On Sermon Writing

preacherI know from my interactions with readers that most visitors to The Master’s Table are Christians. Many write blogs of their own, author or review Christian books, or are otherwise involved in church culture. Not surprising since many of my posts are devotional in nature; my writing explores what it means to serve God, worship, share the Gospel and so forth. I’ve blogged on meeting Christian writers, musicians, speakers and pastors; working at summer VBS; serving on the stateside mission field; publishing a book about who God is and how we relate to him. On occasion I have not only published sermons but written on the act of preaching.

While the vast majority of the readership here is Christian I have no way of knowing how many actually preach the Gospel. We all know a good sermon when we hear one or at least know what we like. But how familiar with the process is anyone that has never prepared a sermon? While there may be those that joke their pastor only works one hour each week surely no one that has put any thought into it actually believes that. Surely. I’m not going to write a step-by-step guide on how to DIY your own sermon. But I would like to share some insight into what goes on in the mind of the preacher before the sermon is being delivered. Continue reading

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Mother’s Day Sermon 2009

Mother’s Day sermons and blog posts have been trending on The Master’s Table for a couple of days now. Lots of search engine traffic. So it could be preachers mining my blog for sermon material but admittedly I sometimes do a Google search just to see what other guys are doing just to get started.

This post was written in 2009, three months before our daughter Johannah was born. One of the issues some have with recognizing Mother’s Day at church is that some woman that would like to be mothers cannot be while others have lost children. My Mother’s Day sermon in 2009 starts with a look into the experiences of Abraham and Sarah but takes a very personal turn. We had no way of knowing for sure that Johannah would be born healthy and happy on August 11th, her mother’s birthday, nor that subsequent issues would result in our never having any other children.

We feel blessed with our little family. We’ve made a lot of new friends, online and IRL, since this post was written a decade ago. It offers a glimpse into who we were and what we were doing back then. I enjoyed the look back. Here’s the link again, just thought I would share.

 

This is the Day the Lord has Made

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Psalm 118:24. It’s a very well known text and often used as a call to worship, a rallying cry to get church members stirred up. I’m sure we have used it more than once over the years in our Happy Monday posts. We began our annual Rome Prayer Breakfast yesterday morning by saying this verse together, a couple of times. And during that meeting it’s meaning struck me in a new way. The Bible is like that; no matter how many times you read the Word it will never quit speaking to you. Continue reading

John O’Leary

Screenshot 2019-05-02 at 10.26.28 AMI just returned from the 26th annual Rome Prayer Breakfast. The event is catered by Chick-fil-A and various individuals offer prayer for military veterans, police and first responders, business leaders, educators, families, pastors and church staff. Each year a speaker is invited to give an address and this year John O’Leary joined us. I had never heard of John but he shares a personal story of a tragic incident/accident that happened in his childhood. He was playing with fire and gasoline at the age of nine and basically blew up his parents garage. He was burned on 100% of his body. Yes, 100% of his body. 87% of those burns were 3rd degree and he lost all of his fingers on both hands. Today he is married with four kids but his testimony involves a great deal of fighting with endurance. He has a great sense of humor, the audience shared lots of laughs and he closed playing the piano.

Here is a link to his website. You can find John O’Leary on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and he has written four books.

Saving What We Love

That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love. -Rose Tico

Have you ever heard the old saying about how anything could become a sermon illustration? The quote above is from the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’m sure if there had been internet and social media in 1977 everyone would have hated the original film too. But stay with me on Rose’s line. Continue reading

Nets vs. Bait

Screenshot 2019-04-29 at 9.29.44 AMIf you listen to my Sunday sermon (it’s linked in the left-hand sidebar) there are numerous references to Peter and other disciples fishing. Jesus called Peter by telling him that he would become a “fisher of men.” Peter left his nets behind and that’s an important detail to keep in mind.

When we go fishing it’s probably not on a commercial fishing vessel. We go for recreation or even for sport which probably means a rod and reel for most people. We use bait, either live bait like night crawlers and crickets or else some type of lure or fly. Sharing the Gospel message is like casting a net, not like using bait on a hook. When Jesus first met Peter his crew had been out all night and not caught anything. Same story in John 21. We cast the net of the Gospel and many times come back with nothing. But we keep throwing it out there. If we were trying to attract cell phone or cable customers to sign a contract then bait and switch or bait and hook tactics might do the trick. But we are called to build the Kingdom, not generate profitable sales figures. Go out into the world and be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Don’t forget the innocent part.

To Those of You Outside the United States

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March 11, 2019

I sometimes make reference to things like Daylight Savings Time, the Super Bowl and the fact that for the past five or six months it never quits raining. Most of my readers are in the United States and these cultural references are obvious to them. Since I only write in English that narrows down the number of people in the world that can read it at all. 

Having said that, I realize there are other readers from all over the world on a daily basis. Just like most readers are American it makes sense that Canada and United Kingdom are next in terms of numbers. In other nations around the world there are people who are multilingual, missionaries, American business people and military personnel serving abroad. There are Christians around the world as well, some in places friendly to them and others in the underground church movement. I just want to say that I know you’re out there.  Continue reading