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the pastor's story file

a resource file for pastors/ teachers/speakers

THEME: GIFTS, UNIQUENESS                              Number 12 — October / 1985


They may not sparkle, shine or glitter; They may not even be well-dressed; They may be shy and be disabled, But for His purpose they are blessed.

God uses many types of workers -

The gifted and the slow of mind.

Each form of life is for His purpose -

The halt, the lame, the deaf, the blind.

Our world has many types of people Who are involved in many things; And who are we to classify The attribute each person brings?

The simple faith of a retarded child Can stir in some a brand new start. A pair of crutches - like a magic wand Can melt the hardness of a heart.

A blind man's cane, as it gently taps, Can be a magnet to extend A helping hand, a voice of cheer, A chance to love and be a friend.

Don't ever think there is no reason For handicaps upon the Earth. God's special workers are often those Who are disabled right from birth.

Still, aren't we all imperfect beings? We suffer ailments, trials and woes. And every person has some disorder -The only difference - on some it shows.

Though flesh be weak - and spirit strong -Amid each burden that some may bear, According to the Lord's great purpose, All types of people His glory share.

A wheelchair or a set of braces

Are often instruments of peace.

In everything God works for good

His wondrous kingdom to increase.

By Edna Massimilla, submitted by Ruth Shuman, Director Missionary Vision for Special Ministries, Chicago, Illinois.

CALLED TO BE EAGLES A certain man went through a forest seeking any bird of interest he might find. He caught a young eagle, brought it home and put it among the fowls and ducks and turkeys, and gave it chickens' food to eat even though it was an eagle, the king of birds.

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Five years later, a naturalist came to see him and, after passing through his garden, said: "That bird is an eagle not a chicken." "Yes," said the owner, "but I have trained it to be a chicken. It is no longer an eagle, it is a chicken, even though it measures 15 feet from tip to tip of its wings."

"No," said the naturalist, "it is an eagle still; it has the heart of an eagle, and I will make it soar high up to the heavens."

"No," said the owner, "it is a chicken and it will never fly."

They agreed to test it. The naturalist picked up the eagle, held it up and said with great intensity: "Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to this earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly."

The eagle turned this way and that, and then looking down, saw the chickens eating their food, and down he jumped.

The owner said: "I told you it was a chicken."

"No," said the naturalist, "it is an eagle. Give it another chance tomorrow."

So the next day he took it to the top of the house and said: "Eagle, thou art an eagle; stretch forth thy wings and fly." But again the eagle, seeing the chickens feeding, jumped down and fed with them.

Then the owner said: "I told you it was a chicken." "No," asserted the naturalist,"it is an eagle, and it has the heart of an eagle; only give it one more chance, and I will make it fly tomorrow."

The next morning he rose early and took the eagle outside the city and away from the houses, to the foot of a high mountain. The sun was just rising, gilding the top to the mountain with gold, and every crag was glistening in the joy of the beautiful morning.

He picked up the eagle and said to it: "Eagle, thou art an eagle; thou dost belong to the sky and not to the earth; stretch forth thy wings and fly."

The eagle looked around and trembled as if new life were coming to it. Yet it did not fly. The naturalist then made it look straight at the sun. Suddenly it stretched out its wings and, with the screech of an eagle, it mounted higher and higher and never returned. It was an eagle, though it has been kept and tamed as a chicken.

We have been created in the image of God, but men have made us think that we are chickens, and so we think we are; but we are eagles, stretch forth your wings and fly! Don't be content with the food of chickens!

From "The Parable of the Eagle," as told by James Aggrey of West Africa in Journal of Religious Speaking, submitted by Rev. Richard J. Risser, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Norfolk, Virginia.

