♦ possible entrance: We sometimes feel like were worthless, worthless to others and worthless to God. We may even feel that others see us as trash.
In Lincoln's Daughters of Mercy, Marjorie Greenbie tells about Mother Bickerdyke, who worked with General Sherman during the Civil War. She brought relief to thousands of wounded and dying Union soldiers.
Once, when Mother Bickerdyke was giving special attention to a man considered worthless by his comrades, she was asked, "Why do you waste your time on trash like that?" "Because," she replied, "when there's any creature around here so miserable that there's nobody to care for him, he still has two friends in this army. One is God, and the other is me."
—Our Daily Bread, 1994
possible exit: With God, the issue is not how you feel about yourself or how others feel about you, but how He feels about you.
♦ possible entrance: Before God can do anything, we must see ourselves as God sees us—sinners who cannot save themselves.
The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they have not yet come to the end of themselves.
—A. W. Tozer, sermon "Dark, Dark Night of the Soul"
possible exit: How about you? Have you come to the end of yourself?
♦ When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.
—Charles L. Allen, God's Psychiatry
♦ possible entrance: One way God draws us to Himself is to show us all the things in life that can't satisfy us.
Duane Thomas, star running back for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s, had it right. He kept hearing writers refer to the Super Bowl as the ultimate game, so he asked the obvious question: "If this is the ultimate game, why do they play it again next year?" That's the way things are in the world. You climb to the top of the heap only to discover that next year you've got to start all over again. Nothing in this life satisfies forever.
—Ray Pritchard, He's God and We're Not
possible exit: How many things have you looked at as the ultimate, only to discover how quickly those things pass?
Note: Here the name and position is more important than the year. Also remember to adapt the illustration to your message. Instead of using the first two lines as they appear here, simply say, "Duane Thomas, who years ago was the star running back for the Dallas Cowboys, made an interesting observation. After hearing the Super Bowl referred to as the ultimate game, he asked..."
♦ The sensitive person who lives only for earthly things cannot truly feel good about himself or face the end of life with contentment. In 1966, about a year before he died, the brilliant physicist Robert Oppenheimer said, "I am a complete failure!" This man had been the director of the Los Alamos Project, a research team that produced the atomic bomb, and he had served as the head of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Yet, in looking back, he saw his achievements as meaningless. When asked about them, he replied, "They leave on the tongue only the taste of ashes."
—Our Daily Bread, 1984
♦ I began wrestling in the seventh grade, having set as my goal the state championship. My junior high and high school wrestling career had its ups and downs, but finally my sophomore year in junior college I won the state championship. I had attained my goal, but to my surprise, it wasn't satisfying. I began to feel that there must be something more to life than just achievements.
After trusting Christ I said, "With Christ in control of my life, I find I'm not as likely to be offended by what others think about me, and when I came up against tough competition on the mat or a bad call by the referee I can trust Christ with that situation and know He will use it to strengthen me, rather than my losing my temper or giving in to frustration."
—Sam Hieronymous, Athletes in Action, January 1972
Note: With this illustration, all the listener needs to know is that the comment came from a person who played on his university wrestling team or competed in collegiate sports.
♦ The following came from a UPI news release: "Isaac Singer, 77, who won the Nobel prize for literature at 73, said he was surprised and happy after his 1978 Nobel selection, but twenty minutes later was the same man 'with the same worries and troubles'"
The failure of human achievements to bring lasting satisfaction was expressed well by Mr. Singer. Less than half an hour after being so highly acclaimed, he realized that he was burdened with the same cares as before.
—Our Daily Bread, 1983
♦ Today, it seems to me, there is no good reason for an intelligent person to embrace the illusion of atheism or agnosticism, to make the same intellectual mistakes I made. I wish—how often do we say this in life?—I had known then what I know now.
—Patrick Glynn, God The Evidence
♦ possible entrance: We have a struggle. We are not convinced God exists. But if there is a God, we are afraid of what He might do to us if we admitted those feelings to Him.
A young boy wrote a letter he wished to send God. It read,
Dear Mr. God,
How do you feel about people who don't believe in you? Somebody else wants to know.
Stephen Fortosis, A Treasury of Prayers, Kregel, 2001
possible exit: Go ahead—tell God your feelings. You will discover something exciting. Your feelings about Him don't change His feelings about you.
☺ Son to atheistic Dad: Does God know we are atheists?
Dad: Yes, He does.
