. 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 9 November / 1987
SIFTING THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF Stories from the underground church in Russia never tail to jolt us awake. I came across another one just this past week. A house church in a city of the Soviet Union received one copy of the Gospel by Luke, the only scripture most of these Christians had ever seen. They tore it into small sections and distributed them among the body of believers. Their plan was to memorize the portion they had been given, then on the next Lord's Day they would meet and redistribute the scriptural sections.
On Sunday these believers arrived inconspicuously in small groups throughout the day so as not to arouse the suspicion of KGB informers. By dusk they were all safely inside, windows closed and doors locked. They began by singing a hymn quietly but with deep emotion. Suddenly, the door was pushed open and in walked two soldiers with loaded automatic weapons at the ready. One shouted, "All right — everyone line up against the wall. If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ leave now!"
Two or three quickly left, then another. After a few more seconds, two more.
"This is your last chance. Either turn against your faith in Christ," he ordered, "or stay and suffer the consequences."
Another left. Finally, two more in embarrassed silence with their faces covered slipped out into the night. No one else moved. Parents with small children trembling beside them looked down reassuringly. They fully expected to be gunned down, or, at best, to be imprisoned.
After a few moments of complete silence, the other soldier closed the door, looked back at those who stood against the wall and said, "Keep your hands up — but this time in Praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, brothers and sister. We, too, are Christians. We were sent to another house church several weeks ago to arrest a group of believers—" The other solier interruped, " — but, instead, we were converted! We have learned by experience, however, that unless people are willing to die for their faith, they cannot be fully trusted."
Charles Swindoll, Living Above The Level of Mediocrity, page 57-58. Submitted by
Ronald Hipwell, United Presbyterian Church, Seneca, PA.
CREATIVITY AND FLEXIBILITY To be a missionary, you need to be both creative and flexible in figuring ways to get through to people. David Marshall and his family live and minister in Taichung in Taiwan. Dave was looking for a way to get through to the young men who lived around him. Since Dave had been a basketball player, hanging up a hoop seemed like a good way to make contact but there was no obvious place to put one. Five days after he started praying about this the city planted a twenty five food cement light pole right in front of his house. He soon was able to get a ball donated and a backboard and hoop at cost. He was limited in his ability to attach the hoop to the pole as he had to use the one existing hole in the pole. As providence directed the position of the hole allowed the hoop to be at just regulation height.
The hoop had the desired effect. As he played b<?ll in the street, people gathered. Amazingly, a grandfather who lived next door came out and threw four straight free throws in a row. The hoop has opened up opportunities with all the neighbors, parents and kids alike. It opened up relationships and friendships so that people came to him with all kinds of matters. One contact led to another. Soon he was invited to come and practice
Parables, Etc. / November, 1987 Page 2 /7.9.2
at a local gym. There he was recruited to add his height to the local factory's basketball team and to play that very night. The game went well, except for one time when he passed the ball directly to an opposing player. Dave pleads the poor lighting as his excuse.
What started out as a way to talk with neighbors has escalated into a way to show God's faithfulness and provision, a way to serve the neighborhood, and a way to reach out to basketball-playing factory workers! It is also, as Dave points out, a great way to practice speaking Chinese.
Adapted from "One On One: Evangelism Is As Close As Your Front Yard," Lost And
Found, (Overseas Crusades, Milpitas, CA, Summer, 1987)
CHRIST ON HIS OWN TERMS New strength came into my ministry both public and private when I saw that either I had to reject Christ and the admiring talk, or accept Him on His own terms. As though illumined by a great light, I saw that he did not ask for admiration; He asked for commitment! To the perplexed, the confused, the distraught, he said and still says, "Come to me." In all the relativities of this world there is, if Christ is fight, one solid place. He offers "rest", not in the sense of passivity, but in that of a place to stand, a center of trustworthiness in the midst of the world's confusion. When I suddenly realized that my one central certainty was the trustworthiness of Christ, my preaching took on a new note of confidence, which I tried to convey to others. Thus I began to emphasize, in a new context, the concept of trustworthiness . . . Without intending to do so, I had become an evangelical Christian. . . .What emerged was a new theological approach. The new strategy was to move, not from God to Christ, but from Christ to God. . . Once a ministry accepts unapologetically the conviction of the Christlikeness of God, we have a firm launching pad from which we can operate with confidence and make a consequent difference in the world.
