"... 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 8 October / 1987
FOR PASTORS WHO ARE GETTING TOO BIG FOR THEIR BOOTS During a flight between New York and Chicago the captain announced over the plane's intercom: "Our number four engine has just been shut off because of mechanical trouble. There is nothing to worry about, however, we can still finish the flight with just three engines. Besides, you will be reassured to know that we have four pastors on board." One passenger called the flight attendant and said, "Would you please tell the captain that I would rather have four engines and three pastors?"
Dick Underdahl-Peirce, Woodbury, MN
COMMUNICATION A mother was concerned that her eldest son was using too much profanity, and she consulted her pastor about it, looking for some practical advice. The preacher advised that each time the boy cursed, she slap him.
The next morning as her sons came to the table, she asked what they wanted for breakfast. The eldest said, "I want some "blankety, blank Post Toasties." The mother reared back and slapped him as hard as she could. As he sat dazed on the floor, she turned to the younger son and asked what he wanted for breakfast, to which he replied, "Well, I sure don't want any Post Toasties!"
Submitted by Robert Smith, First Presbyterian Church, Badin, NC, from Preaching,
WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS There are opportunities which we have in life — but if we hesitate too long they are gone. You may have seen the article carried by AP about Dianne Williams, a 5th grade teacher who was skydiving with some other skydivers.
Apparently she was trying to join three other divers in a hand-holding formation. Unfortunately, she slammed into the backpack of another chutist and was knocked unconscious. This caused her to tumble head over heals like a rag doll toward the ground at a speed of 140-160 miles per hour.
Fellow Sky Diver Gregory Robertson noticed that Dianne was in trouble so he straightened into a vertical dart, arms pinned to his body, ankles crossed, head aimed at the ground in what parachutists call a "no lift" dive. He was like a dive bomber plummeting towards the ground (and Dianne) at 200 mph. At 3500 feet, about 10 seconds before impact Robertson caught up with Williams. He managed to pull the rip cord on her emergency chute as well as his own chute and they floated down safely to the ground. His gallant effort was described as similar to "trying to catch a football that was flopping down the road at 40 mph."
What a remarkable rescue! Robertson made the most of the opportunity. In the world in which we live there are many people plummeting helplessly toward destruction. As Christians, we at times have the opportunity to pull the rip cord on our friend's emergency parachute, but for one reason or another we hesitate. Instead, may God give us the courage to act — "when opportunity knocks."
Submitted by Jim Schibsted, First Congregational Church, Anaheim, CA
BEAUTIFUL GRAIN A father and son walked through a wheat field inspecting the crop. The boy called attention to the stems that stood erect and said, "Those that let their heads hang could not be of much value." The father said, "Son, you're wrong. The stalks that stand so straight are lightheaded and almost good for nothing, while those that hang their heads are full of beautiful grain." We believe that humility is the beginning of greatness individually and nationally.
George Sweeting, Moody Monthly, submitted by Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX.
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 2 / 7.8.2
CHRIST CHANGES LIVES John was born into a Christian home but became an orphan as a boy and ended up wandering the streets of London. Later, in the Royal Navy he learned navigation but deserted. He escaped to Africa and sought refuge in a home where a harem was kept. The leader of the harem enjoyed mistreating the young Englishman; she frequently made him eat off the floor like a dog, and several times lashed him to the bed and whipped him.
John escaped to a merchant ship, where he became a navigator again. But his drinking led him into serious trouble. He was beaten, thrown into the ship's hold, then knocked off the ship. The captain harpooned him and dragged him back onto the ship, where he was again dropped in the hold, and this time he was beaten, wounded and was near death. Laying there all alone, John came to himself — much like the prodigal Son. Then and there John turned back toward God and gave his heart to Christ. In addition to becoming a successful merchant, John Newton would eventually provide the church with some of its greatest hymns of faith, including "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds," "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," and of course, "Amazing Grace." John Newton's own life was an example of the greatness of God's grace.
Submitted by Robert Smith, Badin, NC, adapted from Preaching.
EVERY PART MATTERS The poet and musician Sidney Lanier was a flutist of extraordinary skill and played in the Symphony Orchestra of Baltimore. One day as the orchestra was rehearsing and the symphony was building up under the baton of the conductor to the grand crescendo with drums, clappers, horns, trumpets and at a full organ, a whimsical thought impishly entered the youthful mind of Lanier. Within himself he said, "What difference does my little flute make with its tiny music in the midst of this thundering roar? Even if I should stop, my playing would never be missed." Still holding the flute at his lips, he ceased to blow or to play his part.
