Montezuma’s Revenge so I could do this Friday evening event.  Thursday I was smashed; couldn’t imagine getting on my feet.  Presented Chosen Garment for their choir banquet in Reseda.  Worship Pastor Steve Lively’s personality overflows as much as the food at this happy occasion.

El Salvador with Compassion International – May 3-7

It’s my privilege to partner with this ministry.  And they took me and other presenters, musicians, speakers on a tour of their work in this country.  Loved being able to talk to all the folks down there (since I grew up in Mexico and Colombia and speak Spanish.)  Compassion is so deep and thorough in their work with the poorest people in the world.  The help folks physically, emotionally, spiritually, educationally.   Sponsoring kids really does have a tremendous impact.

Through the Bible in Mississippi and Alabama

First Baptist Church, Gulf Shores – May 2

I had no idea Alabama had such a beautiful beach area.  It’s like Fort Lauderdale.  And unfortunately, at this time they were waiting for that big oil spill to land.  It could be devastating for this area’s economy.  Had to walk out on the beach while it’s still pristine white sand.  Wonderful worship at this large church.  Worship Pastor Craig Stringfield and Senior Pastor Lloyd Stilley were very gracious hosts.

Gulf Coast SDA Church – May 1

A place where Katrinna hit—near Biloxi, MS, but you know, praises to God are still lifted up in this place.  And it was a privilege to share the story of the whole Bible.

Through the Bible in Mid-CA

Cornerstone Community Church – April 18

Assembly of God worship is always a rush upwards, and this congregation is no exception.  A great privilege to share there in Manteca, above Modesto.  And I decided to actually write down the comments people made after “Chosen Garment” because I feel so blessed by the responses: Outstanding.
Incredible.
Eye-opening.
What a creative way to share the Gospel!
Your ministry is amazing.
Inspiring.
Very well done, beautiful.                                                                                                                                                                               Great chat with Pastor Scott Hoag & family & staff afterward.  They are wanting to start a Creative Arts school.  There are not enough plays/presentations that are great for kids.  Any ideas out there.

Sunnyside Adventist Church – April 17

Here’s a progressive, more evangelical SDA Church in Fresno, led by Pastor Dennis Ray, greatly beloved there.  Wonderful responses from people who are usually on the more reserved end of the spectrum.  Really enjoyed getting to know the pastor and his life story afterwards at a restaurant.

Through the Bible in Sacramento

Riverside Wesleyan Church – April 11

This is a Bible-based, evangelical group in the southern tip of Sacramento.  Pastor Mike Higley graciously asked me to make an appeal at the end of the service.  And it hit me: make it about rest.  Clothed in this priceless Chosen Garment, Christ’s perfect life, we can finally rest—from all our compulsions, all our unsettled states, all our insecurities.  Was also glad to work with Compassion volunteers beside my book table.

Auburn Presbyterian Church – April 11

In the evening, drove up through pouring rain toward the mountains northeast of Sacramento.  Auburn is kind of a resort town.  Why not have some coffee there, before setting up.  It was a lively audience (Go Presbyterians!) who appreciated the message.  Worship Pastor Preston Saunders told me they’d sold out the tickets, the DVD highlights really sold the presentation.  Made me think “Chosen Garment” might be a useful fundraising event for churches in these difficult financial times.

Through the Bible in San Jose

GateWay City Church – Easter, April 4

I like flying up to the Bay area.  Such a nice, short commute on this Spring day.  Not like winging across the country.  Communication Pastor Mike Brock took me out to eat before I set up Saturday night.  Big steak.  Formidable digestion required before I speak.  Enjoyed adapting “Chosen Garment” for Easter, because all the garments really do come to a climax, and come to live, when this Lord who gave it all up, comes back to life, and offers that life to us.  (And gotta try to be hip for the Silicon Valley.)  Pastor David Cannistraci presides over a large and very lively congregation.  They just about cleaned out the book table, and also took Compassion International packets to sponsor kids.  PTL.

Through the Bible in San Diego  – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN APRIL

Paradise Valley Adventist Church – April 3

This church had a special outreach event and drew people in to see how the whole Bible comes to a climax in “Chosen Garment” as the resurrection garment—Christ’s perfect life offered to us.  A very multi-ethnic congregation.  Pastor Will James has been active in a kids discipleship ministry.  I downed a great luncheon there before racing up to LAX.

Through the Bible in Athens

Church of the Nations – March 28

Driving through Athens past old Georgia mansions that now house UGA fraternities and sororities, you remember college (and not being in one of those) and are thankful you actually grew up and have a very meaningful career.  Detective Sammy Slide made an appearance at the Church of the Nations Palm Sunday breakfast, saw a lot of suspicious characters around.  Then did “Likely Suspects, The Whole Bible in One Mystery” for church.  They know how to worship there for sure.  And Pastor Mel Holmes commented that there was a real point, a real punch line to this Whole Bible presentation, as this cynical, old-school detective finally is put under the spotlight himself by the weight of the cross.

Through the Bible in Seattle  – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN MARCH

Northwest Ministry Conference – March 19 & 20

This is a big event, a lot of people swarming into Overlake Christian Church, scores of workshops, scads of booths.  I did “Show is Better Than Tell” as a workshop.  Of course there are many going on at the same time.  Talked to people through the day at my table (hmmm, maybe I’m more writer than talker, pretty exhausted at the end of the day) and did “Chosen Garment” as a Making the Bible Dramatic presentation.  Thanks for having me Gary Dixon.

Through the Bible in the City of Orange – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN FEBRUARY

Household of Faith – February 21

Just down the street from the (former) Anaheim Pond.  Now this is a lively congregation; no doubt there’s a joyful noise going up to the heavens from here.  Pastor Orlando Barela and his staff do some serious outreach in that community–including work with gang members.  Their barbecue fundraiser after the service was great.  Ana McKeehan, from Women of Faith, who saw the “Chosen Garment” presentation, may get involved in promoting it!

Through the Bible in San Juan Capistrano – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN JANUARY

Ocean Hills Community Church – January 20

One of the first Calvary Chapels, I believe.  They have a Wednesday evening service where I presented.  Rock concert lighting and a great band.  Senior Pastor Jim Nicol brings a full-on Scottish brogue to this hipster congregation.  I bet it’s refreshing to hear the Gospel coming at you through this other Flavor!  His comments afterward kind of blew me away, frankly.  Check “Latest Endorsements.”

Through the Bible in San Diego

Trinity Church – January 17

I’m doing “Chosen Garment” in Spring Valley on the evening of my birthday (after surfing, or trying to, with my daughter that morning in La Jolla.)  Head of a women’s ministry called Girlfriends Unlimited, Lucy Clanton, is a lively, fun hostess.  She brings a bit of Alabama hospitality to Southern California.  Senior Pastor Randy Yenter is one of the funniest, most personable preachers I have ever met.  Maybe he’s taking Presbyterians into a new orbit of Super Spontaneity!   OK here’s why I do these presentations.  Afterward at the book table, one of the people with gracious comments looked at me and said this was the most powerful, most moving presentation she’d ever witnessed.  And I could tell from her eyes that she really meant it.  This is a God thing.  I know I work very hard to make this a one-man show of the highest quality.  But that connection, that sense that the compelling story of the Word has really registered and inspired people—you have to give credit where credit is do—-the Creative Spirit of the Almighty.

Tierrasanta SDA Church – January 16

This place has a great breakfast and beautiful sanctuary.  The baptistry doubles as a fountain.  Original idea.  Pastor Gary McCary identifies himself as a progressive Adventist, opening up the church more to the community.  He’s a man who towers over you like a basketball center, yet projects a welcoming grace.  Great to have my daughter there at the book table where people swarmed.

Through the Bible detour down through Baja.

Had a little time off with the family in early January, down in San Jose de Cabo, the tip of Baja California.   Christian speaker slipped out of his roll to play pool volleyball, beach football, zip lines, waverunners, ATVs on beach hills—trying to keep up with my young adult kids.  Beautiful place in the sun.

