farmer went each week to the Farmers' Market to sell, among other things, the cottage cheese and apple butter made on his farm. He carried these in two large tubs, from which he ladled the cottage cheese or apple butter into smaller containers the customers brought.
One day he got to market and discovered he'd forgotten one ladle. He felt he had no choice but to use the one he had for both products.
Before long he couldn't tell which was which.
That's the way it is when we try to dispense the good news of Christ using hearts, minds, and tongues too recently immersed in the coarseness and one-upmanship of the world. Nobody gets any nourishment. — Beth Landers Waterloo, Ontario
lady answered the knock on her door to find a man with a sad expression.
"I'm sorry to disturb you," he said, "but I'm collecting money for an unfortunate family in the neighborhood. The husband is out of work, the kids are hungry, the utilities will soon be cut off, and worse, they're going to be kicked out of their apartment if they don't pay the rent by this afternoon."
"I'll be happy to help," said the woman with great concern. "But who are you?"
"I'm the landlord," he
replied. — Jon H. Allen
n The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford tells of a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution, Peter Miller, who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the friendship of George Washington.
In Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor.
One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor.
"No, Peter," General Washington said. "I cannot grant you the life of your friend."
"My friend!" exclaimed the old preacher. "He's the bitterest enemy I have."
"What?" cried Washington. "You've walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in different light. I'll grant your pardon." And he did.
Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata — no longer an enemy but a friend.
— Lynn Jost Hesston, Kansas
ENSLAVED BY SIN
homas Costain's history, The Three Edwards, describes the life of Raynald III, a fourteenth-century duke in what is now Belgium.
Grossly overweight, Raynald was commonly called by his Latin nickname, Crassus, which means "fat."
After a violent quarrel, Raynald's younger brother Edward led a successful revolt against him. Edward captured Raynald but did not kill him. Instead, he built a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk castle and promised him he could regain his title and property as soon as he was able to leave the room.
This would not have been difficult for most people since the room had several windows and a door of near-normal size, and none was locked or barred. The problem was Raynald's size. To regain his freedom, he needed to lose weight. But Edward knew his older brother, and each day he sent a variety of delicious foods. Instead of dieting his way out of prison, Raynald grew fatter.
When Duke Edward was accused of cruelty, he had a ready answer: "My brother is not a prisoner. He may leave when he so wills."
Raynald stayed in that room for ten years and wasn't released until after Edward died in battle. By then his health was so ruined he died within a year ... a prisoner of his own appetite.
— Dave Wilkinson Oroville, California
onald Meredith, in his book Hurryiri Big for Little Reasons, describes one quiet night in early spring:
Suddenly out of the night came the sound of wild geese flying. I ran to the house and breathlessly announced the excitement I felt. What is to compare with wild geese across the moon?
It might have ended there except for the sight of our tame mallards on the pond. They heard the wild call they had once known. The honking out of the night sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly — to take their place in the sky for which God made them — was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water.
The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable.
Temptation is always enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity for flight.
— Jim Moss Hendersonville, Tennessee
uring his 1960 presidential campaign, John F. Kennedy often closed his speeches with the story of Colonel Davenport, the Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives.
One day in 1789, the sky of Hartford darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out the windows, feared the end was at hand.
Quelling a clamor for immediate adjournment, Davenport rose and said, "The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
Rather than fearing what is to come, we are to be faithful till Christ returns. Instead of fearing the dark, we're to be lights as we watch and wait.
— Harry Heintz Troy, New York
here are two ways of handling pressure. One is illustrated by a bathysphere, the miniature submarine used to explore the ocean in places so deep that the water pressure would crush a conventional submarine like an aluminum can. Bathyspheres compensate with plate steel several inches thick, which keeps the water out but also makes them heavy and hard to maneuver. Inside they're cramped.
When these craft descend to the ocean floor, however, they find they're not alone. When their lights are turned on and you look through the tiny, thick plate-glass windows, what do you see? Fish!
These fish cope with extreme pressure in an entirely different way. They don't build thick skins; they remain supple and free. They compensate for the outside pressure through equal and opposite pressure inside themselves.
Christians, likewise, don't have to be hard and thick-skinned — as long as they appropriate God's power within to equal the pressure without. —Jay Kesler
in Campus Life
read about a small boy who was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him one day that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. His father met him in the living room and said nothing. At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father's full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed. The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy's plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son.
When that boy grew to be a man, he said, "All my
life I've known what God is like by what my father did
that night." — J. Allan Peterson
n The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells
about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque
village who walked by an old man sitting beside a
fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked,
"Were any great men born in this village?"
The old man replied, "Nope, only babies."
A frothy question brought a profound answer. There
are no instant heroes — whether in this world or in
the kingdom of God. Growth takes time, and as 1
Timothy 3:6 and 5:22 point out, even spiritual leader
ship must be earned. — William C. Shereos
school teacher lost her life savings in a business scheme that had been elaborately explained by a swindler. When her investment disappeared and her dream was shattered, she went to the Better Business Bureau. "Why on earth didn't you come to us first?" the official asked. "Didn't you know about the Better Business Bureau?"
"Oh, yes," said the lady sadly. "I've always known about you. But I didn't come because I was afraid you'd tell me not to do it."
The folly of human nature is that even though we know where the answers lie — God's Word — we don't turn there for fear of what it will say.
— Jerry Lambert Findlay, Ohio
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:
To Illustrate . . .
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