".. . he did not speak to them without a parable" Jesus Mark 4:34 R.S.V.
monthly resource letter for pastors/teachers/speakers
Volume 6, Number 3 May / 1986
HOPE Several years ago a school teacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy's name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, "We're studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I'd be grateful if you could help him with his homework so he doesn't fall behind the others."
It wasn't until the visiting teacher got outside the boy's room that she realized it was located in the hospital's burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn't just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered "I'm the hospital teacher and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs."
The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" Before she could finish a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: "You don't understand. We've been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He's fighting back, responding to treatment . . . it's as though he's decided to live."
The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears he expressed it this way: "They wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?"
Submitted by Richard Duerksen, Pacific Union College, Angwin, California.
INTIMIDATION I've enjoyed reading an excellent new resource for preachers called Preaching, published bi-monthly by Preaching Resources ($15.00 per year). They include a section called "To Illustrate," from which I gleaned this one:
Christian Herter was running hard for reelection as Governor of Massachusetts, and one day he arrived late at a barbeque. He'd had no breakfast or lunch, and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken. The Governor said to the serving lady, "Excuse me, do you mind if I get another piece of chicken. I'm very hungry."
The woman replied, "Sorry, I'm supposed to give one piece to each person." He repeated, "But I'm starved," and again she said: "Only one to a customer."
Herter was normally a modest man, but he decided this was the time to use the weight of his office and said, "Madam, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state."
She answered, "Do you know who I am? I'm the lady in charge of chicken. Move along, mister."
This is a woman who knew her position and wasn't about to be intimidated. Do we as Christians recognize the significant position in which we stand because of Christ?
For subscription information write Preaching Resources at 1529 Cesery Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32211.
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 2 /6.3.2
THE TRUTH COMES OUT A man entered a sporting goods store and told the proprietor he was taking up tennis and needed some equipment. He was sold a designer warm-up suit for $250, a pair of shoes for $100, three cans of balls for $30, a book of tennis tips for $15 and a membership in a local tennis club for over a $1000.
As he was leaving the store the sportsman realized that he had forgotten the most important thing. He asked, "Could you also supply me with a racket?"
The owner beamed with joy and replied, "Of course, how about a half interest in this shop?"'
Adapted from The Rotarian.
THE GOOD SAMARITAN AND THE FAST LANE RELIGIOUS LEADERS Fellow Presbyterian Pastor Charlie Webster recently shared this story about his days at Princeton Seminary. An Ethics professor asked for volunteers for an extra assignment. At 2 o'clock, fifteen students gathered at Speer Library. There he divided the group of fifteen into three groups of five each. They were given envelopes. The first group of five was given an envelope telling them to proceed immediately across campus to Stewart Hall, that they had fifteen minutes to get there and if they didn't arrive on time it would affect their grade. This was called the 'High Hurry* group. A minute or two later he handed out envelopes to five others. Their instructions again were to go over to Stewart Hall but they were given 45 minutes. And after they departed he turned over the envelopes with instructions to the third group, the 'Low Hurry' group. They were given three hours to arrive at Stewart Hall. Now, not known to any of these students, the teacher had arranged with three students from the Princeton University Drama Department to meet them along the way, acting as people in great need. In front of Alexander Hall one of the drama students was going around covering his head with his hands and moaning out loud in great pain. As they passed by Miller Chapel on their way to Stewart Hall they'd find one fellow who was on the steps laying face down as if unconcious. And finally on the very steps of Stewart Hall the third drama student was acting out an epileptic seizure. It's interesting that, of the first group, no one stopped, of the second, two of the five stopped, and the third fivesome all five stopped.
Charlie's point was that maybe one of the reasons that the Good Samaritan was able to stop and help was because he had a more leisurely agenda, while the religious 'Pros' of Jesus' day were living in the fast lane and simply had no time for interruptions. Their calendars may well have been filled with commitments that left them no leeway.
DO UNTO OTHERS, ETC. An Irishman was down on his luck and was panhandling on Fifth Avenue before the annual St. Patrick's Day parade got under way in New York City. As a couple strolled by, he called out: "May the blessing of the Lord, which brings love and joy and wealth and a fine family, follow you all the days of your life." There was a pause as the couple passed his outstreched hand without contributing. Then he shouted after them, "And Never Catch Up To You!" Bits & Pieces
PERSPECTIVE . . . Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff,
And nudge me when I've said enough.
