2nd Sunday - Gospel Illustration: John 1:35 Discipleship -

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How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury

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How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?:

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World? By: Ben Stein

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I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. However, a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to. How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or being trained in yoga and eating only raw fruit while they have a Vietnamese girl do their nails. They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer.

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A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked  his head into a hole on a farm in Iraq. He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world. A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad .  He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near his guard post. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a desolated family in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.

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The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have a lavish wedding on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists. We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships, in submarines, and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.

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I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values. I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that a star of music or film is a big deal. There are plenty of other stars in the America the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central LA and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.

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Think of each and every firefighter who ran up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero. I came to realize that a life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human.  I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be a great actor or a good comic or a good economist or a good writer of fiction.

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However, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, and above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life.  I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, and then went into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and I reading him the Psalms. This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that a life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has given to me, to help others God had placed in my path. Faith and discipleship is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will and you are here to help.

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