Instantly, quick as a steel trap, the conductor banged his baton angrily, halted the music, pointed directly at Lanier, and said, "Where is the flute?"
Lanier had not counted on the sensitivity of the conductor to the music of the smallest instrument and his instant awareness that it was missing from the grand harmony.
So too, our Christian service and stewardship may seem to us so small and obscure that we are tempted to doubt its vital importance to God. But even if we only play the tiny flute in God's great orchestra of Kingdom service, still we must be certain that the failure to do our part will somehow mar the completeness of his harmonious plan. His omniscience has constant regard for even the little part we are playing in his eternal purpose.
Submitted by Paul Wissink, Hull, IA
SUFFERING, USE IT Lord Kelvin was on one occasion lecturing his students and an experiment failed to "come off" as planned. Kelvin said, "Gentlemen, when you are face to face with a difficulty, you are up against a discovery."
THE ADVANTAGE OF MATURING Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman, in his late 50's, has no apprehension about old age. "It's like climbing a mountain," he says. "You climb from ledge to ledge. The higher you get, the more tired and breathless you become, but your view becomes much more extensive." Steve Wing, Colby, KS
Parables, Etc. (Copyright 1987) (ISSN 074402017) is published monthly for $24.95 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. To foreign countries — subscription rate is $30.95 in US$ or currency of equivalent value. New phone number: (408) 252-2141
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 3 / 7.8.3
HOW NOT TO GROW OLD — DOUGLAS MacARTHUR Youth is not entirely a time of life — it is a state of mind. It is not wholly a matter of ripe cheeks, red lips and supple knees. It is temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a vigor or emotion, a freshness of the deep springs of life. It means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of appetite for adventure — over loss of ease.
Nobody grows old by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair — these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the spirit back to dust.
Whatever your years, there is in every being's heart the love of wonder, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what next, and the joy of the game of life. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubts, as young as your self-confidence, as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber, so long as it receives messages of beauty, cheer and courage, so long are you young.
When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism — then, and only then — have you grown old.
Douglas MacArthur, submitted by Jim Schibsted, Congregational Church, Anaheim, CA.
GOOD COMMONICATION REQUIRES CAREFUL LISTENING The children begged for a hamster, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They name the hamster Danny. Two months later, when Mom found herself responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for Danny the hamster. When she told the children the news of Danny's imminent departure they took the news quite well, though, which somewhat surprised her, though they did offer some comments. One of the children did remark, "He's been around here a long time — we will miss him."
Mom agreed, saying, "Yes, but he's too much work for one person, and since I'm that one person, I say he goes."
Another child offered, "Well, maybe if he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, we could keep him."
But Mom was firm. "It's time to take Danny to his new home now, " she insisted. "Go and get his cage."
With one voice and in tearful outrage the children shouted, "Danny? We thought you said, "Daddy!"
Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX
YOU THINK THINGS ARE BAD AT YOUR CHURCH? When Jesus started His church, the Pastor (Jesus himself) was being executed. The chairman of the board (Peter) was out cursing and swearing that he had never even been a part of the church. The treasurer (Judas) was committing suicide after embezzling the funds. Most of the rest of the board members (the apostles) had run away. A few ladies from the Women's Fellowship were about the only ones who showed much faithfulness. Your church surely can't be in that bad a shape. So pitch in and help it keep growing. Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX
A SUCCESSFUL MAN The priceless words of Rabbi Milton Steinberg keep echoing in my ears: "Judaism supplies us with a supreme criterion for judging ourselves and others. He is a failure as a human being, no matter what his other achievements, whose heart does not hurt for his fellow man. And he is a successful human being, no matter where else he may be lacking, who is rich in compassion."
Submitted by Rabbi Mervin Tomsky, Burbank Temple Emmanuel, Burbank, CA
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 4 / 7.8.A
STYLISH SAINTS Once a man attended a fair and saw another man leading a fine, well-groomed horse. He inquired, "Is that a saddle horse?" The man replied, "No, sir. This horse will buck off a saddle. Nothing can stay on his back."
