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Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better! (Step #1)

Friends:

I will be giving away my new booklet entitled “Ten Specific Steps You Can Take To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!” in the next few weeks as I finalize it.

This is not me. Nor is this your pastor.

It will be a pdf or ebook that you can download and inflict on, I mean, give to, your pastor or preacher.  Here’s the first chapter.

Ten Specific Steps You Can Take
To Make Your Sermons and Preaching Better!

The American humorist Will Rogers reportedly said, “I refuse to accept my religion from anyone who earns his living only by the sweat of his jaw!”

Preaching is a tough business, but it is a primary, God-appointed means of communicating His truth. As refreshing and helpful as group Bible studies may be, there is no substitute for the clear, authoritative proclamation of God’s Word. And in our western context, that usually happens up front, behind a podium or lectern, with a hopefully attentive congregation listening.

I grew up preaching after getting saved as a teenager. And I’ve made every preaching mistake in the book. I’ve also taught homiletics and public speaking and have evaluated scores of sermons from students who paid for the class (and unsuspecting preachers who didn’t realize they were being critiqued for free).

So, here are ten specific steps you can take as a preacher of God’s Word that may well help you become more effective and more confident in your preaching.

STEP ONE: Do the Work!
There is no substitute for spending the necessary hours pouring over your biblical passage to understand what God is saying. Oh, sure, you or I can purchase sermons off the internet, but that’s just spiritual prostitution, don’t you think?

One great temptation for preachers is that we have an idea of what we want the text to say, and might be inclined to force that point onto the passage. As one ditty put it, “Wonderful things in the Bible I see — When they are put there by you and by me.” Make sure you’ve done the hard work of observation and interpretation before you jump to application. The great commentator William Barclay wrote, ”You will find a certain type of preacher and evangelist who claims that he is entirely dependent on the Holy Spirit. It is a blasphemous thing to saddle the Holy Spirit with the blame for rambling, wearisome, and unprepared effusions.” (Fishers of Men, p. 18).

I believe it was Donald Grey Barnhouse who was asked by one of his preaching students his opinion of the young man’s sermon. Maybe Barnhouse was having a bad day, but the story I heard tells us that Barnhouse said, “Son, if your text had had leprosy, your sermon would not have caught it!”

Doing the hard work of study will increase your confidence as a preacher. Time, of course, is of the essence. And some of us need to carve out sufficient time to do what we were called to do.

I try to blog on topics or texts that I will eventually preach on, so I’m trying to think ahead and not wait to the last minute to prepare my sermons. I’ve recently been doing a sermon series entitled “Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior.” And I’ve been writing posts every day as I go through that short book. This particular set of posts won’t be published until a couple of months after I’ve preached the series, but it’s been a very useful exercise for me each morning. Start a WordPress blog. It’s free and will help you in your labor.

Walter Burghardt in his book Preaching: The Art and the Craft, said, ”To me, the unprepared homilist is a menace. I do not minimize divine inspiration; I simply suggest it is rarely allotted to the lazy.” Do the work. Ask God the Holy Spirit to guide you in making wise decisions about the time you invest in studying the passage you will preach on.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in preaching

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon: Dads and Answers!

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-6-52-21-pmSometimes we dads don’t know the answer!  Actually, I admire Calvin’s dad for being creative with his non-answers!  Teach the child to sort truth from error, I always say!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2017 in fathers

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 143

Psalm 143

A psalm of David.screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-7-11-34-am

Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
    for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, Lord;
    my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
    or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
    in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
    destroy all my foes,
    for I am your servant.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2017 in prayers

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 142

Psalm 142

A maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-6-42-45-am

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in prayer

 

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Time for a Great Cartoon — For Senior Citizens!

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-5-20-48-am

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in old age

 

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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord: Psalm 141

Psalm 141

A psalm of David.

I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me;screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-6-27-21-am
    hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
    may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.

Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
    and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth,
    so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord;
    in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers,
    from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
    while I pass by in safety.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in self-examination

 

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Time for a Great Invention: People!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in personal space

 

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