Faithlife Sermons


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To Illustrate



n On This Day by Carl D. Windsor, the page for Valentine's Day in­cludes this anecdote:

"Even the most devoted couple will experience a 'stormy' bout once in a while. A grandmother, cel­ebrating her golden wed­ding anniversary, once told the secret of her long and happy marriage. 'On my wedding day, I decid­ed to make a list of ten of my husband's faults which, for the sake of our mar­riage, I would overlook,' she said. A guest asked the woman what some of the faults she had chosen to overlook were. The grand­mother replied, 'To tell you the truth, my dear, I never did get around to listing them. But whenev­er my husband did some­thing that made me hop­ping mad, I would say to myself, Lucky for him that's one of the ten!' "



ackie Robinson was the first black to play ma­jor league baseball. While breaking baseball's "color barrier," he faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered.

Then shortstop "Pee Wee" Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie Rob­inson and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Rob­inson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.

— Larry Wise East Troy, Wisconsin



im Bowden, in his book One Crowded Hour about cameraman Neil Davis, tells about an incident that happened in Borneo during the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia in 1964. A group of Gurkhas from Nepal were asked if they would be willing to jump from transport planes into combat against the Indonesians if the need arose. The Gurkhas had the right to turn down the request because they had never been trained as paratroopers. Bowden quotes Davis's account of the story:

"Now the Gurkhas usually agreed to anything, but on this occasion they provisionally rejected the plan. But the next day one of their nco's sought out the British officer who made the request and said they had discussed the matter further and would be prepared to jump under certain conditions.

" 'What are they?' asked the British officer.

"The Gurkhas told him they would jump if the land was marshy or reasonably soft with no rocky out­crops, because they were inexperienced in falling. The British officer considered this, and said that the drop­ping area would almost certainly be over jungle, and there would not be rocky outcrops, so that seemed all right. Was there anything else?

"Yes, said the Gurkhas. They wanted the plane to fly as slowly as possible and no more than one hun­dred feet high. The British officer pointed out the planes always did fly as slowly as possible when dropping troops, but to jump from one hundred feet was impossible, because the parachutes would not open in time from that height.

" 'Oh,' said the Gurkhas, 'that's all right, then. We'll jump with parachutes anywhere. You didn't mention parachutes before!' "

Any church could use such Gurkha-like commit­ment and courage.

— Jon Noble

Castle Cove, New South Wales Australia



ne winter's night in 1935, it is told, Fiorello LaGuardia, the irrepressible mayor of New York, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dis­missed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. That night a tat­tered old woman, charged with stealing a loaf of bread, was brought before him. She defended herself by saying, "My daughter's husband has deserted her. She is sick, and her chil­dren are starving."

The shopkeeper refused to drop the charges, say­ing, "It's a bad neighbor­hood, your honor, and she's got to be punished to teach other people a les­son."

LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the old woman and said, "I've got to pun­ish you; the law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in jail." However, even while pronouncing sentence, LaGuardia reached into his pocket, took out a ten-dollar bill, and threw it into his hat with these famous words: "Here's the ten-dollar fine, which I now remit, and furthermore, I'm going to fine everyone in the court­room fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the de­fendant."

The following day, a New York newspaper re­ported: "Forty-seven dol­lars and fifty cents was turned over to a bewil­dered old grandmother who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren. Making forced donations were a

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red-faced storekeeper, se­venty petty criminals, and a few New York police­men."

— Jim Danielson Kingsford, Missouri




ooker T. Washing­ton  was  born  a slave. Later freed, he headed the Tuskegee Insti­tute and became a leader in education. In his autobiog­raphy, Up from Slavery, he writes:

"The most trying ordeal that I was forced to endure as a slave boy . . . was the wearing of a flax shirt. In the portion of Virginia where I lived, it was com­mon to use flax as part of the clothing for the slaves. That part of the flax from which our clothing was made was largely the re­fuse, which of course was the cheapest and roughest part. I can scarcely imagine any torture, except, per­haps, the pulling of a tooth, that is equal to that caused by putting on a new flax shirt for the first time. It is almost equal to the feeling that one would experience if he had a dozen or more chestnut burrs, or a hun­dred small pin-points, in contact with his flesh. . . . But I had no choice. I had to wear the flax shirt or none. . . . My brother John, who is several years older than I am, performed one of the most generous acts that I ever heard of one slave relative doing for an­other. On several occa­sions when I was being forced to wear a new flax shirt, he generously agreed to put it on in my stead and wear it for several days, till it was 'broken in.' "

— Douglas E. Moore Los Angeles, California



 chapter heading in Calvin Miller's book A Requiem for Love reads: A beggar asked a millionaire "How many more dollars Would it take to Make you truly happy?" The millionaire, Reaching his gnarled hands Into the beggar's cup, replied, "Only one more!"



ortune magazine quotes a comment made by billionaire H. Ross Perot: "Guys, just remem­ber, if you get real lucky, if you make a lot of money, if you go out and buy a lot of stuff — it's gonna break. You got your biggest, fanciest mansion in the world. It has air conditioning. It's got a pool. Just think of all the pumps that are going to go out. Or go to a yacht basin any place in the world. Nobody is smiling, and I'll tell you why. Something broke that morning. The generator's out; the microwave oven doesn'twork. . . . Things just don't mean happiness."

— Jim Long Wheaton, Illinois



n The Effective Father, Gordon MacDonald wrote: "It is said of Boswell, the famous biographer of Samuel Johnson, that he often referred to a spe­cial day in his childhood when his father took him fishing. The day was fixed in his mind, and he often reflected upon many of the things his father had taught him in the course of their fishing experience together.

"After having heard of that particular excursion so often, it occurred to someone much later to check the journal that Boswell's father kept and determine what had been said about the fishing trip from the parental perspective. Turning to that date, the reader found only one sentence entered: 'Gone fishing today with my son; a day wasted.' "

— Mike Schafer Lubbock, Texas




ot long ago, the world watched as three gray whales, icebound off Point Barrow, Alaska, floated battered and bloody, gasping for breath at a hole in the ice. Their only hope: somehow to be transported five miles past the ice pack to open sea.

Rescuers began cutting a string of breathing holes about twenty yards apart in the six-inch-thick ice. For eight days they coaxed the whales from one hole to the next, mile after mile. Along the way, one of the trio vanished and was pre­sumed dead. But finally, with the help of Russian icebreakers, the whales Putu and Siku swam to freedom.

In a way, worship is a string of breathing holes the Lord provides his peo­ple. Battered and bruised in a world frozen over with greed, selfishness, and ha­tred, we rise for air in church, a place to breathe again, to be loved and en­couraged, until that day when the Lord forever shat­ters the ice cap.

— Craig Brian Larson Arlington Heights, Illinois

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