Concord First Assembly – December 27 – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN DECEMBER 2009

Going Through the Bible in North Carolina.  A lively congregation indeed here near Charlotte.  Pastor Rick Ross’s daughter, home for the holidays, did a very funny Christmas skit, full of redone lyrics to traditional holiday tunes that took us through the nativity.  Then it was my privilege to do Chosen Garment.  This is the kind of church that just did a fantastic Christmas production.   I fly from LA (and wonderful churhes here) to hear God echoed so dynamically in these voices on the other side of the country.  His praises in stereo.  Pretty cool.

Durham Five Oaks Church – December 26

You drive up from Charlotte to Raleigh-Durham, the Tar Heels are lurking around here somewhere.  It’s a smaller church, but as always, it’s a privilege for a Christian speaker to hear people say this was actually an “opportunity to experience God.”  Yes, the Almighty is lurking in His Word in all kinds of creative ways!

Westgate Chapel, Edmonds, WA – December 12

Going Through the Bible in Washington

OK I take it back, Alabama, Seattle can boast the real chilly weather.  Pastor Bill and Donna Coleman, who lead the Middle Adult group there hosted me for a Christmas banquet.  This couple obviously has earned a lot of appreciation there at Westgate, they were surprised with a lot of gifts at the event.  Great way to lift up those who lead us.

First Baptist Church, Irving, TX – December 4

Going Through the Bible in Texas

Lovely Christmas banquet and Christmas feast.  But I digested enough to be able to do the “Chosen Garment” presentation without collapsing on stage.  Executive Pastor Wayne Watkins was a considerate host.  Hey, if you want to know how to turn a fairly geriatric church into one bulging with young adults, ask Senior Pastor John Durham.  He’s done it there.  And he graciously said afterwards, this was one of the best gospel presentations he’d ever heard.

Valleydale Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL – December 6

Going through the Bible in Alabama

A great congregation there, created a beautiful Christmas setting in which to celebrate the gift of Christ’s Chosen Garment, His perfect life, offered to us as the Son of God comes into the world.  Hey it can get cold in Alabama!  Wonderful barbecue down there, love the cream spinach too.  Thank you Pastor Calvin Kelly.

Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN – November 22 – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN NOVEMBER 2009

Going Through the Bible in Indiana.

Thanksgiving special event on Sunday night. Bountiful supper with a generous congregation. Pastor Michael Ireland was a gracious host. Indianapolis was chilly but not cold the weekend of November 22. And they’re thrilled about how the Colts are doing. They enjoyed “Chosen Garment, The Whole Bible in One Act,” as a unique journey through Scripture and an entertaining story., Indianapolis, November 22Thanksgiving special event on Sunday night. Bountiful supper with a generous congregation. Pastor Michael Ireland was a gracious host. Indianapolis was chilly but not cold the weekend of November 22. And they’re thrilled about how the Colts are doing.
They enjoyed “Chosen Garment, The Whole Bible in One Act,” as a unique journey through Scripture and an entertaining story.

Irvington Church, Indianapolis, November 21

Small church, warm people. Head Elder of the church Bill Jeffries was a pleasure to work with. A dedicated believer with a great sense of humor who can understand my little 60s asides about—oh did I put Led Zeppelin on my presentation track by mistake!!? And, ladies and gentleman, the greatest church luncheon I’ve had in years. Never have so few created such a vast spread that will fill you so much. Think of it as gastronomic grace.

Walla Walla University, Walla Walla, WA, October 30 – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN OCTOBER 2009

Going Through the Bible with College Students.

It’s a long and spectacular drive by the Columbia River Gorge from Portland to that southeast corner of Washington. Thank you for the nice suite on campus Chaplain Paddy McCoy. I did Chosen Garment for their Friday evening “vespers” service. Great worship band from Australia started things off. Love the youthful energy in this big church. Yes, one of those times I have to look up afterwards, as I’m putting all my stuff away, and say: this is what I should be doing with my life.

New Mexico Southern Baptist Convention, Santa Fe, NM, October 28

OK this is an example of why we need to praise God even in the midst of the most annoying of circumstances. The day started out with one of my luggage pieces still in LA—not Albuquerque. I had an evening presentation to prepare for up at the Glorieta Conference Center (a very impressive place indeed.) I call airlines. I wait. I go back to the airport. I got up to Glorieta to set up. I go back down to get the lost piece. It still hasn’t shown up. Missed flight after flight. One of the most stressful days ever—none of my garments made it! OK, so what can you do, grab some of the backdrop cloths, substitute this for that. And then you just give it up on the stage—have to. This is about God’s incredible story of salvation that stretches through Scripture, not about my perfect set up. And you know what, people were so appreciative. They even talked about how the storytelling elements come out even more, when there are fewer props. So, in other words, God does work good out of —– even the most inexplicable of journeys your bags may take.

Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, Las Vegas, NV, October 18

Going Through the Bible in “Sin City.”

So what’s it like doing Chosen Garment in Vegas? Well, this was probably the best Lutheran congregation I’ve ever presented to. Very responsive, enjoyed it greatly. Was it the chilly dinner beforehand? Was it their publicity efforts for this special Sunday night event? Anyway great comments. Mellowed me through the long drive home to LA.

Messiah Lutheran Church, Citrus Heights, CA, October 4

Every church should have a person like Sharon Thorpe to plan events. Her enthusiasm and energy seems invaluable. Always great to work with someone like that. Rev. Alan Flynn is blessed. Did Likely Suspects for these Sacramento area believers. They have a great idea for an after-church lunch in which people sit around smaller tables and interact over delicious snacks. A very good setting for getting to know visitors. (OK yea, and for selling my books & DVDs.)

First Presbyterian Church, Concord, CA October 4

Ran down to the Bay area for an evening presentation. The church sits in one of those old-downtown-turned-super-trendy spots in a city. Great Sunday night group there for Chosen Garment. Pastor Jim Cismowski let me have plenty of the ice cream afterward. Makes you feel all warm inside about Presbyterians.

Trinity United Methodist Church, Little Rock, AR, September 27 – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN SEPTEMBER 2009

Through the Bible in Arkansas.

Very classy place, very classy people. Dr. Robin Moore has a congregation going that is in touch with worship and in touch with the arts. Also enjoyed visiting the Clinton Presidential Library. And oh yes Little Rock High School where the civil rights movement took a historic turn.

Richland Bible Church, Kalamazoo, MI, September 20

Well driving all the way from Chicago (because my flight was delayed and I couldn’t connect) I made my way to little Kalamazoo. How in the world did they get a church this size going in such a smallish population. (Isn’t it great when what God has going on is bigger than most any business in town!) Awesome worship band there. Really do a coherent worship service with all the elements. So it was a joy for me to put it out there with Chosen Garment.

North Pointe Community Church, Edmonton, Ontario, Canada, September 13

Through the Bible in Canada.

Hey Edmonton is quite the metropolis (to drive through) didn’t realize that. On the north side of the city Rev. Robert Jones has built up quite an energetic congregation. Great contemporary band. I set up my Chosen Garment scene in the midst of football locker room props, believe it or not. They are in the middle of a theme that relates athletic preparation to spiritual growth. But, thankfully, no one tackled me during the presentation. They were enthusiastic in their comments. And here’s a sidelight. One woman came up to the book table greatly troubled about finding her place as a Christian with a native Canadian (like native American) heritage. Sometimes she feels lost between two worlds. And thank God I thought of Ruth’s story. What a classic of a woman caught between two cultures who makes a clear commitment to God’s path, and ends up transcending all cultures as an ancestor of the Messiah. That story really brightened up her face; she went home to look it up.

Canadian University College, Between Calgary and Edmonton, Ontario, Canada, September 11 & 12.

Always enjoy interacting with university students. There’s such a dynamic in the air as these kids are in the process of discovering how they will use their talents in the future. Detective Sammy Slade in “Likely Suspects, The Whole Bible in One Mystery” made his appearance for their Friday evening program. I had some time to walk around the beautiful little lake on campus Saturday. Saturday evening did “Chosen Garment.” It’s always great to give young adults a picture of how art and theater can be used in original ways for the glory of God.

Faith Bible Chapel, Arvada, CO September 2

This is a huge church with a lot going on and it was a privilege to start out their special Wednesday evening events for the Fall season. Rod Ginn was my contact man; enjoyed their expansive buffet with him. Doing Chosen Garment on a broad stage, with this wide spread of theatrical seating, made it especially rewarding.

