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PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:3

MANY OTHER CHILDREN THEY HAD IN THEIR FAMILIES. THE TEACHER ASKED, "HAVE YOU ANY BROTHERS OR SISTERS?" ONE LITTLE BOY ANSWERED. "NO, MA'AM, I'M SINGLE." —Adapted, Hannah L. Muller, Instructor.

COMPASSION

221*A BEAUTIFUL INSIGHT INTO THE TRUE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM IS CONTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING TRUE-LIFE EPISODE RECOUNTED BY A MAN WHOSE LIFE IS DEDICATED TO HELPING THE HANDICAPPED. . .

THE OTHER DAY I WAS WITH A FRIEND. WE WERE GOING INTO A CHURCH WHERE AN OLD LADY WAS SITTING AT THE DOOR BEGGING. WE DID NOT HAVE ANY MONEY WITH US. MY FRIEND GOT DOWN ON HER KNEES IN FRONT OF THE OLD LADY, LOOKED DIRECTLY INTO HER EYES AND SAID: "I AM SORRY BUT I DO NOT HAVE ANY MONEY."  BUT SHE SAID THIS WITH SUCH TENDERNESS THAT THE EYES OF THE OLD LADY LIT UP AS IF FOR THE FIRST TIME SOMEONE HAD REALLY LOOKED AT HER, SEEN HER. WE WENT INTO THE CHURCH AND PRAYED WITH HER. ON THE WAY OUT SHE LOOKED GENTLY AND GRATEFULLY AT MY FRIEND, FOR SHE HAD JUST LIVED A MOMENT OF DEEP JOY.  IT IS GOOD TO GIVE A CHECK FOR THE POOR WHOM WE DO NOT KNOW. IT IS EVEN BETTER TO TOUCH THE


1.6:4  PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

WOUNDED PERSON WHO IS CLOSE TO US, SAYING BY OUR GESTURES AND FACIAL EXPRESSIONS: I AM CONCERNED ABOUT YOU.  I WANT YOU TO LIVE!

^222»DURING WORLD WAR II, AN AMERICAN WARSHIP IN THE PACIFIC WAS TRANSPORTING SOME WOUNDED JAPANESE PRISONERS. THE MEDICAL OFFICER IN CHARGE TOOK SUCH EXCELLENT CARE OF THE PRISONERS THAT HIS FELLOW-OF­FICERS PROTESTED. ONE OF THEM SAID, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST LET THEM DIE THE WAY THEY LET OUR MEN DIE?" THE MEDICAL OFFICER REPLIED, "I DON'T PLAY BY THEIR RULES. I AM A CHRISTIAN. THE JAPANESE WAR LORDS TELL THEIR SOLDIERS THAT ALL AMERICANS ARE BEASTS. ONE DAY, THESE PRISONERS WILL RETURN TO THEIR COUNTRY KNOWING THEY HAD BEEN LIED TO. THEY WILL BE ABLE TO SAY THAT THEY WERE TREATED WITH COMPASSION BY PERSONS WHO CARED FOR THEM AS HUMAN BEINGS. I'M GOING TO DO MY BEST TO REPLACE THE HATRED IN THEIR HEARTS WITH THE LOVE OF CHRIST. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY WE'RE GOING TO EVER HAVE PEACE IN THIS WORLD."

COURAGE

 223»ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, THE TEACHER WAS ASKING EACH OF THE 1ST-GRADERS TO TELL HIS NAME AND WHAT HE WANTED TO BE WHEN HE GREW UP. ONE LITTLE BOY SPOKE UP IMPORTANTLY: "I'M JIMMY. WHEN I GROW UP I'M GONNA BE A LION TAMER.  I'LL HAVE LOTS OF FIERCE


PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:5

LIONS AND TIGERS, AND I'LL WALK INTO THE CAGE." HE HESITATED, THEN WENT ON: "BUT I'LL WANT MY MOTHER WITH ME." Christian Observer.

