You're in limited preview mode.

Login or signup for free to unlock more content.

A Great Singing Audition Highlights A Tone Deaf Humanity

Grace Spiritual Blindness Idolatry

Source: "America's Got Talent: Madison Baez Taylor, 11, gets Golden Buzzer after singing from the audience" by Claudia Smith, published, June 8, 2022, retrieved 8/5/22

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-08-07

Scripture: Romans 1:25 ; James 1:17

Author: Illustration Exchange


2022’s Season 17 of the hit TV show America’s Got Talent has seen many highlight moments, not the least of which being a performance by 11 yr old Madison Taylor Baez of Yorba Linda, California. Rather than having a regularly scheduled audition, Madison had been invited by the producers to sing from the audience during one of the breaks from scheduled auditions. Only then was she invited up onto the stage to perform.

She absolutely stunned the audience and judges alike with her rousing, emotionally rivetting rendition of the beloved Christian hymn, Amazing Grace. Madison sang it with authority and passion, as if she believed every word and was celebrating every truth conveyed in the “amazing” lyrics. 

So moving was her performance and her “story,” that judge and former Deal or No Deal host, Howie Mandel, reflexively reached for the Golden Buzzer, assuring young Madison a place in the “live show” competitions and a chance to win the coveted $1 million prize.

Accolades gushed (and deservedly so) from the mouths of the host and judges for the quality of her performance. 

“Incredible!” exclaimed the shows host, Terry Crewes.

'I normally leave during the break, because people do sing.” famed celebrity host Simon Cowell mused sarcastically. “So this is actually the opposite. It actually brought me back into the room.”

"Everybody is going to know your name now young lady," proclaimed Mandel.

Click here for a video of her AGT audition. 



What strong reactions these judges and audience had to this performance! 

Crewes found her performance incredible. Cowell was drawn back into the room by the power of it. Mandel exclaimed that he wanted to be sure that everybody would come to know her name.

Yet one critical component of the performance was left utterly ignored … the very subject of the song itself. Young Madison, as lovely and talented and gifted she might be, was extolling the virtues of the God of the Universe, Who, by His AMAZING GRACE, condescended to become the Savior of the world, to seek and to save us wretched, lost souls!

This was of course, as Simon would say, a talent competition, not a church service. But what a picture of the tone deafness of lost humanity!

But for the fact that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, the audience and judges would have jumped to their feet, first and foremost, to celebrate, laud, and praise the amazing grace of God that was being extolled. That’s what Crewes would have found incredible! It would have been the message of the song that drew Simon back into the room! It would have been the name of the Most High God which Mandell wanted to ensure was recognized by every man!

While human talent is no less a gift from our most gracious God, its purpose, like any “good and perfect gift” should be to draw our focus to the Lord Who bestowed it.

Grace was showcased side by side with the talent, yet no one noticed the grace.

“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:25, ESV).

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17, NIV)

Some Things Just Aren't Worth Chasing After

Priorities Balance Idolatry

Source: "California woman falls head first into vault toilet while trying to retrieve phone, requires two fire departments to pull her out," by Harriet Rigby, published, retrieved 4/22/22

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2022-05-31

Scripture: Luke 12:34 ; Exodus 20:3

Author: Illustration Exchange


Have you noticed how important our phones have become to all of us. We tend to joke that we feel naked if we don’t have them on our person at all times. Some of us have become so dependent on them that we’re willing to go to great lengths (and falls!) to not be separated from them.

Such was the case when a woman recently dropped her phone in an outhouse latrine at the Olympic National Forest in Washington state. 

First, she tried reaching in for it. Then she tried using her dog’s leash to fish it out. When that failed, she dismantled the seat, tried using the leash as a lifeline, and leaned into the hole to dig deeper. And that’s when it happened …

The entire rigging gave way and she plunged head first into the cesspool of waste below. Thankfully, somehow, she found her phone in all that muck and managed to phone 911 for help. But it took two different fire departments considerable time to retrieve her. 