The Pastor's Story File (Copyright 1985) (ISSN 0885-3545) (USPS 738-650) is published monthly for $24.95 per year by Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. Second-Class Postage paid at Saratoga, California. Postmaster: Send address changes to THE PASTOR'S STORY FILE, c/o Saratoga Press, 14200 Victor Place, Saratoga, California 95070. To foreign countries — subscription rate is $30.95 in US$ or currency of equivalent value. Back issues are $2.25 each (starting with No. 1 in November, 1984). Phone: (408) 867-4211

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SHE THINKS I'M REAL You probably read in the newspaper of an incident which puts it as neatly and succinctly as anything I've ever heard. A waitress was taking orders from a couple at the table and their young son; she was one of the class of veteran waitresses who never show outright disrespect to their customers, but who frequently make it quietly evident by their unhurried pace and their level stare that they fear no mortal, not even parents. She jotted on her order pad deliberately and silently as the father and mother gave their luncheon selection and gratuitous instructions as to what was to be substituted for what, and which dressing changed to what sauce. When she finally turned to the boy, he began his order with a kind of fearful desperation. "I want a hot dog-" he started. And both parents barked at once, "No hot dog!" The mother went on. "Bring him the lyonnaise potatoes and the beef, both vegetables, and a hard roll and ..."

The waitress wasn't even listening. She said evenly to the youngster, "What do you want on your hotdog?" He flashed an amazed smile, "Ketchup, lots of ketchup, and and bring a glass of milk."

"Coming up," she said as she turned from the table, leaving behind her the stunned silence of utter parental dismay. The boy watched her go before he turned to his father and mother with astonished elation to say, "YOU KNOW WHAT? She thinks I'm real! She thinks I'm real!"

Frederick B. Speakman, "Love is Something You Do" (Fleming H. Revell Company) submitted by Rev. Richard J. Risser, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Norfolk, Virginia.

LESSON FROM A LID Elizabeth O'Conner, in her book The Eighth Day of Creation points out that developing our gifts requires concentrating on certain ones and letting others go and that this requires commitment. It also opens us to failure. On that subject she has this to say:

"When we do not allow ourselves the possibility of failure, the Spirit cannot work in us ... in her book, Centering, Mary Caroline Richards writes that at one time she grieved because she could not make a close-fitting lid for a canister, a teapot, or a casserole. Then a friend, who was obviously a patron of gifts, sent her an ancient Korean pot, saying that he thought she would like it because it looked like something she might have made. She loved it at once. 'Its lid didn't fit at all!' she writes. 'Yet it was a museum piece, so to speak. Why, I mused, do I require of myself what I do not require of this pot? Its lid does not fit, but it inspires my spirit when I look at it and handle it. So I stopped worrying. Now I have very little trouble making lids that fit."

Submitted by Norma Roberts, First Christian Church, Lodi, California.

THE LITTLE SECRETS OF SNOW FLAKES The complex shapes and uniqueness of snowflakes have confounded scientists for hundreds of years. In the past, it was generally recognized that the formation of a snowflake is a two-step process: making a single crystal and then having it grow.

This process begins as a microscopic speck of dust is trapped in a molecule of water vapor inside the winds of a winter storm. As the particle is frosted with droplets of supercooled water, it becomes heavier and begins its plunge to earth. The falling ice crystal is sculpted by the varying temperature and humidity — lengthening here, a spiky branch pushing out there — until it grows into a shape as unique as a person's fingerprint.

But in the past few years, as our ability to study these beautiful flakes has improved with the development of new technology, a great mystery has emerged. Scientists have discovered that very few snowflakes contain a speck of dust or any other particle

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which has long been believed to be necessary for a snowflake to form! How are these unique flakes formed?

Dr. John Hallett, a physicist at the University of Nevada, has discovered the answer. As snowflakes are being formed, extremely dry or cold air cause snowflakes to break up into smaller parts. The small fragments then act as seeds for new flakes to develop. In other words, it takes snow to make snow!

Sometimes we forget that it is necessary for Christians to give a personal witness of their faith in order for others to discover the love and life Christ has for them. In other words, Christ uses Christians to make Christians!

Whenever we experience pressures and difficult burdens, when we see a part of our lives broken or shattered, these are often the circumstances God uses to let our faith touch someone close to us and be the seed for a new and beautiful life in Christ. To many, the reason we face difficulties in life is a great mystery. But to us, we live expecting to bear burdens for our Savior and anticipating that the pressures we endure will be used by God to produce NEW LIFE in others!

Remember, Christ uses Christians to make Christians. Look for Him to use you!