So the man asked again, "Is he a driving horse?" The answer came back from the attendant, "No, he was hitched up one and made kindling wood of the vehicle he should have pulled."
So the man was puzzled and asked, "Well then, what is he good for? Why is he here?" The answer was, "Style, man, style! Just look at the picture he makes."
Once I was in a church building and saw people clad in fine clothes coming into the morning service. I asked the preacher, "Are those people workers in the church?" The pastor answered sadly, "No!"
I asked further, "Do they visit the sick and minister to the poor? Do they support the other services and ministries of the church?" The preacher said, "Never."
I said to myself, "There's that horse. Nothing but style."
How sad it is that too many Christians merely look good. Beyond that, they're worthless. Adapted from a submission of Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX.
A LESSON IN LOVE As a group of college students toured the slums of a city, one of the girls, seeing a little girl playing in the dirt, asked a guide, "Why doesn't her mother clean her up?"
The teacher replied, "Young lady, that girl's mother probably loves her, but she doesn't hate dirt. You hate dirt, but you don't lover her enough to go down there and clean her up. Until hate for dirt and love for that child are in the same person, that little girl is likely to remain as she is."
Until hate for sin and love for the sinner gets in a person, he will do little about the plight of the lost.
Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX
SOME THINGS DON'T TAKE TOO LONG The young town smart aleck walked into the village blacksmith show shortly after the blacksmith had thrown a horseshoe on the ground too cool. Seeing it there, the young fellow reached down, picked it up, but instantly cast it aside as it burned his fingers.
The blacksmith said, "Kind of hot, isn't it, son?" The brash young kid said, "No, not too hot. It just doesn't take me long to look at a horseshoe." Robert Sarpalius, DeSoto, TX
A MINDSET FOR GOD Take a look around where you're sitting and find five things that have blue in them. Go ahead and do it. With a 'blue' mindset, you'll find that blue jumps out at you: a blue book on the table, a blue pillow on the couch, clue in the painting on the wall, and so on . . .In like fashion, you've probably noticed that after you buy a new car, you promptly see that make of car everywhere. That's because people find what they are looking for.
At times in our lives, God seems strangely absent, but the problem is not that God has disappeared. We simply lack a 'God' mindset. When we develop our sensitivity, we soon begin to see his work everywhere.
Roger von Oech, A Kick In The Seat Of The Pants, submitted by Dick Underdahl-Peirce,
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 5 / 7.8.5
PROVE IT A man approached a fruit stand where an Italian woman was busily reading a
book. He asked her what she was reading with such interest. She said, "The Word of
God." He said, "The Word of God? Who told you that it was the Word of God?" She
responded, "God told me, himself."
"God told you? How in the world did he do that?"
The woman wasn't used to having to defend herself in this matter, nor was she used to discussing theology in this way, paused to think for a moment and then responded, "Sir, can you prove to me that there is a sun up there in the sky?"
The man said, "Prove it? Why do you ask me to prove it? It proves itself. It warms me and I see its light; what better proof can anyone want?"
The woman smiled and said, "You are right, of course. And that is the same way that God tells me that His book is His Word. I read it and it warms me and gives me light. I see Him in it and what it says is light and warmth which none but God can give. So God, in this manner God tells me it is His Word. What more proof do I need?" And so they opened up his word together and gained light and warmth.
Adapted from a submission by Jerry Sebranke, Park Ridge Chapel, Bothell, WA.
LISTEN TO THE STILL, SMALL VOICE One hour into an eight-hour auto trip we stopped for fuel. I checked the oil, we needed a quart. As I was reaching onto the convenience store shelf for the oil a thought shot through my mind that I ought to buy a couple more quarts just in case, but I talked myself out of it reasoning that it had been a couple thousand miles since I'd added oil and I was going to be changing it soon and I could buy it for less money elsewhere, etc. So our journey continued.
The ride was pleasant. It was 9 p.m. when we purchased the fuel and by 2 a.m. my wife and children were fast asleep. In the quiet of the early morning my heart had begun to keep time with the humming of the tires on the road.
Then, suddenly, a darkly clad figure appeared in the breakdown lane waving his arms in a typical "Hey-please-stop-and-help-fashion." So I did. He ran to my car and asked, "Can you help me? My car's broke down."
