Thursday, March 26, 2020

What do I need to know to help preach the scripture?


When I was a young minister, my pastor Dr. James Lougheed at the Flint Baptist Temple (Burton, Michigan) would remind me all the time that 90% of the time you spend studying, reading and preparing the message, and the other 10% you spend in the pulpit having fun.  

As Pastors, Associate, Youth Pastors, Bible teachers, and college professors it is important that we dig deep (become scholars/students of the word) into the word of God personally, before going into the pulpit or classroom to preach or teach!

Pastors, I found an outline in some old notes in my office, I have no idea who shared them originally, so I took the liberty to use them and added a few thoughts of my own.

What? So What? And Now What?

What do I need to know personally to understand a book or passage of the Bible?

1)    Who wrote the book?
2)    To whom was it written? (was it an individual?  or was it to a church?)
3)    When was it written?
4)    Why did the author write the letter or book, what was his purpose or intention?
5)    What tools or literary devises did the author employ? (did the author use a parable, miracle, or etc.?)
6)    What kind of literature is the book/passage? (i.e. prophecy, poetic, etc.)
7)    Who is speaking in this passage?
8)    What are the key ideas, words, concepts, or issues that are addressed?
a.     How has meaning of the words used in this passaged changed over time?
b.     What current terms would evoke similar images or thoughts?
c.     What are similar issues in our culture?
9)    If the passage is a narrative, what are the characters like? It is important we try to see the story from their point of view.

So What? Now that I have a sense of the passage/book, how shall I use the information?

1)    How does the passage speak to me personally?
a.     What does it mean?
b.     What does it move me to do/not do?
c.     Is there discomfort/conviction created by this passage?
2)    Does my church feel, think, or believe the same way I do?
a.     If not, why not?
b.     What is my role at this point in the church?
3)    How can I recreate the discomfort/conviction by this passage for the church members?
a.     Do the literary forms suggest anything?
b.     How can I recreate the movement of the passage?
4)    What shall we do as a result of the text?
a.     Is it a matter of belief, values, or action?
b.     Is immediate response called for, or longer-term transformation?

Now What?

1)    Begin to prepare the message itself.
2)    It is important to take the first century concepts and culture and make it relevant today?
3)    Develop images, stories, or illustrations that you want to share
4)    Make the abstract concrete and general specific (Make it understandable)
5)    What is the purpose of this message?

Suggestions:

1)    Do not run to commentaries or other external resources too quickly, live with the passage yourself for a time.
2)    Do not begin writing the message too quickly, let the ideas from your study brew for a while.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

COVID-19


The COVID-19 has swept across the globe causing fear like I have not seen in my lifetime. I understand that much of the fear is a result of constant updates from the government, medical professionals, and the opinions of the news reporters.

As I spoke to the patients at the psychiatric hospitals in chapel this past weekend I shared simply that God is not about the Fear Factor, God is about challenging us to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

We have gotten good at taking care of ourselves physically we are able to self-quarantine if needed, wash our hands a hundred times a day, stay six feet from other people, don’t shake hands, and use gallons of hand sanitizer. However, the reality is that we are not as good with the other two.

When it comes the Emotional part, I always go to Philippians 4:6 in the Christian Standard Version that reads “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything  through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your request be made know to God.”  Worry is an emotion the dictionary defines as a Verb (an action) “give way to anxiety or unease; allows one's mind to dwell on difficulties or troubles” it is time as Christians we stand on the Promise of God. God states clearly, I will supply all your needs. However, remember he doesn’t promise all you’re wants. The first NEED we must believe that he is going to provide is “PEACE of Mind” and live in the knowledge that God is still God and in control even when we are dealing with the COVID-19 virus, that is causing havoc around the world, and yes even in my own city.

The other place that things like the COVID-19 creates fear and doubt is in my spiritual walk. As I shared with the patients Sunday, if I’m not careful I will allow the uncertainty of the world cause me to struggle in my faith.  Hebrew’s 11:1 state in the New King James version  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I must have faith God is handling the situation even when I can’t see him doing it.

I shared three relevant prayers with them, and I believe they are relevant for everyone of us today. I think that God wants us to keep things simple, especially in times like this.

