".. . he did not speak to them without a parable" Jesus Mark 4:34 RS.V.
a monthly resource letter for pastors/teachers/speakers
Volume 7, Number 4 June / 1987
LISTEN TO YOUR FATHER'S VOICE I feel constrained to share something with you that was a tremendous blessing and inspiration to me. Lisa Groves is one of our Overseas Crusades missionaries in Brazil. She recently wrote about a widow there who has four children. She had just five cruzados, or 20 cents, in her purse. The decision she had to make was to buy either milk, which meant her children would go without food, or to buy bread, in which case they would go without milk. So she prayed to the Lord for two hours, and He told her to buy all the groceries she needed for three months at a huge supermarket called Eldorado. She was to go through checkout stand number seven (there are 124 check stands!). So she filled up three grocery carts to overflowing and proceeded to checkout stand number seven. But the employee at the cash register was leaving for lunch and other checkers motioned for her to go through their stands. The woman replied, "But my Father told me to go through number seven!" The checker left for lunch.
This widow who heard God's voice trusted, stayed and waited at checkout stand number seven for one hour, with 20 cents to her name. The checker returned, astonished and puzzled to see the same lady waiting all that time. As the price of her groceries was added up, an announcement came over the loud speaker: "Good afternoon, shoppers! Today is the seventh anniversary of our opening, and the person in checkout stand number seven gets all her groceries today, free."
From the monthly contact letter written by Bud Schaeffer, missionary with Sports Ambassadors (0C Ministries), submitted by Dennis Fast, Mennonite
Brethren Church, Hillsboro, KS.
RELATING TO ONE ANOTHER In no area of our lives is the cross's way of relating — forgiving one another, being kind to one another, and treating one another kindly — more needed than in the family. The popular columnist Erma Bombeck has talked often about the problem of relationships within families.
In one of her columns she made the point that the trouble with families nowadays is that no one answers anyone. Every time someone asks a question, that person responds with another question. One of her readers noticed it too, and wrote to her that a few days earlier his sixteen-year-old daughter had yelled down from upstairs, "Has anyone seen my new sweater?"
Her father yelled back, "You mean the one that cost $20?"
Her sister replied, "You mean the one you won't let me wear?"
Her brother responded, "You mean the stupid one that makes you look fat?"
Grandma answered, "You mean the one with the low neckline?"
Her mother grumbled, "You mean the one that has to be washed by hand in cold water?"
Everyone was talking about the same sweater but no one answered her question.
We need to listen and hear, to sense and understand, especially in the place where we are best known and our lives are most intricately intertwined. Practicing there, we may be able to carry that style of relationship into all of life.
From Communicator's Commentary, Ephesians, Vol. 8, "Some Signs of Newness of Life," passage on Eph. 4:25-32. Submitted by James Ankerberg, Gladstone, MI.
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COMMUNICATION — GET THE FULL MESSAGE A cluster of small boys, obviously without the price of admission, milled about near one of the entrance gates to a football stadium. An observer said to the ticket-taker in a voice resonant with authority, "Let these kids in and tell me how many there are." The boys filed in and scampered delightedly into the crowd. As the last one entered the ticket-taker said to the observer, "Thirty-four." The man nodded. "Right you are," he said, as he disappeared in the crowd outside the gate.
Submitted by James Ankerberg, Gladstone, MI.
CONDITIONED Years ago the Denver Zoo had a difficult decision to make. They were offered the gift of a beautiful, large polar bear, but the problem was that there was no existing room for the bear. At the time of the gift the Board of Directors was in the middle of a fund-raising campaign to renovate the zoo. They changed the strategy to include a magnificent habitat for the polar bear in their renovation plans.
In the meantime the bear was put in a small, temporary cage. The space was so small that it could only take three steps, turn around and walk three steps back.
Because of unforeseen delays the construction took three years, but its new home was indeed grand: waterfalls, spaciousness, caves. The bear entered its new home, looked around, took three steps, turned around, and took three steps back, turned around.
It is a parable of human life. The promise to all of us is that life has infinite possibilities, a vast environment to explore. Yet most of us settle for a routine that narrows our life to the dimensions of a prison. What have you settled for?
