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I will be sorting these recent entries in alphabetical order. Please excuse the inconvenience.

Isn't this a cool gas station?

Please check back regularly. I add new illustrations during the week.

A

ANGER

Ever wonder where we get the phrase "flying off the handle?" In the pioneer days in America, axes were often hand-made. Men on the frontier would carve down their own handles to fit into an axe-head they had bought before moving out West. Usually they were fitted rather crudely and this made for a bad bond. Many times while chopping, the axe-head flew off, sometimes injuring nearby people. Because it was a sudden act of quick danger, it became known as 'flying off the handle' when one would have a sudden unpredictable burst of uncontrolled anger. It was in a moment yet it was dangerous to those nearby.

ATTITUDES


There are some people who say that these "revised versions" of sayings should be the new statements for this generation. Do you agree?

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead.
Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow.
Do not walk beside me, either.
"JUST LEAVE ME ALONE !"

2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.

3. It's always darkest before dawn.
So if you're going to steal your neighbor's paper, that's the time to do it.

4. A closed mouth gathers no foot.

5. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving.

6. Experience is something you don't get until just after you needed it.

7. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Here are three illustrations on the subject of ANGER:

"Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil."
- Ephesians 4:26,27

A woman came to the late evangelist Billy Sunday and told of her very bad temper, yet didn't seem ready to confess it as sin. It appeared she was trying to justify it.

"After all, Mr. Sunday," she said, "although I blow up over the least little thing, it's all over in a minute."

Billy Sunday looked her straight in the eye and said, "So is a shotgun blast! It's over in seconds too, but look at the terrible damage it can do!"

*******************

A QUOTE ON ANGER:

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
- Frederick Buechner, 1973.

*********************

Ever wonder where we get the phrase flying off the handle? In the pioneer days in America, axes were often hand-made. Men on the frontier would carve down their own handles to fit into an axe-head they had bought before moving out West. Usually they were fitted rather crudely and this made for a bad bond. Many times while chopping, the axe-head flew off, sometimes injuring nearby people. Because it was a sudden act of quick danger, it became known as 'flying off the handle' when one would have a sudden unpredictable burst of uncontrolled anger. It was in a moment yet it was dangerous to those nearby.

APATHY

Warren Wiersbe brought up a great point that you can quote to your apathetic teens. In his book "God Isn't in a Hurry," Wiersbe states,
"Emerson said that if the stars came out only once a year, everyone would stay up all night to behold them. We have seen the stars so often that we don't bother to look at them anymore. We have grown accustomed to our blessings." Is this true with your teens? Are they getting "bored of God?"

ANGER
"Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath; neither give place to the devil."
- Ephesians 4:26,27

A woman came to the late evangelist Billy Sunday and told of her very bad temper, yet didn't seem ready to confess it as sin. It appeared she was trying to justify it. "After all, Mr. Sunday," she said, "although I blow up over the least little thing, it's all over in a minute." Billy Sunday looked her straight in the eye and said, "So is a shotgun blast! It's over in seconds too, but look at the terrible damage it can do!"

*******************

Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
- Frederick Buechner, 1973.

ADDICTIONS

1 Corinthians 6:19 - "...your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit..."

Good Housekeeping Magazine reported an offer made by a Detroit newspaper concerning addictions. However, the addictions were not based on drugs or cigarettes...not even on overeating! The addiction was on TV watching.
The newspaper made an offer to 120 city families with a reward of $500 as the incentive. The challenge was to go for 30 days without watching TV. Immediately 93 said no! Of the remaining 27 families, the newspaper researched 5 of them to see the results. The families had been watching TV from 40 to 70 hours a week - an average of over 5 and a half to 10 hours a day! The five families made it and admitted four things:

1. They became closer.
2. Personal contact between parent and child was much more abundant.
3. The members became more patient.
4. Creativity abounded.

Oh, one more thing...all five families went right back to the same amount of TV watching. Some added even more hours to their TV watching schedule.

B

BIBLE, MEANING OF

A father was approached by his small son, who told him proudly, "I know
what the Bible means!" His father smiled and replied, "So, Son, what does
the Bible mean?" That's easy, Daddy. It stands for Basic Information Before
Leaving Earth!"

BRAVERY

A fire started on some grassland near a farm. The county fire department was called to put out the fire. The fire was more than the county fire department could handle. Someone suggested that a nearby volunteer bunch be called. Despite some doubt that the volunteer outfit would be of any assistance, the call was made. The volunteers arrived in a dilapidated old fire truck. They rumbled straight towards the fire, drove right into the middle of the flames and stopped! The firemen jumped off the truck and frantically started spraying water in all directions. Soon they had snuffed out the center of the fire, breaking the blaze into two easily controlled parts. Watching all this, the farmer was so impressed with the volunteer fire department's work and was so grateful that his farm had been spared, that right there on the spot he presented the volunteers with a check for $1,000. A local news reporter asked the volunteer fire captain what the department planned to do with the funds.
"That ought to be obvious," he responded, wiping ashes off his coat. "The first thing we're gonna do is get the brakes fixed on our fire truck!"

BIBLE

A gentlemanly old pastor was walking down the street one day when one of his church members came strutting up to him with a self-satisfied smile. The pastor knew this young man had been quite proud of his own Scriptural accomplishments, and pride was beginning to be a danger in his life.

The teen boasted, "Say, Pastor, did you know that I have now read the Bible all the way through three times this year!"

To which the kind pastor quietly replied, "Todd, the important thing is not how many times you have been through the Bible, but whether the Bible has been through you."

The young man stood and pondered this a moment, thanked the pastor, and went on his way, promising himself to live the Bible he was learning.

WEDNESDAY'S ILLUSTRATION

BOLDNESS FOR CHRIST

there are many times when we might be intimidated by the crowds who are against our Christian stand. Let's find a good example in the Wichita pastor Joe Wright of Central Christian Church, the guest chaplain's opening prayer that angered legislators in the Kansas House of Representatives.

Here is, word by word, his prayer:
"We confess we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism. We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem." ...As one legislator walked out and another sat down, Wright continued. "We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment."

Rep. Delbert Gross actually refused to stand during the prayer. He called it "divisive, sanctimonious, self-serving, and overbearing."

How would you react if you were given the opportunity to pray?

BOLDNESS

Peter Cartwright was a 19th century circuit riding preacher whose convictions were as tough as the man himself. Nobody could or would accuse Cartwright of compromise. As a matter of fact, history tells us that one Sunday morning just before he was to preach, Cartwright was told that President Andrew Jackson was in the congregation. He was warned to be careful of what he said in light of the President in the place.
Cartwright stood up. "I understand President Jackson is here. I have been requested to be guarded in my remarks. Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn't repent."
Needless to say, the church people were shocked. However, Jackson was delighted at the boldness of the man. After the service, he shook hands with Cartwright and said, "Sir, if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world."

C

CHANGE

The old legend tells us about two brothers who were convicted of stealing sheep in an Old World country. For their punishment, they each were branded on the forehead with the letters ST, for "sheep thief." One brother, bitter tot he core, ran away to another land to build a new life . Even there, people continually asked him about the strange letters on his forehead. He agitated so much about the stigma, that he took his own life.

The other brother thought his predicament out. "I can't run away from the fact that I stole sheep, he said, "But I will stay here and win back the respect of my neighbors and myself." As the years went by, he earned a reputation of honesty, respect, and love. One day a stranger saw the old man with the letters branded on his forehead. He asked a citizen of the town what the letters stood for. The townsman replied, "It happened a great while ago. I've forgotten the details, but I think the letters are an abbreviation for Saint."
We can never really make up for the past sins in life, but we can always start fresh now by living a life of integrity and kindness.

CHEATING

In what is probably one of the most open admissions to work alongside dishonest college students, numerous web sites and e-companies have made it a business to cheat. From places like AcademicTermPapers.com to Papaermasters.com, you can buy term papers already done. On each pay site there are disclaimers that you should not to pass off these papers as your own work, but the articles I have read from others who have used the service laugh and admit that there is little other reason for the sites' existence.
AcademicTermPapers.com charges $7 per page ,PaperStore.net charges about $10 per page, and A1Termpaper.com charges a flat rate plus a fee for scanning all the pages. PaperMasters.com even makes a custom-made paper written to specifications for between $17 and $20 per page. Claiming all the writers in their employ have at least one Master's Degree, customers type requests into the Web order form stating their deadlines. The company will then create the paper, doing the student's assignment - for a price. Isn't this a sorry way fo a student to learn how to enter the career world?

COMMUNICATION

And then there's the story of the supervisor who was working in a huge corporation. He was called in by the big-wigs and told that a new project was underway. The supervisor's department would be given the responsibility of overseeing the project if they could get it down on blueprint plans. If the job was successful, the big-wigs said, the supervisor could be assured of a hefty increase in pay and a promotion as well.
The supervisor gathered his people together and with great enthusiasm, started to roll out the information needed to get the blueprints started. His staff, however, couldn't grasp the idea. He tried from another angle. No luck. His patience grew thin, but he just couldn't get his point across because he wasnt being clear. Finally, in exasperation, the supervisor yelled at them: "Dont listen to what I say. Listen to what I mean!"
Many times we get frustrated as we give the Gospel to others because we aren't clear about salvation. It may not be the resistance of the listener. We might try to yell out for them to understand what we mean. Let's check our presentation of the Word. Are we saying what we mean?

COMPASSION

If you are dealing with teens who seem callous or unfeeling, use this illustration that is found in Steven Covey's book "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People." Covey relates a personal experience while on the New York subway. The passengers were sitting quietly in the subway car, when a man entered with children who were extremely noisy and active. To Covey's surprise, the man (who was obviously the father) sat down and closed his eyes, ignoring the loud and rambunctious children. He sat as though he were oblivious to them! The subway car was ringing with chaotic noise. The children's behavior was way out of line, and everyone was getting agitated - except the father.

Finally, Covey leaned over and spoke to the man about his children. The father opened his eyes and seemed to finally grasp the situation.

"Oh, you're right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don't know what to think, and I guess they don't know how to handle it either."

Covey learned that often we leave compassion out of our daily ministry. Oftentimes we would do best if we looked past the initial appearance.

CONFESSION

In 1982, the newspapers told the shocking story in detail. A Milpitas, California high school student had brutally murdered a girl and hid her body under some leaves in a state park some miles from the school campus. Yet the boy hadn't been arrested for some days, undetected until another student who had heard the story passed it over to his father, who then told the police. When the whole story broke, it was discovered that more than thirty students knew of the murder yet felt no need to say anything about it; moreover, they chastised the boy who did confess to knowing of it. There seemed to be a deliberate and even defiant attempt to conceal this murder!
The story went on to tell of the murderous teen going about school bragging of his act. He even took classmates up to the scene during lunch break to view the body! I was a youth pastor in Hollister California at the time of this tragedy - I can remember burning with anger as I heard of the attempted cover-up by schoolmates. The student body seemed to be making this murderous boy out to be a hero! Apparently I wasn't the only one who was upset. The judge, upon finding out about the hiding of facts, sent a large number of students to jail for knowing the truth and hiding it. Some spent up to a month in jail! Suddenly a lot of cocky attitudes were humbled when the truth came to light. Hiding sin has its consequences, and God wants full and serious confession and repentence.

COVETEOUSNESS

Two Texas farm boys were working on their farm and realized that the hill of stinging ants needed to be taken care of.
Carefully laying a small circle of poison around a hill of stinging ants, they laid their trap. The stinging ants thought the tiny granules of poison were food, so they picked them up and carried them into the hill, which the boys knew would spread throughout the many tunnels of the colony. Satisfied that the ants were continually carrying the food in, the boys went back to work in the fields. After the lunch hour, the farm boys returned, and saw an amazing sight. Sure enough, multitudes of stinging ants were carrying the poison down into their colony, but there were other kinds of ants steahily moving around at one side of the poison - smaller ants had found the poison "food" and were actually stealing it from their ant neighbors. Thinking that they were getting away with an easy cache of food, they were unknowingly poisoning themselves. The two Texans realized a message in church from their preacher, talking about the danger of covetousness, and how the desire to wrongly want other's posssessions can poison a Christian spiritually.

CHRIST'S COMING
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."
- 1 Thess.5:6

Red Barber was perhaps one of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time. His attention to detail and insightful comments constantly stood him above the rest. When asked how he did so well, he simply answered that every game - no matter what time of year or what the significance - was taken seriously and with great preparation. Red Barber said, "you have to be as fully prepared for the dull game as you are for the great one, or else you won't be prepared for the great one."

Christ's coming will instead be the greatest time in our history. But are we prepared for it? Are our lives ready? There are friends and family who do not know the Savior, yet we avoid witnessing because it is either not exciting, or too difficult...or maybe even dull. Could we prepare and diligently work through the trenches so that when the "great game" time approaches, we will be ready?

CHEATING

A marathoner who could have brought honor to his fellow citizens and himself instead brought shame and embarrassment to his name. In an odd race, a penalty was decided...by a moustache! An Associated Press story told of Abbes Tehami of Algeria being a clear winner of the Brussels Marathon, but as he gathered his trophy and heard the accolades, until asked where his mustache had gone! Sure enough, eyewitness accounts addirmed he had lost his moustache during the race. Then it quickly became apparent that the moustache was not on him at all - it belonged to Tehami's coach, Bensalem Hamiani. Coach Hamiani had run the first seven-and-a-half miles of the race for Tehami, then snuck out of the pack and disappeared into the woods to pass race number 62 on to his pupil. "They looked about the same," race organizers said. "Only one had a moustache." Great embarrassments and penalties were assessed and the racers are banned from competition in Belgium.

COMPASSION

Ken Caminiti's 15-year baseball career, most of which has been with the Houston Astros, has been one of hard play in the major-leagues. Caminiti's world was of a seriousness in the sport on the field, in the clubhouse and in the dugouts. How ever, Caminiti's biggest fight was not against other teams - it was with himself.
Alcohol and drugs became such a part of Ken Caminiti's world that it took over his daily life.
It came to a head as baseball fans around the nation saw a handcuffed Caminiti being put into a police car. Police deputies found him and two others in a hotel room with piles of drug paraphernalia and crack cocaine.
The 38-year-old ballplayer was charged with possession of a controlled substance. He could face up to two years in a state jail as well as a $10,000 fine if convicted.
His arraignment is set for Dec. 19.

His high caliber of play on the diamond have taken a back seat to the down-to-earth day-to-day survival. Caminiti's friends and supporters have put aside his baseball accomplishments and want to do what they can to help this man before he sinks deeper. No longer in awe of the persona, these compassionate people want to try to help Caminiti take one day at a time. That's an important part of compassion: ignoring the personality and helping the person.
The Houston Chronicle reported the owner of the team as saying, "The most important thing for Ken right now is to get the help he needs." Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. went on to say,"Ken is one of the most kind and caring people you will ever meet. ... He has some issues, but that doesn't change the way I feel about him. "He has provided a lot of wonderful memories in this city, and the Houston Astros are going to stand by him and help him in any way we can. As far as I'm concerned, he's still a part of the Astros family, and it's in times like these when family members help each other."

D

HERE'S THURSDAY'S SERMON ILLUSTRATION:

DISCIPLINE

Luke 6:39 "...can the blind lead the blind?..."

This true story occurred in Washington D.C. at a banquet held some years ago. The occasion was a commemoration of Harry S Truman's 100th birthday. All the big names were out in ties and tails to honor the event.
A White House member related that one of the guests turned to the woman seated next to him.
"Did I get your name correctly?" The man asked. "Is your name Post?"
"Yes, it is," the woman replied.
"Is it Emily Post?"
"Yes," she replied.
"So you are the world-renowned authority on manners?" the man asked.
"Yes," Mrs. Post replied. "Why do you ask?"
"Because," the man said, "you have just eaten my salad."

Reputation doesn't mean we can let up on daily discipline. Some Christian leaders have been known to let devotions and prayer slide because they feel they have "arrived." May we remember to be faithful in all regular things that the Lord wants us to do in order to walk with Him and be a proper testimony to others.

DETERMINATION
It is encouraging to read about successes arising from possible failures, and how, when the Lord opens up doors of opportunities, many people are able to see them and use them. Such is the case of the Christmas hymn "Silent Night."
"Silent Night" written in 1818 by an Austrian priest Joseph Mohr, was the result of what could have been a disappointing event. Informed the day before Christmas that the church organ was broken, he then received the news that it would not be prepared in time for the Christmas Eve service. He was distraught with the idea of Christmas without music, so he sat down to write a carol that could be sung by choir to guitar music. He wrote three stanzas of a simple but powerful melody. Later that evening the people in the little Austrian Church sang "Stille Nacht" for the first time, and the success of the little carol grew. Such is the result of determination in wanting to do God's work, no matter what the difficulty.

DEDICATION

It was over two decades ago that ago a young Frenchman stopped the city and amazed the world by walking a tightrope between the towers of New York's World Trade Center which set the record for the highest tightrope walk at the time. His feat was great and his dedication and concentration to this task were amazing. Just as surprising, though, was that only a few months later, he was practicing on a wire in St. Petersburg, Florida, that was much lower to the ground - only 30 feet. Yet he fell to the ground and was injured. Witnesses say that as he lay waiting for help, he beat his fist on the ground crying, "I can't believe it! I can't believe it! I never fall!" The fall was attributed to an inattention to detail. He admitted that he was not as dedicated to the "small" job as he was to the "big" one.

E

OVERCOMING

Once upon a time a farmer owned an old mule who tripped and fell into the farmer's well. The farmer
heard the mule 'braying' and was unable to figure out how to bring up the old animal. It grived him that he could not pull the animal out - he'd been a good worker around the farm - and though the farmer sympathized with the mule,
he called
his neighbors together and told them what had
happened...and had them help haul dirt to
bury the old mule in the well and quietly put him out of
his misery.

At first, the old mule was puzzled, but as the
farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and
the dirt hit his back, he had a thought. He ought to shake off the dirt and step up. And he did just that.
"Shake it off and step up...shake it off and step
up...shake it off and step up!" Even though he took painful
blows of dirt, and fought panic, he just kept right on SHAKING
IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!
It wasn't long before the old mule,
stepped up and over the lip of that well. What could have buried him, actually blessed him...all because
of the manner in which he handled his adversity.

BECOMING FAMILIAR WITH THE SCRIPTURE

A father was reading Bible stories to his young son. He read, "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned to salt."

His son asked, "What happened to the flea?"

ETERNITY


You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news on September 11, 2001? Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke-filled room with a man who called his wife to say "Goodbye." I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, "Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is okay...I am ready to go."
I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. "I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!" I said. "Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now."

I was at the base of the building with the priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer. I was with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them.
I was in Texas, Kansas, London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me?
I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; "Come to Me...this way...take my hand." Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me?
September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are "ready to go."

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

God

EYE-OPENING SURVEY

The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), had its results posted in the December 25th edition of USA TODAY. The ARIS poll was based on interviews with 50,281 people, gave some new revelations:
1. Protestants and Catholics are losing members on a steady basis. 52% identify themselves as Protestant or other non-Catholic Christian denominations, down from 60% in 1990, and 24.5% say they're Catholic, down nearly 2%.
2. 16% of adults say they changed their religion at least once in their lives or turned away completely.
3. 14% say they have no religion or they're atheist, agnostic, humanist or secular. This is up from 8% in 1990.
4. 81% claim a religious identity but only 54% say someone in their household is affiliated with a house of worship.

EFFECTS OF SIN

Eight young whooping cranes left Wisconsin's Necedah National Wildlife Refuge on Oct. 17 for a miratory trip to Florida. These young birds did not know the flight path and actually had to be led by ultralight aircraft. The birds have faced some difficulties, including bad weather, strong head winds, and the fear of flying over an interstate, according to Joan Guilfoyle of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. However, the greatest difficulty was not outside the group, but within the flock itself. One bird, called "No. 4," has been a constant troublemaker on the flight, trying to distract his "teammates" peers and even flying off on his own, forcing the group to halt plans to find him. The power of a bad influence can be a danger to good plans.



F

FREEDOM FROM SIN
"...but ye are washed..." I Cor. 6:11

You may occasionally encounter a person who says, "I can't accept Christ and become a Christian. My background is bad. My family is bad. I've always been with bad company and there's no way I can escape a bad past." If that statement ever passes your way, remember this story about the son of Al Capone:
You may recall that Al "Scarface" Capone, who lived in Chicago in the 1920's and 30's, was the most famous gangster of the 20th century. He took over leadership of the Chicago crime syndicate and was responsible for corruption and death throughout the city. Few men were able to stand before Capone without fear in their voices, for he was a formidable and ruthless man. Many police were being paid off by Capone and many lives were due to his commands.
A curious footnote of history is, however, that Capone's own son, Al, Jr., never followed in his dad's footsteps. "Sonny", as he was called, lived his life without so much as a traffic ticket, preferring to lead a quiet and respectable life. He refused his father's overtures to delve into the underworld, opting instead for an exemplary lifestyle. As a matter of fact, later in his life, Sonny changed his last name due to the embarrassment of being associated with the evil that his father spread. Though he loved and was loved by his father, Sonny never had a desire to see that corruption taint him.
Though we may be perplexed at the turmoil of sin in our past, we can learn from this illustration that wrong does not have an inescapable hold on us.

FORGIVENESS
I have a friend named Matt who has been my pal since our freshman year in high school - that takes us way back to 1974! I can recall an incident in a history class the next year:
A fellow named Jeff had been goofing around, making noises and throwing paper airplanes while our history teacher, Mr. Pelfour, was out of the room. Mr. Pelfour heard the noise and, as was the usual response in those days, was going to blister the culprit. He marched into the room and grabbed Matt's long hair, yanking him straight back. The only problem was - it wasn't Matt who made the commotion. Mr. Pelfour corrected his mistake, punished the wrongdoer and apologized to Matt. Matt didn't accept the apology.
I met Matt years after graduation and we got to chatting over old times. I brought up the incident in Mr. Pelfour's room and it got Matt to seething. "You know," he said, "I never have forgiven him for that." And although I would try to josh him about how trivial it was now, he would still set his jaw and turn red.
"Wow," I thought. "That was over 11 years ago!" How long could someone carry a grudge and not forgive? Apparently a long,long time.

************

Forgiveness is better than revenge, for forgiveness is the sign of a gentle nature, but revenge is the sign of a savage nature. - Epictetus

************

WHAT IF I'VE BEEN WRONGED?

"FRET NOT THYSELF BECAUSE OF EVILDOERS, NEITHER BE THOU ENVIOUS AGAINST THE WORKERS OF INIQUITY." - Psalm 37:1

Much as it is now with many college students, money was hard to come by when I was taking my university training back in the late 70's. At that time we were scrambling for weekend jobs which would net us $10 or $15 an afternoon. Imagine my excitement, then, when my roommate Kent approached me and told me that he had a new boss who would pay us over $25 a day... maybe even $30. Six of us scrambled over to sign on with the man, a local roofer in the town. We spent the day in 40 degree rainy weather, assembling aluminum carports over customers' driveways. We had the itinerary of the whole day's list of assembly spots throughout the town. "Come on," my friend Kent chattered through the continuing drizzle, "lets see how many of these we can do for the owner!" So in the rain we doubled our efforts and put up carports across town - we took no break for lunch or resting. The next week Kent came to me, sickened.
"The owner pulled a fast one - he won't pay us for anymore than the first house. He's drummed up a technicality about being off the original location!"
"But that's not fair," I cried, "he knows we've doubled his normal output!"
"No matter," said Kent, "hes found a technicality and refuses to pay us more than a couple of dollars."
Even now, more than 20 years later, I can recall the bitterness I felt when I called the owner who breezily claimed to be a Christian yet freely admitted he had us over a barrel and that, yes, he was cheating us out of money. "If you don't like it, send me back the rest of the money," he taunted. I hung up the phone and swallowed hard. Would it be easy to forgive? No. But did I forgive? Yes. And you know, all these years later, it still remains a hard memory....but I believe I have learned to forgive and let the Lord take charge. It's taken a load off me.



