Romans 5: 1-11

Illustrated New Resources

  • Blessing in Adversity

    by Kathy Donley
    Barbara Brown Taylor’s book Learning to Walk in the Dark is all about embracing the unknown. In it, she tells the story of James Bremner. James grew up in a small Scottish village where there were no wild animals or known criminals. But there were also no streetlights or porchlights. It got really dark. Every night after supper, it was James’ job to take the empty milk bottles down to the bottom of the driveway so that the milkman would get them the next morning. The driveway was about 100 yards long, but from the house it disappeared into complete blackness almost at once. James had to walk out into that darkness. He couldn’t run because he might break the bottles. But as soon as he set the bottles down, he would turn and race back up to safety. The darkness never stopped terrifying him. Every single night it took all the courage he had to do this simple chore. As an adult he said that the bravery that drew out of him stayed with him for the rest of his life. He writes, “Courage, which is no more than the management of fear, must be practiced.”...
  • Sermon Starters (Lent 3A)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    In her book, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, Eliza Griswold tells the story of James Movel Wuye. He’s a Nigerian pastor who works alongside his former bitter enemy, Imam Muhammad Nurayan Ashafa in the city of Kaduna to change the way Nigeria’s Muslims and Christians view each other. During the eighties and nineties, the two leaders taught thousands of their young followers people to kill. The imam’s followers even lopped off the pastor’s arm with a machete more than a decade ago. Now, however, they are partners in an effort to foster unity among Nigerian youth. Yet James and Muhammad remain deeply devoted to both their faith and the salvation of each other. The imam, in fact, says, “I want James to die as a Muslim, and he wants me to die as a Christian.” In working for reconciliation, the pastor and imam are acting a bit like God.
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 6A)(2020)

    by Doug Bratt
    The unlikelihood of giving one’s life for another person is part of what makes what happened outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11 such a dramatic part of American lore. It’s a startling story that those who survived that ghastly day will never forget. Americans deeply treasure it in part because United Flight 93’s passengers gave their lives not only for their friends, but also for strangers like all of us. In fact, they let death rip them away from those they loved for people they’d never met. It’s almost too dreadful to even imagine what would have happened if terrorists had succeeded in flying United Flight 93 into the White House or Capital. I suspect that the United States would still be recovering had those passengers not given their lives for their fellow Americans on 9/11. Just imagine how much more terrible our plight would be had Jesus not died for naturally ungodly sinners like us.
  • When God Dips His Pen

    Art and Theology by Victoria Jones
    The Rev. Cleavant Derricks (1909–1977) was a gospel songwriter who pastored and directed the choir of a number of black Baptist churches throughout the South. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1984. His song “When God Dips His Pen of Love in My Heart” (sometimes shortened to “When God Dips His Love in My Heart”) was first recorded by the Blackwood Brothers Quartet in 1946. Hank Williams followed that up with his own recording in December 1950—though it wasn’t released until 1985...
  • Paul, Suffering and Corona Virus

    by David Lose
    Brené Brown, one of my favorite researchers and authors, regularly confronts us with the fact that courage is not the absence of fear or vulnerability, but rather is the ability to persevere in the midst of fear and vulnerability. She has challenged more than 10,000 people in the various presentations she’s given to come up with a single example of courage that did not entail vulnerability… and to date, no one has been able to offer one. Similarly, Admiral James Stockdale, a Medal of Honor winner for valor during the Vietmann War – during which he as tortured more than 20 twenty times while being held prisoner for seven years – once said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that may be.”...
  • The Sequence of Suffering

    by Noel Schoonmaker
    The story is often told of the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill giving a commencement speech in which he took the podium, stood in silence for a moment, and said, “Never ever, ever give up,” and then sat down. But according to the research of Valerie Strauss, what Churchill actually said on October 29, 1941 in a speech at the Harrow School was, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” He went on to discuss the state of Britain, saying, “We now find ourselves in a position where I say that we can be sure that we have only to persevere to conquer.” This is akin to what Paul is saying spiritually: never give in, never give in, never, never, never give in, for we have only to persevere to conquer...

Other New Resources

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Proper 6A (2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Although it was an 18-year flashback, the evil Lord Voldemort’s attempt to kill the infant Harry Potter became a climactic moment in the series/films as we learn what it was that prevented Harry from dying that night: it was love. Harry’s mother, Lily, interposed herself between Voldemort and her son and the love in her was so strong as to cause Voldemort’s death curse to rebound and hit him instead (though it killed Lily herself, too). What’s more, this love then attached itself to the only living person left in the room, young Harry himself. And it left a mark on him that could not be erased (Harry’s signature lightning bolt forehead scar was but a token of the far more indelible mark on his soul)...
  • Lent 3A (2017)

    by Scott Hoezee
    In his book, Searching for Home, Craig Barnes claims that many people today sense the incompleteness of life as it is, but they don’t know where to look for anything better. So they keep trying to fill in the holes in their lives by indulging in food, by increasing their consumer spending, by seeking new experiences, by trying a new drug, by changing careers. But, of course, none of it satisfies for long. At one point Barnes observes that you know people have hit bottom when, instead of longing for a time when suffering will be no more, they plod on in life while never allowing their hopes to rise any higher than the furtive wish, “Maybe tomorrow we will suffer a little less.”...
  • Exalted Trinity

