Click here to get started today!
Sermon Illustrations Archive
Browse by letter: O
O for a faith that will not shrink,
Tho pressed by every foe,
That will not tremble on the brink
Of any earthly woe!
That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chastening rod,
But, in the hour of grief or pain,
Will lean upon its God;
A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without
That when in danger knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt.
- William H. Bathurst
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk;
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shallthe sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing,
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.
Christina G. Rossetti
In 1947 San Franciscos Potrero Hill was not only a poor South City neighborhood, it was a real ghetto. That year was the year Oren was born. Rickets, a poverty-related disease actually caused by malnutrition, was Orens major problem. His vitamin-mineral deficient diet caused his bones to soften. His legs began to bow under the weight of his growing body.
Even though the family was too poor to afford braces, Orens mom refused to sit back, sigh, and resign herself to the inevitable. She rolled up her sleeves and took charge. She rigged up a homemade contraption in hopes of correcting her sons pigeon-toed, bowlegged condition. How? By reversing his shoes! Right shoe, left foot; left shoe, right foot; plus an improvised metal bar across the shoe tops to keep his feet pointing straight. It didnt work perfectly, but it was good enough to keep the boy on his feet and ultimately able to play with his buddies.
By the time he was about six years of age, his bones had hardened, his legs were still slightly bowed, his calves were unusually thin, and his head was disproportionately large. Nicknames from other kids followed him around: Pencil-legs, Waterhead; but he refused to let all that hold him back. He compensated by acting tough. Street gangs on Potrero Hill were common: the Gladiators, Sheiks, Roman Gents, Persian Warriors. By age thirteen Oren had fought and won his way to being president of the Gladiators. For all the fighting, he was arrested only three times; that was the crowning achievement of his early youth.
Those who dont know his background could easily think he got all the breaks. As they look at him today and see this fine and refined gentleman, they would assume hes always been wealthy. He lives in the exclusive Brentwood district of Los Angeles, drives a luxurious car, and has his elegant office in an elite bank building. He is now a busy executive with his own production company. He personally handles most of his own financial affairs and business negotiations. He has contracts with the media and various entertainment firms and agencies.
In todays terms, Oren has it made. That plush office with the name on the door belongs to Orenthal James Simpson. Yes, none other than the Juice, O.J. Simpson.
Everyone appointed to public office must say: I do profess faith in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost...one God and blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration. -
In the days before modern harbors, a ship had to wait for the flood tide before it could make it to port. The term for this situation in Latin was ob portu, that is, a ship standing over off a port, waiting for the moment when it could ride the turn of the tide to harbor.
The English word opportunity is derived from this original meaning. The captain and the crew were ready and waiting for that one moment for they knew that if they missed it, they would have to wait for another tide to come in. Shakespeare turned this background of the exact meaning of opportunity into one of his most famous passages. Its from Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3:
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.
Your Majesty, said Prior Richard, do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.
I understand, said Henry. The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.
Then I will tell you what to do, said Prior Richard. Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.
When King Henry died, a statement was written: The King learned to rule by being obedient.
When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember God has planted us in a certain place and told us to be a good accountant or teacher or mother or father. Christ expects us to be faithful where he puts us, and when he returns, well rule together with him.
Important lessons are given by this alternation of the two ideas of faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience.
Disobedience is the root of unbelief.
Unbelief is the mother of further disobedience.
Faith is voluntary submission within a persons own power.
If faith is not exercised, the true cause lies deeper than all intellectual reasons. It lies in the moral aversion of human will and in the pride of independence, which says, who is Lord over us? Why should we have to depend on Jesus Christ?
As faith is obedience and submission, so faith breeds obedience, but unbelief leads on to higher-handed rebellion. With dreadful reciprocity of influence, the less one trusts, the more he disobeys; the more he disobeys, the less he trusts.
- Alexander Maclaren
It is difficult to tell which is more important, the proclamation of the grace of God or submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, since the two are so interrelated. Anne Sullivan, who tutored young Helen Keller who was deaf, dumb, and blind, said, "I saw clearly that it was useless to try to teach her language or anything else until she learned to obey me. I have thought about it a great deal, and the more I think, the more certain I am that obedience is the gateway through which knowledge, yes, and love, too, enter the mind of a child."
John Kenneth Galbraith, in his autobiography, A Life in Our Times, illustrates the devotion of Emily Gloria Wilson, his familys housekeeper:
It had been a wearying day, and I asked Emily to hold all telephone calls while I had a nap. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. Lyndon Johnson was calling from the White House.
Get me Ken Galbraith. This is Lyndon Johnson.
He is sleeping, Mr. President. He said not to disturb
Well, wake him up. I want to talk to him.
No, Mr. President. I work for him, not you.
When I called the President back, he could scarcely control his pleasure. Tell that woman I want her here in the White House.
In U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, the magazine of the Naval Institute, Frank Koch illustrates the importance of obeying the Laws of the Lighthouse:
Two battleships assigned to the training squadron had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities.
Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, Light, bearing on the starboard bow.
Is it steady or moving astern? the captain called out.
The lookout replied, Steady, Captain, which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.
