BETRAYAL
Robert Kopp reminds us of Bronco Nagerski, the tough running back for the Chicago Bears in the 1930’s. During one especially brutal game, Bronco broke four tackles on the way to the goal line, hit the goal post, spun around and ran into the brick wall just outside the end zone. Dazed and wobbly, he hobbled back into the huddle and said, “Boy, that last guy sure hit me hard!”
Kopp says, “Betrayal is like being blind-sided by a brick wall. When you least expect it, Bam! You’re knocked for a loop. And it’s usually someone you’ve trusted. That’s why it hurts so much. We’ve all been betrayed. We’ve all said, “Boy, that last guy sure hit me hard!” (Kopp is Pastor of Logans Ferry Presbyterian Church, New Kinsington, PA)
DEATH – Finality of
David B. Young tells of the experience when a mother called to plead, “Please pray for my baby,” but he could not.
“It was about 4:00 a.m. when I received the call that a child had been killed in a farming accident. When I met the child’s mother at the hospital, she began begging me to pray for her baby. At first I was not sure I understood her. She had a tiny baby, so I thought that child must have been hurt, too. But no, she wanted me to pray for the child who was now dead.
“At that moment I would have given anything to have had an answer for her. But I could not pray for her little boy to live again. I prayed for her and her family, but it was too late for me to pray for the child who had died.
“However you face it, there is a finality to death that leaves us all helpless. While we are powerless, we are not without hope. We hope in Him who raised Jesus from the dead, and we trust that He will raise us up with Him on the last day. But we must put our hope in Him before it is too late.” (Young is Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church of Lakewood in Tacoma, WA)
LOVE – Great motivator
Mom asked her seven-year-old son to clean her shoes. He meticulously cleaned and shined the shoes and was rewarded with a quarter. When she went to put on her shoes, the mother felt something in the toe of one. She reached in and found the quarter wrapped in a little note, which contained her little boy’s scribbled words: “You can keep the quarter, I done it for love.”
Larry Hatfield explains, ” ‘I done it for love’ may raise no spire and build no steeple, but it is always a cathedral where God dwells. A choir can be assembled by persuasion and trained by expertise, but music is a child of love. A sermon can be drafted with calculation and delivered with precision, but a message from heaven is heard only where there’s love.” (Hatfield is Pastor of Grand Avenue Assembly of God, Chickasha, OK)
MISSIONS
For many years in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the American Baptist Home Mission Society was led by Henry Lyman Morehouse, who had a great heart for missions and evangelism. As Morehouse neared the end of his life, the 1907 Northern Baptist Convention paid tribute to him. The most outstanding tribute came from the Indian chief, Lone Wolf. Speaking before the convention, Lone Wolf said, “Dr. Morehouse brought the medicine that made my people well.” (Lathan A. Crandall, Henry Lyman Morehouse, p. 223). (Submitted by Mike Williams, Pastor of Trinity Hills Baptist Church, Benbrook, TX)
STEWARDSHIP – Reward for
Robert Leslie Holmes relates the legend of the wealthy man who stood at heaven’s gate, where he was met by St. Peter to be directed to his new home. St. Peter led him down the streets of gold and through a magnificent area of mansions. The man paused, expecting to be shown his home there, but St. Peter continued on and the man followed.
Finally, St. Peter came to a worndown neighborhood. He stopped in front of a tiny shack and said to the man, “Here’s your eternal home.”
The man became indignant and said, “This cannot be! On earth I lived in the lap of luxury; I had everything anyone could desire. Now you want me to live in this hovel? Surely this is a mistake!”
St. Peter replied, “Sir, you must understand that all we had to build this house with was the material you sent to us while you lived on earth. We would have been happy to build you a spacious, well-decorated mansion, but you did not send us the proper materials.”
Holmes says, “Heaven is a gift. What happens after we get there will be our reward. What on earth are you doing, for heaven’s sake?” (Holmes is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, CA)
THANKFULNESS – Sometimes forgotten
Accompanied by her five-year-old son, the lady came in the store to have her prescription filled. The pharmacist handed over to the woman her medicine, then gave a piece of candy to the little boy.
