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Category Archives: Illustrations for Teachers/Preachers

JOHN MAXWELL’S ACRONYM FOR H.O.P.E.

HOPE

H.O.P.E. = HOLDING ON, PRAYING EXPECTANTLY

I listened patiently as he poured out his problems. His work was not going well. Some of his children were sowing their wild oats and he was worried about them. The straw that finally broke his back was that his wife decided to leave him. There he sat, all slumped over in despair. It was the last sentence of his story that alarmed me. He said, “I have nothing to live for; I have lost all hope.” I began to share with him that hope was the one thing he could not afford to lose. He could lose his business, his money, and maybe even his family, and rebound on the court of life if he kept his hope alive.

If hope is so important, what is it? Tertullian said, “Hope is patience with the lamp lit.” Hope is holding on when things around you begin to slip away. Hope is praying expectantly when there are seemingly no answers. Dr. G. Campbell Morgan tells of a man whose shop had been burned during the disastrous Chicago fire. He arrived at the ruins the next morning carrying a table. He set the table amid the charred debris and above it placed this optimistic sign: “Everything lost except wife, children, and hope. Business will be resumed as usual tomorrow morning.”

Many men become bitter toward life because of the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves. Many quit. Others have taken their own lives. What makes the difference in the outcome? Talent? No! The only difference between those who threw in the towel and quit and those who used their energy to rebuild and keep going, is found in the word hope.

What does hope do for mankind?

Hope shines brightest when the hour is the darkest.

Hope motivates when discouragement comes.

Hope energizes when the body is tired.

Hope sweetness while the bitterness bites.

Hope sings when all melodies are gone.

Hope believes when the evidence is eliminated.

Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.

Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.

Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.

Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.

Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.

Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.

Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.

Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.

There is nothing to do but bury a man when his hopes are gone. Losing hope usually precedes loss of life itself. You don’t need a better environment; you just need more hope. It’s the one thing in your life that you cannot do without!

SOURCE: John C. Maxwell. Think On These Things: A Fresh, New Way To Look At Life. Kansas City: Beacon Hill, 1979, pp. 127-128.

 

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Zig Ziglar: Having Your Best Attitude

“The Best News”

 

There are many different attitudes. Roberto De Vincenzo, a golfer from Argentina, beautifully displayed one of the best ones many years ago when he won the Masters golf tournament but was denied the coveted green jacket.

I say he won it because he had the lowest score at the end of four days. But his playing partner who kept the score had inadvertently written that he had made a five in on one of the holes when in reality he had made a four.

De Vincenzo signed the card, and when an incorrect card is signed, the player is disqualified. He had not cheated, but the rules stood. What was his reaction when he learned he was disqualified? Did he blame his playing partner? No, he said he made a stupid mistake. He accepted full responsibility himself. Now what kind of man is he?

Some time later he won another tournament. After they gave him the check, he spent a great deal of time in the dressing room. He was in no particular hurry. When he got out to the parking lot, it was empty except for a young woman. She approached him saying she didn’t have a job, her sick baby was at the point of death, and she didn’t have the money to pay the hospital or the doctors. De Vincenzo signed his tournament winnings over to the young woman and went on his way.

The next week he was in a country club. One of the PGA officials told him he had been a victim of fraud—that the woman didn’t have a baby and was not even married. De Vincenzo said, “You mean there is not a sick baby at all?” The official said, “That’s right.” De Vincenzo said, “You have just given me the best news I’ve heard all year.”

Where’s your heart? What’s your attitude? How would you have felt under those circumstances? Who had the greater problem—the golfer or the young woman? I think it is obvious isn’t it? How many of you think De Vincenzo really brooded the rest of his life over that woman who had beaten him out of that check? I don’t think he gave it another thought. He was truly glad that there had not been an ill child. Now that takes compassion, it takes heart, but it also takes wisdom.

When is maturity in attitude reached? Is attitude a head thing, a heart thing, or both? Maturity in attitude is reached when you fully understand what you can change and what you can’t change, and you respond accordingly. De Vincenzo couldn’t change the figures on his score card retrieve the money he had signed over to the lying woman. Fussing and fuming would not change the reality of either mistake. He chose to accept what had happened and move forward. By doing so he saved his partner any further embarrassment and grief over the mistake. He showed everyone who witnessed the other incident his true character and was not made to look like a naïve fool by an official who was all too proud to have the scoop.

