". . . 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 11 January / 1987
THINGS THAT CHANGE US FOR GOOD At a recent preaching seminar I heard Ian Pitt-Wattson tell the following true story which a student named Bill had shared from his own life in a student sermon at Fuller Theological Seminary:
"When I was a young boy I fell in love with golf and my parents gave me a club and a harmless whiffle-type golf ball which I could hit around the back yard. I loved to swing the club and the feeling of hitting the ball — even though it would not go very far because of it's lightness and all the holes in it. One day, thinking my parents weren't home, I had the overwhelming temptation to feel the click of a real ball against the club head. I teed it up and gave it a hard whack. Unfortunately the ball was not hit properly and it hooked sharply from its intended flight and the ball went directly for one of the windows of our house and right through the window with a terrifying crash. But the crash was immediately followed by a piercing scream. Oh, no! I ran for the house, burst into the living room and there, standing in front of the window was my mother, bleeding. I gasped. What had I done? I cried out, "Mother, I could have killed you!" She hugged me and said, 'I'm O.K. It's all right. I'm going to be all right!'"
Bill concluded the story by saying, "There in that momsnt — when I saw my mother bleeding — there were some things I could never do again in the back yard. I could never so much as carry a golf club across the lawn of our back yard. The sight of her standing there with blood flowing down — that I had caused — changed my behavior forever."
Bill then invited the class to look at another one — Jesus Christ — bleeding. He's talking to his mother, saying, "It's all right. It's O.K. It's really Good Friday."
Christ invites us to look at him, bleeding — suffering the result of our sin — and he says to us "It's all right. It's really all right. It's Good Friday." But when you've seen Christ like that there are some things you can never do again.
This story illustrates the enormity of the idea of continuing in sin once we have truly seen the savior bloodied with the results of our disobedience. In Romans 6 Paul cries out "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may about? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" To continue in sin becomes unthinkable.
DON'T GET TOO HUMBLE After a worship service an old lady stopped and spoke to the pastor who had only been with them a few months. She said, "I'm deaf, and I can't hear a word you say, but I still come to get my plate full." Hoping to console her, the pastor said, "Well, maybe you haven't missed much." She replied, "Yes, that's what they all tell me."
Submitted by John Herman, Christ Lutheran Church, Fairfax, Virginia.
MORE HUMBLE PIE Along a similar vein is the one about the pastor who has just announced to the congregation that he would be leaving their church. There is a good deal of crying and lots of kind words. As the pastor is talking to one lady who has expressed her sadness at his leaving he consoles her with the generous words, "Oh, don't feel bad. I'm sure our superintendent will come up with a much better replacement." And she turned and said, "Oh that's what they said last time, in fact that's what they say all the time. But it never has worked out!"
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 2 /6.11.2
WHEN GOD ANSWERS PRAYER During the minister's prayer one Sunday there was a loud whistle from one of the back pews. Gary's mother was horrified. She pinched him into silence, and after church asked: "Gary, whatever made you do such a thing?"
Gary answered Soberly: "I asked God to teach me to whistle . . . and He just then did!"
From James Cammack's Parables From Outside Paradise, Snyder Memorial Baptist
Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina.