“What do you say to the pharmacist?” prompted the mother. The little boy replied, “Charge it.”


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Edward Chinn serves as Pastor of All Saints’ Church in Philadelphia. He writes a weekly column, “The Wonder of Words,” which regularly includes superb illustrations. The illustrations in this edition of “To Illustrate” are drawn from his columns.
Facing Obstacles with Optimism
“No great enterprise will ever begin if all obstacles must first be overcome,” said Napoleon Hill. Charles Dickens gave similar advice in his book, David Copperfield: “Ride on! Rough-shod if need be, smooth-shod if that will do, but ride on! Ride on over all obstacles, and win the race!”
The Roeblings of New Jersey took that advice. They faced obstacles with optimism. John Roebling invented wire rope in 1841. This invention offered support for a dream Roebling had. He dreamed of building a huge suspension bridge over the East River. It would connect Manhattan Island to Brooklyn. Such a bridge would span 1,595 feet. It would have to withstand the strength of the winds and the pressure of the tides.
In 1869, authorities appointed John Roebling chief engineer of the longest bridge-building project in the world. Soon after the work started, a ferry boat hit the pilings on which Roebling stood. His foot was crushed. Medical doctors amputated his foot, but Roebling died of tetanus a short time after.
John Roebling had a son named Washington. Two years before the accident, he had gone to Europe to learn how to construct underwater foundations. These foundations were made by using caissons filled with compressed air.
Washington Roebling took over as chief engineer. He supervised the bridge building for the next several years. He spent long hours in the high pressure of the caissons. In the spring of 1872, he fell unconscious after twelve hours in a compressed air chamber. Washington Roebling’s health was permanently damaged.
Never again could he come near the bridge site. He stayed at his home in Brooklyn. He watched the construction of the bridge with a telescope from his window. He could no longer talk because of the bends he suffered in the compressed air chamber.
He developed a code by which he could communicate. He would tap a single finger on the arm of his wife. In this way he told her what was to be done next. She instructed the engineers. For eleven years — from 1872 to 1883 — he supervised the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. He faced his obstacles with optimism.
The Grasshopper in the Marble
In the marble of a building in London, someone carved the shape of a grasshopper.
Years before, a woman walked a path in the woods in northern England. Under her tattered shawl, this mother carried a baby. She found a lonely spot just off the path and put the baby under a shrub. She thought that no one would find the abandoned baby there.
Later that day, a boy came along the path. Near the place where the baby was, this boy saw an unusually big grasshopper. He decided to capture it to use as a specimen for his biology collection. As he tried to catch the grasshopper, it jumped across the path. The boy chased it. He dropped to his knees and cupped his hands to capture it. Then he saw and heard the abandoned baby.
He took the baby home to his parents. They reared the child since no one claimed him. The baby grew up and became a youth with ambition and ability. He became a prosperous and well known banker in London. He was a man of faith who believed in the providence of God.
When he had a large exchange building erected for his business, he had the form of a grasshopper carved into the marble. The grasshopper in the marble was a reminder of how God had helped him.
Like that grasshopper, the centuries have carved the Sabbath day observance into our religious tradition. It has helped people for many generations. The word “Sabbath” itself means “rest.” The Sabbath day is a chronological token of the need to rest and be refreshed. Setting aside one day in seven has helped people find themselves in the hectic activity of life. Will Rogers said, “I always get up early on Sundays to have a longer day to rest.”
Whether you observe Saturday or Sunday as the “Sabbath,” you are wise to keep God’s “one in seven” principle. Take one day in seven to be good to yourself! Voltaire was right when he said: “If you want to kill Christianity, you must abolish Sunday.”
Dealing with Dead-Ends
People call John Paul Jones the “Father of the American Navy.” Born in Scotland, his name was John Paul. He captained a ship when he was twenty-two years old. Authorities charged him with murder when a sailor died after Paul had him flogged. Later they freed him.
