Babylon Bee – 7 Keys To Being A Feminist Husband
Carl Trueman – Polemic by Beauty
Together for the Gospel – A Conversation on Providence
Denny Burk – SBC Presidential Candidates Discuss the Issues
Crossway – What Your Marriage Desperately Needs
Trevin Wax – “Range” and the Generalist vs. Specialist Debate
Kentucky Today – COVID’s US toll projected to drop sharply by the end of July
Kentucky Today – Facebook board upholds Trump suspension
I’ve really enjoyed this series of podcasts exploring The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring from the Babylon Bee. It is incredible how well the Bee does both comedy and serious engagement.
Andrew Walker – What We Lose in the Decline of Cultural Christianity
John Stonestreet – The Supreme Court Doesn’t Get the Last Word
Church Answers – How the COVID Shutdown Changed our Church
Crossway – His Ways Are Not Your Ways
Cripplegate – What to do with evil news
Trevin Wax – 10 of My Favorite Quotes on Writing
Canon Fodder – How Far Back Can We Trace the Fourfold Gospel?
John Stonstreet – Evangelicals & Casual Sex
Stand to Reason – The Claim about Homosexuality in the Film 1946 Is Irrelevant
Evangelical History – How to Counter Anti-Evangelical Hostility
Chuck Lawless – 12 Signs You’re a Positive-Attitude Church Member
Tim Challies – We Always Glean Among the Sheaves
Scientific American – Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide during the COVID Pandemic
The Alabama Baptist – Surveillance in China poses threat to religious groups
Babylon Bee – Vaccinated Man Licks First Doorknob In Over A Year
Babylon Bee – Dems Propose Fighting Obesity By Switching To Communism
Believest thou? Then thous wilt speak boldly. Speakest thou boldly? Then thou must suffer. Sufferest thou? Then thous shalt be comforetd. For faith, the confession thereof, and the cross do follow one another.
For the Church – 4 Reasons Preachers Plagiarize
Randy Alcorn – We Must Learn the Skills to Resist Sexual Temptation
Chuck Lawless – 7 Reasons I Work Out at a Public Fitness Center Almost Every Day
Esther O’Reilly – What Will Become of Atheism?
Crossway – 3 Reality Checks for Your Marriage
Politico – ‘I’d Never Been Involved in Anything as Secret as This’: The plan to kill Osama bin Laden—from the spycraft to the assault to its bizarre political backdrop—as told by the people in the room.
After a dozen years of preaching over a hundred sermons a year, I’ve learned a thing or two about the art of homiletics. There is nothing I enjoy more as a pastor than to open the word of God to the people I’ve grown to love and to share with them some of what I discovered over the past week. To boil all of that down in 30-40 minutes remains a challenge, but a blessed one. I have witnessed the ongoing affects of the gospel as revealed in God’s Word. As I look back at my own experience and reflect on areas I continue to focus on, here are a few simple tips to improve preaching.
Keep Growing as a Preacher
The first thing to know is in preaching is there is always plenty of room to grow. Like discipleship, let it be said that though you have yet to arrive as the greatest preacher in Christian history, let it be said that you continue to grow as a preacher with each passing year.
This requires learning from the tips below and adding your own list. Ask others for insight and advice on how you might improve. Ask fellow preachers. Hold each other accountable. Listen to a variety of other preachers and explore what is effective for them.
Monotone preaching is the quickest way to put one’s parishners to sleep. When we think of monotone voices, we imagine Ben Stine’s character in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Although such preachers continue to bore their congregation, most preachers have a habit of a less severe monotone. Often, this is the first thing I notice about preachers. Whether their voice carries or is soft, it rarely changes.
Learn to include two types of variation into your presentation. The first is the speed of your voice. There is a time to speak fast and to speak slow. Both are a way of emphasizing something. Choose wisely when to use either. The main point is to use variation in speeds throughout the sermon.
Similarly, use variation with inflection. At times, it is necessary to raise your voice and other times it is best to lower the voice. Both are powerful. Yet when one only uses one or the other, it loses its power.
Find a quality preacher that does well with this and learn from them.
Watch/Listen to Yourself
The worst part of preaching class in seminary was the requirement to watch and evaluate myself. Our voices are hardly recognizable to ourselves and our mannerisms are inescapable. That is precisely the point. We can be ignore from behind the pulpit what cannot be ignored before it.
As painful as it can be, watch yourself and if video is unavailable, listen to your own sermon. Given modern technology, either should not be difficult.