1)    I prayed (encouraged them to pray) for God’s hand of protection around the individual’s life spiritually, emotionally, and physically through times of uncertainty.

2)     I prayed (encouraged them to pray) for God’s hand of protection around the individual’s family and friends that they would also be touched spiritually, emotionally, and physically through this time of uncertainty.

3)    I prayed (encouraged them to pray) for our government (leadership) that they would deal in facts and through God’s grace find solutions that will bring an end to this uncertainty quickly.

It is time for the church universal (worldwide) to slow down, focus on God, pray and seek his healing and solution throughout this time. We have the power to bring peace, healing, and understanding through this time of uncertainty if we just do it Biblically and not in the worlds panic mode.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

The loss, the grief, the pain!


              I was recently asked for excerpt from my book Greif: Helping Christians Coping with the STORM of Loss by the website www.Grieving.com, that provides resources to individuals dealing with the loss of a loved one.  I shared the following with them from my book:

"Grief is a reality that each of us will cope with more than once in our lifetime. The loss of a loved one, a friend, a pet, our home, our job, or maybe divorce. However, understanding how grief affects us will help us cope with the devastation to our emotional and even physical lives. Understanding the stages of grief is essential to developing healthy coping skills for living a successful life."

              With recent events surrounding the death of Kobe Bryant, and other high-profile individuals such as Jim Lehrer who many of us grew up watching on the news, local Cincinnati politician Todd Portune, and actor Stan Kirsch grief has once again moved to the forefront of the America thinking.  However, the reality is that with these famous people having public funerals and major new coverage we will often over look those around us who are suffering from the loss of a family member to cancer or heart attack, loss of mobility due to a surgery, or the devastation of the death of a pet. Understand I’m not saying we do this intentional, we are simply overwhelmed by the coverage on television. and social media.

              As I watch the television, social media such as Facebook and others.  There is a great deal of coverage of the famous quotes, actions, and yes even family engagement of the famous people that have died. However, there is very limited information being provided on how to cope with the loss.
              I would challenge my friends, pastors, and yes even fellow chaplains to use these events to help people understand the resources that are available and develop the tools to face Grief when it arises in their life.

The great writer C. S. Lewis wrote after the death of wife, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” It is imperative that we help those we come in contact that maybe struggling the loss of these famous individuals, or more importantly those that are struggling with their own personal loss to understand we care and are here to help.

There are several things we can do to help individual to cope with loss when it comes, weather it a national hero, or personal loss:
·       Acknowledge the loss.
·       Help individuals to understand the stages they will go through and provide tools as they go through each of them.
·       Listen to them, and allow them to share feeling and thoughts
·       Encourage them to focus on the future even when they don’t see one.

If you would like more information on coping with grief, please check out my book @  https://www.revdonallenjr.com/p/books.html

Friday, January 3, 2020

Reflecting on the Past and Future …

2019 was an amazing year!

                As I reflect on the past year it has been amazing to see how God has blessed our family.  We have seen God move in every aspect of our lives physically, financially, careers, and yes even most importantly spiritually.  It is true we have also seen heart arche, physical pain, and disappointments. However, the reality is that throughout 2019 we have seen God be faithful.

                We was blessed in the expansion of Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry International outreach, as well as the publishing of my second book.

2020 is going to be even more amazing!

                As we move into this New Year it is amazing to already see God moving from dinner last night with our children to celebrate their mother’s birthday to hearing their stories of what their schedules look like.  It is easy to see God’s hand moving in each of their lives. It is just as easy to see God preparing my wife and I for some amazing opportunities throughout the coming year.

                We see some financial blessings coming our way and believing God for even greater physical healing throughout the year. We also see ministry opportunities, from preaching for friends throughout the Greater Cincinnati area, to attending and participating in local and national conferences.

                Then there is the West Africa trip and honestly, I can’t wait to see what God has planned for this amazing adventure.  He has already supplied over half the funds for the trip. I will be traveling with my dear friend Dr. Charles Travis, preaching, teaching pastors, and doing radio interviews are on the agenda for the last part of March or early April.  There is also a possibility that I may be given the opportunity to teach at a local university on “God’s place in helping with Addiction” 

                If you would like to help with this amazing opportunity the need is Two-fold, (1) We need your prayers that all required plans come together as we move forward, (2) help in covering the cost to go and minister. The total budget for this very extensive trip is only $4500.00, all inclusive. We are asking you to pray about what God would have you to do in helping make this trip possible.

