Month: December 2011

A Good Illustration Can Kill You

I sat down at my computer to find the perfect Paul Harvey story.  This came up in the top returns on Google:

A Great Paul Harvey Story!!

Here is a true story by Paul Harvey. Pass it to anyone who you think would find it interesting and inspiring. You will be surprised who this young man turned out to be. (Do not look at the bottom of this letter until you have read it fully.)

Years ago a hardworking man took his family from New York State to Australia to take advantage of a work opportunity there. Part of this man’s family was a handsome young son who had aspirations of joining the circus as a trapeze artist or an actor.

This young fellow, biding his time until a circus job or even one as a stagehand came along, worked at the local shipyards which bordered on the worst section of town.

Walking home from work one evening this young man was attacked by five thugs who wanted to rob him. Instead of just giving up his money the young fellow resisted. However they bested him easily and proceeded to beat him to a pulp. They mashed his face with their boots, and kicked and beat his body brutally with clubs, leaving him for dead.

When the police happened to find him lying in the road they assumed he was dead and called for the Morgue Wagon.  On the way to the morgue a policeman heard him gasp for air, and they immediately took him to the emergency unit at the hospital.

When he was placed on a gurney a nurse remarked to her horror, that this young man no longer had a face. Each eye socket was smashed, his skull, legs, and arms fractured, his nose literally hanging from his face, all his teeth were gone, and his jaw was almost completely torn from his skull.

Although his life was spared he spent over a year in the hospital. When he finally left, his body may have healed but his face was disgusting to look at. He was no longer the handsome youth that everyone admired.

When the young man started to look for work again he was turned down by everyone just on account of the way he looked. One potential employer suggested to him that he join the freak show at the circus as “The Man Who Had No Face.”

He did this for a while. He was still rejected by everyone and no one wanted to be seen in his company. He had thoughts of suicide. This went on for five years.

One day he passed a church and sought some solace there. Entering the church he encountered a priest who had seen him sobbing while kneeling in a pew.

The priest took pity on him and took him to the rectory where they talked at length. The priest was impressed with him to such a degree that he said that he would do everything possible for him that could be done to restore  his dignity and life, if the young man would promise to be the best Catholic he could be, and trust in God’s  mercy to free him from his torturous life.

The young man went to Mass and communion every day, and after thanking God for saving his life, asked God to give him peace of mind and the grace to be the best man he could ever be in His eyes.

The priest, through his personal contacts was able to secure the services of the best plastic surgeon in Australia. There would be no cost to the young man, as the doctor was the priest’s best friend.

The doctor too was so impressed by the young man, whose outlook now on life, even though he had experienced the worst was filled with good humor and love.

The surgery was a miraculous success. All the best dental work was also done for him. The young man became everything he promised God he would be. He was also blessed with a wonderful, beautiful wife, and many children, and success in an industry which would have been the furthest thing from his mind as a career if not for the goodness of God and the love of the people who cared for him.

This he acknowledges publicly. The young man was and is…………………………..

Mel Gibson.

His life was the inspiration for his production of the movie “The Man Without A Face.” He is to be admired by all of us as a God fearing man, a political conservative, and an example to all as a true man of courage.

And to think I admired him before I knew any of this! He is quite a man!

Paul Harvey

I love the story, and it would make a great sermon illustration, but something just didn’t sit right about it. It’s almost too good to be true.

I have followed Mel Gibson for a while now and never heard this story–of course I have never heard most of Paul Harvey’s stories. But further research revealed a website which claims 99% of the story is……..not true! It even claimed that Paul Harvey did not tell this story.

I won’t spend the time tracking down the details. But this morning’s search for a good illustration did remind me how careful preachers and teachers have to be when using the internet to find illustrations.

With the eternal importance of the Gospel message, we must not allow the desire for a good illustration to kill our credibility.

Why this Southern Baptist Cannot Support Mitt Romney for President

(Editor’s Note: This post was during the primary season. Please refer to “Can I Vote for the Stormin’ Mormon–Mitt Romney? It’s Decision Time” for my eventual decision.)

Many very respected Southern Baptists believe that Mitt Romney has the best chances to win the election in 2012. They may be right, but I cannot support Mr. Romney because of his Mormon beliefs. Supporting him, for me, would be choosing this world over eternal matters or materialistically choosing my own wallet over my principles.

Some right now may object, the presidency has no religious requirements. Agreed. Many good presidents have not been good Christians and many good Christians would make horrible presidents so before you just think I am a closed minded Baptist, consider the following scenario…

The doorbell rings. Mark, the relative that I have been praying for years gets up from his brown La-Z-Boy recliner and opens the door.

Two young men wearing white dress shirts stand at the door one slightly behind the other. The one in front politely says, “Hello, I’m from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, and we would like to share some information with you. Do you have a moment?”

Mark responds while still gripping the handle of his door, “You guys are the ones that believe we can become gods, used to believe in polygamy and a bunch of other stuff right? Aren’t you guys a cult?” He begins to close the door.

The young man in back named Joe responds, “No sir, we are not a cult, and we don’t have weird beliefs. In fact, Mitt Romney, the president of the United States, holds membership in our church.” As the door opens a little wider Joe continues. “In fact, the evangelical Christian vote put Romney in office. He carried the vote among Baptist, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics. He is very popular among conservatives. So as you can see we do not have weird beliefs.”

Tilting his head and looking upward Mark thinks to himself as he opens the door, “Oh, these people are just another denomination. Lately, I have thought more about God so perhaps He sent them to my door.”

Mark says, “Well come on in. I do have some questions that I would like to know the answers to…”

This scenario may likely become reality in a couple of years.

I cannot vote for Mitt Romney because Mormonism is a false religion that deceives people about the truth and leads them to an eternity in hell. Some people have to worry more about this world than the next but my calling demands that I worry more about eternity and less about current economic conditions.

We have grown so accustomed to living our best life now, and focusing too heavily on the social aspect of the Gospel that we under-emphasized the eternal importance of what being Christian means. Many before us gave their lives because of their beliefs and because they knew eternity was more important than their life on earth.

Theologically speaking, Mormonism is a cult. Socially speaking, it doesn’t come up to the same level as the crazy people who lock themselves in compounds, buy ammo like the end-times is here and create problems for the police. There are many “good” citizens who are Mormons, but make no mistake, they do not believe in the Jesus Christ of the New Testament. Mormons presents a different Jesus and a different salvation, which leads to an eternity separated from God. They recognize the differences and seek to convert evangelical Christians to their worldview.

First, they send missionaries to convert people to their beliefs including attempts to convert evangelical Christians. I have had them in my house. I have discussed the fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I have watched as their missionaries began asking questions and suddenly received the call to move to a different area. The theologically astute in both worldviews understand the vast differences.

Second, Mormonism only goes back to the treasure hunter Joseph Smith in the early 1800s. In 1827, Smith claimed to have received golden plates upon which he alleges that the Book of Mormon was written. There are many difficult to believe moments for those who study the history of Joseph Smith.

Third, Mormonism’s theology contradicts the teaching of Christianity. The most oft quoted theological problems in Mormonism include “As man is, God once was: as God is, man may become.” Mormonism is polytheistic. Christianity is monotheistic. Mormons reject the doctrine of the Trinity and by doing so have a faulty Christology. Mormons reject salvation by grace alone through faith alone by adding a list of works to become like God. They preach another Gospel.

So you respond, well we would be better off with Romney than Obama. I concede your point.

Romney may be the best choice for America, but Romney is the worst choice for eternity. And that is why I cannot support him.

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