The ringing of my phone jarred me awake at 2:55 on Sunday morning. 2:55! Vaguely conscious, I mumbled some sort of greeting. It must have sounded like I’d smoked profusely for a lifetime.
Someone on the other line said something about being with a security company and that an alarm was going off at our church building. “Church? What’s a church?” Slowly, the fog in my brain began to lift and I asked a few questions. Apparently, the wind had caused an unlocked door at our church building to set off an alarm. No motion detectors were activated so it seemed all was well. After some additional words the phone call ended. It was nearly 3 a.m.
Since becoming a pastor decades ago, Saturday night sleep has always been fitful. Continue reading
Preaching is, for me, like swimming in the ocean. It is an awesome experience if you don’t die!
Nothing is more exciting and nothing is more intimidating. Preaching both charges me up and wears me down. It invigorates and it frustrates. It brings me the agony of labor and the joy of birth. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. Preaching is big and I know it.
If you are involved in preaching you know something of the dilemma we face. We are tasked with bringing God’s word to man. We are to speak sacred things to sinful listeners. This great responsibility can be a bit overwhelming. But here is what makes it even bigger. We need to preach for transformation.
Nothing is worse than boring people with the greatest news known to mankind. How terrible to think that I can make the gospel sound like average news rather than good news. How Continue reading
Posted in preaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, church, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, leadership, pastor, preaching, Religion and Spirituality
I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. That’s a bad start for confidence in my predictive powers. But let me speculate on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention with whom I have been associated my entire life.
In many ways I am describing what is more than what will be. Perhaps this is more of where we are than where we are headed. While it seems likely we will have more of what we currently have, God can change things dramatically. Perhaps we will have a great revival. Perhaps we will have ruin. But here is where it seems we are and where we are headed. (Keep in mind the “neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet” part.)
1. We will be less Continue reading
Posted in baptist, evangelism, southern baptist convention
Tagged Baptist, bible, Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, God, preaching, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention
I love the patriotic worship service we have at FBC O’Fallon, IL each 4th of July weekend. It is exciting, moving and fun.
Once in a while, I read others who complain about churches having a patriotic service. They remind us of the dangers of patriotism replacing worship and zeal for the nation replacing zeal for the Lord. Duly noted.
But I do believe we can keep a proper perspective of the role of God and country. The first point of my sermon on Sunday was “We have earthly responsibilities but a greater allegiance.” (I preached from the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from Daniel 3 and the greater allegiance referred to the Lord, not D.C. My wife says it was the greatest sermon preached in the history of Christendom- but Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, military, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, church, faith, God, Jesus, local church, military, patriotic service, patriotism, preaching, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality, sermons, worship
If you have been criticized lately I offer these thoughts.
1. Recognize the inevitability. Everyone gets criticized. I once heard someone criticize the preaching of Adrian Rogers. Really? Adrian Rogers? Adrian was a spectacular preacher- the right mix of passion and logic, interest and depth, with a voice like the mighty waters of Lake Huron. (I’ve never actually heard the voice of Lake Huron, but if I ever do, I expect it to sound like Adrian Rogers.) If someone criticized his preaching, I’m sure they will find ample opportunities to criticize mine. Ample. People in every profession and situation of life get criticized. It is part of being an imperfect person living among imperfect people.
2. Consider the source. If a mean person criticizes you, it might be because he is mean. If an angry person criticizes you, it might be because she is angry. My wife loves me. If she criticizes me, Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, encouragement, Uncategorized
Tagged Adrian Rogers, bible, Blessing, Christian, Christianity, criticism, critics, encouragement, faith, God, Jesus, preaching, Religion and Spirituality
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!
Posted in baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, discipleship, evangelism, preaching, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, bible, bible study, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, evangelical, Jesus, preaching, Religion and Spirituality, sermons, worship
I said at the funeral for Dr. Roy Fish last year that I believed him to be the most beloved seminary professor in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’ve thought of him often in the last year and wanted to note some lessons he still teaches.
Lesson 1- Talent gets you admired; goodness gets you loved. Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, Church, evangelism, faith, preaching, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Dr. Roy Fish, Evangelism, local church, mentor, preaching, seminary, southern baptist convention