Friends, we have made arrangements with Grace Church of the Valley so that your donation can be tax deductible. If you go to  https://gcotv.com/give/ and go to Mission, then make a note in the memo line for Don Allen’s trip, and the funds will be applied to the account. Or you can mail a check or money order to GCOTV @ 1709 Nowlin Ave. Lawrenceburg, IN 47025 with the same designation.

 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Grief and the Holiday’s!

       
It is amazing to me how grief and the holidays seem to go hand in hand. I’m sitting here reflecting on all the things I need to finish up over the next week before I spend time with family for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Thinking about presents that I haven’t bought, those cookies I need to help my wife bake, the few more cards I need to mail and the people I need to reach out to share a Christmas greeting with. 

          However, the reality even in all this holiday excitement, there are feelings of grief throughout this holiday season for those individuals that are not around.  It has been 10 years since my parents passed away, and I still find myself thinking about needing to call and see what they want for Christmas, wishing I was making plans to drive to Flint, Michigan to just sit and visit with over Christmas Dinner, and driving around town looking at the lights.

          Someone asked me the other day. How do you deal with the grief over the holidays? 

          I simply said “Memories” …

It doesn’t matter if I’m reflecting on the grief of the loss of my own parents 10 years ago, or the loss of my mother-in-law just over a year and half ago, that answer is the same … I will always focus on the memories, the things that always made the holiday special with that individual. With my mother-in-law it was always the love she put into Christmas Dinner for the family and friends, with my mom it was simply watching the Red birds out the window on Christmas morning in Flint and then looking around the house at the all the Red birds she had on the tree and shelves for the holiday.  The memories are about remembering the amazing life and reflecting on the awesome heritage they gave us to live out life until we see them again.

 
 
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Announcement!




We are so excited to announce the release of my new book
Grief: Helping Christians Coping with the STORM of Loss Paperback



“Grief: Helping Christians Coping with the STORM of Loss”

Throughout this short book I provide professional insight from over 40 years of pastoral experience, combined with personal stories of struggles of coping with Grief.

Please download your Kindle e-book copy today @ Kindle Edition ....
You can order your Paperback copy today @  Paperback edition
You can check out our other books and workbooks @















































































Thursday, October 24, 2019

My top 5 books …


I thank God every day for my Amazon Kindle account, Google Books, and other apps that allow me to carry hundreds of books with me everywhere I go. Then of course there is the dozen of paperback and hardback books sitting on my desk in my office, on the bookcase at home, and stand beside my chair in the living room.

Yes, the reality is I love to read, I think it can be traced back to my Grandma Argue, when we lived with her while my dad was overseas with the Air Force, she would have me sit and read for a half-hour to her before anything else got started. Of course, she set the example by reading one to two books a day.

Today, I average around a book a week in addition to reading portions of other books as I study various topics, in addition there are the dozen of articles I read to help prepare sermons, teaching outlines, etc.

However, there are 5 books that have been my favorite over the years, and in my opinion a must read for everybody.
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The Jesus Letters: Seven Secrets That Can Change You and Your Church by David Ravenhill
The Preacher and His Models by James Stalker by James Stalker
Breaking the Spirit of Poverty by Mark W. Pfeifer
Failing Forward, Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by John Maxwell

Ok there is one more and it will surprise most people it is not an individual book, but a collection. Honestly, I’m even shocked myself that I’m adding it to this list. Since High school nearly 40 years ago I have read maybe one or two fiction stories. However, recently I downloaded to my Kindle (what I thought at the time was a biography) a book entitled One Night in Tehran: A Titus Ray Thriller by Luana Ehrlich, the author has gone on to write a half dozen books in this series about a CIA operative that finds Christ, and his life is turned upside down, I can’t wait for the next story to be released.

Ladies and Gentlemen everybody has their favorite authors, and books. This list is simply mine. However, for me, it’s not that you read my favorites it’s simply that you READ and LEARN

What do I need to know to help preach the scripture?

When I was a young minister, my pastor Dr. James Lougheed at the Flint Baptist Temple (Burton, Michigan) would remind me all the time that...