JOHN ADAMS: EARLY AMBITION, LATER MATURITY Though John Adams was a brilliant and powerfully influential founding father of our country, in his younger days he was certainly touched by a powerful dose of ambition. Richard B. Morris writes of him and quotes from his diary:
A driven man, he was thirsty for fame and greedy for applause, seemingly obsessed with his reputation and how it could be enhanced. As a young man he entered this self-questioning in his diary, almost in despair: "How shall I gain a reputation! How shall I spread an opinion of myself as a lawyer of distinguished genius, learning, and virtue!" Combining enormous self-esteem with a very special talent for denigrating his rivals, he exploited his first-rate mind and abundant energy to propel himself forward on his career. Ever so often, however, he was beset by self-doubt and would succumb to a state of depression, exhibiting to the external world his peevish and fretful side. Inclined to dramatize his role, he alternately saw himself as a prime mover of events or a wretched failure whom greatness would always elude. (Page 73)
• • •
John Adams never had the savoir faire to fit into the diplomatic scene — but he was a diplomat and eventually our second president. Sewell, one of his best friends in his youth (but with whom he parted over the issues of the revolution) said Adams was miscast in his diplomatic role:
"He was an honest lawyer as ever broke breath but he is not qualified, by nature or education, to shine in courts. His abilities are undoubtedly equal to the mechanical parts of his business as ambassador, but this is not enough. He cannot dance, drink, game, flatter, promise, dress, swear with the gentlemen and talk small talk and flirt with the ladies. In short, he has none of the essential arts or ornaments which constitute a courtier." (Page 97)
When John Adams was a bit older and wiser (1776) he had a discussion with Thomas Jefferson about who should write the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was willing to defer to Adams as his senior in years and in reputation as a chief architect of independence. But Adams insisted that Jefferson do the writing. When pressed for his reasons, according to his very late recollection, stated: "Reason first — You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second — I am so obnoxious and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third — You can write ten times better than I." (Page 107) Richard Morris, Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny.
VANITY ... We often say things because we can say them well, rather than because they are sound and reasonable. Walter Savage Landor
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. / January, 1987 Page 3 /6.11.3
A BIAS THAT SHOWS Did you read about the little boy who returned home after his first Sunday School class? His mother asked, "Who was your teacher?' and the little boy answered, "I don't remember her name, but she must have been Jesus' grandmother because she didn't talk about anyone else."
Does our conversation reflect our love of Jesus? Would our words give away our relationship with him? Leadership
BASIC REQUIREMENT FOR COMMUNICATION Two men were talking one day. One of them said, "My wife talks to herself a lot." His friend answered, "Mine does too, but she doesn't know it. She thinks I'm listening."
Submitted by Tim Purcell, Strathavon Wesleyan Church, Rapid City, South Dakota.
IF ONLY Many years ago my grandmother sent the wherewithal to Holland for her sister Greta to immigrate to America. Thrilled at the prospect of seeing my grandmother again after twenty-five years, Greta booked passage on the first steamer leaving Rotterdam, settling for accomodations in steerage rather than waiting another six months to travel in the grand style that her relatives had planned for her . A thoughtful purser, familiar with this common choice among families anxious for reunions, discreetly offered my great-aunt the hospitality of the upper decks of the ship during the day. Greta declined this privilege, however, and remained sequestered in her dark, rancid, and noisy quarters for the fourteen long days of her journey. My aunt called this "minding one's place." She never presumed that there was anything more to sailing across the menacing Atlantic Ocean than enduring volcanic tosses from her mildewed perch until reaching land safely on the other side.
Only on disembarking in New York Harbor did Greta behold what she had been missing. On those upper decks that she had regarded as off limits were tapestries, chandeliers, wood-carved cornices, Oriental rugs, silver, gleaming crystal, and buffets laden with exotic and plentiful food and drink. Most alarming of all, though, there were people just like Aunt Greta, stranded in fourth-class sleeping accomodations, who had accepted the invitation of the venerable steamship company and had toddled above to enjoy these treasures daily. "Imagine," my aunt would gasp. "It could all have been mine, too, had I only said yes."
Doris Donnelly, "Is The Spiritual Life For Everyone?", Weavings Volume 1, No. 1, Sept/Oct 1986. (Published by The Upper Room). Submitted by Jay Dudley, Martinez, California.
TRUE OBJECTIVITY Two small boys walked into the dentist's office. One of them said bravely. "I want a tooth taken out and I don't want any gas, and I don't want it deadened . . • because we're in a hurry!"
The dentist said, "You're quite a brave young man. Which tooth is it?"
The boy turned to his smaller friend and said, "Show him your tooth, Albert."
The world is full of volunteers like that. We're anxious to have something happen — to someone else! We don't mind God changing the world — as long as he doesn't bring any pain into our lives.
From the soon-to-be published Parables From Outside Paradise, by James Cammack, Snyder Memorial Baptist Church, Faye11eville , North Carolina.
KEEP GOING Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.
Charles Kettering, as quoted in Bits & Pieces.