He became captain of another ship in 1773. The crew of his ship mutinied and one of the crewmen was killed. People charged Paul with murder, so he fled to America. He added the name “Jones” to his name to hide his identity. He ran away and turned his dead-end into a new beginning.
On September 23, 1779, John Paul Jones was in a naval battle in the North Sea. Jones commanded the Bonhomme Richard (Poor Richard) against the British fighting vessel Serapis. The Bonhomme Richard was in a bad way. It looked like a dead-end for John Paul Jones. The British ship captain asked John Paul Jones to surrender. Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight.”
Jones faced a dead-end, but he went on to capture the British ship. He turned a dead-end into a new beginning.
The dictionary defines a “dead-end” as a figurative expression meaning a situation which has no opportunity for progress, advancement or achievement. When Moses was born, he faced a dead-end. The king of Egypt had ordered the death of newborn boys. The ingenuity of Moses’ sister turned that dead-end into a new beginning.
When Moses was forty years old, he murdered an Egyptian. Moses faced a dead-end, but he ran away (like John Paul Jones) and turned the dead-end into a new beginning.
Years later, Moses returned. He had a message for the king of Egypt. After many appeals to the king of Egypt, the king finally let the Hebrew slaves go. However, the king changed his mind and pursued the fleeing slaves. “They caught up with the Israelites, while they were camped at the Red Sea” (Exodus 14:9). In one of history’s notable turning points, a dead-end became a new beginning as Israel’s exodus opened a new chapter in world history.
Words Can Bless or Burn
There is a country church of a small village in Croatia. One day near the beginning of the twentieth century an altar boy named Josip Broz served the priest at Sunday Mass. The boy accidentally dropped the glass cruet of wine. It smashed to pieces. The village priest struck the altar boy sharply on the cheek and in a gruff voice shouted: “Leave the altar and don’t come back.”
He never did come back to the Church. That boy became Tito, the Communist leader of Yugoslavia after World War II.
About the same time an altar boy named Peter John served at Mass in St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria, Illinois. This altar boy, too, dropped the wine cruet. In later life, that boy wrote: “There is no atomic explosion that can equal in intensity of decibels the noise and explosive force of a wine cruet falling on the marble floor of a cathedral in the presence of a bishop. I was frightened to death” (Treasure In Clay, pp. 10-12).
The celebrant at Mass that morning was Bishop John Spalding. With a warm twinkle in his eye, the bishop gently whispered: “Someday you will be just what I am.”
That boy grew up to become Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the Church’s most eloquent spokesmen for Christ. He wrote more than fifty books. During the 1950’s, he became widely known as a television personality. He spoke on Tuesday evenings in a series of programs called “Life Is Worth Living.” As a boy, he dropped his first name “Peter” and used, instead, his mother’s maiden name, “Fulton.”
What a difference the words of those two celebrants at Mass made in the lives of those boys! As Sigmund Freud said: “Words call forth emotions and are universally the means by which we influence our fellow creatures. By words one of us can give another the greatest happiness or bring about utter despair.”
Nearly three thousand years before Freud, the book of Proverbs in the Bible stated: “Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoken words can heal” (Proverbs 12:18).
Swallowing Snails
Arthur Lenehan, in the booklet, Soundings, told a story about a type of jellyfish whose home is the Bay of Naples, Italy. The jellyfish is called medusa. In the Bay, too, are snails of the nudibranch variety. When these snails are little, a jellyfish may swallow one of them. The jellyfish draws the snail into its digestive tract.
However, the snail is protected by its shell. The jellyfish can’t digest it. The snail fastens itself to the inside of the jellyfish and slowly begins to eat it. When the snail grows to maturity, it has consumed the entire jellyfish.
Often, the “snails” we swallow consume us! Alcoholism can be a snail. The Chinese say, “First, the man takes a drink. Then, the drink takes a drink. Then, the drink takes a man.” The desire for a drink can get a hold on us. It begins to grow and gnaw at us. After a while, we are consumed by the need for a drink.
