AUTHORITY
Lewis’s is a large department store in Birmingham, England, which made plans to expand. In the way of their expansion plans was a tiny Quaker chapel — a Friends’ meeting house.
The store sent a letter to the leaders of the congregation: “Dear sirs. We wish to extend our premises. We see that your building is right in the way. We wish therefore to buy your building and demolish it so that we might expand our store. We will pay you any price you care to name. If you’ll name a price we will settle the matter as quickly as possible.”
A return letter was received promptly by the store’s management. It read: “We in the Friends’ meeting house note the desire of Lewis’s to extend. We observe that our building is right in your way. We would point out, however, that we have been on our site somewhat longer than you have been on yours, and we are determined to stay where we are. We are so determined to stay where we are that we will happily buy Lewis’s. If therefore you would like to name a suitable price we will settle the matter as quickly as possible. Signed, Cadbury.”
Of course, the Cadbury’s are the great candy company of England, and could very well have purchased Lewis’s many times over. The point is that it is not the size of the building that counts but who signs the letter! And as Paul told the Corinthian church, “You are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor. 3:3). (Maxie Dunnam, The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 8; submitted by Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Astoria Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
CONFIDENCE — in face of adversity
As he was carrying his baseball and bat into the backyard, the little boy was heard telling himself, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!”
He tossed the ball into the air, swung mightily, and missed completely. “Strike One!” he cried out, then — as he again tossed the ball into the air — he said, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Once again, he missed: “Strike two!”
After looking over the ball and bat, he reminded himself: “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” He tossed the ball in the air, swung with all his might, and missed again.
“Strike three!” he exclaimed. “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!” (submitted by Wayne Rouse, Pastor, Astoria Church of the Brethren, Astoria, IL)
DESIRES – Determine results
Rick Brand tells about the man who had attended an evangelistic tent meeting. He had to listen to the sermon before he could get a hot meal. When he came out of the meeting with a big smile on his face, his buddy asked why he was so happy.
“I just heard something really great. They told me that a man reaps what he sows. That means if I sow wine, women and song, I’ll be able to reap wine, women and song!”
It works that way, but that is the curse of it. You never get any better than you want. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that we might want better than we have, (submitted by Rick Brand, Pastor, Bethel Presbyterian Church, Bethel Park, PA)
ENCOURAGEMENT
An Indianapolis school teacher had the duty of telling her nineteen second-graders the results of their state-required progress test taken earlier that year. Unfortunately, not all of them had passed the test.
As the teacher spoke with each one, it was easy to tell which ones had passed — their facial expressions told the story. Those who failed walked quietly back to their seats. For one little boy, it was all too much. Though he tried to hold back the tears, they began to flow.
Then the unexpected occurred. One by one, the children came to the crying boy’s desk to comfort him. They patted him on the back, hugged him (as only seven-year-olds can hug), and told him not to worry — he would get another chance in summer school. They shared love and encouragement with a friend when he needed it most. Those children passed an even more important test that morning, (submitted by David L. Chancey, Pastor, Carmel Baptist Church, Carmel, IN)
EXPECTATIONS — We live up to
Three Eastern European immigrants were being processed at Ellis Island. Unable to pronounce or spell their names, the clerk recorded their names as Glass, Diamond, and Taylor. After being processed, the three friends went their separate ways.
Years later, they met again as retirees in Florida. They compared notes on how each had made out.
“I did very well,” said Mr. Glass. “I started a company and I have branches everywhere. Look in the yellow pages under Glass Installers — that’s me.”
“I started my own company, too,” Mr. Diamond explained. “We sell jewelry. Go into any decent-sized town and you’ll find a Diamond Jewelers.”
The third man said, “Well, because my name was Taylor, I started a clothing store. The first store failed. I opened another one in another town. That failed, too. I had a family to support and no money and no job. I prayed, ‘Lord, help me to bear this burden. Help me to open another store — one that will grow and prosper. If you do that, Lord, I’ll give you half the profit’.”
“How did you make out?” the two men inquired.
