The United States Coast Guard has an official motto and an unofficial motto. The official motto is “semper paratus,” which means “always ready.” The Coast Guard is always ready to serve whether to aid in battle, security or rescue. They have an unofficial motto. It is “You have to go, but you don’t have to come back.” This speaks of the commitment of the Coast Guard to go out regardless of the storm or personal risk. It is one thing to say glibly “always ready.” Can we say that when we know we may not come back? It was this kind of commitment that energized our missionary heroes. It should energize all who serve the Lord.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching November/December 2003


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Joe Foss was a bonafide hero. After a good, long life of 87 years, he passed away on January 1st 2003. He was a WWII air combat ace. He personally shot down twenty-six enemy planes. He became a state legislator and later became governor of the state of South Dakota. He was also the first commissioner of the American Football League and is considered one of the founder of the Super Bowl. He also was active with Campus Crusade.

Joe was an incurable optimist who once said, “I always had the attitude that every day will be a great day. I look forward to it like a kid in a candy store, wherever I am.” What many of his friends remember was Joe moving from one house to another for one purpose – so more cars could be accommodated at his home Bible study.

-Michael Shannon, Preaching March/April 2003


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“When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song,” tenor Luciano Pavarotti relates. “He urged me to work very hard to develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college. On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’ “‘Luciano,’ my father replied, ‘if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.’

“I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera. And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book — whatever we choose — we should give ourselves to it. Commitment, that’s the key. Choose one chair.”

(from Guideposts, cited in esermons.com newsletter)


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Years ago, Bob Dylan wrote a great truth in one of his songs. He said:

“You may be an ambassador to England of France;

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance;

You may be the heavy-weight champion of the world;

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls;

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”


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The United States Coast Guard has an official
motto and an unofficial motto. The official motto is “semper
paratus,” which means “always ready.” The Coast Guard is always ready
to serve whether to aid in battle, security or rescue. They have an
unofficial motto. It is “You have to go, but you don’t have to come
back.” This speaks of the commitment of the Coast Guard to go out
regardless of the storm or personal risk. It is one thing to say glibly
“always ready.” Can we say that when we know we may not come back?
It was this kind of commitment that energized our missionary heroes. It
should energize all who serve the Lord.

_______________

J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.


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C.S. Lewis observed,
“If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you. You are embarking
on something that is going to take the whole of you.”


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In an interview
which appeared in Pastors.com, Campus Crusade founder Bill Bright said, “My
life’s message is be a slave of Jesus. And all that involves. Love your master,
trust your master and obey your master. Obviously, I’m a son of God, heir of
God, joint-heir with Christ, and if He was described as a slave — Paul and
Peter and the other apostles were slaves — this to me is the highest privilege
anyone could know. I evaluate everything I do in light of what He wants me to
do. I try to relate every move, every day, in light of how I can help fulfill
His Great Commission and fulfill His commandments.”


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In 1914, a man named Ernest Shakelton placed the following words in a newspaper
ad: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, constant
danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

Would you respond to such an invitation? Enough men responded that Shakelton
set sail for Antarctica. It was a tough journey. The men were stranded and not
rescued until 1917. Why would someone respond to such an ad? Was it for the
“honor and recognition” that might come? Christians have responded to
Jesus’ call. He said to be His disciple we must take up our crosses and follow
Him. We do so not for worldly honor, but to hear our Savior say, “Well
done, good and faithful servant.”

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.


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After a great gathering of Christian youth, a church staff member was counting
the offering. At the bottom lay a teen-aged girl’s picture. Had someone taken
that picture from someone’s wallet and thrown it in the offering as a practical
joke? That’s the kind of thing teenagers sometimes do. But someone turned the
picture over. On the back of her own picture, a girl had written, “I have
nothing to give but myself.” Whether we have little to give or much to
give, the gift God wants us to give is ourselves!

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.


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In Elysa Gardner’s USA Today tribute to Richard Rogers, she tells a story that
gives us a clue to his extraordinary success in musical theater. She relates
comments made by Rogers’ eldest daughter Mary. “He wouldn’t read The New
Yorker, unless he thought it would make a good musical. That’s the mark of
genius I think – being utterly consumed, almost to the exclusion of everything
else.”

Do we have that kind of passion for the great work God has called
us to?

___________________________

Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.


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One of the most honored and decorated naval commanders was lord Horatio Nelson.
Many do not know that when he won his greatest victories, he was suffering from
gout, malaria, chest pains, depression, a missing eye and a missing arm. He
also suffered all of that time from seasickness. Some may say he chose the
wrong line of work. Others might say he is an example of those who are willing
to pay the price for a cause they believe in.

___________________________
Illustration by J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching, Cincinnati Bible
College & Seminary, Cincinnati, OH.


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Everyone has heard of the famous British journalist, Henry M. Stanley. He is
the man who was sent to find the great missionary David Livingstone.
Livingstone had not been heard from for many months and some thought he might
be dead.

In 1869 the publisher of the New York Herald sent Stanley to cover the opening
of the Suez Canal. After that he was to visit the Middle East, and then to go
to Africa to look for Livingstone. It took Stanley eight months to find the
great missionary. When he did, he greeted him with that famous statement,
“Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” What is not widely known about Henry M.
Stanley is that he fought on both sides in the American Civil War!

In the spiritual warfare that rages on our planet, we cannot fight on both
sides. Jesus said that you cannot serve two masters. He said that you were
either for him or against him. Like Joshua long before, we must choose sides.
We must choose whom we will serve.


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