". . . he did not speak to them without a parable" Jesus Mark 4:34 R.S.V.
- a monthly resource letter for pastors/teachers/speakers
Volume 6, Number 10 December / 1986
SEASON'S GREETINGS- The church choir director was being driven out of his mind at the rehearsals for the Christmas Choral Concert. It seemed that at least one or more members of the choir was absent at every rehearsal. Finally they reached the last rehearsal and he announced: "I want to personally thank the pianist for being the only person in this entire church choir to attend each and every rehearsal during the past two months." At this, the pianist rose, bowed, and said, "It was the least I could do, considering I won't be able to be at the Christmas Choir Concert tonight."
A SIGN OF STRENGTH AND MAJESTY The religious and political leaders who were in power at the time misread the events of Jesus' birth. When people are to have a baby, they go to the best hospital they can afford. They get the best delivery room they can find with the best doctors and highly trained specialists. They get the best that money can buy. And they do this not because they feel so strong, but because they feel so weak.
When God's son was born, he was born in a stable under very austere and unsanitary conditions. It happened this way not because God was so poor, but because God was so sure of himself.
The leaders misread the signs. The baby born in the stable is not a sign of a weak and ineffectual king. But it is a sign of the majesty that is secure and knows who he is. It's a sign of love. The leaders of that time didn't know anything about that. And so, they missed it.
From a sermon by Earl Palmer, given at First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, California. Submitted by Jerry Ableidinger, Presbyterian Church, Woodland, California.
THREE WAYS OF VIEWING CHRISTMAS Well-known television communicaster Harry Reisner wrote the following:
Eleven years ago in my previous incarnation on this broadcast [60 minutes] I did a little Christmas piece, it seemed like a good idea to repeat it. The basis for this tremendous annual burst of buying things and gift buying and parties and near hysteria, is a quiet event that Christians believe actually happened a long time ago. You can say that in all societies there has always been a midwinter festival, and that many of the trappings of our Christmas are almost violently pagan, but you come back to the central fact, of the day and quietness of Christmas morning, the birth, of God, on earth.
It leaves you only three ways of accepting Christmas, one is cynically, as a time to make money or endorse the making of it. One is graciously, the appropriate attitude for non-Christians, who wish their fellow citizens all the joys to which their beliefs entitle them, and the third, of course, is reverently. If this is the anniversary of the appearance of the Lord of the the universe, in the form of a helpless babe — it is a very important day. It's a startling idea, of course. My guess is that the whole story that a virgin was selected by God to bear his Son as a way of showing His love and concern for man, it's my guess, that in spite of all the lip service given to it, is not an idea that has been popular with theologians.
It's a somewhat illogical idea, and theologians like logic almost as much as they like God. It's so revolutionary a thought that it probably could only come from a God that
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is beyond logic, and beyond theology. It has a magnificent appeal. Almost nobody has seen God, and almost nobody has any real idea of what he is like, and the truth is that among men the idea of seeing God suddenly, and standing in a very bright light, is not necessarily a completely comforting and appealing idea. But everyone has seen babies, and most people like them. If God wanted to be loved as well as feared, he moved correctly here. If He wanted to know his people as well as rule them, He moved correctly here, for a baby growing up learns all about people. If God wanted to be intimately a part of man he moved correctly, for the experience of birth, and familyhood is our most intimate and precious experience.
So it comes beyond logic. It is either all falsehood or it is the truest thing in the world. It's the story of the great innocence of God the baby. God in the power of man, and has such a dramatic shock toward the heart, that it, if it is not true, for Christians, nothing is true.
So, if a Christian is touched only once a year, the touching is still worth it, and maybe on some given Christmas, some final quiet morning, the touch will take. Submitted by Keith Lamm, San Diego, California.
A PARABLE OF CHRISTMAS EVE Once there lived a king who had power over all nations and peoples. His courts were of richest Splendor; his tables were heavy with finest food. Music and laughter and gaiety floated from his castle. Clouds wrapped it in ethereal majesty. Peasants — in their valley of violence and hunger — stopped and looked at the castle for a long while, wishing they might know the king. But none were able to reach it.
In the cold of winter, the king's tailor entered the royal chambers with the latest additions to the king's wardrobe. He had selected the finest materials and woven them into the most beautiful garments that eyes had ever seen.
But the king was not pleased. He ordered his tailor out, vowing to make his own clothes. The door to the throne room was shut and locked. Weeks passed. The royal court waited with anticipation to see what the king would make for himself. They knew they were bound to be blinded by the glory of it. Finally the awaited day arrived. The door opened and the king appeared.
Everyone, especially the tailor, gasped in surprise. His Majesty was dressed in the simplest, cheapest, most unkingly garments imaginable. He had the choice of the world's finest materials, but he had chosen to wear the clothes of a beggar.