The captain then called to the signalman, Signal that ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course twenty degrees.
Back came the signal, Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees.
The captain said, Send: Im a captain, change course twenty degrees.
Im a seaman second-class, came the reply. You had better change course twenty degrees.
By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, Send: Im a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.
Back came the flashing light, Im a lighthouse.
We changed course.
As physics professor at Adelaide University in Australia, Sir Kerr Grant used to illustrate the time of descent of a free-falling body by allowing a heavy ball suspended from the lecture-theater roof trusses to fall some 30 feet and be caught in a sand bucket.
Each year the bucket was lined up meticulously to catch the balland each year students secretly moved the bucket to one side, so that the ball crashed thunderously to the floor. Tiring of this rather stale joke, the professor traced a chalk line around the bucket. The students moved the bucket as usual, traced a chalk mark around the new position, rubbed it out and replaced the bucket in its original spot.
Aha! the professor explained, seeing the faint outline of the erased chalk mark. He moved the bucket over it and released the ballwhich thundered to the floor as usual.
Modern thinkers have rejected the very idea of objective morality: Darwin, who reduced morals to an extension of animal instincts; Freud, who regarded repression of impulses as the source of neurosis; Marx, who disdained morality as an expression of self-interest.
The churchs task with regard to the state which is posed for all time is thus clear. First, it must loyally give the state everything necessary to its existence. It has to oppose anarchy and all zealotism within its own ranks. Second, it has to fulfill the office of watchmen over the state. That means it must remain in principle critical towards every state and be ready to warn it against transgression of its legitimate limits. Third, it must deny to the state which exceeds it limits, whatever such a state demands that lies within the province of religio-ideological excess; and in its preaching, the church must courageously describe this excess as opposition to God.
"Count it all joy" (Jam 1:2).
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.
Many employees fear that expressing their true feelings about the company to their boss could be dangerous.
The fairly wide-spread belief that disagreeing with the boss will block promotion still holds.
There is a wide-spread conviction that management is not interested in employee problems.
Some have the feeling that employees are not rewarded for good ideas.
There is a lack of supervisory accessibility and responsiveness.
The conviction is widespread that higher management doesnt take prompt action on problems.
Someone has very well said: "At three things I shall wonder in heaven: first, that I shall not find many there of whom I was certain; second, that I shall find many there whom I was sure I wouldn't find; but lastly, and most wonderful of all, that I am actually there myself."
While crossing the Atlantic on an oceanliner, F. B. Meyer was asked to address the first class passengers. At the captains request he spoke on Answered Prayer. An agnostic who was present at the service was asked by his friends, What did you think of Dr. Meyers sermon? He answered, I didnt believe a word of it.
That afternoon Meyer went to speak to the steerage passengers. Many of the listeners at his morning address went along, including the agnostic, who claimed he just wanted to hear what the babbler had to say. Before starting for the service, the agnostic put two oranges in his pocket. On his way he passed an elderly woman sitting in her deck chair fast asleep. Her hands were open. In the spirit of fun, the agnostic put the two oranges in her outstretched palms. After the meeting, he saw the old lady happily eating one of the pieces of fruit. You seem to be enjoying that orange, he remarked with a smile.
Yes, sir, she replied, My Father is very good to me.
Your father? Surely your father cant be still alive!
Praise God, she replied, He is very much alive.
What do you mean? pressed the agnostic. She explained,
Ill tell you, sir. I have been seasick for days. I was asking God somehow to send me an orange. I suppose I fell asleep while I was praying. When I awoke, I found He had not only sent me one orange but two!
The agnostic was speechless. Later he was converted to Christ. Yes, praying in Gods will brings an answer.
Human beings have a huge capacity for self-delusion. The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote a famous poem about this entitled "To A Louse (On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet at Church)." In the poem he pictures a woman, strutting to church decked out in frills and finery, convinced that she is cutting a grand figure. But the sophisticated image she aims for is spoiled by a pesky louse crawling through the lace of her bonnet! The poem closes with some memorable lines (somewhat translated):
"O, that some Power the gift would give us
To see ourselves as others see us!"
What could we need more? The Bible urges: "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment" (Rom 12:3 NIV).
In order to see ourselves realistically we must "In humility receive the implanted word...." (Jam 1:21). Then we must use that word as a mirror in order to see our true spiritual condition and change what needs changing (Jam 1:23-25).
True Christianity means:
SERVE, even when we are not being served.
LOVE, even when we may not be loved.
HELP, even when we have not been helped.
GIVE, even when we have not received.
PLEASE, even if others do not please us.
If it buzzes - ignore it;
If it rings - put it on hold;
If its stuck - call the repairman;
If its a friend - go to lunch;
If its a boss - act busy;
If it speaks - take notes;
If its handwritten - type it;
If its typed - copy it;
If its a copy - file it;
If its Friday - save it for Monday.
Amy Carter brought an assignment home one Friday night while her father was still President. Stumped by a question on the Industrial Revolution, Amy sought help from her mother. Rosalynn was also fogged by the question and, in turn, asked an aide to seek clarification from the Labor Department. A rush was placed on the request since the assignment was due Monday.
