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They are the lifeblood of preaching, the sparks that allow the sermon to catch fire in the imaginations of the congregation. Without them the best exegesis of the text, the most well-reasoned argument, the most polished delivery fall flat. They are illustrations, and they are an indispensable part of the preacher's craft. Consistently they appear at the top of the list when pastors identify the areas in which they need more and better resources for preaching. Books of illustrations have been around for a long time to help address this problem, but too often the illustrations they contain have been circulating for fifty years or more, and therefore sound out-of-date or simply not in tune with the lives of today's congregations. 500 Illustrations: Stories from Life for Preaching and Teaching meets the need for contemporary, engaging stories and quotations with which to illustrate the sermon. Each of the illustrations has been taken from recent newspapers, magazines, television programs, and the like. They are truly what the book's title suggests: stories drawn from the lives of real people, presented as brief anecdotes to be used to deepen the preaching and teaching of the gospel.
Jones is organist and music director of Tenth Presbyterian Church and chair of the department of music at Philadelphia College of Bible.