Sermon Illustrations

“Mud-Gazing?” Luke 12:13-15 Key verse(s) 13:“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Do you sing because you are happy; or are you happy because you sing? You’ve met the person. They always seem to have a positive attitude about nearly everything. They’re the people you see on the freeway in the midst of rush hour, bumper to bumper with frustration and impatience, singing sweetly inside their car as they slowly inch their way through traffic. You glance over at them and watch their lips moving and their head swaying back and forth as they watch the road, hit the brake and tap the accelerator. Your first thought might be, are they all there? How can they be singing when everyone else around you is pounding the dashboard and muttering under their breath? What makes some people better at coping with tension; coping with the multitude of everyday stressors that afflict us all? Are they possessed with a special gift that few people have or have they unearthed the secret to being calm when others are frantic that took them a correspondence course and several sets of behavioral modification tapes to discover?

Over the years I have discovered a dusty old truth here and there. One that I perceive to be a real keeper is this. People who are happy are people who have made the decision that this is the way that they want to live their lives. Indeed they have discovered a great secret, but one that is not difficult to find. It is our choice to be happy or to be glum. People who can sing in traffic, however, have taken another step beyond just acknowledging that happiness is a choice. They have also discovered one additional maxim, the catalyst for singing when others are cursing. And this is the truth is not always what it seems. On the surface a traffic jam is an obstacle. In reality it may really be an opportunity. It is a matter of perception.

Dr. John Maxwell writes: “When we become conditioned to perceived truth and closed to new possibilities, the following happens: We wee what we expect to see, not what we can see. We hear what we expect to hear, not what we can hear. We think what we expect to think not what we can think.

(Take) the case (of) Henry J. Kaiser’s construction crew. While building a levee along a river bank, a violent rainstorm flooded the earth-moving machinery and destroyed the work that had been done. As Kaiser approached the work site to assess the damages, he found his crew bemoaning the mud and the buried earthmoving equipment.

As his workers surrounded him, Kaiser asked, ‘Why are you so glum?’ ‘Can’t you see the disaster?’ they asked. ‘Our equipment is covered with mud.’ Smiling, Kaiser asked, ‘What mud?’ ‘You must be kidding. Look around you. We are surrounded by a sea of mud. How can you say you don’t see any?’ ‘Well,’ said Henry Kaiser, ‘what I see is clear blue sky filled with bright sunshine. I’ve never known mud to sustain itself against the powerful sun. Soon it will be dried up and then we will be able to move our equipment and start over. Furthermore, our attitude will not only affect how we see reality but will also affect the reality itself. Sun or mud, the choice is yours.’

The difference between sun or mud is a matter of perspective. Again, what we expect to see we see. This delightful story involving Henry J. Kaiser reinforces our choice to look at any situation from more than one...

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