Lincoln Faced Discouragement And Moved Beyond It
A man whom many believe was the greatest American president is a good example. When he was 7 years of age, his family was forced out of their home, and he went to work. When he was 9, his mother died. He lost his job as a store clerk when he was 20. He wanted to go to law school, but he didn't have the education. At age 23 he went into debt to be a partner in a small store. Three years later the business partner died, and the resulting debt took years to repay.
When he was 28, after courting a girl for four years, he asked her to marry him, and she turned him down. On his third try he was elected to Congress, at age 37, but then failed to be re-elected. His son died at 4 years of age. When this man was 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. At age 47 he ran for the vice-presidency and lost. But at age 51 he was elected president of the United States.
The man was Abraham Lincoln, a man who learned to face discouragement and move beyond it. Did you know that it was Abraham Lincoln who, in the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, established the annual celebration of Thanksgiving? Lincoln had learned how important it is to stop and thank God in the midst of great difficulties.
Your Attitude Determines How Circumstances Impact Your Life
A little boy was overheard talking to himself as he strutted through the backyard, wearing his baseball cap and toting a ball and bat. "I'm the greatest hitter in the world," he announced. Then he tossed the ball into the air, swung at it, and missed. "Strike One!" he yelled. Undaunted, he picked up the ball and said again, "I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" He tossed the ball into the air. When it came down, he swung again and missed. "Strike Two!" he cried.
The boy then paused a moment to examine his bat and ball carefully. He spit on his hands and rubbed them together. He straightened his cap and said once more, "'I'm the greatest hitter in the world!" Again he tossed the ball up in the air and swung at it. He missed. "'Strike Three! Wow!" the boy exclaimed. "I'm the greatest pitcher in the world!"
Your attitude determines how circumstances impact your life. The little boy's circumstances hadn't changed, but his optimistic attitude prompted him to give an encouraging meaning to what had happened.
What difficult time are you going through right now? Can you do something to change it? If you can, don't wait another day-make the needed changes. If you can't change the circumstance, however, change your attitude-you'll discover that circumstances won't have the last word.
Hot Illustrations For Youth Talks
Wayne Rice, Zonderzan, pp. 104-105.
Renew Your Mind
According to an October 29, 1994, story from the Reuters news agency, a Chinese woman named Zhang Meihua began to suffer mysterious symptoms when she turned twenty. She was losing the ability to nimbly move her legs and arms. Doctors could not find the cause, and the symptoms continued.
Two decades passed, and Zhang began to also suffer from chronic headaches. Again she sought help from the doctors. This time a CAT scan and an X ray found the source of the woman's mysterious symptoms. A rusty pin was lodged in her head. The head of the pin was outside the skull, and the shaft penetrated into her brain. Doctors performed surgery and successfully extracted the pin.
The Xinhua news agency reported the doctors expressed amazement that the woman "could live for so long a time with a rusty pin stuck in her brain." After noting the position of the pin in her skull, they speculated that the pin had entered her skull sometime soon after birth and before her skull had hardened. Zhang, now fully recovered, said she "had no memory of being pierced by a pin in the head."
Like the rusty pin in that woman's brain, unwholesome thoughts, bad attitudes, and painful memories can lodge in our minds and cause chronic problems. God tells us to renew our minds.
Attitudes, Health, Thoughts
Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 4:8-9
Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Editor Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 154.
What An Attitude
Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fella. One day he came home and told his mother he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, I wish he wouldn't do that because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines.
Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed…maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn't get many valentines--maybe none at all.
That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. She noticed his arms were empty, (he did not receive one valentine) and when the door opened she choked back the tears.
"Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you." But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was: "Not a one…not a one." And then he added, "I didn't forget a one, not a single one!"
He wasn't worried about receiving valentines, instead, he was proud that he didn't forget to give one child a valentine. What an attitude!
Stories For The Heart
Alice Gray, Multnomah, p. 65.
A Person Changes Altitude By Changing Attitude
On January 13, 1997, reports Richard Conniff in National Geographic, adventurer Steve Fossett climbed into the cock-pit of a hot-air balloon in St. Louis, Missouri, and rose into the sky with the ambition of being the first to circle the globe in a balloon. After three days he had crossed the Atlantic and was flying at 24,500 feet eastward over Africa.
The prevailing wind carried him on a direct course for the country of Libya, and that was a problem. Libya had refused him permission to fly in its air space, which meant he could be shot down. Of course, hot-air balloons cannot turn. When a change of direction is called for, what they must do is change altitude. At a higher or lower altitude a balloonist can usually find a crosswind blowing in a different direction.
Fossett vented helium, and the balloon dropped 6,300 feet, where it came under the control of a wind blowing southeast. Fossett skirted safely south of Libya, then heated the balloon, rose almost 10,000 feet and caught an easterly wind, which carried him back on course.
Although Fossett got only as far as India, he set dual records for the longest distance and duration in balloon flight.
Bertrand Piccard, another man seeking to sail around the world in a balloon, sees a similarity between balloon flight and daily life. "In the balloon," says Piccard, "you are prisoners of the wind, and you go only in the direction of the wind. In life people think they are prisoners of circumstance. But in the balloon, as in life, you can change altitude, and when you change altitude, you change direction. You are not a prisoner anymore."
A person changes altitude by changing attitude.
Faith, Humility, Praise, Submission, Thanksgiving, Trust
Eph. 4:23-24; Phil. 2:5; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Jam. 4:1-10; 1 Pet. 5:5-7
Choice Contemporary Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers
Craig Brian Larson, Baker Books, p. 20.
In the 1998 baseball season, slugger Sammy Sosa was the first to reach 66 home runs, but Mark McGwire ended the season four ahead with a record setting 70 roundtrippers.
It's conceivable that Sosa might have hit more. As the season wore on, McGwire's St. Louis Cardinals were not in contention, so he had the freedom to swing for the fences at every bat. Sosa's Cubs were contending for a play-off berth, so he needed to put the requirements of his team above his own goal. Often he attempted to reach first by getting a walk, or he would deliver a base hit to advance a runner. Sosa said, "My team's desires are more important than my quest for a home run record."
His attitude and hitting helped his Cubs make it to the playoffs, and Sosa went on to be voted Most Valuable Player of the National League.
Sosa's unselfish attitude is what we are called to have as members of the church. We are to give ourselves away for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ.