Being a Christian – Fasting


I wanted to throw one in today for the Christian and not just the pastor, because we’re going to be on the sermon series for a few more days, and I don’t want you feeling left out!

Fasting. If you read modern translations, you’ll see that there’s not a lot of emphasis on it. But if you’ve become King James Only, you’re suddenly aware fasting is mentioned a lot more in the King James. Why, it’s almost like it was removed from the modern versions!!!

Well, yes, it was.

Fasting. Most of us just don’t do it. But the Bible says, “WHEN ye fast…”

Biblically, fasting is no food or water for the period you’re fasting. Not many people can do that for very long. On Yom Kippur, you go without food, drink or even bathing for 24 hours.

When a church calls for a three day fast… they’d better specify what the fast entails. Otherwise, you’re not truly fasting.

“We’ll fast from food for 3 days.” That’s fine. You’re being specific.

“We’ll fast biblically for 40 days.” Yeah, uh… most of you will die. The human body can last an average of 3 days without water, and then death usually sets in.

“Eat one meal a day.” That’s not really a fast, but, sure, okay.

“No food, but milkshakes allowed.” That’s not a fast, it’s hypocrisy and… yummy.

Rally, if a congregation wants to call for a fast, it should be for 24 hours. And there should be cautions. If your health allows you. A sunup to sundown fast is also acceptable.

In most cases, fasting should be determined by the individual.

How long do I want to fast?

What is the purpose?

Will it be a Biblical fast, or am I fasting from food alone? It’s perfectly okay to say “food alone”! If you’ve never done Yom kippur, you have no idea what it’s like to go without fluids for 24 hours. It’s harder for Europeans than for Americans, because most Americans have conditioned themselves to existing in a state of dehydration and don’t even know it! The first couple of hours aren’t too bad.

By bedtime, you’re really parched.

When you wake up in the morning, the headache has set in.

By ten AM, it’s worse.

By 1 PM, it’s throbbing.

By 3 pm, you’re starting to feel really run down. You have little in the way of energy. I witnessed someone at my synagogue have back spasms brought on by dehydration during yom Kippur.

By sundown, you feel as if you’ve been put through the wringer. You’re heavy, extremely tired, and the headache is consuming you. That first drink of water after the fast is like the most unbelievable luxury in the world. It takes several glasses of water – drink slowly – to get rid of the headache. Sip at it, don’t chug the water. You can get very painful stomach cramps from drinking the water too fast after the fast, and end up vomiting, which will dehydrate you further. Eat LIGHT foods at first, give it a bit, and then you can eat. most Jewish households serve a soup at the meal after Yom Kippur, which accomplishes two purposes – rehydrating, and getting food energy into your body.

Fasting accompanies prayer. Common conventional teaching tells us fasting is to afflict the body, and release it;s hold on your soul and spirit.

The Bible really doesn’t teach that. It sounds good, and it might be true. But the Bible doesn’t say that. it really doesn’t go into why! In the OT, it reflects mourning, seeking God’s mercy.

Fasting must be done within the context of the joyful thanksgiving of the new life in Christ.

Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 781.

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Being a Pastor 11 – The Sermon 4


“Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:1–9, KJV)

Who: Jesus, the Pharisees

What: Arguing about ritual cleanliness

Where: Galilee

When: This comes just before the Lord ministers to a Gentile for the first time, the Syro-phonician woman.

Why: What is commanded?

How: Jesus Christ ultimately points to the heart, and not to the letter. The Pharisees ultimately point to the letter, and the heart is up to you.

We’ve gotten a lot already. This is traditionally enough to preach this, but… traditionally is not enough. We’re aiming for excellence in preaching. Preaching much change lives, or we need to go home after the three hymns that we only sing three verses of. I think I’ve made that point well.

Some books on preaching – listen, a brief rant on books on preaching. If you’ve never heard of the author, maybe they should be reading YOUR book on preaching I’ve read several books on preaching, and let me tell you, I’m really good at spotting a book that has nothing to say. There’s one famous book about Evangelism I read as part of my Seminary training (because there’s precious few books on it), and the man I was talking to about it was a Methodist pastor. He took a little offense, and said it was written by one of HIS Seminary professors. My response was, “HE had nothing to say, and spent a lot of time saying nothing. Tell him next time to make sure he has something to say before he writes a book.”

Here’s a line from that book – “Jesus had no method for Evangelism – He WAS His method.”

Wow. Told you everything you need to know about evangelizing the lost, huh? Betcha the hallways in Hell will be empty this afternoon!

Getting back to my point, some books on preaching try to emphasize the “One big idea”. That’s great, but what if the passage has… three big ideas? We need to preach the text, and teach the application of that text.

Ready for the One Big message here? I’m seeing three, but here you go… make a note… it’s the one your congregation has already figured out… are you waiting? Ready…

Christianity is not ritual, but Relationship.

If you want to alliterate, change it to Religion. But be aware that’s a bad word in the eyes of American Baptists. We don’t need religion, we need Truth. Biblical truth.

Ready for the one big message here? “Wait, we just had one!”

Yeah, I know. That’s why I hate when books tell you, “find the one big message!” Okay, go find the one big message in Job.

“ummmm….”

How about “Tradition is no substitute for the word of God”?

I actually see that big message in the text as well. So forget the one big message nonsense, and preach the text.

Ready for the three preaching points? Here’s how I’m seeing them.

  1. Why do we allow traditions to violate the word of God?
  2. Why do we abandon the Bible in favor of Tradition?
  3. Why do we not see this as hypocrisy?

So, at this point, I’ve opened a sermon document in Logos, and prepped it up. It took one minute to get the order of service in there, the text of the sermon (takes three seconds – if you put Mt 15.1-9 by itself on a line, it automatically puts the entire reference so you can look at it while writing), and my three points I just gave. Now, I’m hoping some of you read the text, and decided that these aren’t the three points you’re seeing. That’s great, start writing the sermon your way. Essentially, the point here is to confirm you’re getting the right inference from the Bible.

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Logos studyview open, with start of Sermon document
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Sermon Editor window

And that’s why yesterday we quickly read through our commentaries. If a man is saved, the same Holy Spirit that hopefully is helping me to write this will have given the same illumination to other men throughout the ages. You have to be careful of course with commentaries. I have little use for most modern commentaries, because let me tell you, there’s a lot of famous pastors and theologians who I think you need to stop on the street and give them a tract, because they are completely unfamiliar with the Gospel.

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But a good way to check your interpretation is to see if some commentaries are going in the same direction you are. It’s really funny, I tend to find a favorite commentary and stay with it a while, and then disregard. I remember reading a lot of John Gill years ago, then Adam Clarke. Matthew Henry is the old standby of course. I got the Bible Knowledge commentary last year for Wordsearch, which is terrible because now I don’t use Wordsearch all that much!

Okay, the images show you the form of the sermon as I put them. Notice the timer on the sermon! It’s got my sermon at 2 minutes already. Most pastors are allowing themselves 35 minutes to preach. You’ve got 33 minutes left.

From my points, I can already see the tone I’m going to be taking in this sermon. You CANNOT deliver this sermon in a cheerful, “That’s okay, Jesus Loves us anyway” tone of voice. This is a serious sermon. There’s a little anguish in there. There’s a little anger in there.

Now, you’ve got some soul searching to do.

“Is everything at your church conform to the Bible? Is any of it tradition that violates the word of God?”

(Uncomfortable congregation moment)

Let that HANG! If you’re soul searching, and preaching on hypocrisy, this may be a house cleaning moment! Let’s expand that thought.

We do things at our house, at our job, in our prayer life, in our Bible reading… and we do them because it’s our habit! It’s our tradition! And if it violates or makes the word of God of none effect, then it is no less hypocrisy in our dining room than it was that day in Galilee.

We’re not writing the sermon yet, but I’m sitting in my thoughts, looking over the points. You’ll see I took the big message nonsense and made that the final point of the sermon. Relationship, not ritual.

It might help to actually repeat that phrase a couple of times throughout the sermon. Make your point, and use that phrase as punctuation.

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All right, the sermon is taking shape. I’m a firm believer in “You have to know where you’re going to know how to get there.” Remember, some of the stuff I’m teaching here is not just for pastors!

More tomorrow.

Being a Pastor 10 – The Sermon 3


Rough week! I’ve been so busy that I literally was getting worried that I didn’t have a week’s worth of articles done. Finally got that today.

Now that you’ve got your text (and if you didn’t like yesterday’s solutions, feel free to agonize right up to the last minute over whether you chose the right text or not…) it’s time to study it.

