…as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord. Lord to whom shall we go? You have the
words of eternal life.
An old time circuit riding
preacher was ready to retire and decided to sell his
horse and buggy. There was a blacksmith who wanted to
buy the horse. As he completed the deal the man remarked
to the blacksmith, "This is not just an ordinary horse".
Since he has been owned and driven by a man of the cloth
all his life he does not respond to the commands of whoa
When you want him to go, you
don’t say, 'Giddy up!' You say, 'Praise the Lord!’ He
won’t move if you say, 'Giddy up!' And once you get him
going, if you want to speed up, just repeat, ‘praise the
Lord!' And then, when you want to stop, you don’t say,
'Whoa!’ You say, 'Amen!'
"Now it’s real important that
you use the words this horse understands, 'Amen!’ to
stop, and 'Praise the Lord!’ to go. If you’ll remember
that, you won’t have any problem at all." When you want
this horse to stop you must say AMEN. When you want him
to go you must say PRAISE THE LORD!
Later that day the Blacksmith
decided to take the horse for a ride to see how good he
was. Comfortable in the saddle, he said, "Praise the
Lord," and the horse moved right out. He said "Praise
the Lord!" again and they moved faster and faster. While
trotting down the road the horse was startled by a snake
and bolted. Wildly they headed across a field full
speed. Looming ahead, the blacksmith saw a cliff that
dropped away into a deep canyon. He was getting closer
and closer to the dangerous edge. In a panic the poor
Blacksmith was shouting WHOA STOP but the horse didn’t
stop. Then he remembered the preacher’s instructions and
finally yelled out a loud AMEN! The horse stopped just
at the edge of a thousand foot cliff, and stones tumbled
out into space. Relieved and overjoyed, the Blacksmith
wiped his brow, raised his hands to the sky and shouted
"PRAISE THE LORD"
Just when I thought riding a
horse would be an excellent solution to the problems of
my week. Some of you know that this week my car was hit
by an uninsured driver. I guess a horse like this might
have been worse! My decision to get in my car last
Tuesday was as treacherous an idea as the blacksmith’s
in the story. It was a life-changing decision.
Some of our decisions are more
well-informed than others. For example, if I had known
what was to happen, I would have never gotten behind my
wheel last Tuesday. And I guess the blacksmith would not
have taken that horse for a ride.
Our O.T. reading is Joshua’s
farewell speech. He calls upon his beloved people to
make a decision. Choose this day whom you will serve –
but as for me and my house. We will serve the lord. The
people remember and list all the things God has done for
them and respond by saying – therefore we will serve the
Lord, for he is our God.
Bill Havens made a decision in
1924. At the Olympic games in Paris in 1924 the sport of
canoe racing was added to the list of international
competitions. Bill was the favorite to win. A few days
before the American team was to leave for Paris, Havens
learned that his wife was going to give birth at
precisely the same time he would be competing in the
Paris Games. In 1924 there were no jet airliners from
Paris to the United States, only slow-moving ocean-going
ships. And so Bill found himself in a dilemma. Should he
go to Paris and risk not being at his wife's side when
their first child was born? Or should he withdraw from
the team and remain behind. Bill's wife insisted that he
go to Paris. After all, he had been working towards this
for all these years. It was the culmination of a
life-long dream. His wife pleaded with him to go to
Paris...that everything would be all right at home.
Clearly the decision was not easy for Bill to make.
Finally, after much soul searching, Bill decided to
withdraw from the competition and remain behind with his
wife so that he could be with her when their first child
arrived. Havens made a momentous decision. He would give
up his chance at immortality. Bill considered being at
her side a higher priority than going to Paris to
fulfill a life-long dream.
To make a long story short, the
United States four-man canoe team won the gold medal at
the Paris Olympics. And Bill's wife was late in giving
birth to her first child. She was so late that Bill
could have competed in the event and returned home in
time to be with her when she gave birth.
People said, "What a shame." But
Bill said he had no regrets. After all, his commitment
to his wife was more important then, and it still was
now. The story of Bill Havens is a story of how one man
paid a high price to fulfill a commitment to someone he
loved. It was a life-changing decision.
The child eventually born to
Bill and his wife was a boy, whom they named Frank. For
28 years Bill Havens was not certain he made the right
decision. Then in the summer of 1952 he received a
telegram datelined Helsinki, Finland, the scene of the
1952 Olympic Games. The telegram read, "Dear Dad. Thanks
for waiting around for me to be born. I’m coming home
with the medal that is yours. Your loving son, Frank."
Frank Havens had won the gold medal for his father.
And if you can believe it, Frank
Havens won that gold medal for the United States in the
canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of
winning but never did. Where did this boy learn such
love and faithfulness to family? He learned it from his
father who gave up his chance at Olympic gold for a
woman he loved and a boy soon to be born. A
Some of Jesus' followers were
beginning to leave him. His teachings were too difficult
for them. Some were offended by his references to eat
his body and drink his blood. Many disciples left him
and stopped following him. So he turned to the 12 and
asked, "Will you also go away?" Peter's reply lives
forever, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words
of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to
know, that you are the Holy One of God." "Lord, to whom
shall we go?" This remark had to have come from Peter.
At the mention of leaving Christ, Peter's soul was on
fire, and the words in his heart overcame the slower
processes of his mind. He spoke as one who had
experienced the power of the words of eternal life.
"Lord, to whom shall we go?" isn’t it an appropriate
question for each of us? The powerful temptation to let
go of our Christian commitment is always with us. After
all, commitment to Christ is an expensive,
This morning Craig and Lisa
Lambert make a decision for little Cole. They have made
a decision that he will be raised as a Christ-follower,
and they give him to God this day. They make promises
today that they will follow through with that decision.
Bonnie and Bradley Brown promise too that they will make
sure Cole is raised in the faith. And each and every one
of us who accept those promises from all of them this
morning also make a decision that we will support them
and assist them to carry out those promises. This is a
Jesus said, "You do not want to
leave too, do you?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to
whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
You are the Holy One of God." To whom shall we go? It is
a life-changing decision.