Preaching for Everyday Life

Preaching for everyday

As preachers in the twenty-first century, we are given the task of the missionary translating the ancient message of the Scriptures into the language of a pluralistic, post-Christian, post-everything culture.  This is an important and difficult calling.

But often we do the opposite.  We speak the same foreign language we have been and expect outsiders to adapt instead of walking out the back door.

“We have made the gospel foreign to other cultures by asking people to convert to our culture to become Christians.” – Paul Hiebert

The preacher is called to preach the unchanging truth in new and different ways as he speaks to the people he is trying to reach.  And he doesn’t that simply in the words he uses, in realizing who he preaches to, and in connecting that message to Monday morning.

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Fantasy Football is Good for My Soul

Fantasy football

Fantasy football is good for the soul.  Well, it is good for my soul at least.  For the past few years I have joined the world of grown men (and women) gathering together and building fictional teams,  watching football, and following stats as though they actually were coaches of real teams.

And I love it.

I don’t have many hobbies that have zero connection to any work that I do.  When I read, I prefer to read books by dead theologians.  When I write, I write about the Bible.  Even my technology use is usually connected to ministry activities.

But fantasy football is different.

When I get home from work on Sunday afternoons, there is not much better than turning on the game, following my team’s stats, and watching some football.  Fantasy football is just for my enjoyment.

Fantasy football is refreshing.

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Get That Dirt Off Your Shoulder

Dirt

Often when I think about wanting to share my faith with unbelievers, I wallow in doubt and questioning about what I should or shouldn’t say.  My fear of how this person will respond often paralyzes my mission.

This creates a problem when I think about my call to live as a missionary in my neighborhood and family.  I often end up convicted that I am called to make disciples, but then find myself frozen not knowing what to say or what steps to take.

When Jesus sends the disciples to proclaim the message of the Kingdom to lost people, Jesus gives some instructions:

“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’.” – Matthew 10:5-7

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We Don’t Need More Cool Churches

Cool churches

We don’t need more cool churches.  Cool music, trendy lighting, and a charismatic preacher is not the silver bullet that will magically rescuing our dying churches.  If cool was the problem, things would be looking a lot better for the Church as a whole.

And I love cool churches, but cool doesn’t solve our problems.

The Jewish philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote:

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society.  It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats.  Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.  When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion – its message becomes meaningless.” – God in Search of Man

Now I certainly don’t agree entirely with his statement.  There is an importance to things like creeds and disciplines.  But I think Heschel is on to something… “It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats.”

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Phil Robertson and a Confusion of the Two Kingdoms

Phil  two kingdoms

Duck Dynasty star, Phil Robertson, once again made news for the things that he’s said about politics and his faith.  Now, obviously, this is also a large reason why he gets interviewed.  People know that he is going to get attention and likely say something a bit out there.

This time Phil offered his thoughts about the ISIS terrorists.


 

“In this case you either have to convert them, which I think would be next to impossible. I’m not giving up on them, but I’m just saying, either convert them or kill them. One or the other.” – Phil Robertson

Those who are not part of radical Islam are being told by ISIS, “Convert or die.”  Phil Robertson’s solution sounds pretty similar.

It has not gone unnoticed that Phil is calling for a similar ideology of the terrorists.

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Two Great Commissions

Commission

Vocation is a word that will occasionally get thrown around in our current culture, but it is also one that has lost the significance of its meaning.  Vocation literally means a “calling.”  It comes from the Latin word vocatio and speaks to God’s calling in the life of a Christian.

This calling happens in a variety of spheres from the workplace to the neighborhood to the home.  And because of that the way that calling is played out in the life of one believer is often significantly different than the calling of another.

One aspect of our callings as Christian is the calling we have to fulfill the Great Commission.  When we talk about the Great Commission, we commonly think of the call to “Go and make disciples of all nations.”  Robert Kolb and Charles Arand, two incredible theologians, suggest that when it comes to vocation we should consider two great commissions.

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The Emasculation of Vocation

Emasculation

Vocation is the forgotten doctrine of the Reformation.  Justification was & is central, but vocation has been lost & emasculated since then.  In Luther’s day, just like our own, people had a misunderstanding in how God’s calling worked and the way that God was at work in his people.

In Luther’s day, the priests were the mediators between the people and God.  The priests did God’s work.  They were the ones that had a sacred calling, and they were the way that God was at work in the world.

But Luther recovered something different.

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When Boys Wear Their Mama’s Shoes

 

mama shoes

I think every little boy at some point decides to walk around the house in his mama’s shoes.  I’ve seen my son does this.  He also likes to play with his toy vacuum.  This past weekend he played with a dollhouse.  And recently, he chose the princess band-aids for his pretend injury (although he later regretted not choosing the batman ones).

And get this, I don’t think he’s having a crisis with his masculinity or what it means to be a boy.

This is just what kids do.

With the exception of my Jordans, my wife’s shoes are always more interesting for a two-year-old than mine would be.  And he likes to vacuum because he sees me vacuum.  And he likes the princesses because my wife loves the princesses, his friends do too, and his little sister is bound to be a huge fan.

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Where is God?

rabbi kushner

A family member dies. A diagnosis gets made. Lay-offs happen. A close friend goes through a divorce. A natural disaster strikes.

The inevitable response to suffering is often, “Why?”

Why did God let them die?  Why did God let me go through this?  Why me?  Why now?

The problem is that no matter how much we might speculate, we don’t get an answer to that question. God hasn’t told us. So trying to search for the mysterious “plan” that God must have is hardly helpful.  Because we won’t find it out.

And would we even want an explanation anyways?

In times of suffering, while we often want to ask, “Why?” we are better served by asking the question, “Where?”

For that we have an answer.

This doesn’t make it any easier.  It doesn’t answer a lot of the questions you face. But it is something that you can look to with confidence.  Where is God in the midst of your pain and suffering?

He is with you.

And he is for you.

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The Worst 3 Point Sermon

3 point semron

There are a lot of bad sermons.  And since I’m a professional sermon-giver, I tend to think of myself as a connoisseur of good preaching.  And in my listening to sermons, there are plenty of preachers who just come up with garbage.  There are dull and boring preachers that at least still preach the truth.  And even worse, there are engaging and creative preachers that boldly preach things that are not biblical and hardly helpful.

Harmful preaching can be hard to detect behind a veil of clever phrases and enthusiastic shouting.  And it’s not because the listeners are unintelligent, but simply because harmful preaching often disguising itself in spiritual language.

The preacher Robert Capon suggested that the worst kind of 3 point sermon was, “Here’s what you should do.  You are not doing it.  Try harder.”

And I couldn’t agree more.

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