Elton Trueblood, While It Is Day: An Autobiography, quoted in Voices From The Heart: Four Centuries of American Piety, edited by Roger Lundin / Mark Noll (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1987). Submitted by Don Maddox, Corona, CA
THE MESSAGE VS. THE DELIVERY Walking into a noisy classroom, the teacher slapped her hand onthe deskand ordered sharply: "I demand pandemonium!" The class quieted down immediately. "It isn't what you demand," explained the teacher, "but the way you demand it." Bits and Pieces
1ALANCING GOD'S LOVE AND MERCY "The Christian life is like the dial of a clock. The hands are God's hands, passing over and over again — the short hand of discipline and the long hand of mercy. Slowly and surely the hand of discipline must pass, and God speaks at each stroke. But over and over passes the hand of mercy, showering down a twelvefold blessing for each stroke of discipline and trial. Both hands are fastened to one secure pivot: the great unchanging heart of our God of love."
Our Daily Bread, submitted by Vic Lehman, Bethel Baptist Church, High Prairie,
FREEDOM A teacher of American history asked her class in a test: "What was the reason for the Puritans coming to this country?" The best reply, she said later, came from a boy she had always considered her dullest pupil. His answer was: "They came to worship in their own way and to make everyone else do the same." Bits and Pieces
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. / November, 1987 Page 3 /7.9.3
DISCERNING REAL EMERGENCIES A frontier couple, Zeb and Martha, settled down on their new land. They built a cabin, a barn and a corral for their livestock. Then Zeb hung a big bell in a tree and explained, "There are renegades around here, Martha. If you need me, ring the bell — but only in an emergency."
Days later, as Zeb was riding out to the fields to cut wood, he heard the bell ring. He headed home at full gallop.
'I just thought maybe you'd like some fresh coffee," Martha said.
"Tarnation, woman, I said the bell was for emergencies. Half the day gone, and I still have chores to do."
Once more he rode out. Just as he picked up the ax, he heard the bell. Again he raced home.
"The washtub's leaking," reported Martha.
"That ain't no blasted emergency! I've gotta cut the wood."
Two hours later Zeb was chopping down a tree and the bell rang. He charged home to find the cabin in flames, the barn burned to the ground and his cattle stampeding away. Then he found Martha, slumped near the bell, with an arrow in her shoulder.
"Now, Martha," Zeb exclaimed, "this is more like it!" Reader's Digest
PARENTING — THE GIFT AND THE GIVER Bill Butterworth tells about the time his son's sixth birthday was approaching. He had mentioned he wouldn't mind a party, and as his son usually was very specific about the kind of presents he liked the dad asked him what he could get him. Bill expected a well-planned reply, such as "I'd like a baseball glove; you can find it at Toys R Us, aisle 6, below the batting helmets, or a Parcheesi board, the games are in alphabetical order in aisle 1; it's between the Pac Man and Pay Day." But his son's request was a bit different. He said, "Dad, I'd like a ball to play with for my birthday."
Bill said "Great, what kind of ball?"
"Oh, I don't know, either a football or a soccer ball"
"Well, which would you want more?"
He said, "Welllll," and thought about it. Then he said. "If you have some time to play ball with me this year, I'd really like a football so we could throw it back and forth in the back yard. But if you're gonna be real busy this year, maybe you just better get me a soccer ball, because I can play soccer with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood."
The dad thought about this and said, "Let me surprise you. How does that sound?" And the little boy smiled and said, "Oh, that would be great Dad. I really love you."
Then Bill went in and shared this little encounter with his wife and together they
agreed, their son was not so much interested in the gift. He was interested in the giver.
Submitted by Bryan Swash, Northminster Baptist Church, Downsview, Ontario, Canada.
