Illustration results for Choices
GRANT AND CUSTER
There is a story of two Civil War Generals: George A. Custer and Ulysses S. Grant. Both graduated from West Point -- Gen. Grant, being the oldest, graduated in the 1840's and Gen. Custer in 1861. Grant fought in several wars and was a field General in every sense of the word. In 1865, he was the one who forced Robert E. Lee to surrender to the north.
At the surrendering ceremony, Grant wore a mud-splattered uniform of a private, with general shoulder pads sewed on. He was the picture of a man who was a worker and had just finished a job. He said he took no glory in the surrender of a fellow general. Gen. Grant was a humble man and an excellent leader.
When Gen. Custer graduated West Point, he went from 2nd Lieutenant to Brigadier General in less than two years. When he assumed command of his brigade in 1863, he wore a black velveteen uniform with gold braid from the elbows to the cuffs of his sleeves, and a golden feather in the hatband of his dress hat. He was known to have the brashest of attitudes and a personality that one newspaper columnist of the time described as "the personality of a childish upstart."
Gen. Grant listened to his advisors and led his troops into victory, winning nearly every battle he fought. Gen. Custer led his troops into a deathly defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn. He had been given advice to detour and go to another front, but the general "knew best" and rejected the advice of his second in command. He ordered a full attack. The only living survivor of that brigade was one horse.
Custer dressed to impress, Grant dressed for work. Custer wanted to be noticed. Grant wanted to win. I wonder, if they had both been sitting at the dinner in the days of Jesus parable, which one would have quickly taken the seat of high honor and which one would have gladly taken the seat of less honor? Like my father said to me, "A great man is always willing to live in the shadows of his success." And of course, which general had the greatest success in what he did?
We certainly make many choices in our daily lives, and it is in these choices that we can learn how to apply the lessons we have learned about humility. Custer made a choice to ignore his adviser, because he thought he alone knew best. His ended up riding his pride into the grave because he was not humble enough to accept another point of view.
UNTIL THE TRUMPET SOUNDS
A pro-choice feminist and a pro-life conservative were debating the relative merits of the sanctity of life issue. Sensing victory in the debate, the feminist declared, "You don’t understand, we’ve won in the White House, and we’ve won in the courthouse. Face it, it’s over, the fat lady has already sung."
The pro-lifer calmly replied, "Wrong, it’s not over until the trumpet sounds."
Catherine Marshall wrote:
"My friend Marge had an experience aboard a plane bound for Cleveland, waiting for takeoff. As she settled into her seat, Marge noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset suffused the entire sky with glorious color. But out of the window next to her seat, all Marge could see was a sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset.
"As the plane’s engines began to roar, a gentle Voice spoke within her. 'You have noticed the windows,' He murmured beneath the roar and thrust of the takeoff. 'Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Here’s a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to abide in Me with continual peace and joy.
"'You see, it doesn’t matter which window you look through; this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, ominous situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway.
"'And the final destination is not influenced by what you see or feel along the way. Learn this, act on it and you will be released, able to experience the peace that passes understanding.'"
THE CONCEPT OF GRACE
There is a great article that illustrates the concept of grace written by Charles Stanley.
“One of my more memorable seminary professors had a practical way of illustrating to his students the concept of grace. At the end of his evangelism course he would distribute the exam with the caution to read it all the way through before beginning to answer it. This caution was written on the exam as well. As we read the test, it became unquestionably clear to each of us that we had not studied nearly enough.
The further we read, the worse it became. About halfway through, audible groans could be heard through out the lecture hall. On the last page, however, was a note that read, "You have a choice. You can either complete the exam as given or sign your name at the bottom and in so doing receive an A for this assignment."
Wow? We sat there stunned. "Was he serious? Just sign it and get an A?" Slowly, the point dawned on us, and one by one we turned in our tests and silently filed out of the room.
When I talked with the professor about it afterward, he shared some of the reactions he had received through the years. Some students began to take the exam without reading it all the way through, and they would sweat it out for the entire two hours of class time before reaching the last page.
Others read the first two pages, became angry, turned the test in blank, and stormed out of the room without signing it. They never realized what was available, and as a result, they lost out totally.
One fellow, however, read the entire test, including the note at the end, but decided to take the exam anyway. He did not want any gifts; he wanted to earn his grade. And he did. He made a C+, but he could easily have had an A.
This story illustrates many people’s reaction to God’s solution to sin. Some people look at God’s standard--moral and et...
