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News That Illustrates: February 25, 2013

Greeter at the Heart Attack Grill Dies of Heart Attack
At we used an illustration about the Heart Attack Grill where people risk their lives to eat a 10,000-calorie burger. The Las Vegas Sun reported that John Alleman, an unofficial spokesman and greeter for the restaurant, died after suffering a heart attack. Alleman, who was only 52, was at a bus stop outside the restaurant when he was stricken. But Heart Attack Grill owner Jon Basso says that Alleman's death won't stop the restaurant from promoting the world's "most calorific burger." Basso said, "The grill is where you can be yourself. We accept people as they are. Alleman's death isn't going to stop us from what we're doing. People have got to live their lives." In other words, we accept people so much that we're willing to kill them. It seems like this place could also dish out a little "tough love."

PREACHING ANGLES: Acceptance; Exhortation

North Korea's Threat of "Final Destruction" Highlights Need for True Peace
After an apparent test of an improved nuclear weapon, North Korea has threatened its southern neighbor with "final destruction" during a recent UN conference. Of course the comment drew sharp criticism from the UN. One interesting dynamic to this ongoing conflict is the fact that the North and the South never signed a peace treaty to end their 1950s conflict. They are technically still in a state of war, with only a truce keeping them from combat. This is an interesting reminder of the nature of true peace. True peace is more than just the absence of fighting—indeed, even though no shots are being fired, the strife and hatred in this divided country are incredible. True peace is deeper than that. True peace is active and proactive. It is not merely passive. It is more than taking your finger off the trigger. True peace and reconciliation can only come through the work of God in our lives. We need that peace. So do nations.

PREACHING ANGLES: Peacemakers; Conflict; Reconciliation

The Most Popular Things to Give Up for Lent
Here's a good way to set up a sermon on Lent or spiritual disciplines. Stephen Smith at has been tracking Twitter to determine the top things people are giving up for Lent. Here's the top ten list: Being pope, swearing, soda, social networking, alcohol, chips, virginity, marijuana, fast food, and instagram. Twitter and Facebook also made the top 20. Giving up "you" came in 42nd place. Giving up church came in at 53rd place. Other notable items on the list included giving up myself, homework, being negative, busyness, and being ugly.

PREACHING ANGLES: Lent; Spiritual Disciplines

3-D Movie Changes Man's Sight
Bruce Bridgeman thought that Martin Scorsese's 3-D film Hugo would be just another movie. But he was wrong. According to the BBC, Bridgeman had lived his entire 67 years as a "stereoblind" man—he could not see depth. But when he put on his 3-D glasses at the theater and the movie started, for the first time in his life, he saw depth. "It was just literally like a whole new dimension of sight. Exciting," he said. And it didn't stop after the credits ended. The world outside the theater was no longer two dimensional. The effect of the film lasted. The best explanation for Bridgman's experience offered so far is that Hugo triggered something in Bridgman's mind to see something that it had never been able to grasp before. Isn't faith like this? You can be looking at something one day, and it is flat, lifeless, two dimensional. But then something in your sight shifts just a little and you really see it. And you didn't even need funny glasses.

PREACHING ANGLES: Conversion; Faith; Sight

A Vision for Life from 'Downton Abbey' to 'Girls'
Here's a fascinating short essay from The New York Times that contrasts the vision of life presented in two hot TV shows—"Downton Abbey" and "Girls." It's an insightful article with lots of potential for sermon illustrations, but here are a few choice quotes.

  • What begins on "Downton" as a new liberty to follow your heart, to dare love that others find unwise, has culminated in "Girls" in romantic pursuits that are dully mercenary and often unwise.
  • "I don't know what the next year of my life is going to be like at all," says Marnie, a smart, pretty, rather lost twentysomething on "Girls." "I don't know what the next week of my life is going to be like. I don't even know what I want. Sometimes I just wish someone would tell me, like, 'This is how you should spend your days, and this is how the rest of your life should look."
  • What begins on "Downton" as a welcome questioning of age and status roles has snowballed by the "Girls" era into grave role confusion: parents who cannot teach their children how to live because they feel guilty about parenting, or want to be friends more than guides, or still dress like teenagers and call their offspring "prude."

PREACHING ANGLES: Culture; Entertainment; Sex; Sexuality, Sin;

Get Ready for Online Gambling
Apparently Americans don't have enough options for their gambling needs. So according to an article in The New York Times, "Silicone Valley is betting that the online gambling industry is its next billion-dollar business, with developers across the industry turning casual games into occasions for adults to wager." The goal is to make online gambling as simple as buying an e-book or streaming a video from the convenience of your couch. Overseas, online betting is generating an estimated $32 billion in annual revenue. One research group estimates that betting on mobile phones alone will be a $100 billion worldwide industry by 2017. It looks like we'll have fresher, classier, more private ways to indulge our addictions.

PREACHING ANGLES: Addictions; Finances; Gambling; Greed

12 hour Long Television Show about Flaming Logs
Hold off on the Scandinavian jokes until the end here. According to Reuters, Norwegian public television is taking reality TV to new heights by airing a 12 hour broadcast of a burning fireplace. "Firewood specialists" are poised to provide "color commentary" for the flaming logs, including "very nerdy subjects such as burning, slicing, and stacking the wood …." Says producer Rune Moeklebust: "It will be very slow but noble television." Sound boring? Well, maybe, but on the other hand, at least somebody out there is trying to help us slow down long enough to enjoy a good fire in the fireplace.

PREACHING ANGLES: Busyness; Rest; Sabbath;

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Gary Ealy

February 25, 2013  11:58am

Very good to have illustrations. Is there a way to sign up for these on a regular basis?

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