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Illustrations

  • Christian Life

    Basketball players dress simply: shoes, shirts, shorts, and sweatbands. But life is not so simple for football players – and what about ice hockey players? Besides clothes, the athletes in these two sports have to cover themselves with pads and helmets for protection. Regardless of the sport, no athlete can expect to win without the proper equipment.
  • No Fear, if We Know the Master

    A sick man turned to his doctor as he was preparing to leave the examination room and said, "Doctor, I am afraid to die. Tell me what lies on the other side." Very quietly, the doctor said, "I don't know."
  • Pride

    Robert C. Shannon
    Recently The Wall Street Journal carried a story from the small town of Erwin, Tennessee. The local state representative had sponsored several bills and was responsible for naming 23 bridges in the region. At first he named them for local heroes. Then he named some for prominent citizens. Then he named some for his...
  • Living in Darkness

    One of the greatest tragedies for people would be to live in darkness when they could live in the light. Rose Crawford had been blind for 50 years. The amazing thing about her story, however, was that 20 years of her blindness was unnecessary.
  • Sin

    Results from a new study released from Ellison Research finds that 13 percent of Americans do not believe at all in the concept of sin. But, a majority of Americans (87%), however, do believe in this concept and they include adultery (81%), racism (74%), use of hard drugs (65%), failing to say anything if they're given too much change by a cashier (63%), having an abortion (56%), cheating on their taxes (52%) and homosexual activity (52%) as sin. "Sin" was defined in the research as "something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective." (Pastor's Weekly Briefing, 3-14-08)
  • Easter as an Earthquake

    In a Preaching magazine sermon called "Easter as an Earthquake," William Willimon concluded with these words: "In the fifties, in China, there was a devastating earthquake. But as a result of the quake, a huge boulder was dislodged from a mountain thus exposing a great cache of wonderful artifacts from a thousand years ago. A new world suddenly became visible.
  • Jesus, Brokenness

    In the May 1982 issue of Guideposts, Norman Vincent Peale told of a distinguished British violinist named Peter Cropper. Cropper's work was so outstanding that the Royal Academy of Music in London had honored him by lending him a priceless 258-year old Stradivarius.
  • Friendships Declining

    A survey published in American Sociological Review revealed that in 2004 one out of every four Americans had no close friends.
  • To Illustrate

    J. Michael Shannon
    AGE There is a birthday card making the rounds that says, “You know what they say about age — it’s all in your mind.” Inside the card it adds, “and your legs, your arms, your neck, your arches, your back, your shoulders, etc.” Well, the body may grow old, but the mind and the spirit can be ever young.
  • The Faith of One Man

    Rick Ezell shares this story: Everett Alvarez Jr. was the first American pilot shot down over North Vietnam on August 5, 1964. He spent eight and a half years as a prisoner of war, the first one and a half in solitary confinement. He was beaten and tortured.
  • Too Much Information

    With today’s constant media barrage of bad news, people feel bad enough already and don’t want anything that makes them feel worse, says anthropologist-turned-brand-strategist Cheryl Swanson. With all the info coming at us 24/7, “We are processing information at 400 times the rate of our Renaissance ancestors.” This is a new human task that we haven’t had time to adapt to yet – physically or mentally. That’s why we're getting tech-related health problems, like carpal tunnel, and maybe even mental and neurological problems like attention-deficit disorder. Naturally our attention is fraying – we are whipsawed by stimuli!
  • Christmas: Incarnation

    J. Michael Shannon
    Kierkegaard told a parable about a prince who fell in love with a peasant maid. He had noticed her passing by on the street and was instantly infatuated. He knew that if he went to her as the prince and told of his love, she would certainly accept. That would be the loyal thing to do. But he wanted her to have a genuine...
  • Sacrificial Love

    After the U.S.S. Pueblo was captured in 1968 by the North Koreans, the 82 surviving crew members were thrown into brutal captivity. In one particular instance 13 of the men were required to sit in a rigid manner around a table for hours at a time.
  • Love is Love's Food

    C.H. Spurgeon
    Love is love's food. There is a power in Christ's love which conquers, captivates, and overpowers the man, so that he cannot but love Christ in return.
  • Children

    C. Michael Patton
    My daughter Katelynn has always been as sharp as a whip. She loves to learn. At church, people used to get kicks out of her understanding of theological issues. When she was six she came to me and saw that I was reading the Greek New Testament and asked if she could learn.
  • Worship

    J. Michael Shannon
    John Wade used to tell the story of a man who lost his sense of being close to God. He made a pilgrimage to Mt Sinai and stood on the mountainside, while asking God to send him a sign. He was waiting for something spectacular like lightning, smoke or a mighty voice. He waited for hours on his knees and nothing happened.
  • Television

    J. Michael Shannon
    In a recent Middleton’s comic strip, Mr. and Mrs. Middleton are taking a walk. Mrs. Middleton says, “There’s no two ways about it. TV is nothing but violence and sleaze.”
  • Stewardship

    J. Michael Shannon
    In 1945 General Douglas MacArthur asked for ten thousand missionaries to carry the Gospel to the Orient. What an opportunity. Yet we refused to accept the challenge. Why? Simply because money was our idol and we refused to tithe our income.
  • Promises

    J. Michael Shannon
    Carol Burnett tells a story about a time when she was a college actor and a man came up after a performance and asked what she wanted to do with her life. She said that she wanted to go to New York and be in musical theater.
  • Prayer

    J. Michael Shannon
    County music star Josh Turner tells a story of how he came to meet Johnny Cash. He told USA Weekend that he had been reading about Cash’s illness and wanted to meet him and encourage him. He found out where Cash lived and went to drop in and hoped he would not be seen as a stalker.