Sunday Night Live sermons

"Sunday, 15th March, 1998 - Getting out of Park and into Drive."

Some of us are extremely busy. Our lives are full of activity. Our greatest desire is to get our lives into proper gear. We want to get out of DRIVE and into PARK. When I get near annual holidays, my body tells me to slow down and to rest awhile.

Yet for each of us activists who need rest, I know many people who find it hard to get going, who rarely get anywhere in life, whose report book each year reads "Could have tried harder", and who spend most of their time and effort just surviving. Many have health problems which retard them. Many are born running on only two cylinders. Some have disability of mind or body. Many, through no fault of their own lack energy and drive. Some look back and realise they have accomplished little.

These lives hardly make an impact on others. Their total impact on the stream of life is less than a cup full dribbled into an ever-swelling river. Their effectiveness equals that of a snowball thrown into a bon-fire. If they were to die tomorrow, few people would notice. As Ko sings in "The Mikado", "They never would be missed. They never would be missed." Their gear is permanently stuck in PARK not DRIVE. For some of us activists that sounds like heaven. But for those who are permanently stuck in PARK it is sheer hell. They would like to believe and would like to achieve and they look round a great congregation like this and feel sad, because they know they are missing out. Are you like that? Are you concerned that you pass this way but once, and it is expected of you that you make some progress, some contribution, some impact on life? Yet your impact is hard to find, inconsequential, missing?

Like an automatic car whose engine is running, but whose gear is stuck in PARK you run hot, consume fuel, smoke and roar, but get nowhere! How can you get your life out of PARK into DRIVE? How can you be an achiever in your work, your relationships, your studies, your family, your faith?

Is it an impossible dream? Are we expected to just give in and give up? Achievement in any area of life requires some basic principles to be followed. That is why we admire a severely disabled person who achieves within limitations. That is why at the crowded Sydney Town Hall this week, the whole audience stood and cheered David Helfgott. They knew he had spent years in a psychiatric hospital, that he is permanently afflicted with a mental condition few of us could bear. But his classical piano playing has taken him to packed recitals round the world and his CD's are the top of the classical sales charts. He has managed to get his life with all of it limitations and difficulties out of PARK into DRIVE. Would you like to know four of those principles of achievement?

1. AIM WITH PURPOSE.

Do not be satisfied with your present level of achievement. Set for yourself some new goals. But make sure your goal is a great one because small goals never excite power within you to achieve. Set a goal for your life that you will be bound to fail to achieve if God is not in it with you. The great psychiatrist, Dr Victor Frankl says: "Not having a goal is more to be feared than not reaching a goal. I would rather attempt to do something great and fail, then attempt to do nothing and succeed." Aim with a great goal and your great goal will lift you up. To have a goal is to keep you set upon your priorities.

An aim saves you from settling for the status quo. An aim keeps you stretching and using your every effort. It encourages your every opportunity to achieve your purpose. Dream what you would like to achieve in your life. Pray that God will guide you into a goal that will be honouring to Him and useful in the service of others. Seek to bring your life into line with that one great purpose.

Jesus had that one great purpose: He said of Himself Lk 19:10 "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Everything in His life hinged round that one great purpose. Nothing will be achieved until you have aim with purpose. While you keep your eyes upon your goal, you will not be defeated by problems along the way, but start looking at your problems and you will find that you lose sight of your goals. This is what Paul meant: Phil 3:13-14 "I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Do you have the right goals, the purposeful aim in your life?

2. BELIEVE WITH ENTHUSIASM.

All achievement starts with belief. Only those who believe see things achieved. The person who does not believe enthusiastically rarely starts, and if they do start with only lukewarm belief then lukewarm achievement is all that comes their way. Your belief must be positive, exciting, enthusiastic. When Robert Moffatt went to South Africa in 1817 to start the first missionary work among Africans, he worked for seven years without one convert. But he believed with enthusiasm. In London, members of the London Missionary Society, believed the work should be closed down and he be recalled.

But undaunted, Robert Moffatt sent to London a message: "Send me a communion set." By the time it had reached him there were enough converts to celebrate the Lord's supper. Today 180 years later, in a densely populated area of nearby Tanzania, revival is under way. Doug and Evelyn Knapp, Baptist missionaries, who have taught a team of African evangelists, have seen 40,000 baptisms. They came in 1964 as agricultural missionaries and worked for 16 years without seeing any results, but in the next nine years they founded 250 new congregations, and saw 30,000 new church members! Have you believed in the Lord with enthusiasm? That kind of warm, positive, exciting, enthusiastic belief is the basis of any kind of achievement.

