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.


Amazing opportunity …

             This past Monday (October 12, 2020) I was given the privilege to share with an amazing group of pastors (from Uganda, Kenya, an...