Thinking the question was a serious request from the Prez himself, a Labor Department official immediately cranked up the government computer and kept a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend at a reported cost of several hundred thousand dollars. The massive computer printout was finally delivered by truck to the White House on Sunday afternoon and Amy showed up in class with the official answer the following day. But her history teacher was not impressed. When Anys paper was returned, it was marked with a big red C.
Mercedes Ruehl, one of the few actresses to win a Tony and an Oscar in the same year (for Lost in Yonkers and The Fisher King), saw her first Broadway show when she was in grade school. Her family was in New York visiting relatives and driving through Times Square. On the spur of the moment her parents decided to see if they could get tickets to The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
I remember waiting in the car, says Ruehl, while my mother ran up to the box office. The only tickets left were for box seats. Box seats! To me there were no better seats, and I remember my father saying, sure, go for it. One of the best qualities of my parents was that they liked to have fun.
As we watched the play, I could not take my eyes off its star, Tammy Grimes. She must have felt my adoration, because at one point she looked up and held my eyes. It was probably for no more than one second, but it seemed like ten seconds. I always felt that was my official invitation to be an actress. With her gaze I was touched like a knight on both shoulders with a sword.
A model from the world of real estate becomes instructive at this point. A firm in Salem, Oregon, assigns 500 families to each agent. Agents are expected to contact each assigned family once per month for a year. The contact may be personal, a telephone call, or a letter. Research indicates that it takes at least six contacts for people to remember who the agent is and the firm represented. During this time of building relationships, agents are encouraged not to go in the house (good psychology, everyone else is trying to get their foot in the door).
Furthermore, they are encouraged not to ask for a listing during this get acquainted time. Obviously, there would be exceptions to these restrictions, but they do illustrate an understanding of what it takes to create a favorable climate for selling real estate. After the initial year of regular contacts, the agent continues to communicate with the assigned families on a scheduled, systematic basis. Research reveals that if this pattern is followed consistently for one-year-and-a-half, the agent will secure 80% of the listings. What does the real estate firm know that we either do not know or overlook?
First, people do not like to be confronted by strangers seeking entrance into their homes. In fact, in many communities this is socially unacceptable. The sales person or any other unknown professional who arrives at the door is automatically confronted with a high sales resistance. If the door is opened, it is done with a determination not to be taken in by sales talk. The salesperson professionally represents the product, and consequently the sales pitch is discounted at least 50 percent. However, if a friend comes over and shares a glowing personal testimony concerning the value of the agents product, the reaction is apt to be markedly different. A satisfied customer makes the most effective salesperson.
Second, people are more inclined to do business with acquaintances than strangers.
Third, it takes time and effort to build a healthy decision-making climate.
Fourth, there is no substitute for time. Often it is necessary to make haste slowly.
While my husband Frank and I were living in Pakistan many years ago, our six-month-old baby died. An old Punjabi who heard of our grief came to comfort us. A tragedy like this is similar to being plunged into boiling water, he explained. If you are an egg, your affliction will make you hard-boiled and unresponsive. If you are a potato, you will emerge soft and pliable, resilient and adaptable. It may sound funny to God, but there have been times when I have prayed, O Lord, let me be a potato.
A certain courthouse in Ohio stands in a unique location. Raindrops that fall on the north side of the building go into Lake Ontario and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while those falling on the south side go into the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico. At precisely the point of the peak of the roof, just a gentle puff of wind can determine the destiny of many raindrops. It will make a difference of more than 2,000 miles as to their final destination.
The spiritual application is clear. By the smallest deed or choice of words we might set in motion influences that could change the course of others lives here and now, and could also affect their eternal destiny.
Anxious to get home after a week long business trip in California, I waited for my flight in the crowded boarding area. Suddenly the public address system glared: Flight 100 to Dallas will be delayed 20 minutes due to maintenance problems. All of the passengers groaned.
Twenty-five minutes later another announcement came: The Dallas flight needs an oil filter. As soon as one is located, we will be on our way. Another collective groan filled the boarding area, now packed with people waiting for a second flight.
After 15 minutes, the PA system crackled: We have installed the filter for the Dallas aircraft and will soon be boarding. Before the cheers subsided, there was another announcement: Flight 220 to Seattle will be delayed. Your aircraft needs an oil filter.
There was an old man who carried a little can of oil with him everywhere he went. If he passed through a door that squeaked, he poured a little oil on the hinges. If a gate was hard to open, he oiled the latch. So he went through life lubricating all the hard places and making it easier for those who came after him. People called him eccentric, queer, cranky, odd, and other degrading names. But the old man went steadily on, refilling his can of oil when it became empty and oiling the hard places he found. He did not wait until he found a creaky door or a rusty hinge and then go home to get his oil; he carried it with him. There are many lives that creak and grate harshly day by day. They need lubricating with the oil of kindness, gentleness, or thoughtfulness. That can of oil is predominantly one that characterizes the Christian religion. The task of using it belongs to those who claim to be Christians. As the old man kept his oil with him, so we need to keep our Christian kindness handy. It does no good if left at home or in the church.
In age and feebleness extreme,
Who shall a sinful worm redeem?