I asked him, "Did your engine give out?" He replied, "No, not really. It has a leak in the seal and all the oil ran out. I need to get some oil."
I replied, "Yeah, I bet two quarts would do you just fine, heh?" He said, "Yeah, do you have some?" I chuckled to myself and answered, "No, I don't, but get in and I'll take you to find some."
How does God work? This could be one way. If I had listened to that "inner voice" five hours earlier I'd have been a more appropriate help to that man. I didn't know what was down the road, but God did. I didn't know that at two o'clock in the morning I was going to be scouring the small towns of northern Massachusetts for half an hour in search of an open filling station, but God did. I didn't know I was going to be called upon to serve my neighbor, but God did. And perhaps God was trying to prepare me. And maybe, after I refused to listen five hours earlier, God just kind of shook His head and said, "He'll learn. Someday he'll learn."
But then, on the other hand, it all could have been more coincidence. All depends on one's perspective I guess."
Submitted by Cliff Davis, Sawyer Memorial Congregation, Jonesport, ME.
OLD AGE ... is the most unexpected of all things that can happen to man. Leon Trotsky, as quoted in Funny, Funny World
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 6 / 7.8.6
AGING BUT ALWAYS GROWING Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the great poets of the 19th century with works such as "Evangeline" and "The Song of Hiawatha." In the midst of his successes, though, were two great sorrows — the death of his first wife in Holland, and then, years later, the loss of his second wife in a fire at home.
Once, not long before his death at age seventy-five, someone asked him how he continued to write so beautifully and remain so vigorous. Longfellow responded by pointing to an apple tree that was in full bloom and said, "That is a very old apple tree, but the blossoms this year seem more beautiful than ever before. That old tree grows a little new wood each year, and I suppose it is out of the new wood that these blossoms come. Like the apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year."
From The Home Stretch by Dale Evans Rogers (Word), submitted by Dick Underdahl-
Peirce, Woodbury, MN.
TEST THE STATISTICS Research indicates that seventy to ninety percent of new church members start coming because a friend, a relative or an acquaintance invited them! Another statistic shows that persons who become active members have been invited or had the Good News shared with them an average of eight times before they committed themselves.
Why not test the statistics in your neighborhood? First, invite someone to church eight times, and then invite seven to nine people to church and see which works best. Ask a friend to try the same double test and compare the results. It should be a fascinating statistical study — and who knows? Someone might actually come to church and get to know the Lord!
Adapted from a submission by Jerry Sebranke, Park Ridge Chapel, Bothell, WA.
STEWARDSHIP AS WISE INVESTMENT A man gave several thousand dollars to help build a church. Then came the 1929 crash. He lost everything. Someone said to him, "If you had that money you gave to start the church, you would have had enough to set yourself back up in business again." He replied, "I would have lost that money too in the crash. As it is, it is the only money I saved. It is now in the bank of heaven yielding interest which will accumulate until eternity. Hundreds have come to Christ through the church it helped build." Jerry Sebranke, Park Ridge Chapel, Bothell, WA.
FAITH, THE INNER EYE While sightseeing the western states on a bus tour a cynical old man criticized the beauty of every natural monument — the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, etc. Finally, the bus driver could take it no more and turned to him and said, "Listen, mister, if you haven't got it on the inside, you can't see it on the outside!" Faith is the inner eye which enables us to see the deeper beauty and hope in life.
As told by Tony Bland in Christian Communication Laboratory, submitted by Dick
Underdahl-Peirce, Woodbury, MN.