CRUCIFIXION

224»A WELL-KNOWN PREACHER WAS INVITED TO DELIVER A SERMON IN THE CHAPEL OF A COLLEGE FOR THE DEAF. HE DESCRIBED IT AS A "PREACHER'S PARADISE, BECAUSE YOU GET TWO LAUGHS FOR EVERY JOKE: WHEN YOU REACH THE PUNCH LINE ONE LAUGH COMES FROM THOSE WHO CAN HEAR, AND A FEW SECONDS LATER, WHEN THE SIGN LANGUAGE IN­TERPRETER CATCHES UP, YOU GET A SECOND LAUGH." HE SAID HE NOTICED THAT ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS DURING THE SERMON THE SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER, IN A VERY GRACEFUL WAY, WOULD POINT TO THE PALMS OF HER HANDS. LATER HE LEARNED THAT POINTING TO THE PALMS OF THE HANDS IS THE SIGN FOR JESUS CHRIST. HOW APPROPRIATE! OF ALL THE SIGNS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FOR JESUS, THEY CHOSE THE NAILPRINTS TO SYMBOLIZE WHO HE WAS.

THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS TAKE THE SAME APPROACH, SAYING TO US THAT SOMEHOW THE CRUCIFIXION SUMS IT ALL UP. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GET CLOSE TO JESUS, IF YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHO HE WAS AND WHAT HE WAS DOING, YOU DO IT THROUGH THE CRUCIFIXION.


1.6:6  PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

EARLY CHRISTIANS   n

225»THE STORY IS TOLD OF A SMALL DOG WHICH HAD BEEN STRUCK BY A CAR AND WAS LAYING WOUNDED BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. A DOCTOR DRIVING BY NOTICED THAT THE DOG WAS STILL ALIVE. HE STOPPED HIS CAR, PICKED UP THE DOG AND TOOK HIM HOME WITH HIM.  THERE HE DIS­COVERED THAT THE DOG HAD BEEN STUNNED, HAD SUFFERED A FEW MINOR CUTS AND ABRASIONS, BUT WAS OTHERWISE ALL RIGHT. HE REVIVED THE DOG, CLEANED UP THE WOUNDS AND WAS CARRYING THE ANIMAL FROM THE HOUSE TO THE GARAGE WHEN IT SUDDENLY JUMPED FROM HIS ARMS AND SCAMPERED OFF. "WHAT AN UNGRATEFUL LITTLE DOG," THE DOCTOR SAID TO HIMSELF. HE THOUGHT NO MORE ABOUT THE INCIDENT UNTIL THE NEXT EVENING WHEN HE HEARD A SCRATCHING AT HIS DOOR.  WHEN HE OPENED IT, THERE WAS THE LITTLE DOG HE HAD TREATED, WITH ANOTHER HURT DOG.

THAT IS A STORY OF THE "RIPPLE EFFECT." THROW A STONE INTO A LAKE AND THE WATER RIPPLES OUT, AND THE CIRCLE WIDENS. ONE OF THE GREAT CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIRST CHRISTIANS WAS THEIR RIPPLE EFFECT. SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED TO THEM THAT SO FILLED THEM WITH JOY THEY JUST COULD NOT CONTAIN IT. IT WAS CONTAGIOUS. IT SPREAD OUT AMONG THE PEOPLE IN A RIPPLE EFFECT. AND THE CIRCLE GREW WIDER AND WIDER. THE REASON THOSE EARLY CHRISTIANS WERE SO FILLED WITH JOY WAS THAT THIS JESUS WHO HAD LIVED AMONG


PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:7

THEM, THIS JESUS WHO HAD GIVEN THEM SUCH HOPE, THIS JESUS WHOM THEY HAD SEEN DUE. ON A HILL OUTSIDE JERUSALEM, THIS JESUS WHOM THEY HAD SEEN PUT INTO A TOMB—THIS JESUS WAS ALIVE!

