Selfie in NY
Will you be happy going all the way to NY city and just taking a picture of a picture of the statue of liberty (or some other landmark)? Since you are already in the city, wouldn’t it be better to take a real picture of the monument itself, maybe even a selfie? Similarly, those who are looking for God in religion might as well worship him personally instead of through an image or idol.
The Bible says idols are disgusting and we must loathe them. (De 29:16-18; 7:26) We can illustrate it by thinking of things we loathe and how we react to them. It is safe to say that most of us detest the smell of a dead rat or an infestation of bugs. How would you react if you have to face those issues? Would you stay around and enjoy it? No! You would immediately run away from it! That’s the same sensitivity, the same loathe we need to feel when it comes to idols and worship images. Can't stand them!
Toy cell phone
Can you imagine a man trying to make a call with a toy cell phone? Not playing, but seriously. That would be kind of silly. In a similar way, some people try to worship God using idols. Of course, we don't want to ridicule those that practice it due to lack of knowledge. At the same time, we can't water down the Bible truth: those idols are as dead as toy cell phones. (Ps. 115:4-8) They don't have any signal. They cannot get us an audience with the Almighty. Those worshiping God must approach him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23, 24)
Painting the unseen
An artist cannot accurately paint something or someone he has never seen. When they do, they usually paint things so abstract that we know are mostly fantasies open to interpretation. But God is not a fantasy. It would be futile to try to make an image of God to worship him if no one has ever seen Him. (John 1:18)
Singing an illustration
Anyone can learn the lyrics of a song, but that doesn't mean anyone will sound good singing it because, besides the lyrics, singing is an art. Similarly, we can hear or copy a good illustration, even from this website or from the publications. But just like singing is an art, teaching is also an art. (2 Tim. 4:2) We need to apply all other teaching techniques to be successful teachers. For example, imagine a speaker using an excellent illustration. However, he doesn't know how to keep things simple, his delivery is harsh, and his fluency leaves much to be desired... would the good illustration suffice? No! We need to combine all the different aspects of the art of teaching in order to reach the heart.
A truck or a Mini Cooper?
If you need to buy a vehicle to commute to work, would an 18-wheeler solve your problem? No! Even if you are a truck driver and you may, in theory, get to places in it, clearly it is not an ideal method of transportation. Surely a Mini Cooper would do much better! This can illustrate the usage of long illustrations. Usually, a short and simple illustration is all it's needed. Just like a truck is more useful in certain occasions, long illustrations can also be used when there are many elements of comparison illustrating important points, or if delivering a 30-minute talk you may have enough time relate a story in detail developing three or four elements of comparison without eclipsing the Scriptures. Usually, though, analogies that are short and sweet will keep things clear and simple. So we want to be smart using long illustrations.
A bridge can shorten the distance between two points that otherwise may be inaccessible.
Creation or the Creator?
In the early 20th century, the Wright brothers gave life to aviation by imitating the study of birds. In fact, the design in nature has always fascinated the brightest minds. Many of the most innovative inventions in history are merely imitations or replicas of the design found in nature. This field of science is called Biomimetics. But consider this: Since humanity has gained so much benefit from imitating the design of nature, wouldn’t it be logical to conclude an even greater reward exist in imitating the mind and qualities of the designer himself? There is no doubt that imitating the personality of the great Designer and Creator, Jehovah, is much wiser than merely imitating his work.
Following the pattern
When you make a dress, you have to follow a pattern and cut along the pattern lines as close as possible, not far away. That's how we should follow Jesus.
A boy in the Midwest of the US used to amuse himself by holding a stick across a gateway that the sheep had to pass through. After the first few sheep had jumped over the stick, he took it away; but all the other sheep leaped through the gateway over an imaginary barrier. The only reason for their jumping was that those in front had jumped. Like it happened to these particular sheep, almost all of us are prone to do what others are doing, to believe what others believe, to follow, without question, the testimony of prominent men. We need to be careful not to be imitating this world.
It's been said that one of the greatest compliments we can give is to imitate someone. Some imitators are really good at impersonating Elvis. They study every trait of his persona and deliver a very good show. Likely, we have no interest in imitating Elvis. But as Christians, we imitate Jesus, who is the image of Jehovah. We imitate faithful servants of old, like Paul. (1 Corinthians 11:1) And we also imitate the faith of hardworking elders. (Hebrews 13:7) What a blessing to have so many fine role models that can help us to act and think as the Creator himself! (Lk 6:40, Ephesians 5:1)
See also ‘Desires’
Physical and Spiritual Laws
If we ignore the laws of physics, like Gravity, what would happen? Well, if one were to jump from a skyscraper building without any protection, like a parachute or a safety net to catch him, he may not see or feel the immediate adverse effects. Some may even find the free fall liberating, exciting, even thrilling. As he passes each floor he says 'See! I'm doing just fine!' Yet the sad reality of him crashing his body on the floor will soon hit him.
