A man named Joshua Allen Harris makes art out of trash bags and places them all over New York City. He will station them over air vents to give them a sense of life. Harris has made a sea serpent, giraffe, robot and bears.

Whatever you may think of the value of this kind of art, it can be a kind of parable for those who think they are too bad to be redeemed. We all have met people who thought they were too bad for God to love and use in His work. Maybe you think of yourself as trash, but God sees you as His masterpiece.

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About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

During the American Civil War, Northern men could pay a substitute to serve in the army in their place. A person could pay $300 to have someone take his spot in the draft. Even future President Grover Cleveland made use of this exemption. As a symbolic gesture, President Lincoln paid for a substitute even though Lincoln was well past draft age. The man was John Summerfield Staples from Pennsylvania. Staples actually survived the war, but saw many hardships and suffered several maladies because of his military service. All of us have had a substitute. Jesus took our place on the cross. He died for us and did it voluntarily. We didn’t and couldn’t pay him back. All that is left to do is give Him our lives.

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About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.

In a recent Parade Magazine article, Mitch Albom told the fascinating story of William Kamkwamba, a young man from Malawi. When William was 14, he had a vision. He wanted to make a windmill that would pump water and make electricity for his village.

He didn’t have much to work with, so he started collecting garbage, such as a bicycle rim, plastic pipe and an old tractor fan. People thought he was crazy for going out to collect garbage; but three months later, he had made a windmill. At first, it provided only enough power to light up one light bulb. The town cheered. He kept tinkering until he finally created bigger and bigger windmills. William is now 22 and a book has been written about him titled The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Albom was making a point about imagination, working with your hands and not being obsessed with technology. There is a spiritual lesson here. God does with our lives what William does. He takes the broken pieces and failures of our lives and uses them to allow us to be a blessing to others. Grace does not just forgive our sins—Christ graces us for God’s glory.

Check out more great articles

About The Author

A third generation preacher, Mike Shannon is Professor of Preaching at Cincinnati Bible Seminary of Cincinnati Christian University. He has served as a preaching minister, church planter, and college professor. His most recent preaching ministry was at the historic First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tennessee. In his nearly two decades at Cincinnati Christian University, Mike has served as both professor and Dean of the Seminary. He has also been an adjunct professor at Milligan College and Northern Kentucky University. Mike is the author or co-author of several books.