Monday, March 31, 2008

Young Lloyd Jones’s Sermon Feedback « Unashamed Workman

image Colin Adams has found a terrific piece of advice that a mature Welsh preacher gave to the sixty-year younger David Martyn Lloyd Jones upon hearing Lloyd Jones preach for the first time:

‘The great defect of that sermon this afternoon was this…that you were overtaxing your people, you were giving them too much…you are only stunning them and not helping them.’

What I found especially helpful was Colin's reply in the comment section about how Lloyd Jones responded/adjusted to the criticism?   Colin says:

I think he developed into a preacher who would preach dogmatically on one theme - expositionally of course. I wonder if this was part of the reason he preached on such small sections. Perhaps he didn’t want to fall into the trap of lecturing on numerous ideas, rather than one overarching application.

Apparently his mentor then added something along the lines of: “Now watch what I will be doing tonight. I will really be saying one thing, but in three different ways.”

 

Young Lloyd Jones’s Sermon Feedback « Unashamed Workman

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Significance of Prayer

Prayer lies at the heart of all experience of God. In prayer God is known man_praying_center_for_biblical_counseling and met and touched. In prayer all our knowledge about God kindles into life. Our understanding of the Scripture gains personal illumination and power. Our whole conduct and career passes consciously under the divine judgment. In prayer the soul is molded and attuned to fresh obedience and confronted with new duty. Our relationship to others is seen in a new perspective, and conscience grows tender again. In prayer vision is clarified, the horizons are broadened, the goal becomes better defined and the inner resources by which the soul lives are replenished from eternal springs of power, hopefulness and peace. Prayerless religion is mere theory.

--Reginald E. O. White.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Few Days Away...Cut Short

1000 Trails 015Loretta and I have been away from Portland for a couple of days...and I have been away from blogging. I didn't mention it before we left, because twice before I have mentioned that I was going to be away and probably unable to blog and then ended up being able to blog just as much or more than normal. The campsite where my wife and I were going (on a maiden voyage of our new camper) advertised that they had wireless access. Plus I knew that I could log on by harnessing my cell phone to my laptop. So,..no problem logging on & no problem blogging. Wrong again. The campsite (a 1000 Trails private "preserve") had VERY limited wireless access. So much so that I was only able to log on using their server once & their service was incredibly slow. Additionally, I did not have cell service...so no Internet & no blogging. 1000 Trails 020

We were planning on getting away for a three day get-away. Last year, our pop-up camping trailer died (filled with water & mold). We went all last summer without camping and then didn't want to buy something until spring (buying earlier just would mean having to pay to store it through the winter). But a few weeks back we found a camper that Loretta and I fell in love with and this week (W-Sat) was to be our maiden voyage.

There are lots of stories to tell with the trip, but the biggest 1000 Trails 011 one is the biggest disappointment. We needed to be back for a farewell roast for my children's pastor Saturday night and, of course, I needed to be back to preach on Sunday. There was a freak snowstorm on the beach last night which closed most of the roads over the coastal mountain range that separates Portland from the Oregon coast. The roads opened up briefly late today, but they were anticipating them to be closed again overnight & through much of tomorrow because they were expecting so much snow. (This is the latest in the season they have ever had snow on most of the NW Oregon coast [bigger snow pict here]). So Loretta and I had to come back a day early. Since this was our maiden voyage, there was a lot of time spent familiarizing ourselves with new things. We were really ready to relax, when we were told if that we wanted to get out, we had to get out NOW. So...fairly unhappy...we loaded up and came home. Oh well...hopefully we will be able to get away next month. I did get a course syllabus written for an online course I am going to be teaching and got good progress done on my leadership development e-book that will be ready (hopefully) soon. But I had hoped to get so much more done. I will put a couple of pics of our trip with this post. Next time...more on preaching.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Make It Clear

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Michael Duduit, the editor of Preaching magazine had this to say in a recent edition  of Preaching.com about preaching so no one can misunderstand:

In their book God’s Message, Your Sermon (Thomas Nelson), Wayne House and Daniel Garland cite the danger of making certain assumptions as we preach. They write: “Preachers who deliver sermons with impact are those who make it impossible for people not to understand the message. Without insulting the intelligence of their audiences, they are careful not to assume their listeners know their Bibles, understand theological terminology, or have instant recall of statements made earlier in the message. Most important, they do not assume their audience came to the gathering motivated to learn or even interested in the topic!

“Good communicators know people can’t read their minds or always understand their words. They look for opportunities to provide visual aids, whether physical objects, projected images, handouts, body language, or picturesque speech. Without dumbing down God’s message, they word their sermons for ease in understanding.” (Click here to learn more about the book God’s Message, Your Sermon)

While my experience says that it is impossible to preach so that NOONE not to misunderstand, we need to ask,

  • Who MIGHT misunderstand this? 
  • What classes of people might not understand if I put it this way?
  • Are there some groups I am willing to let misunderstand in order that others may understand?

Just a thought. What do YOU think?

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Do We Do With the Blessings That Technology Brings?

image Peter Mead has a good post entitled "Blessing and Responsibilities."  In it he talks about the blessing we have today with computers and Internet and media.  But with that added blessing come some additional responsibilities. 

In one particularly cogent paragraph he says: 

We may be able to do instant concordance searches and access lexical information at the touch of a mouse button.  So what do we do with the extra time no longer spent flicking through chunky tomes of fine print?  If the fruit of quicker access to information is cheaper exegesis, then the church will be all the poorer for these advances in technology. Let’s try to take the time our predecessors had to spend in page turning in prayerful interaction with the text and the sermon preparation process.

I would recommend his entire post.  It can be found here.

Persistence

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Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.            --Seth Godin

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Prayer Art on the Greatness of God

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday and our focus was on the Greatness of God.  (My sermon was on the unique qualities of the name of Jesus from Acts 4:12.)  But as a part of the greater worship experience we gave everyone a 4x6 card and access to a basket of crayons.  We asked them, as the worship service went along, to focus on the greatness of God and to draw or write something that reflected that.  That drawing or writing was to be a prayer to God expressing their praise to him for his greatness as they perceived it.  They were welcome to work on that during any part of the worship service. 

They were encouraged, then at anytime in the service to get up and post it on one of two boards that we had set up at the back of the sanctuary.  If they weren't comfortable getting up, (or were hemmed in the middle of a pew) we encouraged them to post it as they left.  But I figured that if EVERYONE waited until the service was done, the crowds and lines would be so long that many would be discouraged from waiting to post and would just take it with them. 