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 4 /6.11.4
PENN'S RULES OF CONVERSATION Avoid company where it is not profitable or necessary, and in those occasions, speak little, and last. Silence is wisdom where speaking is folly, and always safe. Some are so foolish as to interrupt and anticipate those that speak instead of hearing and thinking before they answer, which is uncivil, as well as silly. If thou thinkest twice before thou speakest once, thou wilt speak twice the better for it. Better to say nothing than not to the purpose. And to speak pertinently, consider both what is fit, and when it is fit, to speak. In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory or an unjust interest; and endeavor to gain, rather than to expose, thy antagonist. William Penn, as quoted in Leadership.
OUR FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY AND GUILT In the "guilt versus grace" discussion it seems that most people have a deep sensitivity about their own guilt, flaws and inadequacies. Most of us don't need to be told we are hypocrites, we already know this about ourselves. Man can identify with the feelings expressed by Jules Fiefer in his poem first published in The Village Voice.
I felt like a fraud, so I learned to fly an airplane
At 50,000 feet I thought, "A fraud is flying an airplane."
So I crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat. I docked at Cherbourg.
And I thought, "A fraud has crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat."
So I took a space shot to the moon.
On the way home I thought, "A fraud has circled the moon."
So I took a full page ad in the newspaper,
And confessed to the world that I was a fraud.
I read the ad and thought -
"A fraud is pretending to be honest."
Submitted by Darrel Robertson, United Presbyterian and First Congregational Church, Ashland, Wisconsin.
THE PATTERN LIVES ON Former missionary to Africa, James King, tells the following true story: In one of the African churches under his care, there was a lady who came by herself to every service. Accompanying her was a mongrel, non-descript dog. He would enter with the lady and sit beside her during service. She sat on an outside seat next to the aisle. At the conclusion of the service, when the invitation had been given by the pastor to come for prayer — the dog would come along and take his place beside her.
The lady's husband was a hard man and abused his wife. In fact, he beat her so severely for her Christian life-style, that he beat her to death. At the funeral he forbid her Christian pastor to conduct a Christian funeral. After her death and burial it was only he and the dog left. But he noticed that the dog disappeared on Wednesday evening about 7:00 and didn't reappear for about two hours. It happened again on Sunday — about 9:00 A.M. the dog was gone and returned about 12:30. The same thing again that evening.
The following Sunday A.M. the man's curiosity was so aroused that he decided to follow and see what the dog was up to. He had to really hurry to keep up. He followed the dog to the humble little church — the dog went in, took his seat on the aisle while the service went on. At the close of the service, the man who had taken a seat in the back to watch the dog, saw the dog come forward and take a place at the altar where his wife had prayed. The man was so touched in his spirit that, he too went forward and gave his life to Christ. Now the dog comes to church with a new master.
Submitted by Robert Strand, First Assembly of God, Grand Junction, Colorado.
COPING PROBLEMS Coping with difficult people is always a problem, particularly if the difficult person happens to be oneself.
Ashleigh Brilliant, All I Want Is A Warm Bed and A Kind Word and Unlimited Power
(Woodbridge Press, Santa Barbara, California), page 25.
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 5 /6.11.5
JUST WHAT I ALWAYS SUSPECTED Sometimes we think of God as the author of all the things that go wrong in our lives. The following story is used to illustrate this concept.
A friend of mine named Kirk was having one of those bad days where everything seems to go wrong. One thing after another until, at the close of the day, he lay in bed absolutely exhausted. As he thought over the day he became more and more upset until he finally blurted out, "Why me God? Why does everything always go wrong for me?" Suddenly the ceiling of his room was pulled back and a huge hand with an outstretched finger came down and poked him on the chest and a loud majestic voice thundered, "Because you bug me, Kirk"
Submitted by Kirk Potter, First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Washington.
COMMUNICATION? A cartoon by Mark Pie appeared several years ago in the New Wine magazine. It showed a professor beginning a lecture to his class on "Communication" with these words: "Communication is any modus operandi by or through which eventuates the reciprocal transposition of information between or among entities or groups via commonly understood systems of symbols, signs or behavioral patterns of activity."
Submitted by Charles Cooper, Prairie St. Mennonite Church, Elkhart, Indiana.
