Archive for the ‘Preachers/Preaching’ Category

h1

Experiencing Scripture

May 29, 2009

Dust2

“We sit in the same padded pew, week in and week out, listening to stories about Jesus calming the wind and the waves. The disciples had a totally different experience. They were in the boat on the lake when the skies grew dark and hurricane winds started to blow. They walked beaches, climbed mountains, and trekked across the wilderness with Jesus. Their experience was four-dimensional, while ours is one-dimensional. So when we read the Bible, we tend to focus on theology, overlooking the Meteorology, the psychology, and even the geology that shaped the stories we read.” “Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson.

 When I first began my ministry I spent a lot of time studying proof texts for what I believed. I wanted to be prepared to take on all comers and be able to wow them with my rapid fire quoting of scripture. I love to read those of our fellowship who seem to have all questions answered and knew exactly the right way to present their case for their cause. For a while I missed the real power of Scripture. I missed the experience of Scripture.

 Today my study is very different. I have such a hunger to taste, feel and experience the world in which this powerful book was written.  I want to try to see what they saw and feel what they felt. I know this has it limitations, but there is a wealth of information out there for anyone who wants to add new dimensions to their study.

 Ray Vander Laan has done a wonderful job putting together study helps that bring the scripture alive. There are wonderful videos where he takes you to the places the scripture speaks about and brings them alive. If you are not aware of his site you need to go there and spend some time looking around. It is called “Follow the Rabbi”.

 I am presently teaching the Gospel of John on Wednesday nights. One of the helps I am using in class is the movie, The Gospel of John. This movie is word for word based on the Good News Bible translation of the American Bible Society. The acting is filled with reality and very well done. While obviously not perfect (I didn’t direct it (-:), it is a great help to add another dimension to your teaching. Many in the class have bought their own personal copy. (I bought one for $5.00 at a local Family Christian Book Store.) We are becoming more and more a visual society. People learn more and more quickly when you can allow them to experience the scripture and not just see it as words on paper.

 I still remember my early days growing up in church. The teacher gave us a booklet with a story for each week. We were to read the story and then fill in the blanks at the end. More often than not, I would give the story a quick read on Sunday morning as I was getting dressed and then filled in the blanks as quickly as I could. When class time came I was ready. The teacher then proceeded to ask each question and if discussions arose they were often not about the story at all, but some rabbit someone wanted to chase.

 We live at a great time in history with so much at our disposal. Let me encourage you to take advantage of it. It will truly add new dimensions to your study and understanding of the Scripture.

Advertisements
h1

A Word FOR Expository Preaching and Teaching

November 18, 2008

Early in my full-time ministry I ran into the dilemma that every preacher, at one time or another will face. What should I preach? Years have passed since I struggled with that problem, due mainly to the wisdom that a friend shared with me about preaching. It totally took that pressure off of me. He said expository preaching through books of the Bible allows God to meet the needs of His people without you having to decide what those needs are. While I still preached topically from time to time after that, the main method I have used for over 30 years of ministry is expository preaching and teaching. I can’t count the times people have come up to me and said concerning an expository lesson, “How did you know that I needed to hear that”? Or “That is exactly where I am at in my life.” There was no way I could have discerned that need of their heart, but God could and did.

 

Someone once said, “A scripture out of context is simply a pretext”. While I don’t think it is wrong to put together scriptures that support a conclusion or an opinion, I do realize that it is the weakest form of argument.

 

Video’s like the one above show a dependence upon more that the spoken, explained and applied Word of God. It is a shallow, emotion based approach to teaching and preaching. It is a part of our Christian culture that picks and chooses a verse here and there to teach a preconceived idea or argument. The “Health and Wealth” gospel is another example of this abuse of scripture, of using scripture as a pretext out of context.

 

Paul told Timothy to, “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”. I Tim. 4:13. Nehemiah 8:8 says the exact same thing about how Ezra and other men of God preached:” And they read from the book, the Law of God, translating to give the sense, so that they understood the reading” So expository preaching entails: 1) reading Scripture; 2) explaining Scripture; 3) applying Scripture from and within in context.

 

Our tribe at one time was known for its knowledge of the Scripture. We can’t say that today. I think I know why.

h1

Motivation To Preach

November 1, 2007

hodges_023b.jpg

Street Preaching In Ghana, West Africa 1970

The marching orders of the Lord, or the “Great Commission” as we termed it, was given much more of a priority when I was growing up. I can remember when missionaries came to town they were given opportunities to speak and tell of their work. As a young boy I looked up to these servants of the Lord, and their challenges took hold of my heart at an early age. This coupled with the encouragement of the minister in my home congregation led me to the decision to become a minister. After preaching locally in Tennessee for a couple years I felt that I had to preach in a mission field. So at the ripe old age of 24 Barb and I began our first full time work in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, a northeast mission field.

 

Among the numerous reasons for the church’s lack of growth today I would list the lack of encouragement and exposure to the importance of preaching, and the urgency of the “Great Commission”. Seldom today do you have the opportunity to hear a missionary speak of their work. Young men today are encourage to make many career choices, but seldom are they encourage to devote their lives to preaching the Gospel of Christ.

 

I realize that part of the reason for this is the way preachers have been treated through the years. The horror stories are many. Another reason is that our tribe has no central control or headquarters, that provide a retirement program for their ministers. At the same time most ministers are not paid enough to provide their own. There is not much financial security in ministry with our tribe.

I guess all this says that there has to be a greater motivation to preach than financial security, and recognition in this life. And maybe that is the way it should be. As I look back on the lives that have been transformed by the message of Jesus that was preached and the lives that are now being touched by those who were transformed; that is wealth you can’t see in a bank account or spend at the Mall, but it is so very valuable.

One day in glory we will see the true value of the investments we have made during our life time. Only those that transcend time will really matter then. So if you are a minister of the Gospel…preach on brother! And while you are at it, allow a missionary to speak, take a young man aside and let him know that you believe in him and his abilities. Tell a young lady, as I did a number of years ago, you are going to grow up and become a missionary. LaJuana along with her husband Eddison have raised four beautiful children and have served as missionaries in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for over 20 years. She often reminds me of what I told her.

 fowlers.jpg

I have always loved Isa. 6:1-8. Isaiah describes the throne room of God. His first reaction was to exclaimed, “I am doomed”. His sin so prevalent in contrast to the presence of God would surely cause Him to be destroyed. But the Angel comes and touches his lips with a hot coal and pronounces that his sins are forgiven. Then comes the question from the throne, “Whom shall I send”. Isaiah now cleansed and filled with gratitude says, “Here am I, send me.” May our gratitude send us into our mission field as well.

 

November 2, 2007 Let me encouage you to read the following article at the Christian Chronicle