I don’t remember where I picked up this little tip. I have read books and attended workshops on effective preaching. At this point in my life many of my friends are pastors and preachers but as a younger man I gave some time and attention to improving my craft. One piece of advice that would benefit any public speaker, it doesn’t have to be in the pulpit, is about effective illustrations. If you are going to use wiring in a light switch to make a point, make sure you know what you are talking about. There is probably at least one person in your audience, perhaps a professional electrician, that will know if your illustration is made poorly. If you are going to compare your topic to changing the oil in a car, planting a garden, sewing on a button, programming HTML or whatever might be helpful, make sure you are well informed if not an expert on the subject you use as a reference. Don’t assume no one will know the difference; someone will know if you say something wrong and then you will lose credibility. If they see you as poorly informed about building a bookcase, they may also lose confidence in your knowledge of the Bible (or whatever field you may be speaking to if it’s not the Bible). If you provide sloppy illustrations with erroneous information maybe you’re sloppy with your Bible study or lazy in sermon prep. As public speaking goes, teaching the Bible or preaching the Gospel needs to be done well.Continue reading
Category Archives: illustrations
Critical Thinking: Why Does Evil Exist?
I don’t want to explore the problem of evil. I want to use that question and the arguments made by atheists and agnostics to discuss how we use our resources to analyze and respond to such questions. 1 Peter 3:15 is the basis for Christian apologetics: always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…
When I was college I took an honors level class simply titled Critical Thinking. I think it should have been required of all entering freshmen; definitely wished our debate team in high school could have spent a few weeks each year in that course. I didn’t go to a large state funded university that spent four years trying educate the faith out of us or teach me that everything my parents ever believed was wrong. At a private liberal arts college, affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, the professor wanted us to think things through, use logic and empirical data, in order to defend whatever position we claimed. He was not an atheist trying to turn us against the Christian faith, as some have claimed when I share this story. He posed us this dilemma so that, like iron sharpens iron, we could work through a proper response: God is either all powerful or all good but cannot be both. If he is all good then evil exists because is unable to eliminate it. Conversely if God is all powerful then he must be evil as he chooses not to do away with it. Discussion ensued.Continue reading
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.James 3:5-8
There is Risk Involved
I’ve worked a couple of stints helping my brother do commercial HVAC. Building automation has been a growth industry for at least 10 or 12 years now. The average homeowner can lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat from a mobile app. I knew about text and email alerts to warn about dangerous or undesirable conditions, but it never occurred to me to consider the usefulness of these things in terms of insurance. Church Mutual Insurance Company sent us a box full of sensors a year or two ago with installation instructions. There was an incentive, in terms of our premiums, to install them. We now have space temp sensors and wet floor sensors in our church building, connected through a wireless router to a monitoring service. If the temperature inside the church drops to near freezing, or water is detected by the water heater or under the kitchen sin, I will get text alerts and a phone call. It’s cheaper for the insurance company to give away the sensors than to fix major damage that can occur if problems go unnoticed. Insurance is all about calculating risk. It’s the same thing with companies that offer auto insurance rates based on your driving habits, which they will monitor when you install their device to track those driving habits.Continue reading
The Little Team that Could
This was originally published as “Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere” on March 22, 2018. I don’t do a lot of reruns but hope you enjoy this one.
If you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit.Continue reading
Final Thought: Bears
Anytime one prepares a presentation, much like a written report, article, blog post or thesis paper, there are several iterations that could become the final product. Some ideas don’t go anywhere, better ideas take their place, maybe some good talking points came from brainstorming that ended up not being developed. You may even produce more than one version and have to make a decision but in any case there are always things researched or outlined that are left out of the final product. If lines or scenes are cut from a film you might find out about them in the director’s cut or by playing the DVD commentary. Since my goal is to post new material to my blog once or twice a week, I have a creative outlet for unused sermon material. Continue reading
God is Willing and Able
There is a lot to learn from reading the Bible but a few predominant themes run through the whole book. One lesson we learn that is reinforced many times is that God knows what he’s doing.
…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment… 2 Peter 2:9
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
I sometimes puzzle over statements people make such as looking for God. It’s our nature to make things more complicated than they are or should be. God is not hiding. He has not put up boundaries and obstacles so that only a few are able to succeed. The Hunger Games, the Labyrinth, Survivor, American Ninja Warrior; the Kingdom of God is not like any of those things. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a Greco-Roman audience, often made analogies to the sporting world and athletic competition. He talks about competing according to the rules in order to not be disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5) and to the Philippians he says that he presses forward toward the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). The prize is Jesus and he wants you to win! Continue reading
The Reason for Seasons
So if you’ve been paying attention to the Satur-deja Vu you may have noticed I ranted about fall two weeks in a row. I honestly did not realize I had addressed that topic the week before. It’s not the season of the year I was ranting about so much as everyone excited about it while we’ve got some summer weeks left to go yet. I don’t want to rehash all that a third time but rather consider this topic: Why do we have seasons? Continue reading
It’s What’s Inside that Counts
I may not be a great man of God but I am a man of a great God.
Paul says in 2nd Corinthians that we possess a great treasure in jars of clay. I’ve seen a lot of proposal videos where the guy gets down on one knee or choreographs a big event to pop the question. The woman is always interested in the ring. I have never seen one check out the box it came in. That is not what matters. We as believers are the temple of God. That is where his Spirit chooses to dwell. So you may not think that I’m much to look at. That doesn’t matter because 1) my wife thinks I’m adorable, and more importantly 2) every believer is the dwelling place of God. We that are baptized in Christ have put on Christ. John the Baptist said “He must increase, but I must decrease.” When we are conformed to the image of Jesus, when we let our light shine, it really should be Jesus that the world sees. We must make more of him and less of ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7
1 Corinthians 6:19-20