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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
We must be wary of defining friendship with God in terms of our relationships with one another. Friendship is a divine idea, and it must, therefore, define for us the meaning of companionship and camaraderie.
Friday at quitting time, Jim said,
‘Boss, have you got any extra work I can do tonight?’
Sure do but I can’t pay you overtime.
That’s okay, I just don’t want to go home.
Well, I’ve been in the doghouse since last night.
I see...Why? What did you do to deserve that?
I still don’t know, it must be one of those woman things.
I was minding my own business relaxing in front of the TV.
My wife enters the room & asks, "What’s on the TV?"
And honestly, I swear all I said was, "Dust!"
She’s been mad ever since!
The wife found fault with her husband’s grace/truthfulness & forefeited her companionship.
We also forfeit a great deal when the find fault with God’s grace.
A Religion Professor named Dr. Christianson taught a required survey of Christianity course at small college. Every freshman was required to take the course regardless of his or her major. Although he tried hard to communicate the gospel, students viewed the class as nothing more than a waste of time.
One particular year Dr. Christianson had a student named Steve. Steve was the Center for the college football team and also a strong Christian who intended on going to Seminary. One day Dr. Christianson had an idea and he asked Steve to stay after class. "How many push ups can you do?" He asked. Steve said, "I do 200 every night." The professor asked Steve if he could do 300. "I have never done 300 before" Steve said, "but I think I can do it." "Good," the professor said, and he proceeded to tell his plan to Steve.
Friday came and Steve got to class early. Dr. Christianson came in with a large box of fluffy, cream filled doughnuts. The class was excited, it was Friday the last class of the day, and they could start their weekend early. Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the row and asked, "Cynthia would you like a donut?" "Yes," she said. Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down out of his desk and counted off ten push ups. Dr. Christianson laid the donut on Cynthia’s desk. Joe was next. He asked Joe the same question and Joe said "yes." Steve did 10 more pushups and the professor laid the doughnut on Joe’s desk. And so it went all the way down the first row and half way down the second until it came to Scott. He was a basketball player and friendly to female companionship. Scott replied to the professor’s question by saying, "I want the doughnut if I can do my own push ups." Dr. Christianson said, "No Steve has to do the pushups." Then Scott said, "Well I don’t want one if I can’t do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesn’t want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didn’t want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts, Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it." And he put the donut on Scott’s desk.
Steve had begun to slow down a little and sweat had began to form on his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!" Then Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten more push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?" Steve did ten-Jenny got a doughnut.
By now a sense of uneasiness had filled the room. The students were all beginning to say "no." There were uneaten donuts on every desk. Steve was now putting forth a lot of extra effort to get the pushups done for each doughnut. A small pool of sweat was on the floor, his face was red, and you could see the sweat soaking through his shirt.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in class, to watch to make sure Steve did the full ten. Dr. Christianson started down the forth row. Students from other classes had came in and were sitting along the side of the room watching on. When the professor saw them he counted and saw that there were now 34 people in the room. He was worried about Steve, "Could he do that many push ups?" Jason, a recent transfer student, didn’t know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Don’t come in!" Steve picked up his head and said, "let him come in." Jason was asked and he said "yes." "Steve will you do ten push ups so Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great struggle. Jason, confused, was handed a donut and he sat down. Dr. Christianson then finished the fourth row and began on the visitors. Steves arms were shaking uncontrolably with each push up. By this time sweat was pouring off of his face and arms. The very last two students were cheerleaders. "Linda, do you want a donut?" Linda cried and said, "no thank you." Professor turned to Steve, "Steve would you do ten push ups so Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. The last girl was Susan. "Susan would you like a donut?" Susan was full of tears and did n...
“Take One Down and Pass It Around!” Acts 14:21-25 Key verse(s) 21a:“They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples . . .”
“Take one down and pass it around, ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall.” Although this wasn’t one of those endearing songs to dads on vacation and school activity bus drivers, it was a ditty that we sang without invitation since there wasn’t a kid who didn’t know it or didn’t like singing it despite its sometimes irritating refrain and terribly long duration. I don’t know the origin of the song or in specific how long it has been around. I know that it was well-known to my parents who might join in on occasion when so moved. Obviously its origins lay somewhere back in bygone days in the room of some crossroads tavern. The song began slowly and deliberately, always with a smile firmly planted in place. The reason being that we knew full well that it would get more raucous and the tempo would increase with each passing verse. Finally reaching “No bottles of beer on the wall with zero “bottles” to pass around, the song had become almost breathless. Yet, so addictive was its mantra that it wasn’t unusual to start the process all over again. When we sang that song everything else seemed to melt away; all you could focus on was that next numeric bottle of beer on the wall and little else mattered.