The results were better than I expected.  Both the number of cards posted (maybe 150?) and the variety and quality of many of the depictions showed great thought during the service on the theme.  Let me share a few with you: 

PrayerArt0002PrayerArt0001 PrayerArt0003 PrayerArt0014 PrayerArt0004 PrayerArt0005 PrayerArt0020 PrayerArt0012 PrayerArt0013

May You Have a Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Before You Are Absolutely, Positively Certain You Know What the Text of Scripture is Saying...

I would suggest you learn the lesson of this video:

The Testing of the Preacher's Leadership

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Friday morning my morning devotional reading included Exodus 32.  In vv. 10-11, I was struck with the relationship of Moses with his people.  Exodus 32 is the crafting of the golden calf.  God told Moses to "Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

What struck me was this was a true test of leadership. In my theological understanding, God KNEW how Moses would respond.  The purpose of God's statement was not to change anything in God.  But I believe it was to test Moses' leadership capability.  It seems a moot point to me as to what God would have done if Moses had said, "Sure God, go ahead...."  God KNEW how Moses was going to react.  But Moses needed to know how he would react.  He needed the clarity that came from stating his position.  He reminded God of the great wonders he had exhibited in liberating the Hebrews, he reminded God that this would make his people a laughingstock to the Egyptians (they worshipped a god who took them out and destroyed them!), and he reminded God of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He did NOT tell God how great the Hebrews were.  He did not say, "Well they didn't mean it."  He didn't pull a Lot on Him:  (Will you destroy them if there are 50 righteous among them?")  Their behavior was abominable.  But it was not the main point.  The main point was maintaining the glory and promises of God.  I suppose you could say, he kept the big picture in mind.  And because of that, he pled with God not to destroy the Israelite people. 

Why this morning devotional? Because in every church I have served there come times when you are fed up with the people.  There are times when you want to hear God say, "Stand back and let me smite them."  (More often it is... "Why don't you go out and start a new church and I will make out of you a great congregation.")

And yet we preachers need to learn the same lesson that Moses learned.  He needed to keep the big perspective in mind.  He needed to to seek FIRST God's glory and God's promises.  And we need to do the same. 

That did not mean that the people were spared painful discipline. Many DID lose their lives.  But in the end, God was glorified, the people were purified (for now) and Moses had passed the leadership test of looking out for God's best interest among the people.  May you and I do the same. 

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nazis and Preaching

No the title isn't a reflective on the German church in 1930s & 40s. Earlier this month, Tigard, Oregon (where I live and preach) was accosted with six instances of Nazi propaganda activities. On several occasions Nazi flags were flown from poles near the intersection of two major freeways (Interstate 5 and Highway 217). In other instances Nazi flags were attached to balloons and flown over the city. Third, anti-Semitic flyers were placed on several doors and found blown all over another Tigard neighborhood.

Several things are interesting to me about this. First, today at our Tigard weekly Pastor's PrayerTime, one of the pastors brought a letter that he proposed sending to the appropriate media & government officials from the churches in Tigard going on record denouncing such activities and asking forgiveness for times when this has been done in the named of (a warped) Christianity. I will sign the letter and do so gladly, although these particular instances of Nazi activities made no mention of being affiliated with Christianity at all.

What struck me was that it was suggested that we mention the letter in our Easter Sunday sermon. It had been mentioned in one sermon on Palm Sunday and others said they would mention it this Sunday. I already know where I am going on Easter Sunday and I don't know that it fits in, but my first reaction was that I am not also sure that I would be comfortable raising the letter from the pulpit as a part of the message. I'll have to give it some prayerful thought. To find the balance between preaching the Bible and speaking to what is on the hearts and minds of the people in the congregation takes wisdom.

But...tragically...I wonder if it is actually on the hearts and minds of the Christians in the pews of my church?


I find it really puzzling that I have heard absolutely no one at our church mention the event. (I had somehow totally missed coverage of it before this morning. It was in our local paper and was all of the Portland television stations. Maybe my media diet is actually working!) But I have heard lots and lots about a young Portland boy who (against his mothers pleas and warnings) was sent on a parental visitation to his abusive father. She had tried to get a restraining order to keep the father away from the boy, but the judged refused. The father promptly drove the boy to the Oregon coast and asphyxiated both himself and the boy in his car. Now both events are terribly tragic. But the for the amount of outrage I heard about the poor little boy to be contrasted with hearing absolutely no conversation or comments about six instances of Nazi activity in our little quiet Portland suburb disturbs me.

Perhaps I should mention the Nazi activity simply to raise the question of why I hear Christian people talking about one tragic event, but not a word about an event that has (at least in my eyes) the potential of threatening many many more people.

What would you do? (I seriously would like to know)

I will let you know what I decide after I have spent some time in prayer.

Why Do We Celebrate Easter?

Darryl Dash reminded me of a quote that I hadn't heard for several years. It seemed appropriate for this Good Friday. He credits it to Earl Creps, but I have heard it from others. Creps said that
Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, or good people better. He came to make dead people live.

You can find Darryl's related post here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thinking Through What We Will Say in Prayer

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This week's blogging has been pretty thin, both due to Easter preparations, but also because I'm trying to catch up from work missed while I was under the weather after surgery last week.

While this is a blog on preaching, the reading I recently did in J.W.McGarvey's Chapel Talks helped me discover a little lecture entitled, "Prayer and Premeditation." I couldn't figure out what the title was about until I began the article. While the illustrations and some of the language are dated, (ex: I had to check & see to which King George he was referring. It is King George V [May 1910- Jan 1936]). Sorry to my British friends for my lack of certainty as to the order of the royals.

But I think that the words of McGarvey are still pertinent. I know we live in a day when spontaneity is king, but why should our praying be different from our preaching.

The apostle Paul, in addressing the church which he praised most of all, said, "We know not how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which can not be uttered", or rather "with inarticulate groanings". This ignorance was not absolute. Both he and those to whom he was writing did know to some extent how to pray. They knew from the instruction which Jesus gave on that subject, from what they found in the recorded prayers of accepted men. But they and all deeply earnest Christians found moments when the heart was heavily burdened with longings and desires which they could not find words to express; and I suppose it is to these that the apostle refers when he speaks of "inarticulate groanings".

