Dealing With Distractions

I will never forget it. It was in the tiny, old sanctuary of the first church I pastored in Amite, Louisiana. A young boy was acting up in the middle of the sermon. I was preaching away, doing my best to press through, and leaving it to mom and dad to handle the young lad’s obvious misbehavior. Dad handled it alright. In the middle of the sermon, the dad stood, grabbed his son by the arm, and yanked the now terrified boy out of his pew. The two went down the aisle and out the back of the sanctuary. But neither...

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Sermon Illustration: The Magic Coat

This is one of my all-time favorite illustrations. It is a tremendous visual to use to explain how the Spirit of God works inside the believer. I originally heard Al Jackson use it in a sermon on Ephesians 5. I have “borrowed” it numerous times. The good news is that it is a great illustration. The bad news is that – if you are a pastor – you can only use it once for your congregation! If you don’t normally wear a sport coat when you preach, you might want to wear one the day you use this or bring...

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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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Sermon Illustration: It Happens So Fast

It’s happens so fast. It happens when aren’t expecting it. It happens and you don’t even mean for it to. Last Sunday morning, not only was the AC not working in the sanctuary, but we couldn’t figure out how to turn off the heat. It was really, really hot. The first service was held in the sanctuary, complete with bulletins serving multi-purposefully as fans and information. The second service was held in the fellowship hall where the AC was graciously and wonderfully working. In both services, due to the projectors being too warm to function, we were “forced” to use...

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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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Sermon Illustration: Power in the Gospel

Recently, in light of Independence Day, I opened the sermon with an illustration using fireworks. The text I preached from was Romans 1:14-17. You can listen to it here. My aim was to cause my listeners to think whether or not they truly believed there was power in the Gospel of Jesus. I wanted the congregation to contemplate whether or not they believed there was more power in a $5 fire cracker to change things in Franklin than there is in the Gospel of Christ. Using two different volunteers in each of the two services, I gave each volunteer on...

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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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Sermon Illustration: Jesus is the Question

I found this illustration in chapter 4 of Martin B. Copenhaver’s  Jesus is the Question. Imagine you are at a circus. A skilled high-wire artist has accomplished so many marvelous feats that the audience has come to believe that he can do almost anything. The ringmaster addresses the crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, how many of you believe that this daring man can ride safely over the high wire on his bicycle while carrying someone on his shoulders? If you believe he can do it, please raise your hand!” If you were in the audience you might raise your hand along...

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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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Sermon Illustration: “It’s What You Do”

My approach to opening illustrations is to provide a smooth runway. I want there to be an easy and smooth and gripping take off, so a good opening is critical. If the take off is bad, the rest of the message can include a lot of turbulence. The preacher wants something to grab the attention of the congregation, leading them to want more. Recently, in order to help the congregation see the gravity of Luke’s nonchalant statement about all of Asia Minor hearing the message of the Lord (from Acts 19), I started the message with the following reference to...

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