OVERCOMING HANDICAPSf Charles Steinmetz, the electrical genius, and one of the founding fathers of the colossal General Electric, was crippled from birth. His body was grotesque; he was so short in stature that he looked like a dwarf; he was a hunchback.
His mother died before he was one year old. His father was comparatively poor, but was determined that as far as possible, young Charles would have a thorough education. Charles couldn't run and play games as normal boys did, so he made up his mind that he would devote himself to science. He set this goal: "I will make discoveries that will help other people."
When he immigrated to the U.S., he could not speak a word of English. The port authorities were tempted to return him to his native Switzerland. His face was swollen from the cold he had endured on the boat passage across the Atlantic. He was dwarfed and misshapen in body. His sight was defective. His clothes were shabby.
But Charles stayed, and even found a job that paid him twelve dollars a week. And he showed amazing abilities. The infant company, General Electric, quickly realized that in Charles Steinmetz they had one of the greatest experts in the world in the field of electricity. His career was marked by unparalleled research and development.
When Steinmetz died in 1923, one writer said, "This deformed hunchback had the mind of an angel and the soul of a seer." Though he was twisted and dwarfed in body, Charles Steinmez was a giant in mind and spirit.
As told by Dan Betzer on the Revivaltime radio broadcast. Submitted by John
Enabnit, First Christian Church, Long Beach, California.
AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER? In 1928, a very interesting case came before the courts in the state of Massachusetts. It concerned a man who had been walking on a boat dock when suddenly he tripped over a rope and fell into the cold, deep water of an ocean bay. He came up sputtering and yelling for help and then sank again, obviously in trouble. His friends were too far away to get to him, but only a few yards away, on another dock, was a young man sprawled on a deck chair, sunbathing. The desperate man shouted "Help, I can't swim!" The young man, an excellent swimmer, only turned his head to watch as the man floundered in the water, sank, came up sputtering in total panic, and then disappeared forever.
The family of the drowned man was so upset by that display of callous indifference
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 6 /6.11.6
that they sued the sunbather. They lost. The court reluctantly ruled that the man on the dock had no legal responsibility whatever to try and save the other man's life. In effect, the law agrees with Cain's presupposition: I am not my brother's keeper, and I have every legal right to mind my own business and to refuse to become involved.
Gary Inrig, Quality Friendship, page 105. Submitted by Rick Mandl, Eagle Rock
Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California.
SPORTS QUOTES Maybe you've seen the new book called Sports Quotes; it has some great short quotations: Here's a sampler:
Job Security: I have a lifetime contract. That means I can't be fired during the third quarter if we're ahead and moving the ball. Lou Holtz, Football Coach [currently at Notre Dame].
Timing Is Everything: It's good sportmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling. Mark Twain
True Importance: When you're playing for the a national championship, it's not a matter of life or death. It's more important than that. Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State football coach
OVERCOMING HANDICAPS In 1984 David Stevens of Wickenberg, Arizona tried out for the Minnesota Twins. He was a good high school baseball player and batter .320; he also was state wrestling champ and played nose guard on football. David was not asked to join the Twins. He was a little slow in the 60 yard dash — 12.5 seconds — most will run it in half that time but then David runs with his hands. You see, this brave young man was born without legs.
David is a rare person who will not let life get him down. His high school coach said, "I've never seen such a spirit."
Submitted by Doyal Van Gelder, Friendship Baptist Church, Prior Lake, Minnesota.
A NOVEL REACTION TO CRITICISM Jamie Buckingham writes in Coping With Criticism: For a number of years, until her death in 1976, I worked off and on with Kathryn Kuhlman as a writer. Although Miss Kuhlman was very sensitive to criticism, she never let it deter her from her goal. Instead, she used it to help her get there — always seeming to make the very best out of even the harshest criticism.
Shortly after she went on nationwide television with her weekly program, she received a letter from a public school official in the little town of Iredell, Texas.
"I love you and love your program," he wrote. "It would have been much better, however, if you didn't have to spend so much time tugging at your skirt trying to pull it down over your knees. It was really distracting. Why don't you wear a long dress instead?"
Kathryn read the letter. "You know, he's right," she said to her secretary.