From "Minister's Musings" in Outlook by Mark Trotter, First Un. Meth. Church of
San Diego, submitted by Don Maddox, Corona, CA.
OPPORTUNITY An old Chinese adage says: "Opportunity has a forelock so you can seize it when you meet it. Once it is past, you cannot seize it again." Our English word opportunity comes from the Latin and means "toward the port." It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of the opportunities God gives us.
Warren W. Wiersbe, submitted by Tim Hawks, Christ Community Church, Ruston, LA.
HOW TO GET PERSPECTIVE ON EVANGELISM One evening, after a particularly grueling rehearsal of a locally produced passion play, one of the cast members — who'd had a particularly bad time remembering his lines — was heard to say, "I've finally figured out why God wants me in this play. He's trying to teach me how easy street evangelism is!"
THE HANDICAPS OF YOUTH Parents of two teenagers are worried about their failing eyesight. The daughter can't find anything to wear in a closet full of clothes and the son can't find anything good to eat in a refrigerator full of food. Bits & Pieces
POWERFUL COMMUNICATION Woman to neighbor: "I have a marvelous meat loaf recipe, all I do is mention it to my husband and he says, "Let's eat out." On The Upbeat
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. / June, 1987
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| RECONSIDERPerhaps you long to move on, Hoping freedom to find. To take passage where you can leave Your earthly chains behind.But when you despair of life, Remember it is eternity's training ground Once left, there's no returning To repeat the lessons here found. Barbara Bacon Mancini |
Oh valiant overcomer,
With strength emanating,
Fortitude is a steel rod in your soul.
Not one fight has been in vain.
No battle once disparaged;
For you went beyond them all,
Possessing — to rejuvenate what was lost,
What is of more value
Than a single valiant soul,
Yet among all the wars of time?
Fight on you overcomer!
And confidently choose life,
Until yours is life eternal
Victoriously to take!
Barbara Bacon Mancini
Submitted by Jane Bacon, San Jose, CA. Barbara wrote a series of poems including these two to her older sister Kathy who has had multiple schlerosis for many years and now is dealing with the return of breast cancer.
OVERCOMING ADVERSITY An athlete was blinded in a freak boxing accident. The doctors told him, "You'll never see again." The social workers said, "Learn braille, stay home, accept the fact that you will be dependent on others for the rest of your life." But Morris Frank fought to regain his independence. The result was the development of "The Seeing Eye," the organization which trains seeing eye dogs for the blind. Tragedies remain tragedies only when we choose to allow them to remain as such. Dwayne Northrop, Calvary Baptist Church, Salinas, CA.
DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES Years ago my mother lived next door to a dear woman who was very much concerned about her son's actions. The boy had been arrested earlier and the week came for his trial. Seeing the neighbor outside hanging up clothes, my mother stopped to ask about what happened to her son. The woman said, "Well, you know, it was the strangest thing. Not only did they not find my boy guilty, but they hung the jury!"
William Jones, Oklahoma Christian College, Oklahoma City, OK
FORGIVENESS Jesus expects us to love our enemies. And we say, "Dear God, how can we?" How can you love persons who are against you, who are determined to demean or destroy you? Are we expected to love those who torture us whether physically or mentally, or who villify us? Is it humanly possible? It is humanly possible or Jesus would not have said it. And in our clearer moments we realize that such love and forgiveness are the only response that breaks the weary cycles of recrimination and escalating retaliation, that such forgiveness is the only creative offensive against hatred, violence and destruction.
Ernest Gordon tells how prisoners of war on the infamous Railway of Death in Burma (Bridge Over The River Kwai) during World War II reached that same point. They called on God to help them pray for those who had tortured and starved them into delirium, and the moment came when they could forgive and love their enemies. By loving instead of hating, they survived.
On February 9, 1960, Adolph Coors III was kidnapped and held for ransom. Seven months later his body was found on a remote hillside. He had been shot to death. Adolph Coors IV, then 15 years old, lost not only his father, but his best friend. For years young Coors hated Joseph Corbett, the man who was sentenced to life for the slaying.