He spoke quietly to them all: "I am going into the valley!"
By Michael Daves, submitted by Al Reutter, San Jose, California.
PERFECTIONIST A perfectionist is someone who takes infinite pains — and gives them to others. Funny, Funny World
TALK If nobody ever said anything unless he knew what he was talking about, a ghastly hush would descend upon the earth.
Sir Alan Herbert, Sunday Times, London. Submitted by Robert Strand, Grand
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THE MARVELOUS PARADOX OF CHRISTMAS The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.
From A Room Called Remember, by Frederick Buechner, page 61. Submitted by Jerry
Ableidinger, Woodland, California.
SOME RULES ARE TOUGHER THAN OTHERS A true story: Four year old Jimmy was on a family vacation last summer and he was given quarters for the video game machine by his older sister. Since Jimmy is not proficient in operating such games, the quarters went rapidly. Finally he had to be told that there were no more quarters. He demanded, "But I want more."
His sister responded, "Jimmy, in life we don't always get what we want."
Jimmy paused, and then shouted, "I hate that rule!"
Submitted by H. D. Mitchell, St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, Homewood, Illinois.
ENTRY There was a soldier in the Union Army, a youngest son who had lost his older brother and his father in the war. He went to Washington, D.C. to see President Lincoln to ask for an exemption from military service so he could go back and help his sister and mother with the spring planting on the farm. When he arrived in Washington, after having received a furlough from the military to go and plead his case, he went to the White House, approached the doors and asked to see the President, and he was told, "You can't see the President: Don't you know there's a war on? The President's a very busy man. Now go away, son! Get back out there and fight the Rebs like you're supposed to." So he left, very disheartened, and was sitting on a little park bench not far from the White House when a little boy came up to him. The lad said, "Soldier, you look unhappy. What's wrong?" The soldier looked at this young boy and began to spill his heart to this young lad about his situation, about his father having died in the war and his older brother having died in the the war, and how he was the only male left in the family and was needed desperately back at the farm for the spring planting. So the little boy took the soldier by the hand and led him around to the back of the White House. They went through the back door, past the guards, went past all the generals and the high ranking government officials and they all stood at attention as this little boy took this private through the rooms of the White House. The private didn't understand this. Finally, they got to the Presidential office itself and the little boy didn't knock on the door — he just opened the door and walked in — and there was President Lincoln with his Secretary of State, looking over battle plans on his desk, and President Lincoln looked up and said, "What can I do for you, Todd?"
And Todd said, "Daddy, this soldier needs to talk to you." And right then and there the soldier had a chance to plead his case to President Lincoln, and he was exempted from military service due to the hardship he was under.
And such is the case with our Ascended Lord. We have access to the Father through the Son. It is the Son who brings us to the Father's throne and says, "Daddy, here is someone who wants to talk to you."
Submitted by Tom Jones, Grace Episcopal Church, Anniston, Alabama.
WISDOM Fear of jail is the beginning of wisdom. [Nigerian proverb] Funny, Funny World
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THE FACE OF JESUS As a teenager I heard Cecil Henson tell his "death story" many times. He was one of those brilliant, sensitive people that happens occasionally to a small town.
Incredibly, in 1940 Cecil was pronounced medically dead for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. During those lost minutes he entered one of those extraordinary adventures of leaving his body and this world behind. During this period of being dead he discovered a number of things that defy the imagination. Ultimately he felt God directing him to return to this life and to rear his small son, Van.
He came back to dedicate his life to raising the boy who would otherwise have been orphaned. Van's mother had died in childbirth and Cecil had not gotten over the blow. During those missing minutes his hostilities disappeared and he was ready to pour himself into the little lad. Ultimately, Van grew to be an outstanding person. Today he is an oral surgeon and countless lives have been touched by his faith as well as his medical skill.
And what happened to change Cecil's life so dramatically? During that period of "twilight" he encountered Jesus in person. In those moments he looked fully into the face of the risen Christ and beheld Him in all of His glory.
It is Cecil's description of His face that has gripped my imagination through the years. He saw the face of Jesus as a marvelous mosaic made up of a hundred small facets. Each piece added a shade or line to the total picture. So in looking into this composite face he could see the countenance of Christ. But as he looked, he could see a hundred parts.
The startling realization was that the mosaic pieces were not tile, metal, or glass. Each small section was a clear, distinct cameo of someone's face. As Cecil stared fixedly at the face there was a pulsating fluctuation between the total face and the cameo sections. One minute he could see the Face and then in the next he was aware of hundreds of faces.
