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.

Caffeine: The Easy Attractor

Scientists recently discovered a handful of species that produce caffeine in their nectar, which is the last place you would expect a plant to serve up a poisonous beverage. These plants have discovered that they can attract pollinators by offering them a small shot of caffeine; even better, that caffeine has been shown to sharpen the memories of bees, making them more faithful, efficient, and hardworking pollinators. Pretty much what caffeine does for us.

Michael Pollan, This Is Your Mind on Plants, Penguin Press, 2021.

The Circle of Giving

In all life we see this circle of giving, which is the law of love. Consider electricity: when electricity moves through metal wires it does so by the movement of electrons from one atom to another. They flow in what we call a current, but they can only do so if the current forms a complete circle, which we call a circuit.

When you flip the switch to turn on a light, you have “closed” the electrical circuit, thus forming a complete “circle” allowing the electrons to flow and the light to come on. Conversely, when you flip the switch to turn off the light, you break the circle, and the electrons cannot flow. It is only when the circles (circuits) are complete that electricity flows. This is how nature was built to operate. The law of love is the design template for all God’s creation because all life flows from him and God is love.

The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life, InterVarsity Press.


Discerning Sense of Call By Paying Attention to Our Bodies

As I have worked to clarify my calling, I have learned to pay attention to my energy levels in response to different activities. If I experience a particular activity as being inordinately draining, I begin to consider very carefully how much of myself God wants me to give to that.

On the other hand, if I feel particularly energized by a certain person or activity, I can pay attention to how God may be leading me to incorporate more of that into my life. Paying attention to what gives our body and our spirit a sense of life or drains life from us can help us stay connected with God’s guiding presence. When I honor my body by “listening” to tension, discomfort, lightness, or joy and wonder, asking, Now what is that about? often God speaks into that awareness with truth and insight that proves very helpful over the long haul.

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

How Much is in Your Tank?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been very good at paying attention to my car’s fuel tank. I remember in high school I drove an old Jeep Grand Cherokee that had a digital fuel gauge. In 1998 that was quite impressive. It told you exactly how many miles before you ran out of gas, or at least, approximately. 

One day after school I vividly remember exiting the freeway only to notice I had 0, yes 0 miles of gas left in the tank. I began to panic as I waited at a light, praying desperately that I would be able to make it to the closest gas station.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten better at this. I haven’t quite hit “0 miles left” according to our most recent cars. But of course there is a helpful analogy here. If you are like most teenagers, then you are young, you barely think about your energy levels. You barely consider how much is “left in the tank” before committing to some new adventure.

As we get older, and our stores of said energy become less pronounced, we ought to become more aware, not just of our energy levels, but what sorts of things give us energy and what drains us of energy. As an extrovert, being with people energizes me, whereas for my introverted wife, it does the opposite. So how much is in your proverbial “tank?” And how do you “fill up” before running out of fuel altogether?

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Rituals That Replenish Energy

Is your job demanding more from you than ever before? Do you feel as if you’re working additional hours but rarely getting ahead? Is your mobile device leashing you to your job 24/7? Do you feel exhausted, disengaged, and sick?

Spending longer days at the office and extra hours at home doesn’t work because time is a limited resource. But your personal energy is renewable, say Schwartz and McCarthy. By fostering deceptively simple rituals that will help you regularly replenish your energy, you can strengthen your physical, emotional, and mental resilience. These rituals include taking brief breaks at specific intervals, expressing appreciation to others, reducing interruptions, and spending more time on the activities you do best and enjoy most.

Harvard Business Review, HBR Guide to Managing Stress, Harvard Business Review Press.

The Transfer of Energy

In physics, power is defined as the transfer of energy. In a light bulb, for example, electricity is transferred into light and heat. A 100-watt light bulb is more powerful than a 60-watt light bulb because there is more energy transferred. The same is true in leadership. It is a leader’s ability to transfer their authority to others that actually gives them their power. 33

Simon Sinek, What Leaders Can Learn From Mandela’s Selflessness and Sacrifice

What are You Going to Be When You Grow Up?

A photographer was snapping pictures of first graders at an elementary school, making small talk to put his subjects at ease.

“What are you going to be when you grow up?” he asked one little girl.

“Tired,” she said.

J.R. Love, Rushton, Louisiana

See Also Illustrations on Busyness, Endurance, Exhaustion, Life, Power, RestSleep, Slowing Down