For Your Sermon Illustration File
Illustrations for Preaching
by Clyde W. Chesnutt*
Much of the following material is copyrighted and is presented here for oral communication only. Permission for reprinting must be secured from the publisher of the periodical from which the illustration is excerpted.
BIBLE "Some Vital Statistics"
Only 10 percent of Americans read their Bibles once a day, while 26 percent never read it at all, according to a Gallup Poll done with the Laymen's National Bible Committee. The survey showed 1 percent read the Bible more than once a day, 9 percent read it two or three times a week, 13 percent weekly and 6 percent two or three times a month.
The poll also showed 74 percent of Americans do not object to students using public schools after hours for religious meetings, and 75 percent favored public schools offering elective courses in Bible.
In a separate survey, Gallup found that 57 percent of Americans bf'ieve religion "can answer all or most of today's problems," while 23 percent said religion was "largely old-fashioned and out of date."
. . . Bob Chuvala, "Christian Update," Christian Herald, February 1987
ENTHUSIASM "I Don't But He Does"
John Stott tells the story about David Hume, the 18th century British deistic philosopher who rejected Christianity. A friend once met him hurrying along a London street and asked him where he was going. "To hear Whitefield preach," was the reply. "But surely you don't believe what Whitefield preaches, do you?" his friend asked in astonishment. "No, I don't," answered Hume, "but he does." . . . Edward F. Markquart, Quest for Better Preaching, Augsburg, 1985
HUMOR "Buy A Puppy!"
President Reagan has been using an old chestnut from his bag of jokes to get crowds laughing. It goes like this:
They were having a Democratic fund-raiser in a downtown hotel, and when they came out of the fund-raiser, there was a kid outside with a bunch of puppies. He was holding them up and saying, "Buy a puppy—a Democratic puppy."
Two weeks later the Republicans held a fundraiser there, and as they came out, here was that same kid with the puppies, "Buy a Republican puppy."
A reporter who had been there two weeks before said, "Wait a minute, kid. You were here
•Clyde W. Chesnutt is publisher of Window of Truth, a newsletter of sermon illustrations. His mailing address is: P.O. Box 339, Blanco, TX 78606.
two weeks ago with those puppies and you were calling them Democrat puppies. Now you are calling them Republican puppies. How come?' The kid says, "Now they've got their eyes open." . . . UPI, October 1986
NEED "Our Greatest Need"
I once asked a university professor what he thought our greatest need was. He considered it carefully before answering. He said, "I could give you a variety of answers all the way from tax relief to disarmament. I may surprise you, because I'm not a religious man, but I believe that the greatest need we have at this hour is a spiritual awakening which will restore individual and collective morals and integrity throughout the nation."
. . . Billy Graham, "Needed: A Heaven-Sent Revival," Decision, February 1987
RENEWAL "Renewal Notices"
Recently I decided not to renew my subscription to an excellent national magazine. There followed one renewal notice after another. Three times I received a letter indicating that this was absolutely my last opportunity to renew the subscription at the least expensive rate. Someone even called on the telephone and asked if I was certain about letting the subscription lapse.
I was not annoyed by the publishing company, because I had genuinely appreciated the magazine. In fact, their persistence finally led me to examine carefully my motives for not renewing the subscription. Ultimately I renewed, and I have been pleased with this decision.
This small incident set me to examining some of the other "renewal notices" in my life. I realized that frequently I felt an inner call for spiritual renewal. The call didn't come in the mail or over the telephone. It was something welling up within my heart. A yearning for more peace or greater vision.
Sometimes our "renewal notices" are more forceful than an inner yearning. We feel downright frustrated and dissatisfied with what we are doing or thinking. We feel that our inspiration has lapsed. We hunger for something better, some kind of renewing experience or view.
This hunger is a good thing, and not to be ignored. But how do we go about answering this call for renewal? For centuries, many people who have felt an emptiness in their daily existence have turned to the Bible and found fresh inspiration. In a host of difference ways, the searchers find God as the source of renewal. For example, a Biblical prophet learned that "they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ..." . . . "Renewal Notices," The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 5, 2987
THEOLOGY "Robin Hood—A Radical Hero"
For 17 years Jim Wallis has been editor of "So-journers" magazine and pastor of the Sojourners community, a group that has helped rally the conscience of the religious community around the issues of peace and justice. 'The Other Side" magazine interviewed him.
Q. Some years ago I saw a list of books you said had influenced you. One of them was Robin Hood.
A. That probably should have been at the top of the list. Taking from the rich to give to the poor always struck me as a great idea, right from the beginning. So Robin Hood was kind of a radical hero. He stood with the poor against the rich. He was an outlaw, a dissenter, sort of a revolutionary figure. And as the legend goes, he was pretty nonviolent. He was just clever.
Q. Wasn't Robin Hood always waiting for the return of the king?
A. Oh yes, lots of good theology there. While King Richard was away, Prince John had taken over and was oppressing the poor and aggrandizing wealth for himself. His regime was corrupt. And Robin Hood had Friar Tuck, see, the beginning of the priest from the base community. They were preparing the way for the rightful king to return. My earliest theological influence was Robin Hood.
. . . Interview with Jim Wallis, The Other Side, February 1987
WORSHIP "Centers of Divine Warmth"
Early in this century, we had a most remarkable Methodist bishop in the southeastern United States named Arthur Moore. He became an effective witness and pastored some of the largest Methodist churches in the South before he became a bishop. Over a period of severa. years, he had the privilege of seeing somebody genuinely converted every Sunday that he preached—Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.
One of Moore's friends was visiting his church on a particular Sunday and they were discussing his great success as an evangelist. "How do you do it?" the friend asked.
Moore said, "Come with me." He took the visitor to the basement, where a prayer meeting was in progress. About 70 men were fervently praying for their pastor and for the worship service that was about to begin. When they finished, they quietly walked up the stairs into the service. Arthur Moore turned to his friend and said, "Notice where they sat."
His friend was puzzled. "What do you mean? They are scattered all over the congregation."
"Yes, thank God," Moore replied. "And where each one of them sits down, he's such a center of divine warmth that anyone frozen in sin who sits near him is liable to thaw out before the service is over."
. . . Dennis Kinlaw, Preaching in the Spirit, Fran
cis Asbury Press, 1985 ■
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