Submitted by Pastor Chad Miller, St. Paul's Lutheran Church, W. Frankfort, II.

FOUR STEPS TO YOUR DREAM Years ago a young black child was growing up in Cleveland, in a home which he later described as "materially poor but spiritually rich."

One day a famous athlete, Charlie Paddock, came to his school to speak to the students. At the time Paddock was considered "the fastest human being alive." He told the children, "Listen! What do you want to be? You name it and then believe that God will help you be it." That little boy decided that he too wanted to be the fastest human being on earth.

The boy went to his track coach and told him of his new dream. His coach told him, "It's great to have a dream, but to attain your dream you must build a ladder to it. Here is the ladder to your dreams. The first rung is determination! And the second rung is dedication! The third rung is discipline! And the fourth rung is attitude!"

The result of all that motivation is that he went on to win four gold medals in the Berlin Olympics. He broke the record in the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter. His broad jump record lasted for twenty-four years. His name? Jesse Owens.

Condensed from N.V. Peale's "How to Release Your Greater Potential" submitted by

Dick Underdahl-Peirce, Woodberry, Minnesota.

GIFTS THAT GROW Wilma Rudolph was born in a shack in the backwoods of Tennessee of very poor parents. She was a premature baby born at four and one half pounds. At age four she had double pneumonia and scarlet fever, that left her with a partly paralyzed left leg. She had to wear a steel brace.

But Wilma had a mother who constantly told her that she could do whatever she wanted to do with her life, that all she needed to do was have faith and persistence and courage and a never-give-up spirit.

So at the age of nine Wilma did away with the brace. In four more years she finally developed a rhythmic stride that enabled her to run. At 13 she entered her first race, and came in dead last. But she wouldn't give up. Finally she began to win and win. She made it to the 1960 Olympics to run the 100 meter race against the unbeaten and world record holder German woman Yetta Mynie. But Wilma won. And again in the 200 meter. Finally came the 400 meter relay. She was the anchor, the last runner on

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the U.S. team, and her competitor was Yetta Mynie. But just as the baton was handed to Wilma she dropped it, giving Yetta the lead. Yet, somehow Wilma Rudolph caught up, and won!

The gifts inside us are there, waiting for some faith, and persistence, and courage to unleash and grow them!

From N.V. Peale's "Become What You Want to Be," submitted by Dick

Underdahl-Peirce, Woodberry, Minnesota.

ADMIRE THEIR UNIQUENESS Once a wise teacher was speaking to a group of eager young students. He gave them the assignment to go out and find a small, unnoticed flower somewhere. He asked them to study the flower for a long time. "Get a magnifying glass and study the delicate veins in the leaves, and notice the nuances and shades of color. Turn the leaves slowly and observe their symmetry. And remember that this flower might have gone unnoticed and unappreciated if you had not found and admired it." After the class returned the teacher observed, "People are like that. Each one is different, carefully crafted, uniquely endowed. But you have to spend time with them to know this. So many people go unnoticed and unappreciated because no one has ever taken time with them and admired their uniqueness."

From John Powell, The Christian Vision, submitted by Dick Underdahl-Peirce,

Woodberry, Minnesota.

EVALUATING TALENTS In order to find one's uniqueness, we need to clean away the sin which obscures God's original intent like smoke in the eyes or, in the following case, grime on a painting.

Most people have some acquaintance with the Vatican in Rome. They often are familiar, as well, with the great artist Michelangelo who graced the magnificent Sistine Chapel with some fresco paintings, among them being the celebrated "Last Judgment." Michelangelo's artistry has been considered so impressive that the Vatican has made a practice of muting down the colors of other restored works of art in the Chapel for as not to upstage Michelangelo's masterpiece. Masterpiece though it may be, experts have tended to underrate Michelangelo as an artist in one respect. He has a boring taste for color. However, the experts are now eating crow.

"Michelangelo was never considered much of a colorist, and now we discover a painter whose colors are of a beauty, subtlety and skill that are entirely unexpected." The speaker is Gianluigi Colalucci who currently is supervising a 12 year restoration of Michelangelo's frescos in the Sistine Chapel. Completion date is 1992.

