|LETTING YOUR LIGHT SHINE||WAGERING ON SIN'S WAGES|
|A duck hunter was with a friend in the wide-open land of southeastern Georgia. Far away on the horizon he noticed a cloud of smoke. Soon he could hear crackling as the wind shifted. He realized the terrible truth: a brushfire was advancing, so fast they couldn't outrun it. Rifling through his pockets, he soon found what he was looking for—a book of matches. He lit a small fire around the two of them. Soon they were standing in a circle of blackened earth, waiting for the fire to come. They didn't have to wait long. They covered their mouths with handkerchiefs and braced themselves. The fire came near—and swept over them. But they were completely unhurt, untouched. Fire would not pass where fire already had passed. The law is like a brushfire. I cannot escape it. But if I stand in the burned-over place, not a hair of my head will be singed. Christ's death is the burned-over place. There I huddle, hardly believing yet relieved. The law is powerful, yet powerless: Christ's death has disarmed it. —Adapted from Who Will Deliver Us? by Paul F. M. Zahl|
|Dr. Paul Brand was m speaking to a medical college in India on "Let your light so shine before men that they may behold your good works and glorify your Father." In front of the lectern was an oil lamp, with its cotton wick burning from the shallow dish of oil. As he preached, the lamp ran out of oil, the wick burned dry, and the smoke made him cough. He immediately used the opportunity. "Some of us here are like this wick," he said. "We're trying to shine for the glory of God, but we stink. That's what happens when we use ourselves as the fuel of our witness rather than the Holy Spirit. "Wicks can last indefinitely, burning brightly and without irritating smoke, if the fuel, the Holy Spirit, is in constant supply."—Philip Yancey Chicago, IllinoisEVANGELISM||In 1982, "ABC Evening 1 News" reported on an unusual work of modern art—a chair affixed to a shotgun. It was to be viewed by sitting in the chair and looking directly into the gunbarrel. The gun was loaded and set on a timer to fire at an undetermined moment within the next hundred years. The amazing thing was that people waited in lines to sit and stare into the shell's path! They all knew the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn't happen during their minute in the chair. Yes, it was foolhardy, yet|
|Forgiveness||many people who wouldn't dream of sitting in that chair live a lifetime gambling that they can get away with sin. Foolishly they ignore the risk until the inevitable self-destruction.—Jeffrey D. King Parma, Ohio|
|Richard Hoefler's book Will Daylight Come? includes a homey illustration of how sin enslaves and forgiveness frees. A little boy visiting his grandparents was given his first slingshot. He practiced in the woods, but he could never hit his target. As he came back to Grandma's back yard, he spied her pet duck. On an impulse he took aim and let fly. The stone hit, and the duck fell dead. The boy panicked. Desperately he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to look up and see his sister watching. Sally had seen it all, but she said nothing. After lunch that day, Grandma said, "Sally, let's wash the dishes." But Sally said, "Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen today. Didn't you, Johnny?" And she whispered to him, "Remember the duck!" So Johnny did the dishes. Later Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing. Grandma said, "I'm sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper." Sally smiled and said, "That's all taken care of. Johnny wants to do it." Again she whispered, "Remember the duck." Johnny stayed while Sally went fishing. After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally's, finally he couldn't stand it. He confessed to Grandma that he'd killed the duck. "I know, Johnny," she said, giving him a hug. "I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing. Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how lone you would let Sally make a slave of you."° —Steven Cole Cederpines Park, California|
|Sometimes telling a story has as much effect on the teller as it does the listeners. Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, recalls: "My grandfather was lame. Once they asked him to tell a story about his teacher, and he related how his master used to hop and dance while he prayed. My grandfather rose as he spoke and was so swept away by his story that he himself began to hop and dance to show how the master had done. From that hour he was cured of his lameness." When we tell the story of our Master, we too experience his power.—Timothy K. Jones Rocky Mount, Virginia|
he Queen Mary was the largest ship to cross the oceans when it was launched in 1936. Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired, anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California.
During the conversion, her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted. But on the dock they crumbled.
Nothing was left of the 3A-inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed. All that remained were more than thirty coats of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away.
When Jesus called the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs," he meant they had no substance, only an exterior appearance.
—Robert Wenz Clifton Park, New York
TO HIS IMAGE
n a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is a portrait with the following inscription:
"James Butler Bonham— no picture of him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased, who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that people may know the appearance of the man who died for freedom."
No literal portrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us free can be seen in the lives of his true followers.
—Bill Morgan Memphis, Tennessee
ear Lord, I have been re-reading the record of the Rich Young Ruler and his obviously wrong choice. But it has set me thinking.
No matter how much wealth he had, he could not—
ride in a car,
have any surgery,
turn on a light,
hear a pipe organ,
wash dishes in running water,
type a letter,
mow a lawn,
fly in an airplane,
sleep on an innerspring mattress,
or talk on the phone.
If he was rich, then what am I?
in The Christian Standard
uring the terrible days of the Blitz, a father, holding his small son by the hand, ran from a building that had been struck by a bomb. In the front yard was a shell hole. Seeking shelter as quickly as possible, the father jumped into the hole and held up his arms for his son to follow.
Terrified, yet hearing his father's voice telling him to jump, the boy replied, "I can't see you!"
The father, looking up against the sky tinted red by the burning buildings, called to the silhouette of his son, "But I can see you. Jump!"
The boy jumped, because he trusted his father.
The Christian faith enables us to face life or meet death, not because we can see, but with the certainty that we are seen; not that we know all the answers, but that we are known.
—Donner Atwood in Reformed Review
n his book Why Prayers Are Unanswered, John Lavender retells a story about Norman Vincent Peale.
When Peale was a boy, he found a big, black cigar, slipped into an alley, and lit up. It didn't taste good, but it made him feel very grown up . . . until he saw his father coming. Quickly he put the cigar behind his back and tried to be casual.
Desperate to divert his father's attention, Norman pointed to a billboard advertising the circus.
"Can I go, Dad? Please, let's go when it comes to town."
His father's reply taught Norman a lesson he never forgot.
"Son," he answered quietly but firmly, "never make a petition while at the same time trying to hide a smoldering disobedience."
—Kirk Russel DeForest, Wisconsin
ower can be used in at least two ways: it can be unleashed, or it can be harnessed. The energy in ten gallons of gasoline, for instance, can be released explosively by dropping a lighted match into the can.
Or it can be channeled through the engine of a Dat-sun in a controlled burn and used to transport a person 350 miles.
Explosions are spectacular, but controlled burns have lasting effect, staying power.
The Holy Spirit works both ways. At Pentecost, he exploded on the scene; his presence was like "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:3). Thousands were affected by one burst of God's power.
But he also works through the church—the institution God began to tap the Holy Spirit's power for the long haul. Through worship, fellowship, and service, Christians are provided with staying power.
What are the most effective illustrations you've come across? We want to share them with other pastors and teachers who need material that communicates with clarity and imagination. For items used, leadership will pay $15. If the material has been previously published, please include the source.
Stories, analogies, and word pictures should be sent to: Jo Illustrate . . .
465 Gundersen Drive Carol Stream, IL 60188
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