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Posts Tagged ‘Preaching’

Pow! Pow! Pow!

April 30, 2014 6 comments

If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you might know that I am a big fan of Doctor Who.  2013 was the 50th anniversary of the show.  Back in November a dramatization of the origins of the Doctor was shown.  It was called An Adventure In Time And Space.

The creator of the show was the inspiration for what began a show that has survived a half-century.  He would come up with a minimal idea and basically tell it to the producer, followed by a “Pow! Pow! Pow!.”  That was his version of a swat on the tail, leaving her to the work.

And it took a lot of people.  It took the producer, writers, set crews, designers, you name it.  It began with the Pow! Pow! and ended with a lot of hard work by a lot of people.  It didn’t end with the inspiration.  It began there, but it resulted in a lot of hard work.

I used to think I could just depend on the Pow! Pow! Pow! to carry me through writing a blog.  I would sit around all week waiting for inspiration to hit so that I could write a few posts on the weekends.  I wasn’t willing to put in the work that helped create the Pows!, as well as take them to their conclusion.

I used to do the same thing when I approached preaching at the campground ministry that I am part of during the summer months.  I would stick my finger up in the wind to find out where it was blowing, sometimes even on Sunday mornings.

I didn’t realize that I couldn’t just wait for inspiration to hit, whether it was writing, preaching or any other creative venture I wanted to be part of.  I had to create my own inspiration.  I’m not sure when it was, but I figured something out by accident.

The harder I worked, the more inspiration would come.

The more I would write, the more ideas for writing would come.

The more I dug into God’s word, the more sermon ideas I discovered.

No matter what ventures you and I decide to pursue, more inspiration will come with the effort we put into.

Writing?  Yes.

Preaching? Yes.

Running?  Yes.

You name it.  You put the effort into it, even when you don’t want to, inspiration will come.

POW! POW! POW!

Why Story Is Better

March 26, 2014 5 comments

I recently wrote a sermon.  I do that sometimes, whether I know that I’m going to preach or not.  It has come in handy in the past.

Several years ago, I was sitting in Sunday school class minding my own business.  Our pastor at that church was out-of-town.  A retired pastor who loved every opportunity to preach was scheduled to preach.  Alas, it was not to be.

Before he made his way to our church to preach, he had a heart attack.  I’m not sure who told us, though I’m guessing it was his wife.

About 10:15, the door opened to our Sunday school class.  One of the deacons looked around and motioned me to follow him.  We went down to the pastor’s study where the other deacons and another young preacher had already gathered.

The situation was explained to us.  Someone needed to preach.  I had told one of the deacons that I had been working on a sermon, so they asked me if I was ready.

I had no notes or anything, but I said that I would give it a try.  The other guy was asked if he could preach that night and we were off.  They left me alone to pray and gather my thoughts.  I jotted a few thoughts on a sticky note that I still carry in my Bible to this day.  It land s right there between Romans 13 and 14, though the stickiness of the post-it is about worn off.

I preached and it still, even after hundreds of sermons since, may be my best preaching ever.  I didn’t depend on myself or my ability at all.  I had to depend on the word and the Spirit.

I definitely didn’t have much time to get nervous.

*****

I write this not to brag about anything, there is nothing to boast in.

I don’t put down these words to show what I can do.  I didn’t really do much.  I was available and somewhat prepared.

I tell this story to simply say that story is better.  Telling you a story is better than trying to give a list of reasons about why we should be prepared and ready.

I tell you a story to give you glimpse, a snapshot of me, of where I’ve been and who I am.

I tell you a story to show what God can do when He shows up, to give Him the glory for that day.

I tell you a story because story is better.

Do you prefer story or just the facts?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , ,

You’ll Get Better

March 10, 2014 6 comments

My friend, Justin, tweeted something recently that stuck out to me.  It was something about how the first sermon he preached was so bad that the only person who liked it was his mother.  I know exactly how he feels.

By now, I have preached hundreds of times.  I still get a little nervous when I stand up to speak before people and proclaim the word of God.  It’s an awesome responsibility to take scripture and say, “Thus saith the Lord.”  I’ll let you in on a secret, though:  Most preachers are terrible at first.

At first we want to mimic other people.  It might be our pastor, who we’ve been listening to for two or three times each week.  It might be Billy Graham, or some other nationally known preacher who we listen to.