FORGIVENESS

I had a dream where I found myself in a room. In this room there was a gigantic file that contained index cards. These cards, numberous thousands and thousands, had headings on the drawers which showed a humiliating catalog system for my life. These cards recorded the actions of my every moment, whether good or bad. Froma file named "Friends" to "Friends I Have Betrayed," to "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I Have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed At." Some were humiliating to realize that I could find them in this file: "Things I Have Done In My Anger," "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents."

Could it be possible that I had the time in my life to write each of these millions of cards? However, each was written in my own handwriting. Each was signed with my signature. When I pulled out the file marked "Songs I Have Listened To," I was aghast at some of the music I enjoyed.

Then I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," and slowly I opened the file. I drew out a card, and as I read, felt nauseated to think that such a moment had been recorded. I thought ina frenzied determination: "No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy these cards!" GHowever, though I tried, I could not dislodge a single card. When I tried to remove a card, I found it bound into the file with a supernatural power. I wept.

I noticed a new file, one marked "People With Whom I Have Shared The Gospel." The file seemed almost unused. I opened the file and shamefully realized that I could count the cards it contained on one hand. I wept again, out of shame.

But then I saw Him. No, please not Jesus. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response, and in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively to go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally, He turned around and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes, but His was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands, and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, No," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There are still cards to be written.......

- copied

FAITH

Two gentlemen boarded a coast-to-coast flight and were seated next to each other on the commerical plane.
After breezing through the on-flight magazine, the first man turned to the other and asked, what do you do? The gentleman replied: "I am a pastor of a church."

"Oh," said the first man quickly. "I don't believe in this religious stuff. It's for kids, you know, like the song 'Jesus Loves Me This I know, for the Bible tells me so...."
The minister politely laughed and asked the other man what he did for a living.
"I am an astronomer," said the first man.
"Oh, that stuff," said the minister. I thought it was just for kids, you know - 'Twinkle, twinkle little star....'"

FAITH

It's an experiment in taking your hands off the wheel of the car while you're driving - literally! The Department of Transportation has designated $200 million for research and testing for what is called an Automated Highway System. The Automated system is designed with the belief that a "super cruise control" would solve the problem of heavily congested cities' traffic woes.
How would they do it? Powerful magnets would be embedded in the asphalt every four feet. These magnets would transfer signals between vehicle and a main traffic computer system. The computer would do almost everything: steering, acceleration, and braking would all be controlled by sensors, which would be conected to a computer navigation systems and cameras along the side of the road. The computer would then "unlock" at certain times, and the vehicle's control would be returned to drivers whne they need to turn at a specific driveway or exit.
Researchers say it's a done deal; it can be done, for the technology is already in hand.

However, they need to beat one big problem: letting the driver give up control of the car.

Mike Doble, Buick's technology manager, admits it. He says, "The only thing we can't do yet is get people to comfortably trust the system. It's not a technology issue. Would you drive, closely spaced, at high speeds, through San Diego?"
Will people have enough faith to give up control. It's just like people who must trust God to take over their lives by "letting go of the wheel."

G

GOD'S POWER

A group of scientists in the not so distant future get together and realize that the world is no longer in need of God. So one of the scientists is chosen to speak to God and tell him of their thoughts and that he is no longer needed.
The scientist approaches God and says, "God, we have appreciated all that you have done for us in the past. You have taken care of things, but we are no longer needing you services. We have made great advances in modern medicine. With quantum physics, we have penetrated most of the deepest secrets of the universe, we have cloned sheep and are very close to cloning a human, we feel we have got it under control."
God says,"Well, I understand the situation and will leave you alone, but I would like to challenge you to a contest."
The scientist replies,"OK, that sounds good, what is it?"
"I am challenging you to a contest of making a man," God says. He begins by bending down and picking up a fistful of dirt. The scientist is about to pick up his own fistful of dirt when God says," No, no ... get your own dirt."

GREED

I am told that in the jungles of South America they have a unique way of catching monkeys. Using a ceramic jar with a tiny opening just big enough for a monkey's hand to pass through, the hunters will place an orange or small banana in the jar. They will walk to the part of the jungle where they know they are being watched by monkeys, and will pour a sweet-sticky syrup on their fingers and a little of the syrup into the jar. Knowing they are being watched, they will make an elaborate act of licking their fingers and smacking their lips. They then retreat into the jungle and wait. Soon a monkey swings down, smells the syrup, and slips his hand through the small hole, grasps the fruit, and tries to pull it through the hole. The fruit won't come out because the monkey's fist is too big for the hole. Even while the hunter appears, the monkey will scream and continue to pull, never letting go. The hunter catches him by throwing a net over him, and the monkey's greed is his downfall.

GREED

James Patterson and Peter Kim joined forces to write a shocking book about the hearts of Americans. The results of a massive nationwide poll were put into a book that was published in 1991 called "The Day America Told the Truth."

Probably the most striking thing to me was the poll that asked,"What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?" Two-thirds of Americans polled agree to at least one of the following. Some agreed to do more than one of these:

Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)


Where does greed stand in your life? Would it cause you to abandon your faith? Would you sacrifice your principles?

I like what Sir Fred Catherwood said: "Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard."

GIVING

There is the story of a person who got up one Sunday and announced to his congregation: "I have good news and bad news. The good news is, we have enough money to pay for our new building program. The bad news is, it's
still out there in your pockets."

GOD'S SENSE OF HUMOR: CAESAR

Of all the qualities we think of that God possesses, it might be the most overlooked: His grand sense of humor. Think of it in the light of the historic figure`Caesar Augustus. He had the title of Octavian, and was also known as Gaius Juluis Caesar Octavianus. He lived from 963 BC - to AD 14, and unknowing to him, had a hand in the reason for the Christ Child being born in Bethlehem. This man was was Julius Caesars grandnephew and was to become his adopted son. After Julius Caesars assassination in 44BC Octavian became co-rulers with Mark Antony and Lepidus, and after Mark Anthony and Cleopatra committed suicide, Caesarion was murdered, and Lepidus forced to retire, Octavian was solo ruler of the Roman World. Here's the kicker: the Roman Senate gave Octavian the title Augustus ( the consecrated, holy, exalted, venerable or sacred one), and then the title Pontifex Maximus (chief priest), the Imperator (the Emperior or Commander in Chief), among many other titles. He was responsible for the PAX ROMANA (or "Roman peace) and coins had his image with the inscription "CAESAR AVGVSTVS DIVI F PATER PATRIAE translated son of the divine god" on them. In all this pomp and title, a simple child was God who would smash all these titles into oblivion.

GOSPEL, PREACHING TO THE UNSAVED

The preacher was wired for sound with a lapel mike, and as he was giving his preached he moved briskly about the platform, jerking the mike cord as he went. Then he moved to one side, getting wound up in the cord and nearly tripping before jerking it again. After several circles and jerks, a little girl in the third row leaned toward her mother and whispered, "If he gets loose, will he hurt us?"

GOALS

March 6, 1987 - the World Indoor Track Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana...
Eamon Coghlan, the Irish world record holder in the 1500 meters is running in a qualifying heat. Two and a half laps to go, and Coghlan trips and falls. It's over... or is it? Coghlan gets up and with an amazing burst of speed actually catches up to the leaders. He is now in third place, good enough to make the finals. But Coghlan makes a very bad mistake. He looks over his shoulder to the inside to see if anyone is there, and then he lets up just a fraction. A runner had slipped by him on the outside, though, and took third place, knocking Coghlan out of the finals. Coghlan took his eyes off the goal. That great comeback was now worthless. We can only finish well when we keep our eyes off the world and onto the goal: Jesus Christ.

GOD'S CARE

Often we will equate an easy and laid-back life as definitely blessed by the Lord, while those who might find struggle as being cursed by Satan. The French Sculptor, Rodin, gave a good view of God's care in artwork he crafted. He shaped two small statues and put them side-by-side in a display. The first statue is made of smooth marble and is soft and sleek-looking, showing a human figure cradled in a hand that portrays complacency, peace, and quietness. The human figure seems to be free of any distrations. Rodin called this work "The Hand of the Devil."

The second piece, however is rough and active-looking. Rodin designed a powerful-looking hand holding a figure of humanity and carrying it, rising upward to new life. The artist called this work "The Hand of God." Rodin's message is that while Satan would appear calm and unruffled and try to lull us into complacency, God's care and desire may seem rough and unsettled, but it is in His desire to carry us into an eternal joy and higher calling.

It's hard to believe it, but author Gilbert Beers has verification that it is true: a bitter man wanted to take it all tot he grave with him! True enough, a mortician at Forest Lawn Cemetery in California shared the story with the author of a man who some years ago actually spent $200,000 on his own funeral! Either to exact revenge, or to "have the satisfaction" of knowing he was leaving nothing behind to his ex-wife and children, the man squandered all his money on his own funeral. He made every move to assure himself that they would get nothing.
After carefully buying the most expensive casket, service, candles and other expenses, he realized that the total added up to "only" $100,000. His solution? He actually ordered that the remaining $100,000 be spent on orchids! Only three people attended that memorial service. This is one of the most stark illustrations on greed that could ever be written: a man who could carry his selfishness to his grave.

H

I

INVENTIONS AND NEW THINGS

I was doing research for a writing project on the late 1800s-early 1900s era, and I cam upon some unusual facts. Things we take for granted were completely brand-new and exciting in those days. For instance, can you imagine the reaction to the first roller coaster? The world's first roller coaster opened in 1884 at Coney Island, New York. It was designed by Lemarcus Thompson, a former Sunday school teacher. The lines were blocks long, I have read.

Baseball was new and intriguing. In fact, until the 1870s, baseball was played without the use of gloves. Can you imagine that kind of game?

What if you put money into a little company called Coca-Cola? If you invested a few dollars in the initial stock, your family's future generatiosn would have profited greatly.
A single share of Coca-Cola stock, purchased in 1919, when the company went public, would be worth well over $100,000 today.

A new cereal came out that people enjoyed greatly, but it had a slightly different name than it does today. Cheerios cereal was originally called Cheerioats.

When I look at these old reports, I am reminded that God gives us great blessings and innovations to enjoy throughout our lifetime. He certainly has ways to give us blessing, and our lives will be continually filled with His wonders and new delights. I wonder what will be in store for us this coming year?

J

K

KINDNESS AND CARE

A reporter was interviewing a highly talented symphony orchestra conductor from Eastern Europe who had recently been released from a years-long prison sentence due to his political views. His incarceration was one of total isolation. The reporter asked the maestro many questions on his world views and then turned to the subject of music.

The reporter asked, "What in your opinion is the most beautiful piece of music ever written?"

The conductor paused and considered this question, but gave no answer.

The reporter asked again, "Maestro, what is your favorite music. When you were held in isolation what did you want most to hear? What music would you have considered then as the most beautiful?"

"In the whole world?" the maestro asked. "Yes, in the entire world!" the reporter answered.

"Ah, yes, in all the world," the maestro said, with tears in his eyes, "the most beautiful music is the sound of another voice."

May we remember that there are those around us that simply want the beauty of a Christian's voice of caring. That, indeed is the most beautiful music to a thirsty soul.



L

LIFE, BREVITY OF: THE DASH


I read of a man who stood to speak At the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone From the beginning......to the
end.
He noted that first came her date of birth And spoke the following date
with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all Was the dash between
those years. (l900 - l970)
For that dash represents all the time That she spent alive on earth...
And now only those who loved her Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own; The cars...the house...the cash,
What matters is how we live and love And how we spend our dash.
So
think about this long and hard... Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough To consider what's true and real,
And
always try to understand How other people feel.
And be less quick to anger, And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives Like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect, And more often wear a smile...Remembering that this special dash Might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy's being read With your life's actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?








LIFE, BREVITY OF

Isa. 55:8 "...for My thoughts are not Your thoughts..."

Teens get the feeling of earthly immortality many times. This illustration - especially the last statements - may help them understand the frailty of life:
The Saturday Evening Post carried an article about former NBC anchorman John Chancellor, who had laid out his plans for retirement when he was diagnosed with a severe and strong form of stomach cancer. His first thoughts, the article went on to say, were those of guilt: Had I smoked or drunk too much? Have I exercised or prayed enough? Cancer didn't run in my family. Why me?
As he continues to go through chemotherapy, Chancellor says his best friend and support continues to be his wife, Barbara.
"Cancer," he said, "is a reminder of how short a leash you're on. As I read somewhere, 'You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.'"

MISTAKE
 
Two guys are walking through the woods and come across this big deep hole.
"Wow...that looks deep."
"Sure does... toss a few pebbles in there and see how deep it is."
They pick up a few pebbles and throw them in and wait... no noise.
"Whoa. That is REALLY deep... here.. throw one of these great big rocks down there. Those should make a noise."
They pick up a couple football-sized rocks and toss them into the hole and wait... and wait. Nothing.
They look at each other in amazement. One gets a determined look on his face and says, "Hey...over here in the weeds, there's a railroad tie. Help me carry it over here. When we toss THAT thing in, it's GOTTA make some noise."
The two drag the heavy tie over to the hole and heave it in. Not a sound comes from the hole.
Suddenly, out of the nearby woods, a goat appears, running like the wind. It rushes toward the two men, then right past them, running as fast as it's legs will carry it. Suddenly it leaps in the air and into the hole.
The two men are astonished with what they've just seen...
Then, out of the woods comes a farmer who spots the men and ambles over. "Hey... you two guys seen my goat out here?"
"You bet we did! Craziest thing I ever seen. It came running like crazy and just jumped into this hole!"
"Nah", says the farmer, "That couldn't have been MY goat. My goat was chained to a railroad tie."

PEACE

Teach our teens to have peace in the midst of trials, whether that be bad grades, conflict at homne, persecution during witnessing, or a bad relationship. Writer Selwyn Hughes says that hisa research about the word "peace" helps us understand what Jesus gives us: "William Barclay says that the word "peace" (Greek: eiriene) came into the New Testament with a great history. It is a translation of the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace. In classical Greek, 'peace' was mainly negative, implying freedom from war or hostilities, but in the New Testament, the word gathers up positive elements such as are seen in shalom. The central meaning is serenity and harmony. 'Peace' occurs eighty-eight times in the New Testament, and it appears in every book." The writer Hughes wants us to remember that the Bible shows us that Jesus gives peace as we need it.

HYPOCRISY

A self-centered major was assigned to a new office on a military base and was eager to make a big impression on anyone who came within his presence. As he new office was being completed, the major heard a knock on the door. A private stood at the opened door, waiting for instructions.

The major picked up the phone and motioned for the private to step inside. He decided to make a big impression as he said, "Yes sir, Mr. Presdient, I agree witht eh Joint Chiefs of Staff - it is an excellent idea. That is also my opinion, and you call me any time, I'm glad I could help. Yes sir, Vice President Cheney is also right, and you give my best to your family as well. Thank you sir, and a good day to you too, Mr. President."

The major hung up the phone he turned to the Private and snapped, "What is it you want, private?" Confused and embarrassed, the private mumbled, "Uh, sir, I'm just here to hook up the phone."

KINDNESS

". . . that best portion of a good man's life.
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love."
- WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, from 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.'

A customer visited a jewelry shop in the diamond district of New York City, intent on buying a special jewel. He was shown a series of dazzling diamonds, each more brilliant than the previous one. The man still wished to look further, so the jeweler brought out some other precious stones. In the midst of this grouping sat a lackluster stone which evoked no beauty at all. The customer commented, "That's a rather dull stone."
"Hold on a minute, " said the jeweler. He picked up the stone and closed his fist around it. In a few moments he opened up his hand. What a difference! The stone now glowed beautifully. The customer was astonished. "What did you do to it? How come it reacted that way?," he stammered. "This is an opal, and what we call a sympathetic jewel," the jeweler explained. "All it needs is the gripping of a human hand and its beauty comes forth."

Youth pastor,can you see the significance of this illustration?

A lot of "lackluster" teens enter our local church ministry who seem to have no energy, ambition, or spiritual drive. A lot of people may write them off as being "dull" or "unattractive" but perhaps these young people have never had the grip of a human hand that cared. These rough and seemingly "dull" jewels may only need our gentle Christian touch in order to help bring out their radiance.

THE POWER OF RUMORS

It wasn't more than five hours after the Washington DC and New York terrorist attacks when I drove by a local gas station and saw a huge line of cars wrapping around the property. What was it? A rumor that, since we were going to fight an oil-producing nation, that gas would be rationed. The power of a rumor ran across the nation. I can recall the year that former talk show host Johnny Carson told a joke about a toilet paper shortage. Though it was totally fabricated, thousands of people took every roll off the store shelves. The power of the tongue is amazing.

NOTHING CAN STOP GOD'S WORD

"Twelve ignorant fishermen started Christianity; one wise Frenchman will stop it." These were the words of the French agnostic Voltaire as he stood before the King of Prussia while visiting at his palace. He predicted that within 100 years the Bible would be extinct and his 92 volumes would replace it. Within that time span a Bible Society has purchased Voltaire's former residence and continues to publish Scripture within the property!

PRAYER ALLOWED IN CONVOCATION?

The American Family Association Magazine told the story of one school's reaction to the State Supreme Court's decision in May, 1991 that the U.S. Constitution prohibited invocations at commencement exercises. Students at a Riverside County high school in Yuca Valley wanted to have God's blessing upon their graduation ceremony but realized the rules that were set. The ceremony went on as usual, but the final speech delivered brought about a standing ovation. The graduating student walked to the microphone to deliver his address, and gave a sneeze. The whole student body stood to their feet and in unison said, "God bless you!" The audience expolded in applause for the unique way the blessing was given to the 1992 graduating class!

ILLUSTRATION ON GOD'S PURITY

Among the many-well-intended e-mails packing my box yesterday came a dialogue from a leader of an organization who may have meant well, but erred in a statement that she wrote: "It is in wisdom that we realize that good would not exist without evil."

A Christian had responded and gave Scriptures which showed that this is NOT true. Indeed, when Mormon missionaries came to my house years ago, this is what they emphasized what part of their doctrine: that God needed to introduce sin into the world. I am adding the Christian responder's passages which would be good to use as a study on Sunday with your teens. Interestingly, my Tuesday night Bible study was directed on the 1 John passages of God's purity. These passages will help you as well:


1 John 1:5
"This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all."

1 John 3:3
"Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure."

1 John 4:16
"We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him."

1 John 4:8
"He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love."

Hebrews 9:14
"...how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

SCRIPTURE READING

A Christian teen girl was frustrated in her attempts to memorize Scriptures from the Bible. Tearfully, she told her grandfather, "I get so upset, because no matter how much I read, I always forget what I have just read." The wise grandfather gently replied "You're still doing a valuable thing, honey. Remember, when you pour water over a sieve, no matter how much you pour, you don't collect much, but at least you end up with a clean sieve."

HERE IS A GREAT QUOTE FOR YOUR SERMON ABOUT COMMITMENT, found in the book "Getting Physical" with Art Turock:

"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."

HERE IS THE SERMON ILLUSTRATION FOR FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 7TH

TRUTH

The October issue of Consumer Reports magazine relates a truthful report that has caused a lot of red faces. The Philip Morris tobacco company has officials in the Czech Republic who were brutally honest about the effects of their cigarettes. The cigarette officials were trying to impress the government with the benefits of smoking. The officials concluded and distributed an economic analysis of how smoking Philip Morris cigarettes helps the nation of the Czech Republic. The 1999 report says that the country's public finance saved the equivalent of 30 million U.S. dollars " from reduced health care costs, savings on pensions and housing costs for the elderly - all related to the early mortality of smokers." In other words, the government saves money because smokers die young! Although the company received a stormy reaction after the report and did apologize, the truth of the matter came out along with callous disregard for human life. That's what sin is like. Despite how many people will try to gloss over the effects of sin, the bottom line is, it's deadly.

HERE IS THE ILLUSTRATION FOR THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 6TH

DOING GOD'S WILL

(I used this illustration when I was guest speaker at a teen meeting last night and this quote brought the most response of anything in my message:)

It is said that the Christian writer C.S. Lewis was approached by someone who wanted to compromise his walk with the Lord: a little sin here and there, a little worldliness. He felt that the Lord must surely forget the sin if he was a fairly good Christian; after all, a little sin isn't so bad, is it, if everything else were okay? C.S. Lewis answered by saying:

"No clever arrangement of bad eggs ever made a good omelet."

...I think this quote is quite profound, don't you? Let the teens discuss it.

HERE IS THE ILLUSTRATION FOR WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 5TH:

PRIDE

We think that only small untalented people are faced with the problem of pride, but this sin reaches into the soul of every man. The story is told of the great Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo who was sitting unnoticed near his statue of "Pieta," a work that shows Christ on His mother's knees after His death on the cross. This work is perhaps his most famous sculpture. Michaelangelo overheard a group of people chatting and admiring his Pieta. Then, one man spoke up and in error, gave credit of the work of the Pieta to another sculptor. Michelangelo took immense pride in the Pieta and was mortified that his labor should be confused with another sculptor. Late that same night, we are told that Michaelangelo returned quietly to the sculpture and actually carved his name on it so that no one would make the same mistake in the future. Today you can see the the Pieta with an unusual and gaudy feature added to this otherwise gorgeous statue: Michaelangelo's name scrawled across the Pieta, a symbol of human pride in the face of an otherwise powerful Biblical scene.

HERE IS THE ILLUSTRATION FOR TUESDAY SEPT 4TH:

FORGIVENESS

If we have teens who are not willing to forgive, it would be a good idea to remind them of the story that has been told about Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. Yearas before, she had been hurt by a mean-spirited act on behalf of someone who was uncaring. Reminded one day of the hurtful deed that the person had done to her, the person was surprised when Barton acted as if she was not familiar with the incident.

"Don't you remember it?" her friend asked.

"No," came Barton's reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting it."

ANGER:

A small truck driver is eating at a diner when three huge goons get off their motorcycles and trudge on in. The first guy takes the truck driver's hamburger and eats it up, but the small man does nothing. The second guy runs his tongue over the truck driver's Coke glass and spits in the drink,
but the small man just sits, not getting angry. The third guy eats his pie, but the truck driver never loses his cool.

The truck driver calmly gets up from the table, pays, and leaves the diner. One of the bikers says to the
waitress, who is looking out the window, "He's not much of a man, is he?"
The waitress replies, "He's not much of a driver either. He just ran his truck over three motorcycles."

HERE IS TUESDAY'S ILLUSTRATION:

THE REALITY OF OUR SIN

There is a fable about a teen who was considered a science prodigy who, while at his classes in an English academy, was given a powerful microscope as a scholarship gift. Looking through its lens, he studied raindrops, flower petals and snow crystals. Stunned by the beauty and uniformity, he carried the microscope everywhere he went. When he arrived at home, he inspected a chunk of gravel, a piece of handkerchief and a sample of carpet. That night at dinner, he examined some food on his plate. He was shocked when he discovered that miniscule living creatures were crawling in it. Not only was it in his favorite entree, it was also in his drink and dessert! So upset was he by this discovery that he concluded that it must be the microscope's fault. Taking a hammer, he destroyed the instrument that revealed the distasteful truth.

We might laugh at the stupidity of this decision; after all, the creatures were still there! However, many people react the same thing with the Word of God as it reveals their sinful nature. They want to rid themselves of the truth, rather than the sin.

HERE IS MONDAY'S ILLUSTRATION:

INADEQUATE?