Saying on the wall of Fred Smith's office, as reported in Marshall Shelley's foreward to Learning To Lead, by Fred Smith (Christianity Today, 1986), p. 9.
PARABLES, ETC. (ISSN 0744-2017) is published monthly for $24.95 (US$) per year by Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. Second-class postage paid at Saratoga, California. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to PARABLES, ETC. c/o Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. Copyright 1986 by Saratoga Press. Subscriptions to foreign countries — — $30.95 in US$ or equivalent value. Back issues are $2.25 each (started Vol. 1, No. 1 in March, '81). Phone 408 867 4211
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 3 /6.3.3
THE IRREPLACABLE YOU Webster also tells the story about one other modern fast lane type, Dick Jones, who lived as if everything in the whole community depended upon him. One morning he woke up early with a high fever. His wife called next door to a doctor friend. When he diagnosed that Jones had viral pnuemonia, he suggested that Dick stay in bed for several days but Dick complained, "No!, I've got a breakfast meeting at the school, I'm president of the PSTA Board, then I've got crucial business at the office, a luncheon date, and three very important dates this afternoon, and then the Building Commitee at church this evenening. There's no way I can be sick today doctor.
"I'm sorry," says his doctor friend, "But Dick, I don't know anyone who's indispensable, and I suggest you stay in bed." But at that very moment, as the story goes, Dick's high fever sent him into a trance. And there in that trance, he saw himself looking in on heaven. The angels were gathering around God and His holy throne. But everything seemed to be in disarray; there were some papers being passed and finally after some discussion, the angels passed a significant-looking paper to God, He read it and God was obviously upset. God got up off His throne and said "Oh, no! Oh, no! What will I do today? What will I do?" The Angels in chorus said, "What is it, God? What is it?" And God replied, "What will I do today?, Dick Jones is sick!"
TYPE CASTING After years of hauling children, pets, groceries and camping gear, the family station wagon sputtered to a stop. My wife told me she was ready for a change, but I didn't realize how big a change until we got to the car dealer and she fell in love with a foreign sports car.
I pointed out, "But honey, this eight-passenger wagon over here has power steering, luggage rack and fold-down seats, all for the same price as the sports car."
She glared resentfully at the big car. She snapped, "I don't like it." "But why not?"
"It has 'Mother' written all over it!" Dwight Wilson, Reader's Digest
COMMITMENT One of my favorite Peanuts cartoons was printed many years ago when little Sally was still a toddler. One day as she was crawling by, Linus and Lucy were watching her progress and Linus asked, "How long do you think it will be before Sally starts to walk?" Lucy comes back: "Good Grief! What's the hurry? Let her crawl around for awile! Don't rush her! She's got all the time in the world. Once you stand up and start to walk, you're committed for life."
USING OUR BURDENS A biologist tells how he watched an ant carrying a piece of straw which seemed too heavy. The ant came to a crack in the ground which was too wide for it to cross. It stood still for a time, as though perplexed by the situation, then put the straw across the crack and walked over on the straw.
If only we were as wise as that ant! We speak much about the burdens we must carry. But have we ever thought of converting our burdens into bridges, of having our burdens bear US up instead of our bearing THEM up?
Paul teaches us about his "thorn in the flesh" and about boasting in our "weaknesses." The promise is: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." (II Cor. 12:9,10).
Steve Wing, The Bread Line, Colby, Kansas
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 4 /6.3.4
FAMILY ENCOURAGEMENT Mary was having a tough day and had stretched herself out on the couch to do a bit of what she thought to be well-deserved complaining and self-pitying. She moaned to her mom and brother, "Nobody loves me ... the whole world hates me!" Her brother, busily occupied playing a game hardly looked up at her and passed on this encouraging word, "That's not true, Mary. Some people don't even know you." What a lift!
Submitted by Bil Welsh, Desert Hot Springs, California.
PRAYER A prayer to be said when the world has gotten you down and you feel rotten and you're too doggone tired to pray and you're in a big hurry, and besides you're mad at everybody: "HELP!"
