New Year's Illustrations Highlight Series
Wayne Dehoney tells of a visit to Oberammergau, home of the famous Passion Play. While in the city he saw the shop of Antoine Lange, who was well known for his portrayal of Christ in the play over many years. As Lange became older, people associated with the play became worried about him carrying a heavy wooden cross, and they suggested making a lighter cross out of fiberglass which would look like wood and be easier to carry across the stage. The great actor refused the request, insisting, "Unless I can feel the weight of the cross, I cannot feel the part."
It is just that way in our Christian lives. To experience life in Christ requires feeling the weight of His cross in commitment.
DISCOURAGEMENT-Common to all
All of us have times when we felt like Charlie Brown's sister, Sally, in the comic strip "Peanuts." Right before the beginning of school she pointed out that the prior year of school she was in the wrong class for 2 weeks. When she got to the right room, she was in the wrong desk. She couldn't get her locker open all year. She was in the school band for 3 days before she found out the school didn't have a band. Finally in disgust she says: "I think I'll sign up for staying home."
That's a feeling all of us can relate to at some time. "World, you're just not being fair! I want to just stay home and hide."
Sometimes we need to learn to adapt to situations, like the teenage boy who came in about an hour after his curfew. As he got home he killed the car lights, cut the ignition, took his shoes off, and did everything possible to slip in quietly. It was 2 am, and as he walked down the hall a light came on and his mother called out, "John, what time is it?"
"It's midnight, momma," he replied. But just at that moment the cuckoo clock let out two cuckoos. So John stood there and cuckooed ten more times!
LEADERSHIP - Requires service
Oswald Sanders has pointed out that "true leadership is achieved not by reducing men to one's service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them."
MARRIAGE - Divorce increasing
Year by year the stress put on marriages grows greater. In 1870 there was 1 divorce for every 34 marriages. By 1900 it was 1 for 12, by 1940 it was 1 in 5, and by 1950 it was 1 of every 3. In the past few years there has been virtually one divorce for every two marriages.
NEW YEAR - Recipe for Success
An unknown author once penned this recipe for a happy new year: Take twelve full-grown months, free from old memories of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy; cleanse them completely from every clinging spite; pick off the little specks of pettiness. See that these months are freed from the past — as fresh and clean as when they came from the great storehouse of time.
Cut these months into 30 or 31 equal parts; the whole batch equals one year. Don't try to make up the whole batch at once, as you may spoil the whole lot. Prepare one day at a time according to this pattern: into each day put 12 parts of faith, 11 parts of patience, 10 of courage, 9 of work (without this ingredient, the flavor of the rest is spoiled), 8 of hope, 7 of fidelity, 6 of generosity, 5 of kindness, 4 of rest, 3 of prayer, 2 of meditation, and one well-selected resolution. Add a touch of fun, a dash of play, and a cupfull of good humor.
Pour love into the whole mixture and mix with enthusiasm. Garnish with smiles and a sprig of joy, then serve with cheerfulness and unselfishness. Follow these directions and a happy new year is guaranteed!
NEW YEAR - Resolutions
Millions of Americans every year make New Year's resolutions — to stop smoking or drinking, to go on diets, and countless other good things. John A. Huffman, Jr., tells about the work of a University of Washington research team, led by psychologist Alan Marlatt, which studied the psychology of "relapse" — why people fail to keep New Year's resolutions.
Finding that over half had broken all their resolutions by April, and the rest at least one, the study discovered two major reasons for breaking resolutions such as stopping drinking. One is that the people were experiencing some negative emotional state (like depression, anger, fear or loneliness), and the old habit was resumed as a relief. Second, other people helped bring about the relapse, through either direct or indirect social pressure. Even among drug addicts, only about 9 percent of relapses were traced to withdrawal; fully three-quarters of relapses were blamed on negative emotions or social pressure.
SECOND COMING - Don't know time
James Sullivan points out that when it comes to the return of our Lord, "God did not put me on His Time & Place Committee; he put me on His Preparation Committee."
The sweet little old lady met the pastor at the church door and said to him, "Pastor your sermons are like the peace of God," to which the pastors's wife added, "That's right — they pass all understanding."
SIN - Snares Us
Sir Robert Watson-Watt was the brilliant man who helped invent radar. Much to his chagrin, while driving in Canada he was arrested for speeding after being timed by radar. He wrote a short verse to commemorate the occasion:
Pity Sir Robert Watson-Watt
Strange target of his radar plot.
And thus, with others I could
A victim of his own invention.
Sadly enough, that's the way sin is also. With our sins we weave bonds that will eventually hold us captive.
STRUGGLE - May result in service
Charles Swindoll reports that when Oliver Cromwell ruled England, the nation experienced a crisis: they ran out of silver and couldn't mint any coins. Cromwell sent his soldiers to the Cathedral to see if any silver was available. They reported back that the only silver was in the statues of the saints, to which Cromwell replied, "Let's melt down the saints and get them into circulation."
Sometimes God must do that with us. We must be melted down so that we will get into circulation in the world for Him.
VISION - Limits can cost
You've heard the story about the Atlanta soda fountain where the nerve tonic syrup was mistakenly mixed with carbonated water instead of plain water. The result was a drink now known as Coca Cola. Among the people who came to Asa Chandler's drugstore to enjoy the new taste was a businessman named B.N. Thomas. Thomas felt that there might be a future in bottling the drink for home consumption, but Chandler thought it a futile idea. So Chandler sold Thomas the right to sell Coca-Cola by the bottle ... for the grand total of one dollar. Chandler gave away a multi-million dollar industry because he could not see its future.
How much of what God has for us do we fail to realize because our vision is so limited?®
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