There is some bad preaching out there. There are sermons that are theological swamp lands and others too boring for the strongest caffeinated drinks. Some sermons chase rabbits like a hound; others skirt the text like a ballerina. Preacher, please don’t mislead me or confuse me or, heaven forbid, bore me with this great message.
I’ve been preaching most of my life- 25 years off, 28 years on. At the risk of opening myself to clever comments from amateur comedians who hear my sermons, let me tell you what a good sermon ought to do.
1. A good sermon informs. A good sermon tells us the truth. It teach us God’s word. That should go unsaid, but because it too often goes undone, it needs saying. Preacher, tell us what God says, not just what you think. Tell us what we need, not just what we like or want. Teach us the bible. Tell us what God wants us to know. This is an irreplaceable part of good preaching, but it isn’t enough.
2. A good sermon inspires. A good sermon tells us the truth in a way that moves our emotion as well as informs our logic. It touches our spirit as well as our mind. Preacher, use a story once in a while. The bible is full of them. Use some illustrations. They grab our attention and they help us to see the truth in a different way. Preach with some passion and stir us to greater things.
3. A good sermon implements. A good sermon applies the text to our lives. It doesn’t leave us in theory, but connects God’s word to our practical world. Preacher, answer the question “So what?” Tell us why we need to know God is the creator. Tell us why it matters that we understand what grace is. Move us to action. Move us to change. We need to see that God’s word is relevant to our lives.
4. A good sermon invites. A good sermon invites us to trust Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord. It invites us on this great journey of faith. It calls us to decision as it confronts us with the truth. There is an invitation to something greater and deeper and more real. Preacher, don’t be satisfied for us to know the truth. Call us with everything you have to follow the Truth with everything we have.
Excuse me now. I’ve got to work on my sermon for this weekend. This needs to be a good one. Hey, even a pig can grub up a diamond every once in a while!
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I’m thankful for politicians. Or maybe I should better say, I’m thankful there are people who actively participate in our free country as politicians. Just wish more of them had common sense, biblical morality, a Christian world view and did their own plumbing. But, I digress.
I want to note that there are some limits to what politicians and governments can do. So, before getting too willing to ask our government to take over every aspect of our lives, let me note some things they can’t do.
1. They can’t change hearts. Politicians can change Continue reading
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I’m finishing a biography of John D. Rockefeller. It is 650 pages long- which is about 450 pages beyond sufficient. I realized that the author- an otherwise excellent writer- doesn’t seem to understand Baptists much. (Rockefeller joined a Baptist church when young and stayed a Baptist all of his life- though in the more theologically liberal branch.) Earlier, I read a biography of Harry Truman. (Truman joined a Baptist church when young- though he didn’t stay very connected or influenced.) The author told me what he had for breakfast on multiple occasions, but hardly spared a word for what Baptists believed. I doubted that he knew.
I thought to myself, “If those fellows don’t know what Baptists believe, I’ll bet some others don’t either.” So, here is a brief synopsis.
A couple of quick disclaimers. Baptist belief in argumentation seems to be overly developed, so note that there are some differences of opinions about some issues. Note that this is my belief about Baptists beliefs (as a Baptist believer) and may not necessarily be matched by everyone using that title. And, these things are believed by many in the broader conservative, Evangelical world. Also, I can’t cover everything here, so I’ll just focus on a couple of basics.
1. Baptists believe that the Bible is God’s word Continue reading
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I spent a lot of time getting educated. Perhaps I needed more of it than most? I am so thankful for my educational opportunities and commend education to you. But let me note some inherent limitations.
1. Education doesn’t make you wise. My favorite definition of wisdom is “seeing things as God sees them.” Education can make you smart, but that isn’t the same as making you wise. Want some tuition-free advice? Seek wisdom. (See the book of Proverbs for additional tuition-free advice on the importance of wisdom.)
2. Education doesn’t make you godly. Godliness–seeking to be Continue reading
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Tagged Christianity, discipleship, education, faith, pastor, seminary