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  • Illustration: Marriage

    J. Michael Shannon
    Marriage seems under assault lately. There is a new aspect to the disrespect for marriage. According to reports, in 1990, a man in Japan “married” his video game “girlfriend.”
  • Illustration: Heaven

    J. Michael Shannon
    The Sultan of Brunei owns 500 Rolls Royce automobiles, seven airplanes and two helicopters. His palace is the largest residence in the world with 1,788 rooms and 257 bathrooms—but it pales in comparison with heaven.
  • Illustration: Faith/Belief

    J. Michael Shannon
    John Gibson Paton was a missionary to New Hebrides. He was translating the Gospel of John into the native language. He could not find a word for believe. The natives were cannibals. There was no trust between then.
  • Illustration: Eternal Life

    J. Michael Shannon
    In his latter days, Johnny Cash, whose spiritual renewal has been well documented, produced a series of songs, now collected in a CD under the title Ain’t No Grave. The music contains his musings on faith and life after death.
  • Illustration: Atonement

    J. Michael Shannon
    The week before Easter in Pampanga province in the Philippines, volunteers are crucified. Each remains on the cross for only a few minutes. The list of volunteers is so long that one must wait at least two years for a turn. The Catholic Archbishop said on national television. “Those who participate have their sins for the past year forgiven.”
  • Illustration: Abundant Life

    J. Michael Shannon
    According to news reports, the International Journal of Epidemiology just published an article that maintains bored people die sooner than people who are excited about life. Britton and Shipley of the University of London did a study of more than 7,500 people. Those who reported that they were bored were 2.5 times more likely to die of a heart problem than those who were not bored.
  • Illustration: Fathers and Sons

    A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said to him, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your Bible a little and get your hair cut; then we will talk about it."
  • Illustration: Home, House, Family

    Bill Bouknight
    A little boy named Danny lived with his family in a trailer. One day, someone asked him, "Don't you wish you had a real home?" Danny's reply was wise beyond his years. He said, "We have a real home. We just don't have a house to put it in."
  • Illustration: Pastor, Hospitality

    The young couple invited their elderly pastor for Sunday dinner. While they were in the kitchen preparing the meal, the minister asked their son what they were having. "Goat," the little boy replied.
  • Illustration: Love

    A group of 4-8 year olds was asked, "What does love mean?" Here are some of their answers:
  • Illustration: Worship

    Craig Brian Larson reminds us of the time that, “Not long ago, the world watched as three gray whales, icebound off Point Barrow, Alaska, floated battered and bloody, gasping for breath at a hole in the ice. Their only hope: somehow to be transported five miles past the ice pack to open sea. Rescuers began cutting a string of breathing holes about 20 yards apart in the six-inch-thick ice.
  • Illustration: Forgiveness

    In his book Taking the Risk Out of Dying, Lee Griess reminds us of the cartoon strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin is a little boy with an overactive imagination and a stuffed tiger, Hobbes, who comes to life as his imaginary friend. In one cartoon strip, Calvin turns to his friend Hobbes and says, "I feel bad I called Susie names and hurt her feelings. I'm sorry I did that."
  • Illustration: Choices, Lost and Found

    Two older men are pushing their carts around Wal-Mart when they collide. The first old guy says to the second guy, "Sorry about that. I'm looking for my wife, and I guess I wasn't paying attention to where I was going."
  • Illustration: Lent

    Mark Trotter
    Lent originally was established for new Christians, those who experienced a call. They were to spend 40 days and 40 nights preparing for their baptism. If at the end they still wanted to follow Jesus, then on Easter Eve they would be baptized as the sun was rising in the east, signaling the new day, the new era, inaugurated because of the Resurrection.
  • Illustration: Mistaken Identity

    With his request approved, the CNN News cameraman quickly used his cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport. Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, "Let's go!" The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off.
  • Illustration: Stress, Worship

    In his Turning Point Daily Devotional for Feb. 18, 2010, David Jeremiah shares this: "A Netherlands-based electronics firm is creating a bracelet that will change color and flicker from yellow to red when a person's emotions rise to unhealthy levels. It's being developed chiefly for stock traders on European exchanges. When trading becomes too intense and the trader's blood pressure rises, the device will issue a warning to 'take a time-out, wind down or reconsider their actions,' said the manufacturer. The results, hopefully, will be beneficial to investors--to say nothing of the stock brokers themselves.
  • Illustration: Vulerability

    J. Michael Shannon
    The mimosa pudice plant is sometime called the sensitive plant. Found in Central and South America, it folds up its leaves in response to heat, wind or human touch. Some human beings are like that.
  • Illustration: Scars

    J. Michael Shannon
    In The Odyssey, there is a scene that takes place near the end of the story. Odysseus returns home after many years of wandering. He is in disguise as an old man. At first nobody recognizes him, not even his wife and child. One night before bed, Odysseus’ aged nurse bathes him. At first, she thinks he is just a stranger; but while bathing him, she recognizes a scar on his leg.
  • Illustration: Sacrifice

    J. Michael Shannon
    Recently, The Cincinnati Enquirer told the story of a man who donated 80 gallons of blood. He is the record holder for the local blood bank. According to the report, if 60 people gave every drop of blood in their bodies, it would not equal what he has given. His name is Paul Michaels, age 78. It would be notable if we could show that kind of commitment to the cause of Christ. He set the example. He gave His lifeblood for us.
  • Illustration: Resurrection

    J. Michael Shannon
    Journalist Robert MacNeil once wrote, “I associate different emotions with traveling toward the different points of the compass. Going east is going back to where we all came from, toward the dawn; to the west is escape, adventure, the pull of the sunset. Going south brings an anticipation of languor, of being enfolded in limpid air. When I head north, my blood quickens—it takes a special people to live where nature makes it so hard.”