Lest your teens feel their present "inadequacy" of obesity, awkwardness, poor grades, or a slow mind should stifle their future success in life, you may remind them that others endured the same types of childhood and went on to greater things:

Winston Churchill - He was considered so slow, his father publicly wondered whether Winston could ever get a reasonable job in life. He was hyperactive and was dead last entering the school at Harrow. He twice failed college entrance exams.

Thomas Edison - One teacher called him "addled". His father called him a "dunce." His headmasters claimed that he "would never make a success of anything."

Albert Einstein - His parents felt he was mentally unstable because he spoke haltingly up to the age of nine. He could hardly hold a job. One teacher even urged him to drop out of high school, so poorly did he perform.

Henry Ford - He could hardly read and did poorly in English and grammar. He was most known for making his friends tiny waterwheels and steam engines.

WEDNESDAY'S SERMON ILLUSTRATION: A QUOTATION ABOUT ANGER

"Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you."
- Frederick Buechner, 1973


SERMON ILLUSTRATION FOR MONDAY

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly..." Psalm 1:1

Seventeen-year old Kyle was an entrepreneur in his rural town; seemed he always had five projects always going on at once. Even though he lived in a small town, Kyle always had big-city dreams of making it rich, so he would try to find an extra job here and there in order to make a buck. When the County Fair opened up in his region, Kyle took the plunge and rented a booth at the fairgrounds. Driving his dad's pickup to his designated spot in the concession row, he flipped down the back gate and hauled out three giant tubs. One contained buttermilk, one contained chocolate pudding, and one was filled with applesauce. Kyle felt he was prepared for the onslaught of people who would pay to have him ladle out his wares into the disposable bowls and cups he supplied. Kyle was so busy getting ready that he forgot to bring three large serving spoons to ladle out each tub's contents. Realizing it was too late to get another one, he settled on using the one spoon to do all the dipping and serving. This went okay for about an hour as he served the many people that came by. Soon, however, his customer base dropped off drastically. Why? Because in using the same spoon for all three tubs, the spoon kept slowly mixing the ingredients together until people couldn't tell which tub held the applesauce, which held the chocolate pudding, and which held the buttermilk. Since all of them were slowly co-mingling with each other, it took only a short while for people to be confused as to which was which. They all mixed enough so that they looked the same.

It becomes very easy to start looking and acting like the world. It could be that you're like one of Kyle's tubs. You've mixed with people who are indifferent to God or even mock His name. Youve associated with them. You've mingled with them. You want to be like them. You think youre standing apart from them, but

by the time everyone turns to look at your Christian testimony, they become confused.

ATTITUDE
"Psalm 27:6 ...I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy..."

Many times you will run into a Christian who has a problem with everything imaginable. They feel the whole world has a problem, when in reality, it may just be them!
There's the story of the grouchy old farmer who decided to plop down on the couch and take a Saturday afternoon nap. His six year old grandson was full of mischief and decided to take some Limburger cheese and smear it on the old man's mustache and beard.
The farmer woke up after a while and snorted. He mumbled, "This living room stinks!" He walked into the kitchen. "This kitchen stinks!" he grumped. He went out to his vegetable garden in the back of the house and snarled, "This garden stinks!" He went over to his corn field and yelled, "This cornfield stinks!" Finally, he stood up at the top of the hill and took a deep breath and shouted, "This whole world stinks!"
In reality, the only thing that stunk was the old farmer.

Get the point?


HERE'S ANOTHER GOOD ILLUSTRATION ON ATTITUDES:

Sumo wrestling, Japan's national sport, displays a unique attitude that is rarely found in any other sport in the world. If you attend a sumo tournament, you will find out that the championship trophy is not the only trophy awarded. There are three other awards as well: a skill award, a fighting spirit award, and an award for outstanding performance. None of these has to do with the wrestler's tournament won-loss record. If within that 15-day tournament, he has exerted and stretched beyond his normal limits, even if he lost many times, he will be judged to be the winner of that trophy. You see, to the Japanese, HOW one performs is as important as what the result will be.

HERE ARE SOME TIMELY SERMON ILLUSTRATIONS FOR YOUR MESSAGES:

BREVITY OF LIFE
"If God so clothe the grass of the field which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven..." -Matthew 6:30

Here is a good verse speaking about the brevity of life. In the Bible lands the mountain sides in dry weather take on a parched and crackled appearance. The sides of the hills are covered with thorns which look just like grass. The local people even call it grass, though it is not. The women go out and gather the thorns for fuel for their household fires. The meaning becomes more clear when we understand the quickness by which these thorns - this "grass" - will burn.
My brother-in-law told me of a true story which brings this verse to mind:
"I worked in a glass factory with a fellow named Burt. Burt was a fun-loving, all-out lover of life - with absolutely no desire for God. He bragged on his wild lifestyle and his heavy drinking.
One day our pastor came by to invite Burt to church on Sunday. Burt nodded to the pastor and said 'Sure, preacher. Ill be there.'
As the pastor left, Burt laughed and shouted to the rest of his co-workers, 'I'll be dead before I set foot inside a church!' That next week Burt was with a number of friends who were drinking and cavorting about town in a pickup truck. Burt was in the back of the truck, yelling and partying. The driver lost control on a turn and hit a ditch. The sudden stop threw Burt out headlong into the side of the hill. He broke his neck, dying immediately."
True to form, he was dead before he set foot inside the church. Here was a man who thought he had a life without end, but the truth was his life was here one day and gone the next...

COMMON SENSE
You may get into a youth group discussion where you deal with the problems of teens starting to pick up the illogical reasoning of the world, i.e. evolution, atheism, rejection of Jesus, etc. Perhaps you will hear, as I have heard, the exclamation: "People dont make any sense sometimes!" Add to the discussion with a great example of illogical thinking with this true story from the World Almanac:

"The manager of a Olathe, Kansas fast-food restaurant found a man, wearing a George Bush mask, in his restroom after closing time. The man forced employees to open a safe and then locked them in a cooler. The bandit took the money and left the restaurant, but soon returned to seek help from the manager. He couldn't start his car in the 2-degree cold weather. The police, who had already been called, found the manager and the robber in the restaurant parking lot trying to start the getaway car."

What was the robber thinking, you may ask. In the same light, you can ask the teens that they need to THINK before blindly accepting a new fad or a worldly philosophy.

DISOBEDIENCE

I once worked for a man who owned a radio station in Tennessee, during which time we had become good friends. I had a job with him which included not only announcing but also broadcasting from different locations (it's called a "remote broadcast"). On one particular week I was scheduled to "do a remote", which meant that someone else would have to cover my shift at the station, and run the studio programs while I was gone. Since we were a little short-handed at the time, Jim, the owner, volunteered to handle the studio on his own.
I did the broadcast from the remote location that day, but when I called in to see how things were going, I found the staff in a panic. The entire radio station was off the air! By the time I got back across town, the engineers were able to restore power, but valuable income was lost because of the "down time."

"What happened?" I asked Jim. He said, "Well, I was working on the program and had a few minutes to kill, so I turned around and saw that button marked 'DO NOT TOUCH.' So I pushed it."

I looked at Jim for a long minute and then said, "Now, the sign DID say 'Do Not Touch'....so why did you touch it?"

Jim gave me a sad grin and said, "Well, Brad, you know me. If it says 'Wet Paint' I'll touch it to see if it's dry."

Because of Jim's curiosity the station lost thousands of dollars of revenue. You see, disobedience has its price. Isn't it amazing how many people will disobey, even to their own hurt?

ELDERLY

We love the Senior Saints at our church, and there have been times when the teen teams in my church have "adopted" one of the seniors to be their honorary member. The adults, in turn, have donated cookies, Cokes, or have even come to speak to the teams. The relationship has been great. I believe one of the greatest features of a vibrant youth group is in their constant dipping into the fellowship with the older generations.

Believing this, you can imagine the shock I had when I read of a statment made years ago by the now-former senator of Colorado. It may have been a decade ago, but the words are still clear. In a statemtn to the press, Senator Lamm of Colorado made a statement to the effect that the elderly should be removed because they tended to "get in the way."
He was hinting to a solution that would be similar to abortion that gets rid of unwanted babies, a reprehnsible thought in itself. But Senator Lamm was trying to figure a way TO GET RID OF AMERICA'S ELDERLY.
We couldn't disagree more. Wisdom and experience are invaluable as they come from those that have walked the path before us. What are ways our youth group can show the older members of the congregation that we LOVE them?

Thumbtack, Green Spinning

LAZINESS

Here's an opening illustration you can use this Wednesday if you'd like to talk to your teens about spiritual laziness. The following incident happened to me when I worked in Christian radio almost two decades ago.

Years and years and YEARS back, when I was still single, I hosted a midnight call-in show on a Christian radio station. After the shift, which would end somewhere around 3 a.m., a co-worker named Bruce and I would go to a local doughnut place to get a doughnut and coffee. Now this was a national chain doughnut shop that is still well-known for its vast selection of doughnuts that await your choice as your come into the front door.
We arrived one night, famished from an extra long shift and tiring work, when we saw something quite unusual. The shop was open but there were no doughnuts on the rack. Not one! Naturally, we asked why there was nothing to be had. The waitress looked indifferent as she explained, "Our machine broke down." Now, this was the kind of store where you could see in the back. There stood workers idly passing the time while customers walked out and money went down the drain. I can recall the times when workers would hand-make the doughnuts, but not with this crew. Here they were, surrounded with hundreds of bags and crates of ingredients and nobody knew the first things on how to roll dough or create a cruller.
What was the problem? No materials? Hardly. There was a ton of ingredients. the problem was the workers had become dependent on a machine to get the stuff together.
Christians are like that many times. We may be surrounded by Bibles, tapes, and Christian radio in our homes, but if something should happen to the Sunday preaching or the tapes or radio, we would have no nourishment for our souls. Is it the lack of spiritual food? Of course not. It's that we haven't grown enough to learn how to get it ourselves.

ENEMIES

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." - G.K. Chesterton

GOSSIP

"Without exception, the people who have the greatest number of faults are themselves the most merciless in their criticism of others. They spend their lives looking for something lowly rather than something lofty."
- DeWitt Talmadge

GOSSIP

A teenage girl repeated a gossip tale about a neighbor and before the week was out, the whole school had heard about it. The person it concerned was extremely embarrassed and hurt by the action. About a week later the girl had found out the gossip was completely false and the neighbor was innocent of any wrong. She was so sorry for her actions that she went to her grandfather to get some advice. "What can I do to repair the damage?" asked the girl.
The grandfather answered, "Go get one of our old goose-down pillows and take it to the seaside cliff. Shred it open and scatter the feathers into the wind." The girl thought this strange but did as she was told. The next day she went back to her grandfather.
"Now go and collect all the feathers and put them back into the pillowcase." The girl tried, but she could only get a small handful of the feathers. When she came back, the old gentleman said, "You see, it's easy to drop them, but impossible to retrieve them all. Thats the way it is with gossip. It's not hard to spread it, but you cannot ever really undo the wrong completely."

HABITS, SINFUL

Jer. 5:25 "...your sins have withholden good things from you..."

Nathan was a little five year old boy who would sit in his classes and listen carefully. He was not a troublemaker - in fact, he was scoring high in reading and comprehensive skills. There was just one problem he had that drove the teachers and his parents crazy. You see, when Nathan would listen to the teachers, he would suck his thumb and twirl his hair. Twirl his hair...take one finger and wind a thatch of hair on his crown and then unwind it again, over and over and over. Soon his hair in that little fifty-cent piece-size area began to come out by the roots from all the habitual tugging. He was literally going bald in that spot! His parents tried numerous ways to stop Nathan, but to no avail. Finally they had no choice but to shave his hair to a tight crewcut in order to keep him from getting hold on any longer hair.

It doesn't seem like much to just sit and tug once in awhile...but soon that habit gets ingrained and soon although nobody noticed before, the bald spot of sinful habit grows and grows. Unless the habit of sin is stopped, drastic measures might have to be taken...