3. COMMENCE WITH COMMITMENT.

Throw your everything into achieving your goal. Once you commence go at it wholeheartedly. Jesus wants commitment not just commencement. Nothing is achieved with half-hearted followers. Jesus once had three men who told him they wanted to commence following Him. But one said he must first make sure of his accommodation; the second said he must first go home and care for his parents; and the third said he wanted to say goodbye to his family. They were reasonable requests but they showed the men were not commencing with commitment. They were commencing with reservations. So Jesus said:Lk 9:62 "Anyone who starts to plough and then keeps looking back is of no use to the Kingdom of God." Once commenced, go with all you've got! Support your start with all your strength. Will you commence with commitment? The one reason who New Year's resolutions rarely remain effective in the life of a person, is lack of commitment.

4. DRIVE WITH POWER.

Accept the power available to you. God promises you power! God the Father gives you power. The ancient Jews shouted: Ps 68:28,33-35 28 "Summon your power, O God; show us your strength, O God, as you have done before. 33 Sing praise to him who rides the ancient skies above, who thunders with mighty voice. 34 Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. 35 You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!" So God the Father gives strength and power to His people.

Jesus the Son gives you power. His closest friend John said: "To those who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave them power to become the children of God." John 1:12. Jesus gives you power. The Holy Spirit gives you power. Jesus promised His disciples that He would give the Holy Spirit to strengthen them. Acts 1:8 "you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses" The Spirit gives power. Where is your life this moment? Resting in PARK? Or are you shifting gear into DRIVE?

There are thousands of unmarked graves in China of faithful missionaries who died taking the faith to the Chinese. Most missionary gravestones were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution which burned Churches, books, libraries, institutions of learning and any sign of Western influence. A newly erected gravestone marks the grave of the Olympic Gold Medallist and China missionary Eric Liddell who was the subject of the great film "Chariots of Fire". But there is one grave in Hueili in the Western province of Sichuan which I wanted to see on my recent visit. My desire goes back to when I was a teenager attending youth camps in the old Waterman Camp buildings at Monbulk, Victoria.

I remember the sonorous tones of our leader, Laurie Tresize, telling of the origin of the name. Will Waterman was a young missionary in Hueilichou during the 1920's and 1930's. His young fiance Grace, travelled out to be married to him there, trekking 15 days through the mountains of the upper Yangtze River. The Watermans and the Andersons were married in a double ceremony by Dr Kilmier. Joan and Win Waterman were subsequently born there. It was there that Will Waterman, the clever linguist, died at 35 of peritonitis and was buried in the Mission compound. The deep tones of our Camp Leader told us on a still summer night under the stars, around a camp fire, that an Australian heart still lies in the heart of China.

I was determined to make a pilgrimage and try to see if anything of the Church in Hueili remained. Nothing had been heard of it since the evacuation of Australian missionaries after the Communist take-over in 1949. Then in July 1996, as I was making my plans, I heard that my friend, Jeff Weston, with his deep missionary interest had just made the pilgrimage. I was thrilled at the news. The church remains. The old buildings built by Australian Churches of Christ during World War 2 still house the only Protestant congregation in the area.
Each Sunday over 400 Chinese people meet in worship, filling the building. Many have been imprisoned and beaten for their faith. The church has endured fifty years of persecution. Pastor Wang has led the work since the Communist Government came to power. He was imprisoned for 14 years for his faith. He died in 1993, but his widow continues as Pastor assisted by three elders. The work of pioneer Australian missionaries remains.

In 1925 Will Waterman wrote: "Our territory supports unnumbered multitudes. There are half a dozen distinct people and languages. Everyone here is to be won for Christ - with your help." His wife Grace in later years prepared my college meals during my years of study telling me much of China. I remembered the Watermans, Kilmiers, Andersons, Clarks and Rosa Tomkin and others who achieved much in China. In the heart of China, there remains in an unmarked grave, the heart of an Australian. Will Waterman moved his life from PARK into DRIVE.

HE AIMED WITH PURPOSE.
HE BELIEVED WITH ENTHUSIASM.
HE COMMENCED WITH COMMITMENT.
HE DROVE WITH POWER.
That achievement remains!

So many people spend most of their time and effort just surviving. Health problems, disability of mind or body, lack energy, purpose and commitment all make for little accomplishment. But this kind of aims, beliefs, commitment and drive can achieve with God's help far beyond all that we could ever dream. Paul makes this point about God: Eph 3:20-21 "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

"Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!" That is what is accomplished through the life of one who is totally dedicated to Him. That is what God did through young Will Waterman despite the persecution and difficulties. The story of the Church is the story of ordinary men and women who have worked extraordinary achievements through faith in God. They got their life out of PARK and into DRIVE. Are you praying to God to do the same?

Gordon Moyes

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