Sermon Illustrations

Brennan Manning tells a story

in his book The Ragamuffin Gospel.

25 years ago, he had a drinking problem.

He voluntarily entered a 28-day treatment program.

Early on in the treatment program

they had to sit in a circle with a leader

and tell the other people in the group,

about the extent of their drinking.

So they went around the circle

and they all told their story,

except for one business guy named Max.

When it came time for him to talk about his drinking, he said,

"I never really drank that much."

They said, "Max,

you’re in an alcoholic treatment center for a month.

You weren’t sipping cokes.

Tell us the truth. Admit it."

He said, "I’m being honest with you.

I’ve never really had all that much to drink."

Well, upon coming into the program

they’d all signed affidavits

to be able to get information any way they wanted.

So they had a speaker phone in the center of the circle,

and the leader of the group said,

"I’m going to call the bar that’s close to your office

and we’ll just find out."

So they call and ask for the bartender

and the leader says to him,

"Do you know Max So-and-So?"

The bartender says,

"Oh, like a brother! He stops in every day after work and has a minimum of six martinis.

Man, this guy drinks like a fish! He’s the best customer we have."

The rest of the people in the group all looked at Max.

Max says, "Yes, I’ve had a lot to drink."

A little later on in the group, they asked everyone,

"Have you ever hurt anybody,

a friend or family member,

while you were drunk?"

Some people described their experiences.

They get around the circle to Max, who says,

"I would never, ever hurt anybody.

Not when I’m sober, not when I’m drunk.

I have four lovely children.

I’d never hurt my wife, I’d never hurt my kids."

The leader says,

"You know, Max, we don’t believe you.

We’re going to call your wife."

As soon as Max’s wife starts talking on the speaker phone,

Max starts breathing heavily.

He knows something’s coming

that he has been unwilling to face.

The leader says,

"Mrs. So-and-So,

has Max ever mistreated you or anyone in the family

when he was drunk?"

And she said,

"Well, yes he has. It happened just this last Christmas Eve.

He took our 9-year-old daughter shopping on Christmas Eve, bought her a new pair of shoes; he’s a generous man.

On the way home, our little girl was sitting in the front seat enjoying her new shoes, and Max passed the bar and saw the cars of some of his buddies.

"He pulled in. It was a cold, wintry day, 12 degrees, with a high wind chill.

He made sure all the windows were rolled up snugly.

He left the car running so that the heater was...

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