Such moments, if our prayers were addressed to a man, would be a failure. But, being addressed to God, the Spirit of God within us knows what we mean when we can not say what we mean or what we desire; and thus he relieves us of what would otherwise be a very serious infirmity. This fact, however, does not excuse us from making intelligent use of that knowledge which has been imparted to us through the teachings and examples of the sacred Word. The very fact that instruction has been given to us on this subject, implies the duty on our part of reflection and meditation on our prayers, so that we may apply to them the instruction which has been given. We take a good deal of time and hard labor sometimes in premeditating our sermons so as to determine as best we can what we should say on a given occasion to a given audience. If that is true, how much more would it appear that we should premeditate what we should say to God on a given occasion when we are to express to him the wants and aspirations of _a whole audience of worshippers. If we do not premeditate our sermons, we are apt to speak a good deal of nonsense. And is it not nonsense to indulge in random talk to the Lord? Are we not likely to do somewhat as did the old farmer who prayed, "O Lord, bless me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four and [43] no more." If he had premeditated on what he was about to say to the Lord he would never have said what he did. So of that Confederate soldier of whom General Gordon relates that in the time of our civil war was called on to pray in a soldiers' prayer meeting. He said, "O Lord, we pray thee to help us. We need thy help and we need it badly. We pray thee, O Lord, to take a right view of this war and be on our side." If he had premeditated, his prayer would have taken a different shape.

If we offer our prayers in public, or in the prayer meeting, or in the family, without premeditating, without thinking what we should pray for, we shall either fall into the habit of saying over and over and over again on different occasions the same prayer, or else we will offer some foolish prayer. I have known some preachers, and quite a number of elders and deacons who officiate in the prayer meeting, to fall into this habit, so that the young people in the audience learn to repeat the good brother's prayer and laugh about it. Now when a man drops into this habit, he loses the sympathy of the audience and becomes wearisome to them. He has fallen into a habit which makes his own mind inactive. Such prayers may not weary the Lord, but they certainly weary everybody else.

If you were going to meet King George, of England, and knew that you would be expected to talk with him for a time, you would be very much concerned as to what you were going to say to him. You would settle it in your mind how you were going to address him. If you did not you might find yourself saying, "Good morning Mister George. How are Mistress George and the children?" But, if you were going to meet him tomorrow, you would spend the whole of this day thinking what would be the proper thing to say; and you would get advice from others who had spoken to kings. Now, if you are going to address the great God and father of us all, and to do so in behalf of a large audience of praying people, will you rush right into his presence without premeditating beforehand how you will address him? You would consider yourself unfit to offer a prayer if you did that. Not one of you would be guilty of it. If you would fairly premeditate you would ask yourself, what, on the occasion of tomorrow, would be the [44] most suitable subject on which to address my Lord and Savior? You would consider the wants and wishes and necessities of the congregation. And in that way your prayer would be in harmony with the instructions that have been received in the scripture, and the prayer would be edifying to the audience. All could say Amen. Paul exhorts those who pray in the congregation not to pray in an unknown tongue so that the brethren would not be able to say Amen.

While I was a student in Bethany College, I heard of the prayer offered by an old brother in Western Pennsylvania, not far from the place where General Braddock was defeated and his army almost exterminated by the Indians. While this incident was still fresh in the minds of the people, an old brother who had fallen into the habit of making very long prayers in the family, always mentioned Braddock's defeat. He had a boy who had heard his father pray so much that he knew his prayer by heart. One night the boy had a visitor about his own age, and they kneeled during the prayer close together. The home boy fell asleep and the visitor awakened him. He asked in a whisper, "Has father got to Braddock's defeat yet?" "No." "Well, then I can take another nap." There are a great many prayers that are of this character for the want of premeditation. Have you thought of this? Or have you had a strange kind of feeling that, while it is all right to think through my sermon beforehand, it is rather irreverent to think beforehand through my prayers. What I have said, and what your own minds will suggest, is enough to show you that this want of premeditation is unwise if not irreverent. The most solemn thing that a man can do is to stand before an audience of praying people, with some among them who never pray, there offer the common petitions and supplications of a whole multitude. There is a very heavy responsibility lying on the man who does this. And I do not think you should be any less anxious about what you should pray for and how you should pray for it, than you are about what you should preach and how you should preach it.

One of the great difficulties I have in preparing these addresses is to find time to condense them into the allotted time. Isocrates, the Greek orator, at one time spoke much [45] longer than he was in the habit of speaking. And one of his friends asked him why he spoke so long. He answered, "I didn't have time to make it any shorter." He didn't have time to reflect upon what he was going to say, and make it so mature as to be brief. You will find this difficulty in your own experience. You rise with nothing particular on your mind that you want to say, and you keep on stalking until everybody wishes you would quit. And so with respect to your prayers. One is often called on to lead in prayers very unexpectedly. You have no time to reflect what you should pray for before beginning. On such occasions you have this relief: You know that there are certain spiritual wants and aspirations that are common to all worshipers, and if you present any of these you will not have gone amiss in respect to the present audience. When you enter an assembly in which it is probable that you will be called on to lead in prayer, begin at once to reflect on the prayer appropriate to the occasion, and offer it in silence. [46]

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Preaching in Your Public Prayers

image Paul Lemay at Expository Thoughts has a good reminder about not preaching in our prayers.  Our public prayers are to God and not simply a recap of the sermon or a chance to get in a point that we forgot.  If you read Paul's post, be sure to read the comments as well.  I love the prayer by Gunny Hartman.  Never heard one quite like it, but have heard a few that were close. Hope I haven't prayed any close to that!!  Find it here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Knowing All the Bible, but Specialist in a Few

image Eleven years ago, I took a class at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs from Bobby Clinton of Fuller Theological Seminary on Lifelong Leadership Development. (It was probably the best class in my entire Fuller D.Min. program). But I was challenged with the idea of being familiar with all of Scripture but a specialist in 2-3 books.

He noted that as preachers we MUST know all of scripture. But scripture is so vast and life is so short that we cannot be an expert in all of it. We need to pick 3-4 books that particularly strike us and spend our lives becoming experts in those books. By expert I take it that that that means that if we were asked to write a commentary on the book we would be able to do so. It means that we are the "go-to person" when someone has hard questions about that book or wants "the best" person available to speak on that book.

Ephesians, I Corinthians & Matthew seem to have become those books for me (although I haven't reached the expert status yet), but I have never picked an Old Testament book. I am drawn to Psalms, but it is so vast in and of itself that it seems overwhelming.

What books have you chosen/would you chose? What do you think of that concept?

Friday, March 14, 2008

J.W. McGarvey (cont.)-Chapel Talks

image Yesterday and Wednesday, I quoted from a book I had found by a turn of the (last) century Christian church preacher/educator, J.W. McGarvey in which he spoke about the "Preachers Methods" in 1888, and I marveled at how appropriate much of what he said is still appropriate today. It didn't take too long to find another series of talks on preaching. They were given before the student body of the school for which McGarvey was the president (The College of the Bible in Lexington, KY-pictured to the left). Many of the messages were not on preaching, ("Your Roommate," "A Grade of Ninety," "The Study and Selection of Hymns," "How to Be Respected) but a number were:

Chapel Talks

Delivered before the Student Body

of the College of the Bible

in 1910 and 1911.