    Art and Theology by Victoria Jones
    All efforts to visualize the Trinity are obviously deficient. The doctrine resists figuration. (How do you convey three distinct divine persons who share one essence?) But that hasn’t stopped artists from trying. Over the centuries, several different types evolved to represent the Three-in-One. The example above, from a late medieval French translation of Augustine’s City of God, shows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit enthroned in heaven—the Father as an old man holding a globe, at his right hand the Son still bearing the wounds of his passion, and the Holy Spirit hovering between them in the form of a dove. The two male figures share a royal robe and jointly hold open a book, their word of truth...
  • Disney and the Gospels: Frozen

    by Beth Quick
    Frozen is another one of the newer Disney films that breaks out of the prince-rescues-princess mold, even poking fun at those tropes. It reminds us that acts of true love take many forms. The truest love in this story is the love between sisters, and especially in Anna’s willingness to put herself in harm’s way, to offer even her own life in order to save her sister. This is after her sister, hurting and angry, rejects years of Anna’s attempts to grow close to her again. It makes me wonder - who do we truly love? Who would we make sacrifices for? Are there some for whom we would even give our own lives if it was necessary? When we think about sacrifice and true love in light of our faith, from our perspective as followers of Jesus, of course our thoughts turn to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, when he was arrested, tried, and crucified...
  • Theology at the Theater: Les Miserables

    by Beth Quick
    Les Misérables is a redemption story, a work that examines through the lives of its characters themes of redemption and how we do – or don’t – long for redemption and offer redemption to others. The action takes place in France in the early 1800's. The key player is a man named Jean Valjean. As the musical begins, Valjean is being released from prison, where he’s served for 19 long years, serving in hard labor. He served 5 for stealing the loaf of bread, but an additional 14 years were added to his sentence for trying to escape from prison. He gets a ticket of leave, and bears a brand on his chest with his prisoner number 24601, both of which identify him to people as an ex-convict and make it hard for him to start fresh. He can’t find work or a place to live. Finally, a Bishop offers him food and a place to stay, but Valjean steals silver from the Bishop and flees. He’s caught by the police, who are ready to throw him back into prison. But instead, the Bishop comes and vouches for Valjean, saying the silver was a gift, and also giving him a set of silver candlesticks which the Bishop says Valjean forgot. The Bishop says to Valjean: “Remember this, my brother. See in this some higher plan. You must use this precious silver to become an honest man. By the witness of the martyrs, by the Passion and the Blood, God has raised you out of darkness. I have bought your soul for God!”...
  • Faith Leads to Hope

    by C. Von Reynolds
    When our son, Andy, with Down Syndrome was school age, he preferred the weekends. One school morning, Andy asked his brother, “Brother, what’s today?” Brother said, “Today is Monday.” Andy jumped from the kitchen table, bolted to his bedroom, and slammed the door. Hearing the commotion, I asked Timothy what he said to his brother. Realizing he had said the wrong thing, I went to Andy’s room, opened the door, and observed that he was lying across his bed muttering to himself, “I hate school, I hate Mondays.” I went over to Andy, leaned across the bed and whispered in his ear, “Andy, Friday’s coming!” He immediately changed his demeanor, got up from the bed, finished his breakfast, got ready for school and was on his way. What made the difference for Andy? He had something to look forward to, he had hope that weekends give to most school-aged children, as well as to us “older” children...
  • What Is and What Will Be

    by Michael Ruffin
    Now, we Christians do in fact believe that it’s all going to be all right some day. As the Gospel song puts it, Trials dark on every hand, and we cannot understand all the ways that God could lead us to that blessed promised land; but He guides us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die, for we’ll understand it better by and by. By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.
  • Love Hopes

    by Carl Wilton
    Early on in Schindler's List, there’s a scene that takes place in a railway station. Oskar Schindler’s standing on the platform, talking to some Nazi military officers, when a train pulls up. It’s a train of cattle cars, but it’s not cattle that are in them. It’s human beings, the refuse of the Third Reich: Jews and Gypsies and gays and the developmentally disabled — all the sorts of people whose lives counted for nothing under that fascist government. It’s a scorching hot day, and the people crammed into those cattle cars have no water. They’re crying out piteously to the people on the platform, reaching their hands through the slats in the cars, saying, “Please, just give us some water!”
  • A Very Present Help

