I can’t sing a lick. Even so, surveying the adult Sunday school members before me, making eye contact, I cleared my throat and gave it my best with a familiar children’s song. “Jonah fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, Jonah fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling …” Across the room my wife was discreetly shaking her head from side-to-side and mouthing something. Others stared, pupils dilated, embarrassed for their teacher.
Stopping mid-stanza, I asked, “What?”
“It’s Joshua, not Jonah” Carmen said, looking at the floor.
“Yes it is. Great! We have Bible students present. Open your Bibles to …”
That opening is a delightful memory for two reasons. It was fun. And the compassion stirring in the member’s faces because of their teacher’s apparent goof was heart-warming.
Years before, a young woman came to our Youth Department to give a devotional. She stepped to the podium, placing a medium-size paper bag on it. From time to time as she spoke she looked into the sack, sometimes reaching her hand in, but always drawing it out empty. Needless to say, she garnered rapt attention. When she concluded her comments, smiling, she folded the bag and departed. I’ve always wanted to copy her attention grabbing gambit, but never thought I could finesse it with the moxie she displayed.
I remember a story I heard about a young seminar student that had just graduated. He was bursting at the seams to preach. Renting an outdoor tabernacle outside a small country town, he put up flyers inviting everyone to a service on a certain date and time. When the time arrived he looked out from the pulpit and saw only one old farmer in attendance.
“Should I preach?” he asked the old gentleman.
“Well, if I went down in the field to feed the cows and there was only one old cow there, I’d feed her.”
With that encouragement he commenced preaching and didn’t let up for an hour-and-a-half. When he stopped he asked, “What’cha think?”
“Well,” the old man said, “If I went down in the field to feed the cows and there was only one old cow --- I wouldn’t give her the whole load.”
Good advice, surely.
There is an illustration I often use when presenting Christ to men and women who are incarcerated, and on other occasions. It is courtesy of a preacher who used it in his sermon in a church I was visiting.
In Africa, there is a little animal called the Impala. It stands about knee-high and can jump twelve feet vertically and thirty foot distance. Even so, it can be kept in a small board pen that is only waist high. It won’t jump out. The reason: the impala won’t jump if it can’t see where it is going to land. In other words, it doesn’t have faith.
When the Israelites came to the Promised Land, the Jordan River didn’t part until the priests stepped into it. Just like the priests of old, when we step in faith our foot lands on solid ground.
In my early childhood, Mother frequently chided me saying, “Monkey see, monkey do.” Throughout life, what we see and hear influences us.
Keep the good, discard the bad, and give God the glory.
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