#4-Why Do You Want to Preach?

"A considerable number of you expect to preach tomorrow. What for?....

The apostle Paul gave the purpose of the work of the preacher when he wrote to Timothy. He said, "By so doing you will save both yourself and them that hear you." How save himself? Because when a man has reached the conclusion no matter how it came into his mind, that it is his duty to preach and make that his business he will be lost if he does not do it. Just as neglect of duty in any other matter will bring down the wrath of God in the day of judgment. If there is any of you who really and conscientiously believes that God wants you to preach the gospel, do it at the peril of your soul. This means that Timothy and every other man that preaches will save himself and every other man who believes. What business is it of mine to save other people if I can only save myself? If you are a good swimmer and should find yourself out in the water by the side of a sinking steamer where people are going down all around you and you should boldly swim to the shore without trying to help anybody, they ought to tumble you back in the ocean when you get there, for you could have saved somebody and you did not. And here we are in the great sea of the world. There are thousands going down. We see them every day. If the preacher does not save some of them, I do not think it is possible for him to be saved himself. What would men and angels think of a man going home to heaven who has been a preacher and has not brought one single soul with him? I think that if you were to take a vote on it all men and angels would vote to send him back. They would say, "He is not fit for our country". Now if that is your purpose in preaching, to "Save yourself and them that hear you", it is a worthy one.

#5-Selecting a Subject

"Many of you expect to preach tomorrow. What will be your subject?...

"Perhaps some of you are prepared to answer, "I have but one sermon." Well, the thing is, if that is all and that one is worth preaching, go on and preach it. A man can scarcely preach a sermon that is anything like what a sermon ought to be without doing good. So, if you have only one, don't be afraid to preach that one. And if you have to preach twice before you get another, preach the same sermon twice, but make an improvement on it every time....

"I think that the principle on which we are to determine the selection of the subject depends upon what preaching is for. "To save yourself and those who hear you." That sermon, then, of all that you are able to preach tomorrow, by which you can have the greatest hope of saving somebody in the audience, and thereby save yourself, is the one you ought to preach tomorrow and so every other time you are called upon to preach....

"The apostle Paul says that the goodness of God leads you to repentance-evidently by the power of a sense of gratitude to God for his goodness. Well, then, any effort that you may make to impress upon men's minds and consciences the goodness of God to them individually is one of the means by which to bring them to repentance."

#14-Poor Preachers

"My subject this morning is Poor Preachers. You will observe at once that the expression is ambiguous. It may mean men who do poor preaching, or it may mean preachers who are poor men. For the former class I have very little respect, because they could all do better preaching if they would. But the latter class includes nearly all preachers....

"Young men, it is said, are not willing to take the risk of poverty and that keeps them out of the ministry. Now I do not know to what extent this is true, but to the extent that it is true, I regard it as a blessing to the church and to the world rather than a curse. Any young man who declines preparing himself for the ministry for this reason is not fit to enter upon it. And to the extent that the anticipation of poverty keeps men out of the ministry it keeps out those who would be an encumbrance, a dead weight, and a disadvantage....

"Resolve, that, with the help of God, you will never be the man to do poor preaching, but that you will always be a poor man to do the best preaching of which you are capable."

#15-Action in the Pulpit

"I purpose to speak this morning on Action in the Pulpit....

"You have all heard more than once what Demosthenes said about this matter. On being asked what was the first thing in oratory, he said, "Action". "What is the second thing?" "Action". "What is the third?" "Action".

"But do not be mistaken and think that Demosthenes meant that action was all--that action without thought is oratory. We know from the contents of his great addresses that he meant this: when you appear before an audience with a speech in your head, from this point forward everything depends on action, including the voice as well as the hands....

"Jesus was an orator. The highest type of oratory ever heard on earth was his. Unlike Demosthenes, he did not depend on action. He took his seat on the side of the mountain with the multitude stretched out before him. Or he sat in a boat at the edge of the water and spoke to the multitude stretched out before him on the shore. But Jesus had words to speak so far superior to any that Demosthenes or any other orator ever offered, that he depended upon them for the effect of his speeches; and it was not in vain....

"The apostle Paul, so far as we have learned from Luke, indulged in little action when speaking; but that action had a telling effect. When he stood before a strange audience in Antioch of Pisidia, having been called out of the audience by the ruler of the synagogue, who said to him and Barnabas, "Brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on," he stood up in the midst of the audience and "beckoned with his hand" before he uttered a word. Every man knew what that gesture meant. They knew that the stranger had something to say to them that he thought worth hearing, so they listened. And once when a mob had taken him, and was beating him, and would have killed him, he was rescued by Lysias the chief captain and his band of soldiers; and was being taken into the castle. When he came up on the stairs leading into the castle, he begged the officer to allow him to speak to the people. They were crying out, "Away with such a man from the earth." The officer allowed him to speak and Paul "beckoned with his hand". That looks like a very simple act, and it was. But there was something about that simple action that quelled that mob in a moment; and in the language of Luke, "There was a great silence." Then he made them a speech.....

"When Sergius Paulus was listening with great interest to Paul's preaching and Bar-Jesus contradicted with great vehemence what he was saying, Luke says that Paul "fastened his eyes" upon the man..... No doubt that fastening the eyes upon him drove home the words in a fashion that no motion of the hands or arms could have effected....

"And again, when standing before the Sanhedrin whither he was brought by Lysias, he was there as a man accused of things worthy of death. The mob said, "Away with such a man from the earth." Very naturally the Roman officer expected him to have a down-cast countenance like a man guilty of wrong doing. There was silence for awhile, and not a man rose up to accuse him. He, though the accused, had to begin the proceedings. "Looking steadfastly on the council", he said, "Men and brethren, I have lived before God in all good conscience to this day." That was bold. That was not the language of one who was guilty of wrong doing. He wore the calm, majestic, beaming face of an innocent man.... I wish I could have seen Paul's face. There was something in the cast of his eye and the expression of his countenance that was well calculated to overawe the wrong doers....

"The best method I know of for a young man to acquire suitable action in the pulpit, or for an old man, for that matter, is to first find the faults of which you are guilty and correct them. The action that is left will be natural and effective like the actions of children at play....