A bicycle; Actual size=240 pixels wide

HELL

Luke 12:5 - "...Fear him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell..."

Possibly the best illustration about a future in hell was told to me by a simple preacher during a revival service when I was in my teens. He said of the person who has been delivered to hell:

"They will be in the lake of fire, suffering terribly. They try to escape the pain and fear, so they swim to the north for ten thousand years. There is no end in sight, so they turn and swim to the east for another ten thousand years. Still there is no relief. They then swim south for ten thousand years. Then in desperation they swim to the west for another ten thousand years. Yet after all this searching and swimming things are the same as they always were. In frantic desperation they cry out, "HOW LONG? HOW LONG WILL THIS GO ON? HOW LONG?" And an answer will come back to them in the darkness: "Forever. And forever."

************
One of the worst things about hell is that we will have no contact with God. He is too pure to be associated with sin. 1 John 1:5 - "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all."

LIVING THE GOSPEL

Author Kevin Huggins tells the true story of a church quiz team who had hit outstanding heights in the knowledge of the book of Romans. He tells us of an unusual situation arising from the team's actions:
"The kids knew this book so well they could finish any verse, word for word, if the quiz master called out the chapter and verse numbers.
After winning the district championships that year, the team traveled by van to the nationals in Florida.
On the way there, the team stayed overnight at another church. After the adult leaders fell asleep, some of the team members snuck out of the church and vandalized the neighborhood, tearing down mailboxes, damaging cars, and spray painting some property.
These were the same kids who had just spent the year memorizing and studying the book of Romans!"
It seems that getting the Scripture into the head is not enough.

K

KINDNESS

The great baseball player Babe Ruth was honored and revered during his long reign as basball's elite in the 1900s. Known as the "Sultan of Swat," Babe hit 714 regular-season home runs during his baseball career and built a fabled reputation in many championship games.

In his declining years, however, people expected to see him perform as a raw, talented rookie. Perhaps he stayed one too many seasons, and should have retired, but the need for money and the desire to squeeze one more good season out of his body kept him going. It is said that in his final year as a professional, Babe was almost embarrassing to watch at times.

It all came to a head one day after Babe had committed some costly errors to hurt his team, amounting to some decisive runs by the opponent. The home team supporters reached their limit. As the Babe headed toward the dugout after the third out of the inning, fans began merciless taunting and booing, humiliating the once-great athlete. Forgotten were the days when he had been the catalyst for so many championship years. The booing was incredible.

They say that at that moment, a boy jumped over the railing and ran onto the playing field, crying. He ran to his hero and wrapped his arms around the Babe. Ruth immediately responded by lifting him up and returning the hug and then patting him gently on the head.

When the boy's kindness was shown , the booing from the stands stopped, and a hush fell over the entire ball park. The boy's kindness had softened the hearts of the people. The act of compassion had an effect on even the hardest of hearts in the park.

OPPORTUNITIES

Mike was a football player on our high school team. As we took on Claymont High in the state semi-finals, Mike was ready to give it all he had at his position as receiver. However, the first quarter came and went and Mike didn't get a pass. As a matter of fact, except for a few miserable blocking assignments, Mike hardly played at all into the fourth quarter, with the game tied. He was willing, but nothing came his way. Then with 1 minute on the clock and the score still tied at 8 points apiece, the quarterback called for three receivers to flood the end zone. Two superior athletes - and Mike. At the snap, the two receivers streaked ahead, with defenders all over them. The defense paid almost no attention to Mike. He ran his pattern in the end zone, looked up... and caught the game winning pass which took our little public school, Delmar High, into the championship, which we also won.

In effect, Mike played a very little part of the game - he only caught one catch. But what a catch it was! We may be like Mike many times, toiling and waiting for the chance for that unsaved person to open up to the Gospel. We may have to show a lot of patience for the opportunity to lend itself to us. So we continue to befriend and be diligent. The opportunity will come! We just need to be ready for that one moment.


DEATH, MORTALITY

An artist asked the gallery owner if there had been any interest in his paintings on display at that time.

"I have good news and bad news," the owner replied. "The good news is that a gentleman enquired about your work and wondered if it would appreciate in value after your death. When I told him it would, he bought all 15 of your paintings."
"That's wonderful!" the artist exclaimed. "What's the bad news?"
"The guy was your doctor."

P

PERFECTNESS
Until we reach Heaven, there will be no such thing as perfectness, no matter how hard we try. Take, for example, these true newspaper headlines. Some of them will give you a double-take!

Here are the top 24 headlines of 1998!!

1. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
2. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say
3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
4. Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case
5. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
6. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
7. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
8. Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead
9. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
10. Miners Refuse to Work After Death
11. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
12. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
13. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
14. War Dims Hope for Peace
15. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
16. Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
17. Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
18. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
19. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
20. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
21. Typhoon Rips through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

PROPER PRAYER

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert-like island.
The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God.
However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.
The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren.
After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.
Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.
Finally, the first man prayed for a ship so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island. The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island.
He considered the other man unworthy to receive God's blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.
As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?"
"My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything."
"You are mistaken!" the voice rebuked him. "He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings."
"Tell me," the first man asked the voice, "What did he pray for that I should owe him anything?"
"He prayed that all your prayers be answered."

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us.

PAST AND FUTURE
 
It's amazing how many people try to ignore the past. For example, the Londonbased Council of the Corporation of Foreign Bondholders is still trying to collect on loans made to the state of Mississippi to finance cotton exports...in 1830.
 
On the other hand, some people may be a bit "overfocused" on the future. The new IRS employee manual includes provisions for collecting taxes in the aftermath of a nuclear war.  
 
 

PUNISHMENT
 
One Sunday in a Midwest City, a young child was "acting up" during the
morning worship hour. The parents did their best to maintain some sense
of order in the pew but were losing the battle. Finally, the father
picked the little fellow up and walked sternly up the aisle on his way
out. Just before reaching the safety of the foyer, the little one called
loudly to the congregation, "Pray for me!"

PASSION FOR CHRIST

"How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people." - Psalm 116:12-14

It was probably one of the most dramatic high school wrestling matches I have ever seen. Back when I was on the wrestling team at Delmar High School in Delaware, we met up with a team who met us strength for strength. In front of a home crowd, we kept close in the score. At the 155 pound weight class, our wrestler, Dean - a top-flight wrestler with a great won-loss record - took on a wrestler who was blind. The blind wrestler had to be walked out to the mat's middle and be adjusted to the start. But when that fellow started wrestling- WOW! Before a screaming crowd, the two battled it out. The match was incredibly even. Muscle to muscle, move to move, the two warriors drew even in points throughout the contest. After their match was over, people were hoarse. The scoreboard showed a 11-11 tie. What a battle!
That other wrestler had a serious disadvantage to Dean. Dean's sight was a clear edge, but when the blind wrestler got out on that mat, his fervency overrode any other factor. The fellow was committed to winning with no reserve.
We may heap excuse upon excuse as to why we cannot "win" with Christ in soulwinning or in trials. Most of the time, though, it comes down to this - when we get out on that mat and go at it with complete fervency to win, a lot of the limitations will fall by the wayside.


PLANS

Isa. 55:8 "...for My thoughts are not Your thoughts..."

Teens get the feeling of earthly immortality many times. This illustration - especially the last statements - may help them understand the frailty of life:

The Saturday Evening Post carried an article about former NBC anchorman John Chancellor, who had laid out his plans for retirement when he was diagnosed with a severe and strong form of stomach cancer. His first thoughts, the article went on to say, were those of guilt: Had I smoked or drunk too much? Have I exercised or prayed enough? Cancer didn't run in my family. Why me?
As he continues to go through chemotherapy, Chancellor says his best friend and support continues to be his wife, Barbara.
"Cancer," he said, "is a reminder of how short a leash you're on. As I read somewhere, 'You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans.'"

POSSESSIONS
IF YOU FEEL YOUR TEENS ARE HAVING A BATTLE WITH MATERIAL POSSESSIONS, RELATE THIS STORY TO THEM:

Years back there was a Scottish pastor by the name of John Watson who was known for his straightforward love of Christ. He was visiting one day when he came upon one of his members grieving deeply. The man had his investments go sour and had endured heavy financial losses. Desperately stricken by this economic setback, the man cried, "Everything is gone!"

Watson said, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that your kind wife is dead."

The man looked up. puzzled and asked him, "What? My wife?"

The pastor continued,"I'm also sad to hear you have lost your Christian testimony as well as your character."

The man looked stumped. The pastor went on, listing valuable blessings such as the mans teen, his church, and his health. The man raised his hands. "Wait, pastor! I still have all those things!"

The pastor mildly scolded him, saying, "Then come to your senses, man! You still have the things that are worthwhile!"

PRAYER

"...Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons -- but they are helpless against our prayers."
- Sidlow Baxter

When Martin Luther's dog sat near the table, it struck Luther how transfixed the dog looked for a piece of meat from his master, watching with open mouth and motionless eyes. In his writings called "Tabletalk" Martin Luther said, 'Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish or hope."


Don't ever get discouraged about praying for someone's salvation! Eighteen-year-old Hudson Taylor had been wandering far from God, and was not seeking Christ for salvation. However, he happened to venture into his father's library and found a gospel tract. He read it and was struck by the message. He was unable to shake off its message. After an agitated period he finally fell to his knees, accepting Christ as his Savior. His mother, who had been away, returned home later and he informed her of the decision. When Hudson told her the good news, she said, "I already know. Ten days ago, the very date on which you tell me you read that tract, I spent the entire afternoon in prayer for you until the Lord assured me that my wayward son had been brought into the fold." - copied


Five young college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. While waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, "Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?" They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn't want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, "This is our heating plant." Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Spurgeon.

Then there's the famous story of George Mueller, or "Praying Mueller," as he was sometimes called. On one particular day, food was scarce for the children of George Muller's orphanage at Ashley Downs in England. It was time for breakfast, and there was no food. A small girl whose father was a close friend of Mueller was visiting in the home. Mueller took her hand and said, "Come and see what our Father will do." In the dining room, long tables were set with empty plates and empty cups. Not only was there no food in the kitchen, but there was no money in the home's account. Mueller prayed, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." Immediately, they heard a knock at the door. When they opened it, there stood the local baker. "Mr. Mueller," he said, "I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you had no bread for breakfast, so I got up at 2 o'clock and baked fresh bread. Here it is." Muller thanked him and gave praise to God. Soon, a second knock was heard. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. He said he would like to give the children the milk so he could empty the cart and repair it.
- Source Unknown.

While crossing the Atlantic on an oceanliner, F.B. Meyer was speaking to various groups on "Answered Prayer." An agnostic scoffed at the services but nevertheless was intrigued enough to listen and follow Meyer around the ship. Claiming he just wanted to hear "what the babbler had to say," the agnostic sneered at the messages but headed to the next message Meyer was going to speak.
Before starting for the service, the agnostic picked up two oranges and put them in his pocket. On his way he passed an elderly woman sitting in her deck chair fast asleep. Her hands were open. Thinking he would get away with a little mischieve, the agnostic put the two oranges in her outstretched palms. Following the meeting, he saw the old lady happily eating one of the pieces of fruit. "You seem to be enjoying that orange," he remarked with a smile. "Yes, sir," she replied, "My Father is very good to me." "Your father? Surely your father can't be still alive!" "Praise God," she replied, "He is very much alive." "What do you mean?" asked the agnostic. She explained, "I'll tell you, sir. I have been seasick for days. I was asking God somehow to send me an orange to alleviate the sickness, but there were none about. I suppose I fell asleep while I was praying. When I awoke, I found He had not only sent me one orange but two!" The agnostic was speechless, and was deeply moved by this answer to prayer. Later he admitted it was a major factor in his decision to convert to Christ. He had unwittingly been a part of answered prayer to the woman.

R

RAPTURE

A brightly flaming meteor grabbed the attention of thousands of people on July 23,2001 as it was spotted over the skies of the region stretching from Toronto down to Washington, D.C. This fireball was just one of 85 heavenly phenomena sighted over the United States so far this year. A fireball that explodes in flight is called a bolide, and bolides often throw chunks to the ground, where they are called meteorites.