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PURPOSE A recent news report from Biloxi, Mississippi, powerfully illustrates the role of purpose in making life worth living. A young woman, a dancer twenty-four years old, jumped from a wharf in the colorful little town in an attempt to commit suicide. As she later put it, she was "tired of living."
A young man saw her jump from the wharf and splash into the water. Forgetting that he himself didn't know how to swim, he stripped off his coat and leaped from the wharf after her in a blind attempt to save a fellow human being. He began to thresh about in the water and was in serious danger of drowning when the young dancer, her own despair momentarily forgotten, began to paddle her way toward him. As he was gulping water and gasping for breath, she grabbed hold of him and pulled him safely ashore. Instead of ending her own life she had saved the life of another.
In that crucial moment when she saw the young man struggling for life, her own life suddenly gained something it had lacked before: purpose. And so what was drowned there in the waters beneath the wharf was merely her despair and not her spirit. She had known in a dramatic flash the difference between having nothing to live for and something to live for, and having pulled the young man to safety, she was herself taken to the hospital, treated for exposure and released with a new lease on life.
Howard Whitman, Success Is Within You (Doubleday, 1944), as quoted in Og Mandino's
University of Success (Bantam, 1982) page 12.
A HEALTHY FAMILY What does building a happy home life depend upon? In her book, Traits
Of A Healthy Family, parent educator Dolores Curren of Denver polled 500 social workers,
counselors and other experts to determine what factors make for successful families.
Among the traits most often mentioned were the following:
1. A willingness to speak and listen thoughtfully to each other. Close attention also
is paid to body language, sighs, touches, periods of silence.
2. The ability to bring quarrels to a quick and satisfying conclusion — without bearing
3. Cooperation among family members in helping each other maintain a secure and positive
4. An atmosphere of playfulness and humor but without sarcasm or putdowns.
5. Clear parental guidelines on right and wrong.
6. A system for sharing responsibility, particularly important in single-parent homes.
7. Creation of a strong sense of unity and a respect for family traditions.
8. Easy interaction among all family members. Everyone is encouraged to participate in
activities, and creation of factions is discouraged.
9. The sharing of some common religious or ethical core, though not necessarily tied to
an established church or denomination.
10. Respect for each other's privacy.
11. Development of a spirit of voluntarism and community service beyond the family's
12. A desire to share some leisure time, but not all.
13. A willingness, when serious problems can't be solved, to go outside the family for
From Wilde's Illustration Service for Ministers, April, 1986.
CANDID VALUE SYSTEM Kids have a certain way of evaluating and classifying professional athletes. An ex-professional football player said that "The only way to really tell how good you are is by knowing what your value is with the kids trading the football cards that come with chewing gum. I once asked my young son how many cards a 'Joe Namath' was worth. He said five. I asked about the value of an '0. J. Simpson' and he said he could get eight for that one. Then I casually asked what my_ card was worth. He looked at me with a straight face and said, 'It depends on whether you like gum, Dad.'" Sunday Sermons
Parables, Etc. / November, 1987 Page 5 /7.9.5
THERE'S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT Some time ago I received a call from a colleague asking if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give the student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter and I was selected. So I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question.
"Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer." (Physics question)
The student had answered: "Take the barometer to the top of the building. Attach a long rope to it. Lower the barometer to the street — then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. /Pause/ The length of the rope is the height of the building," My kind of guy.
I pointed out that the student had a strong base for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly.
On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. But the answer did not confirm this.
I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question and was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did! I gave the student six minutes to answer the question again with a warning that his answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up. He said, NO, he just had many answers to the problem. He was trying to think of the best one! I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to go on. In the next minute he dashed off his answer, which read:
"Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof — drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch — then using the formula S= 1/2 at the power of 2, calculate the height of the building. At this point I asked my colleague if he would like to give up. He conceded and gave the student almost full credit. In leaving my colleague's office I recalled that the student had said he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.
"Oh yes," said the student, "there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer — for example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer — the length of its shadow and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of simple proportion determine the height of the building."