People with a good heart are exposed most readily in times of stress and ill fortune. De Vincenzo was more interested in the needs of his golfing partner and the wlfare of a baby than he was in claiming to have been wronged. A heart like his, one that is honest, expects the best and holds no malice. It is developed over a lifetime.

Roberto De Vincenzo at some point decided he was responsible for his circumstances in life, that he had control over how he responded to disappointment, and that a good attitude and a trusting heart offered many more rewards than their counterparts. Make the same decisions for yourself and relax into a more fulfilling life.

 Message! 

It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you handle it that will determine whether you are happy or miserable.

 About Zig Ziglar:

Zig Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Alabama on November 26, 1926 and was the tenth of 12 children. In 1931, when Ziglar was five years old, his father took a management position at a Mississippi farm, and family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where he spent his early childhood. In 1932, his father died of a stroke, and his younger sister died two days later.

Zigler served in the Navy during World War II (circa 1943-1945). He was in the Navy V-12 College Training Program, attending the University of South Carolina. In 1944 he met his wife Jean, in Jackson, Mississippi; he was 17 and she was 16. They married in late 1946.

Ziglar later worked as a salesman in a succession of companies. In 1968 he became the vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance company, moving to Dallas, Texas.

In 1970, Ziglar went into the business of motivational speaking full-time, with an emphasis on Christian values. Until then, he called himself by his given name, Hilary, but now satarted using his nickname, Zig, instead.

Until 2010 (aged 86) Ziglar traveled around the world taking part in motivational seminars, but has been somewhat limited recently due to a fall down a flight of stairs in 2007 that has impaired his short-term memory and physical abilities.

Through the ups and downs of life Ziglar has maintained his optimism and encouraged thousands of people to be their best in the particular endeavors to which God has called them. Zig Ziglar is one of the most inspirational people on the planet today and is a terrific example of someone who has embraced the struggle of life giving God the glory each step of the way.

The article above was adapted from Chapter 5 in the very encouraging book by Zig Ziglar entitled Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better. Nashville, TN.: B&H, 2003.

 Zig Ziglar’s Books:

Ziglar, Zig; Ziglar, Tom. Born to Win: Find Your Success Code. Dallas: SUCCESS Media (2012).

Something Else To Smile About: More Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s Ups and Downs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (2010).

Ziglar, Zig; Norman, Julie Ziglar. Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms. New York: Howard Books (2009).

The One-Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar. Tyndale House Publishers (2009)

Inspiration 365 Days a Year with Zig Ziglar. SIM (2008)

God’s Way is Still the Best Way. Nashville: Thomas Nelson  (2007).

Better Than Good: Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (2006).

Conversations with My Dog. B&H Books (2005).

The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar. New York: Random House (2004).

Confessions of a Grieving Christian. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group 2004).

Courtship After Marriage: Romance Can Last a Lifetime. Nashville: Thomas Nelson  (2004).

Staying Up, Up, Up in a Down, Down World. Nashville: Thomas Nelson  (2004).

Zig Ziglar’s Life Lifters: Moments of Inspiration for Living Life Better. B&H (2003).

Selling 101: What Every Successful Sales Professional Needs to Know. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (2003).

Ziglar, Zig and Hayes, John P. Network Marketing For Dummies. Foster City, Calif: IDG Books (2001).

Success for Dummies. Foster City, Calif: IDG Books (1998).

Something to Smile About: Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s UPS and DOWNS. Nashville: Thomas Nelson (1997).

Great Quotes from Zig Ziglar. Career Press (1997)

Over the Top. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1994).

Five Steps to Successful Selling. Nigtingale-Conant Corp. (1987).

Top Performance: How to Develop Excellence in Yourself and Others. New York: Berkley Books (1986).

Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World. Nashville: Oliver Nelson (1985).

Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale. New York: Berkley Books (1982).

See You at the Top. Gretna: Pelican (1975).