Jesus, my only hope thou art,
Strength of my failing flesh and heart;
Oh, could I catch a smile from thee,
And drop into eternity!
Ben Putnitoff was a member of the Lord's church. Morally, he was a good man. He did not lie, curse, drink, beat his wife, or smoke. He paid his income tax, came to Bible class and worship services, paid his bills and gave a "few bucks" to the Lord. He was never opposed to anything that was good.
One day old Ben Putnitoff died and stood before the Righteous Judge. The Judge said, "Ben, you are charged with trying to close the church. Are you guilty or not guilty?"
"Not guilty," pleaded Ben Putnitoff. "I didn't do a thing!"
"Guilty as charged," the Judge ruled. And then He continued, "Ben, you have confessed to the most effective way ever devised of closing the church. You 'did not do a thing.'You did not visit the sick. You did not encourage the weak. You did not feed the hungry. You did not reach out to the lost with the gospel."
"But, Judge," Ben pleaded, "I intended to do all of those things, but I was too busy making a living and enjoying myself. I have just been putting it off."
"He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither" (Psa 1:3).
An article out of Choice Gleanings reads as follows:
"As one approaches the three-score-and-ten age, thoughts as to future usefulness to the Lord often occur. Walking through a nearby forest, I spotted a strange sight. An old, gnarled tree had been broken, but green shoots were still proceeding from it. It was also supporting a fallen tree. We can still be useful at three-score-and-ten and beyond."
Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific,
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific.
Loftily poised in the ether capacious,
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are,
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
The first governor-general of Australia was a man by the name of Lord Hopetoun. One of his most cherished possessions was a 300- year-old ledger he had inherited from John Hope, one of his ancestors. Hope had owned a business in Edinburgh, where he first used this old ledger. When Lord Hopetoun received it, he noticed that it had inscribed on its front page this prayer, O Lord, keep me and this book honest!
An old sailor repeatedly got lost at sea, so his friends gave him a compass and urged him to use it. The next time he went out in his boat, he followed their advice and took the compass with him. But as usual he became hopelessly confused and was unable to find land. Finally he was rescued by his friends.
Disgusted and impatient with him, they asked, Why didnt you use that compass we gave you? You could have saved us a lot of trouble! The sailor responded, I didnt dare to! I wanted to go north, but as hard as I tried to make the needle aim in that direction, it just kept on pointing southeast.
That old sailor was so certain he knew which way was north that he stubbornly tired to force his own personal persuasion on his compass. Unable to do so, he tossed it aside as worthless and failed to benefit from the guidance it offered.
A couple we know recently attended their 60 year high school class reunion. During the evening they were chosen to head a group that would judge the Old Smoothies dance contest. The husband has a hearing problem and his wife has been trying to get him to get a hearing aid. When the contest got down to the last two partners, the wife conferred with the group of judges and then whispered the name of the winners to her husband. He didnt hear, so she told him again and then yelled, Get the bananas out of your ears! The husband immediately seized the microphone and announced the winners: Mr. and Mrs. Bonnanas! Their name turned out to be Smith. That wasnt bad enough--then the wife explained to the Smiths that they had won because they did such a great job of executing all those dips.
Dips? What dips? said Mr. Smith. We were just trying to hold each other up.
Israel in ancient days
Not only had a view
Of Sinai in a blaze,
But learnd the Gospel too;
The types and figures were a glass,
In which they saw a Saviours face.
The paschal sacrifice
And blood-besprinkled door,
Seen with enlightend eyes,
And once applied with power,
Would teach the need of other blood,
To reconcile an angry God.
The Lamb, the Dove, set forth
His perfect innocence,
Whose blood of matchless worth
Should be the souls defense;
For He who can for sin atone,
Must have no failings of His own.
The scapegoat on his head
The peoples trespass bore,
And to the desert led,
Was to be seen no more:
In him our Surety seemd to say,
Behold, I bear your sins away.
Dipt in his fellows blood,
The living bird went free;
The type, well understood,
Expressd the sinners plea;
Described a guilty soul enlarged,
And by a Saviours death discharged.
Jesus, I love to trace,
Throughout the sacred page,
The footsteps of Thy grace,
The same in every age!
Oh grant that I may faithful be
To clearer light vouchsafed to me!
Old timer to neighbor: Ive reached the age where the happy hour is a nap.
A Texas rancher driving through Vermont had to stop to let a farmers cows cross the road. As the farmer passed in front of the Cadillac convertible, the rancher called out to him, How much land you got, partner?
Wal, the farmer said, my land runs all the way down there to them alders along the brook. On the meadow side, over there, it goes clean up to those larches on the hill.
You know, said the rancher, I got a spread in Texas and I can get in my pickup and drive all day without reaching any of my boundary lines.
That so? said the farmer. I had a truck like that once.
Charlie Smith was 23 years old when the Civil War ended; 61 when the Wright Brothers first flew. In 1977 he was recognized as the oldest living American of all time. When asked about his secret for longevity he said: I aint got no special secret for how I live so long. I just live. Smith avoided exercise. I dont do much now. I just sit here, and when I get tired of sitting I get up, and when I get tired of that, I sit down.
