Faithlife Sermons


Illustration  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts

To Illustrate




The January 13, 1992 is­sue of Fortune magazine featured the "Biggest Business Goofs of 1991."

In an act of corporate cooperation, at&t reached an agreement with the power company in New York City, Con Ed. The contract stated that whenever power demands exceeded the utility's grid, at&t would lessen their de­mands on the electric utility by throwing a switch, unplugging some of its facilities, and drawing power from internal generators at its 33 Thomas Street station in lower Manhattan.

On September 17, at&t acted in accordance with their agreement. But when at&t's own generators kicked in, the power surge kicked out some of their vital rectifiers, which handled 4.5 million domestic

calls, 470,000 interna­tional calls, 1,174 flights across the nation carry­ing 85,000 passengers, and the total communi­cations systems linking air traffic controllers at La Guardia, Kennedy, and Newark airports.

The alarm bells at the 33 Thomas Street station rang unheeded for 6 hours. The at&t per­sonnel in charge of the rectifiers were away at­tending a one-day seminar on how to handle emergencies.

— Phillip W. Gunter Los Alamos, New Mexico

| Evangel |


In 1992 a Los Angeles county parking control officer came upon a brown El Dorado Cadillac illegally parked next to the curb on street-sweeping day.

The officer dutifully wrote out a ticket. Ignoring the man seated at the driver's wheel, the officer reached inside the open car window and placed the S30 citation on the dashboard.

The driver of the car made no excuses. No argument ensued — and with good reason. The driver of the car had been shot in the head ten to twelve hours before but was sitting up, stiff as a board, slumped slightly forward, with blood on his face. He was dead.

The officer, preoccupied with ticket-writing, was unaware of anything out of the ordinary. He got back in his car and drove away.

Many people around us are "dead in transgressions and sins." What should catch our attention most is their need, not their offenses. They don't need a citation; they need a Savior.

                                                          —Greg Asimakoupoulos

                                                                    Concord, California


Under the headline Gear blamed in crash that killed senator, the April 29, 1992 issue of the Chicago Tribune reported, "A stripped gear in the propeller controls of a commuter plane caused it to nosedive into the Georgia woods last April, killing former U.S. Senator John Tower of Texas and 22 others, the government concluded Tuesday.

"A gear that adjusted the pitch of the left engine's propellers was slowly worn away by an opposing part with a harder titanium coating, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

" 'It acted like a file, and over time it wore down the teeth that controlled the propeller,' said acting board chairman Susan Coughlin."

Like the titanium-coated gear that wore away the softer gear engaged to it, so one abrasive, unkind spouse or friend can wear away the spirit of another.


Annie Dillard, in her book The Living, describes one graveside religious service:

"Hugh stood with stiff Lulu and supple Bert at the graveside. The Nooksacks stood together with their preacher. Before the funeral, in mourning for his father, they had shrieked and pounded on boards. . . .

"At last big-faced Norval Tawes read Scripture and prayed. 'O Death, where is thy sting?' Norval Tawes called out, and his little black eyes glittered on Hugh.

"Hugh thought, Just about everywhere, since you ask."

Indeed, death is sure. We must prepare for it.

                                                                           — Dave Goet               Wheaton,   Illinois


The Masai tribe in West Africa have an unusual way of saying thank you. Translators tell us that when the Masai express thanks, they bow, put their forehead on the ground, and say, "My head is in the dirt."

When members of another African tribe want to express gratitude, they sit for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and literally say, "I sit on the ground be­fore you."

These Africans un­derstand well what thanksgiving is and why it's difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving is an act of humility.

— Joel Gregory Dallas, Texas

Cheerful Giving

Scottish Presbyterians established churches in Ghana over a hundred years ago, and today their worship services still resemble a formal Scottish Presbyterian service. Recently, however, they have allowed tradition­al African expressions into the worship service.

