Do you have trouble in church, keeping your mind on the sermon? Do you find yourself thinking big thoughts - that have nothing to do with the sermon at hand - and planning a great campaign for the coming week? Don't excoriate yourself too severely - about the sermon, I mean. For if, in that half hour preceding the sermon, you have truly communicated with God and have set your receiving station in tune with the Infinite, almost at once you feel a new surge of power, a new zest for life and a renewed ambition. I am so grateful to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, first, for his life and good works, and then for the testimony in his wonderful book, "A Guide to Confident Living." Last time I told you of the highly trained physician who sent his suffering patients to church - those suffering from fear, hate, inferiority, tension, and kindred troubles. Another doctor has on several occasions sent patients to Dr. Peale's church. One man protested. "I detest sermons." "Go to church anyway," said the doctor, "and don't listen to the sermon. Take cotton along, if you wish, and stuff it in your ears before the sermon begins. But there is one thing I want you to do." And he told his patient about that period of quietness which they call the "period of creative silence."
"Be still, and know that I am God." Remember the words of the Scriptures, "In Him we live and move and have our being." Our own Dr. Harold Cooke Phillips, who is truly one of the great preachers of his day, would bear out Dr. Peale's doctrine or idea - without having yet read his book. I remember his saying in his sermon one Sunday morning that any remark from a layman about coming to church just to hear him (Dr. Phillips) preach leaves our minister cold. "You come to church to worship God," he almost shouted. "I can only try to interpret God's word and instruct as I see the light," he went on, very humbly. Far be it from me to belittle the sermon part of our worship service. After witnessing the hours and hours put in on a sermon, the wrestling with an idea, the almost anguish of not finding quite the right solution, the humble search for the Truth, the burning desire to do God's will and be His mouthpiece, I shall always have a new appreciation of preachers, their problems and their sermons. Dr. Peale reminds us that we know the universe is filled with power, that the very air is charged with it, "Cannot we then assume?" he asks, "that in this dynamic universe there are spiritual forces all about us... to recreate us?"
The new Testament declares, "As many as received Him, to them gave He power." Somewhere in his book Dr. Peale declares that we so often pray without faith; sort of a pessimistic prayer - like this, "Lord, I wish You could do something about this terrible world, but I don't suppose You can." Rather shall we take the positive words of Christ, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Try it, won't you?
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 4/14/49 - Dr. Phillips is Ill !
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