Illustration results for examples of faith
Assumptions can be quite dangerous. For example, the photographer for a national magazine was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Smoke at the scene hampered him and he asked his home office to hire a plane. Arrangements were made and he was told to go at once to a nearby airport, where the plane would be waiting. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, "Let’s go! Let’s go!" The pilot swung the plane into the wind and they soon were in the air. "Fly over the north side of the fire," yelled the photographer, "and make three or four low level passes." "Why?" asked the pilot. "Because I’m going to take pictures," cried the photographer. "I’m a photographer and photographers take pictures!" After a pause the pilot said, "You mean you’re not the instructor?" The Jokesmith.
The latest statistics clearly show that Christians in America are not doing a good job of resisting the devil. In fact, it appears that we are embracing the devil, or discounting that the devil even exists. The truly sad fact as we will see is that Christians in America think and behave no differently from anyone else. Here are some examples taken from a 1997 OmniPoll survey:
Donated any money to a non-profit organization in the past month:
47% Christians 48% Non-Christians
Have been divorced:
27% Christians 23% Non-Christians
Volunteered time to help at a non-profit organization in past week:
29% Christians 27% Non-Christians
Bought a lottery ticket in the past week:
23% Christians 27% Non-Christians
Gave money to a homeless person or poor person in the past year:
24% Christians 34% Non-Christians
“God’s Algebra!” Romans 8:9-17 Key verse(s) 16:“The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
One of the unchangeable and mysterious laws of mathematics is that whenever you multiply a positive number by a negative number you will always get a negative number. I remember my 7th grade teacher, Mr. Kramer, drilling that into our heads. There was no way of adequately explaining why a negative times a positive will always equal a negative. And, for a math underachiever such as myself, it simply was a matter of memorizing the theorem and forgetting the understanding part of it. From a purely logical perspective, it always seemed to me that whichever number was the larger ought to be the determining factor in any equation. It just made sense. The big guy was going to defeat the little guy in a wrestling match. The larger hawk would always overpower the smaller sparrow. If you mixed a little bit of gravel with a lot of sand you would still have more sand than gravel. I always had a hard time understanding the concept of something small overpowering something very large.
This seemed logical to me for the most part. Even daily life as it played itself out around me testified to the fact that the equation embraced faulty logic. For example, when you were having a good day and things were going along pretty well and you stumbled into calamity for some reason, if the amount of good you had happened to collect did not exceed the magnitude of the calamity, the bad would always put the hammerlock on the good sending you down to the mat every time. It was a question of balance. If your alarm didn’t go off in the morning and you were late for class, that could be overcome in general if you simply negated it by hitting a home run at recess and added a couple of good test scores to the mix throughout the course of the day. That seemed pretty logical to 13-year-old kid who was simply trying to make the best of life at the moment and was determined to finish each day with more good on his plate than bad.
Sometimes being a Christian and having to deal with the bad and negative things in our lives also has this same underpinning of illogical calculation. Life can real deal out some pretty heavy blows sometimes. Even worse, when we are already down for the count, there are even those days when bad piles on bad. If we use the logic of the 13-year-old boy just trying to make it through the day, days like this become unbearable. There simply isn’t enough good within our grasp to deal with all the bad. That’s when despair steps in to put its heavy boot on the back of our neck to keep us down for good.
Thank God for they mystery of His Holy Spirit. When He is inserted into the equation of life, what Mr. Kramer taught me in 7th grade mathematics starts to become even more illogical, however in a reverse sort of way. Whereas algebra dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a negative, God’s textbook, the Bible, dictates that a negative times a positive always equals a positive. When life becomes overpowering it doesn’t matter how much of it is negative. When we put the Holy Spirit of God into the equation the outcome is always the same; we get the help we need to cope and to restore our faith. This is a mystery that flies in the face of earthly logic but it is trustworthy. Sorrow and Affliction x the Holy Spirit = Patience. But God’s algebra doesn’t stop there. Patience x Experience = Faith. It doesn’t seem logical at the outset, but no matter how big sorrow and affliction are, they never come out the winner in this equation.
There was a man who got lost in the desert. After wandering around for a long time his throat became very dry, about that time he saw a little shack in the distance.
He made his way over to the shack and found a water pump with a small jug of water and a note.