According to the Chicago Tribune, on June 22, 1997, parachute instructor Michael Costello, forty-two, of Mt.Dora, Florida, jumped out of an airplane at 12,000 feet altitude with a novice skydiver name Gareth Griffith, age twenty-one.
The novice would soon discover just how good his instructor was, for when the novice pulled his rip cord, his parachute failed. Plummeting to the ground they faced certain death.
But then the instructor did an amazing thing. Just before hitting the ground, the instructor rolled over so that he would hit the ground first and the novice would land on top of him. The instructor was killed instantly. The novice fractured his spine in the fall, but he was not paralyzed.
One man takes the place of another, takes the brunt for another. One substitutes himself to die so another may live. So it was at the cross, when Jesus died for our sins. (Choice Contemporary Stories and Illustrations, Baker Books, compiled by Craig Brian Larson, pg57).
Why would God go to all the trouble to endure our bad choices and our flagrant sinning in order to have relationship with us? Hear the story of the lost son from the modern setting as told by Philip Yancey in his book What’s so Amazing about Grace.
Yancey tells the story of a prodigal daughter who grows up in Traverse City, Michigan. Disgusted with her old fashioned parents who overreact to her nose ring, the music she listens to, the length of her skirts, she runs away. She ends up in Detroit where she meets a man who drives the biggest car she’s ever seen. The man with the big car – she calls him “Boss” – recognizes that since she’s underage, men would pay premium for her. So she goes to work for him. Things are good for a while. Life is good. But she gets sick for a few days, and it amazes her how quickly the boss turns mean. Before she knows it, she’s out on the street without a penny to her name. She still turns a couple of tricks a night, and all the money goes to support her drug habit.
One night while sleeping on the metal grates of the city, she began to feel less like a woman of the world and more like a little girl. She begins to whimper. “God, why did I leave. My dog back home eats better than I do now.” She knows that more than anything in the world, she wants to go home. Three straight calls home get three straight connections with the answering machine. Finally she leaves a message. “Mom, dad, its me. I was wondering about maybe coming home. I’m catching a bus up your way, and it’ll get there about midnight tomorrow. If you’re not there, I‘ll understand.” During the seven hour bus ride, she’s preparing a speech for her father. And when the bus comes to a stop in the Traverse City station, the driver announces the fifteen-minute stop. Fifteen minutes to decide her life.
She walks into the terminal not knowing what to expect. But not one of the thousand scenes that have played out in her mind prepares her for what she sees. There in the bus terminal in Traverse City, Michigan, stands a group of forty brothers and sisters and great-aunts and uncles and cousins and a grandmother and a great-grandmother to boot. They’re all wearing goofy party hats and blowing noise-makers, and taped across the entire wall of the terminal is a computer-generated banner that reads – Welcome Home!
Out of the crowd of well-wishers breaks her dad. She stares out through the tears quivering in her eyes and begins her memorized speech. He interrupts her. “Hush, child. We’ve got no time for that. No time for apologies. We’ll be late. A big party is waiting for you at home.”
John Williams III
Jesus lifted up the spirit of a discouraged preacher who retired early because of what happened to him. "In the Pentecostal Evangel church leader George U. Wood writes:
"Have you ever heard a healing take place? I have. I listened to an audiotape of Duane Miller teaching his Sunday school class from the text of Psalm 103 at the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on January 17, 1993. Duane prematurely retired from pastoring three years earlier because of a virus which penetrated the myelin sheath around the nerves in his vocal cords, reducing his speech to a raspy whisper....
"Teaching his class that day with a special microphone resting on his lips,
he reaffirmed his belief in divine healing and that miracles had not ended
with the Book of Acts. Listening to the tape, at times you can barely
understand his weakly spoken wheezy words of faith. The miracle happened at verse 4 when he said, "I have had and you have had in times
past pit experiences."
"On the word pit his life changed—the word was as clear as a bell, in contrast to the imperfect enunciation of the preceding "word past. He paused, startled; began again and stopped. He said a few more words—all in a normal clear tone—and stopped again. The class erupted with shouts of joy, astonishment and sounds of weeping. God completely healed him as he was declaring the truth in this psalm. (You can read the full account in Miller’s book Out of the Silence, Nelson Publishers.)". (Craig Brian Larson. Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, p. 116). If there is anything that this story tells us it is this, never underestimate what God can do! It was the healing touch of Jesus that gave Rev. Duane Miller the full range of his voice again!
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...