In awe Cecil began to recognize what was revealed in each of those cameos. They were all people he knew! Moreover, they were all people who had loved him and given him kindness during his life. He could see an aunt and an uncle. And there was his mother and on the other side his father's face moved into focus. School teachers, friends, associates, people who had already died before him. And now through their graciousness and goodness they had become a part of conveying the human picture of Christ.
Overwhelmed in worship and amazement, Cecil bowed before the risen Lord. In the lingering moments of that experience, anxieties, fears and doubts were healed. When Cecil "returned" to start his life again, the face of Jesus guided him through the years ahead. Christ and Cross remained sufficient for him until, over 20 years later, he died.
From When There Is No Miracle by Robert Wise, pp. 174-175. Submitted by John
Bristol, First Presbyterian Church, Milpitas, California.
OPTIMIST / PESIMIST An optimist is one who believes he lives in the best of all worlds. A Pessimist fears that this is true.
Submitted by Bruce Rowlison, Presbyterian Church, Gilroy, California.
THINK BIG Attempt something so great for God that it's doomed to failure unless God be in it.
Submitted by Rich Hardison, Norfolk, Virginia.
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It was a family treasure, that vase
that golden vase The vase that had belonged to my
great-grandmother, to my grandmother,
and now to my mother... And the vase sat on the mantle
out of reach of little fingers. However, I managed to reach it I climbed to reach it I broke it
the family treasure. Golden pieces of once a family treasure
that moments before was priceless And I began to cry
then louder in sobs that brought
my mother running. I could hardly get it out:
I broke the vase...the treasure. And then my mother gave to me a gift:
A look of relief over her face and
"Oh, I thought you had been hurt!" And then she hugged to her the one who had just moments before
broken the family treasure. She gave to me a gift:
She made it very clear that
I was the family treasure. I was what was priceless and of great value. She also made it very clear
where her heart was.
From Multiply The Gift, Presbyterian Church, St. Andrew s United Methodist Church, Homewood
Christmas is love
tugging man back to God
With the powerful grasp of a tiny hand
Reaching out from a bed of straw.
Submitted by Janet Macgregor, Sanford Heights Presbyterian Church, Irvington, New Jersey.
I only did what you have done A thousand times or more
When Joseph came to Bethlehem And knocked upon my door
I did not turn the Christ away
With alibi so deft. Like you, I simply gave to Him Whatever I had left.
B. P. Baker
Submitted by C. James Pasma, Baptist Church, North Syracuse, New York.
USA. Submitted by H. D. Mitchell, , Illinois.
WHEN THE FUN STOPS AND INTEGRITY TAKES OVER Bubba Smith has sworn off booze. Not drinking it, but selling it. Bubba never did drink, but he sold a ton of beer by making cute television ads. Not anymore. Bubba has kicked the habit.
As far as I know, Bubba Smith is the first athlete ever, maybe the first person ever to give up a very lucrative, stupendously easy and really amusing job making beer commercials, just because he decided it was wrong.
Here's how it happened. "I went back to Michigan State for the homecoming parade last year," Bubba said, "I was the grand marshall and I was riding in the back seat of this car. The people were yelling, but they weren't saying, 'Go, State, go!' One side of the street was yelling, 'Tastes great!' and the other side was yelling 'Less filling.'
"Then we go to the stadium. The older folks are yelling 'Kill, Bubba, kill!' But the students are yelling 'Tastes great! Less filling!' Everyone in the stands is drunk. It was like I was contributing to alcohol, and I don't drink. It made me realize I was doing something I didn't want to do.
"I was with my brother, Tody, who is my agent. I told him, "Tody, I'll never do another lite beer commercial.' He almost [bleeped] on himself."
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At the time, the Smith brothers had been dickering with the brewery over a new contract for Bubba. [The beer people] thought it was because of the money," Bubba said. "But it didn't have nothing to do with the money. That was hard to give up, especially me, being a black athlete, it's hard to get stuff [commercial endorsements].
"I loved doing the commercials, but I didn't like the effect it was having on a lot of little people. I'm talking about people in school. Kids would come up to me on the street and recite lines from my commercials, verbatim. They knew the lines better than I did. It was scary. Kids start to listen to things you say, you want to tell 'em something that is the truth.
"Doing those commercials, it's like me telling everyone in school, hey, it's cool to have a Lite beer. I'd go to places like Datona Beach and Fort Lauderdale on spring breaks [as a spokesman for the brewery], and it was scary to see how drunk those kids were. It was fun talking to the fans, until you see people lying on the beach because they can't make it back to their room, or tearing up a city."
When Bubba quit, the brewery went out and hired L.C. Greenwood, another huge, intimidating, black former football player who wears eyeglasses and a mustache. Bubba ripped the tops off beer cans. L.C. rips trees out of the ground.