    by Carl Wilton
    The historian Stephen Ambrose has said that, with the exception of General Eisenhower, then-First Sergeant “Bud” Lomell was the single individual most responsible for the success of D-Day. In the early hours of the invasion, his unit of Army Rangers landed at the foot of some sheer cliffs adjacent to Utah Beach, a place known as Pointe du Hoc. They quietly scaled the cliff with ropes, without being noticed by the German defenders — who figured no one could possibly climb those cliffs. Their objective was five large artillery pieces that pretty much controlled Utah Beach. If those cannons were operational a few hours later, when the first wave of invaders was scheduled to hit the beach, the carnage would have been unbelievable. Sergeant Lomell and his men found no cannons where they were supposed to be: only some telephone poles the Germans had set up as decoys, to fool the Allied reconnaissance aircraft into thinking they were gun barrels. Moving inland, they found the real guns hidden in an apple orchard, covered by camouflage netting. About two hundred German soldiers were nearby, receiving orders from their officers. No one was defending the guns. Bud ran up to the artillery emplacement himself and destroyed the gun sights by bashing them with the butt of his rifle. Then, he used thermite grenades to melt the firing mechanism. He performed this sabotage without the Germans noticing. By the time the Allied soldiers hit the beach, the guns of Pointe du Hoc were useless.

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Justified by Faith

    by Mickey Anders
    Several years ago when I was a pastor in Arkansas, the statewide newspapers covered in great detail the suicide of a prominent Little Rock businessman named Bob. He had a very prestigious job, lots of money, a huge house, a fine family... all the things most people yearn for in life. But Bob wasn't satisfied. Something ate at him and finally drove him to desperate measures for more and more. He turned to stealing, and then, on the verge of getting caught, he committed suicide. The newspapers carried long stories not only about his business misdealings, but also about his difficult family life, especially his relationship with his mother. One issue carried the suicide note he wrote to his mother just before he died. It was filled with bitterness because he had never felt accepted by his mother. It concluded, "Are you happy now?" ...
  • Illustrations

    from Biblical Studies
  • William Carey

    from Biblical Studies
  • The Cross as Clue

    by Gilbert Bowen
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived and died for that man and his cross, was a pacifist who abhorred the thought of getting his hands dirty in the struggle against Nazism, finally brings himself to the conclusion that he can not avoid joining those who sought the life of the leader, the Fuhrer. He writes from the prison cell where it brought him, “In the midst of it all I was met with mercy, not by men, no, but by God himself. And I realized that Jesus Christ also died for him, the enemy – and all at once everything became different. No Christian is harmed by suffering injustice. But perpetuating injustice does harm. Indeed, the evil one wants to accomplish only one thing with you; namely that you also become evil. But were that to happen, he would have won. Therefore, repay no one evil for evil. Dear brothers and sisters, whoever has had the experience of God forgiving him as Jesus forgave them so long ago from his cross – from such a one, all passion for judging and bearing grudges disappears; he wants only one thing more; to serve, to help, to forgive, without measure, without condition, without end.”...
  • Hope Filled

    by Rob Elder
    The mid-twentieth century theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, is often credited1 with having written what has become one of the world’s most famous prayers. The first part of the prayer is the part that is familiar as the “Serenity Prayer” to 12 step folks, indeed, to people the world over: God grant us the grace to accept with serenity the things which cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Whether Niebuhr originated that little prayer or not, it is less well-known that Niebuhr finished the prayer with the following, seldom-quoted lines: Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace; taking, as [Jesus] did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next...
  • Suffering to Hope

    by Charles Fischer III
    I remember the first time that I saw G.F. Watts' painting entitled HOPE. The image of the woman sitting upon a globe, blindfolded, with an instrument in her arms that appeared to have lost all of its strings but one. The painting may have been known within art circles; but for many people, including myself, we were introduced to this late 19th-century image in 2008 when then Senator Barack Obama explained the title of his second book, Audacity of Hope.
  • Blessed Assurances

    by William Flippin, Jr.
    ("A young lady one day was speeding through a small Georgia town. She was traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph speed zone. The police pulled her over and wrote her a ticket that would cost her $100. She didn't have the money to pay it and ended up having to go to court over the ticket. In the courtroom, the judge said, 'You were found guilty of going 70 miles an hour in a 55-mile speed zone. You have to pay $100'...")
  • He Couldn't Swim

    by Paul Harvey
  • Holy Trinity

    by Roger Haugen
    ("I was part of a funeral about 10 years ago when a young grain buyer was killed having driven his truck in front of a train. He had crossed that crossing several times a day for years, he worked with trains everyday but this one time he failed to look and was killed...")
  • Ambient Ads

    from Homiletics Online
    ("Ads are everywhere. Inescapable. Unexpected. Sometimes annoying. But there's a message in all of this for us. Our assignment, each and every day in an all-surrounding way, is to be an ad for God...")
  • Bragging on God