In the past century, there have been two times where big bolides have entered the atmosphere and exploded with thousands of times more power than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The first recorded bolide was estimated to be 200 feet across, and exploded 5 miles above a Siberian forest. The force leveled 1,200 square miles of treeland around Tunguska in 1908. The second one, in 1930, obliterated dozens of square miles of Amazonian jungle. Experts have calculated that a Tunguska-like bolide is an occurence that will happen once every thousand years.

The impact of the taking of Christians in the Rapture will be so much greater. It is a once-in-a-history event that will affect more than a region of the globe; it will affect the whole world. What a powerful event coming from the heavens!

RAPTURE

Talk about an inconceivable speed: the speed of light is equal to a little over 186,287 miles per second The average distance between the Moon and Earth is 238,900 miles, so that translates to a moonbeam taking about 1.28 seconds to travel from the Moon to Earth. The Sun is 400 times farther away, but it only takes about 8 and a quarter minutes minutes to shine a beam of light to Earth. We can start to realize how fast the Rapture will take place, when Jesus arrives to take us "in the twinkling of an eye."

S

SIN
 
A little boy was overheard praying: "Lord, if you can't make me a better
boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am."

SMALL THINGS IN LIFE
 
The NBA game between Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors was delayed ...by a bat!
The bat seemed to have one player in mind to attack.  It constantly swooped on Rockets guard Moochie Norris on the basketball court so much so that referee Courtney Kirkland stopped play. Norris froze and ducked while he was being "attacked". For 5 minutes the bat buzzed the court and Norris before finally returning to the rafters.
The bat then starting swooping on the court again, sometimes even lapping the court above the second deck before diving once again.
The Rockets and Warriors would have to run to avoid the attack, and many found this hilarious. The crowd cheered the bat good-naturedly.  It started to dive again
during a promotion in which children were shooting baskets, but ballboy Greg Mueller snagged the bat with a net and released it outside. Just as a simple bat could stop a millionaire's game and thousands of fans from watching, a simple sin can stop the productive life of a Christian.

SIN

The Clarion Ledger newspaper told the story of the Flowood, Mississippi police walking into a school cafeteria and handcuffing a 15 year old boy.  Why?  The  Mississippi 15-year-old snuck out of class to rob a bank, but returned in time for lunch.He was arrested at his school in Brandon 40 minutes after the raid. Walking into a local bank and showing a knife, the boy demanded money to be put in a paper bag.  He was wearing a maroon turtleneck and jeans, which he quickly changed upon arriving back at school. Police found the bag stuffed with cash and clothes matching the robber's description hidden in a classroom.

SURVEY ABOUT BEING BORN AGAIN

The USA TODAY newspaper December 25th issue ran a survey taken by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS)and told about people's decisions concerning heaven, hell, salvation and the life hereafter. The ARIS survey reveals that of 33 million adults who claim to be religious, 42% of those who now call themselves evangelical or "born again" say they started out life in another religion. A revealing fact is that 23% of adults who claim no religion today admit they once identified with a specific religion.
Even people who claim no religion admit to a Supreme Being. The pollsters found out that nearly everybody agreed taht "God exists and helps me." 78% of people with no religion agree "God performs miracles."

SIN

A minister parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn't find a space with a meter. So he put a note under
the windshield wiper that read:
"I have circled the block 10 times.If I don't park here,
I'll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES."
When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this
note: "I've circled this block for 10 years. If I don't give you a ticket, I'll lose my job.
LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION."

SELFISHNESS

Property Rules of a Toddler:

1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
8. If I saw it first, it's mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours.

...you know, some teens and adults follow these same kind of rules!

SATISFACTION IN GOD

We may not realize the many wondrous ways that God supplies our needs. Through the ages He has taken care or people in His benevolent ways - often in some strange ways! Take for example, the "Iron Mountain" meteorite in Greenland hauled out by Robert Peary in 1984, of which one chunk of the three pieces hauled out, (on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York), itself weighed 34 tons.
The Iron Mountain meteorite gave Inuits the ability to survive in Greenland, which had no natural mineral deposits. European explorers in the early 1800s found the Inuits ably supplied with iron tools, knife blades, harpoon points and engraving tools. Every one came from that meteorite. Think of it - they got their tools from outer space!

SATANISM

"Yeah, Pastor Brad, sorry, but I really dig Satan, and I think he's the way to go," Sal told me one weekday afternoon.

"Is he who you really want to follow with your life - and even into your death, Sal?" I asked this young man.

"Well, sure, why not?" Sal answered, looking away, "He seems to be the strongest thing going. I think he'll come out on top in the end." He fingered his Isis necklace, an open defiance of the Word of God he had heard earlier in the week.

"Sal," I asked him, "Why don't you put away that Satanic Bible and do something for me. Have you ever read the REAL Bible? Would you mind reading part of it one more time?" He looked at me uncertainly, "Well, okay. But why?" I showed him the book of Revelation and what would really happen to Satan "in the end."

Sal accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, saying, "Man, I never knew that kind of stuff would happen. I want to be on the winning side. I want Jesus." He asked Christ to take over his life.

SUPREMACY, THE BATTLE FOR

The battle for control of power can be vicious and deadly. Possibly the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil was fought in the midst of a wintry blizzard on the hills of Towton on Palm Sunday, March 29, 1461. This brutal conflict was the deciding conflict in the War of the Roses, and its victory assured the transfer of the English crown from Henry VI to Edward IV, for at the time, both men had claimed to be king.

Research shows that 100,000 men fought at Towton, a staggering number in any era, but particularly shocking at the time. It represented a monstrous percentage of the nation's population, which was estimated at a little over 2 million. Mass graves have been uncovered, attesting to the carnage and hasty burial after the battle. It is believed that 28,000 men were killed in the 10 hour struggle.

This reminds us of the brutal yet decisive victory that will be won by Jesus in the valley of Megiddo at the battle of Armageddon. Christ's victory will be so complete that the entire forces of Satan will be routed.

SIN, GIVING EXCUSES FOR

When I was teaching, a student came up to me with one of those faces that tells you that an explanation is coming.

"Pastor Brad, I know the assignment was announced a month ago, and I know that I was given two other warnings about the upcoming deadline, but I just didnt get it done." Sherry knew that I had issued the warning that anyone who did not finish the work would indeed fail that assignment with no mercy involved.

Still, she looked me square in the eye and said, "I didnt get it done. So what can you do to fix it for me?" I was flabbergasted. Sherry acted as if it were my responsibility to undo her damage! She could not understand the fact that she was responsible for her actions - or in this case, her inaction.
That is very similar to the young person today who sins and then turns around to God, pointing at Him and saying, "Well, if you had given me a better family...if you had not put the temptation in front of me...if you had not given such strict rules....so now, God, what are you going to do to correct this situation?" Such arrogance. Many times our teens do not see the power nor the danger of sin.


TRYING TO RE-NAME SIN
The National Education Association (NEA) has been a financial partner in promoting a video called "Its Elementary: Talking About Gay Issues in School." One of the producers, actress and lesbian Debra Chasnoff, stated the openness to gay teaching in the younger grades. In her words, "...If we could start doing this kind of education in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, wed have a better generation." A California congresswoman intends to see that this video is shown in all 50 states. It has already been played in six states. In 1996 the video won a Golden Eagle Award for the Best Teacher Education Film by the movie group C.I.N.E.
The world tries desperately for Christians to accept its sin.

WATERGATE
It was a little over 25 years ago - before any of the kids in our family were born! - but it was the biggest scandal in American political history. They say it started off small. There were "tiny" misdeeds - like charging $200 worth of pizza to political opponents. But there was also the corruption that hit the highest office of the land. There was a president who committed impeachable crimes. It was called Watergate.
Okay, so some guys broke into the office at the Watergate complex. Send 'em to jail and let's get on with our lives. Right? Wrong. The mistrust, the anger, the cynicism, and even the fear spread throughout the U.S. Political analysts say the mistrust and sour attitudes hang on to the American public to this day. Nixon was president years ago...but the effects of his misdeeds still stay.
So it is with sin. It does not go unnoticed. It does not hide itself. It is rampant and unruly.


SIN, EFFECTS OF

Psalm 32:5 - "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity I have not hid..."

The newspapers captured the intense grief felt in the courtroom in Tampa, Florida. Three young friends who were convicted of pulling up a stop sign at an intersection where a fatal crash afterwards occurred were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Christopher Cole, Nissa Baillie and Thomas Miller, who were teenagers when they pulled a "youthful prank" of uprooting and discarding highway signs in February of 1996. At one intersection where they removed a sign, three teenagers were killed when a Mack truck smashed into their car. The three had admitted pulling down 19 other traffic signs on that fateful night.
Judge Joe Anderson Mitcham of the Hillsborough County Circuit Court handed down the sentence, which under Florida law mandates that the three must spend at least 12 and a half years in prison before the first thought of parole. Mitcham told the three: "I don't think for one minute that you and the other two pulled up these signs with the intent of causing the death of anyone," but pulling up the signs "has caused ramifications that none of you may have ever expected." Sin touches other people...many other people.

ILLUSTRATION: SIN BLINDING SPIRITUAL VISION

What does it mean to have 20/20 vision? Having 20/20 vision means seeing at 20 feet what a normal person sees at 20 feet. However, if you have vision that is measured at 20/40, it means you have to walk up to 20 feet to see the same size letter that someone with 20/20 vision could see at 40 feet. People who wear glasses or contact lenses and have sight less than 20/200 in the better eye are considered legally blind, even though they still have enough vision to get around.
What an illustration of the blinding effects of sin in this world! Since the fall of man, we are not able to see God's righteousness "face to face." Some people may be more "close" to seeing God's work than in others, but we all need the spiritual visual aids of His Word and a connection with Him through prayer.

SACRIFICE

Here is a great illustration of a man who faced death to save someone else. It's taken from the JACKSON SUN newspaper:

"During a 1987 sky dive, parachutist Gregory Robertson looked down from a great height at 13,500 feet of altitude and saw that fellow skydiver, Debbie Williams, had collided in mid air with a third parachutist, was knocked unconscious, and was free falling to her death at speeds greater than 100 miles per hour. Robertson started to dive towards her as fast as he could go by rolling himself into a compact cannonball shape. Soon he reached his greatest terminal velocity of 200 mph and caught her. He spread eagle to slow down and match speeds with her terminal velocity of about 125 mph. With seconds to spare as they hurtled groundward, he opened her chute and then his own-thus saving them both."

SIN

At the turn of the 20th century, a farmer ventured into the city to see the sights of a festival that was displaying the newest marvels of the new 1900s. He paid his admission and saw wonders like the telephone and a small version of a Ferris Wheel.

He looked across the Midway and in the distance he saw a man pumping water with an old hand pump like he had at the farm. While watching the water pouring out, the farmer was curious why this old practice was part of the festival ,so he ventured over tot he man to ask him. However, when he approached, he discovered that it was a wooden man connected to a small machine whose pump was powered by electricity. The shocked farmer realized that the wooden man was not pumping the water - the water was pumping him! It reminds us of the power of sin in our life, and how it can end up dominating the decisions we make and the life we live. We don't end up the master of sin - it becomes master over us!


SIN

Here in Tennessee a fable goes around about an oldtimer who thought he had been taken in when he bought a mill alongside of a stream. When he arrived at his new building, the waterwheel wasn't turning because there was no water in the stream! Angry, he strode back to the original owner and claimed that the waterwheel was broken.

"Not at all," said the owner. "I sold you a waterwheel and mill as good as any. All you need to do is clear out the clutter upstream and get the water moving."

The new owner went back upstream and found that debris had jammed the water flow so that it was dammed up. He pulled out the refuse and the water flowed, the wheel worked and he was in business.

