Faithlife Sermons


Illustration  •  Submitted
0 ratings
Notes & Transcripts

To Illustrate...



| The Power of Deeds |

Major Osipovich, an air force pilot for the former USSR, planned to give a talk at his children's school ace. But he would need time off during the give his talk, so he volunteered for night duty. And that's how Major Osipovich found himself patrol­ling the skies over the eastern regions of the Soviet Union on September 1,1983 — the night Korean Air Lines Flight KE007 strayed into Soviet air space.

Soon the Soviet pilot was caught in a series of blunders and misinformation. In the end/Major Osipovich followed orders and shot down the uniden­tified aircraft. The actions of an air force major preparing to talk about peace plunged 240 passengers to their deaths and sparked an international incident that pushed world powers to a stand-off.

Our talk is important. But our actions carry far more weight.


Last spring, Mr. Alter's fifth-grade class at Lake Elementary School in Oceanside, California, included fourteen boys who had no hair. Only one, however, had no choice in the matter.

Ian O'Gorman, undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, faced the prospect of having his hair fall out in clumps. So he had his head shaved. But then 13 of his classmates shaved their heads, so Ian wouldn't feel out of place.

"If everybody has his head shaved, sometimes people don't know who's who," said 11-year-old Scott Sebelius in an Associated Press story (March 1994). "They don't know who has cancer, and who just shaved their head."

Ten-year-old Kyle Hanslik started it all. He talked to some other boys, and before long they all trekked to the barber shop. "The last thing he would want is to not fit in," said Kyle. "We just wanted to make him feel better."

Ian's father, Shawn, choked back tears as he talked about what the boys had done. He said simply, "It's hard to put words to."

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).

— Sherman L. Burford Fairmont, West Virginia


On March 5, 1994, Deputy Sheriff Lloyd Pres­cott was teaching a class for police officers in the Salt Lake City Li­brary. As he stepped into the hallway he noticed a gunman herding 18 hos­tages into the next room. With a flash of in­sight, Prescott (dressed in street clothes) joined the group as the nine­teenth hostage, followed them into the room, and shut the door. But when the gunman an­nounced the order in which hostages would be executed, Prescott identified himself as a cop. In the scuffle that followed, Prescott, in self-defense, fatally shot the armed man. The hostages were released unharmed.

God dressed himself in street clothes and en­tered our world, join­ing us who are held hostage to sin. On the cross Jesus defeated Satan and set us free from the power of sin. — Greg Asimakoupoulos Concord, California

Spiritual Life

When elderly Adele Gaboury turned up missing four years ago, concerned neighbors in Worcester, Massachu­setts, informed the po­lice. A brother told police she had gone into a nursing home.

Satisfied with that information, Gaboury's neighbors began watching her property. Michael Crowley no­ticed her mail, delivered through a slot in the door, piling high. When he opened the door, hundreds of pieces of mail drifted out. He notified

police, and the deliveries were stopped.

Gaboury's next-door neighbor, Eileen Dugan, started paying her grandson $10 twice a month to mow Ga­boury's lawn. Later Du-gan's son noticed Gaboury's pipes had fro­zen, spilling water out the door. The utility com­pany was called to shut off the water.

What no one guessed was that while they'd been trying to help, Gaboury had been inside her home. When police finally investigated the house as a health haz­ard, they were shocked to find her body. The Washington Post (10/27/93) reported that police now believe Gaboury died of natural causes four years ago.

The respectable, ex­ternal appearance of Ga-

boury's house had hidden the reality of what was on the inside. Something similar can happen to people: We may appear outwardly proper while spiritually dead. All sorts of religious activity may be hap­pening outside, while the real problem is missed: spiritual death on the in­side. We need life, not a tidy facade.

— Vialo Weis

Oklahoma City,


48       SUMMER/94






Henri J. M. Nouwen writes in the March 1994 New Oxford Review:

"A few years ago Bob, the husband of a friend of mine, died suddenly of a heart attack. My friend decided to keep her two young children away from the funeral. She thought it would be too hard for them to see their father put in the ground. For years after Bob's death the cemetery remained a fearful and a dangerous place for them.

"Then, one day, my friend asked me to visit the grave with her, and invited the children to come along. The elder one was too afraid to go, but the younger one decided to come with us. When we came to the place where Bob was buried, the three of us sat down on the grass around the stone engraved with the words, 'A kind and gentle man.' As we sat, we reminisced about Bob.

"I said: 'Maybe one day we should have a picnic here. This is not only a place to think about death, but also a place to rejoice in our life. I think Bob will be most honored when we find new strength, here, to live.' At first it seemed a strange idea: having a meal on top of a tombstone. But isn't that similar to what Jesus told his disciples to do when he asked them to share bread and wine in his memory?

"A few days later my friend took her elder child to the grave, the younger one having convinced his sister that there was nothing to fear. Now they often go to the cemetery and tell each other stories about Bob."


Lee Strobel offers a unique perspective on life in the 90s:

"If you really are a person of the 90s . . .

"You feel like life is whizzing past you at 90 miles an hour. You work 90 hours a week, and you've still got 90 items on your to-do list. You're on a 90-calorie-a-day diet because you look 90 pounds overweight in your swimming suit.

"You've got 90 different bills to pay, and you're already $90 overdrawn. The minimum payment on your visa this month is $90 — and that's just the interest. You're still paying $90 a month on your student loan, and you don't know where you're going to get $90,000 to send your Tads to school.

"You've got 90 channels of cable television, and there is still nothing worth watching. You drive your kids to 90 different activities and events a month. Your toddler just asked 'Why?' for the 90th time today.

"And you think everything would be fine, if you were just making 90 grand a year."

— Wayne Rouse Astoria, Illinois

Finishing Well

I went the right way."Delcavo was one who ran correctly. In the same way, our goal is to run correctly — to fin­ish the race marked out for us by Christ. We can rejoice over those who have courage to follow, ignoring the laughter of the crowd."I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness. . ." (2 Tim. 4:7-8).— Loren D. McBain Mesa, Arizona

In a recent ncaa cross-country champion­ship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000-meter course and began waving for fel­low runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him.

Asked what his com­petitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Del­cavo responded, "They thought it was funny that


Lee Iacocca once asked legendary football coach Vince Lombardi what it took to make a winning team. The book Iacocca records Lombardi's answer:

"There are a lot of coaches with good ball clubs who know the fundamentals and have plenty of discipline but still don't win the game. Then you come to the third ingredient: if you're going to play together as a team, you've got to care for one another. You've got to love each other. Each player has to be thinking about the next guy and saying to himself: 'If I don't block that man, Paul is going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well in order that he can do his.'

"The difference between mediocrity and greatness," Lombardi said that night, "is the feeling these guys have for each other."

In the healthy church, each Christian learns to care for others. As we take seriously Jesus' command to "love one another," we contribute to a winning team.

— Christopher Stinnett Walled Lake, Michigan

What are the most 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 $25. If the material has been published previously, please indicate the source.

Send contributions to:

To Illustrate . . .


465 Gundersen Drive

Carol Stream, IL 60188


Related Media
Related Illustrations