Posts Tagged ‘Sermons’

Where are the Prophets — The Real Ones?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 by Antipas Harris

Today is a very sad day in South Georgia. After a long fight to prove his innocence, Troy Davis faces the death penalty tonight. From my view of the television, largely Caucasian American Law Enforcement Officers are on post to maintain order outside the chambers with tons of people, appearing to be mostly  African Americans, standing in protest, awaiting the Supreme Court’s final decision whether to execute him or acquit him.

Then, word comes back — “The Supreme Court Denies Davis Appeal.” Gosh! The scene on the television screen is way too reminiscent of the scenes from the 1960′s Civil Rights Movement. Some scenes and situations need not be repeated — this is one of them!

Davis is accused of murdering a police officer is 1989. The evidence has been weak to prove that he is guilty. Yet, he has found it difficult to prove his innocence. It is not surprising that Davis is African American. Researchers like University of Iowa law professor, the late David C. Baldus  has proven that racism permeates the death penalty and has done so since it was re-instated in America.

I have no desire to protect the guilty at the expense of the violated. Yet, the death penalty is problematic on so many levels. I cannot address all of them here.  However, I will say that research proves that the practice of the death penalty represents strands in American fabric that are racist at the core. There are similar racist strands that seem to weave through the educational system, job markets, Plan Parenthood’s abortion clinics, and more. Read the rest of this entry »

Say, What?

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 by James Flynn

Does the picture at the right remind you of some of Sunday mornings during sermon time? One of the primary tasks every preacher needs to master is helping people listen.  Most people are not natural-born listeners.  People that are good listeners are actually the exception—you notice them right away.  We all hear, but rare is the person who actually has “ears to hear,” as the Scriptures call the person who listens with their full attention and understanding.  Remember—only 25% of the people in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) actually heard the word, and it was preached by Jesus Himself!  If that was true for Jesus, what are the chances of someone actually hearing me?  What can I do to help people listen? Read the rest of this entry »

Man Dies During Sunday Sermon

Sunday, May 9th, 2010 by Stephen Hightower

I was almost born in church…literally. My mother went into labor during the Sunday night service (yes, when I was born most churches still had those). This had the makings of a really cool story of how God called me to pastoral ministry, but my parents managed to make it to the hospital (after the service). As a pastor’s kid, I was in church pretty much whenever the doors were open. When I became a pastor, the same held true. For all my time in church, though, I didn’t imagine dying in church…until a few weeks ago.
About ten minutes into the pastor’s message, I began to shake – and it definitely was not a Pentecostal experience! My skin went cold, but I was sweating. My heart was racing and I began to hyperventilate. I have to interject here that I like to consider myself an intellectual, so I was trying to think through things carefully before reacting. In this case, I forced myself not to make a scene (thankfully I was sitting in the back row), and to think about what was happening. I came to the conclusion I was having a panic attack, and that some deep-breathing and desperate clutching of the pew would soon relieve my symptoms. Sure enough, within a few minutes, I was breathing normally and my mind was rehearsing the event, trying to figure out what triggered it. Here’s what I came up with… Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon Juice

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010 by James Flynn

By looking at my bio picture, you can tell right away that the bicep to the left doesn’t belong to me!  It probably belongs to one of the muscle heads I see at the gym each week.  I seem to work out just as hard as them, but don’t get the results they get.  Why?  Half of them are “juiced.”  They are a part of the crowd who are sacrificing their body on the altar of vanity by getting some help from anabolic steroids, known to cause havoc with otherwise healthy bodies.  I’ll take the smaller biceps, thank you.

What about sermons?  My passion is practical theology – the application of sound theology to everyday life and ministry to produce effective ministry with a solid foundation.  Our theology determines not only what is in our sermons, but how our sermons are presented.  Sometimes the presentation has a lot more to do with how the sermon is received than the actual content itself.  That statement may violate a few sacred cows among Renewal folks (those with a Charismatic, Pentecostal, Third Wave, or Holiness background), but I am fine with that.  I’ve been doing this for thirty years and have seen what works and what doesn’t.  We have been taught that “the anointing” is what matters – is the Holy Spirit blessing our sermon or not?  We have also been taught that the Word of God alone will make the difference.  That theology sounds great, but what about the people in the pews who are falling asleep and looking at their watches with their minds on March Madness?  Could there be something more to this thing we call preaching, that goes beyond the anointing and the power inherent in God’s Word itself?  I think so.  What might that be – what can I couple with an anointed message and the power of God’s word to capture the minds that wonder to wake the sleeping giant in my pews?  The answer – sermon juice!

Creativity and imagination are sermon juice.  When coupled with God’s anointing and the power of the Word of God, creativity and imagination capture and maintain attention while stirring the heart of our listeners.  Jesus was famous for drawing large crowds with His sermons.  He was anointed.  He used God’s Word.  The difference between Him and many preachers today is that He also was tremendously creative.  He was constantly using nature and His surroundings – “God’s Theater” as John Calvin called it, to paint living pictures with His words.  He captured life and its daily experiences to drive home deeply theological points in a simple way that even children could understand.  As John Maxwell says, He kept the “cookie jar on the lower shelf” so everyone could reach them and understand how what He was saying directly applied to their lives at that moment in time.  As Mark Batterson says, “irrelevance is irreverence.”  If they can’t understand it, they can’t apply it.  If they can’t relate to it, they can’t internalize it.  The preacher’s job is to use creativity to cloth his or her words with “flesh,” partnering with God to preach a sermon.  We are often uncomfortable with that – many pray at the beginning of their message, “Lord, let this be all of you and none of me.”  Sorry, God won’t answer that one.  His part is the anointing and the power of the Word.  Our part is to add flesh to the words we preach with fresh creativity and imagination – often the difference between success and failure.  Pray for His blessing and anointing.  Trust in the power of His authoritative word.  But preacher, for greater effectiveness in preaching, tap into your God-given creativity and imagination – get juiced!