She stood there while he walked over to the newsstand and picked up a newspaper. He looked it over and put it down, picking up another. He looked it over for a few seconds, then put it down and picked up yet another edition. He did the same thing several times. Picking up, looking, replacing, the woman became more exasperated each time he did it. Finally she blurted out, “For goodness’ sakes, Harold, buy something!” She became frustrated when her husband could not make a decision.

There was an excellent illustration for a sermon I would preach sometime in the future. Some may have seen it and thought it was only something interesting to watch. It was God speaking in life. We may not hear Him because we aren’t accustomed to hearing His voice there. He’s speaking but we aren’t listening.

Here’s an exercise you may find useful. Leave your house and go out for a walk. Get away from your normal surroundings. While you’re out walking, find one object or observe one event in which you can find some spiritual truth or principle. Then develop a message from what you saw, or use what you saw as an illustration in it. When a friend of mine did this, he found a rusty nail. As he thought about it, he understood how something that was shiny and new could become rusty and worn. He then developed a message on how sin corrupts people.

Learn from other good communicators. Listen and read what other good speakers say. Nothing is original, so don’t feel guilty about borrowing their ideas. If and when you do borrow, the ethical thing to do is to tell your congregation who said it. If a man is a good communicator, study his method, listen to the words he uses, and remember his choice of illustrations. Maybe there’s a more forceful way to say what you need to say. Too many sermons and lessons are full of stammering and stuttering. If a man is a good communicator, learn from him.


It went like this: Church on Sunday, counseling and classes three nights a week, I taught in our Christian school, and worked on our new building on Saturday, church on Sunday, counseling and more ministering …

I hope your schedule is less busy than mine was. Notice I said “was”. After several years of it, I made some radical changes. I was so busy with church activities I had no time to relax. I couldn’t hear God speak anywhere else, because I could never go anywhere else except at a run. The pressure of my schedule kept me from enjoying the other dimensions of my life. My wife, children, myself as an individual, my friends were blurred together. I was so busy I couldn’t enjoy them.

The first revelation we have of God is in the book of Genesis. There He reveals His creative nature. Good sermons and powerful lessons require creativity. Creativity means to make something new or to rearrange old things in a new way. Creativity begins to work in a relaxed environment. When you are not pressured, you can come up with some very creative ideas. How many times did Jesus teach His disciples and then take them off into the hills for a while? On more than one occasion, Jesus left a busy meeting and retreated to the hills. He needed to hear from His Father. So do we. Learn to relax.