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AFTER A FEW OF THE USUAL SUNDAY EVENING HYMNS,
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>>THE CHURCH'S PASTOR SLOWLY STOOD UP, WALKED OVER TO THE PULPIT AND,
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>>BEFORE HE GAVE HIS SERMON FOR THE EVENING, BRIEFLY INTRODUCED A GUEST
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>>MINISTER
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>>WHO WAS IN THE SERVICE THAT EVENING.
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>>
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>>
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>>IN THE INTRODUCTION, THE PASTOR TOLD THE CONGREGATION THAT THE GUEST
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>>MINISTER WAS ONE OF HIS DEAREST CHILDHOOD FRIENDS AND THAT HE WANTED HIM TO
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>>HAVE A FEW MOMENTS TO GREET THE CHURCH AND SHARE WHATEVER
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>>HE FELT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE FOR THE SERVICE. WITH THAT, AN ELDERLY MAN
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>>STEPPED UP TO THE PULPIT AND BEGAN TO SPEAK.
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>>
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>>"A FATHER, HIS SON, AND A FRIEND OF HIS SON WERE SAILING OFF THE
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>>PACIFIC COAST." HE BEGAN. "WHEN A FAST APPROACHING STORM BLOCKED
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>>
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>>ANY ATTEMPT TO GET BACK TO THE SHORE. THE WAVES WERE SO HIGH,
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>>
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>>THAT EVEN THOUGH THE FATHER WAS AN EXPERIENCED SAILOR, HE COULD
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>>NOT KEEP THE BOAT UPRIGHT AND THE THREE WERE SWEPT INTO THE
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>>
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>>OCEAN AS THE BOAT CAPSIZED." THE OLD MAN HESITATED FOR A MOMENT,
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>>MAKING EYE CONTACT WITH TWO TEENAGERS WHO WERE, FOR THE FIRST
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>>
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>>TIME SINCE THE SERVICE BEGAN, LOOKING SOMEWHAT INTERESTED IN HIS STORY.
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>>THE AGED MINISTER CONTINUED WITH HIS STORY, "GRABBING A RESCUE LINE,
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>>
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>>THE FATHER HAD TO MAKE THE MOST EXCRUCIATING DECISION OF HIS LIFE:
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>>TO WHICH BOY WOULD HE THROW THE OTHER END OF THE LIFE LINE.
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>>HE ONLY HAD SECONDS TO MAKE THE DECISION. THE FATHER KNEW THAT
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>>
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>>HIS SON WAS A CHRISTIAN AND HE ALSO KNEW THAT HIS SON'S FRIEND WAS NOT.
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>>THE AGONY OF HIS DECISION COULD NOT BE MATCHED BY THE TORRENT OF WAVES.
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>>AS THE FATHER YELLED OUT, 'I LOVE YOU, SON!'
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>>
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>>HE THREW OUT THE LIFE LINE TO HIS SON'S FRIEND.
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>>BY THE TIME THE FATHER HAD PULLED THE FRIEND BACK TO THE CAPSIZED BOAT, HIS
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>>SON HAD DISAPPEARED BENEATH THE RAGING SWELLS INTO THE BLACK OF NIGHT.
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>>HIS BODY WAS NEVER RECOVERED!
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>>
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>>BY THIS TIME, THE TWO TEENAGERS WERE SITTING UP STRAIGHT IN THE PEW,
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>>ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR THE NEXT WORDS TO COME OUT OF THE OLD MINISTER'S
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>>MOUTH. "THE FATHER," HE CONTINUED, "KNEW HIS SON WOULD STEP INTO
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>>
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>>ETERNITY WITH JESUS AND HE COULD NOT BEAR THE THOUGHT OF HIS SON'S
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>>FRIEND STEPPING INTO AN ETERNITY WITHOUT JESUS..
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>>THEREFORE, HE SACRIFICED HIS SON TO SAVE THE SON'S FRIEND.
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>>HOW GREAT IS THE LOVE OF GOD THAT HE SHOULD DO THE SAME FOR US. OUR
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>>HEAVENLY FATHER SACRIFICED HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WE COULD BE SAVED. I
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>>URGE YOU TO ACCEPT HIS OFFER TO RESCUE YOU AND TAKE A HOLD OF THE LIFE LINE
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>>HE IS THROWING OUT TO YOU IN THIS SERVICE." WITH THAT, THE OLD MAN TURNED
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>>
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>>AND SAT BACK DOWN IN HIS CHAIR AS SILENCE FILLED THE ROOM.
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>>
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>>THE PASTOR AGAIN WALKED SLOWLY TO THE PULPIT AND DELIVERED A BRIEF SERMON
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>>WITH AN INVITATION AT THE END. HOWEVER, NO ONE RESPONDED TO THE APPEAL.
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>>WITHIN MINUTES AFTER THE SERVICE ENDED, THE TWO TEENAGERS WERE AT THE OLD
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>>MAN'S SIDE. "THAT WAS A NICE STORY," POLITELY STATED ONE OF THEM, "BUT I
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>>
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>>DON'T THINK IT WAS VERY REALISTIC FOR A FATHER TO GIVE UP HIS ONLY SON'S
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>>LIFE IN HOPES THAT THE OTHER BOY WOULD BECOME A CHRISTIAN."
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>>"WELL, YOU'VE GOT A POINT THERE," THE OLD MAN REPLIED GLANCING DOWN AT HIS
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>>WORN BIBLE. A BIG SMILE BROADENED HIS NARROW FACE. HE ONCE AGAIN LOOKED UP
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>>AT THE BOYS AND SAID, "IT SURE ISN'T VERY REALISTIC, IS IT? BUT I'M
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>>STANDING HERE TODAY TO TELL YOU THAT STORY GIVES ME A GLIMPSE OF WHAT IT
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>>MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE FOR GOD TO GIVE UP HIS SON FOR ME. YOU SEE...
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>>
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>>I WAS THAT FATHER AND YOUR PASTOR IS MY SON'S FRIEND."