Oliver Cromwell, who took the British throne away from Charles I and established the Commonwealth, said to a friend, Do not trust to the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was and still is generally regarded as one of the most outstanding justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was known as the Great Dissenter because he disagreed with the other judges so much. Holmes sat on the Supreme Court until he was 91. Two years later, President Roosevelt visited him and found him reading Plato.
Why? FDR asked.
To improve my mind, Holmes answered.
Have you ever worked to get better at something? If so, you soon realized that the cliché practice makes perfect is true. Olympic Athletes seem to succeed with effortless grace, but their performances arent as easy as they look.
The average Olympian trains four hours a day at least 310 days a year for six years before succeeding. Getting better begins with working out every day. By 7:00 a.m. most athletes have done more than many people do all day. How well an athlete performs is often attributed to mental toughness. But performance really depends on physical capacity to do work. That capacity is based on two factorsgenetic talent and the quality of the training program. Good training makes up for some limitations, but most of us will never be Olympians no matter how hard we work. We havent inherited the right combination of endurance, potential, speed and muscle. But given equal talent, the better-trained athlete can generally outperform the one who did not give a serious effort, and is usually more confident at the starting block.
The four years before an Olympics, Greg Louganis probably practiced each of his dives 3000 times. Kim Zmeskal has probably done every flip in her gymnastics routine at least 20,000 times, and Janet Evans has completed more than 240,000 laps. Training works, but it isnt easy or simple. Swimmers train an average of 10 miles a day, at speeds of 5 mph in the pool. That might not sound fast, but their heart rates average 160 the entire time. Try running up a flight of stairs, then check your heart rate. Then imagine having to do that for four hours! Marathon runners average 160 miles a week at 10 mph.
Two important training principles must be followed: Progressively increase the amount and intensity of the work. Train specifically. Weightlifters dont run sprints, and basketball players dont swim.
One of the most powerful stories in the history of the Olympic Games involved a canoeing specialist named Bill Havens. He was a shoe-in, Im told, to win a gold medal in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. But a few months before the Games were held, he learned that his wife would likely give birth to their first child while he was away. She told him that she could make it on her own, but this was a milestone Bill just didnt want to miss. So he surprised everyone and stayed home. Bill greeted his infant son, Frank, into the world on August 1, 1924. Though he always wondered what might have been, he said he never regretted his decision.
Well, he poured his life into that little lad and shared with him a love for the rapids. Twenty-four years passed, and the Olympic Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. This time Frank Havens was chosen to compete in the canoeing event. The day after the competition, Bill received a telegram from his son that read:
Dear Dad, Thanks for waiting around for me to be born in 1924. Im coming home with the gold medal that you should have won. It was signed, Your loving son, Frank.
Many would question Bill Havens decision to miss his big opportunity in Paris, but he never wavered. He wanted his family to know that they always came first, no matter what. And that made him a hero to a little boy named Frank.
Wilma didnt get much of a head start in life. A bout with polio left her left leg crooked and her foot twisted inward so she had to wear leg braces. After seven years of painful therapy, she could walk without her braces. At age 12 Wilma tried out for a girls basketball team, but didnt make it. Determined, she practiced with a girlfriend and two boys every day. The next year she made the team. When a college track coach saw her during a game, he talked her into letting him train her as a runner. By age 14 she had outrun the fastest sprinters in the U.S. In 1956 Wilma made the U.S. Olympic team, but showed poorly. That bitter disappointment motivated her to work harder for the 1960 Olympics in Romeand there Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals, the most a woman had ever won.
Runners World (8/91), told the story of Beth Anne DeCiantiss attempt to qualify for the 1992 Olympic Trials marathon. A female runner must complete the 27-mile, 385-yard race in less than two hours, forty-five minutes to compete at the Olympic Trials.
Beth started strong but began having trouble around mile 23. She reached the final straightaway at 243, with just two minutes left to qualify. Two hundred yards from the finish, she stumbled and fell. Dazed, she stayed down for twenty seconds. The crowd was ticking2:44, less than a minute to go.
Beth Anne staggered to her feet and began walking. Five yards short of the finish, with ten seconds to go, she fell again. She began to crawl, the crowd cheering her on, and crossed the finish line on her hands and knees. Her time? Two hours, 44 minutes, 57 seconds.
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us to run our race with perseverance and never give up.
The 1992 Summer Olympics featured two tremendously poignant moments. American sprinter Gail Devers, the clear leader in the 100 meter hurdles, tripped over the last barrier. She agonizingly pulled herself to her knees and crawled the last five meters, finishing fifthbut finishing.
Even more heart-rending was the 400 meter semifinal in which British runner Derek Redmond tore a hamstring and fell to the track. He struggled to his feet and began to hobble, determined to complete the race. His father ran from the stands to help him off the track, but the athlete refused to quit. He leaned on his father, and the two limped to the finish line together, to deafening applause.
A Bible class teacher was examining her pupils after a series of lessons on God's omnipotence. She asked, "Is there anything God cannot do?"
There was silence. Finally, one lad held up his hand. The teacher, disappointed that the lesson's point had been missed, asked resignedly, "Well, just what is it that God cannot do?"
