Tag Archives: study
As some of you know, I’ve been retired from teaching full-time for two years. The Lord has been so gracious to me to keep me busy and, hopefully, useful to Him! I’ve enjoyed teaching overseas (Korea, Myanmar) and right now am working hard on two manuscript projects. I appreciate the believers in New Jersey who invite me to speak every few months. And I’m thankful for you, my friend, for reading my posts. If you feel so inclined, a comment below would be an encouragement to me. Have a great day!
1 I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
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.
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.
Some Rantings and Ravings from Someone Who’s Been in Christian Ministry for a Long Time! (Part 2 of 2, I Promise!)
We’re ranting and raving here for a few minutes. There are so many concerns that I have, especially for the next generation. I hope I don’t come across like the old curmudgeon to the right, but these are matters that are really critical.
What got me thinking about these issues is the conference I just attended. I’m actually writing this before the conference, but, Lord willing, it will (did) take place and I will do (did) an okay job of speaking on the topic “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality.” The conference took place at Emmaus Bible College February 6-7 and was called the “Christian Ministry Seminars.”
My last message in my four-part series expressed some of these concerns that I am summarizing here and in the earlier post of the same title (Feb. 18th). Permit me to share just a few more of my “issues”:
(1) I’m concerned that young believers get into the battle and do good work on an intellectual basis. This means reading books that challenge the Christian faith (what I call “Boiling Books”, i.e. books that boil your blood before you get through the preface). If we only read the books we agree with, we will not learn the questions and issues an unbelieving world has with the gospel. “Doing good work” on an intellectual basis involves good study skills, critical thinking, and solid research. Believers of the next generation need to work hard in what are called the “primary” sources, rather than get all their information from secondary sources. Primary sources are the original documents of a writer or thinker, not what others have said or written about him or his position (secondary sources). So, if one is going to challenge the abandonment of the gospel by someone like the late Chuck Templeton (at one time Billy Graham’s best friend and an evangelist), one needs to read Templeton! His Farewell to God as well as his An Anecdotal Memoir would be the first place to start (before one reads Lee Strobel’s interview of Templeton in The Case for Christ). Does that make sense? Sometimes Evangelicals are guilty of reading only what others have said about a person’s beliefs — and not that person himself.
Suggestion: Start small. Begin a blog and take on some topic with which you want to engage. Be positive toward the writer and gracious toward what they have written. But point out the weaknesses in their argument or position as you formulate your response from a biblical perspective.
(2) I’m also concerned with how many of us view life in general. My generation frowned on such activities as going to the movies, roller skating (it was dancing on wheels, unless you fell a lot like me), and visiting museums (a waste of time — one ought to be reading his or her Bible). Today’s generation, it seems to me, doesn’t give those issues a second thought (which is good), but doesn’t hesitate to go to (or download) just about any movie (some are downright diabolical), learn and sing the lyrics of just about any contemporary song (have you analyzed the words in songs by Lady Gaga or Beyonce?), or attend any play just because the critics said it was good. If you’ve never been tempted to walk out of a movie theater, turn off your TV in disgust, or ask for your money back at a play, check your Christian pulse. You might be dead.
Suggestion: There’s a better way than the legalism of my generation and the libertarianism of today’s young people. I believe Mike Witmer has articulated that better way in his book Becoming Worldly Saints. Christians are to enjoy God’s good creation (I Tim. 6) and not become or be known as anti-world. We should live in biblical freedom!
(3) I’m also concerned with how many of us look at the local church. It seems that for many today the local church is a big bother. We go through the motions; we serve when we have to; we give when we must. Instead of seeing the church as the one thing that Jesus is presenting building, we tolerate it as our Sunday activity and as a gathering place with other Christians. I’m not surprised that one of Philip Yancey’s books is entitled Church: Why Bother? We must move from thinking of the local church as a place we must be to a place we get to be.
The church in Acts focused on four priorities, according to Acts 2:42 — “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Here’s my final list of questions:
1. Are you truly “devoted to” the local church? How do you or I show that?
2. How concerned are we about biblical doctrine/truth? Do we see theology only as the domain of elbow-patched, sweater-wearing academics who debate how many angels can sit on the head of a pin? Or are we committed to knowing, enjoying, and defending the truths of God’s Word?
3. Do we really understand “fellowship”? Perhaps we all need a primer on something as basic as FRIENDSHIP!
4. We must constantly ask, are we truly worshiping the Lord? Or are we just keeping the machinery going?
5. I have so much to learn — and to practice — when it comes to the issue of prayer! I commend you to my post back on January 9th when Dr. Roy King talked about the three prayers we all ought to pray everyday!
So much for my rantings and ravings. Any you wish to comment on?