In 1990 I finished the 8th grade, started high school and got my learner’s permit. That’s my yearbook photo, just before I turned 15. I had the physical stature of an adult and with a suit and tie looked like a proper grown up, albeit a very young one. I was very solidly grounded in the truth of scripture; I wasn’t searching for God, purpose, meaning or anything else. The King James Bible was the Word of God and any other “version” was written by men in an attempt to change the Bible. Boys were not supposed to wear earrings, only prisoners and sailors wore tattoos, ladies wore long dresses and long hair. Seminary was for men who chose to pastor churches and no real man of God “chose” to become a pastor, you had to be called. It was wrong to want to pastor; you had to be called, not want to do it, and then surrender to God’s will. Unless you were called to be a missionary which I was hoping didn’t happen because that meant leaving the United States and only coming back every few years to show slides. I took two years of Spanish in high school just in case because in my childhood experience missionaries spoke Spanish. Yes, I’m serious about that. That was the world I knew existed and was preparing to enter. Continue reading →
A friend in-real-life was listening to one of my sermons recently and had a question. He wanted to make it clear that I was not going over his head but wondered if everyone in my congregation was always able to follow. I told him that some of points in the case I was making were repeated from things we had either studied or I had preached before. I kind of figured they would remember some of it. The other thing I pointed out was that my particular audience had a lifetime of experience; some of those church members had been at that church since before I was born. I would tailor my presentation for a youth group or a congregation with many new believers. You gotta know your audience.
That conversation got me thinking. A speaker should know their audience but at the same time a church congregation, men’s meeting, conference organizers or Sunday School class should know what to expect from a speaker. Here is what to expect from me personally. Continue reading →
It has been a long time since I tried to put together a link list but I want to share just a couple. The first is about pastoral candidates. When Bobby Braswell is asked “Could this candidate be your pastor?” he may be willing to consider candidates you would not. His pastor doesn’t have to be young and good looking, for example. Churches often hire pastors that look like the church members they hope to attract. Then the mostly older folks that make up the church will not let him do the things the church needs to do to bring in and/or retain those 20 or 30 somethings with kids. That’s just one example. Check out Could This Candidate be Your Pastor at The Christian Index.
This one is a lot of fun, I thought about saving it for Saturday. Rhyne Putman was invited to preach at a KJV only church as a seminary student 15 years ago. He read from the wrong translation but that’s only one facet of this “bed time story” he shares. It’s a long thread of Tweets but worth your time. Click the tweet below.
The time I preached from the wrong translation at a rural KJV-only church: a bedtime story.
I 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 →
We are sent to share the Gospel. In a statement known as the Great Commision (Matthew 28:16-20) Jesus told his followers to go to all nations. They were sent to proclaim the Gospel message and to make disciples; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Evangelism is more than having an audience raise their hands, repeat a prayer or sign a card. Making disciples goes beyond baptism. It’s an investment into people’s lives that involves building relationships and working together in ministry. Followers of Jesus are not to just promote him but to lead others into a life of following. To teach others all that Jesus has command we must first learn and understand ourselves. The two processes actually happen simultaneously. We continue on the journey of learning and being conformed to the image of Christ while recruiting others to walk with us. Go to all the world, preach/teach/share the Gospel, make disciples. To this task we are called. Continue reading →
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek and gospel is a word that we borrowed from the original language without translating it. Gospel simply means good news. If you look at crime rates, history, human nature or simply tune into to any news program then you know that we are surrounded by bad news. In the United States we are deeply divided politically, there is gun violence, debate over gun violence, crime in the big cities and various protests across the nation over a variety of issues. Other countries are at war, operate under a military regime or are completely impoverished. People don’t seem to be getting better. Our level of science and technology has increased but after thousands of years of philosophical discussion we as the human race have not dramatically improved. Theft, rape, murder and war are still universally found around the globe much as they were in ancient times. The bad news is obvious to anyone paying attention: there is something wrong with us. Beyond politics, individual beliefs and philosophy, human nature is flawed. There may in fact be some good in every person but the bad in every person has not yet been weeded out. Continue reading →
I saw a blog post for the 25th anniversary of Bible Gateway yesterday and gave them a shout out. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts myself this month. In January 1993 I announced a call to preach. I’m not sure of the exact date and taking a look at a January ’93 calendar didn’t help. That doesn’t really matter though. 25 years ago I told our church family that God was calling me into ministry and I was ready to answer that call. So here’s a brief recap of what God has done in my life since then. Continue reading →