The first read-through of your text, you’re doing exactly the same thing as other Christians – read and note. However, there’s a lot more demands on a pastor, because 1). You have to teach these people how to rightly divide the word and… 2). if you do badly at it, there’s an uncomfortable question and answer session with Jesus Christ in your future… and you’re not the one doing the asking.

“Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:1–9, KJV)

There you go. I chose this Pericope because it’s got a lot, it’s short, and you can start doing some digging. Because I do my study AND my sermon writing in Logos, I’m simply typing the scripture into the go box, and then looking in my passage guide for what commentaries have something on this pericope.

Now, this one I know, because they’re making a reference to a book in Judaism that forms the core of the Mishna, the Rabbinic teachings. This book is called Pirke Avot (tradition of the elders), and literally it was not’ finished at the time! Parts of the Mishnah were done by then… and then of course, after the destruction of Jerusalem, they began assembling the Mishnah and engaged for the next two centuries in the discussions that become the Talmud.

Okay, so I’ve got my commentaries open, the King James open, already set up my right windows (explorer, info, quoted by, lookup and copy bible). I open my highlighters, and start reading.

first thing I want to do is answer the important questions…

Who: Jesus, the Pharisees

What: Arguing about ritual cleanliness

Where: Galilee

When: This comes just before the Lord ministers to a Gentile for the first time, the Syro-Phoenician woman.

Why: What is commanded?

How: Jesus Christ ultimately points to the heart, and not to the letter. The Pharisees ultimately point to the letter, and the heart is up to you.

You’ve got a lot already. I then spend a minute glossing through my commentaries. Literally, just ten minutes, looking through them. Now, if I wanted to, I could open Quickverse and go through ALL my commentaries, but to a certain extent, they’re all going to be fairly redundant.

What’s the important words of the passages? By repetition, God and commandment. This time, the Lord calls the Pharisees and Scribes (the Sadducees are either not choosing to deal with the Lord yet, or, according to another gospel harmony I’ve seen… they’re still smarting from the last time). I’ll leave that for you to look up. Just because you read it in a commentary or a harmony does not mean it’s accurate!

At this point, I pretty much know what’s going on. It’s not a hard passage, although I see it listed in the Hard Passages books. The Scribes and Pharisees made their own commandments and rituals about washing your hands before you eat, the reasons why (which are logical), and the methods.

When they ask the Lord why He doesn’t do them, nor enjoin His disciples to do it, He essentially turns that around with, “Commandments, yes, let’s talk about that. You’re making commandments that transcend those of God, and you’re just men.”

Ouch.

this started as a question and answer encounter which is common among groups whose practice of Judaism is different. The Lord basically turns and flays them alive with His responses.

Letter of the law vs. Heart. got it. And the word hypocrite is thrown out there.

At this point, you’re ready to start studying, and we’ll tackle that for tomorrow.

Being a Pastor 9 – The Sermon 2


Let me be blunt in one more point, and then I’m going to start showing how to build a sermon.

If the sermon is boring, it’s… not the sermon’s fault.

I gave instructions on how to preach. Listening to a dull speaker, you quickly get the feeling for how to keep people’s attention. Danny Castle is never boring. John MacArthur is sometimes boring. All of the associate pastors that work for MacArthur are deadly boring. I’m sure jokes are made about the sermon so boring, it killed fifteen people.

By the way, when I mention John MacArthur, it’s not an endorsement. Most of us have heard him preach, so I’m using something you’re familiar with. While I’ve listened to many of his sermons, he is a 4 point Calvinist, and that skews how he sees the Bible. I can’t recommend him for that reason.

Getting back on topic.

Adding TIME to a sermon does not guarantee interest. The thought is, “If I preach for an hour, I’m bound to say something interesting.”

I’ll say this – I love a good sermon. But I’ve felt the agony of a church goer who knows the sermon’s going to be an hour, and it’s DULL. AAAUGH!!!!

If you haven’t struck oil in 30 minutes, stop boring.

I pace a little while I preach. Nothing like Danny Castle. I vary my voice, tone, inflection, because I had an accounting teacher who our class actually complained about to the college and he droned in a soft voice… talking about accounting… and cash is a debit… so if we open a special ledger….zzzzzz…..

