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Sermon illustrations

Experience

Describe Milk For Me

Sometimes in life it is best to experience something rather than try to explain it. In this funny little story about two Jewish men, one blind from birth and another, the point is made in a rather humorous way:

You want a glass of milk?” asks the one who can see.

“Well, describe milk for me,” says the blind one.

“Milk is a white liquid”

“Great. And what is white?”

“Well, for example, a swan is white.”

“Aha. And what is a swan?”

“A swan? It’s a bird with a long, curved neck.”

“Good, But what is a “curved”?

“Curved? Well, I’ll bend my arm, and you can feel it. Then you will know what “curved means.”

The Blind person carefully feels the other’s up-curved arm, and says:

“Terrific! Now I know what milk is!”

The point is rather obvious: sometimes it is best to just experience the thing rather than describe it. Why not simply drink the milk rather than try to explain it?

Taken from Gerhrard Lohfink, Is This All There Is?: On Resurrection and Eternal Life, Liturgical Press.

An Encyclopedia of Human Experience

There is no situation or emotion a human being can experience that is not reflected somewhere in the Psalms. Immersing ourselves in the Psalms and turning them into prayers teaches our hearts the “grammar” of prayer and gives us the most formative instruction in how to pray in accord with God’s character and will.

Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Penguin, 2014), Kindle Electronic Version, 3430-32.

Does God Really Like Me?

I don’t know what I did wrong. But he had that “calmer than calm” look that hid a rage inside. I picked up the phone and saw her name. Not now. I can’t handle her right now. I scanned the room, looking for someone I knew. I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t have the energy for small talk. So I got more appetizers. “How dare you!” he screamed. Then he let loose about everything that’s wrong with me. If I said anything, she would just blow up again. So I let it go.  

We’ve all experienced situations like these. We’ve felt disconnected and judged, overwhelmed by friends and underwhelmed by our relatives. We know how it feels when someone doesn’t want us around. And we know how it feels when someone is sucking up all our energy. We’ve been yelled at. And we’ve yelled back. We’ve been ignored. We’ve done the ignoring.

We’ve felt people were just putting up with us. And we’ve just put up with others too. Whether we know it or not, all these experiences color our experience of God. If you’ve been ignored, scolded, or shamed, then you’ve probably wondered—consciously or unconsciously—if God is ignoring, scolding, or shaming you. Or, more painfully, maybe you think God is just putting up with you. We’re told that God loves us. But the real question is, Does God really like me?

Taken from Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us  by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw Copyright (c) 2020 by Cyd and Geoff Holsclaw. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

 

Making Good Decisions

I read of a young man who had just been appointed to the presidency of a bank at the tender age of thirty-two.  The promotion was far beyond his wildest dreams and very frightening to him, so he went to the venerable old chairman of the board to ask for advice on how to be.

“What is the most important thing for me to do as a new president?” he asked the older man.

“Right decisions,” was the gentleman’s terse answer.

The young man thought about that for a moment, and said, “Thank you very much; that is very helpful.  But can you be a bit more specific?  How do I make good decisions?”

The wise old man answered, “Experience.”

Exasperated, the young president said, “But that is why I’m here.  I don’t have the experience I need to make right decisions.  How do I get experience?”

“Wrong decisions,” came the old man’s reply.

Taken from Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent by Ben Patterson Copyright (c) 1989 by Ben Patterson. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

“She Knows Now”

A mother ran into the bedroom when she heard her seven-year-old son scream. She found his two-year-old sister pulling his hair. She gently released the little girl’s grip and said comfortingly to the boy, “There, there. She didn’t mean it. She doesn’t know that hurts.” He nodded his acknowledgement, and she left the room.

As she started down the hall the little girl screamed. Rushing back in, she asked, “What happened?”

The little boy replied, “She knows now.”

Joke a Day Ministries Group

Vicarious Sensory Experiences

The drug problems in the U.S. demonstrate this pattern: by heightening powers of perception, chemical stimulants open up a new world to a generation that has never learned to appreciate fully the world we have. It is not enough to walk alongside a swamp and listen to the frogs and crickets, to watch the turtles plop like bloated submarines into the water, to seek out the faint scent of wildflowers.

It is not enough, even, to visit the outer reaches of wilderness, where nature is far from subtle. Instead, too often we experience all these things vicariously, slumped in front of a flickering television with its beams of Trinitron color and low-frequency radiation, receiving sensory stimulation through our eyes alone. We have been to Everest and back, we think, when in fact some of us have never climbed the Appalachians.

Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts? 1990, pp.49-50, Zondervan.

See also illustrations on Context, History, Perspective, Tradition, Worldview

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Experience. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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