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        Have you ever noticed a vine growing and spiraling around a chain-link fence? The fresh growth, the young green vine, is easy to remove with a simple twist of your wrist. But the old, brown, woody part of the vine is very difficult to remove. It takes a lot of time and effort to break it off, and sometimes it won’t come off unless we are willing to also remove part of the fence itself.

        Bad habits are like a vine on a chain-link fence. The sooner we get after them, the easier they are to remove. But the old ones, the ones we’ve let remain in our life for years, are hard to get rid of. And sometimes they can’t be removed unless we also remove other parts of our life. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        Bad habits are like comfortable beds: easy to get into, but hard to get out of. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        Habits have a tendency to take our like in directions we would never have chosen. Good habits can guide us through treacherous times and situations where we aren’t sure what to do and lack the foresight to realize the dangers ahead.

Bad habits are often seemingly fine at first, but they can lead us into treacherous waters. They are like a smooth river on which a young boy is floating-seemingly harmless-which then becomes swifter-very exciting-then becomes a rapids-somewhat scary-and finally goes crashing over a waterfall-devastating, possibly even fatal. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



        Habits are like cable. Each day we do something in a pattern we intertwine one thread with another. As the threads are woven together, a cable is formed. On any particular day, the thread we added was too small to be noticed. But, after many threads have been woven in, we find that together they have become a practically unbreakable cable.

        So it is with habits. Daily practices over time become habits that are practically unbreakable-so be careful what you weave. ── Michael P. GreenIllustrations for Biblical Preaching



         Americans spend $50 million a year on subliminal message tapes designed to help them do everything from improve their self-image to stop smoking. But there's so hidden message in the National Research Council's verdict on such techniques. The Council's report, released in September 1992, concludes that subliminal messages simply don't work. They don't deliver the life- transforming power they promise. ── Today in the Word, June 14, 1992.

         Habits are first cobwebs, then cables. ── Spanish proverb.

         In Pulpit Digest William H. Willimon used this illustration; "Philip Haille wrote of the little village of Le Chambon in France, a town whose people, unlike others in France, hid their Jews from the Nazis. Haille went there, wondering what sort of courageous, ethical heroes could risk all to do such extraordinary good. He interviewed people in the village and was overwhelmed by the ordinariness. They weren't heroes or smart, discerning people. Haille decided that the one factor that united them was their attendance, Sunday after Sunday, at their little church, where they heard the sermons of Pastor Trochme. Over time, they became by habit people who just knew what to do and did it. When it came time for them to be courageous, the day the Nazis came to town, they quietly did what was right. One old woman, who faked a heart attack when the Nazis came to search her house, later said, 'Pastor always taught us that there comes a time in every life when a person is asked to do something for Jesus. When our time came, we knew what to do.'" ── Willliam H. Willimon.

         True habits of the heart are there when they are most needed. According to a recent Self Magazine article, losing just one dietary bad habit can result in significant weight loss over a period of one year. If you just substitute high calorie offenders for similar tasting, lower calorie choices, the weight loss can still be significant. Give up one teaspoon of cream in your coffee and lose 6 pounds a year, or switch to a similar amount of skim milk and lose 5 pounds. Give up a glazed donut a day and lose 25 pounds a year, or switch to a medium sized bran muffin and lose 11 pounds in a year. Skipping a teaspoon of butter on a daily bagel will leave you 11 pounds lighter at year's end, or change to a similar amount of cream cheese and drop 5 pounds. Some other items you can drop and save on are a 12 ounce can of soda a day and forget 17 pounds in a year; a 1.2 ounce chocolate bar a day saves you 12 pounds in 18 months. There's nothing to it but to do it. ── Management Digest, September, 1989.

         Studies have shown that an immediate health effect will make more people change a habit than some distant threat. ── Encounter, January 15, 1980, Vol. 15, No. 2.

         Years ago when the western U.S. was being settled, roads were often just wagon tracks. These rough trails posed serious problems for those who journeyed on them. On one of these winding paths was posted a sign which read: "Avoid this rut or you'll be in it for the next 25 miles!"

         A habit is something you can do without thinking--which is why most of us have so many of them. ── Frank Clark, Register and Tribune Syndicate.

         It is a commonplace how easily a child of 3 or 4 picks up a foreign language if exposed to it without any formal teaching. Yet we are unwilling to admit that a child of the same age picks up our unconscious attitudes and prejudices without being taught--and often retains these longer than any of his formal education. ── Sidney J. Harris.

         Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda describes his battle with bad habits: "I took a pack of cigarettes from my pocket, stared at it and said, "Who's stronger, you or me?" The answer was me. I stopped smoking. Then I took a vodka martini and said to it, "Who's stronger, you or me?" Again the answer was me. I quit drinking. Then I went on a diet. I looked at a big plate of linguine with clam sauce and said, "Who's stronger, you or me?" And a little clam looked up at me and answered, "I am." I can't beat linguine. ── Ron Fimrite in Sports Illustrated.

         75% to 85% of smokers would like to kick the habit. Forty million Americans have already beaten their addictions. ── Homemade, April, 1989.

         On a road not far from my home are some trees that are slowly being destroyed by huge coils of ivy. The vines wind themselves like snakes around the trunk. At this point it is impossible to untwist these runners because they are so firmly embedded into the trees. They are literally strangling the life out of those helpless giants. But there was a day when the ivy was a small plant just seeking a little support in climbing. Had the trees resisted these tiny tendrils, they would not be in the state they are today. ── Paul Van Gorder.

         Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it every day, and at last we cannot break it. ── Horace Mann.

         Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.─  Mark Twain.

         The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. ── Samuel Johnson.

         Bad habits are like comfortable beds--easy to get into but hard to get out of ── Source Unknown.

         An elderly teacher, with a pupil by his side, took a walk through a forest. Suddenly he stopped and pointed to four plants close at hand. The first was just beginning to peep above the ground, the second had rooted itself pretty well into the earth, the third was a small shrub, while the fourth was a full-sized tree. The tutor said to his young companion, 'Pull up the first plant.' The boy did so eagerly, using only his fingers. 

         'Now pull up the second.' The youth obeyed but found the task more difficult.

'Do the same with the third,' he urged. The boy had to use all his strength to uproot it. 

         'Now,' said the instructor, 'try your hand with the fourth.' The pupil put his arms around the trunk of the tall tree and couldn't even shake its leaves. 'This, my son, is just what happens with our bad habits. When they are young, we can remove them readily; but when they are old, it's hard to uproot them, though we pray and struggle ever so sincerely.'" ──  From the Heidelberg Herald.