LIGHT There is a parable that talks about a cave which live under the ground, as caves have the habit of doing. It had spent its life in darkness. It heard a voice calling to it: "Come up into the light; come and see the sunshine." The cave retorted: "I don't know what you mean; there isn't anything but darkness." Finally the cave ventured forth and was surprised to see light everywhere. Looking up to the sun the cave said: "Come with me and see the darkness." The sun asked: "What is the darkness?" The cave replied: "Come and see." And so one day the sun accepted the invitation. As it entered the cave it said: Now show me your darkness." But there was no darkness! Submitted by Richard Smith, Wapello, IA
ATTITUDE FOR CHARISMA Why some have charisma with audiences, which cellist and conductor Mstislay Rostropovich certainly has, is difficult to explain. His attitude toward performing may contain a clue: "If you are playing for 18,000 people, play as if for one — with 17,999 eavesdroppers." Steve Wing, Colby, KS
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 7 / 7.8.7
DEGREES OF FAITH Fred Craddock tells of conducting a tour of the Holy Land. At one of the stops in Bethlehem, his group listened as a learned professor explained what they were seeing. "This is purported to be the birthplace of Jesus," said the professor, "but the archaeology clearly shows that this is an 18th century rebuilding of a 3rd century Roman reconstruction." He explained carefully how doubtful it was that this was Jesus real birthplace. At that moment another tour group wandered in, led by a much more believing or gullible guide. Kneeling there, he said to his group, "On this very spot, our Lord came into this world, with angels singing and shepherd's kneeling and cattle lowing. Right at this exact spot." Dr. Craddock reported that one member of his tour looked wistfully at the other group and said, "I wish I were with them!" Dick Underdahl-Peirce, Woodbury, MN
STORY OF BLIND MAN WITH LANTERN We can't make assumptions someone else is doing what we expect of them. There is the story about a man who was visiting his rabbi. When it came time for him to leave, he asked the rabbi if he could borrow a lantern — the kind with a candle — to carry on his way home. The rabbi said, of course, he would be pleased to lend the lantern, but asked, "Why do you need it, inasmuch as you are blind?" The man replied, "I need it so that others can see me!" The man went on his way carrying the lantern. But suddenly someone bumped into the man. He cried out, "Why did you bump into me, didn't you see my lantern?" And the other person replied: "Don't you know your light went out?" Submitted by Rabbi Mervin B. Tomsky, 91540
WHAT DOES THE 'G* STAND FOR? Some time ago, R. G. LeTourneau, owner of the large earth-moving equipment company, told this story. "We used to have a scraper known as the model ?G.' Somebody asked one of our salesmen one day what the 'G' stood for. The salesman was pretty quick on the trigger, and so after thinking a few seconds, replied, "Well, I guess the 'G' stands for gossip, because like gossip, this machine moves a lot of dirt and moves it fast.
From Contact, submitted by Jerry Sebranke, Bothell, WA.
BACK TO THE BOOK At the dress rehearsal of Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, the great conductor Leopold Stokowski went through the work once with the several hundred singers and orchestra, tapped for silence, and said, "Well, I guess you know the notes well enough. But the spirit is lacking. I want each of you to sit down tonight with your Bible and read St. Matthew's account of the life of Christ. Try to grasp it all. Who knows — perhaps that message is just what our listeners need in a time of doubt and despair. Then let's come back to our performance and try to convey to our audience the meaning and inspiration of these sacred words." The singers were startled to hear this advice from the worldly, debonair Stokowski. But they did as they were told. At the performance the next night they sang their hearts out. Steve Wing, Colby, KS
TAKING A LONGER VIEW When I was 14 my father would sometimes allow me to take a turn at driving the family car on some near-deserted country roads. The problem was that I would tend to look closely at the center lines in the road just ahead of the car, and on curves or even straightaway I would be unable to steer the car without overcompensating.
My father told me something very valuable at that time which I never forgot. He said, "If you look up ahead and fix your eyes on the road 100 yards in front of you, you'll drive more safely and the car will naturally stay in the center of the lane." He was right. I had to get over the fixation of the center lane markers and get my focus farther up ahead of me to steer a right course.
Just so ... we need to get a long view of the course set before us in the Christian life, to anticipate the turns and correction we will need to make. Look at the horizon of your life and where it's heading — then you will know how to steer straight through without fixating on the details of your situation with fear. Thomas Venema, Fresno, CA
Parables, Etc. / October, 1987 Page 8 / 7.8.8
RULES FOR LIFE — WITH BREVITY Hollywood producer Sam Marx has made a collection of wise sayings consisting of four words. Some examples:
IN GOD WE TRUST THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS. LIVE AND LET LIVE. STILL WATERS RUN DEEP. NOTHING SUCCEEDS LIKE SUCCESS. NOTHING VENTURED, NOTHING GAINED. From On the Upbeat
Darkness / Light — FEAR We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. Plato
Success . . . The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. George Patton
Success . . . Eighty percent of success is showing up. Woody Allen
Good Feelings . . . One of the greatest feelings in the world is finding some logic to support your beliefs. Funny, Funny World