Hate can be a snail. Someone attacks a person or a possession we love. Maybe, the attack is against us. We resent what the other person did. We nurse the resentment. We grow to hate. The hatred gets a hold on us. After a while, we are consumed by the hatred.
Aimlessness can be a snail. Peter, the Apostle of Christ, spoke to the crowd in Jersualem nearly two months after Christ’s death and reappearance. In part, Peter said to them: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 1:40). The word untoward is a perfect translation of the Greek word “skolios.” It means crooked — that is, not pointing toward anything but meandering in all directions. An “untoward generation” is a generation which has no high aims. It has no overriding sense of high purpose.
In Old English, the word “toward” is a complimentary adjective. It described someone who was obviously going somewhere. People strive to find meaning in life. It is one of the primary moving forces in human beings. Beware of the snail of aimlessness!
Blue Dot in the Ocean of Space
On February 13, 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft took a portrait of our Sun and its family. Voyager took sixty different pictures and astronomers used these pictures to create a mosaic of the solar system.
Carl Sagan, the astronomer at Cornell University, said, “This is where we live — on a blue dot.” Sagan noted that people have acted out the human drama on that one, blue speck. “That’s where everybody lived. It’s a very small stage on the great cosmic arena.”
What are the difficulties these pictures from Voyager 1 raise for religion? One difficulty for religion is the size of the universe. The vastness of the physical universe seems to dwarf man into insignificance. Modern telescopes reveal to us hundreds of millions of stars. What, indeed, is man that God should be mindful of him?
As I thought about this, I realized I could balance the “terror” of the telescope by the marvels of the microscope. The microscope shows us something about the Power which made the stars. This Power is equally careful about tiny things.
Size doesn’t determine value for us. Small as they are, babies and diamonds are precious to us. Why shouldn’t God be as discerning as we are?
The second difficulty Voyager raises for religion is the matter of numbers. Countless stars fill space. Their number makes it hard for us to believe that God cares for us as individuals.
On the human level, doesn’t greater knowledge go hand in hand with caring for the parts that make up the whole? The books on many shelves don’t overwhelm a good librarian. She knows and cares about each of them. Is God less knowledgeable about His creatures than we are?
The third difficulty the space picture raises for religion is the question of purpose. The Power created interstellar space, galaxies, suns, and the planets in their courses. Why can’t this Power have a purpose that includes the inhabitants of this “blue dot”? The photographs from Voyager seem to say, “Astronomically speaking, man is insignificant.” Faith answers, “Astronomically speaking, man is the astronomer!”


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COOPERATION – Value of
Did you hear about the two moving men who were struggling with the big crate they found in the doorway? They pushed and worked until both of them were worn out. Finally the man on the outside said, “We might as well give up. We’ll never get this thing in.”
All at once the man on the inside said, “What do you mean, get it in? I thought we were trying to get it out!”
Sometimes we’re just like that: some pushing one way, others pushing another. There’s nothing like cooperation to get us working in the same direction and get the job done.
CREATIVITY
J.R.R. Tolkien was sitting in his study at Oxford correcting a student’s thesis. The year was 1926. For some reason, the student had turned in a blank page. When Tolkien came to it, he picked up his pen and wrote on the page, “In a hole in a ground there lived a hobbit,” thus launching one of the most remarkable literary careers of our time. On being asked why he did it, Tolkien replied, “It popped into my head.”
Creativity is God-like. No amount of technology, no matter how intricate, can produce a single truly creative act. No matter how complex our computers, we remember that they are nothing more than state-of-the art adding machines that can print out only those choices that have been programmed in.
Foy Valentine Light
DIPLOMACY
Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your own way.
Pinwheel Pink Pages
DIRECTION – In Life
Little Jimmy was given the class assignment of writing about his origins. He went to his mother and asked: “Where did grandmother come from?” His mother answered: “The stork.” He asked his mother where she came from and received the same answer. “Where did I come from?” he asked, and again came the answer: “The stork.”
Jimmy went to his room and began to write: “There has not been a natural childbirth in this family for three generations.”
We all want to know where we came from — to know our roots. Yet’s it’s just as important — even more so — to know where we’re going.