    by Randy Hyde
    Fred Craddock tells about a boyhood experience. His family had lost their farm and moved into town. Craddock is a rather shy person, and he says the isolation of the farm is the reason why that is true. “Socially inadequate” is the way he puts it. When school started he put on his “new” clothes that had been given him by means of a couple of charities in town and he made his way to class. The teacher said, “Let’s get acquainted and start our school year by everybody telling what you did on vacation.” A bad start. There was a girl who had spent a week in Florida, another who had gone to Niagara Falls. To Craddock, these places were pictures in books, and they had actually gone there. Another student and his family had visited Washington, D. C. and seen the historical monuments and all that. Little Freddy was sitting in the back of the room growing more nervous by the moment as eventually, he knew, it would be his turn to tell what he had done on vacation. What was he going to say? He had been on the farm all summer. He had never gone anywhere...
  • Trinity Sunday and Father Kapaun

    by Terrance Klein, SJ
    ("All Saints Day 1950, was properly joyful in Korea. U.S. Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun celebrated four field Masses that day for the soldiers in the Third Battalion of the Eighth Calvary Regiment. Camped almost on the Chinese border, the men believed the war all but won. All Souls is a somber day, and, that year in Korea, it turned cataclysmic as twenty thousand Chinese soldiers entered the war, quickly overwhelming the three thousand Americans posted in the north..." A MUST READ!!)
  • Visions from the Catacombs

    by Terry Kyllo
    When Roman citizens were accused of a crime they would be given a hearing. When the accused person was found innocent, the judge would say that they were "justified." This was an announcement that the falsely accused should once again have the trust of and good relationship with the rest of the community.
  • God's Arms

    by Michael Lindvall
    ("In one corner an old white-haired woman sitting in a low chair, her face half hidden by her hand. . . . Her other hand is on the shoulder of a younger woman, little more than a girl, who is sitting at her feet. There is a fire in the grate. . . . The younger had only been married three months, and then death stalked her...")
  • Give Me Tomorrow

    by Jim McCrea
    ("When Gray Clark woke up one spring morning, he realized that it was the day he had agreed to serve as a volunteer chaplain at the local urban ministry center. As he thought of that, he also thought about all the work he still had to do that week and he almost called in to tell them that he couldn't make it. Instead, he decided to go for just a couple of hours since he only volunteered there once a month..." and other illustrations)
  • A Father's Love and Child Play

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    Two weeks ago, Tatyana Sapunova was driving with her mother near Moscow when she saw a sign planted by the side of the road. “Death To [Jews],” it said. She stopped and attempted to tear it down. That’s when the explosive device rigged to the sign exploded. The blast tore through her face, hands and legs. She is reported to have lost sight in one eye. Sapunova, for the record, is not Jewish. In fact, she was baptized a Christian. I have no way of knowing if she still follows that faith or, indeed, any faith. I do know this: What she did speaks directly to what faith is supposed to be about — and too seldom is. These days, religion is a story of scandal or of somebody jockeying for political advantage. A story of warfare over land or the rationalization of suicide bombings. For some reason, it’s seldom a story like this, seldom a story of someone motivated to stand with the outcasts like Christ among the lepers — a person compelled to do the right thing because it is the right thing...
  • The Holy Trinity for Dummies

    by John Pavelko
    Today Brennan Manning is a very popular author. He has written over a dozen books-Abba Child, The Ragamuffin Gospel, and The Signature of Jesus, to name a few. He has a very powerful ministry of "helping people to enter the existential experience of being loved in their brokenness." But there was once a day when he himself was in great need of being loved. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY. He attended college for two years before enlisting in the Marines and serving in Korea. After active duty, he enrolled in college but only studied journalism for one semester. His soul was restless. He knew that their had to be something more to life than what he was experiencing. He enrolled in a Catholic seminary but left after seven days, "because of the dreaded "rising at 5 a.m., chanting psalms in Latin with pantywaist 18-year-old postulants," being ordered to eat beets ("which I hated"), and "stumbling up steps in an ankle-length robe unaware that I had to lift the hem."...
  • Getting It Right

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • Just a Sack of Stones

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • The Weakest Link

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
  • Love in the Abyss

    by Todd Weir
    ("On the night of Oct. 19, 1984, Erik Vogel was uneasy about flying. It was snowing; his plane's de-icer and autopilot weren't working; and his co-pilot had been bumped to fit one more passenger on his 10-seater. But the young pilot was behind schedule and he felt like his job was on the line, so he took off, as he did most days, shuttling between the remote communities that dot the Canadian wilderness...")

Other Resources from 2019

Other Resources from 2017 and 2018

Other Resources from 2014 to 2016

Other Resources from 2010 to 2013

Other Resources from 2002 to 2009

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources

The Classics

Currently Unavailable