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Then, in 1975, Ad Coors became a Christian. And while he divested himself of his interest in the family brewery business, he could not divest himself of the hatred that consumed him. Resentment seethed within him and blighted his growth in faith. He prayed to God for help, because he realized how his hatred for Corbett was alienating him from God and other persons. The day came, however, when claiming the Spirit's presence, Ad Coors visited the maximum security unit of Colorado's Canon City penitentiary and tried to talk with Corbett, but Corbett refused to see him. So Coors left a Bible inscribed with this message: "I'm here to see you today and I'm sorry that we could not meet. As a Christian I am summoned by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, to forgive you. I do forgive you . . . and I ask you to forgive me for the hatred I've held in my heart for you." Later Coors confessed, "I have a love for that man that only Jesus Christ could have put in my heart."
We can love our enemies and we can pray for those who hurt and betray us.
Adapted from a sermon by Don Shelby, First Un. Meth. Church of Santa Monica; submitted by Don Maddox, Covenant United Presbyterian Church of Corona, CA.
LIKE A MIGHTY ARMY After the close of World War II a minister asked a returned GI to speak in his pulpit one Sunday. The veteran reluctantly consented to do so on the condition that the congregation sing "Like A Mighty Army Moves the Church of God" just before he was to speak. Here's what he said:
"Like a mighty army moves the church of God" — that might have been all right once, but the trouble now is that about ten million men know exactly how an army moves. And it doesn't move in a way a lot of you folks do in church — or do not move.
Suppose the army accepted the lame excuses that many of you think are good enough to serve as an alibi for not attending the church parade. Imagine this if you can: Reveille at seven o'clock. All squads on the parade ground. The sergeant barks out, "Count fours. One, Two, Three. Number four is missing. Where's Private Smith?"
"Oh," says a buddy by the vacant place, "Private Smith was too sleepy to get up this morning. He was out late last night and he needed the sleep. He said to tell you he would be with you in spirit."
"That's fine," says the sergeant, "remember me to him."
"Where's Brown?" asks the sergeant. "Oh," says another chap, "He's playing golf. He only gets one day a week for recreation, and you know how important that is."
"Sure, Sure," says the the sergeant cheerfully, "Hope he has a good game." "Where's Robinson?"
"Robinson," explains a buddy, "is sorry not to greet you in person, but he is entertaining guests today and, of course, couldn't come. Besides, he was at drill last week."
"Thank you," says the sergeant smiling. "Tell him he is welcome any time he finds it convenient to drop in for drill."
Honestly, now, could any conversation like that happen in any army? Don't make me laugh! If a GI tried to pull that stuff he would get twenty days in the guard house. Yet you talk like that every week in the church — and say it with a straight face, too. Like a mighty army! Why if this church really moved like a mighty army, a lot of you folks would be court-martialled within the hour. Cal Hiebert, Rockford, MI
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THOUGH I DRIVE THROUGH THE VALLEY I can remember vividly, as I'm sure she can, my mother teaching me how to drive. It was 1972 and we had a Plymouth station wagon and a Chevrolet Malibu. Whenever I would ask my parents to help me test drive, they had two approaches to teaching me to drive. My father would say, "Go ask your mother," and her's was the job of taking me out. For months she would sit beside me as I practiced on the back roads of South Jersey. Sometimes she would drive and tell me what she was doing, other times she would talk me through a particular operation of the car.
I remember the first time I drove at night. We were returning from visiting my mom's brother, and had to get on the Walt Whitman bridge from an access ramp. It was 9:00 p.m., pitch dark, pouring rain. As I sat waiting to enter the six lane highway, with all the headlights, taillights, rain, noise (mostly from my heartbeat and knees knocking), I was thoroughly confused as to what to do. All my training, but mostly youthful pride, kept me from asking my Mom to take the wheel.
I can remember pressing the accelerator, hearing the motor respond, hearing someone scream YEEEEHAHHHHHHH, and suddenly finding ourselves following along in traffic with everyone else over the bridge.
