Volume 3, Number 4 June/1983
THE TRANSFORMING LOOK
A man came back to work in a place where he had been fired several months previously. His work was superior. A fellow worker remembered how inconsistent he had been in the past and asked, "What happened to make such a difference in you?" The man told this story:
When I was in college I was part of a fraternity initiation committee. We placed the new members in the middle of a long stretch of a country road. I was to drive my car at as great a speed as possible straight at them. The challenge was for them to stand firm until a signal was given to jump out of the way. It was a dark night. I had reached one hundred miles an hour and saw their looks of terror in the headlights. The signal was given and everyone jumped clear — except one boy.
I left college after that. I later married and have two children. The look on that boy's face as I passed over him at a hundred miles an hour stayed in my mind all the time. I became hopelessly inconsistent, moody, and finally became a problem drinker. My wife had to work to bring in the only income we had.
I was drinking at home one morning when someone rang the doorbelll. I opened to find myself facing a woman who seemed strangely familiar. She sat down in our living room and told me she was the mother of the boy I had killed years before. She said that she had hated me and spent agonizing nights rehearsing ways to get revenge. I then listened as she told me of the love and forgiveness that had come when she gave her heart to Christ.
She said, "I have come to let you know that I forgive you and I want you to forgive me." I looked into her eyes that morning and I saw deep in her eyes the permission to be the kind of man I might have been had I never killed that boy. That forgiveness changed my whole life.
The above story was submitted by Dr. Ralph Hodge of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky. Pastor Hodge comments on his use of the story in John 8: "1 tie it into how the woman must have felt who was brought before Jesus after being caught in adultery. I believe I will ask her, in heaven someday, how she felt when He looked up at her after writing on the ground. She will say, 'I saw deep in his eyes the permission to be the kind of woman I might have been had I never lived the kind of life I had lived.'"
John 8:1-11, Forgiveness
Maybe it's a weakness in my character — but I really liked the following story. Perhaps you can use this to illustrate fallen man, who is often oblivious of the dilemma he's in. Or maybe you can use it to start out a sermon on wayward fathers on Father's Day. Anyhow, it seems this particular fellow frequently came home drunk and he was so far gone that he would fall into bed fully clothed, pass out and then snore loudly all night long. Finally, his wife was losing so much sleep because of his snoring that she went to her doctor and said, "Doc, I can't take it any longer. If you'll only tell me how to keep him from snoring, I'll pay you anything."
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The doctor said there was no problem at all. He could give her the answer and he wouldn't even charge her. He told her that whenever her husband passed out and started to snore she was to take a ribbon and tie it around his nose, and his snoring would stop.
Well, that night her husband came in as usual, fell across the bed, fully dressed, passed out and started snoring. The wife got up, pulled a blue ribbon from her dresser, and tied it around his nose. Sure enough, the snoring stopped. Next morning, the wife, fully refreshed, was preparing breakfast and asked her husband, as he was awakening, "Honey, where were you last night?" The husband, still fully clothed, looked in the mirror and seeing the blue ribbon around his nose, replied, "I don't know, but wherever I was, I won first prize!"
Sent in by Marty Youngkin, Associate Pastor, Fellowship Bible Church, Piano, Texas.
Peppermint Patty is talking to Charlie Brown and she says, "My Uncle has always wanted
to play the violin. Last week he went down to a music store, and bought one. Then he
went to a concert to watch the violinists play to see how they did it. Then he went
home, picked up his new violin and tried it himself. He couldn't play at all! Next
time he goes to a concert, he says he's going to try sitting closer!
Submitted by William Stehr, Pastor of St. James Lutheran Church of Jacksonville,
WHOOP DE DO
Rev. Charles Kinyon, Pastor of Flagler Baptist Church of Flagler, Colorado sent in this quote from James Dobson's book Emotions: Can You Trust Them? Dobson tells the story as related to him by his mother about the high school she attended in 1930:
It was located in a small Oklahoma town which had produced a series of terrible football teams. They usually lost the important games and were invariably clobbered by their arch rivals from a nearby community. Understandably, the students and their parents began to get depressed and dispirited by the drubbing their troops were given every Friday night. It must have been awful.
Finally, a wealthy oil producer decided to take matters in his own hands. He asked to speak to the team in the locker room after yet another devastating defeat. What followed was one of the most dramatic football speeches of all times. The businessman proceeded to offer a brand new Ford to every boy on the team and to each coach if they would simply defeat their bitter rivals in the next game. Knute Rockne couldn't have said it better.