They let the people dance as they bring their offerings forward. The music plays, and each individual joyfully dances down the aisle to the offering plate. The missionary to Ghana who told me about this says the offering is the only time in the service when the people smile.

No doubt, God also smiles.

— Don McCuIlough

Solan.i Beach,


48       WINTER/93


Mario Cuomo, governor of New York, writes in Life magazine about a time when he was especially discouraged during a political campaign:

I couldn't help wondering what Poppa would have said if I told him I was tired or — God forbid — discouraged. A thousand pictures flashed through my mind, but one scene came sharply into view.

We had just moved to Holliswood, New York, from our apartment behind the store. We had our own house for the first time; it had some land around it, even trees. One in particular was a great blue spruce that must have been 40 feet tall.

Less than a week after we moved in, there was a
terrible storm. We came home from the store that night to
find the spruce pulled almost totally from the ground
and flung forward, its mighty nose bent in the asphalt of
the street. My brother Frankie and 1 could climb poles
all day; we were great at fire escapes; we could scale
fences with barbed wire — but we knew no                out

trees. When we saw our spruce, defeated, its cheek on the canvas, our hearts sank. But not Poppa's.

Maybe he was five feet six if his heels were not worn. Maybe he weighed 155 pounds if he had a good meal. Maybe he could see a block away if his glasses were clean. But he was stronger than Frankie and me and Marie and Mamma all together.

We stood in the street, looking down at the tree.

"Okay, we gonna push 'im up!"

"What are you talking about, Poppa? The roots are out of the ground!"

"Shut up, we gonna push 'im up, he's gonna grow again." We didn't know what to say to him. You couldn't say no to him. So we followed him into the house and we got what rope there was and we tied the rope around the tip of the tree that lay in the asphalt, and he stood up by the house, with me pulling on the rope and Frankie in the street in the rain, helping to push up the great blue spruce. In no time at all, we had it standing up straight again!

With the rain still falling, Poppa dug away at the place where the roots were, making a muddy hole wider and wider as (he tree sank lower and lower toward security. Then we shoveled mud over the roots and moved boulders to the base to keep the tree in place. Poppa drove stakes in the ground, tied rope from the trunk to the stakes, and maybe two hours later looked at the spruce, the crippled spruce made straight by ropes, and said, "Don't worry, he's gonna grow again. ..."

If you were to drive past that house today, you would see the great, straight blue spruce, maybe 65 feet tall, pointing up to the heavens, pretending it never had its nose in the asphalt.

Remembering that night in Holliswood, I now couldn't wait to get back into the campaign.




A tv news camera crew was on assignment in southern Florida filming the widespread destruction of Hurricane Andrew.

In one scene, amid the devastation and debris stood one house on its foundation. The owner was cleaning up the yard when a reporter approached him.

"Sir, why is your house the only one still standing?" asked the reporter. "How did you manage to escape the severe damage of the hurricane?"

"I built this house myself," the man replied. "I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for 2x6 roof trusses, I used 2x6 roof trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane. I did, and it did. I

suppose no one else around here followed the code."

When the sun is shining and the skies are blue, building our lives on something other than the guidelines in God's Word can be tempting. But there's a hurricane coming — for everyone.

— David R. Culver Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin


In one scene of the popular movie Robin Hood, The Prince of Thieves, Kevin Costner as Robin came to a young man taking aim at an archery target. Robin asked, "Can you shoot amid distractions?"

Just before the boy released the string, Robin poked his ear with the feathers of an arrow. The boy's shot went high by several feet.

After the laughter of those watching died down, Maid Marian, standing behind the boy, asked Robin, "Can you?"

Robin Hood then raised his bow and took aim. His eyes focused on the bull's-eye. Just as he released the ar­row, Maid Marian leaned beside him and flirta­tiously blew into his face. The arrow missed the

target, glanced off the tree

behind it, and scarcely

missed a bystander. Distractions come in

all types, and whether

they are painful or

pleasant, the result is

the same: we miss

God's mark.

— Penney F. Nichols Van Nuys, California

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