Illustration results for Identity
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Sebastian Kresge started a five and dime in 1899 and it grew – people came to his store for good prices on decent products – his idea of a “blue-light” special reinvigorated the retail industry…at it height thousands upon thousands of stores serving millions and millions of people…
But then, something happened…something happened. Some claim it was do to increased competition – another company started by a young man named Sam Walton was giving Kresge’s stores a run for their money. Still some claim Kresge’s stores just built too much too fast…by over-expanding they found themselves deep in debt.
But today, I’ll tell you why the once mighty Kmart, the eventual product of Kresge’s five and dime, is in bankruptcy today, and its actually a simple reason…they forgot what they were known for.
Instead of continuing to offer great prices on decent products…they began to compete with the Targets and the Meijers in quality merchandise beyond their customers reach, while on the other end facing the low-pricing of Sam Walton’s creation, Walmart, at every turn. (When Kmart announced they were bringing back the blue-light special and lowering prices throughout the store, then I knew they were doomed. If Kmart has too announce that they have lowered prices, then they’ve lost their identity.)
Soon, being pulled at both ends, Kmart finds itself with the agony of closing stores and firing workers because instead of continuing as they were “known” they tried to change…and failed.
Why do I tell you this story?…because we are “known” too! God knows us. But often we try to be someone different than the way we are known. And if we continue to be something that God knows we aren’t, we are going to end up in a spiritual bankruptcy where God has planned so much more.
ILLUSTRATION: A heavily booked commercial flight out of Denver was canceled, and a single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the front and slapped his ticket down on the counter. "I have to be on this flight and it has to be first class!" he insisted. "I’m sorry, sir," the agent replied. "I’ll be happy to help you, but I have to take care of these folks first." The passenger was unimpressed. "Do you have any idea who I am?" he demanded in a voice loud enough for the passengers behind him to hear. Without hesitating, the agent smiled and picked up her public-address microphone. "May I have your attention, please?" she broadcast throughout the terminal. "We have a passenger here at the gate who does not know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate." As the man retreated, the people in the terminal burst into applause.
In 1858, a man named John Gray was buried in old Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh, Scotland. His grave levelled by the hand of time, and unmarked by any stone, became scarcely discernible; but, although no human interest seemed to attach to it.
The sacred spot was not wholly disregarded and forgotten. For fourteen years the dead man’s faithful dog kept constant watch and guard over the grave until his own death in 1872. James Brown, the old curator of the burial ground, remembers Gray’s funeral, and the dog, a Skye terrier called "Bobby", was, he says, one of the most conspicuous of the mourners. The grave was closed in as usual, and next morning "Bobby", was found, lying on the newly-made mound.
This was an innovation which old James could not permit, for there was an order at the gate stating in the most intelligible characters that dogs were not admitted. "Bobby" was accordingly driven out; but next morning he was there again, and for the second time was discharged. The third morning was cold and wet, and when the old man saw the faithful animal, in spite of all chastisement, still lying shivering on the grave, he took pity on him, and gave him some food. This recognition of his devotion gave "Bobby" the right to make the churchyard his home; and from that time until his own death he never spent a night away from his master’s tomb.
Often in bad weather attempts were made to keep him within doors, but by dismal howls he succeeded in making it known that this interference was not agreeable to him, and he was always allowed to have his way. At almost any time during the day he could be seen in or about the churchyard, and no matter how rough the night, nothing could induce him to forsake that hallowed spot, whose identity he so faithfully preserved.
That concludes the story of the life of Greyfriars’ Bobby. A life that was later commemorated by the erection of the statue and fountain by Baroness Burdett Coutts. The figure which was unveiled, without any ceremony, on November 15, 1873
REMEMBERING JOSEPH BAU--COMMUNION MEDITATION
When someone dies, we remember—we remember all the stories that filled their life. Last week a man named Joseph Bau died. It’s a name you probably don’t know, but a story worth hearing.
Joseph Bau was born on June 18, 1920, in Krakow, Poland. He became a young man just in time to experience the German invasion of Poland. He was one of three boys in a prosperous middle-class family that lived in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods. Joseph had always been good at art, and at the age of 18, he enrolled in the University of Plastic Arts at Krakow.