River City Calvary Chapel, Sacramento, CA August 30, 2009 – DRAMATIC CHURCH PRESENTATIONS IN AUGUST 2009

I really like doing my Whole Bible presentations at Calvary Chapels since they tend to preach through the Bible in a year. Pastor Mike Butera is a good host with a good sense of humor. It’s a small church with a lively, friendly spirit. They’ve turned a former restaurant into place of worship.

I decided to drive up. Which is the better the 99 or the 5? Either way you need good CDs to listen to.

One reason it’s such a great privilege to do what I do is that I’m going through the Bible (what a wonderful trip) while journeying through the Body of Christ. I’m going through the Bible while listening to believers praise God wholeheartedly in different cities across America (it’s a little like listening to the Lord in stereo.) For that I am deeply grateful.

FOURTH OF JULY – Allegiance & Liberty

Illustration for Christian speaker.

Here’s a remarkable story that might serve as a useful sermon illustration as the Fourth of July approaches when we think about what our allegiances mean and what kind of liberty we champion.
It involves two men from very similar backgrounds in the French city of Lyon: Klaus Barbie and John Weidner. Their two allegiances during World War II took them to vastly different places.
The story could also, of course, illustrate the importance of our choices, period.
I thought I’d give you all the details so you can pick what you want.

THE BUTCHER AND THE RESCUER

November, l942. The French city of Lyon. German
troops and Panzer tanks rumble through the streets. The
Nazi’s have decided to invade all of southern France after
the allied liberation of Morocco and Algeria. Now this
charming, commercial city of fountains and winding streets
must bear the burden of German occupation, and the terror of
the Gestapo. The stage is set for two adversaries to work
out their destinies in a fierce contest for human lives:
John Weidner working desperately to save them. Klaus Barbie
scheming to have them destroyed.

They could not have been more different. Klaus Barbie,
the Gestapo chief in Lyon, who brutally crushed all
resistance. John Weidner the head of the Dutch-Paris
network headquartered in Lyon which helped Jews escape from
the clutches of the Nazis.
One man believed heart and soul in conquest and
domination. The other believed in saving human life.
One man subjected his prisoners to terrible cruelties.
The other never carried a weapon, though he constantly
subjected himself to danger.
One man thought nothing of beating to death those who
wouldn’t divulge enough information. The other endured
torture rather than place others at risk.
One man sent men, women and children off to gruesome
deaths in concentration camps. The other slipped families
across the border to safety and a new life.
Klaus Barbie and John Weidner. They could not have
been more different.
After the war, Weidner was honored by Israel, Holland
and the United States for his heroism and selfless devotion.
Klaus Barbie, after many years in hiding, was finally
apprehended and sent to France, where he stood trial and was
exposed as the Butcher of Lyon, convicted of crimes against
humanity, and imprisoned for life.

Two men light years apart, and yet here is the amazing
thing: their backgrounds were remarkably similar. That’s
right, the Butcher and the Rescuer both grew up amid similar
circumstances.
John Weidner, as one might expect, was raised in a good
Christian home; his father, in fact, was a pastor and teacher.
It was a warm, nurturing home
with a kindly father and beloved mother. Mr. and Mrs.
Weidner taught John to stand up for right, no matter what.
He vividly remembered his father being taken to Swiss
prisons for one-day terms on several occasions because he
kept John out of state school on Saturday, their day of
worship. Freedom of conscience was enshrined as a sacred
value in the Weidner household.
John attended a Christian college near
Colonges, France, where his
resolve to serve God alone was further strengthened. So we
see in John Weidner’s background influences that helped
shape him as a heroic rescuer.
But, remarkably enough, we see the same influences in
Klaus Barbie’s early life. He also had the advantage of a
Christian upbringing. His parents were Catholic believers,
his mother was so devout that she was remembered as “an
angel, a Madonna” by others in their small German village.
And Klaus grew up especially devoted to her. He was also
close to his brother Kurt, a handicapped boy who died in
childhood.
Klaus’s father worked as a schoolmaster and was a
rather strict man who had a problem with drinking. But
neighbors always thought of Klaus as a sweet-natured little
boy, whom they often invited to meals in their homes. One
old man recalled, “He was so harmless. We all thought he
would make a priest.”
Klaus grew up a devout boy; at one point he considered
studying theology. During his later teenage years he
attended a distinguished secondary school and boarded in
church-run hostels. Klaus Barbie became more independent
from his family, but his interests remained idealistic and
strongly colored by Christianity. He joined a Catholic
young men’s group and also a sports association run by the
church. Klaus even participated in a group which undertook
relief work among the destitute and unfortunate. He would
later remember: “I paid many visits to prisoners, who made a
deep impression on me. In conversation with these people, I
heard many tales of bitter human suffering and
misfortune…”
Nothing in this man’s background suggested that he
would eventually become the “Butcher of Lyon.” Barbie
probably did suffer to some extent because of the alcoholism
of his father, and may have been mistreated somewhat. But
other influences for good certainly seem to have dominated
his youth: the close relationship with his devout mother,
and his many activities with the church.
Here certainly was another budding John Weidner,
idealistic, committed to Christian principles, earnest in
his endeavors.
So what made the difference? How did one become a
calloused butcher and the other a self-sacrificing rescuer?
Looking back at their respective stories, we find signs of a
parting of the ways.

In the early l930s, the Nazi brown shirts began
throwing their weight around the town of Trier where Klaus
Barbie lived. In l933, soon after Adolf Hitler became
Fuhrer, Barbie joined the Hitler Youth. He was nineteen,
and, although at first unsympathetic to the Nazi’s, he was
swept up like millions of other Germans in their dramatic
victory. Apparently it was the blazing nationalism of the
movement that won him over at first. Hitler’s National
Socialists promised to right the wrongs of the humiliating
Treaty of Versailles and give Germany once again the proud
place in the world which it deserved.
Klaus Barbie allowed his ideals to be captured by the
patriotic fervor of the brown shirts. Also, the Nazi’s had
begun to tone down their anti-Christian rhetoric about this
time. Hitler was promising to respect the rights of
Protestants and Catholics. And in the town of Trier, Nazi
dignitaries stood side by side with the bishop at the town
cathedral during its most important public festival. Church
and the new state seemed to be getting along just fine.
So at first, Klaus Barbie could tell himself that he
wasn’t turning his back on his faith by joining the Hitler
Youth. He volunteered for six months work in the Labour
Service, wielding a pick and shovel in a northern province,
and returned more convinced than ever that the National
Socialists were building a new, more vital Germany.
Soon Barbie’s dedication earned him a job with the SS,
the Nazi party’s own secret service. They were the elite,
the proud supermen chosen by Hitler himself, representing
order and discipline in their sleek black uniforms. Barbie
began informing on people who criticized the party or worked
against it. His sense of allegiance had begun to center
completely on this dynamic new political movement. He began
to believe its doctrine implicitly, accept its world-view,
and most ominous of all, absorb its hatred of the weak.
He’d sworn ultimate allegiance to the Fuhrer, pledging,
“obedience unto death, so help me God.”
At the age of 25, Barbie married Regina Willms, after
the SS had made sure their ancestors were racially pure. On
the marriage documents both listed their religious
affiliation as “believer in God.” That was a term adopted
by the Nazis who rejected formal Christianity.
Klaus Barbie’s allegiance had become all the more
clear. For a time he may have tried to hold his religious
faith and his Nazi commitment side by side. But now there
could be no question of any Christian belief competing with
his duties as an SS man. The Fuhrer had become his absolute
lord.
In May of l940 Barbie was assigned to work as an SS
officer in newly-conquered Holland. He was responsible for
investigating anti-Nazi activity in Amsterdam. By now he’d
become completely dedicated to Nazi ideals and took an
active part in the campaign against Dutch Jews. He was
involved in the round-up and deportation of nearly 300
Jewish men, who were all eventually murdered.
By l942 Barbie had distinguished himself enough to be
assigned to the French city of Lyon as head of the Gestapo
there. Lyon had become the center of the French Resistance
movement, and Barbie’s job was to crush it. The stage was
now set for Barbie to emerge as the “Butcher.”
He had given his ultimate allegiance to a political
force that had turned into a monstrous killing machine; he
had accepted its ideology without question. Klaus Barbie
had cut himself off from his Christian roots; there would be
no return.

John Weidner made different choices, leading to a very
different allegiance. Through youth and early adulthood he
maintained a strong faith in the God of the Bible. Its
principles remained the authoritative guide for his life.
For a time he worked as a salesman of religious books. In
the early l930s he started a textile business in the city of
Lyon.
When the Nazis overran France, John decided to try to
flee to England where he could hopefully be of service to
Holland, his native country. John didn’t manage to get out;
but he did decide to remain faithful to His God, no matter
how dark the situation might become. When he had to say
farewell to his sister Gabrielle, John told her, “Pray that
God will lead me to do only those things which will be an
honor to Him.”
In occupied France, John watched as more and more Jews
were harassed and herded into camps. It was becoming harder
and harder for them to leave the country. Seeing all those
people in desperate straits, John had to make a decision:
would he risk his own security, even his own life, to help
them? John knew the teachings of Scripture too well to
hesitate. He began forming groups to help people in the
camps; he talked officials into giving him papers as a
social worker so he could distribute food and arrange
secretly for travel permits and false identification
papers. He used money from his textile business to pay
legal fees for lawyers to get some out of the camps.
Then, as the situation worsened, John began forming an
organization, called “Dutch-Paris” which would actually take
internees and others in danger all the way out of France to
the safety of neutral Switzerland.
In all this, John Weidner prayed and thought a great
deal. He would have to use illegal means to gain people’s
freedom. Was it justified? This man wasn’t just giving his
allegiance to some political group or ideology. He didn’t
want to be motivated by hatred; he wanted always to be
faithful to the God of the Bible. And he decided that
saving people from certain death was his chosen work at this
time. As he worked and organized and planned, John said, “I
feel the hand of God leading me onward. These countless
refugees need the help of a compassionate friend. They need
the love of God demonstrated amid the torment and terror of
this awful war. I believe the work our organization is
doing will show the love that only He can give.”
That was what pushed John Weidner into his great and
perilous adventure leading the Dutch-Paris underground. It
was his ultimate allegiance that drove him to become the
“Rescuer of Lyon.”
Klaus Barbie and John Weidner divided over the question
of allegiance; they chose different masters. Jesus Christ
had something very clear to say about our ultimate
allegiance. In Luke 16:13 He warned:

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate
the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one
and despise the other. Luke 16:13

If we give our allegiance to anyone or anything besides
God, it will eventually eat up our faith. We can’t serve
two masters. Klaus Barbie became the property of one; he
accepted a monstrous Nazi god and became a monster himself.
He became what no one seeing him in his youth could have
imagined. What a difference it makes—who we give our
allegiance to.

Allegiance made the difference between Klaus Barbie and
John Weidner. Neither one began life as a saint or as a
brute; each one began life grounded in the Christian faith.
But they parted ways at that critical point—the point of
ultimate allegiance, loyalty, devotion. And their
allegiances took them poles apart.
Barbie became the Butcher of Lyon. John Weidner became
the selfless rescuer.
One incident reveals in a
dramatic way just what his values were.
Weidner was escorting a family of refugees, named Smit,
over the Saleve Mountain and on to freedom in Switzerland.
As they were crossing the summit, one member of the group,
Grandmother Smit, began to lag behind. She gasped, “I can’t
keep up; I’m just an old woman. I don’t think I can make
it.”
John encouraged her. “You’re doing fine,” he said,
“Just keep walking steadily.” But soon she was pleading,
“Let me die. It’s MY life. Just let me lie down here and
die. You can go on without me; it won’t make any
difference.”
But it DID make a difference to John Weidner. During
dark moments he often quoted a verse from Isaiah to himself
that said, “He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the
prison to them that are bound.” That was the kind of work
God did, and he had given his wholehearted allegiance to
Him, no matter what the cost. Grandmother Smit was slowing
the pace considerably. Every extra moment spent on this
mountain added to the danger of discovery by a border
patrol. The sun was sinking in the west. Would they have
light enough to make it safely down the mountain?
But this one old woman who felt utterly useless DID
matter. Her was precious in God’s eyes. John Weidner could
not abandon her. So he placed her arm around his neck and
carried her along, a few difficult steps at a time, and
fortunately, the whole Smit family made it across the border
to safety.
John Weidner and Klaus Barbie. How differently these
two men looked at human life. What a difference our
allegiances make.

Widner’s story comes from a book called “FLEE THE CAPTOR”
Herbert Ford, Southern Publishing Association

Barbie’s story comes from “THE BUTCHER OF LYON”

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One of my principle motivations in sharing illustrations for Christian speakers is to provide real-life stories, not just illustrations that are analogies. My passion is to help Christian speakers be able to SHOW what God is like, how He works in our lives, how the Christian faith works—not just TELL.

Father’s Day – A Son’s Sacrifice

Illustration for Christian speaker.

Here’s an illustration about the cross that might work especially well around Father’s Day.
It’s a story about Rudyard Kipling the father, and his son’s sacrifice.

The Father Behind the Cross
Steven Mosley

Rudyard Kipling liked to take his children for picnics in the hills of Sussex Downs. He played games for hours with them, and he told them stories.
This great British author had fascinated countless readers with tales of life in far-away India, where he grew up. He would become world-famous with the publication of “The Jungle Book,” and “Just So Stories.”
But nothing gave him greater satisfaction than telling his children stories, like the story of how the leopard got his spots and the zebra his stripes. They wanted to hear that over and over again.
Kipling adored his two daughters, Josephine and Elsie. And when his wife Carrie bore him a third child, he was overjoyed when the doctor called out, “You have a son.”
Now the family was complete. Kipling was determined to give his children a happy childhood, one very unlike his own.
Rudyard had to be separated from his parents at the tender age of six. He and his sister said farewell in Bombay and were shipped off to England, where they could attend “proper schools.” The woman paid to board them had a mean streak. She would beat and taunt Rudyard, who was small and frail for his age. Sometimes he was locked in a cold, damp cellar for hours.
Years later, Kipling determined that his kids were going to have plenty of sunshine. And he enjoyed watching them grow up, playing on the grassy hills of
Sussex.
Kipling took special pride in his son, John. He’d always been a bright, cheerful, uncomplaining child. And he developed into a tall, handsome boy, who
loved to play rugby.
One winter day in 1910 Kipling began to pen some thoughts for his twelve-year-old son. He wanted to express certain ideals to live by. The result was a poem called “If” which would inspire millions. It ended with these words:

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings–nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Your is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–what is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

John Kipling did grow up to be a man. And in 1915, with a war raging in Europe, he decided to do his part. His father managed to get him a commission as a second lieutenant with the Irish Guards.
But then came news of the heavy casualties in the trenches. Wave after wave of recruits were sailing across the channel to France.
John might be called to go over any time now. He was eager to serve, but he was only 17. He required parental consent to go to the front.
Rudyard Kipling faced a difficult choice.
He’d visited the front; he’d written about the fighting; he didn’t want his son to have to go into that carnage. And yet everything he’d taught the boy about duty and never shirking responsibility was moving John in that direction.
Rudyard Kipling had been warning about German aggression for years. Now his son wanted to back up his father’s words with action.
So Kipling gave his consent. On August 15 John waved good-by from the railing of a ship, with a tip of his officer’s cap. His mother thought he looked “very smart and straight and brave.”
It was the last time his family would ever see him.
Six weeks later a telegram from the War Office reported–John Kipling, Missing in Action. Last seen during a battle in Loos, France.
Rudyard Kipling was heartbroken. He tried desperately to learn something, anything, about his son’s fate. Traveling over to France, he trudged from one muddy outpost hospital to another. He searched among the wounded. He hunted down men from John’s battalion.
But he never found his son. He’d been lost in the Great War.
Later Rudyard Kipling would try to deal with his grief by working with the Imperial War Graves Commission. He proposed that a Stone of Sacrifice be erected at each cemetery honoring the war dead. It would represent soldiers whose bodies were never identified. It would be inscribed with these words: “Known But Unto God.”
Known But Unto God. That memorial was a father’s anguished hope that God did know about that lost son, that God did understand.
I would like to suggest that God does know, far more than we can imagine. Because he too watched a Beloved Son grow intto maturity. He too endured tragedy. He too has a story to tell, and a memorial to erect. It’s a memorial for each one of us.
When Jesus of Nazareth began to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with everyone, as Luke tells us, Joseph was proud of his fine son. But he wasn’t the only one. There was another Father, hidden in the shadows, watching over this boy. There was a Heavenly Father who treasured every step his divine Son took toward becoming a Man.
And one day this Father’s just couldn’t contain his pride. It burst out at the Jordan River, at the moment when John the Baptist lifted Jesus out of the water of baptism. Matthew 3:17 tells us:

And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

God the Father was well pleased with his beloved Son–and he had to tell people about it. Jesus was beginning his ministry. He was responding to the call of duty. He would teach the multitudes and heal the sick and comfort the afflicted throughout Judea and Galilee. He would live out the principles of grace and love and truth that his Father in Heaven had instilled in him. He would mirror God’s character so well that he could say, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Yes this was a son to be proud of.
But one day, three years later, the Heavenly Father had to face a terrible choice. Jesus was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was facing a terrible ordeal ahead. He had to make a great sacrifice in the war between good and evil. He had to take on the sins of the world in his own body. It was the only way to make people free.
The Father had watched him walk steadily toward his rendezvous with destiny in Jerusalem. He would not shirk his responsibility. But now, in that garden, the Son of God crumbled to the ground. The weight of sin seemed overwhelming. Sweating great drops of blood he cried out:

Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done. Luke 22:42

In those moments Jesus couldn’t see beyond that cup of divine wrath against sin. He only felt a terrible separation from his beloved Father. He wondered if there was some other way out.
And the Heavenly Father had to make a terrible choice. He didn’t want to see his boy suffer. He didn’t want to see him beaten and mocked and spit on. He didn’t want to see him tortured at Golgotha. He would have done anything to spare this Beloved Son from that agony.
And yet, and yet, everything that this Father and Son believed, everything they stood for, everything they cherished, was moving them toward the cross.
They had made a pact with each other long before; they had resolved to do whatever it took to rescue human beings from sin and death. And it was going to take this. It was going to take the cross.
That’s the terrible choice this Father had to make.
Most of us are familiar with images of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, nailed between two thieves. Many have painted vivid pictures of what he must have gone through, rejected by man, abandoned by heaven.
But there was another one who suffered too, hidden in the shadows. There was a Father who gave up his Son into our calloused hands. There was a Father ho had to watch silently as his boy was brutalized.
He was wounded too, deeply wounded. His son was lost, terribly lost. Hell had closed in around him like some great war that swallows up the noblest and the bravest.
Rudyard Kipling knew a little bit about that kind of sorrow. He knew about it as he wandered from one muddy hospital to another in France, looking for some word of John, his one and only son. He felt that wound when he realized the boy had disappeared without a trace.
The Heavenly Father had to watch his Son be consumed by sin, torn apart by transgression. He had to turn away when his boy cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
A Father doesn’t forget a cry like that. Those words are seared into his memory.
Yes there was a Father behind the cross, there was another who suffered in the shadows.
And do you realize that it’s God the Father who turned the cross into a monument? Yes he had to have a monument for his son’s sacrifice, like Rudyard ipling did.
My son gave up his life for you. That’s the inscription on the cross. All the sacrifice that cross represents is “Known But Unto God.” But God wants us to know about that monument. He wants us to know what it means, why it was necessary, what it can do for us.
During the dark days of World War I, Rudyard Kipling had a hard time coming to terms with his loss. He began to wonder if the death of his son had any meaning. Had it made any difference? The fighting dragged on and on.
One day he received a rumpled, brown-paper package in the mail. It was addressed simply to Monsieur Kipling. The painstaking scrawl indicated it had been sent from the front.
Kipling opened the package and found a red box inside. It contained a French translation of his novel Kim. And the book had been pierced by a bullet hole–that stopped at the last 20 pages. A string had been tied through the hole, and dangling from it was the Maltese Cross, France’s medal for bravery in war.
It belonged to a young French soldier named Maurice. He explained in a letter that Kipling’s book had saved his life. Had it not been in his pocket when he went into battle, the bullet would have pierced his heart. Maurice asked Kipling to accept the book and the medal as tokens of his gratitude.
Rudyard Kipling had received many honors as a celebrated British author. He’d even won a Nobel Prize for literature. But no honor moved him as much as
this one. God had made him a part of sparing someone’s life. Maybe there was a meaning to it all. Maybe there was a point to all the sacrifice.
And that is the point to the sacrifice Jesus made. That is the meaning that the Heavenly Father sees. Someone’s life can be spared. Your life can be spared. Many lives can be spared.
Christ’s sacrifice on the cross meant that, “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death.” (Hebrews 3:14)
Paul tells us that Christ delivered us from this present evil age “according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:5)
God the Father and God the Son were together in that sacrifice, in that giving of themselves. That’s why we can be delivered from an evil age into the
Kingdom of Heaven.
Paul the Apostle knew the part the Father played in the drama of redemption. And so he wanted to give God the Father glory. He wanted to turn the monument of the cross into a medal that the Father holds in his hands, a medal that says, “You’ve saved this life; I’m forever grateful.”
Rudyard Kipling and that French soldier Maurice kept up a correspondence over the years. They developed a friendship that helpped Kipling deal with the loss of his own son. And one day Maurice wrote that his wife had given birth to a boy. Would Kipling consent to be the godfather?
Kipling looked out his study window. He remembered that joyful moment when he first held his son in his arms. Now Maurice knew that magical feeling–because his life had been spared. And Kipling realized that no memorial would do more justice to his brave son’s memory than this tiny infant, full of promise.
So he wrote back, saying he would be delighted. Rudyard Kipling became the child’s godfather. Maurice named him, Jean, French for John. And Kipling
presented the infant with a gift, that book with the bullet hole in it and the Maltese cross, Maurice’s medal. He thought it only fitting that this child should have it.
Do you know what gives God the Father his greatest joy? Do you know what he finds most rewarding about the sacrifice he and his Son made? It’s seeing many other children born in faith, born again into the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s what makes it all worth while. The Apostle John says it so eloquently. 1 John 3:1:

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

What manner of love indeed. Because of his sacrifice we can be called children of God, we can be accepted into the divine family, we can grow up secure in his love.
That’s the honor that God gives us. He enables us to clutch that cross in our hands like a medal. He wants us to know that the sacrifice was worth it—because of what it can mean to us. He wants us to know it was worth it–just to see the light come on in his child’s eyes.

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Easter – Tangible Hope

Illustration for Christian speaker.

I ran across this story, from an old script I did, which I really love as an illustration for Easter and the hope we have in Christ.

A Piece of Bread to Hold

Steven Mosley.

Soon after World War II ended in Europe, American soldiers set up camps in various cities for orphans. These kids had been staying alive by scavenging
for food among bombed-out ruins and bullet-marked streets. In the camps they
finally found a place of safety. No planes would be droning overhead to bomb
them. No enemy troops would come bursting in during the night. They were well clothed, had three good meals a day, and the compassionate care of camp
workers.
But the youngsters still had trouble sleeping at night. No one could
figure out exactly why. Finally a team of psychologists studied the situation
and made a suggestion.
Every night each child was given a piece of bread before going to sleep–a
piece of bread just to hold. If one of the orphans was still hungry he was
given an extra piece to eat. But every child, the psychologists instructed,
was to have a piece of bread to hold in their hand as they dozed off.
Soon after this, the children began to sleep well all through the night.
They knew there would be bread for tomorrow.
What these orphans needed, after all they’d been through, was a confident
hope they could hang on to.

One evening, eleven men gather in a locked upper room to talk about
their future–which looks terribly grim. Suddenly an unexpected guest walks
into the room. Their mouths drop; they blink their eyes. They too look like
they’ve seen a ghost. But this ghost asks them to touch Him. This ghost sits
down and eats a piece of broiled fish. And they can hardly believe what’s
happening because their amazement and joy knows no bounds. (Luke 24:41)
This is one of the most intensely joyful scenes in the entire Bible.
The black despair of the disciples suddenly gave way to exhilarating hope. And
this hope would become the center of their lives. Jesus’ resurrection was like
a piece of bread in the hands of an orphan: tangible proof that they could have
confidence in tomorrow. These almost-orphaned disciples could know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Bread of Life would always be with them. They’d
seen Jesus conquer death itself; they finally grasped the hope of eternal life.

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Valentine’s Day – Love & Faith in a Storm

These resources for Christian speakers key on the special days of the year that we most reflect on in a worship service.

Holidays are a time for Christian speakers to bring time-honored celebrations into the perspective of grace.

Illustration for Christian speaker.

Thought I’d send this along in case you could use a Valentine’s Day sermon illustration.
While doing some research I came across a true story of a newlywed couple’s love and faith in the midst of a sinking ship that, to me, rivals the drama of “Titanic.” I actually turned it into a script for television a few years back.
I’m sending just the story portion of my script. Feel free to use it in any church communication you’d like.
It may be too long to use in a sermon but you might find parts of it useful.

ADDIE’S UNSINKABLE FAITH
STEVEN MOSLEY

In the summer of 1988, a team of treasure hunters led by Tommy Thompson finally discovered the vessel they’d spent years looking for. The SS Central America lay upright on the Atlantic Ocean floor off the coast of Carolina, 8,000 feet below the surface. It was like a ghost appearing out of the past. And it was a ghost loaded with gold, two tons of it.

No shipwreck this deep had ever been recovered. But Thompson’s team used a sophisticated technology to bring thousands of coins and bars of gold up to the surface. It would prove to be the greatest treasure ever found in the sea.

The story of the SS Central America was being lifted from the depths bit by bit, artifact by artifact. But one of its greatest stories actually had nothing to do with all that gold on the ocean floor. It’s greatest story revolved around the extraordinary faith of a young newlywed named, Addie Easton. We can piece her story together from the journal that she left us.

The SS Central America sailed out of Havana, Cuba on the morning of September 8, 1857, bound for the coast of Florida. She was one of a new generation of side-wheeler steamers that regularly made the run between Panama and the New York Harbor. The ship faced into moderate breezes in fine weather.

But a few days out to sea, the Central America ran into a hurricane. A furious wind lashed at the ship. And the ocean churned with enormous waves.

Still, this steamer was well put together. And Captain William Herndon believed that as long as he could keep the boilers fired with coal, as long as he could keep the wheels turning with a full head of steam, his ship could head into the waves and ride out any storm.

Soon, however, the battering of the storm took its toll. The Central America began to leak. The boiler room began filling with sea water. Every able-bodied man aboard, some 500 of them, began bailing. They worked for 30 straight hours with little sustenance or sleep. They fought off certain death by passing seawater in buckets from below decks to be dumped back into the Atlantic.

But it was a losing battle. On September 11, the ship’s boilers went out for good. Captain Herndon could no longer steer his ship. The steamer was blown sideways into the swells. Waves as tall as hotels slammed into her broadside. The Central America was going down.

Two tons of gold was going down with her. What the Central America had picked up in Panama was a group of passengers who’d sailed from San Francisco — and the California Gold Rush. Many had struck it rich. They were loaded. They were coming back to make huge deposits in the New York banks.

But now, all that gold couldn’t restart the boilers. It couldn’t keep the Central America headed into the waves. It couldn’t rescue their sinking ship.

All the gold and silver was going to the bottom. But there was one couple there on the Central America, newlyweds Ansel and Addie Easton, who weren’t just grasping for the wind. They managed to hang onto something that wasn’t sinking.

ADDIE’S JOURNAL: “A few hours only at most were between us and eternity. They continued the bailing vigorously all night long, my own dear husband taking his turn and when he was exhausted returning to my side; and after he was a little rested, resuming his place. We talked to each other very calmly, and we mingled our prayers to Him who was our only hope and refuge. And He answered us and in answer He gave us such sweet consolation in such trying hours. How little do we realize in our earthly security the preciousness when all human hope has fled, of trusting, whether we live or die in an Almighty Power. I could not think of anything I had ever done to merit His love, but yet I still felt that we were in the palm of His hands and resigned to His will.”

Addie and Ansel found “sweet consolation” in the midst of that storm. And they found a connection, a connection to God’s almighty power.

Gold sinks to the bottom, but faith rises to the top. That’s the way it’s always been. Faith rises to the top in the most trying of circumstances.

God can fill us with joy and peace IN BELIEVING (Romans 15:13). That’s what the God of hope does. It happens as we exercise faith. This God of hope can make us “abound in hope.” Addie Easton was exercising that faith — even as the Central America was breaking up in that hurricane. You can even sense the joy and peace she and Ansel had, in believing.

ADDIE’S JOURNAL: “All that fearful night we watched and prayed, not knowing but that each hour might be our last. My sweet, dear husband and I, we talked calmly about our dear, dear friends, about our very brief happiness together, our hopes for the future. Life had never seemed so attractive and precious to either of us, and yet I think we could both say ‘Thy will be done.’ We resolved that when the moment came we would tie ourselves together and the same wave would engulf us both.”

As the Central America was tossed about in the storm, Ansel Easton joined those who were desperately trying to bail water. When exhausted he’d rest a bit by Addie’s side. Addie herself tried to join the line of men passing buckets to the upper deck, but they wouldn’t let her.

During one of their moments together, Addie turned to her husband and said, “Ansel, if you hadn’t married me, you wouldn’t be in all this trouble.”

Ansel looked back at her and replied tenderly, “If I knew it all beforehand, I should do the same again.”

And at that moment this new bride knew that this man beside her meant every word of it.

ADDIE’S JOURNAL: “Here in the midst of mortal peril, with death before me, with all the joys of life, so wonderfully loved, disappearing, my dear husband’s words made even the storm and the shipwreck nothing.”

While others were anguishing and fretting over what to do with the gold in their carpet bags, Ansel and Addie calmly resolved to go down together hand in hand.

Gold sinks to the bottom. Faith rises to the top.

Why did the storm and shipwreck become almost “nothing” for Addie? Because she had placed her faith in a good man, because she knew beyond a doubt that the man beside her was faithful and true and would be with her until the end.

Ansel Easton proved himself a good, faithful man to the end. One afternoon, someone spotted a sail on the horizon, another ship was approaching. It proved to be a two-masted brig, the Marine, bound for Boston. As she passed close, the passengers of the Central America cheered and wept, believing they were saved.

But the Marine herself had been battered by the storm. She was waterlogged and partially dis-masted. She had a hard time keeping close to the Central America. Captain Herndon ordered the women and children into the six lifeboats on board.

It proved a difficult, perilous task. The storm was still raging. Passengers had to be lowered into boats tossed by the waves, crashing against the ship.

Ansel Easton set to work on deck helping to get people off the Central America. Then he went below to tell Addie to hurry. “We shall be saved,” he assured her, “but the women and children are to be taken off first.”

Addie’s face turned white. “I can’t go without you,” she said.

Ansel reassured her, “You have to go; I shall follow very soon.”

Up on the deck, Ansel prepared Addie for the lifeboat. She turned to him again and said, “I don’t want to go till you do.” But he calmed her and said, “You have to leave now.”

After she was lowered into the third lifeboat, Ansel threw a coat down to her containing some valuables. And then he took the coat off his own shoulders and tossed it down, too, so she would be warmer during the rough ride to the other ship.

Ansel remained faithful to the end. Others were more distracted. One man spotted what he thought was an opening in a lifeboat being shoved away. Quickly, he stuffed a money belt containing 2,000 dollars in gold into his coat pocket. Then he leaped from the deck. The man managed to land in the boat, but his money belt fell out, hit the gray water, and sank instantly.

Other men on the deck seemed to have gone into a daze. Women moving away in the lifeboats looked back and saw some tossing gold coins into the wind.

But Addie could look back and see Ansel, and hold his steady gaze, and pull his coat tight around her shoulders.