The experts should have known better than to evaluate the artist's use of color through five centuries of soot and grime. However, with the restoration progressing they are now discovering the work of art, in all its vibrancy of color, that the great artist had intended for all to see.

In a similar fashion, God is the Great Artist who has painted a beautiful uniqueness in each person, a uniqueness which results in meaning, hope, love, faith and joy for the person who discovers grime over God's masterpiece to such an extent that we often no longer suspect the artistry of God. To whatever extent this may be so, the way of restoration is open to that person who turns from their sin and seeks God in Jesus Christ. Then begins the process of cleansing and empowering which ultimately leads to us becoming all that the Great Artist had in mind from the beginning.

Submitted by Rev. Arthur Keith, Norrkopings Methodist Church, Norrkoping,

Sweden, from Newsweek, February 14, 1983.

THE UNDERWATER GOD From a sermon by Dr. Bruce Theileman — "In the Hebrides Islands they have a lovely legend about a god who lived beneath the sea. And the great desire of this god who lived beneath the sea was to have a little baby boy — human baby.  So

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he was always trying to catch little babies that might be in boats passing along the surface of the sea from island to island. And so the people always clutched their children close when in their boats.

"On one occasion, he almost got a boat. He was surging behind it, this sea-god, when the boat reached shore. And they lifted the little boy who was in it out onto the shore just as this god approached in a great wave. And they hurried away with the boy. At least they thought they'd gotten away except the sea-god managed to send just one little wavelet into the heart of that little child. And as that god, momentarily frustrated, settled back down to his palace beneath the waves, he was heard to say, "He will return to me for I have put a part of myself into his heart."

"Years later, the people of the village were astonished one day to see a strong, young man go down to the beach and get in a rowboat and begin to row out into the sea — but not toward another island. And they called out to him, 'There is no island that way.' But on he rowed. And as they watched, when he had gotten a good distance, he stood up and dived into the sea to the god who had put a part of himself into that boy's heart.

"When we were made, God put a bit of himself, a bit of eternity, a bit of the Kingdom of Heaven right inside of us and it cries out for him."

Submitted by Rev. Darrel Robertson, United Presbyterian Church and First

Congregational Church, Ashland, Wisconsin.

AWARDS The above stories were the ten top finishers in our recent contest on "Gifts and Uniqueness." Each winner will have his active subscription extended by one year.

DROP YOUR PEBBLE Some of you remember Aesop's great fable about an old crow who was out in the wilderness and very thirsty. He had not had anything to drink in a* long time. He came to a jug that had a little water in the bottom of it. The old crow reached his beak into the jug to get some of that water, but his beak wouldn't quite touch the water. So what did he do? He started picking up pebbles one at a time and dropping them into the jug. And as more and more pebbles accumulated in the bottom of the jug the water rose in the bottle until finally the old crow was able to drink all that he desired.

That's a parable of the way God has chosen to work out his plan in our world. Each of us dropping in our own little pebble — teaching that Sunday School class, serving on a committee, providing transportation for the youth, visiting your lonely neighbor. Utilizing the gifts that are yours to serve in the ways you can may not seem all that important at the time, but as the pebbles accumulate in the bottom of the jug, and the water rises, God builds His kingdom and brings his plan to fruition. You are important!

Submitted by Rev. Darrel Robertson, United Presbyterian Church and First

Congregational Church, Ashland, Wisconsin.

SPARKY WAS A LOSER When he was a little boy the other children called him "Sparky," after a comic-strip horse named Sparkplug. Sparky never did shake that nickname.

School was all but impossible for Sparky. He failed every subject in the eighth grade. Every subject! He flunked physics in high school. Receiving a flat zero in the course, he distinguished himself as the worst physics student in his school's history.

He also flunked Latin. And Algebra. And English. He didn't do much better in sports. Although he managed to make the school golf team, he promptly lost the only important match of the year. There was a consolation match. Sparky lost that too.

Throughout his youth Sparky was awkward socially. He was not actually disliked by the

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other youngsters. No one cared that much. He was astonished if a classmate ever said hello to him outside school hours. No way to tell how he might have done at dating. In high school Sparky never once asked a girl out. He was too afraid of being turned down.

