Sermon Titled “Defining Moments” (A Video by Billy Graham) – Sunday 29th December, 2013
Leading up to Christmas and the New Year, Pastor Reimer led us through a series of “Christmas” stories, based on passages of scripture that emphasized the significance of Jesus’ birth. We also heard various testimonies from members of the church, testimonies which all started out with very different stories but which all arrived at the same conclusion that only Christ is able to fully satisfy the soul.
Last weekend, to highlight the coming of a brand new year, we viewed a thirty minute video called Defining Moments, narrated by Billy Graham and with interviews from three individuals (a football player, a musician, and an illusionist), who all found Christ in the most defining moments of their lives:
1. David Tyree (NY Giants) – spent time in jail for using drugs and driving under the influence of alcohol. David says that the money he earned as a professional football player simply multiplied all the evils in his life, enabling him access to a lifestyle which he at first found exciting and fulfilling, but which ultimately led to a prison sentence and the firm realization that he was a “broken” man.
2.Lacey Sturm (Singer/Songwriter, and former Co-founder/Lead Vocalist of Hard Rock Band Flyleaf) – struggled with depression during her teen years and at 16 years old, she had no desire to continue living. Lacey says she remembers clearly the day that she planned to end her life, but her plan was thwarted when she was caught off guard by her grandmother. Sensing that something was not right, Lacey’s grandmother insisted that they both go to church, and what happened next is incredible.
Lacey describes how during the sermon, all the hairs on her skin stood up when the pastor veered momentarily off topic and made the following announcement, “There is a suicidal spirit in this room, and God wants you to know that He loves you.” Later, as Lacey and her grandmother were leaving the church, an elderly man approached Lacey, touched her gently on her shoulder, and said, “Even though you have never had an earthly father, God will be a father to you. He sees you cry yourself to sleep each night and He loves you.” The man then prayed that God would wrap His arms around Lacey, and in that moment Lacey says she felt something so indescribable that only a belief in God’s presence could explain it.
3. Jim Munroe (Illusionist) – always believed that the idea of a God seemed incredibly silly, as if God were like the wizard of Oz, hiding behind a giant curtain controlling everything. Being an illusionist, or as he described, a “Master of Phoniness,” Jim was naturally skeptical. As he continued to excel in his career and personal life, he grew even more resistant to the message of the gospel – that is, until – he was diagnosed with a cancer deemed by his doctor as “untreatable.” Jim had only been married five years at the time of his diagnosis, and he was the father of a three year old girl and a two year old boy; he was beyond devastated. In a moment of pure desperation, he called out to a God he didn’t believe in, and asked Him to reveal Himself.
In the days and months to follow, Jim learned that his only hope of survival was if he were to receive a bone marrow transplant. The odds of finding a perfect match were slim, but remarkably, a 19 year old donor was found and Jim lives today because someone else literally lives inside of him. But Jim is also now fully convinced of the claims of Jesus. He believes that the God of the Universe took him behind the curtain and revealed Himself, just as he asked, and then graciously granted him a new life, both physically and spiritually. “There is a spiritual cancer eating us all on the inside,” says Jim. “We all are looking for salvation.”
Call it what you may, but each of these individuals believe that they were given another chance because they called on the name of Jesus. Just as it says in Romans 10:13, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, so it happened for these three people. Salvation, both temporal and eternal, was granted to them because they called out to Jesus, and after acknowledging that He is indeed the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), they sought to rectify their lives by repenting and choosing God’s ways.
At some point in your life, you too will reach a defining moment where you will question the purpose of your life. Billy Graham’s video opens with a bold heading which says that “Our days on earth are like a shadow,” and then included in his opening statements are the following questions:
- Do you number your days?
- Do you realize how important every single day is?”
It’s not the days in your life that count, says Graham, but the life in your days that count! Another year has ended and for some of you, the question remains whether a life lived solely on your terms will provide just as much (if not more) fulfillment, than a life led by God.
Lacey Sturm said in a separate interview, after losing a friend in a car accident, that she understood more than ever the phrase Memento Mori (Latin – “remember that you will die”). One thing that God did not keep secret from us, is the inevitable fact that we will all die one day; from the very minute we are born, reminds Graham, we start dying. And if the accounts of the bible hold true, and I encourage you to consider for a moment that they do, then it’s also inevitable that we will alll face judgment one day and our eternal fate will be decided by God.
So, says Graham, if there is even a whisper in your heart, or the tiniest inkling to call on the name of God – then don’t wait. Don’t wait another year, do it now! Your days, and mine, are numbered, and life may seem grand with you in charge, but what price are you willing to pay? Are you willing to make a temporal sacrifice knowing that the long-term rewards will be much greater, or are you willing to squander away everything now, knowing that you will eventually lose everything and worse still, incur the wrath of God?
Don’t wait another day. I encourage you to give up just thirty minutes of your time today to watch what could be the most life-changing video you’ll watch this year!