Illustration results for importance
T. Ray Cole
PARABLE OF THE CANDLES
There was a blackout one night. When the lights went out, I fumbled to the closet where we keep the candles for nights like this ... I lit four of them. I was turning to leave with the large candle in my hand when I heard a voice,
"Now, hold it right there."
"Who said that?"
"I did." The voice was near my hand.
"Who are you? What are you?"
"I'm a candle."
I lifted up the candle to take a closer look. There was a tiny face in the wax. "Don't take me out of here!"
"I said, Don't take me out of this room."
"What do you mean? I have to take you out. You're a candle. Your job is to give light. It's dark out there."
"But you can't take me out. I'm not ready," the candle explained with pleading eyes. "I need more preparation."
I couldn't believe my ears. "More preparation?"
"Yeah, I've decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won't go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You'd be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be..."
"All right then," I said. "You're not the only candle on the shelf. I'll blow you out and take the others!"
But right then I heard other voices, "We aren't going either!"
I turned to the other candles, "You are candles and your job is to light dark places!"
"Well, that may be what you think," said the first one, "You may think we have to go, but I'm busy ... I'm meditating on the importance of light. It's really enlightening."
"And you other two," I asked, "Are you going to stay, too?"
A short, fat, purple candle with plump cheeks spoke up. "I'm waiting to get my life together, I'm not stable enough."
The last candle had a female voice, very pleasant to the ear. "I'd like to help, "she explained, "but lighting the darkness is not my gift ... I'm a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly."
She began a rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing.
I took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet.
Here is a question for you--when was the last time you shared the gospel to someone? This world is full of darkness, with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. You can be a light for them, and believe me, there's a light waiting for you. It can all happen with something as sharing the faith, to just a smile across the room, to a quick hello to a forgotten friend. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS, AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN." Matthew 5:14-16
- Author unknown
A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it’s because they don’t know you."
My wife and I were trying to show our grandchildren the importance of thanking God for everything that He had blessed us with. We encouraged them to speak to God whenever they needed to know what they should do. Michael, our 4 year old grandson, enjoyed holding our hands, and with head bowed, he would close his eyes and listen as my wife or I led in prayer. One evening as we were preparing to eat the evening meal, I asked that we all join hands and bow our heads as I led in prayer. To my surprise, Michael asked if he could say the prayer. I responed by asking him "Michael, do you know how to ask God to bless our meal?" To which he nodded with enthusiasm that he did. So we all bowed our heads and I gave Michael permission to begin. Instead of hearing words of a prayer, I heard nothing, and was about to ask Michael to begin again, when my ears caught a very faint sound coming from the direction of his bowed head. I listened, I strained, yet I could not make out any intelligible words. Finally, a very hardy "Amen" was uttered from Michael, and he looked up with an expectant expression that looked for an affirmation from his grandparents that he had done a very good job. Before I could say anything, to Michael, my wife instructed him that we would say the prayer again, because she could not hear a single word of anything that he had said. After all, we wanted to teach them how to talk to the Father, and they needed to know how to do so. What happened next drove home the lesson my wife and I had been attempting to teach. Michael’s facial expression changed from one of joy to one of puzzlement, and then he quickly added, "But Granny, I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to God!"
A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment’s pa...
The pastor of a church that didn’t have the reputation for being very generous with their giving decided that it was time to do something drastic in order to teach the congregation the importance of giving. He contacted an electrician and had all of the pews wired.
The next Sunday which was the first Sunday of the New Year, the time when the church had traditionally taken up pledges from the people the Pastor stood up and made the following announcement. "From now on instead of putting your pledges in sealed envelopes and turning them into the church office all pledges will be made publicly during the worship service." Then he said, so let’s get started. "All of you who will pledge to give ten dollars a week, please stand up." As soon as he said this he pushed a button that the electrician had installed in the pulpit and it sent a jolt of electricity through the wires and into the pews. Immediately about one half of the congregation jumped to their feet. The pastor reached down and adjusted a knob on the podium and then said, "All you who will pledge to give twenty dollars a week please stand." A second stronger volt of electricity caused several more people to rise to their feet. This whole process was repeated several times. Each time the pledge amount was raised along with the voltage. The ushers had to work fast just to record all of the names and pledges.
After the service the pastor and his staff were busy adding up the totals and congratulating themselves on the great success of the annual stewardship campaign—Their enthusiasm ended abruptly however, when one of the Deacons opened the door and announced that four church members had been electrocuted because they refused to stand up.
Former Under Secretary of the Interior John C. Whitaker is reminded of how easy it is to get an out-of-perspective feeling about one’s importance in government whenever he thinks of an 85-year-old woman who has lived her life in one spot in Nova Scotia. The population there swells to nine in summer and stays steady at two during the winter. Whitaker, who has been fishing there every year since he was 12, flew in one day. Miss Mildred welcomed him into her kitchen and said, "Johnny, I hate to admit I don’t know, but where is Washington?" When Whitaker realized that she wasn’t kidding, he explained: "That’s where the President is. That’s like where you have the Prime Minister in Ottawa." Then she asked how many people lived there, and Whitaker said there were about two million. She said, "Think of that, two million people living so far away from everything."
USE WHAT IS THERE
My son Omri is large, extremely smart and very active. He has not met a tree or roof that he has not at least mentally pondered climbing. Omri's teacher runs up to me the other day and says, "Your son almost made me lose my mind, my religion and my job." This is not unusual, so I listen as she is animated, jumping around telling her story:
"We were preparing for his Map Test (Measures of Academic Progress by NAWA), and we had been hyping the kids all day and week with the importance of doing well on the test, and Omri has been saying all day how well he wanted to do on the test. Well, we come in from lunch, and I grab Omri, my best student, and get him started on the test on the computer.
"He comes to the first question, which says "Take the P off of Pat and replace it with a (C) sound and select the picture." The little pictures make sound when you mash them. Several times he looked at "Cat" right in the middle and refused to mash the button. He was just sitting there ten to fourteen minutes. At that point I was pulling my hair out, asking myself, 'Did I not explain this test to my students? Lord, have I done something wrong? I mean, this is one of my best students and he is frozen. Am I a good teacher? Am I a good person?'"
She gives up and some would say even breaks the rules of this Testing system to ask Omri, "Are you all right?"
"Yes!" he replies.
He says, "I'm looking for the K. I know that the (C) sound is made by K, C, and QU, but since this is such an important test I want to use K. It's taller."
And at this point, she gave my son the same commendation that God gave Jeremiah and I am giving you. She said, "Use what is there!" He goes on to finish the test with a 100 score, her first since giving the test.
Paul Dickson has written a book entitled, What’s In A Name? In that book he shares some of the most unusual names he’s come across. How would you like to have any of these for your name? Cletus Clodfelter, Rotten Earp, Jinglebells Kaplan, and Boomfa Umfumpa. Can you imagine? "Hey Boomfa!" I could add another cruel name to his list. I actually know of a preacher, an associate minister in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, who’s last name is Odor. His parents gave him the first name of.. Ivan! Ivan Odor! It’s no wonder he always uses his middle initial, Ivan C. Odor. Dickson, also writes that some people seem to be destined to certain occupations by their names. Joe Bunt became a baseball coach. Dan Druff became a barber. Two men with the last names o...
SOMETIMES WE NEED A STEWARD
If you ever get to Venice, one of the places to see is Saint Mark's Square, the spot Napoleon called "the drawing room of Europe." But if you go there, make sure your belly is covered up. It’s not that there's exactly a dress code, but there is an expectation of decorum. At any given time there can be thousands of people in this famous square which is surrounded by great architecture and sites of historic importance. But some people just don’t get it, and they aren’t above wandering onto the square bare-chested or with their midriff exposed. Some carelessly drop litter and others try to set out picnic lunches on the square. Still others treat the nearby Grand Canal as if it were a beach.
So recently, in addition to posting signs naming the prohibitions, they have started employing a squad of women as stewards of the square to make sure tourists are not taking unwarranted liberties and pay due respect to the historic property. These stewards wear special T-shirts to identify their role and they try to do their work in a friendly way. They speak several languages so as to deal with foreign tourists. Most visitors who are corrected by a steward respond positively. However, when tourists turn aggressive, the women are able to call in police backup who can hand out fines ranging from 25 to 500 Euros. Actually, the stewards aren’t there to stop people from enjoying themselves, but to remind them of the importance of conducting themselves in a way that recognizes the specialness of the place.
Our reason for discussing all this is not to lament the state of our dress or manners, but to illustrate the idea that there are times and places where we need a steward to direct us in how to be in the square of life. That can be hard to hear in our individualist, don’t-fence-me-in society, but it's true nonetheless. And that brings us to our reading from Romans, where the apostle Paul contrasts what he calls life in the flesh with life in the Spirit. Romans 8:1-11.
You gotta love the story of the 3rd Grade Sunday School teacher who was trying to drive home the importance of family life. She illustrated her point by referring to the commandment “honor your mother and father.” Then she added, “Now that commandment about honoring our mother and father deals with how we are to treat our parents---can any of you tell me a commandment that deals with how we are to treat brothers and sisters?” There was a long pause and then one boy’s face lit up as he said, “I know! You shall not kill!”