- Pastor Tom Cunningham
RISING ABOVE THE CACKLE
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 40:28-31
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ’s 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet, some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth, Jesus Christ.
Yet His voice has been silenced in public schools. You can read the works of Socrates and Plato, and listen to the sounds of Handel, but the greatest influence of their achievements has been kept from you.
“His unique contribution to the race of men is the salvation of the soul! Philosophy could not accomplish that. Nor art. Nor literature. Nor music. Only Jesus Christ can break the chains of sin and bondage. He alone can speak peace to the human heart, strengthen the weak, and give life to those who are spiritually dead.”
If your life is to truly make impact in this generation, it has to be through Jesus Christ. But, we are generally more concerned about making a living than making an impact.
It begins by…
(1) Setting a higher standard for yourself.
It is impossible to be whole until you get right with God. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. That means you can be beautiful, smart and talented, but if you are not in right relationship with Jesus Christ you will NEVER be happy…AND if you are never happy, you will never succeed in making impact on anybody else’s life—let alone your own! We have everything we need to make a difference as a church. We should be setting the standard and declaring the victory to the nations—but people insist on bringing the standard down to a more accommodating level.
Stop living for the average—demand a higher standard. The world is fraught with excuses for why they fail. They fail to rise so they seek to bring others down to make themselves seem artificially higher…They walk in defeat, so they defeat others on purpose to have someone to walk with. They limit themselves by their own strength and talent. Seek the Lord—and walk in HIS strength.
(2) Concentrating on the essentials to making impact
Setting a standard of selflessness, this should be blatantly obvious. We are way too concerned about #1 to make any real impact. We have to be ready to give of our all if we are really going to make a difference in the life of another. Too many people are spectators in their own lives, never willing to give a little more than the average.
Being a team player. Understanding that we need each other, in cooperation and in partnering if we are ever going to do anything truly impactive…Anything on a really grand scale. That there is power in partnering and to recognize that is to understand the community and family of God.
Achievement...You can’t get by this one. You not only have to try…you must (through God) achieve. We cannot keep making excuses for our failure by saying, “Well, I tried my best.” That is rarely true. I hate to be the one to break this to you now, but the real world doesn’t give a hoot about your self-esteem and your feelings and the ‘baseball team of life’ doesn’t let everyone play at least 2 innings…. You have to earn your spot! That’s not me talking, that’s the world around you demanding. You must pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you!
Pressing on to the hilt. Be adventurous. Dare to be different. Dare to move apart from moral apathy and make a stand for what is right! In Zambia, the status quo means death by AIDS to the promiscuous generation of young people. To survive is to be different; to come out from the crowd and stand for moral absolutes. You want adventure? Live for God. Demand a higher standard for you and your family and your future. Dare to challenge your neighborhoods and communities to be better than they are, don’t fall into the mentality that says ‘it will never change.’ It begins with you.
(3) Remembering who you are in Christ and in His potential.
Remembering who you are! We are eagles, created by God to soar, but often we spend too much time with the chickens. Every church and every community has its chickens, clucking here and clucking there—the cackling of self-made importance—living a small minded existence inside the fence of their little barnyard—yet by the cackling and the noise you’d think they rule the world—when they don’t even rule the barnyard. Chickens always end up in the slaughter—or laying eggs for someone else to eat. Chickens are a bird species of sorts, but not even able to fly. Be careful if you find yourself stuck in the barnyard—it is possible you may forget who you are.
We are living for God—All of us are called to a higher destiny and purpose that brings us soaring above the mountain tops. If we dare to soar above the barnyard, then we can be privileged enough to be called Eagles and our standards will forever rise above the cackle.
We must be above the complaining of the chickens—they will never make it because they don’t want to make it—and they don’t want me to make it either! That would just remind them that it is possible to make it and yet they are still chickens! And they would have to live with that—they’d rather be slaves to this world than soar with the power of God.
You have a responsibility to change your world for the better and show forth the secret to America’s success through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not a religion, the world is full of religions, what we need are genuine, sincere and changed Christian men and women of God who will show forth His love to a lost, dying and eager world.
This is a far greater impact than we could ever make if we allowed ourselves to be mired in the trivialities of life…