The team went crazy with sheer delight. They howled and cheered and slapped each other on their padded behinds. For seven days, the boys ate, drank and breathed football. At night they dreamed about touchdowns and rumbleseats. The entire school caught the spirit of ecstasy, and a holiday fever pervaded the campus. Each player could visualize himself behind the wheel of a gorgeous coupe, with eight gorgeous girls hanging all over his gorgeous body.
Copyright @ 1983 by Saratoga Press. Second-Class postage paid at Saratoga, CA. Published 12 times per year, monthly, for $24.95 (US$) per year. Subscriptions to foreign countries — $30.95 in US$ or equivalent value. Back issues are $2.25 each (starting with March, 81). Postmaster, please send address changes to Parables, Etc. c/o Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, CA 95070. ISSN 0744-20 17. USPS 05-7032 PHONE 408 867 4211
Parables, 1983. / June 1983 Page 3 / 3.4.3
Finally, the big night arrived and the team assembled in the locker room. Excitement was at an unprecedented high. The coach made several inane comments and the boys hurried out to face the enemy. They assembled on the sidelines, put their hands together and shouted a simultaneous "Rah" They ran onto the field and were demolished, 38 to 0.
The team's exuberance did not translate into a single point on the Scoreboard. Seven days of hoorah and whoop-de-do simply couldn't compensate for the players lack of discipline and conditioning and practice and study and coaching and drill and experience and character. Such is the nature of emotion. It has a definite place in human affairs, but when forced to stand alone, feelings usually reveal themselves to be unreliable and ephemeral and even a bit foolish. Emotion
One of my favorite sources of stories -- as well as general inspiration for the pastoral task — is the quarterly journal Leadership, published by Christianity Today, Inc. 46 5 Gunderson Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60187. And recently Leadership has become even better with the addition of a feature called To Illustrate in which they share 6 to 8 excellent illustrations. I only wish that the journal came out every month instead of quarterly. Cost is $16.00 per year ($19.00 for those living out of the U.S.) for four issues. Single copies are $5.00 each. Here's a sample from their excellent Spring 1983 issue.
In Elmer Bendiner's book, The Fall of Fortresses, he describes one bombing run over the German city of Kassel: Our B-17 (The Tondelayo) was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit. Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a twenty-millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bonn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple.
On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but eleven had been found in the gas tanks -- eleven unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. Even after thirty-five years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, expecially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.
He had been told that the shells had been sent to the armorers to be defused. The
armorers told him that Intelligence had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer.
Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells they found no explosive charge. They were clean as a whistle and just as harmless. Empty? Not all of them.
One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually, they found one to decipher the note. It set us marvelling. Translated, the note read: "This is all we can do for you now." Doing Your Part
Anger in particular seems close to a professional vice in the contemporary ministry. Pastors are angry at their leaders for not leading and at their followers for not following. They are angry at those who do not come to church for not coming and angry
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at those who do come for coming without enthusiasm. They are angry at their families, who make them feel guilty, and angry at themselves for not being who they want to be. This is not an open, blatant, roaring anger but an anger hidden behind the smooth word, the smiling face, and the polite handshake. It is a frozen anger, an anger which settles into biting resentment and slowly paralyzes a generous heart. If there is anything that makes the ministry look grim and dull, it is this dark, insidious anger in the servants of Christ. From Henry Nouwen, The Way of the Heart as quoted by Joseph Bayly in his monthly letter Christian Education Trends. You may find Joseph Bayly's monthly letter of interest, it is published from September through July by David C. Cook Publishing Co. of Elgin, IL 60120. It contains many longer quotes from contemporary sources.
Richard Doebler, Pastor of People's Church in Dalhart, Texas shares this one with us which he picked up from Zig Ziglar:
Harry Houdini, the famed escape artist from a few years back, issued a challenge wherever he went. He could be locked in any jail cell in the country, he claimed, and set himself free in short order. Always he kept his promise, but one time something went wrong.
Houdini entered the jail in his street clothes; the heavy, metal doors clanged shut
behind him. He took from his belt a concealed piece of metal, strong and flexible. He set to work immediately, but something seemed to be unusual about this lock. For
thirty minutes he worked and got nowhere. An hour passed, and still he had not opened the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock.
Finally, after laboring for two hours, Harry Houdini collapsed in frustration and failure against the door he could not unlock. But when he fell against the door, it swung open! IT HAD NEVER BEEN LOCKED AT ALL! But in his mind it was locked, and that was all it took to keep him from opening the door and walking out of the jail cell.
Sid Gunter, Pastor of Nazareth Presbyterian Church sends us these two on the church in all of its weakness:
I have been told that when the wild donkeys of the great Northwest are attacked by wolves, they circle in, put their heads together, and kick outward until the wolves are either driven off or kicked to death. I fear that in the church, it's just the opposite. When the wolves attack us, we do not put our heads together and kick outward. I fear we put our tails together and kick one another to death. I opt to go with the wild asses.
