Category Archives: Sermon Illustrations

The Power of Words

“You’ll probably end up in jail one day!”

For four years, I taught classes in our local jail. I ask every class, approximately 75 men at a time, how many heard the above statement as a child. Every time 33%+ raise their hands. Unscientific. But if we could have added positive words of affirmation and/or Gospel centeredness to these lives, would things have gone differently before now. Can’t help but ask that.

  • “I’m proud of you!”
  • “God’s going to use you!”
  • “I love you!”
  • “You’re doing great!”
  • “You’re not alone.”
  • “Jesus, loves you!”
  • “I’m praying for you.”

These are words that shaped my mind and heart as a boy and I still love to hear them today. Trying to say them as many times as I can to my boys at home and to friends who are experiencing life’s ups and downs.

I also remember other words as well. In the 4th grade I tried out for basketball and didn’t make the team. I still remember the smell in the room, the sounds around me, and everything about that moment when the coach said, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH THIS YEAR!” She was right. And it inspired me to start practicing and better my game before try outs the next year. But HARSH and CARING words can both stick with us and shape our futures.

Proverbs 21:18 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

What words have shaped you? Are you passing them on to others? Are you passing on death or life to those around you with your words?

Break the Huddle

If the elements of God’s mission can be compared to a football game, we might say that the focus has become the huddle instead of the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is where the action happens. We have prioritized huddling over playing our part on the line of scrimmage by purchasing fancier uniforms for the huddle, composing cooler songs for the huddle, writing more speeches to inspire the huddle, positioning every person in the perfect spot for the huddle, holding conferences on how to build a better huddle, even getting the perfect brew to pass around the huddle.

But Jesus’ commission for the church was about going, not huddling. The huddle is vital, but it’s only a brief moment to receive the playing directions from the quarterback. If you stay in the huddle too long, you get penalized and moved backward. The church is getting shoved backward on the mission field… the problem is an overemphasis on the huddle. The church must be mobilized, it must be sent to the scrimmage line.

The Mobilization Flywheel: Creating a Culture of Biblical Mobilization, page 13

Stages of Fatherhood

4 years: “My Daddy knows absolutely everything.”

8 years: “My Dad is really smart.”

12 years: “My Dad probably doesn’t know that.”

16 years: “My Dad is absolutely clueless!”

21 years: “Dad is pretty well out-of-touch.”

30 years: “I’d like to find out what Dad thinks before we make a decision.”

50 years: “I wish I could ask my Dad about that. He’s was pretty smart.”

60 years: “My Dad knew absolutely everything.”

Devo: Alive Because of An Embrace

rubbleIn 2003, a devastating earthquake struck Iran that killed over 26,000 people and injured 30,000 others. But in the midst of despair, one story gave people hope. Cradled in her dead mother’s arms, surrounded by the crumbled remnant of a collapsed building, a baby girl was found alive. The mother shielded six-month-old Nassim from the falling debris and saved her life. Rescuers found the girl 37 hours after the earthquake. A Red Crescent worker in Tehran reported it like this: “She is alive because of her mother’s embrace.”

What a beautiful picture of Christ substitution. Christ was “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Those who take refuge in Jesus’ embrace are shielded from sin’s devastating impact and saved through His sacrifice.

Beyond this, Christ chose the punishment. It wasn’t a natural disaster like an earthquake that killed Jesus. When I deserved the crushing blows of judgment and condemnation, Jesus took my punishment and died in my place. He substituted Himself for me.

Incredible love!

“In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”– 2 Corinthians 5:21 (The Message)

Devo: Overcoming Faith Needs Patience and Attentiveness

duckGrowing up in rural Louisiana,  I heard lots of talk around the coffee pot at church or barber shop or anywhere else that people gathered about duck hunting & fishing. One story that stuck with me was about how the indians hunted ducks on Catahoula Lake.

When ducks would fill the lake, the indians would take hollowed gourds & float them out toward the ducks. When the gourds got near the ducks, of course they would fly off. The next day, the indians would float the gourds again, with the same result. The next day they’d do it again. Next day, again. Everyday, until the time came that the ducks grew comfortable that there was no danger & they quit flying away. Then one day, the Indians would take the hollowed gourds & put them on their heads & then swim out to the ducks. Not thinking they were in any danger, the ducks would not fly off & the indians would carefully begin to snatch ducks under the water, snap their necks & tie them to their belts.

You probably don’t need me to make any application here. But I’ve thought about this story often from both sides.

The Indians

The Indians patience won them a great prize.  Proverbs 16:32 – “Patience is better than power…” They probably were able to harvest far more ducks than I or anyone else has with a powerful shotgun. Why? They devised a plan & faithfully carried it out. Someone said, “It’s not what you do today, it’s what you do everyday that counts.”  Some things only happen by deliberate, daily action. What needs my attention every day to overcome? What habits can I form that will gain me a great harvest? Overcoming an addiction, growing a church, seeing a loved one saved, growing spiritually. All this takes great patience & habitual attention.

The Ducks

The Ducks grew complacent & comfortable with possible danger. Proverbs 1:32 – “the complacency of fools will destroy them.” The Message paraphrase of that verse says it like this, “Carelessness kills, complacency is murder.” What am I growing complacent about that could possibly destroy me? Habits? Entertainment? Relationships? What am I growing less concerned about that could prove dangerous to me, my marriage, my family?

Stalled in your faith? Add Patience & Slay Complacency.

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