Posted in Preparing to Preach

Exegesis? Eisegesis? The Real Jesus?

I’ll never forget one of the first days at seminary. I heard a couple of words that had never entered my ears before. “Exegesis” (pronounced “X-a-Jesus”) and “Eisegesis” (pronounced “Ice-a-Jesus”). I immediately thought I had enrolled in the wrong seminary because they were talking about a false Jesus. I just knew of One and was told all my life there was only One! “Oh no!” I thought. “I was warned that something like this might happen! I moved my wife to a place that believes there are multiple Jesus’!!!” Thankfully, before I packed up everything and stormed out of that...

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Just Get on Base

Without doubt, one of the most freeing pieces of advice on preaching I have ever received was to simply “get on base.” Jim Shaddix, one of my preaching professors at NOBTS, wisely told us preacher boys that when you try to hit a home run every Sunday, you will usually strike out. But when you just try to get on base, you will eventually score some runs. That, preacher friend, will free you up. Jim Shaddix is right. The harder you swing for the seats, the more you will swing and miss. But focusing on getting your people to first...

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Great Sermon Series Idea

At the end chapter 12 of Jesus is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and the 3 He Answered, Martin Copenhaver summarizes his book with 3 foundational questions. As a matter of fact, I believe how he words it, the questions could serve as a tremendous 3-part sermon series. See if you don’t agree. Consider: There are three questions that Jesus repeats in the Gospels. Those three questions, read together, capture so much about what it means to encounter Jesus:  Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” He asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” And...

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Contrast For Clarity

A preacher’s job is to help people understand. Understand the meaning of a biblical text and understand how it applies to them. Oftentimes, especially if you are preaching to “churched” people, biblical truths being proclaimed are nothing new to the listener’s ears. They’ve heard it a million times before. Familiarity with a truth, however, does not mean the truth is being applied and practiced. When your people know the truth but are far from applying the truth, contrast. Contrast what the Bible means to what the people are actually doing. Help them see, in other words, that though they “know”...

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Searching for Illustrations: Pay Attention!

Every preacher experiences two extremes. The incredible high of delivering a perfect illustration that makes the point of the passage pop. And the depressing low of having an illustration you were excited about fall flatter than pancake. Sermon illustrations are tricky. They can help the sermon shine and they can cause the sermon to suffer. On top of that, the search for illustrations can add hours to a preacher’s already busy week. The purpose of illustrations is to help the congregation get the point and pay attention to the passage. To help the people pay attention, I remind myself to...

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7 Hacks for Preaching Narrative Texts

Everyone loves a good story, and every story in the Bible is good. I mean, like, better-than-Hollywood good. Not only do stories, by their very nature, keep the listener’s engaged, but they also allow for our God-given imaginations to run wild. Preaching narrative texts are by far my favorite passages to preach. Since over 70% of the Bible is written in narrative form, that’s a good thing. Enjoying a good story and preaching one in front of a congregation, however, are very different. It’s a great feeling when you are ready to preach a narrative text. It can be a sinking...

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When You’re the Guest Preacher

From time to time, you will be asked to fill the pulpit at another church. Or, you will be asked to speak at an event outside the normal Sunday morning setting—revivals, chapel services, school assemblies, Sunday night fill-ins, etc. These are some of my favorite times to preach. Because these events are usually “outside the norm” of Sunday morning, there is a unique energy in the room. Also, I have learned that people tend to listen better if there is a voice they aren’t used to hearing (which, by the way, is a good lesson for all preachers to remember....

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Preacher, Cut Yourself Some Slack!

It is amazing to me who approaches Jesus about fasting in Matthew 9. It’s not a Pharisee. Not a scribe. Not a random person off the street. But some of John’s disciples. John as in “John the Baptist.” Yeah, that John the Baptist. The same John who was Jesus’ cousin. The same John who leaped in his mom’s womb when he heard Jesus’ mom talk. The same John who preached Jesus’ coming and declared His arrival. The same John who baptized Jesus. The same John who saw the Spirit descend on Jesus. The same John who heard God speak from...

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The Sermon in a Sentence?

Should the preacher be able to say his entire sermon in one sentence?  Opinions vary.  On the one hand, I’ve heard proponents argue, “If you can’t say it in a sentence, you can’t say it in a sermon.”  On the other, however, I’ve heard opponents suggest, “If you can say it in a sentence, why do you need to preach an entire sermon?”

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6 Tips to Internalize the Sermon

One of my biggest fears in preaching is standing before the people on a Sunday morning and not knowing what I am going to say. I have been preaching on a weekly basis for 16 years. I am guesstimating that I have preached anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 sermons. I still get horrified that I am going to forget my next point, go blank on a line I want to communicate, or freeze on the sermon entirely. It hasn’t happened yet.…but I fear it could at any time on any Sunday morning. I also am adamant about eye contact. I...

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