The note read: "pour all the water into the top of the pump to prime it, if you do this you will get all the water you need". Now the man had a choice to make, if he trusted the note and poured the water in and it worked he would have all the water he needed. If it didn’t work he would still be thirsty and he might die. Or he could choose to drink the water in the jug and get immediate satisfaction, but it might not be enough and he still might die. After thinking about it the man decided to risk it. He poured the entire jug into the pump and began to work the handle, at first nothing happened and he got a little scared but he kept going and water started coming out. So much water came out he drank all he wanted, took a shower, and filled all the containers he could find. Because he was willing to give up momentary satisfaction, he got all the water he needed. Now the note also said: after you have finished, please refill the jug for the next traveller.” The man refilled the jug and added to the note: “ Please prime the pump, believe me it works”!
We have the same choice to make...
70 FUNERALS IN ONE DAY
During a forty-year ministry, I would guess that many pastors do seventy or more burials. But this wasn't over the full span of his ministry. In fact, it wasn't even a full year. In one day, Pastor Rinkart did burial rites for up to seventy people and did the same the next day and the next.
The year was 1637. He was the only pastor left in Eilenburg, Germany. This was the height of the Thirty-Years War that had start in 1618. By 1637 one army after another had pillaged the fields of Germany for nearly twenty years. Refugees fled to walled cities such as Eilenburg. Famine and plague ran rampant. In 1637 Pastor Rinkart buried nearly 4,500 people including many of his coworkers and his own dear wife.
Yet during this war that would bring such devastation, this same Pastor, Martin Rinkart, in the year 1630 wrote the words: "Nun danket alle Gott Mit Herzen, Mund und HĂ¤nden." What an example of the Apostle's words, "[W]e also rejoice in our sufferings" (Romans 5:3 NIV).
Now granted, the worst of the war came after he wrote those words, and I don't now how often he would have sung them during that dreadful year of 1637. And yet his faithful service throughout that year and onward certainly confesses a faith that was able to rejoice in suffering. How can we imitate that faith as we put into practice the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5?
I read an amusing story about the first Duke of Wellington. An inventor was trying to interest him in a bulletproof waistcoat he had made. It was absolutely marvellous and could save the great man’s life if somebody tried to assassinate him. The Iron Duke asked the man to put it on, and he examined it carefully, and then, to give it a test, he sent for a rifleman - but the inventor bolted out of the other door!
The devout priest was caught in a flood one day, and he climbed onto the roof of his Vicarage and as the water started lapping up over the roof he prayed “Lord, deliver me from this flood”.
The water continued to rise and a policeman in a rowing boat passed: “Can I help you Vicar?” “No thanks, the Lord will deliver me!”
A little while later, the water is even higher, and the Vicar is up to his waist, even standing on his roof. A lifeboat cruises past, and the coxwain shouts out “Can I help you, Vicar?” “No Thanks” was his reply “The Lord will deliver me – I’ve prayed for it”
After another few minutes, the water has risen so much that only the Vicar’s head is peeping out from above the water and a helicopter flies over. The pilot leans out and calls “Can I help you Vicar?” “No thanks, the Lord will deliver me!”
At which point, the water rises over the Vicar’s head and he drowns.
When the Vicar arrives at the gates of heaven and faces St Peter he is furious: “I’ve been a most serious and devout priest all my life, devoted to prayer and good works – why didn’t God answer my prayers. “Oh,” says Peter “That ‘s strange: we sent two boats and a helicopter after you…”
Story: At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity.
Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.”
Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.
Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?”
Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.”
The room fell silent.
Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.
After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride.
Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions.
Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requ...
In his book, Just As I Am, Billy Graham writes of the following event.
"One summer while in New Jersey, I was having lunch at a roadside diner when I was greeted by a big, smiling man whose eyes grew large as he studied me. “Hallelujah!” he shouted, grabbing and pumping my hand. “What an answer to prayer! I was just sitting here praying that I might meet Billy Graham, and in you walk! I didn’t even know you were on the East Coast.” He introduced himself as Dr. Theodore Elsner, a preacher from Philadelphia. “I have a great burden on my heart,” he said. “It’s a message that I believe is from the Lord. Billy, you must go on national radio. You know Dr. Maier the great Lutheran theologian and radio preacher from St. Louis is dead, and you’re the man God could use to touch America through radio.” I did not know what to think. Dr. Elsner urged me to contact Fred Dienert, his son-in-law, and Walter Bennett, a Christian who was also a radio agent. Impressed though I was by this abrupt meeting, I did not look up either Mr. Dienert or Mr. Bennett; indeed, I pretty much forgot the whole idea. I was so busy that I could not imagine adding anything else to my plate. A few weeks later I was speaking at a conference in Michigan. Two well-dressed strangers approached me and introduced themselves as Fred Dienert and Water Bennett. I did not know whether Dr. Elsner had spoken with them since he had met me, but their mission was to interest me in a national radio program. I was still president of Northwestern schools, still active with Youth For
Christ, and spinning in a whirlwind of national interest in our evangelistic Crusades. I told Fred and Walter that I appreciated their interest but simply could not do a radio program at the time. My closet advisers - Cliff, Bev, and Grady- concurred; it was out of the question. Later, in Portland, these two extremely persistent men repeatedly lay in ambush to catch me. All they wanted, they claimed, was five minutes of my time. I got so irritated with their pestering that sometimes I took a back elevator to avoid them. I finally told Grady to let them know I was not interested in their scheme to get me into broadcasting. Leave me alone was my message.