Sermons that do not challenge the congregation are essentially hot air.

So, I’ve made impossible demands upon many pastors. That’s okay, that’s in the job description, we’re kind of used to it.

Who can do everything I just spoke about? Marc Monte, myself (i hope – nobody’s told me if I’m boring or not!), Danny Castle, David Cloud… I’m still trying to compile a list. Vincent Sawyer’s not too bad, but he’s not very good at the tone, inflection, voice part of it.

Okay, so, let’s get started on how to choose a text to preach from. I’m going to tell you I’m a big believer in Expository preaching. The idea is that you’re going to preach from the Bible in sequence. I guarantee that way, I cover every topic addressed in Scripture. So, my recommendation is this – Start in Matthew, and preach until you hit Revelation.

“What about Sunday Nights?” Easy… Start in Genesis.

Method two is to assign a one-year Bible reading program, and choose a passage somewhere during the previous weeks’ passage to preach from.

Method three is Topical. You pick a topic and preach from it.

Method four is actually how it was done in the Jerusalem church. Judaism is Liturgical – they have weekly readings from the Torah and the Haftorah, the books of Moses and the prophets.

When Christianity first started, they took the same thing, and added the New Testament as a third part. You could have gone to a synagogue anywhere in the empire for the first twenty years of Christianity,  and not known it was Christian until you heard them read from the Gospels. And then one of the Apostles or a pastor they’d trained would get up and preach on that.

That kind of system is called by Christians a Lectionary. There are quite a few Lectionaries available. There isn’t one for Baptists – we don’t do that, and actually, it may be wrong we’re not! – but if you’re one of those people that insists on being like “The Early Church”, here was how it was done in Jerusalem.

Most people are familiar with topical preaching. With absolutely no apologies to false teacher Andy Stanley, topical preaching is a relatively new thing, and was looked upon with a great deal of suspicion at first. The old method was to find a text and twist it out of all recognition as you spiritualize merrily away.

Topical preaching involves taking a topic – like Adultery – and preaching on it. I don’t know why ANYONE has a hard time finding a topic to preach on, at all , through the year. Seriously. Orville Nave and R. A. Torrey took care of that for us. Get their topical Bibles, turn to “A”, and there you go. They even give you texts to look up! Compare them to each other, and look in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge for more.

Since the other methods are essentially Expository, let’s talk about one concept that will make this a lot easier… the unit of thought. The word for it is a Pericope (per-ih-ko-pea). If you hear someone talk about THE Pericope, they’re referring to John 7:53-8:12. But if it’s A pericope, they’re talking about every unit of thought in the Bible.

Some Pericope’s actually are so long, you’ll have to find a point where you can split it. Otherwise you’re preaching Hebrews for, well, most of the book. And Romans. You just may make it through the New Testament before the Congregation fires you for the 3 1/2 hour sermons.

So, I’ve solved one of the major dilemmas that haunt Pastors – “What am I preaching on Sunday?” Really, that shouldn’t be a question. And one question that haunts the Pastor is, “I’m stuck between this text and that, and I don’t know which…” And you end up working on BOTH texts.

Choose your system I’ve settled for doing New Testament Sunday mornings, Old Testament Sunday Evenings, and topical on Wednesday nights. Decide for yourself, and DON’T DEVIATE.

Being a Pastor 8- The Sermon


Okay, folks, let’s face some facts and be REALLY honest about something.

The IFB culture really fights against itself on two issues – trained Pastors, and sermons.

Seriously.

The IFB culture is suspicious of seminary trained pastors. It’s a major issue. No kidding. Who is better equipped to lead a congregation, a preacher boy that’s read through the Bible six times, or someone who’s taken Doctrine I, II, III and IV over two years?

Who’s better equipped, someone who just is saved and that’s peachy keen, or someone who’s been saved several years, has some maturity, and studied History Of the Churches I & II?

Who is better equipped to teach a congregation how to rightly divide the word of God, a guy who’s heard every Jack Hyles sermon… or someone who’s had Hermaneutics and Homilteics?

Who has studied to shew thyself approved, the guy who just knows John 3:16, and that’s really good enough for him… or the pastor who’s had one year of GReek or one year of Hebrew?

