Category Archives: Illustrations

Illustrations – as sermons, Part III

Faintly imitating Christ’s matchless pedagogy, consider the following illustrations as parables of the Christian life.

The fifth is from creation.  Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods all share a common destructive trait:  they so alter geographic features that people lose their way, even in well-known neighborhoods.

The people of Chicago lost those essential features in the great fire, October, 1871.  The morning after the burning stopped, thousands walked the mile-wide, four mile long expanse of extinction.  Since 73 miles of streets and over 17,000 buildings had disappeared, they couldn’t find homes or businesses.  Landmarks had vanished.  Great Chicago Fire, 188-189.

Spiritual Landmarks are absolutely essential in life.  Because Jesus Christ is God’s Eternal Landmark, the great colossus cleaving history, and God’s final word to humanity, his believers KNOW their way through life.  Indeed, we always know WHO we are by WHOSE we are.  He remains the only spiritual Landmark by whom we have sure and certain anchors in life, from whom we always take our spiritual bearings.

Pity those who reject him for any other landmark.  For he alone remains now and forever as God’s TRUE POINT of reference.

The sixth is from the Civil War.

President Lincoln often noted that Ward Hill Lamon was obsessed with protecting him from assassination.  On the night of Lincoln’s re-election, Lamon visited John Hay, one of the President’s private secretaries.  After a long discussion, Hay offered Lamon a bed in his quarters.  Lamon refused, took instead a glass of whiskey and a blanket, went to the President’s door, wrapped himself in his clothes, laid a number of weapons close by and kept watch.  Hay considered it a “touching and dumb fidelity.”  War Years III, 586.

Why call it “dumb” as if, like an animal, Lamon protected his President?  Why not call it “intense loyalty to the man”?  After all, eleven of the Twelve disciples felt such allegiance to Jesus.  Was it just “dumb fidelity”?  To him they gave themselves unreservedly.  They believed HIM, even when they didn’t understand him, when he bewildered them, corrected them, astounded them.  Was that “dumb fidelity” or “spiritual enlightenment”?

Can we say we believe Jesus Christ as they did—as God’s Son and our Lord—whatever happens, whoever disagrees, despite any price we pay to be his?  Do we commit ourselves to him, knowing we can never be wrong because he’s always right?

The seventh is from geography.

The earliest white exploration of America kept uncovering lands west in the trackless wilderness:  French voyageurs, British explorers, American trappers.  Wherever they traveled, and whatever stories they heard, they kept hearing one name—of one river—that supposedly led to the Great Pacific waters.  That river was the Missouri.  The one constant in all the speculation.  The one name that finally proved true.  That led Lewis and Clark west by north and finally to the Columbia and on to the great Salt Water.  Westward Vision, 24

Jesus Christ is the Reality behind all the religious speculation in the world, in history, in our time.  And every December, at this time of the year as Christians celebrate his birth, let it remind us that He hasn’t left.  He’s still here.  He’s never leaving.  He hasn’t abdicated his throne.  He’s the one in charge.  He can’t be dismissed.  We can’t avoid him.  We must come to terms with him.  And we better get used to it, America! – Finis –

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Illustrations – as sermons, Part II

Faintly imitating Christ’s matchless pedagogy, I continue the following illustrations as parables of the Christian life.

The third is from current events.  From 1965-1971 a man served as the TV voice of Charley Brown, the anti-hero of the Peanuts comic strip.  Yet, mild-mannered Charley Brown’s alter ego himself had a violent disposition.  The voice of hapless Charley has recently been sentenced to 4 years and 8 months for threatening his mobile home park manager and trying to hire the murder of San Diego County’s sheriff.

He had two personas:  one for show business, the other for real-life.

