Two boys were playing in the snow one day; when one said to the other, “Let us see who can make the straightest path in the snow.” His companion readily accepted the proposition, and they started.
When he was appointed as the pastor a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783 Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel.
On January 13, 2012, the massive Costa Concordia cruise ship with more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board was sailing off the coast of Italy on a tour of the Mediterranean Sea. The captain deviated from his planned course and the ship struck a reef near the shore. After taking on water for a while, the ship began to sink. Abandoning his duty to the passengers and crew, Captain Francesco Schettino left the ship instead of remaining to make sure everyone could be rescued.
Marla Runyan gave her all to qualify for the Olympic Games in 1996, but her best time finished short of the mark to make the United States team. Undeterred by that failure, she returned in 2000 and made the team for the Sydney Olympics. Her eighth place finish in the 1,500 meter race was the best finish ever for a United States woman runner. The thing that makes Runyan’s accomplishments even more remarkable is that she is legally blind. She is the first legally blind athlete to ever qualify for and compete in the Olympic Games.
When a man asked George Mueller the secret of his service, Mueller responded: “There was a day when I died, utterly died; died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends; and since then I have studied to show myself approved only to God.”
Source: The London Quarterly Review, Volume 92
In May of 2001, Erik Weihenmayer accomplished something that only about 150 people per year do—reaching the top of Mount Everest. The thing that made Erik’s achievement unusual is that he is the first blind person to succeed in scaling the tallest mountain in the world. Erik was born with a disease called retinoschisis, and by the time he was thirteen he was completely blind. Rather than focus on what he could not do, he made the choice to focus on what he could do and went much further than almost anyone expected.
In May 2013, thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali correctly spelled the word “knaidel” (a German-Yiddish word for a dumpling) to win the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee. Mahankali had finished third each of the two previous years. In both of those years he was eliminated when he failed to correctly spell a German-derived word. In preparation for his third attempt at the prize, Mahankali diligently worked to strengthen his area of weakness. “This year I prepared German words and I studied them, so when I got German words this year, I wasn’t worried,” he said after his victory.
There were 128 runners in the field for the cross country race at the 1993 NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships. As they set out on the 6.2 mile run, they were following a course that had been marked for them by the race officials. Toward the end of the course, one of the runners in the middle of the group realized something was wrong. Mike Delcavo of Western State College in Colorado saw that the main pack had missed the turn. “I was waving for them to follow me and yelling ‘This is the right way,’” he told an interviewer after the race.
Pierre Barlot was a gunner in the fort of Mont Valerin during the Prussian siege of Paris. One day he was standing by his gun when General Noel, the commander, came up and leveled his glass at the Sevres bridge. “Gunner,” he said, “do you see the Sevres bridge over there?”
“And that little shanty in a thicket of shrubs to the left?”
“I see it, sir,” said Pierre, turning pale.
“It’s a nest of Prussians; try it with a shell, my man.”
A missionary to Africa told the story of an elderly woman who was reached with the gospel. Though she was blind and could neither read nor write, she wanted to share her new found faith with others. She went to the missionary and asked for a copy of the Bible in French. When she got it, she asked the missionary to underline John 3:16 in red and mark the page it was on so she could find it. The missionary wanted to see what she would do, so one day he followed her.
Though he would later be acclaimed as one of the greatest inventors of history, Thomas Edison’s school career lasted three months. The teacher believed he was incapable of learning anything and sent him home. Edison’s mother taught him, and he was on his way to a lifetime of overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. Among his most famous inventions were the commercial incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the fluoroscope. Most of his inventions required months if not years of dedication to overcoming obstacles before seeing any results.
For more than thirty years, archaeologist Howard Carter searched the deserts of Egypt for something that most people thought didn’t exist—the tomb of King Tutankhamen. Most experts believed that everything in the Valley of the Kings had already been discovered, but Carter continued his search. Eventually after five more years without result, Carter’s sponsor, Lord Carnarvon of England, declared that he would stop funding the search.
It took less than ten seconds for Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to cover the one hundred meter distance on the Olympic track and win the gold medal in London. Those few seconds cemented his status as the “fastest man alive” and placed him on the winner’s podium once again. But the race was not won in those seconds—it was won by hours and hours of practice, workouts, weightlifting, special diet, and coaching.
Charles Peace, a notorious criminal in England, was executed on February 25, 1879. Just before his execution, an Anglican minister halfheartedly read to him from The Consolations of Religion: “Those who die without Christ experience hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death itself can bring.”
When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”
Source: The Mission-Minded Family, Ann Dunagan
Submitted by the homiletics class of West Coast Baptist College
The Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the heart of the Gaza Strip was a point of much conflict with militant Palestinians for several years. The conflict was so great that the settlement was evacuated in 2005.
Those who lived in Netzarim did so at great personal risk because they felt it was an important part of keeping their land free. A schoolteacher, Shlomit Ziv, who lived in Netzarim in 2001 said, “I don’t live where it’s comfortable; I live where it’s important to live.”
Often when we ask for a person’s signature, we will call it their “John Hancock.” This is because of the fifty-six signatures on the Declaration of Independence, one stands out above the rest. That signature belongs to John Hancock. He was the first to sign the declaration and he signed it in a large and legible script so that the King of England could read his name without using glasses.
The famous and very successful football coach Bear Bryant often told reporters, "I’d croak in a month if I quit coaching." After twenty-five years as the head coach at his alma mater, Bryant announced he would be stepping down at the end of the season. On December 29, 1982, he coached his Alabama football team for the last time in the Liberty Bowl against Illinois. On January 26, 1983, he died of a massive heart attack.