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    Alexander the Great conquered Persia, but broke down and wept because his troops were too exhausted to push on to India. Hugo Grotius, the father of modern international law, said at the last, "I have accomplished nothing worthwhile in my life." John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the U.S.--not a Lincoln, perhaps, but a decent leader--wrote in his diary: "My life has been spent in vain and idle aspirations, and in ceaseless rejected prayers that something would be the result of my existence beneficial to my species." Robert Louis Stevenson wrote words that continue to delight and enrich our lives, and yet what did he write for his epitaph? "Here lies one who meant well, who tried a little, and failed much." Cecil Rhodes opened up Africa and established an empire, but what were his dying words? "So little done, so much to do." 

    Donald McCullough, "The Pitfalls of Positive Thinking", Christian Times, September 6, 1985.

    It was a case of now-you-win-it, now-you-don't. That's what people remember about 1972's gold medal game -- how the USA celebrated victory only to watch in horror as the Soviets won the second time around. The Soviets had control of the game from the opening tip until the furious final seconds. They led 26-21 at half time and 38-28 with 10 minutes to play. Then the USA began to chip away. With less than 40 seconds left, Jim Forbes made a 20-foot jump shot to cut the deficit to 49-48. Here's what happened in the chaotic final 10 seconds -- or to be precise, 13 seconds, since those last three were played twice: 10 seconds to go -- Tom McMillen blocks a jumper by soon-to-be- hero Aleksandr Belov. The ball bounces back to Belov, who quickly tries to pass it back to mid-court. 07 -- Doug Collins intercepts the pass and dashes for the other basket with Zurab Sakandelidze in pursuit. 03 -- Sakandelidze tackles Collins rather than give him the winning lay up, ramming Collins into the basket support. Collins gets up woozily, walks to the free-throw line and makes both shots as Soviet coach Vladimir Kondrashkin prematurely tries to signal time out USA 50, USSR 49.

    The Soviets inbound the ball; two seconds elapse while their coach continues frantically to signal time out. 01 -- The referees, one from Bulgaria, the other from Brazil, stop play to check the commotion. The Soviets inbound with one second left. A pass glances off Belov's hand and caroms harmlessly off the backboard. 00 -- The horn sounds and USA players celebrate the hard-fought victory. Final score: 50-49 USA. Only it wasn't final. Enter Great Britain's R. William Jones, secretary general of the International Amateur Basketball Federation (FIBA), the organization that governs international amateur basketball. Technically, he had no authority to intervene in an Olympic game. But he ruled international basketball with an iron hand, and when Jones ordered three seconds restored, apparently to honor the Soviets' attempt to call a timeout, game officials acquiesced.

    Under international rules of the time, the Soviets were not entitled to a time out. "I think Jones thought he could avoid controversy by giving them the time out," says Bill Wall of Amateur Basketball Association/USA. "Instead he created it. I just think he never thought they'd score." USA coach Henry Iba says one of the referees suggested he pull his team off the court. "But walking away with your tail between your legs is not the American way," Iba says. As it was, the Soviets appear -- on tape replay -- to commit at least three infractions on the winning play. 03 -- With three seconds back on the clock, McMillen prepares to defend against the inbound pass. But the official moves him to the foul line. The Soviets launch a court-length inbound pass. But the player throwing it steps on the end line just before he released it. Violation No. 1. Belov shoulder-blocks two USA defenders, Forbes and Kevin Joyce and they sprawl to the court as Belov catches the ball. Violation No. 2. Belov shuffles his pivot foot as he sets himself to lay in the winning basket. Violation no. 3. The shot banks in and the Soviets take the court for a victory dance similar to the USA's frolic of moments before, USSR 51, USA 50. The USA files a protest that is rejected (Italy and Puerto Rico side with the USA; Hungary, Poland and Cuba do not). Iba was doubly robbed: A pickpocket lifted $370 from him as he signed the protest papers.

    Source Unknown.

    Sir Alexander Mackenzie is a Canadian hero. An early fur trader and explorer, he accomplished a magnificent feat when he led an expedition across Canada from Fort Chippewyan on Lake Athabasca to the Pacific Ocean. His incredible journey was completed in 1793, 11 years before Lewis and Clark began their famous expedition to the west. Mackenzie's earlier attempt in 1789, however, had been a major disappointment. His explorers had set out in an effort to find a water route to the Pacific. The valiant group followed a mighty river (now named the Mackenzie) with high hopes, paddling furiously amid great danger. Unfortunately, it didn't empty into the Pacific, but into the Arctic Ocean. In his diary, Mackenzie called it the "River of Disappointment." 

    Daily Bread, July 1, 1990.

    In 1858 the Illinois legislature--using an obscure statute--sent Stephen A. Douglas to the U.S. Senate instead of Abraham Lincoln, although Lincoln had won the popular vote. When a sympathetic friend asked Lincoln how he felt, he said, "Like the boy who stubbed his toe: I am too big to cry and too badly hurt to laugh."

    Source Unknown.

    Early missionaries to the Marshall Islands in the central Pacific received their mail once a year when the sailing boat made its rounds of the South Pacific. On one occasion the boat was one day ahead of schedule, and the missionaries were off on a neighboring island. The captain left the mail with the Marshallese people while he attended to matters of getting stores of water and provisions. At last the Marshallese were in possession of what the missionaries sopke about so often and aparently cherished so much. The people examined the mail to find out what was so attractive about it. They concluded that it must be good to eat, and so they proceeded to tear all the letters into tiny bits and cook them. However, they didn't taste very good, and the Marshallese were still puzzled about the missionaries' strange interest in mail when they returned to find their year's correspondence made into mush. 

    Adapted from Eugene A. Nida's Customs and Cultures: Anthropology for Christian Missions, pp. 5-6.

    Early in my career as a doctor I went to see a patient who was coming out of anesthesia. Far off church chimes sounded. "I must be in heaven," the woman murmured. Then she saw me. "No, I can't be," she said. "There's Dr. Campbell." 

    Lenore Campbell, M.D., in Medical Economics.

    The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, "Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me." Now, at last, his prayer would be answered. When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People's Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service. 

    Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd.