Illustrations

Subject: Leadership

A Helper Ministry

In a church I once attended, there was a man of tremendous faith. His wife was an alcoholic, his daughter had psychological problems. He was often in poor health.

Yet, week after week, he never complained. He always smiled and asked me how I was doing. He faithfully brought to church a young blind man who had no transportation. He always sat with the blind man, helping him sing the hymns by saying the words into his ear.

That man was a Christian leader if ever there was one.

Thanks to Ted Matamis,
asnoteftb@comcast.net

Subject: Discipleship

General Purpose

On Aug. 1, 1941, Parade magazine, in a three-page spread, dubbed it "the Army's most intriguing gadget...a tiny truck that can do practically anything." Some time later, Gen. Eisenhower said that World War II could not have been won without it.

Willys-Overland Co. launched the Jeep in 1940, and soon it was a staple of the U.S. Army. The name "Jeep" was derived from an Army request that it be a "general purpose," or "GP" vehicle. "GP" eventually evolved into "Jeep." The Jeeps were invaluable because they would doggedly go wherever the war was being fought. They could always hang with the troops. Today, of course, their civilian descendants are still being useful.

Following, wherever our Lord leads, is "SOP" (Standard Operating Procedure) for Christians. Jesus tracked the divine redemption plan, and endured earthly battles. He said: "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be" (John 12:26).

The Head of the Lord's Army wants you simply to follow. The road may lead through the muck and mire of suffering and pain. Steep mountains of rejection and isolation may be on your route. But your mission, should you choose to accept it, is just to follow.

Remember: To be a "four-wheeled" Christian, you must first be "God-willed."

J. Kenneth Bassett, Timeless Signatures, ©2003.

Subject: Check Out the Teaching

Spinach Over-Estimated

The cartoon character Popeye is famous for eating spinach. Whenever he breaks open a can of spinach and eats it he gains enormous strength. Popeye was employed by the US Government during World War 2 to promote the idea of eating spinach. Meat was a rarity during war, but spinach appeared to be a great substitute. In the 1890s, German scientists had reported that spinach contains the same amount of iron as meat. And iron, of course, is one of the essential minerals in building strength.

But the facts were wrong. The German researchers did prove that spinach contains iron, but when they wrote down their results they put the decimal point in the wrong place. They over-estimated the amount of iron in spinach by a factor of 10! Unfortunately, the correction didn't get across the ocean until after WW2.

This episode shows how easily false ideas can quickly become accepted truth. It's not uncommon in the area of Christian belief for Christians to quickly give unquestionable status to beliefs that may in fact have questionable origins. We should never be afraid to go back and ask why it is that we hold a particular belief or a particular interpretation of the Bible. Our investigation may prove we got it right, or it may show we didn't. Either way our understanding and application of God's Word will only be improved.

Adapted
Jim Davis, Verse A Week Club

Subject: Wrestling Evil

Morality Play in the Ring

The Associated Press has reported on a wrestling priest in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Sergio Gutierrez, with clerical collar, who was in the ring for 25 years. It's true the bouts were staged but there were still occasional outbreak of real violence; Gutierrez has broken his nose, ribs, ankle, and arm.

Gutierrez was known in the ring as "Fray Tormenta-Friar Storm." Proceeds helped fund a 200-bed home for underprivileged boys which Gutierrez opened over 35 years ago.

Popular in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico, lucha libre sometimes draws crowds upwards of 10,000. Fans see the matches as a kind of morality play: good versus evil. One of the priests' major opponents, Damian, was a taunting, mocking wrestler with 666 on his forehead and flames around his eyes.

The real match, the one Paul calls "our battle", is real and vicious warfare. Yet, the devil wants the soldiers of the cross to view it with the same earthly eyes as spectators at a Friar Storm match. If Satan can deceive large numbers of believers into viewing our battle as nothing more than religious extremism-well, the body of Christ would be little different than Adam and Eve in the beginning: "naked" and "afraid" (Gen. 3:10).

John Gillmartin, The SHEEP'S CRIB-Illustrations

Subject: God's Love

The Overlooked Baby

On some occasion, I had settled down for a four-hour flight on a large DC-10, hoping to catch up on some reading. As the plane began to taxi down the runway, one of the flight attendants suddenly noticed a lady with two babies, one without adequate seat belt security. Quickly she took the smallest baby from the mother and looked around for one of the passengers to hold it during take-off. Catching my eye, the stewardess thanked me as she handed it to me. The baby was asleep, but did it ever make noise!

I began to read through the baby noises and 20 minutes went by, 30 minutes went by, and then 40. I finally got up and went looking for the mother. Finding her five rows up, I asked, "Is this baby yours?" She looked up surprised and said, "Oh, I forgot all about him!"

I have thought about this incident many times. Yes, we may be small in the world's eyes and our own mothers may forget us, but God's arms are always stretched out to hold us, and He will never drop or leave or ever forget us!

Doug Nichols, founder & international director emeritus of Action International Ministries

Subject: What's Inside Is What Counts

What's Inside You?

The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the pulpit. He then quoted 1 Samuel 16:7: "But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

"These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials, and can hold the same amount. But they are different," he explained. Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and vinegar spilled out.

"When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out. Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within, and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.

Until we are upset we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes. What if someone tipped you over today? What would flow out? Would you reveal the "honey" of grace and patience, or the "vinegar" of anger and sarcasm?

Have a terrific day knowing that the one who upsets you may be just looking for some honey. Don't give them vinegar!

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1 Pet. 4:8)

Author unknown
Via Verse a Week Club

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