"Fine," I said. "And others?"
"Well, there is a very basic measuring, if you'd like. You take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall — then you count the number of marks and this gives you the height of the building in barometer units — this is a very direct method. Of course, the best method is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door — and when he answers, you say to him the following: "Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you'll tell me how tall this building is — I'll give it to you."
Adapted from The Teaching of Elementary Science and Mathematics by Alexander Collandra in a story by John MacArthur. Submitted by Byron Swash, Toronto, Canada.
FACE IT There are two things that everyone must face sooner or later: a camera and reality. A smile is a big help in both instances. Bits and Pieces
Parables, Etc. / November, 1987 Page 6 /7.9.6
LIFE'S TINY DELIGHTS Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel.Oscars.Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Iced tea on a hot day. Don't fret about copping life's grand awards. Enjoy its tiny delights. There are plenty for all of us.
Adapted from an item in Bits and Pieces
FINALLY ALONE It was midnight after registration day at the college when the policeman noticed a couple in lingering embrace in the campus parking lot. Mildly surprised at the scene before the school year had even begun, he approached the car. "Sorry, officer," the driver explained. "We just left our youngest son, our baby, there in the dorm. It's the first time Mother and I have been alone for 27 years." From Stripped Gears, a Rotary publication.
THE PRODIGAL SON — THE VALLEY BIBLE PARAPHRASE To be fully appreciated, the following should be read aloud by someone who understands the nuances and subtle flavoring of The Valley Girl argot.
So like there was this old dude who had two sons. The youngest one was like, you know, a total babe fer sure, fer sure; the older one was a terminal zod.
So this young dude is like freakin' out, like totally bored and stuff cuz there was nothin' to do, like nothin'. So he goes to his old man and sez, "Like I'm sure I'm gonna stick aroun' this hole the rest of my life, like gag me with a spoon. I mean barf me out. I want my share of your mega-bucks, and I'm talkin1 now, so I can split and go pig out, and like disco all nite till I'm tweeked."
So his daddy coughs up his share of the family bucks and like this young babe goes totally spaz fer sure and scarfs down a ton of doritos, rolfing all night long till he's totally bagged out.
So he lands himself a job babysitting for this pig farm and like he gets so grossed out lookin' at the grody pig glop that he climbs into his own head and starts thinkin' 'bout gettin' back to his own room and stuff. "Like even my old man's flunkies get freebies, and I'm stuck here in gag city, feelin' like some kinda mondo shanky Melvin."
So like he gets his ship together and bums a ride to his old turf and piles out in front of his gate.
But his dad hears the dogs barkin' and stuff and runs down the driveway and like plants a really gloppy kiss on this babe's neck: I mean like he's really stoked to see 'em.
"I've messed up to the max," says the son. "Let me stick around and do jobs for my
rent." But his dad throws him this totally awesome party like he just graduated from
Chico or sumpin', and in flies the Go-Go's and Michael Jackson and lays this terminally
gorgeous set of clothes on him.
But his older brother picks up the beat and like feels he's been ripped off because he never got a party. "I stick around this place all my life; my room is super-neat, and my buddies don't drive on the lawn or do drugs, and you throw this really tubular party for this total air-head; I mean, give me a break!"
"You don't understan'," sez the old man. "I mean your little brother was a waste case, like totally, and now he's family."
Submitted by Dr. William Paterson, First Presbyterian Church, Salinas, CA
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TQURS TO ISRAEL — BIBLE STYLE Seems that anyone and everyone from your church, pastor and favorite Televangelist are leading tours to Israel. What would it have been like to have gone on the following:
The Moses Tour Leaves Cairo, Egypt, once every 40 years. Takes much time to contact 600,000 co-tourists. Featured cuisine: quails, strange white stuff, and water from our Rock fountain. Dessert: milk and honey at end of tour.
The Elijah Tour Sometimes you may feel alone atop lovely Mt. Carmel, but 3-D glasses are provided for angelic viewing. Only one way airfare necessary. Return in a chariot of fire. Qualification: must eat like a bird.