☺ At times every leader feels like Lucy when she was leaning against a fence with Charlie Brown. "I would like to change the world," she said Charlie Brown asked, "Where would you start?" She replied, "I would start with you!"
—John C. Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You
☺ Boss to employee: "We've decided, Sherman, to give you more responsibility. From now on, you'll be responsible for everything that goes wrong."
☺ possible entrance: We are so accustomed to blaming others for our problems.
A woman angrily jumped out of her car after a collision with another car. "Why don't people ever watch where they're driving?" she shouted wildly. "You're the fourth car I've hit today!"
possible exit: Everything you do is not someone else's fault. Some of it is your fault.
♦ Teacher: "Yes, Johnny, what is it?"
Johnny: "I don't want to scare you, but Dad said if I didn't get better grades someone is going to get punished."
♦ possible entrance: We often try to blame our sin on someone else. Some are not willing to take the blame for everything wrong they've done because they already feel they take the blame for everything.
One evening my sister was sleeping in her bedroom upstairs while her eight-year-old son, Jason, was in his room on the first floor. Suddenly she was awakened by a loud crash. A van had run off the road, smacked into the side of the house, and come to a stop in the living room. Her first thought was of her son.
"Jason!" she yelled out.
From downstairs her son yelled back, "I didn't do it, Ma!"
—Submitted by Tammy Bonneau. Reprinted with permission from the July 1989 Reader's Digest. Copyright ©1989 by The Reader's Digest Assn., Inc.
possible exit: We can't keep blaming others. Sometimes we have to blame ourselves.
♦ Speaking of the current culture, the late Leonard Bernstein observed, "Half of the people are drowned... and the other half are swimming in the wrong direction."
—Bibliotheca Sacra, January-March 2000
☺ As I was driving to a speaking engagement, a car passed me with a bumper sticker that said: "I don't know if I am coming or going. Stay back in case I find out."
—R. Larry Moyer
Note: Here is an example of how in everything you do, illustrations come across your path. You simply have to be observant, set a goal of finding a certain number, and write them down.
☺ Some people are confused and feel as beaten down as a sparrow who flies into the middle of a badminton game.
♦ J. W. Mawson once had a long talk with a man of considerable intellectual powers, during which he pressed the claims of Christ upon him. Mawson said, "Several times in the course of our conversation he said, 'I'll never believe in hell.'" Mawson's answer was, "I am not asking you to believe in hell. What I want is that you should know the once crucified, but now risen and glorified Savior as our Lord." His final words were, "I'll never believe in hell."
That night he found it hard to sleep as his conscience and his mind were in conflict, and he argued with himself until, very weary, he dozed off to sleep early in the morning. It was the month of December. He awoke suddenly to see his bedroom in flames with fire and his first thought was, "I'm in hell."
It was a great factory on the opposite side of the road that was ablaze, flames leaping from the windows. His relief was beyond words, but he began to ask himself, "If there is no hell, why should I have thought that I was there on seeing the fire?" He realized that his conscience had spoken before he had had time to marshal his arguments. A thoroughly sobered man, he came to listen to the gospel and fled for refuge to the one and only Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.
—S. Lewis Johnson
♦ The definition of conscience is "that still, small voice that warns us someone is watching."
♦ Without God there is no absolute right and wrong that imposes itself on our conscience. But we know deep down that objective moral values do exist—some actions like rape and child torture, for example, are universal moral abominations—and, therefore, this means God exists.
—Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith
♦ There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.
—Pulpit Helps, July 1992
♦ A good conscience is a continual Christmas.
☺ A mother was helping her son with his spelling assignment and came to the words "conscious" and "conscience." When she asked him if he knew the difference between the two, he responded, "Sure, Mom, conscious is when you are aware of something, and conscience is when you wish you weren't."
♦ possible entrance: Even though we try to deny when we do wrong, we know it's wrong. Our conscience tells us so.
Members of the housing authority board in Evansville, Indiana, thought they had come up with a good fundraising idea. They observed that many residents were living together without being married. Assuming that some would marry if they could afford a wedding, the board organized a raffle and offered as the winning prize an all-expense-paid wedding. Applications were distributed, but not one was returned.
Apparently the raffle wasn't such a good idea. The reason may have been that some couples would be embarrassed if it became known that they were living together.
—Daily Bread, 1991
possible exit: Why be embarrassed by what you've done when God offers forgiveness for all our sins?
♦ A bad conscience has a good memory.
—Our Daily Bread, 1982
♦ A conscience is what hurts when everything else feels good.