"[The ad people] don't miss a beat," Bubba said.
Smith lives in L.A. gets a lot of movie and TV acting roles. He lifts weights now, which he never did as a football player, and he weighs about 245 pounds, well below his playing weight.
He has learned how to keep himself in shape. He has learned something else, too. "As the years wear on, you stop compromising your principles," Bubba said.
Excerpted from "That Little Voice Just Kept Chanting: 'Stop, Bubba, Stop'" by Scott Ostler, The Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1986. Submitted by Foster Shannon, Alhambra Presbyterian Church, Alhambra, California.
TO THE THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked to go. He has had 1,026 descendants; 300 were sent to prison for an average term of 13 years; 190 were public prostitutes; 680 were admitted alcoholics. His family, thus far, has cost the state in excess of $420,000. They made no contribution to society.
Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord to the best of his ability. He has had 929 descendants, of these 430 were ministers; 86 became university professors; 13 became university presidents; 75 authored good books; 5 were elected to the United States Congress and 2 to the Senate. One was Vice President of his nation. His family never cost the state one cent but has contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in this land today.
From Family Happiness is Homemade, September, 1986, Vol. 10, No. 9., bulletin insert published by Family Concern, J. Allan Petersen, Editor. Submitted by Bert Ellis, Diamond City, Arkansas.
CAUGHT I was working at a retail store and we were having repeated problems with a mouse. The only food products in the store were all types of candy bars, potato chips, etc. The only item that the mouse would eat would be Nestle Crunch Bars. Each morning we would find one crunch bar partially consumed.
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We set a mouse trap and baited it with Nestle Crunch Bar. We then turned off the
lights of the store and closed and locked the front door but we did not leave. Within
3-4 minutes we heard the snap of the mouse trap. The mouse was defeated by it's
number one love in life.
Whenever our number one love is anything but Christ, it will sooner or later be our defeat.
Submitted by Mike Richardson, Linn Creek, Missouri.
DON'T IGNORE THE WARNING On September 28, 1986 heavy rains flooded many low-lying areas of the Mid-west. Two years prior, a flood many recall as the "Memorial Day Massacre" claimed the lives of twenty people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as small creeks and drainage ditches became killer currents.
As the heavy rains fell on this recent September night, one such area began to flood. With the memory of that tragic evening of two years ago in their minds, law enforcement officers blocked off an exceptionally dangerous street where several had been drowned.
The officer parked his car in front of the rising waters to prevent any from risking their lives. Still several cars drove around the barricade into the swift water. No regard was given to the danger involved or the warning of the officer. These willful motorists took their safety into their own hands and proceeded to do as they pleased.
In the same way, the vast multitudes of mankind have died and gone to eternal destruction because they ignore the life-claiming power of sin and the urgent warning of concerned preachers and Christians who seek to barricade their path to ultimate destruction and detour them to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Submitted by 0. L. Nixdorf, Glenville Bible Baptist Church, Wichita, Kansas who
was visiting in Tulsa during both of these bad storms.
GOOD ADVICE FOR ANYONE While she was enjoying a transatlantic ocean trip, Billie Burke, the famous actress, noticed that a gentleman at the next table was suffering from a bad cold.
She asked him sympathetically, "Are you uncomfortable?" The man nodded.
She said, "I'll tell you just what to do for it. Go back to your stateroom and drink lots of orange juice. Take two aspirins. Cover yourself with all the blankets you can find. Sweat the cold out. I know just what I'm talking about. I'm Billie Burke from Hollywood."
The man smiled warmly and introduced himself in return. He said, "Thanks, I'm Dr. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic." Bits & Pieces
PUTTING IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE A man asked God how long a million years was to Him. God replied, "It's just like a single second of your time, my child."
So the man asked, "And what about a million dollars?" The Lord replied, "To me, it's just like a single penny."
So the man gathered himself up and said, "Well, Lord, could I have one of your pennies?" And God said, "Certainly, my child, just a second." Submitted by Phil Hines, Addy, Washington.
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LET'S HELP EACH OTHER A man's car stalled in the heavy traffic as the light turned green. All his efforts to start the engine failed, and a chorus of honking behind him made matters worse. He finally got out of his car and walked back to the first driver and said, "I'm sorry, but I can't seem to get my car started. If you'll go up there and give it a try, I'll stay here and blow your horn for you."
Submitted by Bruce Rowlison, Presbyterian Church, Gilroy, California.
How To Stay Healthy Though Aged . . . The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people and greatly assists in the circulation of the blood.
Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), submitted by Robert Strand, Grand Junction,
Worry ... is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.
Arthur Somers Roche, submitted by Martin Jose, Valley Christian Center, Dos