“Are you kidding?” he responded. “Haven’t you ever heard of Lord and Taylor?” (submitted by Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints’ Church, Philadelphia, PA)
FUTURE — Quotations
“It is the business of the future to be dangerous.” (Alfred North Whitehead)
“No one can walk backward into the future.” (Joseph Hergesheimer)
“The trouble with our time is that the future is not what it used to be.” (Paul Valery)
GUILT
Lawyers speak of a mens re — a Latin phrase meaning “guilty mind.” A criminal is not only one who commits an act he knows violates the law; a criminal can be one who knows what he does is wrong even if he knows of no particular law against his act. (James B. Stewart, The Prosecutors, p. 38)
By this standard, every person stands condemned before the heavenly court. Guilt does proceed from a guilty mind; we all commit acts we know are evil even if we do not know the statute which forbids the act. (submitted by Rick Davis, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Midlothian, TX)
OPPORTUNITIES — Must be claimed
Arthur Caliandro, who succeeded Norman Vincent Peale as senior pastor of New York’s Marble Collegiate Church, was faced with an administrative decision. He put off making the decision, hoping it would take care of itself or that someone else would handle it.
A friend, Amos Parrish, invited Arthur to lunch. During the meal, Amos asked the pastor, “Do you know the game of baseball?”
Arthur said he did, so Amos asked, “What does the pitcher do?”
“He throws the ball to the batter.”
Amos said, “Then tell me what the catcher does.”
Arthur answered, “He stands behind the batter and catches the balls the batter either misses or chooses not to hit.”
Amos went on to explain: “Some people are pitchers. They take charge of things. They throw the ball. Others are catchers. They don’t make decisions. They are on the receiving end. They catch whatever is thrown at them. When you want to do something with your life, be a pitcher!” (submitted by Edward Chinn, Pastor, All Saints’ Church, Philadelphia, PA)
PARENTING
Judith Viorst, in her book Necessary Losses, comments on our unrealistic expectations for our children: “Because we believe ourselves to be better parents than our parents, we expect to produce ‘better’ children than they produced…. Letting our children go, and letting our dreams for our children go, must be counted among our necessary losses.” (submitted by David W. Richardson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Dexter, MO)
POTENTIAL — Can rise above
Bear Bryant, who coached the University of Alabama to several national football championships, once commented: “I’m a good coach of a boy who isn’t a champion but doesn’t know it. My walls are filled with photos of boys who weren’t champions but never found out.”
RIVALRY
A Japanese businessman and an American businessman were both taken hostage. After all efforts failed, they were told they’d be shot — but each would get one last wish.
The Japanese businessman said, “I’d like to deliver one more lecture on the superiority of Japanese management techniques.”
The American responded, “I’d like to be shot first so I don’t have to listen to it!”
SALVATION — Quotations
“The way to be saved is not to delay, but to come and take.” (Dwight L. Moody)
“We are saved by someone doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” (Donald Lester)
“Souls are not saved in bundles.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
SEXUAL PURITY
Chuck Swindoll quotes a cartoon showing a grandson saying to his grandfather: “In your day you didn’t have all these social diseases. What did you wear to have safe sex?”
Grandfather answered, “A wedding ring.” (Swindoll is Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Free Church, Fullerton, CA)
WOMEN
Edward Chinn tells of the two men who happened upon an ancient lamp. When one of them rubbed it, a genie appeared before them and said to each of them, “I can grant you one wish.”
The first man said, “I want to be the smartest man in the world.” The genie said, “So be it.” Then the genie turned to the second man and asked, “What is your wish?”
“I want to be smarter than the smartest man in the world.” The genie said, “So be it — and turned him into a woman! (Chinn is Pastor of All Saints’ Church in Philadelphia, PA)


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BLAME
A new pastor had been called to a “preacher-eater” church that ran through pastors frequently. As he searched the desk drawers in his new study, he found a large manila envelope containing a note from the former pastor along with three sealed envelopes.
The note said: “So that you can have a longer ministry here than I did, I have prepared these envelopes for you. When things get tough and you aren’t sure you can make it, open one of these envelopes.”
Within six months the honeymoon was about over. One particularly bad week, he went to the desk and opened envelope #1. Inside was a note which said: “Blame the last pastor.” So he did just that. Whatever seemed wrong about the church, he blamed on the last preacher. Sure enough, that seemed to satisfy folks for awhile, since they generally agreed that the last pastor was a scoundrel anyway.
But within a few months this tactic got old and members were again growing restless. So he turned to envelope #2 and found a note which read: “Blame the denomination.” That one worked, too, as people were happy to blame their problems on the denomination.
Finally that emphasis ran its course, and things were worse than ever. So the new pastor, faced with tremendous pressure, went to his desk, pulled out envelope #3 and opened it. Inside was a note which read: “Prepare three envelopes.”