YES, some guy can just get a KIng James Bible, read it through a bunch of times, and pastor a church. I know one man who did it And he preaches expositorally, and man, I would seriously have trouble keeping up with him. But my point is… he’s a rarity. Most of the rest of us need the 4 years of seminary.

I know a lot of you will disagree. But I’m about to get into the second issue where IFB bites itself, and that’s…

…most IFB pastors cannot preach their way out of a wet paper bag. Honestly. I’ve gone through several years of trying different IFB pastors, and listening to their sermons. Results?

LIttle scriptural content.

Very little in the way of rightly dividing the word.

Congregation enjoys the sermon, but is incapable of connecting the text the pastor preached on, to his message.

And very often, repetetive and dull.

In other words, virtually indistinguishable from… Joel Osteen.

And I’m not just talking about modern IFB preachers… I’m literally speaking of some of the famous ones of yesteryear. You can point to famous pastors whose megachurches of yore started colleges and universities to teach would-be pastors. I’m talking about famous IFB pastors who I’ve listened to, who had radio programs.

Listen, I insist on one simple thing with a sermon… John 3:16. I preach on it. You do an exit interview with someone in the congregation, and they should be able to tell you my point was, “You need to be saved”, and how I connected the text to the message.

If you can’t do that… you flopped. Your sermon was a waste of time.

If I preach on 1 Peter 3:15, most people leaving the church should be able to tell you the message was about defending your faith, that many atheists just FESTER to challenge your faith, and that you should be able to be ready to give a reason for your faith… and the first step is, learning WHY you believe what you believe.

If I preach on 1 Peter 3:15, and you can;t answer, “What was the sermon about?” and, “how do you do that?”, I flunked.

Danny Castle is very good at taking one text, breaking it down, and making it stick, and boy, you better NOT be backsliding in his church! He’s very unique. I’m not talikng about him at all.

It’s time we stopped doing a disservice to our churches.

Seriously. We’ve got our doctrine right (some of us). We’re serious about the LORD! And sure, we live for him, fight for him, have the right Bible, and… we’re leaving our congregations completely defenseless against the devil, because they can’t rightly divide the word. Whose fault?

Ours.

So, over the next few posts, i’m going to show how to read a text, learn it, rightly divide it, and… preach it.

The rest of you, just read along, enjoy… and learn some added techniques you can add to your Bible study methods.

Because it’s very possible that God’s sent someone here to begin to learn how to preach. You’re called, buddy. You just don’t know it.

Yeah, I’m talking to you!

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Being a Pastor 7 – Preaching


Let’s move on to some of the more serious elements of being a pastor.

The primary job of the pastor is this – feed my sheep.

Something to remember – the congregation is composed of people just like you. There’s no distinction between “Clergy” and “Laity” in the Bible.

Everyone in your future church has the same sin issues you do. At any point in time, at least a quarter of any given local church will be in a state of backsliding to some degree or another. And any given message you preach, if it’s Biblical, is going to offend someone.

I would try this – be honest with your congregation but not in a mocking or cocky way. Honest, and with humility, remind people that preaching the Bible requires stepping on toes.

“One of the hard things about preaching, is that often some of us are struggling with the flesh. Our Old Man rises up in us routinely. There’s only two states a Christian has – when you know the Old Man has risen up, and when you don’t know the Old Man has risen up. And sometimes it will seem like I’m preaching to you directly. I’m not – God just delivers a message home without me.”

That had an ABC structure, and it was honest. A. We struggle with our flesh. B. It’s part of the regular Christian life, for ALL CHRISTIANS. C. God is the one who convicts.

Honesty will go a long way with your congregations.

There’s a funny phenomenon I’ve noticed. Most Pastors think “Preacher manner” is to… um… become effeminate in the pulpit. Our voices raise and soften, our gesture minimize, for fear of frightening our congregations. Many preachers micro-shrug when they preach, not knowing that’s perceived subconsciously as lying. Believe it or not, this softening of your mannerisms does not convey a message of caring to the congregation, but rather one of weakness.

Independent Baptist Pastors, on the other hand… tend to macho up.

Try this. Be strong. Be unassuming. Be Humble.

WHo’s got good preaching manner? Johnny Mac is good. john Macarthur spends much of his time breaking every rule about preaching. He’s looking at his pulpit most of the time. He doesn’t pace, he doesn’t even move. But he’s… strong in mannerism,

Danny Castle is a… wow. I could never be Danny Castle. Man, he gets FIRED UP when he preaches! If that’s you naturally, go for it. If it’s not… don’t affect it!