 About Golfer Roberto De Vincenzo

The world will always remember Roberto De Vicenzo for what he lost, not for what he won-for that careless mistake he made at the 1968 Masters, signing an incorrect scorecard that had him making a par and not a birdie on the 17th hole that Sunday afternoon-and, thus, his uttering of the immortal golf quote, “What a stupid I am.” Yet there is so much more to De Vicenzo’s career and the contributions he made to golf around the world than what occurred in the scorer’s tent at Augusta National that should not overshadow the man’s legacy. Roberto De Vicenzo won more than 230 golf tournaments, including the 1967 Open Championship at Hoylake, where he held off the Sunday charges of Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player to become, at 44, the oldest winner of the world’s oldest golf championship.

Facing success and catastrophe and treating those twin imposters the same inspired British golf writer Peter Dobereiner to use the Rudyard Kipling quote when giving De Vicenzo his due. In Dobereiner’s words, “By that standard, De Vicenzo is a giant of a man because he faced the greatest triumph and the most devastating disaster which the game of golf can provide.” The United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America agreed, presenting De Vicenzo with the Bob Jones and William Richardson Awards, respectively, in 1970.

All the trophies he captured didn’t mean as much to De Vicenzo as the friends he made traveling the globe. He won national opens in Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Holland, France, Germany, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Argentina, a country he represented 17 times in the World Cup. Essayist Jack Whitaker once said that if golf were war, Roberto would have conquered more countries than Alexander the Great. But golf was not war to De Vicenzo. And that is what made him so loved.

Born in Buenos Aires April 14, 1923, De Vicenzo learned the game as a caddy’s assistant. He turned professional at age 15 and won his first of nine Argentine Open titles six years later. Three-time Open Championship winner Henry Cotton once said there were very few professionals in the business who would not take the play through the green of Argentine golfing master Roberto De Vicenzo, and his game never left him. At 51 he won the PGA Seniors’ Championship and in 1980, at age 57, the inaugural U.S. Senior Open.

He believed in hard practice, routinely hitting 400 balls a day and maintaining a slow pace. “If you hurry,” he would say, “then nothing seems to go right.” He’d visualize a shot, pick a club and hit. His method was simple to watch, and it held up under pressure.

It did that final round at the Masters in 1968. What’s lost behind that staggering mistake made by fellow competitor Tommy Aaron and signed for by De Vicenzo is that Roberto shot what has been called one of the greatest rounds in major championship history. He took only 65 strokes around Augusta National that day, including a bogey at the 18th, on his 45th birthday. His 31 on the front side started with an eagle 2 at the first and tied the course record. It should have been good enough to tie Bob Goalby and set up a playoff which, had he won, would have given Roberto De Vicenzo both the Open Championship and Masters titles at the same time.

 

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FRIDAY HUMOR: IS ANYBODY UP THERE?

SERIES: FRIDAY HUMOR #34

PRECARIOUS ROCK CLIMBER

Sometimes we wish we could change God. We are like the man who was climbing up a steep mountain on his way to the summit when he began to slip. Unable to stop himself, he slid back down the treacherous incline toward a cliff that plunged a thousand feet to the canyon floor. He was sure he would be killed. But just as he was about to go over the edge he threw his hands out and managed to catch a small branch. There he hung. He had saved himself. But he could not get back onto the incline, and he knew it was just a matter of time until his grip loosened and he fell. He was not a very religious man. But this was obviously the time to become one, if ever. So he looked up to heaven and called out, “Is there anyone up there who can help me?”

He did not expect an answer. So he was greatly surprised when a deep voice came back, saying, “Yes, I am here, and I can help you. But first you are going to have to let go of that branch.”

A long pause! Then the man looked up and called out again, “Is there anybody else up there who can help me?”

*SOURCE: James Montgomery Boice. Expositions in Genesis. Baker: Grand Rapids, 2005. Volume 1. Chapter 3.

 

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FRIDAY HUMOR: YOU’RE NEVER TOO OLD TO GET MARRIED!

Series: Friday Humor #30

elderly couple on skateboard

Maxie Dunham tells the story of an elderly man who began spending a significant amount of time with an elderly woman. Neither had ever been married and each had lived alone for many years. Gradually the old gentleman recognized a real attachment to her but was shy and afraid to reveal his feelings to her. After many days of anxiety and fear, he finally mustered up the courage to declare his intentions. He went over to her home and in a nervous frenzy blurted out, “Let’s get married!!!”

Surprised, she threw up her hands and shouted, “It’s a wonderful idea, but who in this world would have us?”