 FORGIVENESS

226'SOME YEARS AGO, A PASTOR IN BOSTON WAS BEING HA­RASSED BY A WOMAN IN HIS CONGREGATION. SHE STARTED FALSE RUMORS ABOUT HIM. SHE WROTE VICIOUS LETTERS ABOUT HIM TO HIS BISHOP AND OTHERS. SHE INITIATED PETITIONS TO HAVE HIM REMOVED. AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF THIS, THE WOMAN MOVED TO ANOTHER CITY AND NOT LONG AFTERWARD WAS CONVERTED TO CHRIST. PART OF THE PROCESS OF HER CONVERSION WAS TO REALIZE THE TERRIBLE WRONG SHE HAD DONE AND ALL THE PAIN AND SUFFERING SHE HAD INFLICTED ON HER PASTOR IN BOSTON. CONSEQUENTLY, SHE WROTE HIM A LONG LETTER EXPLAINING WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO HER AND HOW DEEPLY SHE REGRETTED WHAT SHE HAD DONE TO HIM. THE PASTOR IMMEDIATELY SENT HER A TELEGRAM WITH THREE WORDS ON IT: "FORGIVEN! FORGOTTEN! FOREVER!"

GOODNESS

227»A COUNTRY PREACHER DELIVERED A STIRRING MESSAGE TO HIS PEOPLE ABOUT GOOD AND EVIL IN THE WORLD. HE SAID: "PEOPLE TALK TO ME ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF EVIL, BUT I WILL TELL YOU AN EVEN GREATER PROBLEM: THE PROBLEM OF GOODNESS.  HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE


1.6:8  PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

FACT THAT IN SUCH A WORLD AS THIS THERE SHOULD BE SO MUCH SELF-SACRIFICE, SO MUCH UNSELFISHNESS, SO MUCH LOVE?  BY WHAT MIRACLE HAS MAN, WHO ONLY A FEW THOUSAND YEARS AGO WAS LIVING ON THE LEVEL OF BEASTS, RISEN TO A POINT WHERE HE WILL LITERALLY LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FAMILY, FOR A CAUSE, FOR A FRIEND?"

IDENTITY CRISIS

228»MODERN COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY HAS THE CAPACITY TO RECORD A VARIETY OF THE DISTINGUISHING MARKS OF EV­ERY LIVING PERSON, AS WELL AS ALL THOSE YET TO COME. WE HAVE REACHED THE POINT WHERE IT IS RELATIVELY EASY TO ESTABLISH ONE'S IDENTITY AND VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO CONCEAL IT. YET, FINGERPRINTS, FOOT­PRINTS, CARDIOGRAMS, VOICEPRINTS AND BRAINWAVES TO THE CONTRARY NOTWITHSTANDING, WE NEVER CEASE TO ASK OURSELVES AND EACH OTHER, "WHO AM I?" "WHO DO YOU SAY I AM?" ALL OF US ARE CAUGHT UP IN THE RELENTLESS SEARCH FOR IDENTITY. WE ALL WANT TO BE SOMEBODY.

EACH IN HIS OR HER OWN WAY IS LIKE THE BILLIONAIRE WHOSE FINAL, BIZARRE REQUEST WAS TO BE BURIED IN HIS GOLD-PLATED ROLLS ROYCE, SITTING IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT WITH HIS HANDS ON THE WHEEL, A $20.00 CIGAR IN HIS MOUTH, STATE-OF-THE-ART STEREO PLAYING, AND THE AIR-CONDITIONING RUNNING. AFTER HIS REQUEST WAS FUL­FILLED, AND AS RELATIVES AND FRIENDS LEFT THE GRAVE-


PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:9

SIDE, ONE OF THE GRAVE DIGGERS LOOKED DOWN AT THE SPECTACLE AND EXCLAIMED, "MAN, THAT'S REALLY LIVING!" .