Certain things remain a mystery, like how we got onto the lane as confused as I was, and which one of us screamed, but certain things are not a mystery, like, HOW REASSURING IT IS TO HAVE YOUR TEACHER GO THROUGH THINGS WITH YOU. Our temptation and our trials are not foreign to Jesus, or ours alone. The teacher is with us. Fred Grosse, Congregational Church, Jacksonville, IL
LAZY Mere longing for a better world can be a lazy person's way to face life. There is an old story of a farmer who said lightning struck an old shed and thus saved him the trouble of tearing it down, and rain washed off his car and saved him that chore too. When asked what he was doing now, he replied, "Waiting for an earthquake to shake the potatoes out of the ground."
From W. A. Poovey, The Prayer He Taught, submitted by Lance Kittleson, Zion
Lutheran Church, Alta Vista, Iowa.
Sometimes when you feel that your Is a measure of how you'll be missed
going You may splash all you please when
Would leave an unfillable hole, you enter
Just follow this simple instruction You can stir up the water galore,
And see how it humbles your soul. But stop, and you'll find in a second
Take a bucket and fill it with water, That it looks quite the same as
Put your hand it in, up to the wrist, before.
Pull it out — and the hole that's Cornerstones
MORE HUMILITY A pastor was asked to speak for a certain charitable organization. After the meeting the program chairman handed the pastor a check. "Oh, I couldn't take this," the pastor said with some embarrassment. "I appreciate the honor of being asked to speak. You have better uses for this money. You apply it to one of those uses." The program chairman asked, "Well, do you mind if we put it into our Special Fund?" The pastor replied, "Of course not. What is the Special Fund for?" The chairman answered, "It's so we can get a better speaker next year." Dynamic Preaching, April, 1987 page 7.
MOTIVATION FOR BREVITY Nothing makes a long story short like the arrival of the person you happen to be talking about. On The Upbeat
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TRAVELLING LIGHT In the last century, a tourist from America paid a visit to a renowned Polish rabbi, Hofetz Chaim. He was astonished to see that the rabbi's home was only a simple room filled with books, plus a table and a cot.
The tourist asked, "Rabbi, where is your furniture?" Hofetz Chaim replied, "Where is yours?"
The puzzled American asked, "Mine? But I'm only a visitor here. I'm only passing through." To which the wise rabbi replied, "So am I." On The Upbeat
Packages From Hell . . . Every package from hell comes disguised as ecstasy. Jim Murray, Sports Columnist, Los Angeles Times, submitted by Don Maddox.
Compliments . . . The only thing wrong about getting an unexpected compliment is the nagging suspicion that they have not said quite enough. Funny, Funny World
Negotiation Skills . . . The art of negotiation is something you learn at an early age. You'd be amazed how many teenagers get their first car by asking for a motorcycle. Jim Vorsas, Saratoga, CA.
Assume The Position For Troubles ... If all your troubles are deep-seated and of long-standing, try kneeling. Bits & Pieces
Jesus' Approach To Us . . . Jesus does not play games with us. He challenges the most from us because He believes the best about us.
Don Maddox, Covenant United Presbyterian Church, Corona, CA
Planning ... is deciding in advance what should be done, why it should be done, where it should be done, when it should be done, who should do it and how it should be done.
John Alexander, Managing Our Work, p. 17. Submitted by Tim Hawks, Ruston, LA.
TIME TO RETREAT During the early days of World War II, General Douglas MacArthur vacillated on various plans for reacting to the imminent Japanese invasion of the Philippines. A plan to retreat to Bataan was called the "Orange Plan." For over two weeks MacArthur reviewed the possibilities until the Japanese invasion came. In failing to even consider a tactical retreat, he considered the plan "defeatist," he left over fifty million bushels of rice at one supply depot alone. Fifty million bushels would have been enough rice to feed all the American and Filipino troops for over four years. Scripture tells us to "flee from youthful lusts." Retreating is sometimes the better part of valor.
From American Caesar, by William Manchester, 1978. Submitted by Dwayne
Northrop, Calvary Baptist Church, Salinas, CA.