*SOURCE: 1001 Humorous Illustrations for Public Speaking. Compiled by Michael Hodgin. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

 

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THE POWER OF DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS FOR MULTIPLYING DISCIPLES

*EVANGELISTIC ADDITION VS. DISCIPLEMAKING MULTIPLICATION

crowd

YEAR EVANGELIST DISCIPLER D-GROUP OF 4
1 365 2 3
2 730 4 9
3 1,095 8 27
4 1,460 16 81
5 1,825 32 243
6 2,190 64 729
7 2,555 128 2,187
8 2,920 256 6,561
9 3,285 512 19,683
10 3,650 1,024 59,049
11 4,015 2,048 177,147
12 4,380 4,096 531,441
13 4,745 8,192 1,594,323
14 5,110 16,384 4,782,969
15 5,475 32,768 14,348,907
16 5,840 65,536 43,046,721

**Robby Gallaty on Discipleship Multiplication in D-Groups

God has always been interested in reproduction. In fact, His first command to Adam and Eve in the Garden was not to be spiritual, productive, or upstanding citizens of earth. Rather, it was to “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28). What God commanded the first humans to do physically is what Jesus commanded the first believers to do spiritually. The goal of every *D-Group is for the mentee, the one being discipled, to become a mentor; to multiply–make other disciples [*A D-Group is a closed group of 3-5 members of the same-sex consisting of believers who desire a deeper walk with Christ via intimate and accountable relationships resulting in community and multiplication of more disciples].

In essence, the D-Group is designed for the player to become a coach. If it is not discussed early on, members in the group will adopt a consumer mentality, with a short-sighted, self-serving focus. The heart of discipleship, as Christ modeled and instituted it, is that you are not learning only for yourself. You are learning for the person whom you will mentor in following Him.

The Great Commission is designed to be a team effort. Instead of the pastors/leaders/Sunday school teachers/deacons performing all the duties of ministry in the church, the saints are equipped to carry out the work. The ministers cannot carry out the command alone, as Paul clearly stated: “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Greg Ogden, in his book Discipleship Essentials, expounds this point by graphically illustrating the contrast between someone personally seeing one person come to the Lord every day for a year, as compared to investing in the same two people for an entire year (see chart above). The evangelist hits the streets every day with the goal of sharing the gospel with as many people as needed to see God save one person. In contrast, the disciple-maker walks two people through a year of intensive discipleship.

The slow-moving discipleship process creeps forward with only four people being impacted in two years, compared to 730 converts through the solitary work of the busy evangelist. However, this radically changes with the passing of time. After sixteen years of the same activity, the evangelist would have seen almost 6,000 people come to faith in Christ, while the disciple would have impacted 65,536 people. Every person on the planet would be reached multiple times over after thirty years. It is a ministry shift from a strategy of addition, where the clergy performs the ministerial duties, to one of multiplication, where believers are expected and equipped to personally participate in the Great Commission.

Multiplication–not addition–is Jesus’ plan for reaching the world with gospel. And multiplication is the purpose of the D-Group. If the body of Christ would accept this plan, embrace it, and faithfulness obey it, then the Great Commission would be accomplished.

Nothing Grows under a Banyan Tree

The banyan is a massive tree that develops secondary trunks to support its enormous branches. A full-grown banyan tree can cover an entire acre. The tree provides shade and shelter for many animals with its branches, but nothing is able to grow under its dense foliage. Therefore, the earth beneath is barren.

A banana tree is exactly the opposite. Within six months, small shoots sprout from the ground. Six months later, another set of shoots spring up from the earth to join the others, which are now six months old. At about eighteen months, bananas burst forth from the main trunk of the tree. Humans, birds, and many other creatures benefit from its fruit before it dies. Every six months, the cycle is reproduced, with sprouts forming, fruit bearing, and shoots dying. The end result is a forest of banana trees.

These contrasting trees graphically illustrate a vital discipleship truth. Many people utilize a banyan style of leadership. Mitsuo Fukuda explained, “Banyan-style leaders have a tremendous ministry, but have difficulty finding a successor, because they do not generate leaders, only followers. It’s possible to grow followers in a relatively short space of time, and that’s a useful result on its own. But when the leader goes away, you are left only with a heavily dependent group of people, programmed with a list of instructions” (Mitsuo Fukuda, Upward, Outward, Inward: Passing on the Baton of Discipleship. Gloucester, UK: Wide Margin Books, 2010, p. 100).

Discipleship is about shoots and sprouts. These new sprouts are never a threat to the banana tree, for they ensure growth. In fact, they are expected. The goal of a D-Group is for the mentee to become a mentor, for the player to become a coach. Unless that happens, the group never progresses beyond a small group Bible study.

**Source: Chart is adapted from Greg Ogden, Discipleship Essentials: A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ (Downers Grove: IL.: IVP, 2007), 12. Article adapted from Robby Gallaty. Growing Up: How To Be A Disciple Who Makes Disciples. (Bloomington, IN.: CrossBooks, 2013), pp. 13-16. Thanks to Robby Gallaty for permission to print this article.

 

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Do you REALLY CARE about the Lost?

A PARABLE OF SAVING LIVES

life preserver on water

By Charles R. Swindoll

On a dangerous seacoast notorious for shipwrecks, there was a crude little lifesaving station. Actually, the station was merely a hut with only one boat…but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the turbulent sea. With little thought for themselves, they would go out day and night tirelessly searching for those in danger as well as the lost. Many, many lives were saved by this brave band of men who faithfully worked as a team in and out of the lifesaving station. By and by, it became a famous place.

Some of those who had been saved as well as others along the seacoast wanted to become associated with this little station. They were willing to give their time and energy and money in support of its objectives. New boats were purchased. New crews were trained. The station that was once obscure and crude and virtually insignificant began to grow. Some of its members were unhappy that the hut was so unattractive and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided. Emergency cots were replaced with lovely funrniture. Rough, hand-made equipment was discarded and sophisticated, classy systems, and appointments. By its completion, the life-saving station had become a popular gathering place, and its objectives had begun to shift. It was now used as sort of a clubhouse, an attractive gathering place for public gatherings. Saving lives, feeding the hungry, strengthening the fearful, and calming the disturbed rarely occurred by now.

Fewer members were now interested in braving the sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired professional lifeboat crews to do this work. The original goal of the station wasn’t altogether forgotten, however. The lifesaving motifs still prevailed in the club’s decorations. In fact, there was a liturgical lifeboat preserved in the Room of Sweet Memories with soft, indirect lighting, which helped hide the layer of dust upon the once-used vessel.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the boat crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty, some terribly sick and lonely. Others were black and “different” from the majority of the club members. The beautiful new club suddenly became messy and cluttered. A special committee saw to it that a shower house was immediately built outside and away from the club so victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting there were strong words and angry feelings, which resulted in a division among the members. Most of the people wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities and all involvements with shipwreck victims…(it’s too unpleasant, it’s a hindrance to our social life, it’s opening the door to folks who are not our kind“). As you’d expect, some still insisted on saving lives, that this was their primary objective–that their only reason for existence was ministering to anyone needing help regardless of their club’s beauty or size or decorations. They were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast! They did.

As years passed, the new station experienced the same old changes. It evolved into another club…and yet another lifesaving station was begun. History continued to repeat itself…and if you visit that coast today you’ll find a large number of exclusive, impressive clubs along the shoreline owned and operated by slick professionals who have lost all involvement with the saving or lives. Shipwrecks still occur in those waters, but now,most of the victims are not saved. Every day they drown at sea, and so few seem to care…so very few.

Do you? 

Deepening Your Roots

Read: Colossians 4:2-6; Matthew 5:13-16; and Ephesians Chapter 5

Branching Out

(1) Take time today to pray for someone you know is shipwrecked.

(2) Look for someone in need this week and be his “salvation” by meeting his need.

(3) Keep your porch light on all week (day and night) to remind yourself that you and your home are to be a lighthouse for the world.

*Article adapted from Chuck Swindoll. Growing Strong In The Seasons of LIfe. Portland, OR.: Multnomah Press, 1983,  pp. 98-99. 

 

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Are You Bitter or Better?

Neal Jeffrey: A Case Study

Neil Jeffrey quarterbacking

One of my favorite people, and certainly one of America’s One finest communicators, is Neal Jeffrey. Neal, as quarterback, led the Baylor Bears football team to the Southwest Conference championship in 1974. Today, he addresses many youth groups as well as adult businesspeople. He is truly one of the most humorous, sincere, and capable speakers I’ve ever heard. The interesting thing is that Neal is a stutterer. However, he has chosen to make stuttering an asset, not a problem. Now think about what you just read. A very successful quarterback and public speaker who stutters doesn’t compute in the minds of most people. Neal Jeffrey has taken a negative and turned it into a positive. After speaking a few minutes, he tells audiences that in case they hadn’t noticed, he stutters. Then with a big smile, he says, “Sometimes I do get hung up a little bit. But don’t worry. I guarantee you something’s coming!” The audience invariably responds enthusiastically Neal is the classic example of an outstanding individual who chose to make an obstacle an asset. The obstacle has forced Neal to be more creative and to do more reading, research, and studying so he can most effectively turn that liability into an asset. Result: He got better, not bitter. He is better not in spite of his stutter, but because of his stutter. Neal has reached and is reaching goal after goal in all areas of his life. I believe that you can do the same thing. When (not if) troubles and problems come your way, remember that the only way to the mountaintop is through the valley. All of us have liabilities that can hold us back or propel us forward. In most cases, the choice is ours. So, take your obstacles or liabilities, recognize and evaluate them, and then find a way to turn them into assets.

STSA Ziglar

- Zig Ziglar. Something to Smile About: Encouragement and Inspiration for Life’s Ups and Downs (Kindle Locations 1215-1226). Kindle Edition.

 

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The Jelly Bean Prayer

Jelly Beans

THE COLORS PRAYER

RED is for the blood He gave.

GREEN is for the grass He made,

YELLOW is for the sun so bright.

ORANGE is for the edge of night.

BLACK is for the sins we made.

WHITE is for the grace He gave.

PURPLE is for His hour of sorrow.

PINK is for our new tomorrow.

A bag full of jelly beans colorful and sweet, is a prayer, is a promise, is a special treat!

“Come now, let us reason together says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become white like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18

 

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Are Your Sins On You? Or Are They On Jesus?

The Gospel Illustrated: Which Criminal Are You?

Luke volume 2 Hughes

Luke 23:39-45

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 

The old divines used to say about this text, “One alone was saved upon the Cross that none might despair; and only one, that none might presume.” The thief’s redemption makes it clear that salvation does not come by works. It is all of grace (cf. Romans 11:6). To presume on our works is to be lost.

At the same time we must not despair. Are we caught in sin, perhaps sin so unspeakable that if others knew they would consider us a wretch or worse? Do we imagine we are beyond grace? If so, we are wrong. The only thing that will put us beyond hope is to be like the thief who rejected Christ. He died that day only to become one of the “wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 13).

The thief’s redemption assures us that it is never too late to turn to Christ. Samuel Johnson was fond of quoting a hopeful epitaph for those who despair. The image is that of a man being pitched to his death from horseback.

*”Between the stirrup and the ground,

I mercy ask’d, I mercy found”

The thief’s reward was Heaven to its fullest—Paradise face to face with Jesus. In Jesus’ Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1–16), the workers who were hired for the last hour were paid the same as those who had labored all day. The landowner’s response to the workers’ complaint was, “ ‘Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last” (vv. 14–16).

My wife’s father died a terrible death with emphysema. But at the eleventh hour he wonderfully repented and turned to Christ in faith. My wife and I came home to Wheaton, Illinois, to attend another funeral over which famed author Joe Bayly officiated. Joe read that parable and said, “Those that come last receive as much as the first!” Our hearts were elevated as we reflected on the grace of God that had come to my wife’s dear father.

Luke’s account of the cross is not about a good thief but about a sinful, wretched thief and a good Savior. It is about the fact that Jesus loved to forgive our sins:

We have heard the joyful sound—

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Spread the tidings all around—

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Waft it on the rolling tide—

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Tell to sinners far and wide—

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

“Jesus Saves” by Priscilla J. Owens

One Saturday morning Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was in his study working when the custodian came in and announced there was a man outside to see him, giving him the man’s card. Dr. Barnhouse read the card, which indicated that the visitor was the captain of the Mauritania, the largest passenger vessel afloat.

When Dr. Barnhouse went out to meet the man, the captain said, “You have a very beautiful church here.” Dr. Barnhouse replied, “We are grateful for all that was done by our faithful predecessors a hundred years ago.” The captain said, “It is very much like the Basilica at Ravenna in Italy.” Dr. Barnhouse responded, “Well, it is an architectural duplication. In fact, years ago they brought workmen from Italy, and the tessellated ceilings and the marble columns and the mosaics were all done by Italian workmen. But that’s not what you came to talk about. You didn’t come to talk about architecture, did you?”

The man said, “No. Twenty-three times a year I sail the Atlantic. When I come down the bank of Newfoundland, I hear your broadcast out of Boston. And as I came this week I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got twenty-four hours in New York. I’m going to go down and see Dr. Barnhouse.’ So I took a train, hoping perhaps I would be able to meet you, and here I am.” Dr. Barnhouse was very straightforward as he said, “Sir, have you been born again?” The captain replied, “That is what I came to see you about.”

By this time they had reached a chalkboard in the prayer room, and Dr. Barnhouse drew three crosses. Underneath the first one he wrote the word “in.” Underneath the third he wrote the word “in.” Underneath the middle cross he wrote the words, “not in.” He said, “Do you understand what I mean when I say those men who died with Jesus had sin within them?” The captain thought and said, “Yes, I do. But Christ did not have sin within him.” Then over the first cross and over the third cross Dr. Barnhouse wrote the word “on.” He said, “Do you understand what that means?” The captain wrinkled his brow.

Dr. Barnhouse said, “Let me illustrate. Have you ever run through a red light?” “Yes.” “Were you caught?” The man said, “No.” “Well, in running that red light you had sin in you. If you would have been caught, you would have had sin on you. So here the thieves bear the penalty of God.” Then he wrote another “on” over Jesus Christ and said, “The one thief’s sins rested on Christ by virtue of his faith in Christ. The other man’s sins remained upon him. Which one are you?”

The man was a very tall, distinguished man, and as he stood Dr. Barnhouse could see that he was fighting back tears. He said to Dr. Barnhouse, “By the grace of God, I am the first man.” Dr. Barnhouse said, “You mean your sins are on Jesus?” He said, “Yes. God says my sins are on Jesus!” He shot out his hand and said, “That’s what I came to find out!” Dr. Barnhouse invited him to lunch and shared with him further, and the man went back to New York a glowing Christian (Donald Grey Barnhouse, The Love Life. Glenddale, CA: Regal, 1974, pp. 270–273).

All of us, like the thieves, have sin in us. But some of us have the penalty of sin resting on us, and others have by grace had it shifted over to Christ. Is your sin on you or on Christ in whom there is no sin? That is the great question.

- Illustration by Donald Grey Barnhouse adapted from Chapter 49 in Kent Hughes. Luke: Volume 2 (The Preaching The Word Commentary Series). Wheaton: Crossway, 2012.

*Note: James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson. London: Penguin, 1979, p. 299. Johnson. ‘Sir, we are not to judge determinately of the state in which a man leaves this life. He may in a moment have repented effectually, and it is possible may have been accepted by God. There is in Camden’s Remains, an epitaph upon a very wicked man, who was killed by a fall from his horse, in which he is supposed to say, “Between the stirrup and the ground, I mercy asked, I mercy found.”

 

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Friday Humor: A History Lesson on High Finance

Series: Friday Humor #22

Fishing on a lake

Brief History:

The questions:

Over a generation ago, in 1923, who was:

1. President of the largest steel company?

2. President of the largest gas company?

3. President of the New York Stock Exchange?

4. Greatest wheat speculator?

5. President of the Bank of International Settlement?

6. Great Bear of Wall Street?

These men were considered some of the worlds most successful of their day.
Now, 80 years later, the history book asks us if we know what
ultimatelybecame of them…?

The answers:
1. The president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died a pauper.

2. The president of the largest gas company, Edward Hopson, went insane.

3. The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was released from prison to die at home.

4. The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cooger, died abroad, penniless.

5. The president of the Bank of International Settlement, Shot himself……

6. The Great Bear of Wall Street, Cosabee Livermore, also committed suicide.

However, in that same year, 1923, the IGFA Champion and the winner of the most important Fishing Tournament was Eredio Munoz, Sr.

What became of him?

He continued fishing and eating his catch until he was 99, died at the age of 100.
He was alert and financially secure at the time of his death.

The moral of this history lesson:
Forget work……..!
GO FISHING………… !
You’ll live longer and be better off in the end!

 

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