HOWEVER MISGUIDED HIS ATTITUDE AND APPROACH TO LIFE (AND DEATH), IT CAN AT LEAST BE SAID OF THE DECEASED MAN THAT HE WAS ACUTELY CONSCIOUS OF THE NAGGING QUESTION, "WHO AM I?". NOT ONLY HAD HE SPENT A LIFE­TIME TRYING TO PROVE THAT HE INDEED WAS SOMEBODY, BUT IN HIS OWN PITIFUL WAY HE SEEMED TO BE EXPRESSING THE HOPE THAT NOT EVEN DEATH COULD DE­STROY HIS UNIQUE IDENTITY.

229'THE UNIQUENESS OF LIVING THINGS IS ONE OF LIFE'S MOST AWESOME WONDERS. NO TWO BLADES OF GRASS, NO TWO ROSES, NO TWO INSECTS OR BIRDS OR DOGS OR CATS ARE PRECISELY ALIKE. EACH HUMAN CREATURE OF GOD IS DIF­FERENT FROM ALL THE REST-- EACH A UNIQUE CREATION OF GOD. GENETICISTS TELL US THAT PRIOR TO BIRTH EACH PERSON HAS AN ARRAY OF GENES UNLIKE THAT OF ANY OTHER PERSON, LIVING OR DEAD. EACH SET OF FINGERPRINTS, FOOTPRINTS AND VOICEPRINTS IS UNIQUE, INDIVIDUAL, UNMATCHED. HEART SPECIALISTS TELL US THAT NO TWO CARDIOGRAMS ARE ALIKE. NEUROLOGISTS TELL US THAT NO TWO BRAIN-WAVE TESTS PRODUCE THE SAME RESULTS. OVER SEVENTY-SEVEN BILLION PERSONS HAVE LIVED ON THE PLANET EARTH, WHICH MEANS THAT EACH OF


1.6:10     PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

US IS A SEVENTY-SEVEN BILLIONTH WONDER OF THE WORLD--EACH A UNIQUE MARVEL.

NOT ONLY IS EACH HUMAN BEING UNIQUELY DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING, BUT ALSO THE ENTIRE SPECIES THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY OF MANIS UNIQUELY DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER SPECIES. AND THIS IS TRUE PRECISELY BECAUSE WE ARE MEMBERS OF THE ONLY SPECIES CAPABLE OF ASKING, "WHO AM I?" THE QUESTION IS BUILT INTO OUR VERY BEINGS. "WHO AM I?" IS THE NAME OF THE GAME OF LIFE.

JOY

230'MARK TWAIN HAD A BAD HABIT OF SPICING HIS CONVERSATION WITH PROFANITY. TWAIN'S WIFE, A DELICATE, REFINED WOMAN, OFTEN BECAME VERY UPSET BY HIS ROUGH LANGUAGE. SHE TRIED, IN MANY WAYS, TO CURE HIM OF THE HABITALWAYS UNSUCCESSFULLY, OF COURSE. ON ONE OCCASION SHE TRIED A SHOCK TECHNIQUE. WHEN TWAIN ARRIVED HOME FROM A TRIP, HE WAS GREETED AT THE DOOR WITH A STRING OF PROFANITY FROM HIS WIFE. FROM THE LIPS OF THAT DELICATE, REFINED WOMAN, HE HEARD EVERYTHING HE HAD EVER SAID, AND MORE. TWAIN STOOD QUIETLY, LISTENING, UNTIL SHE HAD FINISHED. THEN HE SAID, "MY DEAR, YOU HAVE THE WORDS, BUT NOT THE MUSIC."


PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:13

JESUS CHRIST? IT IS SAD BUT TRUE THAT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN COMING TO CHURCH FOR YEARS, HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN CHURCH ACTIVITIES FOR YEARS, BUT HAVE NEVER REALLY SAID "YES!" TO CHRIST'S OFFER OF NEW LIFE.