But the war interrupted his studies. His family was forced to move to the Jewish Ghetto, and then later to the Plaschow concentration camp. Because of Joseph’s partial education in Art before the war, and because of his talent for Gothic lettering, the Nazis employed him in producing maps and signs for the camp.
Joseph’s job also enabled him to save more than 400 Jews by forging false documents and identity papers that secured their release from the camp. When asked after the war, why he did not forge documents for himself, he replied, “Then who would have done it for the other Jews?”
When Jesus was hanging on the cross, we hear a similar question, “He saved others; He cannot save himself?” And Jesus answers, “What shall ...
Did you hear about the college student who was taking the course in ornithology, which is a study of birds?
This class in ornithology had the reputation of being the most difficult class in the whole curriculum. And the professor was an extremely difficult professor. Everybody feared him. But it was a required course, & every student had to take it.
As the course began, the professor announced there would be a test in 40 days & it would compose a large portion of the grade. So you had to do well on that test. Everybody studied. They took copious notes. They made sure they understood everything the professor said.
On the 40th day the students filed into the lecture hall with sweaty palms, extremely nervous. On the stage was a table with 5 cages on it. Each cage had a cover & beneath the cover they could see the feet & spindly legs of a bird.
At the sound of the bell, the professor addressed the students, “Here’s the test. You can see there are 5 birds & they’re all covered except for their feet & legs. You must tell me the identity of each of those 5 birds by looking only at their feet & legs.”
Everyone had studied long & hard, but no one had anticipated such a test. And they were all sweating, trying to remember something, anything, that could help them pass the test.
Finally, one student stood up & said, “This is ridiculous. This is the craziest test I have every seen, & you’re the worst professor in this whole school.” He said, “I quit. I‘m out of here. I’m not going to take this test.” And he turned & walked toward the door.
“Just a minute young man.” said the professor. “Who are you? I demand your name right now.” The young man stopped, took a long look at the professor, & then pulling up both of his pant legs said, “You tell me."
During the reign of Queen Victoria, a London doctor visited a 72-year-old lady named Maria Vincent. Her husband had abandoned her some years earlier. She was poor and lived in very humble surroundings. She was undernourished and had neither warm clothes or wood for a fire. The doctor couldn’t believe her friends would allow her to live like that. When asked about it, Maria said she had no friends. Later in the discussion she corrected herself. She admitted that there might be one, but was sure that she had forgotten about her. The doctor pressed her for the identity of the friend. And finally Maria told him that it was the Queen herself. She said that the two of them had been childhood friends.
The doctor left, not sure that he believed Maria, but when he got home he wrote the Queen a letter relating the incident. A few days later he received a letter from the Queen. The story was true. The Queen had not forgotten. Enclosed in the letter was enough money to provide for all of Maria’s needs. For the remaining years of her life, Maria Vincent lived comfortably as a friend of the Queen.
You share Christ by imitating Christ. A story is told – by Fredrick Beuchner I believe – called “The Happy Hypocrite." It is a story about a man who was born with an awful facial deformity. He grew up alone and lonely. When reaching adulthood, he decided to move from his town to begin a new life. On his way he discovered a beautiful mask that fit his making him look handsome. At first the mask was uncomfortable and he was afraid that people would find out who he really was, but he continued to wear the mask everyday.
In his new hometown, he made many friends and fell in love. But one day a wicked woman from his old home came to his town and discovered this man’s true identity. In front of his friends and fiancé, she forced him to remove his mask. When he removed the mask, it revealed a handsome face. His face had conformed to the mask.
Becoming like Christ is analogous to this. Go ahead and put on Christ. At first it may feel unnatural or uncomfortable, and maybe you may think, “who am I trying to fool?” But everyday just keep putting on Christ and everyday you will grow to look more like him.
A GLIMPSE OF ME—COMMUNION MEDITATION
In Mel Gibson’s Movie, “The Passion of Christ” there is an obscure detail in the crucifixion scene that probably goes unnoticed by most people, but it is a detail that says so much.