EVANGELISM – Requires Building Bridges
Richard Cunningham tells of a former student, Palmer Ofuoku, who is now a distinguished preacher in Nigeria. Palmer told of how he became a Christian. Though his family was not Christian, they placed him in a mission school to obtain an education. He attended many years but remained an adherent of traditional religion. He met many missionaries over those years, some the kind who enjoyed a bit of domination over African colleagues. Palmer was not impressed with those. One year a new missionary came to the school who became involved in the lives of the Nigerians. He brought a new quality of relationship, and that missionary led Palmer to Jesus Christ. Palmer later recalled: “He built a bridge of friendship to me, and Jesus walked across.”
Isn’t that our call as witnesses of the Gospel — to build bridges to others so that Jesus can walk across?
“Mission to Modem Macedonia”
FEAR
In his book, Victory in the Valleys of Life, Charles L. Allen tells about 5-year old Johnny who was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s OK – Jesus will be in there with you.” Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”
As Allen says, “There are times when it is difficult to understand that ‘God is in there.'”
GRACE – Greatness of God’s
Phillips Brooks told the story of Alexander the Great, who one day received a friend asking for money. The man asked for ten talents, but Alexander had fifty delivered to him. When the man returned and said that ten would be sufficient, Alexander replied: “Ten are sufficient for you to take, but not for me to give.”
So it is with God’s grace. God is generous to the utmost extreme, bestowing His grace freely on all who will receive it.
HUNGER – Problem Growing
The crisis of world hunger is almost unfathomable: 200 people die from hunger related problems every day in Ethiopia; 15 million infants and children die every year due to diseases when weakened by malnutrition; 150 million Africans (a third of Africa’s total population) may be affected by drought in 1985.
Robert Parham
SBC Christian Life Commission
INFLUENCE
Little do we suspect the influence we have on those around us, like the mother who had taken her young son shopping. After a day in the stores, a clerk handed the little boy a lollipop.
“What do you say?” the mother said to the boy, to which he replied, “Charge it!”
Courier-Journal Sunday Magazine
NEGATIVE ATTITUDE – Destructive
Someone recently observed: Think about the oyster. It takes a grain of sand and turns it into a beautiful pearl. Too often, we are just the opposite — we take pearls and turn them into grains of sand.
PATIENCE – Value of
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.”
Leonardo da Vinci
PRIDE – Makes Us Vulnerable
Did you hear about the clever salesman who closed hundreds of sales with this line: “Let me show you something several of your neighbors said you couldn’t afford.”
SERVICE – To Others
An unknown author captured eloquently the way in which we so religiously fall short of Christ’s demand of service for others:
I was hungry and you formed a humanities club and discussed my hunger.
I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel and prayed for my release.
I was naked and in your mind you debated the morality of my appearance.
I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
I was homeless and you preached to me of the spiritual shelter of the love of God.
I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
You seem so holy so close to God. But I’m still very hungry and lonely and cold.
We must hear again the words of James: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (1:22).
SUFFERING – Can bring Insight
In his A Spiritual Autobiography, William Barclay recalls the experience of his mother’s agonizing death of cancer of the spine. Through the tragedy, he says, he came face to face with theological questions which he never solved. Why should his mother a good woman and otherwise health — be forced to die a painful death like that, and just as her son was being licensed as a preacher.
He recounted the words of his father: “You’ll have a new note in your preaching now.” Barclay goes on: “And so I had … not the note of one who knew the answers and had solved the problems, but the note of one who now knew what the problems were.”
VICTORY
“Among the ancient Greeks, the winner of the race was not the man who crossed the finish line first, but he who crossed it in the least time with his torch still burning; it is a hollow victory to be a “winner” if your torch is burned out by the time you get there.”
Sydney J. Harris
News America syndicate
YOUTH – Not So Bad
One commentator has observed about youth: “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in places of exercise. They no longer rise when others enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.”
A good description of today’s youth? Actually, it was written by Socrates, describing the young people of 5th century Greece. Could it be that youth haven’t changed all that much after all?


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