PREACHING

234»THE STORY IS TOLD OF A CLERGYMAN AND AN ORDINARY WORKING MAN: A BUS-DRIVER. THEY ARRIVED TOGETHER AT THE GATES OF HEAVEN. AN ANGEL GAVE THE CLERGYMAN A PLAIN COTTON GOWN, A WOODEN HALO AND MODEST LIVING QUARTERS CONTAINING ONLY THE BARE NECESSITIES OF ETERNAL LIFE. TO THE BUS-DRIVER, THE ANGEL PRESENTED A COMPLETE WARDROBE OF THE FINEST MATERIALS, A GOLDEN HALO AND LAVISH LIVING-QUARTERS CONTAINING EVERY IMAGINABLE LUXURY AND CONVENIENCE. WHEN HE SAW THIS, THE CLERGYMAN PROTESTED:  "WHY DOES HE GET SO MUCH AND I SO LITTLE?" THE ANGEL CHECKED THE RECORDS AND SAID, "IT SEEMS THAT WHEN YOU WERE PREACHING, YOUR CONGREGATION SLEPT: WHEN HE WAS DRIVING, HIS PASSENGERS PRAYED.

PRESENCE OF GOD

235»HELEN KELLER, EARLY IN HER LIFE, LOST THE ABILITY TO SEE, TO HEAR OR TO SPEAK. SHE WAS LESS THAN TWO-YEARS-OLD WHEN SHE BEGAN TO LIVE IN THIS DISABLED CONDITION. YET, THROUGH THE HELP OF ANNE


1.6:14  PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

SULLIVAN, HER TEACHER, AND THE PERKINS INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND (WHERE SHE LIVED AND STUDIED FOR A TIME), SHE BECAME ONE OF THE MOST SENSITIVE, MOST ALERT, MOST AWARE PERSONS IN CONTEMPORARY LIFE.

BECAUSE OF HER HANDICAP, HELEN KELLER DEVELOPED A REMARKABLY KEEN SENSE OF THE REALITY OF LIFE AROUND HER. ON ONE OCCASION, SHE WAS WALKING IN THE WOODS WITH A FRIEND. IT WAS SPRINGTIME AND SHE WAS USING HER FINGERS CONSTANTLY TO READ THE SIGNS OF NEW LIFE BURSTING OUT IN THAT FOREST. SHE FELT A SLENDER BIRCH TREE AND THE VIBRATIONS OF A BIRD SINGING IN ITS LIMBS. SHE FELT FLOWERS AND LEAVES BEGINNING TO SPROUT. SHE FELT STONES IN A COOL BROOK. AND WHEN SHE RETURNED HOME, SHE HAD THE MEMORY OF MANY THINGS THAT SHE HAD SEEN ON THE WALK, EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS BLIND. SHE ASKED HER FRIEND (WHO HAD PERFECTLY GOOD EYES) WHAT MI HAD SEEN. THE FRIEND SAID, "NOTHING IN PARTICULAR." HELEN KELLER WAS ASTOUNDED: TO WALK THROUGH THE WOODS IN THE SPRINGTIME AND SEE "NOTHING IN PARTICULAR." SHE BEGAN TO ASK OTHER PEOPLE, AND SHE DISCOVERED THAT THERE WERE PERSONS ALL AROUND HER WHO HAD EYES TO SEE BUT WERE MORE BLIND THAN SHE WAS WITH HER SIGHTLESS EYES.

PEOPLE AT THE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT IN NEW ENGLAND AP­PARENTLY REALIZE WHAT A PROBLEM THIS IS. WHEN YOU


PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE 1.6:15

DRIVE THROUGH THE NEW ENGLAND MOUNTAINS, EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU WILL COME TO A BREATHTAKING VISTA OF BEAUTY, COMPLETE WITH HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT SIGN THAT SAYS, "SCENIC AREA"—AS IF IN RECOGNITION THAT PEOPLE NEED TO BE INFORMED, IN WRITING, ABOUT THE BEAUTY THAT IS SURROUNDING THEM.

