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Category: Hope

A 5 Year Old Learns What A Proposal Feels Like

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Topic: Jesus’ Love
Scripture: Song of Solomon 2:4, 10
Author: Mitchell Dillon

Lila'sProposal

When a 5 year old is dying of cancer, what can be done to make up for all that she will miss? This was the challenge facing Ryan and Heidi, whose daughter, Lila May Schow, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma and is not expected to make it to this Thanksgiving.

Springing into action, her parents decided they would not allow the cancer to rob their daughter of the important celebrations of life. So they planned a fairy tale ball, which included every major celebration a girl has to look forward to — a prom, a birthday bash and a wedding!

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An Angel Among Us

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Topic: Hope
Scripture: Mark 16:15; Isaiah 61:1; 1 Timothy 2:5
Author: Illustration Exchange

Despite owning a home perched atop a high cliff with a scenic ocean view in Sydney, Australia, Don and Moya Ritchie live on a plot of real estate that can best be described as something out of a bad dream. The rocky cliff is known as The Gap–the most notorious suicide destination in the country.

While most people would surely move away, the Ritchies have stayed for almost 50 years, saving an estimated 160 people from taking the leap.

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When Life Calls For A Transfusion

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Author: InfoPlease.com / Illustration Exchange
Scripture: 1 John 4:16
Source: “Blood Types” published InfoPlease.com, retrieved 5/9/15

If you ever find yourself, either by virtue of illness or injury, in need of a blood transfusion, you’d better hope your local blood bank has a good supply of a compatible blood type.

According to INFO PLEASE:

Human blood is grouped into four types: A, B, AB, and O. Each letter refers to a kind of antigen, or protein, on the surface of red blood cells. For example, the surface of red blood cells in Type A blood has antigens known as A-antigens.

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Police Dole Out Gifts Not Tickets

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Topic: Christmas
Scripture: Isaiah 9:6
Source: “These Drivers Thought They Were Getting Tickets. Instead, Police Gave Them Christmas Gifts” by Kate Abbey-Lambertz, posted HUFFINGTON POST, 12/12/14
Author: Kate Abbey-Lambertz / Illustration Exchange

“Getting pulled over by a police officer can make a good day bad and a bad day worse. Unless, of course, he helps you with your Christmas shopping instead of writing you a ticket,” reports the HUFFINGTON POST:

In a video released Tuesday, the police department in Lowell, Michigan, did just that.* Over two days in November, Officer Scot VanSolkema stopped unsuspecting drivers for minor infractions, like illegally tinted windows, that the department might normally let slide, according to Today.

After he pulled them over, VanSolkema made small talk and sneakily asked drivers what they or their kids wanted for Christmas. Meanwhile, a group of helpers were standing by at a nearby store. As soon as they heard a driver’s Christmas wish, they’d race to find, buy, wrap and deliver it to VanSolkema.

Instead of tickets, the officer handed over gifts, like a new TV and an electric scooter. Drivers had reactions that turned from irritation into confusion before melting into joy, and, in some cases, hugs.

*Click link to source above to view the video.

Application:

Isn’t it sad that those who have been tasked with the job of “keeping the peace” usually evoke such a sense of fear and dread within us? There’s no doubt that those Lowell, Michigan, citizens were convinced that the officer approaching their car was there to drop the hammer and nail them on one infraction or another.

Some of that stems from our own sense of guilt and shame. We’re just sure that we must have done something wrong! And some of it stems from an expectation that those who are charged with keeping the law take some sort of perverted delight in catching us when we break it.

But on this day, all expectations were shattered. It’s important to note that the officer pulled over the drivers for legitimate reasons (illegal tinting or a burned out turn signal). Yet he chose to look right past the driver’s guilt to the driver’s need for those yet unfulfilled gifts on their Christmas lists.

This is exactly the way our gracious God chooses to deal with us each and every day!

While many of us see Him as the great “law keeper” in the sky, just waiting to nail us on one thing or another, the reality is exactly the opposite. He’s the great keeper of the peace Who has Himself already satisfied all the requirements of the Law, so that He can look right past our guilt to our need. And the best part is HE is our gift!

It shatters our expectations. It’s confusing. But let the reality sink in, then just melt into the joy!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

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An Imperishable Crown

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Topic: Reward
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:4, 5:4
Source: “World Cup trophy worth over US$10 million” posted SportProMedia.com, 18 June 2010
Author: Jay Manimtim

If you followed the FIFA World Cup this year (2014), you probably saw the champions, Germany, win after their final match against Argentina. It was a glorious moment as they held and relished the prize for their hard work and dedication: the World Cup trophy. This trophy, made with 18 carat gold (75% pure) is valued today at upwards of $10 million.

Isn’t that amazing?

As precious and valuable as this prize is, however, the German team was not able to keep it. Although they were the champions, they went home to their country without the World Cup trophy. Why? Because FIFA’s regulations state that the trophy must remain in FIFA’s possession, with the World Cup winners awarded only a gold-plated replica.

The reason for this seemingly absurd rule is simple: the original World Cup trophy was stolen twice, once in 1966 and again in 1983, and was never recovered. The new trophy we see today is always heavily guarded and mostly locked away for safekeeping.

Application:

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 we read, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”

In this passage, we are reminded that as Christians, we no longer strive for what is susceptible to corruption or robbery. Unlike the World Cup trophy, the Christian’s imperishable crown is safe, secure, and eternal. This imperishable crown is also referred to as the crown of life (James 1:12), an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:4), and a crown of glory that does not fade away (1 Peter 5:4).

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The Final Escape

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Topic: Resurrection
Scripture: Romans 7:24-25
Source: “Final Escape,” Episode 8, Season 1, 1985 (Remake of the original from 21 February 1964)
Author: Illustration Exchange

The famed TV producer of the eerie and bizarre, Alfred Hitchcock, hosted his own hit TV show of a generation ago. One episode in 1987 (a remake of the original 1964 story)  told the tale of a murderous woman who, once condemned to prison, vowed she’d never be held captive and would surely find a way out.

She studied her surroundings and soon took note of a gravedigger, whose job it was to cart away deceased inmates for burial in the plots just beyond the prison confines. He was old and moved slowly, as his eyesight was badly impaired by cataracts. She approached him one day to bribe him into helping her escape.

Her plan was simple: When the death bell tolled, heralding the death of another inmate, she would make her way to the morgue and climb into the coffin with the deceased. He (the gravedigger) would then wheel the coffin to the plot, bury it in a shallow grave, then come back after dark to release her. All this in exchange for the money to have the cataract surgery to restore his sight. The old man agreed, and together they waited for their opportunity.

Time passed, when suddenly the woman heard the death toll. To her ears, it was the sound of freedom bells chiming.  The scheme went just as planned. She waited an appropriate amount of time, slinked her way to the basement, and slipped quietly into the morgue. She felt her way through the dark room to the coffin laid out on the cart. Opening the lid, she crawled inside and pulled the lid shut.

Soon she felt the cart moving. She could almost taste her freedom. Moments later she felt the thud as the coffin was lowered into the ground. She heard the dirt as it hit the lid. Then silence. She waited in anticipation. Minutes turned to hours with no relief. Panicked, she struck a match, surveying the situation. To her utter horror, she discovered that she was face to face with … the gravedigger!

Application:

Hitchcock’s murderous inmate had foolishly placed her life in the hands of an unreliable deliverer–one with no more power over the grave than she.

So, in whose trust have you placed your hope of deliverance? Buddha? Mohammed? Above all else, make sure that when you strike your match your deliverer isn’t in the grave with you!

“Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

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The End Is Just The Beginning

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Topic: Perspective
Source: The Last Battle, pp. 183-184
Author: C.S. Lewis / Illustration Exchange

To put this life in perspective we must set it beside the life to come.  Lewis does that for us in the final paragraph of the Chronicles of Narnia. In the final scene, Aslan assures Peter, Edmund, and Lucy with these words:

“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream has ended; this is morning.”

Lewis then brings the story to a final conclusion:

“And as he spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Application:

The current life is not the best life we will ever live. As Lewis suggests, “every chapter” will be “better than the one before.” This is not the longest life we will ever live. As Lewis also suggested, this life is merely the “title page” to eternity.

Nevertheless, this may will be the most important life we will ever live. For it is during this brief, adventure filled journey that so many decisions of eternal consequence are made. It is now, during this life, that we are presented with the choice to become followers of Christ.  It is now, in this life, that free grace begins to be experienced.

The entrance way by which we enter the Kingdom of God is found on this side of eternity.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way” (Matthew 7:13, NLT).

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Catch a Falling Tear

Printer Friendly Topic: Sorrow
Author: Illustration Exchange
Scripture: Psalm 56:8; Revelation 21:4
Source: Lachrymatory.com

They’re called tear bottles, tear catchers, tear vials, unguentaria, and lachrymatories. In them, tears are collected as a token of grief and mourning. Legends of tear catchers go back millennia to the days of Rome when, purportedly, mourners would bury their tear bottles with the dead as symbols of respect. It’s also reported that professional mourners (called wailers) would be paid to collect their tears for the dead–the loader the wails and the fuller the tear bottles, the better the pay.

The use of tear bottles enjoyed a resurgence during the Victorian period of the 19th century. Mourners would place their tears in a bottle with porous stoppers. The complete evaporation of the tears would mark the end of the mourning period.

During the Civil War, women would catch their tears in a bottle and kept them to show their husbands how much they were missed while away on the field of battle.

Today, tear bottles are enjoying yet another resurgence in popularity. You can buy them online and in trendy gift stores to give as gifts and tokens, not just of mourning, but for shared tears empathy over present struggles, and even for shared tears of joy.

Application:

References to tear bottles actually predate even Roman culture. King David, in his sorrow, cried out to God saying, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” (Psalm 56:8, KJV). The New Living Testament says it this way: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

What beautiful imagery. God sees each tear we cry and tracks each one. No sorrow goes unnoticed. No pain goes unmourned by our loving and compassionate Father. And one day, just as with the lachrymatories of the Victorian era, all our tears will evaporate, wiped away by the hand of a loving Savior.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT).

The time of mourning will be over!

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Zoom Out!

Printer Friendly Topic: Perspective
Author: Mitchell Dillon
Scripture: Romans 8:18
Source: Illustration Exchange

The next time life seems confusing and you feel that you’ve lost your bearings, ZOOM OUT! That’s what I did on Google Maps the other day and it worked like a charm. There I was, staring at a location on the map, a mite confused. So I clicked on “zoom out” and the broader perspective made all the difference. Understanding where you are in relationship to other key landmarks will do that for you.

Application:

So, the next time you find yourself a bit disoriented in your circumstances, step back and drink in a broader view. Resist the temptation to focus on where you’re stuck. Think about the broader context of your life. Think of how God has always provided for you. Think of how He has proved Himself faithful to you, again and again. Place your current moment in the context of the blessings of the rest of your life.

And realize that in Christ you have been granted an even greater capacity to zoom out. In light of God’s promises, you have been given the ability to zoom out until eternity itself comes into view. From this vantage point your earthly concerns are finally placed in their proper perspective. When eternity is your point of reference, your earthly problems become pretty small. From here it becomes easy to see that God has provided you with more for which to be thankful than to regret, more you don’t know about than you do, and more to come than has ever been.

As the Apostle Paul put it, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

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