Charlene Cothran is the publisher of Venus Magazine, which is a periodical for lesbians of African descent. She recently announced on the magazine’s web site that she has become a Christian and has rejected the lesbian lifestyle she had been living. Cothran said that as a magazine publisher she has had the opportunity to address thousands of people publicly, influencing homosexuals to come out of the closet. Now, she says, she must come out of the closet again. She said, “The spirit of God spoke directly into my soul and said you will choose this day who you will serve and if you make the wrong choice, I will allow you to drift so far away from me that you will never hear my voice again. I gave God my heart and soul in the parking lot of the mall, right there in my car. A river of tears flowed as Jesus washed me and forgave me and redeemed me for His work.” Cothran will continue her work in the homosexual community, but she has changed her mission. She said, “I intend be just as ‘out’ about my transformation as I was about my lesbian life. I have given every gift I have back to God, including VENUS Magazine. The target audience will remain the same but the mission has been renewed. Our new mission is to encourage, educate and assist those in the [homosexual] life who want change but can’t find a way out.”
It was an unusually cold day for the month of May. Spring had arrived and everything was alive with color. But a cold front from the north had brought winter’s chill back to Indiana. I sat with two friends in the picture window of a quaint restaurant just off the corner of the town squire. The food and the company were both especially good that day. As we talked, my attention was drawn outside, across the street. There,
walking into town, was a man who appeared to be caring all his worldly goods on his back. He was carrying, a well-worn sign that read "I’ll work for food." My heart sank. I brought him to the attention of my friends and noticed that others around us had stopped eating to focus on him.
Heads moved in a mixture of sadness and disbelief. We continued with our meal, but his image lingered in my mind. We finished our meal and went our separate ways. I had errands to do and quickly set to accomplish them. I glanced toward the town square, looking somewhat halfheartedly for the strange visitor. I was fearful, knowing that seeing him again would call some response. I drove through town and saw nothing of him. I made some purchases at a store and got back into my car. Deep within me, the spirit of God kept speaking to me: "don’t go back to the office until you’ve at least driven once more around the square." And so with some hesitancy, I headed back into town. As I turned the square’s third corner, I saw him. He was standing on the steps of the storefront church, going through his sack. I stopped and looked, feeling both compelled to speak to him, yet wanting to drive on. The empty parking space on the corner seemed to be a sign from god: an invitation to park. I pulled in, got out and approached the town’s visitor. Looking for the pastor? I asked. Not really, he replied, just resting. Have you eaten today? Oh, I ate something early this morning. Would you like to have lunch with me? Do you have some work I could do for you? No work, I replied. I commute here to work from the city, but I would like to! Take you to lunch. Sure he replied with a smile. As he began to gather his things, I asked him some surface questions. Where you headed? St. Louis. Where you from? Oh, all over; mostly Florida. I knew I had met someone unusual. We sat across from each other in the same restaurant I had left earlier. His face was weathered slightly beyond his 38 years. His eyes were dark and clear, and he spoke with an eloquence and articulation that was startling. He removed his jacket to reveal a bright red T-shirt that said, "Jesus is the never ending story." Then Daniel’s story began to unfold. He had seen rough times earl in life. He’d made some wrong choices and reaped the consequences. Fourteen years earlier, while backpacking across the country, he had stopped on the beach in Daytona. He tried to hire on with some men who were putting up a big tent and some equipment. A concert, he thought. He was hired, but the tent would not house a concert but revival services, and in those services he saw life more clearly. He gave his life over to God. Nothing’s been the same since, he said, I felt the lord telling me to keep walking, and so I did, some 14 years now. Ever think of stopping? I asked. Oh, once in a while, when it seems to get the best of me. But god has given me this calling. I give out bibles. That’s what’s in my sack. I work to buy food and bibles, and I give them out when the spirit leads. I sat amazed. My homeless friend was not homeless. He was on a mission and lived this way by choice. The question burned inside for a minute and then I asked: what’s it like? What? To walk into town carrying all your things on your back and to show you a sign? Oh, it was humiliating at first. People would stare and make comments. Once someone tossed a piece of half-eaten bread and made a gesture that certainly didn’t make me feel welcome. But then it became humbling to realize that God was using me to touch lives and change people’s concepts of other folks like me. My concept was changing, too. We finished our dessert and gathered his things. Just outside the door, he paused. He turned and said," come ye blessed of my father and inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you. For when I was hungry you gave me food, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, a stranger and you took me in." I felt as if we were on holy ground. Could you use another bible? I asked.