Shackled to a Corpse

May 7, 2010

The Romans sometimes compelled a captive to be joined face-to-face with a dead body, and to bear it about until the horrible emanating smell destroyed the life of the living victim. Virgil describes this cruel punishment:

The living and the dead at his command
Were coupled face to face, and hand to hand;
Till choked with stench, in loathed embraces tied,
The lingering wretches pined away and died.

Without Christ, we are shackled to a dead corpse—our sinfulness. Only repentance frees us from certain death, for life and death cannot coexist indefinitely.

Source: Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations.

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God Paints Himself Into Us

May 6, 2010

Count Pietro Rotari was an 18th century artist who received the invitation of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia, daughter of Peter the Great, to come to St. Petersburg as First Painter of the Court. There he was commissioned by Empress Catherine the Second to paint 850 portraits of young Russian women, 850 portraits that devotedly bore an unusual resemblance to Catherine as well as his subjects. It is said that in each picture there was some gesture, pose, facial characteristic, jewel, flower or dress that provided a delicate reference to the empress.

Now I tell you this because it resembles so clearly what Christ and His light brings into our lives. For when we live in fellowship with Him, by God’s grace He paints delicate resemblances of Himself into us—new attitudes, a reordering of our priorities, new found hope, restored confidence. He would stamp into our lives a willingness to give our trust to one another, not because they deserve it; but because they’re our brother or sister in Christ, just as He has undeservedly entrusted us with His gifts, with His life and with His evangelical task of making disciples of every nation. He would imprint on our heart His brand of love, His devoted service, His undaunting concern for the lost that He graciously dispatched for us.

Contributed by: Karl Eckhoff

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Sputtering

May 5, 2010

A man in North Carolina bought a new car with a voice-warning system. … At first he was amused to hear the soft female voice gently remind him that his seat belt wasn’t fastened. … Edwin affectionately called this voice the “little woman.”

He soon discovered his little woman was programmed to warn him about his gasoline. “Your fuel level is low,” she said one time in her sweet voice. Edwin nodded his head and thanked her. He figured he still had enough to go another fifty miles, so he kept on driving. But a few minutes later, her voice interrupted again with the same warning.

And so it went over and over. Although he knew it was the same recording, Edwin thought her voice sounded harsher each time. Finally, he stopped his car and crawled under the dashboard. After a quick search, he found the appropriate wires and gave them a good yank. So much for the little woman!

He was still smiling to himself a few miles later when his car began sputtering and coughing. He ran out of gas! Somewhere inside the dashboard, Edwin was sure he could hear the little woman laughing.

People like Edwin learn before long that the little voice inside, although ignored or even disconnected, often tells them exactly what they need to know.

Source: From a sermon by Gerald Flury, “Sputtering, Stuttering and Shuddering

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Help in the Garden

May 4, 2010

An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over. I know you would be happy to dig up the ground for me, like in the old days.
Love, Papa

A few days later the father received a letter from his son:

Dear Pop,
Don’t dig up that garden. That’s where the bodies are buried.
Love, Vinnie

At 4:00 A.M. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left. The same day, the man received another letter from his son:

Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now. That’s the best I could do under the circumstances.
I love you, Vinnie

Contributed by: John Herrmann

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Connection Confession

May 3, 2010

Las Vegas now has a call-in “Connection Confession” line where people can call and confess their sins to a recording. America’s first confession line makes it possible, for a fee of $9 per three minutes, to record your sin, and if you want to pay a little more you can listen to other people’s sins. Apparently the service is being bombarded by calls. One of the originators said, “It’s a technological way to get something off your chest without the embarrassment that comes from confessing one on one.”

But do you know what it really is? Besides a money maker for someone? It’s confession without accountability.

Contributed by: Timothy Smith

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Used Up For a Mighty Purpose

May 1, 2010

George Bernard Shaw: “This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Contributed by: Kerry O’Neill

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What To Do With Loneliness

April 30, 2010

People today will admit any problem—drugs, divorce, alcoholism—but there’s one admission that people are loath to make, whether they’re a star on television or someone who fixes televisions in a repair shop. It’s just too embarrassing. It penetrates too deeply to the core of who they are. People don’t want to admit that they are (sometimes) lonely.

Loneliness is such a humiliating malady that it ought to have its own politically correct euphemism—’relationally challenged’—r its own telethon, anything to make it safer to confess. Because right now it’s a taboo, an affliction of losers and misfits. And to be honest, of respectable people like you and me.

Source: Lee Strobel, God’s Outrageous Claims, p. 118-134.

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Grace and Boots

April 29, 2010

It seems that one day a kindergarten teacher was helping one of her students put on his cowboy boots? He asked for help, and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn’t want to go on. Finally, when the second boot was on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, “Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet.” She looked down and, sure enough, they were.

It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. But she managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on—this time on the right feet. And it was only then that he announced, “These aren’t my boots.”

She bit her tongue rather than scream, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to. And once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they got the boots off then he said, “They’re my brother’s boots. My Mom made me wear ’em today.”

Stifling a scream, she mustered up the grace and courage she had left to wrestle the ill-fitting boots on his feet again. Helping him into his coat, she asked, “Now, where are your mittens?”

To which he replied, “I stuffed ’em in the toes of my boots.”

Contributed by: Ken Kersten

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Seek First the Kingdom

April 28, 2010

When Whistler was at the height of his artistic career, a wealthy patron purchased one of his pictures on the condition that the artist would accompany him home and help select a spot to hang the picture. Once at his mansion, the man held up the picture first here and then there, each time asking, “How about this? Finally Whistler said, “You are going about this all wrong. What you must do is remove all the furnishings from the room, hang the picture where it will be best displayed, and then arrange the furniture in relationship to the picture.”

Many would like to add God to the furnishings of their lives. What He requires is that He be placed as the focal point of our existence, and only then may we arrange the miscellaneous paraphernalia of our lives. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matt. 6:33 NLT).

Contributed by: Bobby Scobey

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Stay and Keep Them

April 27, 2010

A businessman well known for his ruthlessness once announced to writer Mark Twain, “Before I die I mean to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I will climb Mount Sinai and read the 10 Commandments aloud at the top.”

“I have a better idea,” replied Twain. “You could stay in Boston and keep them.”

Source: Moody Bible Institute’s Today in the Word, September, 1991, p. 32.

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