Leaving Behind the Past

From a message presented at Curwensville Alliance Church on 12/31/2017

I tend to be a bit of a nostalgist. By that, I mean, I love to think about the past. There are a lot of sweet memories in my past.

And there are memories that are not so sweet. Bitter ones.

How do you leave those memories behind — the bitter ones, while retaining the sweet ones? That’s what this podcast addresses.

Thanks for listening, and as always, you’re welcome at Curwensville Alliance. There are plenty more podcasts there.

Replacing Discouragement with Expectancy

The story is told of a man who was walking along the beach, after the tide had gone. Scattered densely on the sand were thousands of starfish that the tide had brought in, but neglected to take out. In a short time, the sun and wind would dry the starfish, leaving them dead. The man, on his daily walk, was bending down, picking them up one at a time, tossing them back into the ocean.

After watching this for a while, a tourist approached him and said, “There are so many starfish on this beach. What difference could what you are doing possibly make? What does it matter?” The man bent down, picked up another starfish, and just before tossing it into the sea said, “It matters to this one.”

If there is one tool of the enemy that is nearly universal in its effectiveness, it is the tool of discouragement. Often, because the task embodied in The Great Commission seems overwhelming, believers just give up. This podcast strives to help us avoid this. It helps us recover our lost expectations.

The Steelers and the Power of Hope

If you follow the NFL, you know that just a few years ago, the Steelers were the last seed in the post-season. They barely made it into the playoffs.  In fact, some sports networks had actually proclaimed they were mathematically eliminated. They weren’t eliminated, but few gave them any hope.

Being the sixth seed in a playoff system where a loss means elimination puts you at a big disadvantage. First – you have to play more games to advance through the rankings. Second – you have to play the harder team as you go. Third – you have to play all your games away, eliminating home-field advantage. The Steelers did that.

On January 8, they beat their division rivals and leaders, the Cincinnati Bengals 31-17 at Paul Brown Stadium. Was there any hope that they could move forward?

On January 15 they played Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts – a team that had humbled them earlier that year. Thinking they had the game sewed up, the Steelers were shocked when Bettis fumbled the ball giving life to the Colts. But after the tackle, the most accurate kicker to ever play in the NFL missed a field goal in the closing moments of the game to allow the Steelers to advance. Who could have hoped that would have happened?

Next it was off to Denver, where more than 76 thousand fans watched the Steelers force turnover after turnover, doubling the points scored by the Broncos. Who would have any hope that the Steelers could win the Super Bowl?

Finally the day came. The Steelers were in the Super Bowl. From last place among the contenders, to playing for the number one slot. No one gave them any hope of being there. But they were there and they won. They won Super Bowl XL.

How did they do that? Skill, yes. Luck, yes. Passion, yes. Coaching, yes. But there is one ingredient that went into that Super Bowl run that you seldom hear of.

That ingredient is hope.

Without hope, they would have lost in Cincinnati. Without hope, Ben Roethlisberger wouldn’t have even tried the tackle that saved the touchdown on Bettis’ fumble. Without hope, Hines Ward would have headed to the locker room after costing Pittsburgh a touchdown in Denver. Hope is that invisible force that runs in the background and keeps people moving.

I believe that one of the most underrated powers in the world is the power of hope. And the Bible agrees. The audio below speaks of the power of hope in our lives.