"I close with this. If you want to see gesticulation in as near perfection as you will ever see it, watch little children three or four years of age, engaged in animated conversation. And if you do any imitating, imitate them rather than full grown men.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Driscoll: What Do You Ask Yourself When Preparing to Preach

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I was hoping to get to the Text & Context Conference at Mars Hill Church in Seattle last month & then was bummed because it sold out.  (It was my fault for procrastinating registering).  But yesterday Justin Buzzard (who WAS at the conference) noted that the video & audio of the conference was now online.  I immediately began downloading like a fiend. 

This morning I listened to a short 2 minute clip of Mark Driscoll speak about what he asks himself when he prepares to speak.  Here is my outline of what he had to say: 

 

What Do You Ask Yourself When Preparing to Preach

1. What does the scripture say?

    1. Look at original Greek & Hebrew
    2. Pray & meditate on scriptures

2. Practically, what does it mean?

    1. Interpretative, hermeneutical, exegetical aspect
    2. I know what it says, but practically what does it mean?

3. How or why do we resist it?

    1. Romans 1-we have a propensity to suppress the truth so we can continue in the unrighteousness of our deeds
    2. I assume that I and others when we hear the word of God will not initially gladly receive it. We become hard hearted, obstinate. rebellious We will contend against scripture
    3. Question is: In what ways will people have objections, dismissals?
    4. One of great qualities of Puritan preaching: they would work to predict which ways there would be resist to the scriptures & then they would object to those objections. Contend in an apologetical way to fight against those objections
    5. It is not just enough to preach scripture, but must assume that resistance is coming and then try to defeat & disarm those objections so the hearer is continually forced to continually contend with the truth of God’s Word.

4. How does this apply to our mission?

    1. What has God called us to individually, in our families, in our church, for our city, to our culture & the mission he has us on as a people.
    2. Not just personal application, but family application, application to our church, to our mission to bring the good news to bring the love of God to our city & culture?
    3. Incredibly important—otherwise they will know some scripture but not be able to live a life that will allow them to be an agent of transformation in our world.

Numbers three and four are particularly helpful for me to keep in mind as I prepare.  I tend to think too often that if people understand what it means that they only need a little help in application.  But I think the idea of predicting & addressing resistance is important.  I also am not strong in keeping us focused on the concept of mission, so his words are very instructive to me. 

"Preacher's Methods" continued...

image

(A look at excerpts from J.W. McGarvey's lecture on "Preachers Methods" delivered  at the Missouri Christian lectureship 125 years ago... 1883: (cont.)

2. Study of Other Books

"Good Commentaries render us important service in many ways.

  1. First they serve as a guard against blunders.Among the most egregious blunders in the interpretation of Scripture are those committed by men of inferior learning or judgment who interpret the Scriptures without aid.
  2. In the second place, it is a ready source of information. Multitudes of facts and references throwing floods of light upon important passages have been collected by the research of commentators, and furnished to our hand, which would otherwise be beyond our reach....
  3. In the third place, the use of Commentaries awakens thought. Every one that is worth consulting presents the subject in some new phase: it presents something different from and often inconsistent with our own previously formed conceptions; and it compels us to think again over the whole ground.
  4. In the last place, Commentaries, with all the errors which may be properly charged against them, do in the main give us the right interpretation of obscure passages, and the right application of those which are not obscure. If we follow them implicitly we are but seldom led astray, and if we find in them only a confirmation of our own conclusions this gives us strength and gratification.

"While I insist, however, upon the value of Commentaries, I would also insist upon a judicious use of them. When about to study a passage of Scripture, never consult the Commentary first. If you do you are likely to accept the author's views, whether right or wrong, and your mind will be biased in the subsequent study of the text itself. First study the text until its words and sentences are distinctly apprehended; until all that is clear in it is understood; until its difficulties are discovered; and until your own mind has grappled with these difficulties more or less successfully. You are then prepared to consult the Commentary...."

"I would suggest as another precaution in regard to Commentaries, that the young preacher take pains, as soon as practicable, to procure two or more on every portion of Scripture which he studies, lest he become a blind follower of a single, guide, who, in some places, is almost certain to be a blind guide. In making selections, always choose from the more recent rather than from the older works. In all departments of literature immense advances are being made on the knowledge and methods of former times, and in no department are they more rapid than in the interpretation and illustration of the Bible...."

[cph: it is fascinating to note that many of the "classic" conservative commentaries upon which we still rely were being released about this time and McGarvey notes and recommends them.]

3. Special Preparation for the Pulpit

"First of all, I ask, what is the purpose of a sermon? Its structure, the material which enters into it, and the special study which precedes it, will all be determined by its purpose....

False Purposes:

  1. Making a Reputation
  2. The Improvement of the Preacher as a Public Speaker
  3. To impart instruction. 

The Proper Purpose:

"This aim, if we judge by all of the apostolic sermons, and by all that is said in the New Testament about preaching, is to bring about some change for the better in the life of the hearer. To this end instruction is but tributary, and for this reason it holds a subordinate place. No sermon is effective without instruction, nor is it effective without exhortation. We teach that we may have a basis for exhortation, and we exhort that we may move to proper action. The last is the supreme purpose to which all else is to be carefully subordinated.

"If this view is correct, then the very first step in the special preparation of a sermon, is to select the special change for the better at which it shall aim....

"When the special aim of the sermon has been fixed, and the subject or the particular Scripture passage to be employed has been selected, the next step is to study the selected passage until the author's real thought is ascertained. This and this only should be presented as the teaching of the passage. To wrest the word of God for an evil purpose is one of the greatest of sins. To wrest it for a good purpose, though not so bad, is still a sin, and it is a sin quite common in the pulpit. It is to do evil that good may come. It is deceptive, because it has the appearance of doing what is not done, and it leaves on the minds of many hearers a [106] permanent misconception of the passage which is misconstrued. If a text properly construed, whether it be your principal text, or others employed in the progress of the sermon, does not serve your purpose, find others that do, and if you can find none that do, then conclude either that your purpose is unscriptural, or that you are not yet sufficiently acquainted with the Bible to speak with that purpose in view."

"In all that I have said on the subject of special preparation, I refer to preparation for preaching, not for writing. If a man, after thus preparing to preach a sermon concludes to commit it to writing, either before or after delivering it, he does well, provided he does so not for the purpose of reading it to an audience, or of printing it, or of committing it to memory and reciting it. There is a great difference between preaching and reciting a memorized sermon. The former is a living thing, the latter is a machine. There is a still greater difference between preaching and reading a sermon. When the reading is real reading, as when one reads a book, it is a tame affair in the pulpit. When it is not real reading, but a kind of make-believe in which the speaker half reads, half recites and tries to convince the audience by gesticulating and posturing, and hiding his manuscript, that he is preaching, the performance is a farce, and the people would laugh it out of countenance were it not for the solemn service with which it is connected."