Gold sinks to the bottom. But faith rises to the top. Faith rescues us. It can rescue us in the storm. (1 Peter 1:6,7)

After Addie made it safely to the Marine, she hoped the lifeboats would quickly be sent back for the men on that sinking ship. But the Marine had drifted too far away. There wasn’t a man with strength left to row back. And the storm made an immediate return trip seem impossible.

Tragically, the Central America sank before help could get back. Addie was on the Marine’s deck watching the lights in the distance disappear beneath the waves. Word soon came from an empty lifeboat: “The steamer’s gone down and every soul on board her is lost.”

The Marine managed to limp back to Chesapeake Bay. But it was a sad voyage for Addie. She was sustained only by the memory of her brave husband on the deck of that doomed ship. His coat was still around her shoulders.

As the ship docked in Norfolk, Addie and the other survivors received startling news. Forty-nine men from the Central America had been rescued by another vessel. Forty-nine had survived!

Addie caught a glimmer of hope. Was her beloved Ansel among them?

Arriving at a hotel where the survivors had gathered, Addie glanced from face to face in the parlor. Ansel was not there. But a few minutes later he burst into the room. He’d impatiently rowed out to the Marine to be reunited with his bride of four weeks — and found that she’d already gone.

There they were. Face to face. They embraced, and they were so overwhelmed that they could not speak.

ADDIE JOURNAL: “We wept together as well as rejoiced and for several nights, neither of us could sleep, so vivid were the scenes that we had passed through. My watch, my beautiful ring, our wedding presents and many other things that I valued from their associations were all lost. Though I shall never behold them again, I still have the privilege of preserving them in my memory and I still have my darling husband, the most precious jewel of all.”

Ansel was able to tell his wife about his miraculous survival. During the last moments, Ansel stood beside the captain who was firing the last of the flares. A wave crashed over the ship and forced it under.

As the Central America broke up and began to sink into the deep, Ansel was sucked down with her. He struggled to unfasten an overcoat he had buttoned about his neck — and then somehow, he shot upward. Breaking to the surface, he found himself among scores of other men floating with the debris of the ship.

Ansel managed to hang onto a board for several hours in the frigid waters. He knew that there was someone waiting for him. Suddenly, a vessel loomed out of the dark. To him it seemed to have dropped from the clouds. He grasped the rope thrown down to him and was pulled up to the deck and safety.

Gold sinks to the bottom, faith rises to the top.

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Christmas – Witnessing Son’s Birth

Illustration for Christian speaker.

Here’s a story you might be able to use during the Christmas season. I wrote it some time ago as a new father awed by the birth experience. It gave me an unexpected window on the Christ Child.

MANCHILD

Steven Mosley

Her forehead wet, her cheeks flushed, she lies wrapped
in white, reminding me of Lazarus writhing out of the cave
with a new life.  I stand by the bed feeling like a gawky
appendage.
It is 10 P.M.  All the carefully memorized contraction
sequences flow together indecipherably, like so much
static.  Beside a silver pitcher of water on the night
stand, a machine resembling a seismograph steadily rolls out
lined paper.  The ink jerks jagged and erratic.  I know they only
measure my wife’s contractions, but as I keep staring at the
slow, steep crescendo and feel her hand grip mine hard, the
machine seems malevolent, as if it were the cause of these
abdominal assaults.
A few times during the long night there are lulls in
the struggle.  My wife rests.  I retreat to a couch and try
to sleep, but my mind fastens on another, distant scene.
I wonder, how did the Heavenly Father feel while Mary
labored in that Bethlehem
barn?  Surrounded by adoring angels and the glories of
heaven, what did He think about delivering His babe into the
quagmire of this earth?  I can almost picture Him pacing
back and forth among the cherubim.
Back in the labor room a little electric dot jogs
around its track.  Fetal heartbeat they say.  I prefer not
to understand.  The signs I do know about are unnerving
enough.
I continue rubbing her back, counting and breathing
rhythmically, and lifting her up.  Still I can’t get into
where the blows strike.  I’m in another world.
The Sovereign God had to wait too–as if helpless,
staring at His palms, taking a back seat to cows and
shepherds.  He was no amateur attendant.  His hands had not
lost their skill since fashioning the orchids, gazelles and
DNA of this planet.  Yet He must remain hidden.  Disarmed.
The nurses have been kind and firm through the sluggish
early morning hours.  But my winded mate has long ago given
up being gutsy.  She takes all the medication her groans can
squeeze out of them.
Finally our infant makes a telling move.  They roll her
into a delivery room full of stainless steel.  I sneak in
behind a green gown and am surrounded by an ominous array of
instruments and pale green sterility.  While I wipe her
forehead, she is spread-eagled and harnessed for the big push.
I can’t help thinking of an experimental aircraft buzzing
over a cliff on its first attempt.
I imagine the suspense that must have hung over
Bethlehem.  God was to become man–the once-in-eternity
event.  Everything depended on that tiny, frail life
struggling in the womb.  The fate of the human race hung in
the balance.
Before my tense senses the doctor grabs steel forceps.
Great claws they are, looking like something from Joe’s
Garage.  He inserts them (blindly it seems) around those
tiny eyes, lips, nose—gets a good grip and pulls hard,
grunting like a stevedore.  The baby doesn’t budge.
Then I remember the Father and the clumsy hands that
seized His Son.  A sensitive, guileless youth given up into
the hands of hardened men–what more foolhardy thing could
this God have done?  His heavenly character is lost on us.
We fumble and grab rudely at a treasure grossly
misunderstood.
And Pilate delivered Him up to the will of the mob.
Their voices prevail.  When Christ’s arms are yanked across
the wood I see the Father involuntarily stretch out His arm,
cringing.  The cry pierces.
Suddenly a manchild is plopped down warm on my wife’s
stomach.  He is there.  I don’t know how.  He still grimaces
from the violence of his arrival.  My heart stops.  His cry
pierces.  He gasps in the cold, arms waving helplessly as
those of a man falling through black, featureless space.
Could the Christ have been like this?  God Almighty
smudged with dark blood, squinting in the strangeness, head
distended, limbs unwieldy as crowbars.
After our child is bathed, measured and clothed, I run
from nursery window to my wife’s bedside reporting each
momentous event–his tongue is moving; he’s staring at his
left hand.
There in the recovery room we need to release our
exhilaration heavenward.  Fluid with the miracle that has
just passed through us, we pour out a prayer of thanksgiving
to God.  The weariness of the long night is gone.
And the Father too rejoiced in the Messiah’s birth,
though knowing every detail of Jesus’ coming sacrifice.  It
was a potent love welling up in the Almighty that opened His
hands and delivered the Infant into our calloused ones.  To
draw us to Himself, he became vulnerable.  He saw many other
sons, twice-born, emerging from the dark like Lazarus,
writhing with a new life.

Condensed from the book “Glimpses of God,” by Steven Mosley.

Outreach – Into New Territory

Illustration for Christian speaker.

I thought this story is an excellent example of what can happen when we follow God’s lead into new territory as we reach out to others. I especially like the fact that the start of a spiritual revolution can be crystallized in one image—white tracks down the black faces of a crowd of miners.

