The Ballad of Eunice and Cindy
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The Ballad of Eunice and Cindy

Real People

Eunice and Cindy and Richard Simmons

Real People was a popular tv show when I was a kid. Do you remember it? The show’s point was, in a world obsessed with celebrities and drama, we would see real people living real lives. As I recall, though, they probably could have titled the show “Real WEIRD People.” The ordinary people they began with weren’t grabbing the ratings, so they went with more extreme personalities.

Real People is where Richard Simmons got his start if that gives you any perspective.

Real People of the Bible

It’s easy to forget that the Bible is full of real people, just like us. They had their likes, dislikes, and personality quirks. The problem for us is, our lives are so far removed from their world that when we read about them, we make them out to be saints or somehow “other-worldly.” It certainly doesn’t help that their names are far removed from our contexts. Just reading Philippians, we know names like Paul and Timothy, but how many guys named Epaphroditus did you go to high school with? And how many women named Euodia and Syntyche do you know?

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Philippians - For Those We Hold in Our Hearts
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With Fear and Trembling

With Fear and Trembling

It’s a standard movie trope; we’ve seen it over and over again. The hero stands over an active bomb while the timer counts down to zero. He looks at the wires before him and asks over his phone, “Do I cut the red wire or the green wire?” His hands shake as he closes his eyes, hopes for the best, and snips the black wire.

(The hero might be colorblind)

“Fear and trembling” describe those moments as the timer beeps and the hero makes his decision. Those are also the words Paul uses to describe the daily living out of the Christian life. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). It is an expression that means “with utter seriousness.” But, of course, as Paul uses the phrase, it’s less about cutting the correct wire than living the life that glorifies Jesus.

(Cutting the correct wire might be less stressful!)

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Philippians - For Those We Hold in Our Hearts
Audio

Complete My Joy

There are a lot of things tacos can do, but they can’t complete my joy. Only YOU can do that!

The past Sunday, I preached this sermon and our church celebrated Pastor Appreciation Day. In addition to the delicious cookies, brownies, and other treats our ladies had prepared, I made up a batch of my Caribbean Jerk chicken for tacos. I love cooking and am always eager for an opportunity to share my recipes with others. As much as our church appreciates me, I appreciate them right back! And they definitely appreciated my tacos.

But I have a confession to make.

Tacos Do NOT Complete My Joy

Complete my joy with a taco!

I’m sure you’re in shock to read this, but it’s true. As much as I love tacos, they do not make my joy complete. The truth is, they’re not even close!

“But Bret,” you say, “you’ve shown us just how amazing tacos can be! Your tacos are delicious!” You’re right; I won’t deny it, tacos are amazing. If you were with us in person Sunday morning, you got to try my Caribbean Jerk Chicken Tacos, which one of our members called (and I quote), “Best tacos I ever had!!!” Yes! He used three exclamation points! His reaction to my tacos made me plenty happy, but alas, even that did not complete my joy.

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Philippians - For Those We Hold in Our Hearts
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To Live is Christ

Famous last words fascinate us. We read them for inspiration, looking for hints of faith heard in the confidence of someone’s final words. We also read them for the humor with which many have faced death. 

We’re inspired but the last recorded words of Todd Beamer on United Flight 93. Just before he and several others rushed the cockpit in an attempt to subdue the terrorists. After reciting the Lord’s Prayer with the operator on the other end of the phone, Beamer turned to his fellow passengers and was heard to say, “Let’s roll.”

With his last words, Leonardo Da Vinci said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” It seems like maybe Leonardo was a bit of a perfectionist. 

Buddy Rich to Live is Christ

And then there are the last words of drummer, Buddy Rich. Just before going into surgery, a nurse asked him if there was anything he couldn’t take. “Yeah,” Buddy replied, “country music.” He died during surgery. 

Of course, we cannot forget Union General John Sedgwick. As Confederate sharpshooters took their stand against Sedgwick and his troops, he was heard to say, “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—.”

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Philippians - For Those We Hold in Our Hearts

What Discouraging Word?

Philippians offers a plan out of the discouragement that plagues our world.

Not Me. I Was Cuter.

I remember hearing the song “Home On the Range” when I was a kid. There was a line in the song that always confused me:

Where seldom is heard
A discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day

I wasn’t sure what “seldom” meant, but I was certain it belonged on that list of words that I wasn’t supposed to use (you know, the words Dad always used). “Seldom” was a discouraging word. If I said it, other people would feel bad.

(How’s that for 4-year-old logic?)

It didn’t take me long to find out that “seldom” itself wasn’t a discouraging word. In fact, it seldom discourages anyone. But, there are plenty of other discouraging words, phrases, and even attitudes. We seldom escape discouragement.

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