Faithlife Sermons


Illustration  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts

To Illustrate







ime-lapse photog­raphy compresses a series of events into one picture. Such a photo appeared in an issue of National Geographic. Tak­en from a Rocky Moun­tain peak during a heavy thunderstorm, the picture captured the brilliant lightning display that had taken place throughout the storm's duration. The time-lapse technique created a fascinating, spaghetti-like web out of the individual bolts.

In such a way, our sin presents itself before the eyes of God. Where we see only isolated or individual acts, God sees the overall web of our sinning. What may seem insignificant — even sporadic — to us and passes with hardly a notice creates a much more dra­matic display from God's panoramic viewpoint. The psalmist was right when he wrote, "Who can dis­cern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins" (Ps. 19:12-13).

— Ainslie B. Wagner Fredonia, New York

| T |

he following drama was originally reported by Peter Michelmore in the October 1987 Reader's Digest: Normally the flight from Nassau to Miami took Walter Wyatt, Jr., only sixty-five minutes. But on December 5,1986, he attempted it after thieves had looted the navigational equipment in his Beech-craft. With only a compass and a hand-held radio, Walter flew into skies blackened by storm clouds.

When his compass began to gyrate, Walter con­cluded he was headed in the wrong direction. He flew his plane below the clouds, hoping to spot something, but soon he knew he was lost. He put out a mayday call, which brought a Coast Guard Falcon search plane to lead him to an emergency landing strip only six miles away.

Suddenly Wyatt's right engine coughed its last and died. The fuel tank had run dry. Around 8 p.m. Wyatt could do little more than glide the plane into the water. Wyatt survived the crash, but his plane disap­peared quickly, leaving him bobbing on the water in a leaky life vest.

With blood on his forehead, Wyatt floated on his back. Suddenly he felt a hard bump against his body. A shark had found him. Wyatt kicked the intruder and wondered if he would survive the night. He managed to stay afloat for the next ten hours.

In the morning, Wyatt saw no airplanes, but in the water a dorsal fin was headed for him. Twisting, he felt the hide gf a shark brush against him. In a moment, two more bull sharks sliced through the water toward him. Again he kicked the sharks, and they veered away, but he was nearing exhaustion.

Then he heard the hum of a distant aircraft. When it was within a half mile, he waved his orange vest. The pilot dropped a smoke canister and radioed the cutter Cape York, which was twelve minutes away: "Get moving, cutter! There's a shark targeting this guy!"

As the Cape York pulled alongside Wyatt, a Jacob's ladder was dropped over the side. Wyatt climbed wearily out of the water and onto the ship, where he fell to his knees and kissed the deck.

He'd been saved. He didn't need encouragement or better techniques. Nothing less than outside interven­tion could have rescued him from sure death. How much we are like Walter Wyatt!

— William R. Perkins Lake Oswego, Oregon

| I |

n A Slow and Certain Light, Elisabeth Elliot tells of two adventur­ers who stopped by to see her, all loaded with equip­ment for the rain forest east of the Andes. They sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the Indians. She writes: "Sometimes we come to God as the two adventurers came to me — confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. But has it oc­curred to us that with all our accumulation of stuff, something is missing?"

She suggests that we of­ten ask God for too little. "We know what we need — a yes or no answer, please, to a simple question. Or perhaps a road sign. Some­thing quick and easy to point the way.

"What we really ought to have is the Guide himself. Maps, road signs, a few useful phrases are good things, but infinitely better is someone who has been there before and knows the way."



n the TV show "Hee Haw," Doc Campbell is con­fronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two  places.   The  doc re­plies, "Well then, stay out of them places!"

He may have something there. We cannot regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be af­fected. When faced with the problem of tempta­tion, we need to take the good doctor's advice and "stay out of them places." — Craig Wagganer Troy, Ohio

46       LEADERSHIP/89



avid McCullough in his book Morn­ings on Horseback tells this story about young Teddy Roosevelt:

"Mittie [his mother] had found he was so afraid of the Madison Square Church that he refused to set foot inside if alone. He was terrified, she discov­ered, of something called the 'zeal.' It was crouched in the dark corners of the church ready to jump at him, he said. When she asked what a zeal might be, he said he was not sure, but thought it was probably a large animal like an alligator or a drag­on. He had heard the min­ister read about it from the Bible.

"Using a concordance, she read him those pas­sages containing the word zeal until suddenly, very excited, he told her to stop. The line was from the Book of John, 2:17: 'And his dis­ciples remembered that it was written, "The zeal of thine house hath eaten me


People are still justifi­ably afraid to come near the "zeal" of the Lord, for they are perfectly aware it could "eat them up" if they aren't one of his. Our Lord is good, but he isn't safe.

— Greg Webb Las Vegas, Nevada



n The Christian Leader, Don Ratzlaff retells a story Vernon Grounds came across in Ernest Gordon's Miracle on the River Kwai. The Scottish soldiers, forced by their Japanese captors to labor on a jungle railroad, had degenerated to barbarous behavior, but one afternoon something happened:

"A shovel was missing. The officer in charge be­came enraged. He demanded that the missing shovel be produced, or else. When nobody in the squadron budged, the officer got his gun and threatened to kill them all on the spot. ... It was obvious the officer meant what he had said. Then, finally, one man stepped forward. The officer put away his gun, picked up a shovel, and beat the man to death. When it was over, the survivors picked up the bloody corpse and carried it with them to the second tool check. This time, no shovel was missing. Indeed, there had been a miscount at the first check point.

"The word spread like wildfire through the whole camp. An innocent man had been willing to die to save the others! . . . The incident had a profound effect. . . . The men began to treat each other like brothers.

"When the victorious Allies swept in, the survivors, human skeletons, lined up in front of their captors . . . [and instead of attacking their captors] insisted: 'No more hatred. No more killing. Now what we need is forgiveness.' "

Sacrificial love has transforming power.



t the Pan American Games, Greg Louganis was asked how he coped with the stress of international diving competition. He replied that he climbs to the board, takes a deep breath, and thinks, Even if I blow this dive, my mother will still love me. Then he goes for excellence.

At the beginning of each day, how good it would be for each of us to take a deep breath, say, Even if I blow it today, my God will still love me, and then, assured of grace, go into the day seeking a perfect 10!

— Keith Brown Bethlehem, Pennsylvania



n March 6, 1987, Eamon Coghlan, the Irish world record holder at 1500 me­ters, was running in a qual­ifying heat at the World Indoor Track Champion­ships in Indianapolis. With two and a half laps left, he was tripped. He fell, but he got up and with great effort managed to catch the leaders. With only 20 yards left in the race, he was in third place — good enough to qualify for the finals.

He looked over his shoulder to the inside, and, seeing no one, he let up. But another runner, charging hard on the out­side, passed Coughlan a yard before the finish, thus eliminating him from the finals. Coughlan's great comeback effort was ren­dered worthless by taking his eyes off the finish line. It's tempting to let up when the sights around us look favorable. But we fin­ish well in the Christian race only when we fix our eyes on the goal: Jesus Christ.

— Dave Zehring Mesa, Arizona

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, TL 60188


Related Media
Related Illustrations