"Well," replied the boy, "He can't please everybody."
A man is DECEIVED if he is a hearer and not a doer of the Word (Jam 1:22).
A man is DECEIVED if he says that he has no sin (1Jo 1:8).
A man is DECEIVED when he thinks himself to be something when he is nothing (Gal 6:3).
A man is DECEIVED when he thinks himself to be wise with worldly wisdom (1Co 3:18).
A man is DECEIVED when he seems to be religious and does not bridle his tongue (Jam 1:26).
A man is DECEIVED when he thinks that he will not reap what he sows (Gal 6:7).
A man is DECEIVED when he thinks that evil company will not corrupt good morals (1Co 15:33).
A man is DECEIVED when he thinks that the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God (heaven) (1Co 6:9).
Now Satan will try to DECEIVE you to not pay attention to the above. Will you let him?
Many stories are told of Paul Gerhardt whose hymns are still sung in Germany. John Wesley translated some of them into English.
Gerhardt's family was very poor. He was the shepherd boy who cared for the small flock of sheep and goats on the edge of the forest. One day a hunter came out from among the trees and asked the lad how far it was to the nearest village.
"Six miles, sire," he replied, "but the road is only a sheep track and can easily be missed."
"I have lost my way, and I am very tired," returned the hunter. "Leave your sheep and show me the way. I will pay you well."
"No, sire," said Gerhardt. "I cannot do that for they would stray into the forest and be stolen or eaten by the wolves."
"Never mind; your master would never miss one or two, and I would pay you more than the price of one or two sheep.
"But sire, my master trusts me with these sheep, and I have promised not to leave them."
"Well," said the hunter, "let me take care of the sheep while you fetch me food from the village and a guide."
"The sheep do not know your voice and would not obey you, sir."
"Can you not trust me? Do I not look like an honest man?" asked the hunter with a frown.
"Sir," said the boy slowly, "You tried to make me false to my trust, and break my word to my master. How do I know that you will keep your word to me?"
The hunter could not help laughing.
"I see you are an honest lad, and I will not forget you," said the hunter. "Which is the path? I must find my way for myself."
But Gerhardt would not let the man depart hungry, so he gave him the humble contents of his scrip. Just at that moment several men came hurrying through the forest uttering shouts of delight as they caught sight of the two of them. Gerhardt had been talking to the Grand Duke, and these were his attendants who had been much alarmed at his disappearance.
This was the beginning of Gerhardt's future career of honor and success. Pleased with the lad's honesty, the Duke had him well educated and thus gave him a good state in life.
Yes, God wants us to be honest in His sight, and to our fellowman. You will find throughout your life that it pays to be honest.
An old fable says that swift-footed Atlanta challenged her suitors to race with her, with herself as the prize or death as the penalty of losing. Many competed and lost their lives. Finally, a man named Hippomenes, secreting on his person three golden apples, entered the contest. As with the others, Atlanta swiftly passed him, but he threw an apple. She, startled, stopped to pick it up. He regained the lead, but soon Hippomenes again saw himself gradually slipping behind; and again he threw a golden apple. Atlanta, charmed by its glitter, delayed to seize it, and fell behind. But once again, as they neared the goal, she was about to pass him, and Hippomenes threw his last golden apple. Atlanta, lured by its charm, stopped again-and lost the race.
Satan today throws along life's highway three golden apples that charm and destroy many a racer. They are: "the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (1Jo 2:16). Multitudes of Christians today are being turned aside from full obedience to the will and work of God by Satan's "three golden apples!"
I think there is a world market for about five computers.
If the weeds are so big that I can recognize them from the tractor, I know Im too late. Youve got to get them before that.
Georges Gurdijieff, on natural man: Each man has a definite repertoire of roles which he plays in ordinary circumstances. But put him into even only slightly different circumstances and he is unable to find a suitable role. For a short time, he becomes himself.
Jesus! whereer Thy people meet,
There they behold Thy mercy seat;
Whereer they seek Thee, Thou are found,
And every place is hallowd ground.
For Thou, within no walls confined
Inhabitest the humble mind;
Such ever bring Thee where they come,
And going, take Thee to their home.
Dear Shepherd of Thy chosen few!
Thy former mercies here renew;
Here to our waiting hearts proclaim
The sweetness of Thy saving name.
Here may we prove the power of prayer,
To strengthen faith, and sweeten care;
To teach our faint desires to rise,
And bring all Heaven before our eyes.
Behold, at Thy commanding word
We stretch the curtain and the cord,
Come Thou, and fill this wider space,
And bless us with a large increase.
Lord, we are few, but Thou are near:
Nor short Thine arm, nor deaf Thine ear;
Oh rend the heavens, come quickly down,
And make a thousand hearts Thine own.
When a cowboy applied for an insurance policy, the agent asked: Have you ever had any accidents?
Nope, replied the cowboy. But a bronc did kick in two of my ribs last summer, and a few years ago a snake bit me on the ankle.
Wouldnt you call those accidents? asked the puzzled agent.
Naw, the cowboy said. They did it on purpose!