The same person that legislated the laws of the natural world also established moral standards. So when it comes to Jehovah's moral laws, some may think they can escape its effects, even believe that a moral free fall is nothing but thrilling. But soon, when reality hits, it's all over. An immoral life could lead to sexually transmitted diseases, a guilty conscience, low self-esteem, unwanted pregnancies, broken relationships, and a damaged relationship with our Heavenly Father Jehovah. Is it worth the thrill?
Imagine that you trust me with something private and delicate, an issue that it is very sensitive to you and that you abhor with all your heart. But then next day you see me making fun of it with other people, with no consideration to your feelings. How would you react? Jehovah is very sensitive to some matters that he feels are very delicate, like sexual immorality, including homosexuality. (1 Cor. 6:9, Deu. 22:5, Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26, 27) Will we have Jehovah's feelings in mind?
Some Christians enjoy their singleness but find it hard to control the natural desires of intimacy. They may at times feel like Paul described, ‘inflamed with passion.' (1 Cor. 7:9) But the efforts put forth now to keep morally clean are a good investment. How so? If we compromise now and leave God, we may—or may not—‘enjoy’ sexual relations, but it will only be in this system of things. If we remain loyal and uphold God’s standards, however, even if we don’t get married in this system of things, we will have a perfect opportunity in the new system of things to find a perfect mate and really enjoy sexual relations in perfect fashion for billions and billions of years. It's worth the wait. (Mark 10:29, 30)
Taker of faces
Acts 10:34 talks about God not being ‘partial.' If you look at the Kingdom Interlinear version (you can find it in jw.org and JW library app) the Greek word for that term literally means ‘taker of faces.' That is what a partial person is, a person that judges others just by what he sees on his face or external appearance. As the verse says, Jehovah is not that kind of judge. We should imitate him in this regard.
We Naturally Go Down
Imperfection breeds bad inclinations. A helper to the Governing Body illustrated it this way: If you put a ball on a table that is not perfectly level, the ball will roll down to the lower end. The Bible shows that humans are born with an inclination to go down. (Rom. 3:23) Greed and wrong desires come quite easily to many of us. To keep the ball from rolling down, we need to recognize the danger of letting it go down. We must control the ball and hold it in place, sort of speak, to stop our natural inclination for wrongdoing. Those desires should not be let loose controlling our thoughts and emotions.
The Tower of Pisa
The Tower of Pisa in Italy is very famous for its leaning structure. If it were to fall over obviously it would collapse on the side it’s inclined. But why it hasn’t collapsed? In a series of restoration works, a counterweight mechanism was put in place to keep it standing.
Hammer turned into ax
Trying to control our sinful nature requires much effort. This can be likened to cutting a tree with a sledgehammer. In theory, it is possible to bring a medium-size tree down using a sledgehammer. But it would be much easier and less dangerous if we use a saw or even an ax. Likewise, to carry on Jehovah’s will in this imperfect state requires much effort. But little by little we need to sharpen that dull hammer, (our sinful nature) until it gets as sharp as an ax (godly devotion) that will please God.
Insight when preaching
A homeless woman used to come every day to get magazines from certain public witnessing table. It seemed like she was interested but the brothers found out that she was using the paper to wrap tobacco to smoke! In a situation like that, would you had been curious to know why she kept coming every day to take publications from the stand? Would that pattern raise a bit of suspicion? The same principle applies to other forms of ministry. We don't want to become mistrustful of people in the ministry, but we need to be discerning and show insight in our preaching work.
The house painter
You hire a painter to paint your home. Everything looked good, from afar. When you saw his work closely, you found out that the painter picked the colors he wanted and not the ones you ordered. Would you hire him again? Likewise, disobeying God’s instructions can adversely affect our service to Jehovah. No matter how good we are at something, we don't want to rely on our own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) We want to work in harmony with Bible principles and the guidelines from the Organization.
Innovation or obedience?
1 Chronicles 15:2, 15; 13:7-11. The ark of the covenant was to be carried on the shoulders of the Levites. David tried to be innovative, perhaps wanting to make things easier, so he got fancy and arranged for the ark to be carried on a wagon. The results were disastrous. Uzzah lost his life when he touched it trying to save it from falling. Lesson? There are those who love to make things fancy, to make things easier or more efficient, but in reality, they may just be complicating their lives unnecessarily. The intentions may be good, but it is best to follow direction and keep things simple.
Follow the treatment
If we go see the doctor but we don't follow his advice and don't take the prescribed medicine, we can't really expect to get better. Likewise, if we come to the congregation but we don't follow the Bible-based advice we receive, could we really derive the full benefit of serving God?
The reckless tourist
Would you go to a foreign country and recklessly explore questionable places regardless of the dangers you could find? Would you trust just any stranger offering you things or services? It would be very dangerous. Just as traveling to another country can be good, but if we are reckless it can be dangerous, the Internet also has many advantages, but we need to be aware of the dangers. (Psalm 26.4, 5)
Just like your car starter provides the initial spark needed to ignite the engine and turn on your vehicle, a good introduction can provide the spark you need to arouse the interest of your listeners and ignite a thought-provoking talk or a Bible consideration. (http://www.carparts.com/starter)