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Sermon illustrations

The Good Life

Earth, Receive an Honored Guest

W.H. Auden is widely considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century. Auden grew up in England but spent some of his adult years in the United States. When he passed away on the 29th of September, 1973, three of Auden’s greatest admirers happened to be together: the critic Alfred Kazin, Kazin’s wife, Ann Birstein, and the poet Richard Wilbur. 

As soon as they received word the poet had died, they each proclaimed with one voice, “Earth, receive an honored guest,” words first written by Auden to honor the poet W.B Yeats.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

The Good Life

One way of redefining success is to redefine “the good life.” We have to unlearn what we’ve been taught because we’ve been sold a lie. I believe you know that as well as I do. Or at least you feel it—and have perhaps felt it for a very long time.

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

Life in the Suburbs

More than 50 percent of Americans live in suburbs, and many of them desire to live a Christian life. Yet often the suburbs are ignored (“Your place doesn’t matter, we’re all going to heaven anyway”), denigrated and demeaned (“You’re selfish if you live in a suburb; you only care about your own safety and advancement”), or seen as a cop-out to a faithful Christian life (“If you really loved God, you’d move to Africa or work in an impoverished area”).

From books to Hollywood jokes, the suburbs aren’t supposed to be good for our souls. Even David Goetz’s popular book, Death by Suburb, though helpful, presumes suburban life is toxic for your soul—as if suburbia were uniquely broken by the weight of sin. The suburbs—like any place—exhibit both the goodness of God’s creative acts (in desiring to foster community, beauty, rest, hospitality, family) and sin (in focusing on image, materialism, and individualism to the exclusion of others). We cannot be quick to dismiss the suburbs out of hand.

… But each suburb in its own way evangelizes for the good life: a life of safety, beauty, comfort, and ease. Suburbs, like all places, reflect both our good, God-given desires to create home, and also the brokenness of a place in their geography, entry systems, and laws. Thankfully, the good news of the gospel is never defined by a ZIP code.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Miserable Elvis

Like many others who find themselves in the spotlight, Elvis Presley struggled with his fame, as well as the many temptations that befell him during his time as an iconic musician. In 1958, following an Easter Service at the First Assembly of God, Elvis told Rev. James Hamill, “Pastor, I’m the most miserable young man you’ve ever seen. I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need to spend. I’ve got millions of fans. I’ve got friends. But I’m doing what you taught me not to do, and I’m not doing the things you taught me to do.”

Stuart Strachan Jr. Source Material from Godvine.com

The Secret Formula for Writing a Bestselling Book

I recently found, hidden in plain sight, the secret formula for writing a bestselling book. Yes, you read that right. My discovery created a surge of power that I could hardly handle. It felt like learning the winning lottery numbers before the tickets had even been sold. Everything in my life was about to change. Okay, I might’ve overstated a bit. It’s bad form to begin with a lie, so I confess that I didn’t actually find the secret sauce of publishing. But what I did discover is that many of the bestselling books have three things in common—three characteristics that undoubtedly help them climb bestseller lists and empty our wallets.

Because I love books, I’m going to share my findings with you—just in case you want to write a bestseller one day. First, use provocative language in your title—swearing is best. I could give some examples, but you get the idea. Second, write a self-help book. People seem to like learning about themselves and finding ways to make themselves better. Go figure! Third, include something about “the good life” in your title or subtitle.

Those three words grouped together, in that order, seem to have a magical power. After all, isn’t that what we all want? The good life. If the good life could be turned into a product, everyone would want a piece of it. Nothing would be more profitable. Can you imagine selling such a thing? “Get your good life and find everything humankind has wanted since the beginning of time. Adam missed it. Plato couldn’t find it. Nietzsche tried his best to give it words. The good life slipped through their fingers, but today you can have yours for a deal of a price!”

Addison D. Bevere, Saints: Becoming More Than “Christians,” Revell, 2020.

See also Illustrations on Achievement, Appearances, BlessingJoy, Power

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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