The Fire Department medics cautioned her of the health risks of her exposure and contamination, but she declined treatment, opting to just go home in humiliation.


It seems that that which we love, we pursue, but often to our peril — phones, technology, money, even other people. 

We must stop and ask ourselves, “Is it worth it?” Will pursuit of this priority bring me health and happiness, or danger and destruction?

Life is a balancing act. Phones can be good things, helpful things. Diving into sewage to save one, not so much.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34, ESV).

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3, ESV).

Interconnected Idols

Idolatry Pride Temptation

Contributed By: Jason Seville | Date Posted: 2019-03-06

Scripture: Colossians 3:5 ; Ephesians 4:22

Author: Jason Seville


I was recently meeting with a young man in our church who has been very successful in business. Originally from Silicon Valley, he climbed his company's corporate ladder before taking six months off to focus on family, faith, and personal health. He's gotten to a really healthy place personally and spiritually and so he's recently decided to get back in the game and apply for some jobs. 

A corporate headhunter helped him find two great jobs pretty quickly. One is with a startup in a new industry that would pay a lot but also require a lot of hours. A second is with a household-name tech giant that would pay less but allow for a better balance of work, family, and church.

It wasn't easy for him and we met for several straight weeks as he labored over his decision. He finally told me that he was willing to prioritize the right things even if it meant sacrificing money. He knows that money isn't necessarily wrong or evil, but that the money that was so enticing for this job would come with some trade-offs in his life that aren't worth it. 

I told him that I was proud of him and that that I thought it was very wise for him in this season of life to take less money for a better work-life balance. 

You can imagine my surpirse, then, when we met the following week and he told me that he turned down the balanced job and took the lucrative job with the smaller startup. 

When I asked what happened, he hung his head and said that the job title offered by the tech giant was what he couldn't stomach. He'd gotten himself to a place where taking less money was palatable, but not where a lesser title was palatable. (They offered him a senior manager position when his level of expertise and qualifications should give him a job with the word "director" in the position title.) 

"It's pride. I know it's nothing but pride. But taking the lesser position would negate all the work and progress I've made. It would look poorly on me if I were to change jobs later on down the road."  

So, here he is again--back in the rat race. He's working 80-hour weeks and having to leave his family to travel all over the world. He dealt with his temptation to greed, but as soon as he did pride took its place. 


This is how sin works. It's a shape-shifter. We must remain vigilant against it and fill up our affections with the love of Christ because merely removing a love (e.g., greed) is insufficient because another love will take its place (e.g., pride). This illustration is also a reminder of the interconnectedness of our idols. We can't just focus on one struggle or temptation in our lives. There is rarely ever one single thing that is lurking to take us down. It's usually a web of temptations. 

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). 

The God Substitute

Money Materialism Idolatry

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-12-12

Scripture: Deuteronomy 14:22

Author: James Stewart

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

The Cult of Prince Philip of England

Idolatry False Teachers Hardness of Heart

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2015-06-17

Scripture: Romans 1:18

Author: Illustration Exchange

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

The Unbreakable Enigma Machine's Weakness

Idolatry Pride Ambition

Contributed By: Tom Johnston | Date Posted: 2015-01-06

Scripture: Proverbs 16:18

Author: Tom Johnston

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

American Idols

Idolatry Object Lessons Youth Sermons

Contributed By: Tara Bertic | Date Posted: 2014-05-08

Scripture: Hebrews 12:1

Author: Tara Bertic

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

Broken Cisterns

Idolatry Youth Sermons Object Lessons

Contributed By: Tara Bertic | Date Posted: 2014-05-01

Scripture: Jeremiah 2:9

Author: Tara Bertic

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

Five Minutes on the Roof of the Earth

Fulfillment Dreams Idolatry

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-03-15

Scripture: Matthew 16:26

Author: Jon Krakauer/Illustration Exchange

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or

Barney On Your Underwear

Worldly Mindset Idolatry Devotion

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-02-21

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:5 ; James 4:4

Author: Judy Zmerold

This is Premium Content.

To see the full illustration, please Sign Up or