When Jesus is being placed on the cross, the camera comes close to watch as a large spike is positioned in the middle of Jesus’ hand. Then, a mallet comes into focus, and a rugged hand swings it to drive the spike. Those are all things you expect to see.
But there is something you don’t see. You never see the face of the one who drives that nail. You never get a glimpse into the eyes, or heart of the one who so assuredly pounds away until the spike has passed through Jesus’ flesh and comes to rest in the wood of the cross.
You might be interested to know that the person who plays that role in the movie is the director himself, Mel Gibson. But why does he never show the face of the one who put Jesus on the cross? Why does he not give us the identity of the one who had the gall to put the Son of God to death?
He didn’t show us that face because that face was his. It was ours. We are the ones who put Jesus to death. It wasn’t the Romans. It wasn’t the Jews. It was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 says: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all...
The mysterious formula for Coca-Cola
In 1925, the only written copy of its formula Coca-Cola admits to having was retrieved from a New York bank (where it had been held as collateral on a sugar loan) and reverently laid in safe deposit box in Woodruff’s Atlanta bank, the Trust Company of Georgia (which later merged with Sun Bank of Florida, creating SunTrust Bank).
But that was only the first step. That same year the company set a policy whereby no one could view the formula without written permission from the Board, and then only in the presence of the President, Chairman, or Corporate Secretary. Furthermore, the rule dictated that only two company officials would be allowed to know the recipe at any given time, and their identities were never to be disclosed for any reason. In keeping with the spirit of things, company policy was amended once air travel became the norm to preclude those two officers from ever flying on the same plane.
The mystery revealed
In 1993, Mark Pendergrast published what he believed to be Coke’s original formula in For God, Country and Coca-Cola. He’d come across the following among John Pemberton’s papers:
Citrate Caffein, 1 oz.
Ext. Vanilla, 1 oz.
Flavoring, 2.5 oz.
F.E. Coco, 4 oz.
Citric Acid, 3 oz.
Lime Juice, 1 Qt.
Sugar, 30 lbs.
Water, 2.5 Gal.
Mix Caffeine Acid and Lime Juice in 1 Qt Boiling water add vanilla and flavoring when cool.
Oil Orange, 80
Oil Lemon, 120
Oil Nutmeg, 40
Oil Cinnamon, 40
Oil Coriander, 40
Oil Neroli, 40
Alcohol, 1 Qt.
let stand 24 hours.
The Coca-Cola Company was quick to label Pendergast’s published find as "not accurate" and "the latest in a long line of previous, unsuccessful attempts to reveal a 107-year-old mystery." Mind you, given how much Coca-Cola has invested in proclaiming its formula to be a carefully-guarded secret, it is never expected to react in any other fashion even if it is someday handed the real formula.
When you first met “J.E.”, you could tell he was a very angry man. In fact, at age 54 he’d been an angry person for many years. In a Bible study that night, many questions had been raised in his mind. Talking with the leader afterward, J.E. said, “I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 9 years old. But nobody ever taught me about who I am in Christ, that I’m accepted by God or that Christ lives in me.”
“What were you taught?” the Bible study leader asked.” “Where I grew up, we heard all the time about how perfect Christ was and about how we should learn to live like Him – if we didn’t, God would judge us.” J.E. went on, “It didn’t take me long, I’d say in my teen years, to figure out that I was never going to cut it. So I gave up trying. I guess I’ve been living in guilt and running from God ever since. Off and on through the years I tried to go back to church, but I just got more guilt piled on top of me. I’ve sat under so many teachers who made me fearful that I was afraid to turn in any direction because God was going to get me. This is the first Bible study I’ve ever attended that gave me any hope” J.E. concluded.
At that point, J.E. was 54 years old. That means, even though he had been born again through trusting Jesus Christ at a young age, he had spent at least 35 years running away from God. Tragically, his experience isn’t that unusual. Thousands of people who sincerely responded to the gospel message they were taught spend years thrashing around trying to make it work, but without success. In fact, I believe the reason so many Christians struggle in living the Christian life is their lack of understanding their Identity in Christ.
(This illustration came from the book "Growing in Grace" by Bob George pages 59-60)