What I've been thinking and what I've been reading for you to compare notes.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Today I wished the mother of our children a Happy Mother's Day with a card and flowers. Of course I will also take her out to a nice restaurant after church today. It is also our 29th Anniversary today - so I bought another card. Took her out Friday night for that one.

My mother is in heaven and I hope she realizes how much her love and devotion shaped my life. She has been gone 25 years this month - half of my life. I can't number the times I've wished I could pick up the phone and call her or have her with us sharing the important events of life. She wasn't with us when our three children graduated from high school or college or for their weddings. (I found places to go off alone and cry over her and dad not being there.) She won't be there for the birth of her first great-grandchild. I'm glad I had her for 25 years. I'm glad I will see her again in heaven.

The premature death of my parents has caused me to view life from an eternal perspective more often than from a temporal one. But it has also left an empty spot at times in my heart.

Why not try something new for Mother's Day this year? Show love to someone who doesn't have a mother with them. Perhaps you can find an orphaned child in another country who needs your love and prayers and financial help.

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others." (2 Corinthians 1:4, NLT)

If your mom isn't with you today and you need a friend, call on God. And if you need another weak human to call on - call on me.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Communicate With Power

Here's another book on my recommended reading list. (In my blog I try to give suggestions and quotes from my favorite reads from time to time.) This book is generally for preachers but those who listen to preachers will relate to the quotes I'll be sharing from this book. I return to my notes on this book periodically because it is so "on target."

First, let me give you the publisher's synopsis of the book: "In Communicate with Power, America's top Christian leaders coach readers in preparing and delivering powerful, effective messages. Reading this book is like having a private conversation with Bill Hybels, Max Lucado, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Warren Wiersbe, George Barna, and other stellar communicators as they reveal what they have learned about speaking with excellence. This volume offers what months of conference hopping couldn't do -- it brings powerful communicators into your office or home for a one-on-one chat."

The book was published by Baker in 1998 and Michael Duduit is the editor. Here are some great insights from the book with some of my follow up comments.

Page 11 - "People are looking for a communicator who is much more conversational than traditional syles allow." (I have tried to adapt to this observation the last several years. People want to be talked "with" more than just talked "to".)

Pages 16-17 - "People are interested in...practical solutions...there is a big market for 'practical' theology." ( I read sermons in books and on the Internet every week. My primary objective criticism is that most preachers do not seem to grasp this principle of practicality. They preach thoroughly biblical messages, which is good, but they fail for the most part to tell people how they can USE the truth in God's Word.)

P 17 - "The impression most unchurched get when they come to church: ancient language, ancient rituals, ancient traditions - no attempt to help them understand...outdated models."

P 18 - "Baby Busters (the generation born since 1965) are the first American generation that has had a starting point for their spiritual journey that was not Christianity." (This is a very important observation for any of us interested in reaching Busters with the Good News about Jesus. This is one of several reasons preachers and the church must adapt [change] their methods to reach Busters - or "Generation X" as they are sometimes called.)

P 27 - "If you can't illustrate it - it's not true!"

P 31 - Something is said on this page about the big mistake of using the pulpit as a place to "pontificate." (To express opinions or judgments in a dogmatic way. )

P 73 - "We don't go to church because they're giving answers to questions we're not asking." (One thing that puts the "un" in "unchurched.")

P 87 - "Application does not come in the study - it comes from living with people."

P 91 - "Preaching is not being given as much prominence as worship today...centrality of preaching in worship is what God will honor."

P 94 - Something is said here about the "greatest weakness" of preaching is to "preconceive" and "hijack" a Scriptural text to get it to say what you want to say instead of what it actually says. (See also P 188)

P 111 - Growing up for Baby Boomers it was "which church?" Now the question is "why church?"

P 112 - "People love a story...Jesus told stories and He didn't explain them - let the Holy Spirit do that."

P 126 - "The grass is greener in the same place...only later."

P 146 - "50,000 new novels are published every year. Read more novels to see what good writers do." (Excellent advice that I began following after reading this. The creativity in crafting a good work of fiction is essential in telling a good story in a sermon.)

P 147 - "The reason an airplane flies is that its velocity exceeds its weight load. The content of the sermon is the weight load; passion is the velocity."

P 155 - "Prayer allows me to relinquish my hold on preaching and cast myself on the mercy of God - that's when God can use me."

P 188 - "The text means what the author meant - not what the reader interprets it to mean to him." (See also page 94)

P 192 - "Preachers belong in a 'study', not in an 'office.'"

P. 198 - "If the Spirit of God doesn't ignite it, it's liquid that won't burn, but when He ignites it, it becomes fuel."

P 223 - "The most important part of a preacher's life is the part that only God sees."

P 226 - "Most people don't know words like 'redemption', 'atonement', 'sanctification' - Jesus didn't use these words either."