Sermon illustrations


The Blood Suckers

During a large part of my childhood my father was in school, so we never really went on a traditional “vacation” until late in my elementary school years. I distinctly remember one of our first trips, where we left the suburbs of New York City for the beauty of New England. We finished the first day not quite to our destination, but there was a small pond next to the motel we were staying in.

My brother and I somehow convinced my parents to allow us to take a dip. Unfortunately, our time in this strange body of water was cut short as these strange, quarter-size creatures had attached themselves to numerous parts of our bodies. While we found this quite interesting, my mother did not.

“Leeches! Hold still, I need to get them off you!”

It turned out these odd looking worm-like beasts were sucking our blood. And needless to say, they needed to be removed.  A leech provides an interesting metaphor for our lives doesn’t it? There are circumstances and lies and, dare I say people, that can suck the life force right out of us. And the hard part is that oftentimes we don’t even know it is happening. My brother and I had no idea that these little worms were doing. And this is where mature, safe-brothers and sisters can help us pull the proverbial leeches out and restore us to health.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Choosing Gratitude Makes You Happier and Healthier

While it might seem obvious in retrospect, one of the latest discoveries in the psychology of happiness has to do with gratitude. Multiple studies have shown a positive correlation between gratitude and happiness. One study, performed by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked participants to jot down a few sentences each week.

One group was asked to write down things for which they were grateful. The second group was asked to do just the opposite. They wrote down the regular annoyances and frustrations that occur in daily life. The third group were asked to simply write things down that occurred throughout their week, with no specific focus on either positive or negative experiences.

After 10 weeks, those who wrote who wrote about things for which they were grateful were markedly more optimistic and exhibited higher levels of enjoyment of their lives than before the study. An unexpected byproduct of the study found that those participants who practiced writing down things for which they were grateful also exercised more and visited the doctor less.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Exercise & Spirituality

Interestingly enough, even secular research indicates that exercise and spirituality go hand in hand. “A biological mechanism is at work,” says William C. Bushell, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research scientist specializing in medicine and anthropology. “Whatever creator made the body had this in mind. It comes out in physiological science like a clear blueprint.”

Exercise brings mental and physiological changes, including the flood of body-made opiates that induce what’s called the “runner’s high.” This physiological dynamic can create a change in consciousness, a kind of expansiveness in which the runner feels more integrated with his or her surroundings and the Creator himself.

Taken from Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton Copyright (c) 2009 by Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

The Healthiest & Happiest People

In recent research by the National Geographic Society and the National Institute on Aging, scientists interviewed some of the oldest and healthiest people on earth and observed where they live. Many of these people live healthy and active lives beyond the age of ninety, and an outrageous percentage of them are still going strong at one hundred.

Here is one of the discoveries they made: none of the people in these cultures did daily exercise. No weight lifting. No jogging. Nada. Don’t close the book! You see, they lived lifestyles where movement was a part of their everyday life. They didn’t have to jog or put on spandex to lift weights. They were in motion from morning till night.

Ken Davis, Fully Alive: A Journey that Will Change Your Life, Thomas Nelson 2012, pp. 34-35.

Overextending Ourselves & The Tyranny of the Urgent

In his highly insightful work, Inside Job, Stephen W. Smith shares the importance of finding balance, even as life seems to pull us in different directions:

Overextending yourself is stretching your physical, emotional, financial, vocational and relational boundaries to the point of depletion. Have you ever heard the expression someone says when the money is running tight? It goes like this: “There’s too much month left at the end of the money.”

Translated this means, “I’ve run out of money to pay all my bills and it’s only the middle of the month.” That’s what happens when we overextend ourselves; there’s more asked of us than we can give. This overextending causes stress to accumulate: the stress at home, in the workplace, during travel—it all piles up like a huge stack of dirty laundry.

Stress, as we all know, is deadly to our health.

Every doctor and therapist will tell you that unresolved stress will “do you in.” Stress works itself out through our blood pressure and attacks our vital organs. Stress releases a toxin that when built up leaves its marks inside of us. We live with a tyranny of the urgent that drives us, manipulates us and sucks passion right out of our marrow and veins. Everything must be done now. Everything has to be quick.

Taken from Inside Job by Stephen W. Smith (c) 2009 by Stephen W. Smith. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Reading Books Is Tied to a Longer Life

Researchers used data on 3,635 people over 50 participating in a larger health study who had answered questions about reading.

The scientists divided the sample into three groups: those who read no books, those who read books up to three and a half hours a week, and those who read books more than three and a half hours.

Compared with those who did not read books, those who read for up to three and a half hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up, and those who read more than that were 23 percent less likely to die. Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.

“People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read,” said the senior author, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale.

Bryan Thomas in The New York Times.

The Symptoms & The Illness

The symptoms and the illness are not the same thing. The illness exists long before the symptoms. Rather than being the illness, the symptoms are the beginning of its cures. The fact that they are unwanted makes them all the more a phenomenon of grace—a gift of God, a message from the unconscious, if you will, to initiate self-examination and repair.

M. Scott Peck , The Road Less Traveled

Why Some People Live Longer

Most people who live to old age do so not because they have beaten cancer, heart disease, depression or diabetes. Instead, the long-lived avoid serious ailments altogether through a series of steps that often rely on long-lasting, meaningful connections with others, says University of California, Riverside, psychologist Howard S. Friedman, PhD, co-author with Leslie Martin, PhD, of the 2011 book “The Longevity Project.”

Amy Novotney, American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/longer-life.aspx

See also Illustrations on The Body, Healing, Illness, Medicine, Mental Illness

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