Jesus Christ had but ONE:  a public and private; when dealing with patricians and peasants; when discussing issues with Gentile women or Israel’s High Priest.  People could then, and can now, count on Jesus being what he was and IS.  If we come to him making demands, he refuses to hear us.  If we come begging mercy, he’ll always help.  If we come enumerating the reasons we should be saved, OUT WE GO.  If we come confessing faith in his sacrifice, INTO his presence we’re welcomed.

The fourth is from the Duke of Wellington.  He believed that neither history nor battles could be recalled “with total accuracy.”  He was right in a sense.  Everyone sees what strikes him in history; each soldier usually sees but a few yards either side of him in battle.  And if we all stood on Broadway in Escondido, California, or any busy city street, and saw two cars collide, we would agree a crash occurred.  But each would remember particular sights others missed.

All this is true of humans.  Which is WHY…mark it well, readers…Jesus didn’t depend on apostolic memories to preach his message and record his life!  As Jesus said in John 16:13-15, he would send the Holy Spirit, whose perfect memory would guide them “into all truth.”  Which is why we can know with certainty that the Four Gospels offer an authentic record of Christ’s life.  As this writer has shown in Volume I of his series Their Own Best Defense, a text-by-text chronological study of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John leaves no doubt to any fair-minded reader of Jesus Christ’s integrity as they recorded it.  – End Part II –

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Illustrations – as sermons – Part I

Faintly imitating the matchless pedagogy of Jesus, consider the following illustrations as parables of the Christian life.

First, from the book The Golden Age of the Country House.  These mansions, built between the late 18th to the early 20th century, served as playgrounds for England’s patricians.  Hosts invited carefully screened guests to enjoy games, parties, hunting trips and discreet political discussions.

A thousand people came to one such party, arriving and leaving as they pleased.  After each breakfast, replete with many delicious viands, and heavy with assorted breads, the host’s chaplain earned his keep.  He read “a few short prayers” after which everyone went wherever his pleasure took him on the estate until the next meal, p. 19.

He reada fewshortprayers.  The English Prayer Book being a masterpiece of literature, the prayers were magnificent.  But…did the Vicar have to read them?  Could he not have created his own?  He proved only a wallflower to the social occasion.  Which is what his host expected.  Which is what the guests wanted.  But not what God could have done had the chaplain at least read the Bible!

If a preacher is good for anything, it’s as God’s spokesman to people.  Should he excel in anything but that, he is really good for nothing.  Overlook a minister’s faults; forgive his sins; but hold him accountable for personally digesting and faithfully preaching God’s word.

Second, from World War I.  The Schlieffen Plan was designed in 1905 and improved until 1914.  The Plan was to conquer France in six weeks, then to turn east and conquer Russia.  The Plan failed in 1914.  In 1940 it worked in the conquest of France in six weeks, followed by Hitler’s attack on Russia in 1941.

The Plan stressed the historical animus between Germany and Russia over the hegemony of Europe.  Both felt ordained to rule the Continent.  Neither found success in its effort.

Leading to the scriptural point.  Two spiritual powers exist in the world, claiming the right to rule humanity.  But only one is ORIGINAL; the other is derivative.  Only one is ETERNAL; the other is a created, temporary interloper.  The derivative can only pretend to be original.  But, the colossal ignorance of God’s word in culture leads most to think the derivative is original or at least equal to the ORIGINAL.

He isn’t.  In every conflict between Jesus and Satan, the ORIGINAL Jesus denounced and devastated Satan, the derivative being.  It happened first in the Wilderness Temptations and in every encounter between them afterwards.  In every encounter.  Without fail.  Jesus succeeded, Satan failed.

Still…while no one wants to be a loser, let alone follow a loser, most people strew flowers across Satan’s path and throw brickbats at Jesus Christ!  How can humanity, so intent on being first, pursue a lifestyle God has determined will always come in last?  And at the end will be cast into Hell?  How can we be so perverse and so willingly misled by Satan’s deception when we have in Jesus the Sole, Only and Perfect Man able and willing to save everyone from sin and lead him to everlasting life?  – End Part I –

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