That sounds like our walk with God. We get angry when we don't see God working and "moving our waterwheel." Perhaps it's that God can't send his blessings because our sins have clogged His flow of blessings. Perhaps we need to clear the stream so the waterwheel can flow and we can be back in business.

stopagan.jpg

TESTIMONY

Shawn Boskie, pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles, came and spoke to our youth group about five years back. It was refreshing to see his Christian testimony among the unsaved. Shawn was previously with the California (now Anaheim) Angels and had many opportunities to witness to former pitcher Jim Abbott.
But one of the greatest things I heard during his message to us was when he was called by the Orioles when the trade was imminent, and the trade actually had very little to do with his pitching. The Baltimore executive said, "We have a need for a moral force in our locker room. We know you are a Christian. We have some players who need some guidance. We want you to come an be an example."
Wow! Can you believe it? A team desiring a positive Christian influence first of all?

T

TESTIMONY

In the secular workaday world, it is commonly said that people who are most successful at their work are the ones who enjoy doing it. There is a good story which can teach our teens how to have the strongest testimony possible: Many years before he worked his way up to become the head of the General Motors Research Laboratory, Charles Kettering was a foreman of a gang of men who dug holes for telephone poles in Ohio.
The true story is told of a hot day at lunchtime when Kettering's gang was approached by a hobo who asked for a bite to eat. Kettering took the man to lunch and filled him up, then asked him if he would like to have a job that would provide him not only with plenty to eat but also a good measure of dignity. The tramp paused, then said he'd give it a try. Kettering gave him some tools and left.
Later when he came back, he found the hobo actually trying but getting frustrated. He only had a ragged hole and his hands were blistered from the effort. Kettering said, "Let me take you over to the best man in our gang. Now here's a man who can dig holes! Look at this hole - smooth, round, with perpendicular walls." Then Kettering himself started digging, saying, "You know, this is really fun. The better you get the more fun it is. Round, smooth holes are a challenge and , well, it's just enjoyable to see how good a job you can do." Kettering left after he had dug a hole.
Would you know, when he came back, the tramp had dug a decent hole. Not only that, he stayed on and became good. Even better than the best guy on the crew! The hobo eventually became foreman of the gang! Later when Kettering stopped by to see him, the ex-tramp said, "You were the first person to tell me that work could be fun! I wish someone would have told me that years before. I wish I would have been taught earlier how much fun it is when a man tries to do good work! I wouldnt have been the hobo I was!"
Many times an unsaved person is drawn to Christ through watching the testimony of the Christian who really enjoys his life in Christ. The true testimony of a Godly teen committed to Christ could draw many people who realize that a life given over to God is really fun!

TELLING THE TRUTH

A pastor was walking across town when he came upon a group of about a dozen little boys in a side alley. The group of kids surrounded a dog.

The pastor went over and asked, "What are you doing with that dog?" One of the boys replied, "This dog is just an old neighborhood stray. We all want him, but only one of us can take him home. So we've decided that whichever one of us can tell the biggest lie will get to keep the dog."

Of course, the reverend was taken aback. "You boys shouldn't be having a contest telling lies!" he exclaimed. He then launched into a ten minute sermon against lying, beginning, "Don't you boys know it's a sin to lie," and ending with , "Why when I was your age, I never told a lie."

There was dead silence for about a minute. Just as the reverend was beginning to think he'd gotten through to them, the smallest boy gave a deep sigh and said, "All right, give him the dog."

TOTALLY CHRISTIAN NATION?

Tuesday's edition of the USA TODAY had some interesting facts about religion among the people of America. WE often call ourselves a Christian nation. These statistics, compiled by the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) help us understand more about our country's beliefs. For example:

Catholicism is in the majority in Rhode Island (51% of people) and leads in states like Massachusetts (44%) and New Mexico (40%).

Baptists are in the majority in Mississippi (55%) and have 39% in Tennessee, 43% in South Carolina and 38% in North Carolina.

24% of America's Jews and 24% of Muslims live in New York.

California has 40% of all Buddhists and 30% of the Hindus in the U.S. 15% of all U.S. adults who say they have no religion live in California.Researchers call the Northwest and Southern California the "anti-Bible belt."

We get a better picture of the diversity of the nation's beliefs and can understand the oportunity to share our faith in Jesus Christ to those who do not know the Word of God.

TOO BUSY?

Imagine someone coming to your birthday party and announcing to you, "I can't wait until this is over. This has been such a big hassle. getting you presents, decorating the room, inviting people. What a pain!" How would you feel?

Years back, I stood in the hall of a school as another youth pastor walked by. A friend asked him how the holiday was going, and this worker just blurted out how much he would be glad when the holiday would be over. I always remembered that. I kept thinking, "Then make it special once again! Slow it down and get back to the basics!"

I ask you, has this time of the year become one big flurry of activity? Then SLOW DOWN and take control. If you need to drop some parties or activities, then do so. Cherish the times you can enjoy the holiday with the Lord. He has no more delight in you engaging in numerous superfluous activities any more than you would enjoy people announcing that they couldn't wait until the end of your birthday party.

TONGUE

We hear of many people who say they wish they could take back words they have previously used. We have also heard of others who wanted to make others "eat their words." Well, the celebrated 17th century German political historian Philipp Andreas Oldenburger had just that pleasure. It seems that Oldenburger became a little free-spirited in his criticism of the authorities in his pamphlet writings. He was arrested, found guilty, and given a most unusual sentence: "eat your own writings." And that is exactly what he was forced to do.
He writes in his memoirs that he was forced under the threat of a flogging, to eat every last shred of paper of his pamphlets. Talk about having to eat your own words! Maybe teens whose tongues constantly commit the sin of gossip ought to be aware that words can have a devastating effect on others - and on them!
Verses for study...

Prov. 12:18 Prov. 20:19 James 3:1-12 Exodus 20:16 Eph. 4:29

TONGUE, USE OF

At an evening social for army officers and their wives, the commanding general of the base had been given a special award and proceeded to drone on in a long speech of thanks. A lieutenant mumbled to the woman at his side, "Why they would award him a prize is beyond me. He's nothing but a stupid old windbag."
The woman turned to him, her jaw set, and said, "Lieutenant, do you know who I am?"

"No, ma'am."

"I am the wife of the man you just called 'a stupid old windbag.' "

"I see," said the young lieutenant, "and do you know who I am?"

"No, I don't," said the general's wife.

"Good," said the lieutenant as he disappeared into the crowd.

U

V

VIRUS WARNING

This blurb would be good to add to your teen newsletter:

VIRUS WARNING - This one's for real! Send it to everyone you know! Alert! This is a notice to inform you of THE CURSE. The most devastating catastrophe known to humanity.
Infection status: Surprise Your system has already been infected!! (This CURSE was downloaded by Adam and Eve and we all are born into it.)
Damage: Every component of your life is affected. We have been brought under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2:3); made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and even to the pains of hell forever! (Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41)
Remedy: The only remedy is complete forensic reconfiguration of all component parts. This is called Justification. (Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21) This is followed by a radical lifetime software purge called Sanctification. (2 Thessalonians 3:13; Ephesians 4:24) The only means of rescue from the power and results of THE CURSE is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:12)
Cost: You cannot purchase this remedy. It is not so simple. The cost is the eternal wrath of God.
Access: You may acquire justification free of charge. The price was already paid on the cross of Christ. But you must beg for it on your knees. (Many perish maintaining their "dignity," i.e. pride) "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."(Romans 5:1,2)
For more information and validation, consult the only User's Manual - The Holy Bible.
WARNING - THIS IS NOT A HOAX. Please do not disregard this warning. Do not delay! The CURSE impairs logical functions, input and output, processing and communication, linkup with other systems, and corrupts all disks. The final result will be a total crash. The time of the crash cannot be ascertained, but the fate is worse than mere termination. Jesus Christ is the Lord of all things, every system, every user... and is your only hope. The good news is that he is available by 24 hour access. No hardware necessary. Simply cry out to him to take your sin and give you his righteousness. Understanding your plight, you have no options: The buttons are not OK or CANCEL. They are REPENT or PERISH. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved"

W

WORLDLY GOODS, COSTS:

have you been worrying about the price of a gallon of gas?
Better be thankful it is GAS htat goes in the tank. Your teens might love these cost comparisons!

1. Diet Snapple, 16 oz. @ $1.29, equals $10.32 per gallon.
2. Lipton Ice Tea, 16 oz. @ $1.19, equals $9.52 per gallon.
3. Gatorade, 20 oz. @ $1.59, equals $10.17 per gallon.
4. Ocean Spray, 16 oz. @ $1.25, equals $10.00 per gallon.
5. Quart of Milk, 16 oz. @ $1.59, equals $6.32 per gallon. (more like $2.99 a gallon)
6. STP Brake Fluid, 12 oz. @ $3.15, equals $33.60 per gallon.
7. Vick's Nyquil, 6 oz. @ $8.35, equals $178.13 per gallon.
8. Pepto Bismol, 4 oz. @ $3.85, equals $123.20 per gallon.
9. Whiteout, 7 oz. @ $1.39, equals $254.17 per gallon.
10. Scope, 1.5 oz. @ $.99, equals $84.84 per gallon.
...... here's the real KICKER.......

....Evian water, 9 oz. @ $1.49, equals $21.19 per gallon......

WORK

Talk to your teens about being a witness to the Lord by doing an honest day's work, especially when a lot of teens have the idea of being lazy at their summer jobs. Here's a good story:

A visitor to a factory in England watched as men pushed their wheelbarrows back and forth at a job site on the side lawn. Imagine the visitor's surprise when he saw one slower worker PULLING his wheelbarrow. The visitor asked the foreman why this was so. "Oh," shrugged the foreman, "it's because he hates the sight of the thing." Many people in the world today have the same attitude. They'll actually make working and serving harder because of their hatred for work. Sadly enough, some Christians feel the same way. However...
Many a time I have received words of praise concerning a Christian teen who has been a great example of faithfulness at his summer job or weekend work. He shows up on time, pushes hard through the day, and does little extras.
One of my youth group girls, Shari, received numerous promotions because of her outstanding work record. Her testimony was clear. It even opened up doors for witnessing.

HERE'S ANOTHER ILLUSTRATION ABOUT WORK:

The laborer is worthy of his hire - Luke 10:7

A recent article in a local newspaper told us studies showed employees who are stationed near windows are six times more likely to be fired than those toward the middle of the room. This comes from a three year study of the hiring and firing practices of over 200 companies. Although researchers can't fully explain the ins and outs of all the reasons, they suspect it may have to do with the worker's attention being draw away from the responsibilities of work in front of them.
We are finding an increasing number of Christian teens who are backing out of jobs after making commitments, showing slothfulness instead of responsibility, and a general disloyalty towards their employer. There is a testimony at stake here! Using this illustration, address the need of responsible laborers.

I HAD A YOUNG CHRISTIAN COME TO ME THE OTHER DAY, CONCERNED ABOUT THE VIEWING HABITS OF SOME OF HIS CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. HERE'S A GOOD ILLUSTRATION CONCERNING THAT:

WORLDLINESS
"My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
- Proverbs 1:10

History tells us of a close associate of the Christian man Augustine. The friend was Alypius and he was known to absolutely detest the gladiators in combat, as was the sport of the day those many centuries back. His neighbors, we are told, constantly urged and cajoled him to come and watch, just once. He still refused. One day he was physically tricked into going into the amphitheater and forced to sit and watch. Still Alypius' conviction was so strong that he shut his eyes tight against the goings-on. A piercing cry from the arena floor aroused him and he opened his eyes for a moment, seeing the final, fatal wound being given to a gladiator. They say as soon as he saw it, he was changed. He started to get riled up and shouted along with the rest of the mob. His kindness and gentleness left him. They say he became a changed man. Not only did he regularly attend the events from then on, he was one of the greatest proponents of the gladiator contests from that day forward.

glo8a.jpg

Quick tips for illustrations

1. Avoid making yourself the hero of all of your illustrations
2. Make the illustrations quick and snappy
3. Open up your message with an illustration to grab attention right away.