Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

News That Illustrates for Sunday, July 3rd—July 10th

The Orlando Attacks, 'Operation Noah's Ark,' and Mom vs. The Mountain Lion

Orlando Attacks: Good Riddance or Good Works?
This week the New York Times ran an article about how churches have responded to the tragedy in Orlando. This didn't surprise me, but the Times focused on a few (apparently they searched the nation and found a total of five) pastors who basically said "good riddance" to the members of the LGBTQ community who were murdered in a gay nightclub. At least one pastor exhorted his congregation with these words: "The tragedy is that more of them didn't die." But the Times chose to ignore a prominent Assemblies of God church in the Orlando community, Iglesia El Calvario, that hosted funerals for victims, offered grief counseling, conducted ongoing outreach for their city and its LGBT community, prayed, gave blood, and passed out water. As the article at Christianity Today noted, when local reporters inevitably asked about the tension between evangelicals and the gay community, Pastor Gabriel Salguero responded, "We're called to be Christ to everybody, and we're called to love our neighbor, every neighbor."

Preaching Angles: Church, mission of; Outreach; Salt and Light

'Operation Noah's Ark' Meets Situation Hyper Hoarding
A mission called "Operation Noah's Ark" might sound like fun, but for members of the Nassau Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), an eight-hour raid on a Long Island house wasn't exactly a good time. After receiving complaints from neighbors about the stench and noise coming from a certain house, workers came to check it out—and found more than 400 animals inside. "The stench was so bad, investigators had to put on hazmat suits," a local news story stated. Among the animals removed from the property were "more than 250 birds and more than 150 turtles … along with four reptiles and a dozen mammals," all living in filthy conditions. Pretty disgusting, right? Hopefully none of us have been hoarding hundreds of animals, but most of us have probably been hoarding some things—whether in our homes or in our minds and hearts—that need to be released and let go.

Preaching Angles: Burdens; Brokenness; Healing; Troubles

Like Father, Like Son
"I feel like a monster," Gabriel Marshall said to his dad. Eight-year-old Gabriel had recently undergone surgery to remove a tumor from his brain, and he now bore a conspicuous scar on the side of his head. His dad, Josh, had an idea: he got a tattoo on the side of his head that was in the exact shape of Gabriel's scar. "If people want to stare at you," he told Gabriel, "then they can stare at both of us." A picture of the two sporting their scars eventually won first place in a Father's Day photo competition run by St. Baldrick's Foundation, "an organization dedicated to fighting childhood cancer." In some ways, their story might remind us of another story: about an empathetic Father, a wounded Son, and scars that were chosen because of love.

Preaching Angles: Fathers; Fatherhood of God; Empathy; Compassion

Mom Versus Mountain Lion
A five-year-old Colorado boy's playtime turned into a traumatic escapade when he encountered an unexpected playmate: a mountain lion. During the harrowing rescue Friday evening, the mother "reached into the animal's mouth and wrested her son's head from its jaws," The Aspen Times reported. The child was playing outside with his brother when his mother heard the sound of screaming, Pitkin County police said in a statement. She rushed outside to find a mountain lion on top of her son and her son's head inside the mouth of the lion. But Mom was ready for a fight. According to a local deputy, "she was able to pry the cat's jaws open" and get her son away. Both mother and son received minor injuries, but are now in good condition—thanks to her heroic actions. At various points in the Bible, we find God described as a motherly figure: a woman giving birth (Isa. 42:14), a mother offering comfort to her children (Isa. 66:13). Even when it feels like we're trapped by whatever lions (or tigers, or bears) we might be facing in our own lives, we have a heavenly parent who fights for us.

Preaching Angles: Mothers; Protection; Protection, Divine; Trials; Trust in God

Irish Fans Do Good Deeds
The 2016 European Championships have been given a black eye by ordinary fans turning into soccer "hooligans." (Yes, I am talking about you Russia and England!) But one country is winning both the country of France over, and many other fans—the Irish. At every stop the Irish are known for their singing, their good deeds, and helpfulness. An article in the Washington Post highlights some of their exploits. The fans are seen fixing a dent in a car. Okay, so the dent was caused by an Irish fan standing on the car, the fans did fix the dent and left money in the opened windows, even chanting "Fix the car for the boys in green!" Even after a loss of 3-0 to Belgium, a video surface of Irish fans singing lullabies to a baby. Another group took shelter in a tunnel to stay out of the rain, but then the French police showed up. The Irish fans left without a fuss, all the while singing and picking up trash. Another group of Irish fans were on a train heading to the next game and serenaded a nun with a version of "Our Father." One more example of helpfulness: a passing cyclist couldn't get around a large group of Irish fans. So the Irish helped the bicyclist by crowd surfing both him and his bike over the crowd. It really is amazing what a little friendliness and helpfulness can do to so many people. These Irish fans are quite literally spreading cheer around the country of France.

Preaching Angles: Cheerfulness; Help; Joy Sports

TV Dads in American History
This illustration comes a week late, but save it for use for Father's Day next year. In a fascinating article, writer Tim Grierson walks us through the history of the TV dad and shows how each dad reflects the values in America at that time. Below you will see the summary of each era of TV dad.

  • Mid 1950s - Jim Anderson (Father Knows Best): "Father Knows Best preached a wholesome, slightly square domestic normalcy that placed the dad at the top. His job is to go to work and make a living, enduring his little tots when he comes home at night. Everything's perfect, and nobody has any major problems."
  • The 1960s - Steve Douglas (My Three Sons): Steve Douglas was "the friendly, noble single dad to three growing boys. What was mildly edgy about the show was that his character was a widower, allowing Americans to see a nontraditional family dynamic on TV. … My Three Sons at least started to reveal the cracks in the idealized American portrait of father-mother-and-cute-kids."
  • Early 1970s - Mike Brady (The Brady Brunch): "As a father, Mike was hardly a groundbreaking template—he's a good, decent, upstanding dude—but [actor Robert] Reed gave him a sweetness that, matched with the character's tragic backstory, made him seem softer than the blandly upstanding dads of earlier eras."
  • 1970s - Archie Bunker (All in the Family): "This was a father who definitely didn't know best—more accurately, he represented an outdated worldview that was quickly being shoved aside by a new (and, for him, frightening) order.
  • Late 1980s - Dan Conner (Roseanne): "Dan was a new kind of father: vulnerable and sweet, henpecked by his bossy wife but still hopelessly devoted to her. … Dan was a man constantly ashamed of his inability to give his family a better life, but always trying to compensate by being as good a guy as possible."
  • 1990s - Homer Simpson (The Simpsons): "In Homer, The Simpsons found what is, to this day, the perfect modern-day TV father: drunken, well-intentioned, utterly worthless, prone to anger, always at a loss for the right thing to do or say."
  • 2000s - Tony Soprano (The Sopranos): "Tony Soprano is the prototypical breadwinner and head of the household, except he's so hobbled by inner turmoil and "business" concerns that he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown."
  • 2010s - Bob Belcher (Bob's Burgers): " … in Bob we see the overextended modern dad in all his rumpled glory, just trying to keep his head above water in all aspects of his life."

Preaching Angles: Fathers; Father's Day; Fathers-Husbands, Influence; Parenting

Related Sermon Illustrations

News That Illustrates

Christmas Comes Early for Dying Boy Christmas is still a month away, but for two little boys battling terminal cancer—Dax Locke and Noah Biorkman (for Noah's story, see the ...

[Read More]

News That Illustrates

Extreme Makeover: Nativity Edition One of the things that draws us to the Christmas narrative is the fact that God would use a simple, probably impoverished teenager to bring his ...

[Read More]