Sparky was a loser. He, his classmates, everyone knew it. So he rolled with it. Sparky made up his mind early in life that if things were meant to work out, they would. Otherwise, he would content himself with what appeared to be inevitable mediocrity.


One something was important to Sparky: drawing. He was proud of his own artwork. Of course, no one else appreciated it. In his senior year of high school, he submitted some cartoons to the editors of his class yearbook. Almost predictably Sparky's drawings were rejected.

While the young man had stoically rationalized virtually all of his failures theretofore, he was rather hurt by the general ignorance of what he believed was his one natural talent. In fact, he was so convinced of his artistic ability that he decided to be a professional artist.

Upon graduating high school, he wrote a letter to Walt Disney Studios, a letter indicating his qualifications to become a cartoonist for Disney. Shortly he received an answer, a form letter requesting that he send some examples of his artwork. Subject matter was suggested. For instance, a Disney cartoon character "repairing" a clock by shoveling the springs and gears back inside.

Sparky drew the proposed cartoon scene. He spent a great deal of time on that and the other drawings. A job with Disney would be impressive, and there were many doubters to impress.

Sparky mailed the form and his drawings to Disney Studios. Sparky waited. And one day the reply came ... he did not get the job.

I think deep down Sparky expected to be rejected. He had always been a loser, and this was simply one more loss.

So do you know what Sparky did? He wrote his autobiography in cartoons. He described his childhood self, the littleboy loser, the chronic underachiever, in a cartoon character the whole world now knows.

For the boy who failed the entire eighth grade, the young artist whose work was rejected not only by Walt Disney Studios but his own high school yearbook, that young man was "Sparky" Charles Monroe Schulz.

He created the "Peanuts" comic strip and the little cartoon boy whose kite would never fly — Charlie Brown.

Submitted by Dr. Don McKenzie, Northway Christian Church, Dallas, Texas.

YOUR GIFTS ARE NOT YOUR OWN You have your gifts not so much for your own sake as for the sake of others. You are like an apple tree which produces fruit not for its own consumption but for the consumption of others. Your gifts are given so you can bless others by ministering to them. If you have the gift of teaching, you have it so others in the Body will be taught. If you have the gift of hospitality, it is because others need the gracious welcome they receive from you. If even one gifted person fails to function, the Body of Christ is deprived of a ministry it needs to function well. From "Discover Your Gifts" Notebook, Christian Reformed Home Missions.

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Grace Community Church of the Valley in Panorama City, California, is a church with an incredible growth rate of over 500% per decade and a current morning attendance of over 5,000. It is intentionally structured around the concept of spiritual gifts. Pastor John MacArthur says, "No local congregation will be what it should be, what Jesus prayed that it should be, what the Holy Spirit gifted it and empowered it to be, until it understands spiritual gifts." John MacArthur is right, not only because he has proved that it works, but even more because he has captured the Biblical concept of the organization of the Body.

From Your Spiritual Gifts by C. Peter Wagner, p. 39, submitted by Rev. Robert Strand, First Assembly of God Church, Grand Junction, Colorado.

WE'RE ALL PRESENTS During the Christmas season when our daughter was three years old, the number of presents under the tree slowly increased as The Day approached. Caught up in the spirit and excitement of gifts and giving as only three-year-olds can be, one morning she was picking up, examining, shaking, and guessing what was inside of every package. Then, in a burst of inspiration, she picked up a big red bow that had fallen off one present and held it on top of her head. She looked up at me with twinkling eyes and beamed a smile as bright as the Star as she said, "Look at me, Daddy! I'm a present!"

Her words were more true than she realized! Our children are indeed the most wonderful gifts God gives us, at Christmas or any time. We may appreciate the gifts of talents and skills, either God-given or acquired; but do we consider our children as divine gifts — presents from God? What is more unique and special than our children?

To help us understand the kind of God we have, the Lord went so far as to send us God's own Son . . . the most remarkable present of all!

Submitted by Rev. Jeff Callender, First Presbyterian Church, Davenport,


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