The Saul of Tarsus Tour Ride the donkeys to Damascus. Strange visions in magic hours on the road. Sunglasses provided to protect from sometimes blinding light. Live in four-star dungeons, probable shipwreck on bonus adjunct rider tour to Rome. Bring materials for letter writing.
The Isaiah Rider If you hear a voice saying, "Go," you'll enjoy Servant Airlines' tour to different northern cities. Some say the second week of the tour was designed by another, but it's all one tour.
The Noah Tour Not for clostraphobics, a special 365 day cruise around the world. Paradise, Paramedics, Paratroopers. A para everything. Visit gopherwood ark building factory.
The Ruth Tour Wherever we go, you'll go. Wherever we eat, you'll eat. Our tour will be your tour. Glean much from the Word. Enclosed discount coupon must be redeemed by a close family member.
The Balaam Rider Play the original donkey videogame with special voice module.
The Sarah Tour Lots of laughs. Don't go if 89 years old. May return with extra family members.
The Jonah Tour Leaves Cleveland, Ohio, destination Los Angeles, California. Arrives Israel by no choice of your own. This tour is "made in the shade." You'll know your tourguide in the airport under the sign, "We won't go!"
The Simon Peter Tour Ride the fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee, water walking option available, see the famous memorial of the falling sheet on the rooftop in Joffa, view the videocassette of the original version of "True Confessions." Visit the 1988 Jerusalem rooster-crowing contest.
The Jesus of Nazareth Tour Who knows where He will lead? His words to us are "Follow me."
Submitted by Bob Mendelsohn, Jews for Jesus, New York, NY
FAITH Faith is not so much believing this thing or that about God as it is hearing a voice which says, 'Come unto Me.' We hear the voice and then we start to go without really knowing what to believe either about the voice or about ourselves. And yet we go. Faith at this point is standing in the darkness, and a hand is there, and we take it.
Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat (New York, Seabury Press, 1966). p. 42,
as reported in Dynamic Preaching.
TOO HEAVY OF A RESPONSIBILITY A university professor gave his students a chance to evaluate his course. One of them said, "I like the course, but I feel very strongly that the professor puts too much responsibility for learning on the students." Sunday Sermons
REJECTION — DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY Some girls in a college dorm had the problem of what to do when they wanted to turn down a date from someone they didn't want to go out with. To solve the problem one of them wrote a list of ten handy excuses and tacked them up next to the phone in the hall. It worked pretty good except for the time one girl got flustered and said to the ernest caller, "I'd love to go out with you, Tom, but I can't-- because of Number Seven."
MAKING A DIFFERENCE It doesn't make any difference whether you win or lose — until you lose. Snoopy, in Peanuts by Charles Schulz
Parables, Etc. / November, 1987 Page 8 /7.9.«
Auditors . . . are the people who go in after the war is lost and bayonet the wounded. P. Rubin, The Great Business Quotations
Some Things Are Perennial . . . Nothing lasts forever — with the possible exception of public broadcasting pledge weeks. Jim Vorsas, Saratoga, CA
Work . . . Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. Robert Benchley
The Accountant's Maxim . . . When you make the mistake of adding the date to the right side of the accounting statement, you must add it to the left side too.
New Invention . . . There's a brand-new invention for people who want to relax in an atmosphere of quiet tranquility. It's a phoneless cord.
Who's Who . . . Before the waitress could open her mouth, Grandpa announced, "I'm Bob, and I'll be your customer for the next hour." Jim Vorsas, Saratoga, CA
Love And Truth . . . The man who will not admit he's been wrong loves himself more than he loves the truth. Bits and Pieces
Basis For Argument . . . The less a thing can be proved, the angrier we get when we argue about it. Bits and Pieces
They're Not Permanent . . . Success is not permanent, but neither is failure. From Bits and Pieces
Youth Vs. Maturity ... We are only young once, but we can be immature indefinitely. From Bits and Pieces
Anger and Eloquence . . . Speak when you're angry — and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret. Dynamic Preaching