CHURCH — Future of
Denton Lotz, deputy general secretary of the Baptist World Alliance, visited a small Russian Orthodox chapel during a visit to Moscow. There he met a young deacon — he wore a long black robe, had a long beard, and “his face was filled with a saintly look of deep joy.” As he gave a tour of the chapel, Lotz asked the young man how he had become a Christian, and heard an amazing story.
Just three years before he had been a professor of Marxism at the Lenin Institute. A philosopher, he told Lotz, “one day, whether you are an atheist or not, you have to make a decision whether there is a God.”
One night he had a dream in which he experienced Christ as Lord. The next day he read the gospels and committed himself to Christ. As a result, he was dismissed from his faculty post and from the Party, and his family disowned him. Yet he was tremendously joyful because he had found meaning for his life.
Lotz asked him about the church’s future in the Soviet Union, and the young man replied, “The future belongs to us. In the 19th century we had the peasants and lost the intellectuals. But in the 20th century we have lost the peasants and regained the intellectuals, and one day all of Russia will again be Christian!”
Lotz then notes sadly: “It became obvious to me that precisely the opposite had happened in the United States. In the 20th century we have lost the intellectuals and have the peasants. The consequences of this spell a dreary future for the Christian faith if we cannot reverse it!” (The Southern Baptist Educator, September 1987)
COOPERATION
The Wimbledon semi-final on July 2, 1981, was a particularly hard-fought match. Bjorn Borg held a slight edge over Jimmy Connors, and the crowds were involved. Some yelled, “Come on, Borg!” while others yelled, “Come on, Connors!” The noise became so great that the umpire stopped the action and demanded silence. As the next player prepared to serve, the silence was broken by a single voice that cried out, “Come on, everybody!”
In sharing this story, John Killinger comments: “That’s the word I would like to leave you with as I go. Pitch in and do your part. Join with everyone else in making this the best year in this church’s life … Come on everybody! Let God bless you the way He wants to.”
CRITICISM — Can grow from misunderstanding
When Leo Durocher was manager of the Dodgers, he was once booed for removing a popular pitcher in the eighth inning of a close baseball game. After the game, a reporter asked Durocher how he responded to such vocal criticism, and the manager replied, “You know, baseball is like church. Many attend, but few understand.”
That is often the case with criticism — it grows out of incomplete or inaccurate understanding of a situation.
CROSS — Symbol of victory
“There is not one of us today who believes that in the presence of the cross of Christ we are in the presence of defeat. We know we are in the presence of victory. Here is the cross, history’s blackest crime — and history’s brightest hope. Here is the most atrocious tragedy ever enacted — and it is precisely this which has become the supreme assurance of the sovereignty of God. They gave Him a cross, and He made it a throne.” (James S. Stewart, River of Life)
DEATH — Faith overcomes fear
In 1756, John Wesley received a letter from a father whose son had been converted at a York revival meeting. The son was then in prison awaiting execution. The father shared with Wesley that God had allowed his son enough time to repent and place his faith in Christ.
The older man wrote about the time of his son’s execution: “His peace increased daily, till on Saturday, the day he was to die, he came out of the condemned-room, clothed in a shroud, and went into the cart. As he went on, the cheerfulness and composure of his countenance were amazing to all the spectators.”
As J. B. Fowler, Jr., observed, “The boy had found a joy which not even the scaffold could take away. He was no longer afraid to die because he had come to know the One who has conquered death.” (Award Winning Sermons, Vol. 3)
DISCIPLESHIP
Barry Beames relates his family’s recent adventure in purchasing a new car. Over several weeks of reading ads, doing test drives and price comparisons, once-distant options were becoming absolute necessities. Suddenly he felt it impossible to go through life without power seats, windows and door locks, plus tilt wheel, cruise control, rear window defoggers and wire wheel covers.
Finally, Barry recalls, “I realized my wants and my funds were incompatible. I simply was not willing to pay the price of all of the options.”
Some people do the same thing with their lives. They live a double-standard lifestyle, turning unnecessary behavior into a necessity. Yet they rarely realize the price of such options. As Beames notes, “The price of a double-standard life is God’s judgment. The options all have a price.” (Beames is pastor of First Baptist Church, Blue Ridge, TX)
FELLOWSHIP
Rick Shannon, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Greenville, KY, recently participated in an evangelistic effort in Venezuela. Upon arriving, the pastor with whom he was to work greeted the group with this phrase: “We not only welcome you with our hands but with our heart in our hands.”
Rick comments: “What a graphic way to express the fellowship of believers! As we meet together in our churches, we should greet each other with our heart in our hands.”
