I watched an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” today and it reminded me of an important principle for preachers, Bible teachers and personal workers alike.
The episode was titled, “The Sermon for Today” and it centered around a visiting preacher from New York. This visiting preacher preached a sermon called, “Watch Your Hurry” and the topic was exactly what you might think it would be … it was about the “modern day” obsession with being busy and the need for people to stop hurrying and remembering to relax. The lesson was so “soothing” a couple of the listeners comically fell asleep.
So what principle did this episode remind me about? It was about the importance of remembering your audience. The listeners definitely understood the lesson because they referenced it several times throughout the episode (even if they didn’t properly apply it), but if you were to ask me I think the preacher forgot his audience. His audience wasn’t the hurrying people of New York; his audience was the people of the sleepy little town of Mayberry, North Carolina.
The apostle Paul urged the young preacher Timothy, “Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season” (II Timothy 4:2, ASV). In everyday, down-to-earth language, this has been understood to mean “preach the word when they like it, preach the word when they do not like it.” The King James Version says, “Be instant in season, out of season.” The New King James Version says, “Be ready in season out of season.” The point is that the word of God is to be faithfully preached at all times. Paul goes on to explain why. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (teaching), but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers (those who will teach what the hearers want to hear rather than what they need to hear, hf); and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (vv. 3-5). Preachers today would do well to heed this solemn exhortation.
But in this week’s installment of “Hugh’s News & Views” I want to take a little different “twist” on the phrase “in season, out of season” and under the heading of “Seasonal Preaching” talk about the various “seasons”/holidays we pass through each year and how they afford some great opportunities for effective preaching on various Bible subjects. I am by no means suggesting that seasons and holidays should control what a preacher preaches and when he preaches it; I am only suggesting that from time to time it might be wise to take advantage of the particular “season” of the year to do some faithful preaching on a particular biblical theme. Continue reading
We have been attending gospel meetings in the surrounding area recently. One night the visiting speaker was preaching and was very enjoyable. He was a robust kind of guy. You know the kind. The one with the big stomach and the sports coat that won’t quite button? I wouldn’t have noticed that if he had stayed behind the pulpit, but he stood off to the side and preached.
Well, getting on with my story, he started naming the things that “really worried” him. It worried him that women let scissors touch their hair. It worried him about churches using multiple cups in taking the Lord’s supper. He said it really worried him and related how it all came about by naming the person in Chattanooga, TN who he said started the movement for multiple cups. He said it really worried him and kept emphasizing how it worried him.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was directing his thoughts probably more than I wanted toward me or us. Well, there was one other lady in the crowd with short hair and she happened to be seated on the front row beside an elderly couple. I thought they might be her parents. Hmmm, I wondered how she was taking what he was saying.
I wanted so badly to ask the preacher a question after the service but decided I should ask Doug, my husband if he thought it would be all right before I asked the question. After the invitation song and prayer, we turned and I whispered to Doug what I wanted to ask the preacher and asked if he thought it was okay for me to do so. He bent over to hear me above the crowd and I whispered, “I want to ask him if he also worries about gluttony.”
Doug stood up quickly and erectly and said, “I don’t think you better do that, Glenda.”
So I didn’t. I shook the preacher’s hand, greeted him warmly and exited the building, I couldn’t help but think that we better be careful about sweeping around our own door before we start sweeping around someone else. That’s just my way of thinking.
Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.
Here are the topics you will find:
- In Spirit and Truth (Rick Brumback)
- Worship (Cody Westbrook)
- I Will Sing the Wondrous Story (Andy Baker)
- Approaching the Throne of Grace (Bruce Ligon)
- Preaching As Worship (Mike Vestal)
- New Testament Giving (Jon McCormack)
- Worship – The Lord’s Supper (Kerry Clark)
Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.
You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions.
Copyright © 2018 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.
NOTATIONS, OBSERVATIONS, AND QUOTATIONS
Preachers should be kind, gracious, and loving in their presentation of the gospel. They need to be thoughtful and respectful of their audiences. There is never a time to be rude or discourteous in the pulpit (or in everyday life, for that matter). The apostle Paul said to the young preacher Timothy, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will give them repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26, NKJV).
At the same time, the faithful preacher cannot and must not compromise the truth of God’s word. Paul also told Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2, KJV). Preachers must not hold back the truth of God for fear of making some of their hearers angry. Paul asked, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth” (Galatians 4:16)? Unfortunately, that sometimes happens. Continue reading
In the ever-growing field of personal opinion, people have certain expectations … whether reasonable or unreasonable. And this can even apply to what an individual thinks a preacher should like.
An individual once explained to me that preachers shouldn’t have facial hair.
Of course there are many people who believe they know exactly how a preacher should dress.
With the height of some pulpits you would almost think some congregations have a height requirement for preachers.
When I first started preaching I was told I was too young “to be the preacher” (this individual wasn’t being mean-spirited though). I look a little different now so I do not hear that one anymore.