Submitted by Warren Dane, USAF Chaplain, Rantoul, Illinois.
BORING As the Sunday School class for seven-year-olds was well underway one little boy suddenly exclaimed to the teacher: "Can we hurry up? This is boring!" Immediately the little girl to his left gave him a sharp elbow to the side and rebuked him: "Shut up. It's supposed to be boring!" Preaching, March-April, 1986.
LEAVE A NUMBER The pastor was leaving town. He simply had to get away for a few days. "Where can you be reached?" the church secretary asked. So he gave her a number. She soon discovered it was 'Dial-A-Prayer.'
COMMUNICATION After telling the story of Jonah and the whale to her Sunday School class, the teacher decided to quiz them. She asked, "Timmy, what is the moral of the story?" Timmy thought for a minute, then said, "People make whales throw up!"
Submitted by Robert Strand, First Assembly of God, Grand Junction, Colorado.
SAFE IN HIS HANDS There is an old ploughman in the country I sometimes talk with, and he often says, though in uncouth words, some precious things. He said to me one day, "The other day, sir, the devil was tempting me and I tried to answer him; but I found he was an old lawyer, and understood the law a great deal better than I did, so I gave over, and would not argue with him any more; so I said to him, 'What do you trouble me for?'
'"Why,1 said he, 'about your soul.1
"'Oh! ' said I, 'that is no business of mine; I have given my soul over into the hand of Christ; I have transferred everything to him; if you want an answer to your doubts and queries, you must apply to my Advocate.'"
Charles H. Spurgeon, as reported in George Sweeting's excellent new book, Great Quotes and Illustrations, (Word, Waco, Texas, 1985), page 8.
A LEADER IS NOT THE CAUSE A true leader is committed to the cause, and does not become the cause.
Staying personally dedicated to the cause can become extremely difficult, particularly if the cause succeeds. A subtle change in thinking can overtake the leader of a successful ministry. He or she begins "needing" certain things to carry on the ministry — things that were not needed earlier.
• • •
I admire Mother Teresa, who decided after winning the Nobel Prize that she would not go to accept any more recognition because it interfered with her work. She knew she was not in the business of accepting prizes; she was in the business of serving the poor of Calcutta. She maintained her dedication to the cause by refusing unrelated honors.
Fred Smith, Learning To Lead (Christianity Today, 1986), page 29. An
outstanding book in The Leadership Library from CT.
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 5 /6.3.5
THE CONQUERING SPIRIT At the recent COBE (Congress on Biblical Exposition) meeting in Anaheim, California it was reported that a very fat man (350-400 pounds) was seen on the street wearing a T shirt with the following message: "I OVERCAME ANOREXIA"
RATED ON THE FUN SCALE Herb Caen of The San Francisco Chronicle reports the following quote of the week from Linda Tracy, as reported in the Chico Enterprise. She had been a juror in an obscenity case against an "adult" bookstore. She said: "It was low on the fun scale. Somewhere between a root canal and an IRS audit."
COURAGE AND PEACE IN THE STORM Do you remember Tom Dooley, that young doctor who organized hospitals, raised money, and literally poured out his life in the service of the afflicted peoples of South East Asia? Here was a man whose deep relationship with God motivated him to abandon a soft career in the United States for a desperately difficult ministry overseas. In the end that relationship enabled him to die victoriously at the age of thirty-four. Here is the letter which on December 1, 1960 he wrote to the president of Notre Dame, his alma mater:
Dear Father Hesburgh: They've got me down. Flat on the back, with plaster, sand bags, and hot water bottles. I've contrived a way of pumping the bed up a bit so that, with a long reach, I can get to my typewriter . . . Two things prompt this note to you. The first is that whenever my cancer acts up a bit, and it is certainly "acting up" now, I turn inward. Less do I think of my hospitals around the world, or of 94 doctors, fundraisers, and the like. More do I think of one Divine Doctor and my personal fund of grace. It has become pretty definite that the cancer has spread to the lumbar vertebra, accounting for all the back problems over the last two months. I have monstrous phantoms, all men do. And inside and outside the wind blows. But when the time comes, like now, then the storm around me does not matter. The winds within me do not matter. Nothing human or earthly can touch me. A peace gathers in my heart. What seems unpossessable, I can possess. What seems unfathomable, I can fathom. What is unutterable, I can utter. Because I can pray. I can communicate. How do people endure anything on earth if they cannot have God?
From Vernon Grounds, "The One Institution We Can't Do Without." ML Journal, Vol.
V, No. 2. Submitted by one of our anonymous subscribers in Santa Ana,
NOT MUCH VALUE ANYMORE! A book collector ran into an unbookish acquaintance who soon revealed that old books didn't mean anything to him. In fact, he observed he had just thrown away a big old Bible which had been packed away in the attic of his ancestral home for generations. He was describing it and said, "Somebody named Guten-some-thing had printed it."
The bibliophile gasped. "Not Gutenberg! You idiot! You've just thrown away one of the first books ever printed. A copy sold recently at an auction for over a million dollars!"
But the other man was unmoved. He responded, "No, not my copy. It wouldn't have brought a dime. Some fellow named Martin Luther had scribbled notes all through it!" Submitted by Robert Strand, Grand Junction, Colorado.
PRUDENCE A young man in Palermo was brought before the judge, accused of robbery. The case against him was strong but the judge heard nothing from the defense. Finally the Judge turned to the alleged robber and scolded, "Well, what have you to say for yourself? Where are your witnesses? Don't you have any witnesses in this case?" The prisoner said quietly, "No, your honor, not me — I never take along any witnesses when I commit a robbery." Funny, Funny World
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 6 /6.3.6
FROM THE FOLKS WHO BRING YOU TV Some months back, the research team of Lichter and Rothman made the most in-depth study ever conducted of those who are responsible for our entertainment programs. Those researched represented the 'cream of television's creative community.'
Of the people who control television, who tell us what we can watch on the networks, 59% were raised in Jewish homes, 25% in Protestant homes, and 12% in Catholic homes. (This compares with a population which is 67% Protestant, 22% Catholic and 2.5% Jewish.) At the present time 93% of these people say they seldom or never attend worship and 44% currently claim no religion at all.
Lichter and Rothman said that 97% of these people believe a woman has the right to decide on abortion, only 5% strongly agree that homosexuality is morally wrong, only 16% strongly agree that adultery is morally wrong, 69% feel the government should redistribute the income in our society, and 45% believe the government should guarantee everyone a job.
When asked what groups they would give the most influence to if they could reshape society they placed religion next to last, listed only above the military.
Quoting the study, "... two out of three believe that TV entertainment should be a major force for social reform. This is perhaps the single most striking finding in our study. According to television's creators, they are not in it just for the money. They also seek to move their audience toward their own vision of the good society."
Programs which belittle or demean the Jewish religion and Jewish people are, and should be, unacceptable. However, those responsible for our entertainment programs night after night air programs which belittle or demean Christianity and Christians.
• • •
There is no room for anti-Christian programs just as there is no room for anti-semitic programming. Fairminded people of all faiths agree with that premise.
From an Editorial in the National Federation for Decency's Journal, March 1986,
page 2, by Don Wildmon, Executive Director.
OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE WORLD One of the strangest stories to come out of World War II concerns the mystery of two young men who were captured by the Americans in Germany near the end of the war.
The two were shipped to a P.O.W. camp in this country. Attempts were made to integrate them to no avail. They would not or could not speak to American authorities. They kept to themselves and refused to talk to anyone, even their fellow German prisoners. In fact, the other German prisoners insisted that they knew nothing of the pair either.
The American officers were puzzled. The two men seemed frightened and bewildered but not sullen or rebellious. After a few weeks in their new quarters they even seemed willing to cooperate, but when they finally did speak no one could understand a word they said.
There was something else too. They did not look like Germans. Their features were more Mongoloid or Asiatic in appearance. Accordingly, an expert in Asiatic languages was called in. He soon solved the mystery. The two were Tibetans, and they were overjoyed that at last someone was able to understand them, and to listen to their incredible, almost unbelievable, story.