She never wore another street-length dress on her TV program. A lesser person would have responded with anger, or passed it off as just another senseless remark, or sneered at it with the NIH [Not Invented Here] mentality. But she was not that sort of lesser person. She heard. She coped. She let it help her toward her goal of communicating. All of which was possible because there was no root of bitterness to give a bad taste to everything which came into her life which presented another viewpoint.
Submitted by David Sell, California Bible College, San Jose, California.
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 7 /6.11.7
A WISE AND HUMBLE PERSPECTIVE ON SUCCESS A newspaper reporter was interviewing an old rancher and asked him to what he would attribute his success as a rancher. With a twinkle in his eye the man replied, "It's been about 50 percent weather, 50 percent good luck and the rest is brains."
From Jokes Priests Can Tell, by Arthur Tonne, Vol. 1. Submitted by Dennis Fast,
Mennonite Brethren Church, Hillsboro, Kansas.
WHEN NOBODY BUT THE LORD WILL DO A hurricane had struck. People were huddled together. An old preacher was praying with great oratorical effects in the midst of this violent storm, crying out "Send us the spirit of the children of Israel, the children of Moses, the children of the Promised land." At this, an old man with less oratory but more directness prayed, "Lord, don't send nobody. Come yourself. This ain't no time for children."
Submitted by Dick Underdahl-Peirce , Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
HOW OLD? A little child said, "Mother, how old must I be before I can be a Christian?" And the wise mother answered, "How old will you have to be, darling, before you can love me?" She responded, "Why, mother, I always loved you. I do now and always shall." She kissed her mother and said, "But you have not told me yet how old I shall have to be!"
The mother answered with another question: "How old must you be before you can trust yourself wholly to me and to my care?" The girl answered, "I always did." And she kissed her mother again and said, "but tell me what I want to know."
The mother again asked, "How old will you have to be before you can do what I want you to do?" Then the child answered, "I can do that now without growing any older."
Then the mother said, "You can be a Christian now, without being any older. All you have to do is to love and trust and try to please the One who says, 'Let the little ones come to me.'"
Submitted by Paul Wharton, Parish of the Immaculate Conception, Clarksburg, West
MISPLACED FOCUS It was the first rain of the season and my windshield got worse as I drove. It wasn't long before my focus was on my windshield and how my wipers were doing. Then suddenly I realized that I was about to rear-end the back of a big semi truck and trailer! We have the same problem in the Church. Whenever we become so preoccupied with our own lives and how we are doing morally, or with our fellowship and study as ends in themselves, we have mis-placed our focus. We forget what we are really about as Christ's people and Body. The quality of life within the church and our faith really are vital but they are there to free us to see the world more clearly, that God loves so dearly, in all of its stark need and pain, possibilities and potential. Just as when a family squabble in the car distracts us from the highway and the more important issues going on out there, so also with the Church. Where is your focus — individually and as a fellowship — on your morality or on Christ's misssion. Let's look through our faith to see the world Christ loves and not miss any opportunity to share Him and his concern for what is happening on the highways of life!
Submitted by Lloyd Auchard, Menlo Park, California.
APPLAUSE The late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was greeted by a burst of applause when he made his appearance as a speaker at a meeting in Minneapolis. He responded by saying: "Applause before a speaker begins is an act of faith. Applause during the speech is an act of hope. Applause after he has concluded is an act of charity.
Submitted by Lester Weeks, First Christian Church, Platte City, Missouri.
Parables, Etc. / January, 1987 Page 8 /6.11.8
A SMILE A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that they can get along without it, and none is so poor but that they can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature's best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as the one who has no more to give.
Submitted by K. E. Weber, Bethlehem United Church of Christ, Maple Lake,
THINGS THAT LAST . . . Nothing lasts as long as a new breakfast cereal you can't stand, or wears as long as the ugly carpet whose bilious color you hate.
OBSERVATION . . .We've had the same neighbors for 20 years. And not once did the lady next door explain why her soap powder is better than ours. Funny, Funny World
REALLY FAST . . . Forget about jets, racing cars and speed boats. Nothing goes as fast as middle age.
Funny, Funny World