Two women stood on the sidewalk in the middle of the night watching their church burn down. One said, "This is the first time I've seen you at church." Said the other, "Well, it's the first time I've seen the church on fire."
Sid found these in My Gospel of Stewardship by Thomas Are.
Chuck Sawyer, Pastor of the Salem United Methodist Church of Thomson, Georgia sent in the following story he gleaned from William Barclay's tape on Introduction To The Bible (Abingdon):
Parables, 1983. / June 1983 Page 5 / 3.4.5
One of the great disasters of history took place in 1271. In 1271 Nickelo and Matteo Polo (the father and uncle of Marco) were visiting the Kubla Kahn. Kubla Kahn at that time was a world ruler. For he ruled all China, all India and all of the East. He was attracted to the story of Christianity as Nickelo and Matteo told it to him. And he said to them this: "You shall go to your high priest and tell him on my behalf to send me 100 men skilled in your religion and I shall be baptized, and when I am baptized all my Barrons and great men will be baptized and their subjects will receive baptism too and so there will be more Christians here than there are in your parts.
Nothing was done. Nothing was done for about 30 years and then two or three missionaries were sent. Too few and too late.
It baffles the imagination to think what a difference to the world it would have made if in the 13th century China had become fully Christian. If in the 13th century India had become fully Christian. If in the 13th cntury the East had been given to Christ. In that, we have seen man frustrating God's purpose in history.
G. Campbell Morgan was once approached by a soldier who said he would give anything to believe that God would forgive sins, "but I cannot believe He will forgive me if I just turn to Him. It is too cheap."
Dr. Morgan said to him: "You were workinq in the mine today. How did you get out of the pit?" He answered, "The way I usually do; I got into the cage and was pulled to the top."
"How much did you pay to come out of the pit?"
"I didn't pay anything."
"Weren't you afraid to trust yourself to that cage? Was it not too cheap?
The man replied, "Oh, no! It was cheap for me, but it cost the company a lot of money to sink that shaft."
The man saw the light, that it was the infinite price paid by the Son of God for our salvation, which comes to us by faith and not by anything that we can do. Quoted from Pillar of Fire. Submitted by Pastor Ralph Dunkin of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Wheeling, West Virginia.
He had been round from church to church trying to find a congenial congregation, and finally he stopped at a little church just as the congregation read with the minister: "We have left undone those things we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done." The man slipped into a pew with a sigh of relief and murmured, "Thank goodness, I've found my crowd at last."
Submitted by Dr. William T. McConnell, Pastor of the LaGrange Christian Church,
THE DESIRE FOR PEACE
Ramsey MacDonald, one-time Prime Minister of England, was discussing with another government official the possibility of lasting peace. The latter, an expert on foreign affairs, was unimpressed by the Prime Minister's idealistic viewpoint. He remarked cynically, "The desire for peace does not necessarily ensure it."
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This MacDonald admitted, saying "Quite true. But neither does the desire for food satisfy your hunger, but at least it gets you started towards a restaurant."
Submitted by David Rockhill, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Rockport,
Keith Kendell, Pastor of Winchester Friends Church of Winchester Indiana sent in the following item which he got from Charles M. Davis in Daily Guideposts.
I used to visit a tiny general store in the country. The proprietor had a clerk named Jake who I always thought was the laziest man ever created. Then one day I noticed that Jake was nowhere around.
I asked "Where's Jake?" The proprietor answered, "Oh, he retired" I said, "Retired? Then what are you doing to fill the vacancy?" The owner replied, "Jake didn't leave no vacancy!"
Davis concludes: These words have stayed with me a long time. I think often of how sad it might be if Heaven's final judgment of my efforts was: "He didn't leave no vacancy." Would I deserve it? I hope not!
ONLY ONE WORRY
Mohammad Ali, former heavyweight boxing champion denied that he attempted another comback at age 39 just to stay in the spot light. He said, "If I just wanted that, wouldn't I take the 125 college lectures offered me? Wouldn't I just go to Times Square and walk a block and stop traffic? Ain't worried about the spotlight. Ain't worried about money. Ain't worried about all the heavyweights today who can't fight. Ain't worried about nothin' but being immortal!"
