This was originally published as “Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere” on March 22, 2018. I don’t do a lot of reruns but hope you enjoy this one.
If you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit.
Anytime one prepares a presentation, much like a written report, article, blog post or thesis paper, there are several iterations that could become the final product. Some ideas don’t go anywhere, better ideas take their place, maybe some good talking points came from brainstorming that ended up not being developed. You may even produce more than one version and have to make a decision but in any case there are always things researched or outlined that are left out of the final product. If lines or scenes are cut from a film you might find out about them in the director’s cut or by playing the DVD commentary. Since my goal is to post new material to my blog once or twice a week, I have a creative outlet for unused sermon material. Continue reading →
I sometimes puzzle over statements people make such as looking for God. It’s our nature to make things more complicated than they are or should be. God is not hiding. He has not put up boundaries and obstacles so that only a few are able to succeed. The Hunger Games, the Labyrinth, Survivor, American Ninja Warrior; the Kingdom of God is not like any of those things. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a Greco-Roman audience, often made analogies to the sporting world and athletic competition. He talks about competing according to the rules in order to not be disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5) and to the Philippians he says that he presses forward toward the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). The prize is Jesus and he wants you to win! Continue reading →
So if you’ve been paying attention to the Satur-deja Vu you may have noticed I ranted about fall two weeks in a row. I honestly did not realize I had addressed that topic the week before. It’s not the season of the year I was ranting about so much as everyone excited about it while we’ve got some summer weeks left to go yet. I don’t want to rehash all that a third time but rather consider this topic: Why do we have seasons? Continue reading →
I may not be a great man of God but I am a man of a great God.
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians that we possess a great treasure in jars of clay. I’ve seen a lot of proposal videos where the guy gets down on one knee or choreographs a big event to pop the question. The woman is always interested in the ring. I have never seen one check out the box it came in. That is not what matters. We as believers are the temple of God. That is where his Spirit chooses to dwell. So you may not think that I’m much to look at. That doesn’t matter because 1) my wife thinks I’m adorable, and more importantly 2) every believer is the dwelling place of God. We that are baptized in Christ have put on Christ. John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When we are conformed to the image of Jesus, when we let our light shine, it really should be Jesus that the world sees. We must make more of him and less of ourselves.
God uses things that are small, weak and broken. I’ve said that many times so you may have heard it in a sermon, lesson or read it here. Every person in the Bible that does anything for God was flawed in some way, perhaps fatally so. Abraham believed God and God counted it to him as righteousness; but he still lied, twice, about Sara not being his wife. David was a man after God’s own heart but committed not only adultery but murder in an attempt to cover up the previous violation. Noah got drunk and naked, Lot was comfortable surrounded by sin, Samson was a pompous jerk and so forth. Continue reading →
If you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.
When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.
There is value in using simple images we are familiar with to help us understand more complex concepts. The Bible is rich with such imagery. But sometimes we get carried away and a metaphor can be overextended. At some point every analogy breaks down and it is possible to complicate the issue we started out trying to simplify. I didn’t want to add to the original post but the wife and I had a discussion about the Parable of the Pickle Jar and I submit the following for your consideration. Continue reading →
Pickle jars can be tough. A new pickle jar can be tough for an adult to open but to a five year old it might as well be impossible. The jars are sealed warm so that as the contents cool the lid caves in just a bit. That way the button “pops” when you open it letting you know the jar has been locked up air tight since it was packed, giving you the piece of mind that the contents have not been tampered with. While I appreciate the safety feature understanding it doesn’t make the lid any easier to open. There’s nothing a kindergartner appreciates more than Mommy or Daddy reaching their arms around and popping loose that impossible lid. Continue reading →