"As I came out of the hotel one night, continues Billy Graham, there they were. “We want to say good-bye,” one of them said. “We’re leaving tonight for Chicago.” “All right, fellows,” I said laughingly, “if before midnight tonight I should get $25,000 for the purpose of a radio broadcast, I’ll take that as an answer to prayer and be willing to do a national broadcast.” The thought was so incredible to them that they laughed along with me before heading for the airport.
More than 17,000 people were at the meeting that night. Just before introducing my friend Bob Pierce for a brief report on his travels in the Far East, I told them about the burden Walter and Fred had for broadcasting the Gospel, and the $25,000 condition I had laid down. The audience joined in my laugh. After Bob spoke, I preached and then extended the Invitation to receive Christ. Afterward, in the little room set aside for me in the tabernacle, a number of people dropped by to greet me. Several of them said they believed God had spoken to them during the service about helping us go on national radio. They began to leave cash, checks, and pledges. I couldn’t believe it.!
“Billy,” said Frank Phillips when everybody had left, “people have given us $24,000 tonight for radio!” Their confidence and generosity were enough to make me weep. But how could this be God’s answer? It was $1000 short. I told Grady, Cliff, Ruth, and Frank that maybe the Devil could give us that much to mislead us. We agreed to say nothing to anyone else about the funds and went out to eat, which was our custom after the service. We got back to the hotel about eleven-thirty.
“There are two letters here for you, Mr. Graham,” said the desk clerk. Postmarked two days earlier, they were from people I hardly knew- businessmen Howard Butt and Bill Mead. Both said they believed we should go on radio and that they wanted to be the first to contribute. And each enclosed a $500 check! Stunned, I bowed my head and said a silent prayer. Emotion so overcame me that I could not think straight. Clearly, the funds had come form God.
Then, when I turned to go to the elevator, who should be standing in the lobby but Walter and Fred! They had been at the airport, they said, but something had told them not to get on the plane. I put my hands on a shoulder of each man. “Sign us up for radio for at least thirteen weeks,” I told them. “God has answered prayer. We have the $25,000. We’ll take this as a step of faith.”
That radio show, that was begun with $25,000 that Billy Graham never expected to see was The Hour of Decision. And it was enough.
How Much Does Prayer Weigh?
Louise Redden, a poorly dressed lady with a look of defeat on her face, walked into a grocery store. She approached the owner of the store in a most humble manner and asked if he would let her charge a few groceries. She softly explained that her husband was very ill and unable to work, they had seven children and they needed food. John Longhouse, the grocer, scoffed at her and requested that she leave his store.
Visualizing the family needs, she said: ’Please, sir! I will bring you the money just as soon as I can."
John told her he could not give her credit, as she did not have a charge account at his store.
Standing beside the counter was a customer who overheard the conversation between the two. The customer walked forward and told the grocerman that he would stand good for whatever she needed for her family.
The grocerman said in a very reluctant voice, "Do you have a grocery list?
Louise replied "Yes sir"
"O.K." he said, put your grocery list on the scales and whatever your grocery list weighs, I will give you that amount in groceries."
Louise, hesitated a moment with a bowed head, then she reached into her purse and took out a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. She then laid the piece of paper on the scale carefully with her head still bowed. The eyes of the grocerman and the customer showed amazement when the scales went down and stayed down.
The grocerman staring at the scales, turned slowly to the customer and said begrudgingly, "I can’t believe it." The customer smiled and the grocerman started putting the groceries on the other side of the scales. The scale did not balance so he continued to put more and more groceries on them until the scales would hold no more. The grocerman stood there in utter disgust.
Finally, he grabbed the piece of paper from the scales and looked at it with greater amazement. It was not a grocery list, it was a prayer which said: "Dear Lord, you know my needs and I am leaving this in your hands."
The grocerman gave her the groceries that he had gathered and placed on the scales and stood in stunned silence. Louise thanked him and left the store. The customer handed a fifty-dollar bill to John as he said, "It was worth every penny of it."
It was sometime later that John Longhouse discovered the scales were broken; therefore, only God knows how much a prayer weighs.