Appearances rightly disappoint at times, but sometimes appearances should have nothing to do with our approval or disapproval. The judgment of a preacher should be relegated (as long as immodesty or impropriety is not concerned) to their faithfulness of God’s word and their desire to help people understand it.
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2 NKJV)
““For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”” (2 Corinthians 10:10 NKJV)
A DISTINCTIVE PULPIT: EXCERPTS FROM THE SPIRITUAL SWORD OF JANUARY 2018
The theme of the January 2018 issue of The Spiritual Sword is “Being Distinctive In The Pulpit.” In the forty-eight year history of this great journal I doubt if a more relevant or needed theme has been addressed, particularly in the light of current developments in the Lord’s church. Following are some incisive excerpts from each article in this timely issue. You are urged to reflect seriously on them. Continue reading
Some people envy the preacher because they think he gets the last word. After all, he gets to preach the sermon, right?
If you feel that way – it’s in your best interest to stop! I’ll tell you why:
- The preacher does not get the last word because the last word has already been given (John 12:48). It doesn’t matter how the speaker or the listener feels about a particular topic.
- In addition to all other aspects of life, preachers (including all Bible teachers in general) will answer for how they handled the word of God in relation to others (James 3:1).
- Preachers are human, and adhering to the words of people brings a spiritual danger much more apparent than the majority of the religious world is willing to recognize (1 Corinthians 1:10-15, 3:4-9, 4:5-6).
- It may increase the ego of the preacher, which is a potential stumbling-block that could lead to the desire of being served instead of serving. The church has one Rabbi, Father and Guide in matters religious (Matthew 23:1-12).
- We will not come forth from the grave to appear before the judgment seat of the preacher (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). And that’s a good thing!
There’s a difference between preaching and getting the last word. One shares the word while the other owns it.
“Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?”” (Acts 19:13-15 NKJV)
Whether Jesus preached that great Sermon on the mount, or in Capernaum’s synagogue, “the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29; Mark 1:22 NKJV). There is a difference between preaching what one knows about the Scriptures, and preaching as an author of the Scriptures. Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10 NKJV). No church or preacher today has been given that same boldness to change or privately interpret the Word of God. “But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?” (John 7:26 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
#interpretation, #preaching, #scripture
In last week’s Adult Gospel Advocate Foundations study, the topic of “The Commission to Preach” was discussed.
It’s a good lesson. It particularly does a fine job at distinguishing between preaching and teaching.
I’ve told people I enjoy teaching more than preaching only to have them look at me as if I have a third eye. To most people there is no distinction. I assure you there is.
Many of the questions at the end of this particular lesson were simplistic. I don’t believe it’s to the fault of the editors – it just comes with the territory of the topic. But one question generated a lot more thought in my mind than it did in the class. “What components must be present in a biblical sermon?”
I think it’s hard to be “technical” about answering such a question. Doesn’t mean I haven’t had people share their thoughts with me on how I should preach, what I should talk about or what I shouldn’t say! What I mean is there are many component examples from the scriptures, but very few examples are constantly repeated.
For example: Continue reading
We were having a light supper with one of the elders and his wife in their magnificent home one Sunday night after church. Another elder and his wife had been invited to join us. We were seated at the table, enjoying delicious food and delightful conversation. Suddenly, the wife of the other elder said to me, “Hugh, I think your preaching is a little bit old style. I think you need to update your preaching.” To say the least, I was taken aback. Continue reading
Often when we speak of spiritual threats, we’re mocked or ignored as alarmists. Yet, when someone of great importance and special insight speaks, we should certainly listen and heed their warnings. Continue reading
As time and technology progress, we need to abandon our naivete and realize the threats before us. Complaining about the rise of persecutions is normal, but not very productive.
In these times, courage is required to confront Satan and his forces. Yet, it’s worthless unless it’s combined with faith (Hebrews 11:6), perseverance (Romans 5:3) and the spiritual armament constructed by God (Ephesians 6:10-17). In addition, we must be wise, cautious and perceptive. Continue reading
Ron T. has an excellent article that deserves a close reading, “Dismissing the preacher for a change in direction.”
What Ron describes is a symptom of a larger problem, it would seem, of treating preachers (and preachers considering themselves) as employees.
You hear and read it all the time, that a man is a “preacher for” such-and-such congregation. Language betrays. Profound restoration is needed on this point.
In the 2017 FHU Lectureship book, a contributor wrote about “lay” preachers. Editors let that go.
What is the opposite of laymen? Clergy.
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NKJV). 1) We should attempt nothing without prayer to the Lord. “You’re in my prayers,” may not be the same as, “Now I pray to God that you do no evil” (2 Corinthians 13:7 NKJV). Specific prayer should be pointed to God. 2) Our desire is for “the word of the Lord” to be freely spoken and taught. Paul requested prayer “that God would open to us a door for the word” (Colossians 4:2-3 NKJV). 3) Deliverance “from unreasonable and wicked men” may come in the form of a government election resulting in oppressive restrictions being lifted. Thank God for answered prayer!
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.