Sunday Night Live Sermons
FINDING THE SECRET OF INNER POWER
My Favourite Scripture Passages
One of the most debilitating realisations for people living in great cities, is the reality of their powerlessness. Bureaucracies, political systems, social welfare structures are all designed so that the poor, the disabled, the unemployed, the widow, the veteran, the immigrant, the aged, the refugee, all feel locked out of the system. Those who do not have communication skills, availability of knowledge, personal confidence, access to influence bang their head against the public service wall. They feel angry, impotent, full of futile rage, and eventually, just give up.
To be disadvantaged, a recipient of welfare benefits, an immigrant, disabled in any way, one of Sydney’s urban poor, is to feel powerless. Those of us who are employed, healthy, owning our own home, relatively affluent, knowing how to get what we want — cannot know the absolute feeling of powerlessness experienced by many people who come to Wesley Theatre. People say: “It doesn’t matter what I think, does it?” They feel like pawns being shuffled round the chessboard. There is no help towards self-respect. Other people make their decisions. The poor’s income, work, and future is decided for them. When ill, they are sent to some public hospital out of their way, to see doctors they do not know.
They are numbered, stamped, catalogued, filed, computerised, and made to wait for hours and are never told clearly what is wrong or what will happen to them. They are dehumanised. Compare that to the attention Kylie Minogue has been receiving.
We have medical insurance, are financially secure, go to our own doctor at an appointed time, who apologises if we are kept waiting. We know how to ask and how to get a second opinion, and if not satisfied take further action. We can make people in the system hop. If some public servant is an obstruction we go over his head to some senior person and get action. We can complain. People in authority listen. We get results. That is power. Money talks, but so does education, social position, employment status, health, race. Not to have what confers power is to be powerless. And the worst form of powerlessness, to know that your inner recourses cannot cope with whatever comes. Of all groups of people in Australia, Aborigines feel the most powerless. Yet I have seen among the black communities of Australia a new generation of young leaders emerging who are sober, articulate and purposeful. Of the forty or so with whom I have spoken, virtually all have been through the experiences of despair, alcoholism and unemployment.
But they are now changed people, and in every case, they have been renewed by the spirit of God! They have been converted from despair and hopelessness to personal discipline and community involvement. All kinds of ordinary people want to find the secret of inner power. Inner city dwellers lack a voice in how their community is governed and seek to be heard. The poor lack power over their situation and want inner power to control their own lives. People with debt problems realise they need inner power to enable them to reduce their outgoings in line with their cash inflow. People wanting to reduce their intake of food, alcohol, caffeine or other drugs know they must have inner power to enable them to take control of their own lives. One of the greatest needs of our time is to find the secret of inner power. The Bible reveals that secret of finding inner power to all who take it seriously. It teaches three steps:
1. RIGHT ATTITUDES GENERATE INNER POWER.
One of the great discoveries of the twentieth century is that right attitudes generate inner power. As Chairman of the Select Committee Inquiry into Juvenile Justice I have visited the detention centres for our young and violent criminals. People up to 26 years of age can be found in our Juvenile Justice system.
In a place like Kariong where I was Friday, most have been convicted for the worst crimes of violence, rape and murder. It reminded me that for years as a Parole and Probation Officer, I dealt with men in trouble with the law, facing punishment or released from prison on parole. All of them had a low self-image and poor self-esteem. My wife and I would have them visit our home when released and we would work to change their attitudes to themselves, the community and God. With right attitudes they discovered inner power to change their behaviour patterns from destructive to constructive, from negative to positive, from being part of the community’s problem to part of the community’s answer. Miracles occurred in ordinary lives because right attitudes generated inner power.
Power to achieve, to build, to create, always starts with a new attitude towards the problem, a new dream for the world. Without the attitude nothing happens. People have to dream impossible dreams. As the Bible says, “Without a vision the people perish” The dream grows into attitudes of optimism, faith, hope, confidence, and perseverance. Impossibilities are created; improbabilities occur; miracles happen. Right attitudes generate inner power.
Jesus Christ taught people to seek miracles within that can be released by inner power when people get the right attitude to themselves, to others and to God. John said: “To as many as did receive Him, to them He gave power to become the children of God.” John 1:12 Jesus had it right. The right attitude towards God generates the inner power enabling you to become His child; the right attitude to yourself generates power enabling you to become a brand new creature; the right attitude to others generates inner power to keep you happy and healthy. Right attitudes generate power.
2. RIGHT BELIEFS GENERATE INNER POWER.
Isaiah encouraged the Israelites while they were captives in Babylon, by reminding them that God is the powerful creator of all and is able to empower them. “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40
God gives strength. Old Age takes it from us. We do not dream the dreams we once did, nor see the visions. We become weak and tired, and some fall exhausted, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Right beliefs generate inner power!
3. RIGHT COMMITMENTS GENERATE INNER POWER.
Right attitudes, right beliefs and right commitments generate inner power. Margaret Somerville was born in 1912. Her father was a Methodist Minister in rural NSW. From a teenager she was self-employed and supported herself. She felt “the Lord was calling me to mission work” so she offered her services to Methodist Overseas Mission’s Department. They needed her to teach and care for mixed race aboriginal children neglected both communities. She was on Croker Island when the Government and the Methodist Church, ordered her to leave before the approaching Japanese captured her. She was told to take the half-caste children with her. From April 7th 1942, she evacuated 95 children from Croker Island, to the coast of Arnhem Land, where they had to fend for themselves in the jungle. She carried flour and made damper. They built a raft to cross a crocodile infested river.
With 95 children she started to march towards Darwin. The heat, flies and lack of all facilities made it difficult. A cattle station killed a bullock for meat. They drank rainwater. She planned to go 2000 miles to Sydney. She and the 95 children journeyed by cattle truck to Alice Springs, then caught “The Ghan” from Alice Springs to Adelaide, Melbourne, Albury, Sydney. It was an incredible journey, not just for the 95 children, but for the young woman who led them.
After the war, Margaret returned to Croker Island with the children and continued as a ‘Cottage Mother’ for 24 years. When Margaret returned to live in Sydney she fostered two Aboriginal children until they were returned to their parents. Margaret’s service to the Aborigines was recognised by the Queen with an MBE and by the naming of the Somerville Homes in her honour. During her retirement years over the past 30 years, she has made and sold finger puppets to raise funds for Missions worldwide. She has raised a total of $163,000. Margaret is 92 and works as a volunteer for Wesley Mission in our media department. Enabling her through all of her life has been the conviction from scripture: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Such commitment generates inner power. A right commitment generates inner power.