What A Dolphin Cruise Taught Me About Preaching

My oldest child loves dolphins. Let me rephrase that. My oldest child is amazed, enthralled, and obsessed with dolphins. This summer, while on family vacation, I shelled out just south of $100 so the family could see dolphins up close on a “guaranteed to see ’em” dolphin cruise. The Pearson Five woke up early, got ready, ate breakfast, greased up spots showing skin, and drove the half hour to the designated departure area. Excitement was high. Anticipation was brewing. Thoughts and discussion of seeing dolphins jump and swim and show their fins and blow water out of the holes on...

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Sermon Illustration: What’s Your Approach?

Recently I preached a message on approach to spiritual influence. We looked at Paul’s approach to influencing the Ephesians to become more Christ-like. I began the sermon with the following illustration (ahem. . . joke). Enjoy. . . When you want to influence someone spiritually, what is your approach? Recently I heard about a preacher who held a baptism service for anyone wanting to find Jesus. He and a group from town gathered at the creek behind the church building and baptized anyone looking for Jesus. To everyone’s amazement, the town drunk made his way down to the creek where...

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What Is a Sermon?

In chapter 7 of Eugene Peterson’s As KingFishers Catch Fire, he reveals how the book of Deuteronomy formed his preaching. He said: I was in the early years of being a pastor when I learned this story of the discovery of Deuteronomy and the revolutionary reform led by Josiah and Jeremiah. I suddenly knew why preaching is important. It develops an imagination adequate to embrace revolution. (Bold mine) He then goes on to describes what a sermon is: This sermon (the book of Deuteronomy) does what all sermons are intended to do: takes God’s words, written and spoken in the past;...

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Sermon Illustration: Stay in Your Lane!

When I think of Arby’s I think of two things: One, I think of delicious and juicy roast beef sandwiches, baptized in their amazing sauce. Two, I think of the guy’s voice in their commercials who says, “Arby’s! We Have . . . THE MEATS!” Arby’s is known for, and good at, piling lots of meat on a sandwich. We need Arby’s to be good at this. This is why I was beyond less than enthused when I learned Arby’s was advertising a line of pizzas and pizza sandwiches. The tag line in the commercial was, “Arby’s! We Have. ....

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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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Sermon Illustration: Rest

Recently, the Campus Pastors of Brentwood Baptist preached a message aimed to help spiritual leaders refresh their souls and renew their relationship with the Lord. Jay Strother, the Campus and Teaching Pastor at The Church at Station Hill, passed along a unique and convicting version of the 23rd Psalm. It is a fantastic illustration to use in order to help our people realize just how busy we are and just how needy we are to stop and enjoy God’s presence. Psalm 23 Antithesis (Marcia Hornok) The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest. It makes me lie down only...

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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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Sermon Illustration: The Real Article

When officials are trained to detect counterfeit money, they do not study fake bills. Cops and detectives and store owners are not encouraged, nor taught, nor instructed with examples of fake money. The way, I am told, officials are trained and equipped to detect counterfeit money is to study the real thing. If they know what the real article looks like, feels like, and smells like – they can detect a fake from a mile away. If they have studied a real article, knowing all the marks, all the elements, all the components, all the colors – when a fake...

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Preaching the Funeral of an Unbeliever

If you pastor long enough, you will eventually be asked to preach the funeral for someone who died without Christ. No funeral is easy or fun. Knowing you have to speak to the family and friends on behalf of one who passed into eternity without Jesus can be excruciating. However, it can be a unique and effective time to do real, raw Gospel ministry. When this opportunity presents itself, keep these 3 thoughts in mind: 1. Honor the deceased and comfort the family. This is a primary goal of every funeral you preach, believer or unbeliever. The deceased was made...

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Sermon Illustration: The Wedding Prayer

Every time I have an opportunity to officiate a wedding, I do my best to include a prayer I found many years ago from Al Jackson (full disclosure: this is only one of many things I have “borrowed” from him!). And, every time I pray this prayer over the married couple, I am asked – without fail – where they can get a copy of the prayer. Preacher, the next time you have the chance to lead out in a wedding ceremony, I highly recommend praying this over the couple at some point in the service. Not only will it...

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