An artist had a dog that meant more to him than anything in the world. One day he broke his leg and the artist was panic-stricken. He ran to the telephone and called an acquaintance, a famous surgeon. Its an emergency, he yelled, a matter of life and death. Come quick!
The startled surgeon dropped everything and rushed to the home of the artist, expecting the worst. When confronted with the dog, the surgeon, with masterful self-control, said not a word but proceeded to treat the dog with the same skill he would have used on a human being. Then he picked up his instruments and left.
Weeks passed, the dog got well, yet the artist never received a bill from the surgeon. The longer he waited the more guilty he felt. Surely he had lost the surgeons friendship forever. A few days later, therefore, he made his way to the surgeons office, intending to pay all that was asked. The surgeon would not accept his check. Youre a painter, arent you? he asked.
Very well, if you will just put a coat of white paint on that cabinet over there, we will call the debt settled.
The artist, a good-natured man, was amused by the doctors clever idea of revenge. He smiled and started to work at once. But when the job was completed, instead of a coat of white paint, the panels of the surgeons cabinet bore two of the artists greatest masterpieces, worth thousands of dollars apiece.
His master taken from his head,
Elisha saw him go;
And in desponding accents said,
Ah, what must Israel do?
But he forgot the Lord who lifts
The beggar to the throne;
Nor knew that all Elijahs gifts
Would soon be made his own.
What! when a Paul has run his course,
Or when Apollos dies,
Is Israel left without resource,
And have we no supplies?
Yes, while the dear Redeemer lives,
We have a boundless store,
And shall be fed with what He gives,
Who lives for evermore.
Have you ever had to paint some roof trim, high up? You get halfway up that 36-foot extension ladder and you start wondering about the ladder, its footing and your body weight. You stop and hug the ladder, looking neither up nor down. Your left leg begins a ridiculous but uncontrollable shuddering. At length you conquer that particular rung and inch your way to the next, then the next. Finally youre at the top, clinging for your life. How can you take one hand off the ladder to use the paintbrush? But you do. Tight as a fiddle you begin.
The sky is clear. The sun is nice. The thirsty wood soaks up the paint. You whistle and think positive thoughts and do a good job and forget about the height.
Youve learned an important lesson of life from this. No matter what higher responsibility you take on, its scary, very scary, until you start working.
For centuries educated and literate persons considered it important to start the day by getting out of bed on the right side. The meaning of the verbal formula, which is now more familiar than the ceremony that produced it, is literal. To get out of bed on the left side was to invite trouble, for the left side (Latin sinister) provided easy access for evil spirits.
The story is told of a Swiss pastor on the verge of a breakdown who was urged to see the psychiatrist Carl Jung. When asked how many hours a day he was working, the pastor told Jung about eighteen hours a day. Jung advised him to cut down to eight hours a day and spend the time thus released in quiet relaxation on his own. The pastor did this: the first day he sat down in a comfortable armchair to listen to Mozart and read a novel. The second day Mozart gave way to Beethoven . . .and so on. After two weeks or so the pastor felt, if anything, worse and returned to Jung, who asked him how specifically, he was spending his time. When the pastor described his leisure hours, Jung said, That is not what I meant; I want you to spend time quietly with yourself. The man replied, I could not think of anything more appalling. Jung said, Well, that is the person you have been inflicting on your people eighteen hours a day.
At the funeral of a minister, a little child was seen skipping light-heartedly through the cemetery at dusk. Someone asked, "Aren't you afraid of this place?" "Oh no," she replied, "I only cross through here to get home." Death for the Christian is only a "crossing-through to get home." It is not ultimate and final death.
As a train was about to leave a large railroad station, the conductor began to take tickets. Looking at the ticket of the first passenger he remarked, Friend, I think youre on the wrong train! But, replied the man, the ticket agent told me this was my train. After a little discussion, the conductor decided to check with the ticket agent. Before long, it became clear that the conductor was on the wrong train!
When the leader is lost, how can the followers be going on the right track?
An unknown poet has written:
Once I heard a song of sweetness as it cleft the morning air,
Sounding in its blest completeness like a tender, pleading prayer;
And I sought to find the singer whence the wondrous song was born;
Till I found a bird, sore wounded, pinioned by an ugly thorn.
I have seen a soul of sadness while its wings with pain were furled,
Giving hope and cheer and gladness that should bless the weeping world;
Soon I learned a life of sweetness was of pain and sorrow born,
For that stricken soul was singing with its heart against a thorn!
You are told of One who loves you, of a Savior crucified,
You are told of nails that pinioned, and a spear that pierced His side;
You are told of cruel scourging, of a Savior bearing scorn,
And He died for your salvation with His brow against the thorn.
You are not above the Master! Will you breathe a sweet refrain?
Then His grace will be sufficient when your heart is pierced with pain;
Will you live to bless His loved ones though your life be bruised and torn,
Like a bird that sang so sweetly with its heart against a thorn?
If you have thorns in your life, thank God for the roses of grace that inevitably go with them.
Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide
In the strife of truth or falsehood
For the good or evil side.
But to every man there openeth
A high way and a low
And every man decideth
Which way his soul shall go.