Work on the First Sentence
Most sermon textbooks suggest focusing on both the opening and closing portion of the sermon. This is good and wise, but I suggest one should work on the first and last sentence of the sermon. An engaging opening sentence draws the audience in immediately. If it takes a 2-5 minute introduction to pull the audience in, you may have already lost them. Work on that opening sentence as well as the closing sentence.
Point to Christ
The most important part of a sermon is its Christological connection. Just as every part of Scripture is about Jesus. More important than illustrations, exegesis, and application is articulating what the text says about Christ. Let it be the result of proper exegesis, but it must be made clear in the sermon. I have found that this connection to Christ is the most anticipated and remembered portion of the sermon.
How dare we speak to Christians without saying much about Christ?
Reformation21 – Robert Jermain Thomas – First Protestant Martyr in Korea
Justin Taylor – Is Being Gay Genetic?
John Stonestreet – Is Christian Cohabitation the New Norm?
Crossway – Tithing in Financially Tight Times
John Piper – Why Did the First Humans Live for So Long?
Terms of Service – 10 Facts from New Pew Data on Social Media Usage
Babylon Bee – Flintstones Vitamins Now Available With Puberty Blockers
Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. Below is the book I’ve read on the hunt for him.
Well-written non-fiction, when done right, is better than fiction. Knowing the words on the page are true grabs the readers attention and the story becomes more than just a story – it becomes, because it is, real life. Peter L. Bergen, in his book Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden–from 9/11 to Abbottabad has a story to tell that is shaping history and which grabbed the world’s attention on May 2, 2011. On that day, Seal Team 6 killed the world’s most wanted (and hated) man, Osama bin Laden. In this book, Bergen tells the story of the ten year hunt for the terrorist and how he found, and how he came to his end.
This is a fast paced, well-written history from a reporter who has followed the trail the entire way. Bergen is among the few journalists to have done an interview with the mass murderer and even was able to go inside the compound that housed bin Laden up to his death and thus his credibility is secured and his research is profound.
I could not put this book down. Since the announcement of bin Laden’s death, many documentaries, specials, articles, and books have been written on Seal Team 6, the raid, bin Laden, etc. Among those that I have read, this certainly ranks up there as one of the best, if not the best, in print.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book to me regards the percentages given to the President as to how certain various insiders and administrators were regarding whether or not bin Laden was actually in the compound. Some gave the President a 40% chance that bin Laden was inside that compound. Others gave him an 80-90% chance that he was there. This makes the President’s decision all the more difficult. Bin Laden simply did not come out of the compound enough for CIA officials to get a confirmation of him. There was a man they called “the Pacer” who would daily walk outside, but officials could not get a good enough look at him. Thus bin Laden’s presence was based on circumstantial evidence. Bergen even goes on far to suggest, quoting officials, that there was more, and better, circumstantial evidence for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq than there was for bin Laden in the Abbottabad compound.
So why take the chance? Some in Obama’s administration told him not to go in. Others said to. The best explanation provided in the book for the raid came from Leon Panetta. Bergen writes:
Leon Penetta, who had been Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and before that a nine-term congressman, knew a thing or two about the realities of politics. He delivered a persuasive political argument in favor of the raid and of doing it as soon as feasible. “I’ve always used the test, Mister President, as somebody that’s been in public office: What would the average American say if he or she knew what we were talking about? And I think if you told the average American – we have the best intelligence we’ve had since Tora Bora, we have the chance to get the number one terrorist in the world who attacked us on 9/11 – I think that they would say ‘we gotta go.'” (202-203)
Bergen then adds, “Hillary Clinton voiced a related point: enough people already knew about the bin Laden intelligence that it would eventually leak” (203).
Both Penetta and Clinton are exactly write. The intelligence wouldn’t get any better and this was our best chance since Tora Bora to get him and if the average American were in that room given the same intelligence, they would order the raid.
This is a great book but it isn’t without some bias. Bergen paints President George W. Bush in much more negative light than President Barack Obama. Early on in the book, Bergen notes Bush receiving intelligence regarding what would become 9/11 and then adds that he then enjoyed his long vacation in a somewhat condescending tone. Later in the book, right before the raid, President Obama is noted to have gone golfing with the less judgmental note that it was only for 9 holes. In addition, President Obama is presented as a sort of non-traditional Democrat war hawk – much like Bush. Bergen highlights the surge of troops yet fails to report that the surge was much less than was recommended to him. Nor does he mention his policies towards Russia and the downgrade of American nuclear bombs. So yes, bias is there, but it does not dominate the book and it is the main criticism I have for the book.
Overall, this is a great book that I highly recommend. This is where you want to begin to know more about bin Laden, the raid, and the story behind it all.
This book was given to me courtesy of Crown Publishers for the purpose of this review.