MONEY — Quotations
“Mammon holds the one outpost Christianity has not been able to conquer.” (Anonymous)
“No man is really consecrated until his money is dedicated.” (Roy L. Smith)
“Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money.” (Tertullian)
NEW YEAR — Use time well
At the beginning of a new year we face the tremendous opportunity of days, weeks, months yet to be shaped. Many years ago, G. B. F. Hallock noted the value, at the start of a new year, of committing oneself to a wiser use of time.
“Elihu Burritt attributed his first success in self-improvement, not to genius, which he disclaimed, but simply to the careful employment of those invaluable fragments of time called ‘odd moments.’ While working and earning his living as a blacksmith, he mastered some eighteen ancient and modern languages, and twenty-two European dialects. Is not this suggestive of a valuable new year lesson? Corner your new year time.
“Chilo, one of the seven sages, was asked to say what is the hardest thing for a man to do. He replied: ‘To use and employ a man’s time well’.” (100 Best Sermons for Special Days)
OPPORTUNITY
Before Columbus made his famous voyage, it was popularly believed that the world ended somewhere in the Atlantic, just past Gibraltar. The Spanish were proud that their nation was the westernmost part of the earth; they were, they felt, literally on the edge of the world. Thus, the ancient coat of arms of the Spanish royal family contained the words, Ne Plus Ultra, meaning “there is no more beyond here.”
After Columbus’ voyage it was clear that there was far more beyond Spain’s borders, thus rendering the royal motto meaningless. One thrifty adviser suggested –and Queen Isabella agreed — to simply drop the Ne from the coat of arms. Thus, the coat of arms read Plus Ultra — “there is more beyond here.”
That should be the motto of every church where Christ is truly Lord. “There is more beyond here!” The opportunities are tremendous! Let’s move forward!
PRAYER — Can reach heaven
The elderly church member had called on a local pastor for guidance in the search for a new minister. The pastor asked him, “How big a man do you want?” The church member answered, “We’re not too concerned about his size, but we want him to be big enough to reach heaven when he’s on his knees.”
Truth is, there’s no better way to reach up toward heaven than when we get down to our knees in prayer.
PREACHING — May need help
The preacher was well into his sermon when, with amazement, he noticed his own son standing at the edge of the balcony and riddling the congregants below with chestnuts. As the preacher prepared to scold the boy, the youngster cried out, “You just keep preaching, dad; 111 keep ’em awake!”
PREPARATION
Amos Alonzo Stagg was one of the great football coaches in the sport’s history. As a coach, he kept his substitutes on the bench constantly alert by suddenly popping questions at them while the game was underway.
One afternoon he turned to a fourth-string player who hadn’t seen a single minute of game time all season. Stagg barked, “You! Cartmell! What would you do if we had possession of the ball with one minute to play, the score tied, and we had only four yards to go for a touchdown?”
“Well, coach,” the young man stammered. “I believe I’d slide down to the end of the bench so I could see better.”
REVENGE
A man drove by and saw a late-model Mercedes sitting in a yard with a $100 sign in the window. He stopped, thinking it must be a mistake, but went to the door and asked. A woman came to the door and confirmed that the sign was, indeed, correct. The Mercedes was on sale for $100.
As he whipped out his wallet and handed her $100, the man asked, “Why are you selling it so cheap?” she replied, “My husband just ran away with his secretary, and he called and told me to sell his car and send him a check.”
SIN — Can’t cling to
Robert G. Lee told of an Arkansas man who had a pet rattle-snake. He found the snake as a child, fed it, and made a pet of it. The snake would come when he whistled, and would eat from his fingers. It would coil around his arm.
One day he took it to town for his friends to see. They were all amazed to see how gentle the snake seemed, how easily their friend controlled the reptile. Yet later that day, back at home, the snake suddenly turned on him, sinking its fangs into his arm. The poison soon brought death.
“This is the ill fate of every man and woman who makes a pet of sin.” (R. G. Lee, Whirlwinds of God)
SUICIDE
Every hour-and-a-half, one young person in the United States commits suicide. More than 600,000 persons try to take their own lives each year, and about 6,000 succeed. On average, there is one suicide attempt for every minute of the day. (USA Today)
WORK — Value of
Still a practicing attorney in his 80’s, Louis Nizer was asked if there was such a thing as luck in trial law. He indicated there was, but added “it only comes in the library at three o’clock in the morning. That holds true for me to this day. You’ll still find me in the library looking for luck at three o’clock in the morning.” (Psychology Today)


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