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 once read about farm­ers in southern Ala­bama who were accus­tomed to planting one crop every year — cotton. They would  plow   as   much ground as they could and plant their crop. Year after year they lived by cotton.

Then one year the dread­ed boll weevil devastated the whole area. So the next year the farmers mortgaged their homes and planted cotton again, hoping for a good harvest. But as the cotton began to grow, the insect came back and de­stroyed the crop, wiping out most of the farms.

The few who survived those two years of the boll weevil decided to experi­ment the third year, so they planted something they'd never planted be­fore — peanuts. And pea­nuts proved so hardy and the market proved so rav­enous for that product that the farmers who survived the first two years reaped profits that third year that enabled them to pay off all their debts. They planted peanuts from then on and prospered greatly.

Then you know what those farmers did? They spent some of their new wealth to erect in the town square a monument — to the boll weevil. If it hadn't been for the boll weevil, they never would have discovered peanuts. They learned that even out of disaster there can be great delight.

— Roger Thompson Wheat Ridge, Colorado



orman Cousins, after his experiences at UCLA Medical School, notes a common mis­understanding about what is "real" and "unreal."

In Bob Benson's He Speaks Softly, Cousins is quoted: "The words 'hard' and 'soft' are generally used by medical students to describe the contrasting nature of courses. Courses like biochemistry, physics, pharma­cology, anatomy, and pathology are anointed with the benediction of 'hard,' whereas subjects like med­ical ethics, philosophy, history, and patient-physician relationships tend to labor under the far less auspi­cious label 'soft' . . . (but) a decade or two after graduation there tends to be an inversion. That which was supposed to be hard turns out to be soft, and vice versa. The knowledge base of medicine is constantly changing. . . . But the soft subjects — especially those that have to do with intangibles — turn out in the end to be of enduring value."

— Vernon Grounds Denver, Colorado



 familiar Mother Goose rhyme goes: Pussy cat, Pussy cat, Where have you been? I've been to London to visit the queen. Pussy cat, Pussy cat, What did you there? I frightened a little mouse under the chair. Like that cat, Christians sometimes settle for petty involvements, trivial pursuits — chasing mice — when we have the opportunity to spend time with royalty, with the King! Instead of remaining content with minimum daily requirements, we can deepen our relationship with God and grow into maturity.



everal years after inventing radar, Sir Robert Watson Watt was arrested in Canada for speed­ing. He'd been caught in a radar trap. He wrote this poem:

Pity Sir Robert Watson Watt, strange target of his radar plot, and this, with others I could mention, a victim of his own invention.

— Erik Peterson Lubbock, Texas



erhaps you, like I, have spent some time in a sailboat. Re­lying on the boat to keep us afloat, we slide across the water propelled by a gentle breeze. Yet within the confines of the shores, I had the opportunity and responsibility of guiding the rudder to determine the direction of travel.

Is that not similar to liv­ing within the will of God? As Christians we must rest upon God to sustain us, and upon the breath of his Spirit to empower us. Yet within his moral boundar­ies, we each have the op­portunity and responsibil­ity to determine our course. — Steve Prieb Muscotah, Kansas



n Judith Viorst's chil­dren's book I'll Fix An­thony,   the   younger brother complains about the way his older brother Anthony treats him:

"My brother Anthony can read books now, but he won't read any books to me. He plays checkers with Bruce from his school. But when I want to play he says 'Go away or I'll clob­ber you.' I let him wear my Snoopy sweatshirt, but he never lets me borrow his sword. Mother says deep down in his heart Anthony loves me. Anthony says deep down in his heart he thinks I stink. Mother says deep deep down in his heart, where he doesn't even know it,  Anthony

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loves me. Anthony says deep deep down in his heart he still thinks I stink. When I'm six I'll fix Anthony. . . .

"When I'm six I'll float, but Anthony will sink to the bottom. I'll dive off the board, but Anthony will change his mind. I'll breathe in and out when I should, but Anthony will only go glug, glug. . . . When I'm six my teeth will fall out, and I'll put them under the bed, and the tooth fairy will take them away and leave dimes. An­thony's teeth won't fall out. He'll wiggle and wig­gle them, but they won't fall out. I might sell him one of my teeth, but I might not. . . .

"Anthony is chasing me out of the playroom. He says I stink. He says he is going to clobber me. I have to run now, but I won't have to run when I'm six. When I'm six, I'll fix Anthony."

Most of us know the feel­ing of Anthony's brother. The Bible calls it vengeance. — Gary Vanderet Palo Alto, California



enry   Wingblade used to say that Christian person­ality is hidden deep inside us. It is unseen, like the soup carried in a tureen high over a waiter's head. No one knows what's in­side — unless the waiter is bumped and he trips!

Just so, people don't know what's inside us un­til we've been bumped. But if Christ is living inside, what spills out is the fruit of the Spirit.

— Carl Lundquist in Silent Issues of the Church


John Killinger's book Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise includes the following affirmation: I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,

who was born of the promise to a virgin named Mary. 1 believe in the love Mary gave her Son,

that caused her to follow him in his ministry

and stand by his Cross as he died. I believe in the love of all mothers,

and its importance in the lives of the children they bear. It is stronger than steel, softer than down,

and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside. It closes wounds, melts disappointments,

and enables the weakest child to stand tall

and straight in the fields of adversity. I believe that this love, even at its best,

is only a shadow of the love of God,

a dark reflection of all that we can expect of Him,

both in this life and the next. And I believe that one of the most beautiful sights

in the world is a mother who lets this greater love

flow through her to her child,

blessing the world with the tenderness of her touch

and the tears of her joy.



uring a recent hurricane in the Gulf of Mexi­co, a news report highlighted a rescue device used on the oil rigs. In case of fire or (in this case) hurricane, rig workers scramble into the bullet-shaped "bus" and strap themselves into their seats. When the entry port is shut, the vehicle is released down a chute and projected away from the rig. The seat belts protect the occupants from the impact with the water. The capsule then bobs in the sea until rescuers come to pick it up.

The device parallels the theological truth of Romans 8:1 — "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Justification does not mean our world always stops falling apart. The rig still may topple in the hurricane. But those in the right place, whether a rescue module or spiritually in Christ, are saved from the ultimate consequences of the storm. The storm will take its course. The welfare of the workers depends on whether they are in the rescue device.

— David Asp Lancaster, Wisconsin



ob Woods, in Pulpit Digest, tells the sto­ry of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deep­est point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth's sur­face.

The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter dark­ness, was frightened and began to cry.

Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: "Don't cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights."

In a real sense, that is the message of the gospel: light is available, even when dark­ness seems overwhelming.

What are the mQst effective illustrations you've come across? We want to share them with other pastors and teach­ers who need material that communicates with imagina­tion and impact. For items used, leadership will pay $15. If the material has been previously published, please include the source.

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