- •There was a joke that came out of the Soviet Union many years ago about a Russian who stood on the street corner in Moscow, and shouted, "Down with Khrushchev!" He was arrested and sent to prison camp for ten years. While he was in prison he had a change of heart, and came to see that Khrushchev was a great leader after all. The only problem was, while he was in prison the times changed and Khrushchev was deposed from office and publicly denounced. When the man was released, he went back to that same street corner in Moscow. He wanted to give a public testimony to his rehabilitation. This time he shouted, "Hooray for Khrushchev!" and got ten more years. Which just shows you, timing is everything.
- ("Robert McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security adviser, had been indicted for his role in the Iran-Contra affair. McFarlane was crushed. His career was ruined. In desperation, he tried to commit suicide. Then a stranger mailed him a video of It's a Wonderful Life. Robert McFarlane had never seen it. In an interview, McFarlane said it was that movie that gave him the inspiration to go on..." and other illustrations)
- ("It's like a woman named Marlene Nance who wrote in to Decision Magazine sometime back. One day, Nance's little daughter, Emma, was playing with her paper dolls. These were special paper dolls. They were all Bible characters. Suddenly Emma realized that the Jesus character was missing. Marlene and Emma looked all over the house, but they couldn't find Jesus anywhere..." and other illustrations)
- It was in a church in Munich that I saw him - a balding, heavyset man in a gray overcoat, a brown felt hat clutched between his hands. People were filing out of the basement room where I had just spoken. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to a defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. "When we confess our sins," I had said, "God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever." One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, the blue uniform and a visored cap with its swastika. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights, the pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor, the shame of walking past this man naked. The place was Ravensbruck and the man walking toward me had been a guard - one of the most cruel of them all.
- ("In his book Horns and Halos, Dr. J. Wallace Hamilton tells about one of the weirdest auction sales in history; and it was held in Washington, D.C., in 1926, where 150,000 patented models of old inventions were declared obsolete and placed on the auction block for public auction. Prospective buyers and on-lookers chuckled as item after item was put up for bid..." and many more)
- Peter Perry tells of a woman who was a member of one of the churches he pastored. She lived alone in an assisted living facility because her husband had died some 25 years earlier. Perry says, “She was practically blind. She was broke. And she was mean. […] She had a son she didn’t like, and a daughter-in-law she liked even less. She claimed that she was glad they lived two hundred miles away and only came for a few hours on major holidays. She wanted the church to pay attention to her, but anytime anyone visited, all she had were harsh words about how no one ever came to visit her. She complained about the food, the nurses, the doctors, her neighbors, her family…”
Perry visited her twice and was dreading the third visit, but he went dutifully anyway and listened to her laundry list of complaints. Finally he decided to confront her. So he asked, “Elizabeth, why are you so angry?” With that, she became quiet for a moment and then changed the subject to the weather. But Perry refused to be diverted.
- ("Clare Oatney tells a story that happened when she was a little child. 'Once, when I was young, my family was up at my aunt and uncle's farm for Christmas. Now, it was a pig farm, but there was still a general air of growing things around, so my brothers, my cousins and I decided to try our hands at it. We took some seeds from the apples we had eaten for lunch, and we planted them in a pot of soil our aunt gave us...")
- ("Advent is not our journey. We are NOT in charge. Advent is not a journey we make, a journey we prepare for, a road that we navigate. No, Advent is the journey GOD makes. Advent isn't a trip we prepare to go on. Advent is the time we prepare for God's trip to us...")
- ("I received a phone call on a beautiful, crisp, clear Tuesday morning while I worked as a summer camp counselor at Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp. I dropped the phone as I heard my mother tell me that the evening before my college roommate of two years had been struck by lightening while refereeing a soccer game and was killed instantly....")
- ("Fred Craddock tells of the time he received an invitation to give a series of lectures at the University of Winnipeg. The lectures were held in the middle of October, and since Dr. Craddock was from the South, he asked his host how he should dress. The man said, 'Well, it's a little early for the bad weather, but you will probably want to bring a windbreaker'. Dr. Craddock followed his advice...")
- ("A young boy had just gotten his driver's permit and inquired of his father, an evangelist, if they could discuss his use of the car. His father said, 'I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, get your hair cut and we'll talk about the car.'...")
- ("Dr. Muehl noticed an old rifle hanging over the fireplace in the main room and, admiring its craftsmanship, reached up to fetch it down for a better look. 'Please don't touch it!' the woman exclaimed, 'it might go off!'...")
- ("We were having dinner with Harold and Selva Lehman near Alleman one snowy, blustery January evening. Saturday evening as it turns out. When we arrived it was a normal winter day. But as the evening wore on, the weather worsened..." and another illustration)
- ("Once there was a young pathfinder who gained such a reputation for excellence in her craft that she was called in to see the High King...")
- "A year ago I waited, very impatiently, for a plane to land at Bradley Airport. On board would be my big sister, whom I hadn't set eyes on in 46 years! Shirley was the first child of our father's first family. And I was the first child of his second family born 20 years later. We had grown up in different parts of the country..."
- ("In a poem by Ann Weems entitled Kneeling in Bethlehem, the first line reads, 'If there is no cross in the manger, There is no Christmas'...."; includes experiences at World Trade Center site)
- ("One of my colleagues suggests that Christmas is a yearning for home. We yearn to go home for Christmas - a place where we're loved and accepted for who we are. I think most of the ‘trappings’ or ‘trimmings’ of Christmas as we know it express that yearning, that longing - a fire in the hearth, decorations that make our home - inside and out - feel warmer with the colors and scents of the season...")