Out of the Mines
And into the Gospel
Steven Mosley
George Whitefield sat in a Christian friend’s home eating supper, staring out the window, and wonderring whether he should make the final break with tradition. It was a Saturday, February 17, 1739. The house lay on the edge of Kingswood, an English village of coal miners. Whitefield could see the edge of the thick forest where the mine shafts sank deep. And he could see the trails through a wide meadow where the miners would soon be trudging home after a long day in the dark.
He wanted so badly to reach these people. Kingswood folk, everyone said, were gin-devils, wife beaters, sodomites. Once they’d dug up the corpse of a murderer and held a festival around it–because his suicide had cheated them of a lynching. Even the hard-bitten sailors of Bristol looked down on these illiterate shack-dwellers.
But Whitefield (and others like him who were being called “Methodists”) had just re-discovered the incredible power of the simple gospel. He wanted to see what it could do among the worst that England had to offer. And the only way to do that would be to preach to them outdoors–in the open air.
However something very big stood in Whitefield’s way: religious tradition. He was already in trouble with the established Church of England. Most clergymen thought all his talk about the New Birth highly dangerous. The idea that the Holy Spirit could manifest Himself inside individuals seemed preposterous. The established clergy also didn’t like these house meetings the Methodists conducted and their habit of praying spontaneously in public, instead of reading an approved prayer. These things were actually illegal at the time.
Whitefield was already bucking tradition. He’d been shut out of pulpits all over England. And now as he looked out over that Kingswood meadow, he was considering the ultimate scandal: preaching outdoors. This man had been brought up to believe that the gospel could only be proclaimed by the approved clergymen, inside the approved churches. The alternative seemed anarchy to people of that time. Even his friend John Wesley still thought open-air preaching “a mad notion.”
Whitefield had no desire to break away from his beloved church. He didn’t want to cut the final chord. But as the sun dipped over the horizon, the call of the gospel drowned out the chorus of tradition. A verse kept running through his head: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in..” (Luke 15:23 nkjv)
Whitefield rose from the supper table and walked out to a rise in the middle of the meadow. The miners were starting to leave their pits. And he called out, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 5:3 kjv) The miners stopped and stared at this parson in his cassock and gown. His voice came to them from a hundred yards away with astonishing clarity. They had no idea what he was talking about, but they gathered to listen.
Whitefield told a funny story that put the men at ease. He spoke of hell, black as a pit, of judgment, and of Jesus, the friend of publicans and sinners. He spoke passionately about the cross–and the miners grew silent and still.
Then suddenly he noticed pale streaks on the grimy faces. A young man to his right. An old bent miner on the other side. Two scarred faces up front. Whitefield saw, as he said, “white gutters made by their tears down their black cheeks.”
The next day, when Whitefield returned, the group of 200 miners had grown to nearly two thousand men, women and children. And the following Sunday, 10,000 folk from the surrounding neighborhoods joined them.
And so began England’s greatest spiritual revolution, the Great Awakening. In the years that followed, Whitefield and Wesley would sweep up and down the island, bringing countless common folk face to face with the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. All because one man stepped out of tradition, and into the open air, with God’s Word.

“George Whitefield and the Great Awakening,” John Pollock (Tring, England: Lion Publishing, 1972) pages 75-83.

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These stories for Christian speakers, again, focus on real-life events that directly show how God works, how the principles of Scripture Work, how the spiritual life works. They are examples. They help give to Christian speaking the power of testimony.

Worship – Expanding our Picture of God

Illustration for Christian speaker.

I’m sure that your ministry involves talking about the value of worship in various ways. Here are some stories I’ve found that really flesh out the sense of coming before a God who is so much bigger than anything we can imagine.
I hope this picture is useful—-a shepherd, poet and scientist looking up at the stars.

Story in the Stars Steven Mosley
The hills surrounding Bethlehem. c. 1000 B.C.
The sheep had settled down in their favorite hollows or were grazing in tight bunches. A clear wind from the Great Sea blew over the winter green hills. The sun threw its light over a string of clouds hovering over the western horizon. Gold. Magenta. Vermilion. Sunset splashed across the dark blue sky and David the shepherd stared in awe. Then the cool blue of dusk submerged the colors.
Finally night settled over the hills in earnest. Later he would remember it this way:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

New England. July 22, l878.
Walt Whitman, the poet, had gone out in the country for a visit and encountered what he believed comes only once or twice in a lifetime: a perfect night. Storm clouds had swirled across the sky, then suddenly vanished and left an atmosphere shining with exceptional clarity and glory.
“A large part of the sky,” Whitman wrote, “seemed just laid in great splashes of phosphorus. You could look deeper in, farther through, than usual; the orbs thick as heads of wheat in a field.” For a few moments this sky spoke eloquently to Whitman. He felt himself under the sky of the Bible, of Arabia, of the prophets, and of the oldest poems.
This “superhuman symphony” gave Whitman a “flashing glance of Deity,” and moved him to write: “As if for the first time, indeed, creation noiselessly sank into and through me its placid and untellable lesson, beyond–O, so infinitely beyond–anything from art, books, sermons, or from science, old or new. The spirit’s hour–religion’s
hour–the visible suggestion of God in space and time.”

“From Immigrant to Inventor.” 1890s.
Michael Pupin, world-class scientist, pioneer in X-ray photography, wrote at the close of his autobiography: “Fifty years ago, when as a member of a herdsman’s squad of boys I watched the stars on the black background of a summer midnight sky, I felt that their light was a language proclaiming the glory of God.” After years of deciphering starlight scientifically, their basic message for Pupin hadn’t changed: “The light of the stars is a part of the life-giving breath of God. I never look now upon the
starlit vault of the heaven without feeling this divine breath and its quickening action upon my soul.”

Shepherd, poet and scientist see the same picture in the stars, the suggestion of a glorious God who transcends all human limitations, all man-made symbols. God transcends. He is far above it all. Independent. Uncontainable. No wonder Isaiah exclaimed:
“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.”

(Adapted from “Glimpses of God,” by Steven Mosley)

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The Word – Binds Us Together

These stories key on topics that are covered frequently by Christian speakers.

Illustration for Christian speaker.

Here’s a great story you might be able to use if you’re planning any
new teaching series focused on the Word. To me, it beautifully expresses how
the Word binds us all together in one body. It’s the language our fellowship
is based on and that language transcends all kinds of boundaries.

GOOD NEWS FROM A DISTANT LAND
Steven Mosley
A man from Holland called simply, Brother Andrew, had just
smuggled a load of Bibles in his VW across the Rumanian border. He
checked into a motel and began praying that God would lead him to
the right Christian groups–the ones who could best use his load of
Bibles.
On Sunday morning Andrew walked up to the hotel clerk and asked
where he might find a church.
The clerk looked at him a little strangely and answered, “We
don’t have many of those you know. Besides you couldn’t understand
the language.”
“Didn’t you know?” Andrew replied, “Christians speak a kind of
universal language.”
“Oh what’s that?”
“It’s called Agape.”
“Agape?” the clerk wondered. “I never heard of it.”
“Too bad,” Andrew replied, “It’s the most beautiful language in
the world.”
Well Andrew was able to locate several church groups in the
area and he managed to arrange a meeting with the president and
secretary of a certain denomination, we’ll call them James and
Leon. They sat down together in a small office. Andrew was eager
to tell them about the Bibles he had smuggled into the country. He
also wanted to find out something about the men and their churches.
But soon the three discovered that they couldn’t speak each others
languages.
The men knew several European languages, but none in common.
So there they sat staring at each other across the room. Andrew had
come thousands of dangerous miles in his little VW. He longed to
bring greetings and encouragement from Christians in the western
world to these brothers isolated behind the Iron Curtain. But how?
They couldn’t understand a word he said.
Then Andrew got an idea. He noticed James had a Bible on his
desk. Andrew reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a Dutch
Bible. He turned to I Corinthians 16:20 and held the Bible out,
pointing to the name of the book, which they could recognize.
Instantly their faces lit up. They quickly found the same chapter
and verse in their Rumanian Bibles and read this verse:

“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another
with a holy kiss.” (I Cor. 16:20)

James and Leon beamed back at Andrew. Then James looked
through his Bible and found Proverbs 25:25. Andrew found the verse
and read:

“Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.”

By then all three were laughing together. Andrew responded by
turning to the book of Philemon. He pointed his brothers to verses
4 and 5. They read:

“I always thank God as I remember you in my prayers, because I
hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the
saints.”

The two Rumanians nodded, smiling. Then Leon’s eyes wondered
down to verse seven. He pushed the Bible over to Andrew, pointing
to these beautiful words:

“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because
you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

These three men had a wonderful time together. They spent half
an hour conversing and sharing—just through the words of
Scripture. They were so happy in their fellowship they laughed
until tears came to their eyes.
Finally Andrew showed his brothers the Bibles he had brought
for them. James and Leon were overwhelmed and overjoyed. They
embraced him again and again.
That evening when Andrew returned to his hotel, the clerk
approached him and remarked, “Say, I looked up agape in the
dictionary. There’s no language by that name. That’s just a Greek
word for love.”
Andrew replied, “That’s it. I was speaking in it all
afternoon.”
Adapted from “God’s Smuggler” by Brother Andrew in Steven Mosley’s book: “Great Stories and How to Tell Them.”

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