I don’t remember what my first sermon was about.  I do know that I worked on it everyday for about two weeks.  I had pages of notes.  I poured a ton of work into it.  I anticipated it lasting about thirty minutes.  I barely made fifteen.

I wondered if I would ever be any good.  If it takes 10,000 hours to master anything, I’m barely halfway there.  Maybe someday I’ll actually be decent.

*****

It’s the same with writing a blog.  I’ve been going at it for over five years now, three years for this particular blog.  I’ve written well over 1,000 posts.  Most of them are terrible.

Guess what?

Anything we do is like that.

We have to be willing to be bad at something before we can ever be good.  In fact, we may have to be willing to bad at something for a long time before we’re ever good at it.

So, here’s my advice.  Whatever it is that you want to do, however you want to glorify the Lord, just do it.  You’ll get better.

I was just asked to head up a ministry at church.  I won’t be good at it today.  Or tomorrow.  Or the next day.

I hope to be good at it after my first year on the job.

Guess what?  I’ll get better each day and each week that I put the work and the time into it.

Whatever it is that you want to do for the Lord, be willing to be bad at it at first.  You’ll get better.

Have you ever been willing bad at something until you get better?

Disagreeing….

July 22, 2013 4 comments

I’ve had a couple of instances recently where I had sharp disagreements with what people were saying.  Interestingly, I handled each of them in a different manner.  Let me tell you the stories.

*****

A couple of Saturday mornings ago I heard a knock at my door.  I started for the door and immediately turned around.  I went back to our family room and retrieved my Bible.  Why?  Two men were standing at my door with Bibles in hand.  I groaned a bit because I knew who they were.

Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is Kingdom Hall within about ten miles of my house.  At least once a month, if not more, the JW’s arrive on a Saturday morning or leave literature on my door.  This time I wasn’t caught off guard.  I went with my Bible knowing what was coming.

It didn’t go well.  Here is why.  We had fundamental differences with each other’s beliefs.  They attempted to prove to me through their Bible that I was wrong.  That was their tactic.  We disagreed in every way that you could imagine.  They tried to tell me that my Bible differed from the original language.  I asked them if they could show me that in my Greek New Testament.  They grew more agitated and angry with everything I countered them with.

They couldn’t argue me into believing what they did.  I couldn’t argue them into believing what I believe.

They left with me praying for their salvation.  They grew even madder at me.

*****

I preached at a campground each Sunday.  Normally, we have a great time.  I preach my little sermon.  The folks smile and tell me they appreciate what I do.  We all leave singing Kum-ba-yah.

Not one Sunday recently.

A retired pastor decided that he needed to talk to me afterwards.  He told me that I did a great job, but then proceeded to point out to me everything that I did wrong.

He disagreed with delivery and some of my points.  I could tell that we had some theological differences.  I wasn’t sure what his point was until his wife jumped in.

She said that he had to get his preaching in for the day and I was the recipient.

I just nodded and smiled.  I’m not sure that he realized that he lost me fairly quickly into the conversation.

*****

Here’s my point.  We often talk about disagreeing in unity.  Most of the time that is a farce.  Few of us try, in any way, to disagree in unity.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses were not interested in trying to really reach common ground with me.  They were very interested in being right and proving me wrong.  I simply tried to parry their attacks and defend myself.  Disagreeing led to nothing.

The retired pastor was not interested in much but being heard.  He wanted me to know where I stood in his professional opinion.  We disagreed and it led to nothing.

Intentionally disagreeing rarely leads to much of anything other than bad feelings.  All we end up doing is alienating the other.  Meaningful dialogue rarely happens.  The JW’s were interested in proving to me that they were right.  The retired pastor was interested in proving to me that he was right.

And there were no winners in either situation.

Do you gain much from arguing and disagreeing with others?

From The Archives: If The Preaching Police Show Up

This is a post from a couple of years ago when I still tried to write some funny posts here and there and thought I would be the next Jon Acuff instead of the one and only, Larry the Deuce.

A little over a decade ago I announced a call to ministry.  This followed wrestling with my decision and what it meant for me.  Would I?  Wouldn’t I?  How do I know?  This process dealt with lots of questions and few tangible answers.  Then our pastor at the time did the next logical thing.