From Reader's Digest, submitted by Sanford Zensen, First Baptist Church of
Catskill, New York
Fred Hintz writes us from Syracuse, New York about a news story he read regarding a new law on drunken driving in Louisiana that is now one of the toughest in the nation. There is a mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of driving while intoxicated. Getting it passed was a major victory for various groups against drunk driving, and they could not have got it passed if it wasn't for the help of one particular state legislator who sponsored the bill. It wasn't long after the new law took effect that the first person to be arrested for Drinking While Intoxicated was brought before the judge and found guilty and was sentenced to his prison term. Who was he? The same legislator who sponsored the bill! "For the way you judge, you will be judged, and by your standard of measure it shall be measured to you." Matthew 7:2
Rev. Kenneth Gombert of Hop Bottom, Pennsylvania sent in this item: President Reagan tells how we could match Russia's record after its more than half a century of socialism: "We'd have to cut our paychecks by more than 80%; move thirty-three million workers back to the farm; destroy fifty-nine million television sets; tear up fourteen of every fifteen miles of highway; junk nineteen of every twenty cars; tear up two-thirds of our railroad track; knock down seventy percent of our houses; and rip out nine of every ten telephones. Then all we have to do is find a capitalist country to sell us wheat on credit to keep us from starving.
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"Momma, do you think I should stick to younger girls? Or should I go out with an older, classier and more experienced type?"
"Son, you have a way of askinrr advice that makes it sound like it's too late" Mell Lazarus, author of Momma
Pastor Sa Thompson of Dove Creek, Colorado sent in this from his own experience: A t the close of a sermon one Sunday morning one of the members of the church came forward at the invitation. He was noticably disturbed and moved by his conviction of sin in his life. With tears flowing and a halt in his voice he took my hand and meant to tell me that his life was full of sin. But what came out was "My sin is full of life." As soon as he had spoken he realized his mistake and changed it but in reality his first statement was the real reason for the second. His sin was full of life and that is why his life was full of sin. Praise God that the Blood of Jesus Christ is the remedy and he found it that day. Sin
THIRD GOLD IN THE BARREL CONTEST
As previously announced -- we're going to have another illustration contest. This will be our third in a row. Send in your favorite illustrations this summer and enter them in our "Gold In The Barrel Contest." We've made one important change. Rather than have larger (and more expensive) first prizes — we've expanded and will be giving more prizes — thirty in all. Stories must be postmarked by Labor Day (this year). The ten top stories will each receive one full year extension of their Parables, Etc. subscription. In addition, the top ten will receive the following books:
1st Prize The Sermon Outline Bible, edited by W. Robertson Nicoll (6 volumes).
2nd Prize Proclaiming The New Testament, edited by Ralph G. Turnbull (5 volumes).
3rd Prize Matthew, Mark and Luke from The New Testament Commentary series by William
4th Prize The Gospel of Luke by Norval Geldenhuys in the New International Commentary
on the Bible.
5th Prize The Epistle to the Romans by John Murray in The New International Commentary
on the Bible.
6th Prize The Spreading Flame by F. F. Bruce.
7th Prize In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past by F. F. Bruce.
8th, 9th and 10th Prizes New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes by F. F.
The next 20 prize-winning stories will each receive a six-month extension of their Parables, Etc. subscription. In cases where more than one person submits a prize-winning story the one with the earliest postmark will get the main prize. The others will get a token two-month extension.
Of course, as always, if your story does not win a prize, but is later used in Parables, Etc. you will receive a four-month extension after it is printed.
Another feature of this year's contest is there will be a special bonus award of two extra months for any prize-winning story that can obviously be used for a holiday sermon (Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Memorial Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Labor Day, etc.). In fact, just to make it extra obvious
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please label holiday entries as such.
Please limit your contest entries to stories, anecdotes, poems or illustrations — not one liners or Short Shots. And please don t send entire sermons hoping we'll read through them hunting for your golden nuggets. If the item has been published please let us know where and by whom. And — most important — please make your entries legible. Typed entries will be given preferential treatment. Some of you have handwriting that is even worse than mine.
Our procedure is to turn the stories over to five independent judges who rank the top thirty stories in their order of preference. I then combine their rankings for a final order.
Middle Age ... Is that difficult period between adolescence and retirement when you have to take care of yourself. Fred Hintz, Syracuse, New York
Progress? ... It only took the movies 50 years to go from silent to unspeakable. Fred Hintz, Syracuse, New York
Anticipation ... I can't think of anything that's as much fun to own as it is to look forward to owning. Jim Vorsas
Challenge . . . The next time somebody tells you nothing is impossible, ask him to put his skis over his shoulder and go through a revolving door.
Coincidence ... A small miracle where God prefers to remain anonymous.
Basic Needs ... A woman needs four men in her life: a banker, an actor, a minister and a mortician. One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go!
Rev. Charles Kinyon, Flagler, Colorado
Until next month — Lord Willing,
<r- ■ ■■ ■
James S. Hewett Editor/Publisher