What was it about that song that made it so addictive to sing? And, for that matter, why would a bunch of kids like singing it in the first place? In reality it wasn’t the product we were singing about. Rather, it was the “passing it around” that made the song so much fun to sing. The “passing around” was a happy thought because it meant that we were giving and getting at the same time. Not a bad prospect for any kid.
“Giving and getting.” As a Christian there is probably no more advantageous position to be in either. To take some of what we have, even if it is nothing more than a smile, a chuckle or a kind word, and “pass it around” knowing full well that what we start will ultimately come back to us and we can do it all over again with gusto––never ending. Yet, why are there so many discouraged Christians today? Why aren’t they sharing in our “passing” encouragement? Chuck Swindoll writes: “The lack of encouragement (today) is almost an epidemic. To illustrate this point, when did you last encourage someone else? I firmly believe that an individual is never more Christlike than when full of compassion for those who are down, needy, discouraged, or forgotten. How terribly essential is our commitment to encouragement! Is there some soul known to you in need of encouragement? A student off at school . . . a forgotten servant of God laboring in an obscure and difficult ministry . . . a widow who needs your companionship . . . someone who tried something new and failed? Encourage generously! ENCOURAGEMENT! A new watchword for our times. Shout it out. Pass it around.”(Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, pp. 179.)
We have the Good News and it is better than any “ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall” in putting a smile on someone’s face. Yet, like the song, the gospel of Jesus Christ is an accessible commodity. It is there, waiting on the shelf for someone like you and I to take it, read it and then in a spirit of love and sharing, pass it around to others. And, what’s even better is this––there is an endless supply of this encouragement. It’s a song we never need to stop singing and one our Heavenly Father will never tire of hearing. Encourage someone today. Be the one to start the “passing around.”
For more from Chuck, visit http://www.insight.org
"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonderhe needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."
"Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation."
A FLAG OF RAGS
In the final years of our imprisonment, the North Vietnamese moved us from small cells with one or two prisoners to large rooms with as many as 30-40 men to a room.
We preferred this situation for the companionship and strength we could draw from our fellow prisoners.
In addition to moving us to new quarters, our captors also let us receive packages and letters from home.
Many men received word from their families for the first time in several years.
The improved conditions were a result of public pressure put on the North Vietnamese by the American public.
In our cell was one Navy officer, Lt. Commander Mike Christian.
Over a period of time Mike had gathered bits and pieces of red and white cloth from various packages.
Using a piece of bamboo he had fashioned into a needle, Mike sewed a United States flag on the inside of his shirt, one of the blue pajama tops we all wore.
Every night in our cell, Mike would put his shirt on the wall, and we would say the pledge of allegiance.
I know that the pledge of allegiance may not be the most important aspect of our day now, but I can tell you that at the time it was the most important aspect of our lives.
This had been going on for some time until one of the guards came in as we were reciting our pledge.
They ripped the flag off the wall and dragged Mike out.
He was beaten for several hours and then thrown back into the cell.
Later that ...
"Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden)."
Kicking Rocks by Gary Williams (from Seniors Quiet Time Miscellany)
One day a nine-year-old boy and a man began a walk to the beach. The man’s body was on vacation, many miles away from home and business, but his heart was still business-blinded. He thought his duty was to make sure that he and the boy got to the beach efficiently. This man wanted to hurry.
The nine-year-old had a less pressing agenda. He found a small rock and began kicking it down the road. It took effort to keep the stone ahead of him, but the boy saw no reason why the rock could not keep them company on the way.
"Come on, now!" the man scolded. "I don’t want to wait for you to kick that rock!" Resignedly, the boy kicked it to the side of the road and began walking silently beside his father. Suddenly the father stopped. We cannot say why.
Perhaps he just then realized that the beach was not a board meeting or that sunshine is enjoyed best without a sundial. Maybe the eyes of his heart caught something in the face of the boy. Or perhaps just then his own boyishness flashed to the surface.
We know only that he turned to the boy and said, "How ’bout it if I help you, and we kick it together?"
"O.K.!" said the boy, and he quickly retrieved the rock.
Soon four feet were scuffling in the dust of the road and the man was trying to show the boy his idea of a "good kick." And somewhere in the magic of their slow and halting progress, the man and the boy became father and son. They discussed the best way to kick such a small rock and experimented freely as they passed it back and forth between them. They shouted unabashed praise and admiration at each other’s well-placed kicks, and laughed at the other ones.
And the father discovered anew that morning what the boy had known all along. Kicking rocks can be fun. Fun is not complicated. It need not be expensive. All you need is a road and a rock.
Companionship is not complicated. It need not be expensive. All that is needed is something to share and someone to share it with. The father did not solve any major problems that day, and the world may never know about his walk to the beach. But for a moment, there were two less troubled hearts in the world because a father kicked at a rock with his son.
Perhaps some of that good continues yet. This world needs more boyish fathers and fewer businessmen. It needs fathers willing to kick rocks with their children. And children willing to teach them how.