He led our church to license me just like all preachers since Peter and Paul have been licensed.  I do not think Mary was ever licensed, but I digress. (If you didn’t get that one, well I just feel sad for you.)

I have never pastured a church.  Nor have I pastored a church or preached in a truly official capacity either.  I’ve made a few cameos and pitched in when needed.  But I have never been a regular preacher in a regular church setting.

However, I have had a regular preaching gig now for eight years now.  I lead and preach at a service at local campground.  I do this each week May through October.  One question haunts me each time I stand to preach.

What if they catch me preaching without a license?

I mean, I don’t carry my license around with me.  It’s actually more of a certificate.  I guess I could carry it in it’s frame, but it is a bit bulky.  I don’t have a small copy that fits in my wallet or anything.  Here are some possibilities for offenses I could be charged with if the preaching police show up one day.

  • Failure to provide proof of being licensed
  • Preaching faster than the preaching limit
  • Failure to yield when someone gives an “Amen!!!”
  • Preaching too long and running  a red light or a stop sign.

Obviously there is no such thing as the preaching police.  At least not that I know of.  But if they need to see my license we will need to make a trip to house.  I’m sure I can find it.

What about you?  Are you licensed to do what you do?

***I hope you found this funny.  I LOL’d as I wrote this.  However, I did not ROTFLOL or LMBO***

You Can’t Bore The Hell Out Of People

One of my favorite Twitter follows is Xianity.  Whoever is behind this anonymous Twitter handle is a brilliant writer who mixes our faith and satire in 140 characters or less.

A few days ago this tweet was sent out: LOCAL: Area Sunday School teacher dismissed after refusing to use tried and true “bore the hell out of them” curriculum.  As a former Sunday School teacher, this tiny statement resonated with me.

*****

A pastor in one of my former churches would preach every Sunday.  Each Sunday I would sit there bored out of my mind.  I was hearing the most exciting news ever talked about in a way that would never appeal to me.  There was no emotion in the dull, monotone monologues that were called sermons by some.

These sermons led to me to wonder if the man truly believed what he was saying.  Interestingly, he even spoke against emotion coming into the church.  It was almost that he was anti-emotion.  Like he was trying to purposely downplay the Gospel and its effect on those who follow Christ.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not into emotionalism for the same of drawing a crowd.  Many with some skill and training can learn to whip a congregation into frenzy.

However, there has to be more to it that simply delivering the news without any appearance of it affecting the emotions.  Surely, you can’t just bore the hell out of people.

*****

We have the most exciting Person that has ever walked this earth in our lives.  His message is something that draws us to come to know Him and follow Him.

Let’s live like it.

Let’s live exciting lives in the name of Jesus.  That doesn’t mean that you have to wave your hands or dance.  I probably won’t.  That’s doesn’t mean that the emotions that He gave me aren’t running high when I talk, sing or worship with my brothers and sister.  I’m not going to stand there stone cold either.

Let’s not try to bore the hell out of people.  Let’s proclaim Him in a manner worthy of the One we love and worship.

Have you ever been guilty of trying to bore the hell out of people?  Does Christ and the Gospel excite you?

Can I Get An Amen?

October 17, 2012 6 comments

You’ve been in that church service.  The preacher makes a point.  You can tell he expected spontaneous combustion or something.  Unfortunately, for everyone in church that morning, that isn’t what happened.  Instead he got this.

Silence.

You know it’s coming.  You can feel it welling up in your pastor’s shoes.  It begins to travel up his legs straight past his diaphragm into his belly.  It travels around his stomach a time or two to gain speed.  Up it goes, goes, goes.  Then you finally hear it.

“Can I get an amen???”

Immediately the chairman of the deacons wakes up from his mid-morning nap to exclaim as loudly as possible, “Aaaaaaa-Mannnnn!!!!”

And the preacher got his amen.

In one swift moment, the pastor morphs from proclaimer of the word of God into someone who helps lift girls up on Saturday afternoons and yells into a megaphone.  He is actively soliciting reaction for his  preaching.

If you are a preacher, you’ve probably done it.  I know I have.

The question is, should we?

And what happens if you actually didn’t get an amen?  What if someone stands up and yells,”Nay-men!!!”  What if no one agrees with you?

What if you were heckled?

Asking for an amen is dangerous.  Be careful what you wish for.

Have you ever asked for an amen?  Have you ever gotten no response?  How did you react?

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: ,