4. System in Study

"System in study requires much more than the mere appropriation of regular hours to study. It requires the steady prosecution of selected lines of study, and the proper distribution of our time between these. It is not well to give our whole time for any considerable period to one line of study; nor must we divide it between too many. The study of the Scriptures should [110] occupy a fixed part of every day. If one devotes but a single hour every day to the study of the Scriptures historically, or by books, or topically, and shall compute how much this will amount to in a year, he will be astonished at the result. In the course of a lifetime it would make him intimately acquainted with every part of the Bible. And besides the study for mere knowledge, he should give another part of every day to devotional study. Should a man take time to only commit to memory a single verse of a Psalm and meditate upon it every day, in the course of a year he would commit at least twenty Psalms, and he would have all of them in about seven years. I mention these small figures, not because a preacher should be content with them, but to show by the results of a little systematic study that more can be accomplished than those who lack system are apt to imagine."

Idolizing the Female Preacher

Cherie Friend

Last Sunday our children's minister preached her last sermon at our church. She is moving to SoCal at the end of the month after 19 years of directing our children's ministry here at TCC. She had never preached before I came, but I insisted that she do so. (Initially she was intimidated and perturbed that I would add this to her responsibilities. Now she enjoys it)

My philosophy has always been that I want all the staff in the pulpit on occasion. Unfortunately people think that only what they see in the pulpit is important and what is never seen or heard from "the pulpit" is second-class or relatively unimportant. I want our people to know that our staff are all biblically literate teachers who just happen to work in different areas of emphasis. At first I asked that they preach on a subject related to their area of ministry, but after they have preached several times, that restriction became a little old.

My point in writing this was not really to talk about getting all of my staff--even the women--in the pulpit on occasion, but the interesting reaction of other women to it. The older women in the church seem delighted by Cherie preaching and always offer encouragement to her for the content of her message. The younger women don't even seem to think of it as anything extraordinary..."of course, if Cal has all the staff preach occasionally, he will have the women staff preach as well."

What is interesting is the reaction of those early boomer women who came of age in the sixties. Most of them have left our church because we have not given in to their gender/political agendas. (We insist on an all-male eldership and all staff who preach are doing so under the authority of our elder board). Several who never come, showed up for Cherie's last Sunday. One even came down to the front with her camera and took a picture of Cherie preaching. ("Oh, come on...") Cherie expressed great exasperation at their "idolizing" reaction.

Maybe I am misinterpreting their reaction, but for those in our church, the message given by the Lord is paramount and the messenger, while important, is secondary. For most of our church body, a women staff member occasionally preaching is a non-issue. But for those whose myopic vision is so focused on one issue that they will only come when a woman preaches, the messenger is paramount and the message is (at best) secondary.

BTW: it was a fine sermon. You can hear it here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Quietness After the Death of a Household Friend

Mom with Cutie0001

I don't put a lot of personal "stuff" on here that doesn't relate to preaching. (The  only two things I can think of is when our church was vandalized and a family picture accompanying my 100th blog entry). But there is a heaviness around the Habig household this week. My wife is not a pet person, but after reading her MySpace entry, I am feeling very reflective.

For the past 15 years a stray cat named Cutie has been a part of our family. Our youngest son Trevor (now 22 and engaged) found a tiny abandoned "runt" kitten. She was so small I could hold her in the cup of my hand. We had gotten rid of our only other previous cat who was a male and fairly mean & destructive. But Trevor REALLY wanted this kitten. He said, "I want something smaller than me to love." That did it.

In Kansas she earned her keep by presenting us with a regular parade of dead mice that she caught.(Also less welcome birds & rabbits).  She would display them on the back stairs and then after we had congratulated her, she would take them away. The funniest story was one time when we saw her on the deck. She had a mouse in her mouth held by the head, the rest of the mouse's body dangling down, but she wouldn't/hadn't bitten down and killed the mouse. It was wiggling and struggling to get free. She kept playing with it, swinging it back & forth and batting it with her paws. (Maybe she caught the streak of sadism from me?) After about five minutes of this either the mouse got free or she dropped it, but the mouse scurried away and Cutie lost her prey.

When we moved her to Oregon from Kansas 8 years ago it was very traumatic for her. Two long days cooped up in a pet carrier in the back of our mini-van, plus a day in temporary quarters and then a day while we moved into the house did not make her a happy camper. But she soon adjusted. I still laugh at how furtive we were in sneaking her into a motel in Utah that did not allow pets. But at the end of December we were not willing to leave her out in a freezing van. (The above picture is of Loretta's mom from their first visit to Oregon in Feb. 2000 shortly after we moved here.)

We came home from church this past Sunday and she was "snoozing" in her sleeping box in the laundry room. I kept going back and forth through the laundry room to the garage and suddenly I began to sense that something was wrong...she had not moved a bit, which was not like her. A quick check confirmed that she had died--I presume--Saturday night in her sleep. I had a Bible study on that morning's sermon to write for our small groups, I was teaching a baptism class at 6:00, we were doing a lot of Internet searching on a camper we were purchasing, but we had to find time to make a run to take her body to the pet crematorium. Not a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

It is a bit strange. I have never had a pet die (besides fish when I was a kid and a rabbit 4-H project that Ryan had). The house is definitely quieter. This morning when I went out to get the paper I expected her to be there insisting on coming inside for her 60-second greeting and walk around "her domain" and then demanding to be let out again. When I glance over, habitually, to check her food, water & litter, there is no longer anything there. No need for a litter box, food bowl or water bowl.

The biggest sadness, however, comes from this being the end of an era...the end of the childhood of our kids. Ryan was 9 & Trevor was 7 when Cutie came into our lives. Technically she was Trevor's pet, but as Trevor grew, she became more everyone's pet/companion. Even Ryan who was allergic to her would sit and pet her occasionally. She was a constant, even after the boys had gone away to school and Ryan had gotten married. Now Trevor is getting married in June and "his" cat has died. The boys' childhood is officially done.

There is just a sadness. I know that it is heightened by the fact that we are expecting the death of Loretta's grandmother any day. She will be 100 on April 6, but we are hoping/praying that she doesn't have to suffer that long. She is deaf and absolutely miserable physically and so it seems cruel to hope that she makes it to 100. Edith is a godly woman and wants to be home with her Lord and husband. The combination of knowing we will likely soon be making a funeral trip to Kansas City combined with the death of this household friend makes it sad around the Habig household today.

Thanks for simply listening. Cal.

JW McGarvey: Still Relevant 125 years later!