THIS IS AN IMPORTANT OBSERVATION FOR US, BECAUSE WE HAVE THIS PROBLEM NOT ONLY WITH OUR PHYSICAL EYES BUT ALSO WITH OUR EYES OF FAITH. GOD IS CONTINUALLY GIVING US SIGNS OF HIS PRESENCE. HE IS CONSTANTLY SHOWING US, IN HUNDREDS OF WAYS, THAT HE IS PRESENT, THAT HE LOVES US, THAT HE WANTS US TO MOVE INTO UNION WITH HIM, THAT THIS UNION WITH HIM IS THE ONLY THING THAT CAN GIVE GENUINE MEANING TO EVERYTHING ELSE IN LIFE. BUT WE NEED TO DEVELOP AN ALERTNESS, A SENSITIVITY TO THESE SIGNS AS WE MOVE THROUGH OUR DAY'S ACTIVITIES.

SELFLESSNESS

236»THERE IS A BEAUTIFUL STORY OF THE COURTSHIP OF MOSES MENDELSSOHN, THE FAMOUS GERMAN-JEWISH PHILOSO­PHER OF TWO CENTURIES AGO. MOSES MENDELSSOHN, A SMALL HUNCHBACKED MAN, FELL IN LOVE WITH A BEAUTIFUL AND CHARMING YOUNG WOMAN NAMED FRUMTJE, DAUGHTER OF A PROSPEROUS BANKER. SEVERAL MONTHS AFTER HE HAD FIRST MET FRUMTJE, MENDELSSOHN VISITED HER FATHER AND ASKED HIM HOW SHE REALLY FELT ABOUT THE


1.6:16  PREACHER'S ILLUSTRATION SERVICE

POSSIBILITY OF MARRIAGE. "PLEASE TELL ME THE TRUTH," MENDELSSOHN INSISTED. THE FATHER REPLIED, "THE TRUTH IS THAT THE GIRL IS FRIGHTENED BY YOU BECAUSE..." MENDELSSOHN INTERRUPTED: "BECAUSE I AM A HUNCHBACK?" "YES," SAID THE FATHER, "BECAUSE YOU ARE A HUNCHBACK."

MENDELSSOHN THEN ASKED TO SEE THE DAUGHTER ON THE PRETEXT THAT HE WANTED TO SAY FAREWELL TO HER. HE FOUND HER IN AN UPSTAIRS ROOM WHERE SHE WAS BUSY WITH SOME NEEDLEWORK. SHE AVOIDED LOOKING AT HIM DURING THE CONVERSATION (WHICH MENDELSSOHN EVENTU­ALLY DIRECTED TO THE SUBJECT OF MARRIAGE). THE YOUNG WOMAN ASKED IF HE REALLY BELIEVED THAT MARRIAGES WERE MADE IN HEAVEN. "OH COURSE," HE REPLIED. "AND SOMETHING VERY UNUSUAL HAPPENED TO ME.  AS YOU KNOW, WHEN CHILDREN ARE BORN THEY CALL OUT IN HEAVEN, 'THIS ONE OR THAT ONE WILL GET THIS OR THAT GIRL FOR A WIFE.' WHEN I WAS BORN, MY FUTURE WIFE WAS THUS ANNOUNCED, BUT IT WAS ADDED: 'SHE WILL, ALAS, HAVE A TERRIBLE HUMP ON HER BACK.' I SHOUTED, 'OH, LORD, A GIRL WHO IS HUNCHBACKED WILL VERY EASILY BECOME BITTER AND HARD. A GIRL SHOULD BE BEAUTIFUL. GOOD LORD, GIVE THE HUMP TO ME AND LET HER BE WELL-FORMED.'" FRUMTJE WAS DEEPLY MOVED. SHE SAW MENDELSSOHN IN A WHOLE NEW WAY, AND SO SHE BECAME HIS FAITHFUL AND LOVING WIFE.

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