It seems that in the summer of 1941 the two friends, lured by a desire to see something of the world outside their tiny village, crossed the northern frontier of Tibet and for weeks wandered happily in Soviet Russian territory. Abruptly they were
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 7 /6.3.7
picked up by Russian authorities, put on a train with hundreds of other young men, shipped west — to where — they had no idea.
Outside a large city, at an army camp, they were issued uniforms and rifles, and given some rudimentary military training. After a few days they were loaded onto trucks with the other soldiers and shipped to the Russian front.
They were horrified at what they saw. Men were killing each other with artillery, rifles — even hand-to-hand fighting. Being good Buddhists, killing was against their moral principles. They started to flee to the rear, but in their flight were overtaken by the Germans and were made prisoners.
Once again they were loaded onto a train and shipped, this time, to Germany. After the Normandy invasion, as the American forces neared Germany, they were put into an auxiliary service in the German Army. As the Americans continued to advance the two were given guns and told to fight with the Germans. Once again they tried to flee, but this time were captured by the Americans.
When they had finished their story, the interpreter asked them if they had any questions. They had only one: 'Why were all those people trying to kill each other?' Bits and Pieces, March 1986.
PERSPECTIVE Saul's soldiers thought Goliath was too big to kill. David thought he was too big to miss!"
CONTEST Our next contest is going to be on the theme of "Overcoming Handicaps." Send in your stories of people who have managed to succeed in spite of significant handicaps (of any kind). Entries are due in by June 10, 1986. The top five stories will each get a full year's extension of their active subscription. All other stories that are printed will get a four-month extension.
OTHER TOPICS We're looking for good stories on Success, Modern Angels, Stewardship, Heaven, Love, Differing Perspectives, Conversion, Joy, Miracles. And we're always looking for truly funny or powerful stories on any topic. As mentioned before, we are also looking for stories that would be good for a Commencement talk.
BACK ISSUES . . . are available at $2.25 each ($2.50 each for foreign subscribers). Please enclose pre-payment with all orders for back issues — we do not charge back issues except on your Visa or Mastercard.
Spring ... is God thinking in gold, laughing in blue and speaking in green. Submitted by Robert Strand, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Flattery ... is like chewing gum — enjoy it briefly, but don't swallow it!
Submitted by Rich Hardison, Tabernacle Church, Norfolk, Virginia.
No ... Learn to say no; it will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin. Charles Spurgeon
The Proof Is In The Hearing . . . Rule number two in public speaking: After a flattering introduction, never tell the audience you don't deserve it. They'll find out soon enough.
Submitted by Robert Strand, Grand Junction, Colorado.
Parables, Etc. / May, 1986 Page 8 /6.3.8
Know How To Go With The Flow . . . The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators. Edward Gibbon
Success . . . Eighty percent of success is showing up. Woody Allen
Prosperity . . .Most people can't stand prosperity . . . but then again, most people
don't have to.
Nothing But Winners by Pat Williams and Ken Hussar (TriMark Publishing Co., Wilmington, Delaware) 1984. 6000 One Liners! Here's a few more from this treasure trove of short shot type of material.
Think About It ... Remember, a bird in the hand makes it awfully hard to blow your nose.
Planning ... If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.
Realism ... If you dance with a grizzly bear, you'd better let him lead.
Last Words ... "I will stick to Christ as a burr to a topcoat!" Last words of Katherine von Bora, wife of Martin Luther.
from His magazine, submitted by Chaplain Warren Dane, Rantoul, Illinois.
Wisdom Regarding the Mouth ... A closed mouth gathers no feet. Bits & Pieces
Summary . . . "God has some that the Church doesn't. And the Church has some that God doesn't."
St. Augustine, submitted by Fr. John Oliver, Gainesville, Florida.
How Long Can You Live? . . . Man can live without air for a very few minutes, without water for a number of days, without food for about two months, without a new thought for years on end.
Submitted by Fr. John Oliver, Gainesville, Florida.
A Cooling Trivial Thought For A Summer Day . . . The ice pack over the North Pole is as big as the lower 48 states of the U.S.
Advantages of the Aged ... One good thing about becoming ninety years old is that your're not subject to much peer pressure. Edward Bernays, Reader's Digest
The Older Generation . . . You know you're a part of the older generation if you can't hear the "William Tell Overture" without thinking of The Lone Ranger.