James Russell Lowell
Once upon a time
And out walks Jesus
There was a God
All over again;
Who so loved the world
Out stalks the
That he gave his son
Grinning, striding Jesus.
His only son.
And they took that son
And they hung him on a cross
Hover all day
And that son died.
Around the tomb
And they buried the son
And cover it with
Sealed him up tight.
But God said,
And bow before it
Oh no you dont
And walk before it
And he rolled back the rock,
And sigh before it;
He unsealed his son
And pray to it
And his son came out,
And sing to it
Came out walking and breathing
And weep to it
And he was Alive.
And lean on it.
And hes alive today
And weep to it
And he walks around
And lean on it.
And he stalks around
And no one
Breathing life and life
Every morning just before dawn
Or at least
For thousands of years
They pretend not
Little grim people
Preachers and bankers and
Storekeepers and students
Sneak up to the grave and
Roll back the stone
To seal it up tight.
And every morning
Out on the
Oh no you dont!
And he flings back the stone.
Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen beforesuch was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.
People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. This horse is not a horse to me, he would tell them. It is a person How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend? The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.
One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. You old fool, they scoffed, we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and youve been cursed with misfortune.
The old man responded, Dont speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If Ive been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?
The people contested, Dont make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact is that your horse is gone is a curse.
The old man spoke again. All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I dont know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I cant say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?
The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasnt, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. he lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.
After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadnt been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.
The man responded, Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but dont judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?
Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Dont say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I dont.
Maybe the old man is right, they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.
The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.
You were right, they said. You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.
The old man spoke again. You people are obsessed with judging. Dont go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.
It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.
You were right, old man, they wept. God knows you were right. This proves it. Your sons accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.
The old man spoke again. It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.
One animal sacrifice per man, Genesis 3
One sacrifice per family, Exodus 12:3-14
One sacrifice per nation, Tabernacle in wilderness, Day of atonement
One sacrifice per world, John 1:29, Heb 10:1-14
A young man, walking along the beach at dawn, noticed an old man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the man, the youth asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun.
"But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish," countered the young man. "How can your effort make any difference?"
The old man looked at the starfish in his hand, and then threw it to safety in the waves. "It makes a big difference to this one," he said.
The attitude of many, in today's churches, is, "since we cannot completely deal with the problem, we will not do anything."
Once there was a rich man who had a son to whom he promised an annual allowance. Every year on the same day, he would give his son the entire amount. After a while, it happened that the only time the father saw his son was on the day of allowance. So the father changed his plan and only gave the son enough for the day. Then the next day the son would return. From then on, the father saw his son every day. This is the way God dealt with Israel. It is the way God deals with us.
There is one eternal principle which will be valid as long as the world lasts. The principle isForgiveness is a costly thing. Human forgiveness is costly. A son or a daughter may go wrong; a father or a mother may forgive; but that forgiveness has brought tears ... There was a price of a broken heart to pay. Divine forgiveness is costly. God is love, but God is holiness. God, least of all, can break the great moral laws on which the universe is built. Sin must have its punishment or the very structure of life disintegrates. And God alone can pay the terrible price that is necessary before men can be forgiven. Forgiveness is never a case of saying: Its all right; it doesnt matter. Forgiveness is the most costly thing in the world.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). Everyone has faith in somethingfaith in some religion, faith in ones self, faith in fate, faith in evolution, faith in mankind. Even the atheist has faith in his own reason. But there is only one real faith that works for time and eternity. True faith is faith in the one true Godthe God who made us, who will judge us, and who has paid the price to save us.
This faith is an understanding faith, for it is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3). It is a saving faith, for by grace ye are saved through faith, for by grace ye are saved through faith (Galatians 3:11), it is, therefore, a living faith, and a growing faith, because that your faith groweth exceedingly (II Thessalonians 1:3), and a working faith, because faith without works is dead (James 2:20).
There is more. The true faith is a justifying faith (it makes us righteous in the sight of God) because, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). It is a protecting faith because, with the shield of faith...ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked (Ephesians 6:16). It is a stable faith, for by faith ye stand (II Corinthians 1:24). This faith is also a purifying faith, purifying their hearts by faith (Acts 15:9). Furthermore, asking faith receives answers to its prayers, in faith, nothing wavering (James 1:6), and a strong faith recoiling not at the promise of God through unbelief; but...strong in faith, giving glory to God (Romans 4:20).
Finally, the Christian faith is a triumphant faith. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (I John 5:4). This faitheven our faith(!)is an understanding, saving, living, growing, justifying, purifying, working, protecting, stable, asking, strong, triumphant faith! - HMM
Churchill, the grand master of the rejoinder, made a habit of hoisting people by their own petards. He did it with his legendary response to Bernard Shaw, who had invited him to the opening-night performance of one of his plays. Shaw sent two tickets, one for yourself and one for a friendif you have one. Churchill could not attend but asked if he could have tickets for the second-night performance if there is one.
A little boy, on being asked "How many Gods are there?" replied, "One." "How do you know that?" "Because there is only room for one, for He fills heaven and earth." He was right. How, then, can puny little man expect to see Him in all His majesty and glory?
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25