JW McGarvey

One of the forebears of the movement of which I am a part is J.W. McGarvey.  McGarvey is perhaps known best to the evangelical world for his "Four-Fold Gospel" harmony of the gospels, his commentary on the book of Acts, his "A Treatise on the Eldership" or his descriptive work "Lands of the Bible" (which while outdated is still fascinating reading).  He wrote much more, but I think those are some of the things for which people outside of our fellowship might recognize him. 

I was doing what for me is the second-best thing to being in heaven and that is browsing at Powell's City of Books here in Portland. (www.powells.com).  Powells is something like a five-story bookstore that covers an entire city block in downtown Portland. 

But, while browsing in the Preaching section, I found a little book entitled "The Supernatural and Preaching or the Missouri Christian Lectures, delivered at Independence, MO, July 1883."  (They really knew how to title books back then!)

(I later found an online copy of McGarvey's lecture here.)  The lectures are kind of cool because at the end of each lecture, a group of panelists (A. Proctor, Isaac Errett, J. A. Dearborn and W. S. Priest)  all give comments, questions, rebuttals, etc. to the lecture just presented. 

McGarvey's lecture is entitled, "Preacher's Methods" and in beginning to read it, I expected it to be quaint advice to preachers that fit a by-gone era and were not particularly relevant to 2008.  Wrong again. Listen in on several excerpts:

 

"There are two ways of learning methods. We learn them by experience and by precept. The latter should precede the former: for experience teaches largely by means of the mistakes which we make, and wise precept preceding experience, if heeded, must save us from many mistakes. But precept, however wise, is seldom accepted in its fulness until we have tested it by our own experience. Experience is the only guide that we are willing to trust implicitly, yet no man should ever consider himself too old or too wise to profit by the experience and the advice of others. The two teachers, experience and precept, should be heard continuously, and every preacher should continue to grow by the help of each until the inevitable decay of old age sets in."

1. Study of the Scriptures

"There are four methods of studying the Scriptures, all having their respective advantages and all necessary to the highest attainments.

  • "By the historical study of the Scripture we mean the study of its various events and records in the order of time. It aims at obtaining a knowledge of all the events recorded in it, including the composition of its various books, in the order of their occurrence.
  • "The study of the Bible by books is involved, to a large extent, in the method of study just named, and especially is this true of the historical books. But a man may acquire a good knowledge of events recorded in a historical book without having studied the book as a book--without, in other words, having given attention to the specific design of the book, as to the plan on which it is constructed. No one understands a book until he has done this. And in regard to the books which are not historical, while the student of sacred history may have gleaned the facts mentioned in these, and may have given the book itself and the author of it their proper place in the procession of biblical events, he may as yet have learned very little of what the book contains....  In order to reach and gather this rich fruitage of Bible knowledge, every single book in the Bible must be made, in the course of a preacher's life, a subject of minute and patient study.
    • The method of studying a single book is simple and obvious. It requires that we first obtain a general conception of its design and its contents. This is obtained by reading it for that special purpose.
    • This prepares the way for the second step, which is to ascertain the general divisions of the book, together with the aim and contents of each....  Read introductions after you have studied the books and not before. Thus read, they may correct or modify your own conclusions, but read in advance they may mislead you and at best you are not able to judge of their correctness.
    • In addition to the study of Bible books separately, many of them should be studied in groups, according to their subject-matter, or the time of their composition.
  • "The study of the Scriptures by topics is the third method which I have named. While prosecuting the methods already mentioned, a general knowledge of leading topics will have been obtained; but the preacher should never be satisfied with a general knowledge of any topic treated in the Bible. Detached pieces of information are never satisfying, and the are very likely to prove misleading. Complete, systematic and exact information is what our calling demands, and this we must as soon as possible acquire.
    • First, by means of your recollection from former readings, and by use of your Concordance, gather up all the passages which treat of the subject in hand, or which throw any light upon it.
    • Second, classify these passages according to the different branches of the subject with which they are connected.
    • The next step is to arrange the thoughts and facts under each branch of the subject in some natural order of sequence, and thus obtain a systematic view of it as it stands in the Scriptures.
    • Finally, the parts must be studied with reference to one another and the whole; and the whole must be studied with reference to all its parts. When this is done you are prepared, and not till then, to write or speak on the subject or any of its parts with the assurance of one who understands fully what he proposes to say.
  • "In the last place, I am to speak of studying the Scriptures devotionally. The preacher who has not a devotional spirit, lacks the chief elements of power with the people both in the pulpit and out of it. He is utterly incapable of cultivating a devotional spirit in his hearers; and without this the entire service of the church becomes an empty form.
    • When we speak of devotional parts of the Scriptures, the mind turns at once to the book of Psalms; for in it are collected the richest poetic effusions of pious hearts throughout the period of Jewish inspiration, from Moses to the poets of Babylonian captivity.
    • But besides the Psalms, there are many passages in Job, in Ecclesiastes, in Proverbs, in the prophets, and even in the historical books of the Old Testament, the study of which lifts up the soul to the loftiest sentiments, while in the New Testament, which contains not a single book of poetry, there are passages in the Gospel, in Acts, in the Epistles, and in the Apocalypse, fully equal to the sublimest poetry for filling the soul with every holy emotion. The preacher, while studying the Scriptures historically, by books and by topics, will have found all these passages. He should mark them as he discovers them, and should subsequently revert to them, for devotional reading until both their contents and their places in the book became familiar to him.
    • In order to the best effect upon our hearts, our devotional study should not consist in a mere dreamy reading of the parts referred to; for in this way the impression made is likely to be shallow and transitory. We should study these passages exegetically, searching into the significance of every figure employed, and trying to paint before imagination's eye every image projected by the writer.
    • But the best effects of devotional study will still lie beyond our reach, if we do not commit many of these inspiring passages to memory, so that we can meditate upon them in the night watches, call them up amid our labors and our journeyings, and make them subjects of conversation when the Bible is not at hand. It is in this way that the word of God is to dwell in us richly in all wisdom. If you will inquire you will find it almost universally true of men and women eminent for piety, that their Memories were vast storehouses for the most precious portions of God's Holy Book."

