- "An experiment of a different kind was performed by researchers at Amherst College in Massachusetts. They took a squash that was about the size of a person's head and placed a metal band around it. The band was attached to instruments that would tell them how much pressure the squash was exerting against the band as the squash tried to grow in spite of the constraint. Within a month the squash registered five hundred pounds of pressure against the band. But it was still trying to grow. In two months, it was exerting 1,500 pounds of pressure. When the pressure got to be 2,000 pounds, a ton of pressure, they had to reinforce the band. Finally at 5,000 pounds of pressure, no amount of reinforcement would work, and the squash broke the band. Inside, the squash was full of dense fibers that had grown to push against the band restraint. And the researchers also discovered that the squash plant had sent out more than 16 miles of root structures, searching for the necessary nutrients and water it needed to grow against the force holding it back...
- ("William Willimon describes a true situation where a bishop sent a seminary graduate to her first assignment, an inner city church in decline for the last 20 years. 'Just keep it going as best you can,' he suggested. She told the board that she thought she had a gift for working with children. 'Then the bishop sent you to the wrong church,' responded one of the women on the board bluntly..." and other illustrations)
- In December 1991, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer, which had grown from its earlier stages because of my initial reluctance to have it examined by a doctor. By mid-January 1992, I was operated on for a colon re-section. During the spring and summer I concentrated on healing, but things inside just weren't right and I knew it. I experienced pain and too many bowel movements each day. A medical procedure searched for the cause, and another procedure opened my rectum. The doctors decided a colostomy was in order. By this time I was pretty tired of being a hospital "bird," and wanted to get it all over with and get on with my life. A third operation was scheduled. By March 1993, I had my new colostomy and also some bad news. During my operation, the doctor saw cancerous looking tissue but couldn't deal with it and do my colostomy too, so he took some biopsies and closed me up. The biopsies revealed the cancer had returned to the same place (the rectal area) and was spreading. I was depressed beyond belief. It was a rainy, dreary March morning and I watched the feeble light of dawn from my rain-streaked windows. I was depressed and in despair. Lying in the hospital, my doctor's words rang in my ears. "It's a can of worms down there, Paul, you'll need another operation by a skilled team of surgeons who just do this kind of pelvic surgery. I can't do it."
- ("150 years ago, 500 people died of cholera in just ten days in one London neighborhood, marking the beginning of another horrible epidemic. Victorian physician Dr. John Snow of London had already written a controversial pamphlet suggesting that cholera was not caused by 'vapors', but was instead a disease of the 'gut', spread by contaminated water...")
- ("I always liked the child's statement in class who said that this is a story of Jesus bringing us back to life no matter how "stinky" we become. I agree. It would be nice if we realised that there is life before death as well as after. I do not believe that we have to wait until our physical death to experience resurrection on some level. If you like, our entire life is a series of deaths and resurrections. There are times when we "stink" to highest heaven...")
- ("The phone rings. The voice is that of the wife of a friend. She reports that her husband has just died. The man expresses shock, and then sorrow. He tries to find words to express his feelings. He can't find them. She tells him about the funeral arrangements. The man knows that the expectation is that he should go. He should be at the funeral. He wants to go, but he cannot go..." and another illustration - this is a must read!! Highly recommended!!)
- ("It was a Monday morning, about ten years ago – my day off. I answered the doorbell and two police officers were standing there. 'Are you John Christianson?' I answered, 'Yes, what's up?' They answered, very seriously, 'We're placing you under arrest for lawlessness.'...")
- ("William Willimon describes a true situation where a bishop sent a seminary graduate to her first assignment, an inner city church in decline for the last 20 years. 'Just keep it going as best you can,' he suggested. She told the board that she thought she had a gift for working with children. 'Then the bishop sent you to the wrong church,' responded one of the women on the board bluntly...")
- ("Natalie Sleeth wrote the song we sang to open our time together this morning at a time when she was pondering her life, her husband's diagnosis of cancer, and the death of a friend – and when she was seriously ill with Multiple Sclerosis....")
- ("There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions, and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, "Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me...")
- ("A prison chaplain preached at the church where I served and made a passing comment about the prison choir. Afterwards some members asked if it might be possible to have the choir sing for the church...")
- ("Once upon a time, a woman was seated with a minister in the dining car of a train. Before she knew it, the two were engaged in conversation about her life. She felt comfortable sharing with this pastoral stranger...")
- ("Robert Capon told a whimsical illustration of how Jesus meets us where we are at. He said it is like when we are driving along and, for whatever reason, we end up in the ditch...")
- ("My sister Tracy was a beautiful child, with sun-kissed hair and a mile-wide smile. I was about eight years old when she joined our family, one among dozens of children my mother had cared for as a foster parent...")
- ("Mirrors are all the same, and yet they all have different purposes. They all 'show how things really are' – at least the 'exterior' view of things. For example, when you are driving, you always want to know exactly how close the traffic is behind you, or off to the sides in your blind spots. The Rear-View Mirror and the Side Mirrors assist in making those determinations....")
- ("A long time ago, there was a little boy whose parents had just died. He was taken in by his aunt, who raised him as her own son. Years later, after he had grown up and had a family of his own, he received a letter from his aunt. She was dying ...")