Be bold, but not cocky. You are preaching the word of God and it is never something to apologize for. When you get up there, and your hand has the fingers slightly curled as you gently wave it from the pulpit, you’re softening the message, believe it or not! You don’t have to pound your pulpit, you don’t have to do the “Kararte chop” for emphasis, but understand…. what you do physically is recieved louder by the congregation than what you actually say!

So… preach in front of a mirror while you’re in the first month of Seminary. Or video tape it, and ask someone to critique it for you.

Okay, let’s work on tone of voice. Your preaching tone of voice literally should be the same pitch as your speaking tone of voice. Don’t raise it in pitch to project.

Here’s something I haven’t heard anywhere else, but it’s true. Lower frequencies require twice the db to be as loud as higher frequencies. Most people raise their voice in pitch to shout or be heard. Far better to make sure your church as a good PA system, and not an old Fender 4 channel 100-watt PA system from 1974.

Instead, consciously practice preaching in the same key as your speaking voice… but a little louder. Let the PA do the work. I preached one sermon where the microphone I was wearing had dying batteries. As the sermon went on, my voice was getting quieter. So, I began projecting louder.

Here’s the question… how do you develop a louder voice? The answer is quite simple, and I learned it by accident. When I was 9, my mother bought a book at the grocery store about a boy in Spain who was learning to free-dive for pearls. So he practiced filling his lungs with air, every day – and holding them.

So, being a 9 year old boy, I’d walk around, doing just that. My speaking voice projects… well… way too loud. When I cough, apparently I’m deafening. And my cat runs away from me.

Let’s get to the last part. DON’T SLOUCH. Impossible to get good voice tone (it’s called timbre, by the way – pronounce that word TAMBER, not TIMBER), and it leads to the impression you’re not exactly sure. Stand up on your feet, chest out when you preach! You want to project the impression you are CONFIDENT. TRy to find some of those old public speaking films from the 1950’s, and notice the posture they want you to take (they were usually made by AFI – American Films… And were usually horrible!). Yes, they’re on the internet for free.

Okay, there you go. Starter notes on preaching. tomorrow, I’ll start on how to write a sermon.

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Being a Christian – Prayer Part 2


prayingYesterday, we examined the first two of how to pray, using the ACTS acronym.

WE did adoration and confession. Now is thanksgiving.

So, how do you find which Psalm is a thanksgiving psalm? Well, in the King James… they usually tell you!

“A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David. I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, And hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, And give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. LORD, by thy favour thou hast Made my mountain to stand strong: Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O LORD; And unto the LORD I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” (Psalm 30, KJV)

Again, using what we learned yesterday… we’re going to take single verses, and make them personal.

“Lord, I thiank you that your anger endures only for a moment.” Sounds harsh? LIsten, if you took a good 5 minutes and went through your life, and thought about God’s restraint against sin, how He should have punished you every time you sinned (but didn’t)… you’d have no problem praying that.

“Lord, I thank you that you have kept me alive.” You know, how many close calls have you had? I’ve had several. More than my fair share. Remember that time you just changed lanes in your car, then looked in the rearview mirror and eralized how close you came to driving into a semi truck? Remember that time you got the flu, and lived? Some people don’t. When I was a kid, some new sinus medication came out that they never tested, and somehow the FDA never realized it. I took it, and had serious chest pains for several minutes. Later that week, the news reported they took it off the market… because it was killing people from heart attacks.

Yeah, that’s a good prayer to pray.

Now, let’s move to supplication. THis part, we’re all experts in. I don’t need to teach you this. Just remember, prayer is not about “gimme gimme gimme”. Prayer should be about spending time with God. Believe it or not… human beings are designed to praise God. It is what we’re designed for, besides tending His creation. We should be caring for animals (part of our design), caring for gardens (part of our design), and praising God (part of our design).

This is the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I praise God for the universe He made. Sometimes I praise God for snow. I just had a dream where we got three feet of snow, something I’ve actually lived through. It was wonderful. Except it took until late May for all that snow to melt.

Sometimes I praise God for the ocean. A house on a good rocky shore would be a wonderful place to live.

These are your prayers. I’ve given you some ideas. Run with them!