(to be continued)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Dozen Fictional Preachers I Don't Want to Use as Heroes

image

(in alphabetical order):

Bishop Manuel Aringarosa-The DaVinci Code

Henry Biggs-The Preachers Wifeimage

Arthur Dimmesdale-The Scarlet Letter

Sonny Duvall-The Apostle

Mathew Fordwick-The Waltons

Elmer Gantry -Elmer Gantry

Graham Hess-Signs

imageTim Kavanaugh-At Home in Mitfordimage

Damien Karras or Lankaster Merrin- The Exorcist

Timothy Lovejoy –The Simpson

Father Mulcahy-M*A*S*H

Friar Tuck-Robin Hood

(If you don't understand this list...read my previous post.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Who Are Your Preaching Heroes?

image Chad Hall has a fascinating article in the current "Leadership" magazine that talks about  "Leadership Heroes."  In the article he notes that there is a distinct pattern: 

"the progress a leader makes in moving toward his goals is directly correlated with the degree of speed and certainty with which he can name his heroes....  There could be a host of reasons for this pattern, but my chief theory is that having heroes demonstrates a mature level of self-reflection and self-awareness. Heroes don't fuel the leadership journey; they are evidence that the leader has fuel. In simple terms, leaders with heroes have thought about what kind of person they want to be, while those who don't have heroes lack a certain degree of self-awareness. Such awareness is necessary for a person to fully engage the leadership role and stay committed to the leadership journey."

The second observation he makes is that there are four basic categories of heroes:  Familiar, (a parent, a coach, etc.) Famous (Churchill, Lincoln Bill Gates, Bono, etc.), Faith (Abraham, Paul, Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa,etc.) & Fictional (Atticus Finch, William Wallace, Paul Bunyon, etc.). 

People who have heroes from only one category tend to have the weaknesses of that category in their own leadership, while people who have heroes from two or more categories tend to avoid the perils associated with those types.

Chad Hall goes on to note that heroes show leaders definite areas for personal growth. 

  1. A hero often embodies a quality or ability the leader doesn't possess (yet).
  2. The second function of a hero is to demonstrate a successful expression of a quality the leader already possesses to some degree. 

So...who are your preaching heroes (since this is a blog on preaching)?

Just without thinking much about it, I can mention several of my preaching heroes:

Familiar:  the preacher at my home church in Colorado, Dale McCann...he taught me a love for the word and he modeled preaching without notes. Additionally, he stayed at the same church for (I think) 29 years or so.  You don't stay that long in one place without replenishing yourself regularly.   W.F. Lown (the president of the undergraduate college I attended).  He modeled excellence in preparation, intensity in delivery and an obvious love for those to whom he was preaching.

Famous:  Probably 90% of all preachers have Billy Graham on their list somewhere.  His ability to communicate the gospel simply has both been praised and derided.  But in taking the "Evangelistic Preaching" audio course and then trying to listen to numerous examples of his preaching, his heart for people's salvation, his relevance to his audience and his clarity are models that I need.

Perhaps I would mention Robert Schuller, even as controversial as he probably is with many readers of my blog.  Again, his ability to show the relevance of scripture to the lives of contemporary non-Christians made him effective, particularly in the 70's and 80's. 

Faith:  I don't know...I think I would pick the OT prophets as a group and their willingness to use physical means to demonstrate God's message.  Isaiah's willingness to walk around in his underwear [rather than naked as is commonly taught], Ezekiel laying on his side for 390 days, Hosea marrying a prostitute.  They used methods (dictated by God, of course) that outwardly demonstrated their message.   Of course I would have to include Jesus and his method of using parables to preach.

Fictional:  This one stumps me. I don't immediately think of fictional preaching heroes.  I will have to give it some thought.  I'll report back what I find.

What about you?  Do you have preaching heroes?  Share them with us.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Matthewson: Struggling through Sermon Block

image Steve Matthewson over at PreachingToday.com blog has a helpful little entry on working your way when you just can't get through to where the sermon is going.  You can find it here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Hermeneutics Quiz

image

Online quizzes are usually worth about the paper they're written on (read that  carefully!).  They are about as accurate as the fluff quizzes you get in popular magazines. ("Which Jonas brother should be your boy?", "What is your TRUE eye color?", "Which scrapbook magazine are you?", "How Creative are you?"--these are all real quizzes I found at the top of the Google search)

But with that caveat, I found a little quiz "The Hermeneutics Quiz" kind of fun & interesting.  I have seen it referenced in several places and finally broke down and did it.  There is also an accompanying short article giving discussion and interpretation on the three basic Hermeneutical types. You can find that here.

For those of you who take the quiz (and care) I scored a 57, which means I am a moderate hermeneutically.  (It is a 1-99 scale and any score between 53-65 is "Moderate."  Now whether that is because I actually AM moderate, or because I slanted my answers toward moderate because that is how I WANTED to turn out...who knows?

A little mindless fun is a nice diversion.  (Those who would consider a "Hermeneutics Quiz" to be "mindless fun" are probably a fairly narrow demographic. 

If you take the quiz, let me know how you score. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

David Allen & GTD on the Mind

image

One of the most prominent "ah-ha" moments in the past couple of years for me has been an observation by David Allen about the mind. 

If you are not familiar with David Allen, he is a productivity guru and there are whole streams of GTD (Getting Things Done) blogs and resources.  (He is also a  minister in some weird New-Agey religion, but this comment is a common sense principle that does not rely on his theology for it's truth.) 

What struck me was his "simple" comment that the conscious mind is a terrific focusing and organizing tool, but a horrible storage tool.  A 3x5 card or a Moleskine notebook have been a constant companion to me for several years (after I got rid of my DayTimer). 

And his principle works.  So many times I think of an idea, but unless it is written down RIGHT NOW, it will be lost and unusable, whether it is in a sermon or in pastoral care or re: a leadership issue.   That is common sense, but before I always tried to rely on both systems.  Some things I wrote down and other things I just presumed I could remember.  Wrong.  I almost always forgot them (to my own embarrassment and frustration).   How many insights into scripture, how many things that would have helped our body in my sermons have been lost because I thought of the mind as a storage tool.  IT isn't.  The conscious mind is a terrific focusing and organizing tool, but a horrible storage tool.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sermon Evaluation Questionnaire

Some time ago (Oct 28, 2007 I must admit, actually) I said that I was going to post the sermon evaluation form that I have used for several years on the site. A writer named George asked that I just link to the file. Alas...not knowing how to attach a file to Blogger AND also not having a server on which I can post files that are accessible, I put it off and finally forgot about it.

Fortunately my friend Bruce reminded me that I had never fulfilled my promise to make it available, so I did a little research and found I cannot attach files to Blogger. But I CAN embed picture files. So, with a little bit of manipulation here is the form in .jpg format. If it doesn't work for you, let me know and I will try to find another way to make it available.

Bruce (a consultant in the retail business market) said this about evaluation forms:
Regarding evaluation forms, David Ogilvie, one of the pioneers of modern advertising, stated "The best way to ruin great adverting is to run it by a committee". I'd suggest the same is true of sermons. I think a critique from honest critics who are sincere in trying to help is good but a general request for eedback I've found doesn't usually help.

(Just click on the picture to open it to full size)


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