Monday, February 27, 2006

I pray one day to have conquered the sin of coveting and to be able to say with the apostle Paul, that I have not coveted anyone else's gifts (see Acts 20:33). Until then, in all honesty I must say how much I admire and do find myself wishing I had written some of the things Marva Dawn has written. If you have not read Marva Dawn, you would do well to pick her up, particularly on the subject of worship. Her book, Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, is an extensive treatment of the theology of worship. And any library on the subject would be an impoverished library without it. However, if you would like to have something short and sassy to get a sense of Marva Dawn's insight the little book How Shall We Worship is worth your best efforts to obtain. Here is a sample:
"What we say in our hymns should be matched by how they sound. To praise God's majesty requires a regal pace; to sing of Christ's passion and death necessitates lament; rejoicing with Latino folk songs will be augmented by rhythm instruments; African-American spirituals ought to be sung in a way that remembers their origin in suffering."

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Sermon Preparation

A couple of people have expressed interest in my sermon development process. It is nothing spectacular or out of the ordinary (I guess). But if it encourages you and gives you some helpful ideas for your preparation, then it may be worth sharing. Well, here is brief synopsis of the process.

Read the Text. I will read the passage several times, making sure to read the text in its context. I will read the text in several translations (both literal and loose). I will read the text in the original language (particularly in NT Greek). Sadly, my OT Hebrew is not up to par. it makes reading in the Hebrew troublesome, slow, and cumbersome for me.

Analyze the Text. I will go over the passage making note of key and recurring words, key phrases, important themes. I will do lexical work on key words and identify helpful important nuances of the grammar not easily seen in the English Bible.

Develop Outline. Here I identify the major them or idea of the passage and develop and outline featuring major and minor points I may want to bring out. Introduction and conclusion are usually developed about this time. The intro and the conclusion are key for me.

Do Cross References. As I develop major points, I will find supportive Scriptures for each point. This also is a good time to make note of illustrations, though illustrations generally come throughout the process.

Read Commentaries. I will begin checking my work with those expositors who have looked intently at the passage before me. I make sure your major points coincide with theirs. If there is a conflict, DO NOT IGNORE IT!. I seek to resolve any conflicts so that I am not the first to make a given point. I also enjoy reading a wide range of commentaries from old to new, from conservative to liberal, from devotional to technical.

Listen to Others. This is a step that is more available in our day than in previous times. The internet affords us a wealth of preaching and sermon resources. I try to listen to a couple of sermons on same passage or subject. This is another way of checking my content and to be encouraged by others as well. I find this not only helpful, but inspirational as well.

Write the Outline (Final Draft). This is the draft with which I will go into the pulpit. I usually preach from an outline, with which I am very familiar. For a Sunday Sermon this outline will usually get done on Friday and Saturday.

Meditation. This is the final step in my sermon preparation. I will spend time, and different times, meditating upon the sermon and praying over the various aspects. This is a time in which I envision myself preaching the sermon and how I would emphasize certain points. It is also where I am able to, in my mind's eye, ask God specifically to empower for aspects of the delivery. Here I am able to become so familiar with the sermon so as to not rely too heavily upon my notes.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Finally Leach is Blogging Again

It took some convincing to get Michael Leach to blog. It took even more convincing to get him to blog more than one time. Apparently he has been convinced and has blogged on what he has learned as a substitute teacher in the Dekalb County School system: Public Edu-what? Leach is too valuable a resource for our movement not to have him engaged regularly in the conversation. Go to his blog today and encourage him to keep up his visibility.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Plea and A Prayer

At the Reformation 21 Blog, the question set before us is "What are the distinctive hallmarks of biblical evangelism." Well, at the risk of oversimplification let me say, "Biblical Evangelism is a plea and a prayer. It is a plea for men and women to repent of their love for this world and to fall in love with Christ. And it is a prayer to God that He might grant that repentance and impart that love."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Don't Waste Your Cancer

The wisdom of God never ceases to amaze me! That He would give John Piper cancer is a demonstration of his grace to us all. For who else but Piper could so eloquently use his cancer to encourage and bless us in any affliction we may face? Who else but Piper could so richly use words to call us to meditate upon our passion for God even in the midst of suffering and pain? Who else but Piper could with keen biblical insight point us to the glory and sufficiency of God even in the night of his physical discontent? Who else but Piper could write, Don't Waste Your Cancer? And yet, who else but God could orchestrate our lives with joy and pain, affliction and strength, sorrow and rejoicing to bring His glory and our good. Thank God for John Piper. Thank God for God!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Strong SILENT Type

Many of you know how much I love golf (as you know Jesus walked in a foursome :-). Here is a story about a golfer that is at least moving, if not inspiring. Check out the video at Kevin Hall: The Strong Silent Type

A Marred Tribute

A week ago the landmark funeral for Coretta Scott King was held in Atlanta at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The event was attended by thousands of mourners and a who's who list of dignitaries and celebrities from around the world, including two former Presidents and President Bush. Yet, the climax of the event was the eulogy given by Mrs. King's daughter, Bernice King. Micheal Leach listened attentively to the pseudo-prophetic words of Bernice and came away thinking that her words were too injurious not to be addressed. In A Marred Tribute to a King, Leach gives us his take on prophet Bernice.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Filling Up the Sufferings of Christ

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col. 1:24).
I was asked recently if I was offended by someone editing my work. Offended? Have you read what Piper said about being offended lately? Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ's Work, Not Muhammad's.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Reading Now

Someone asked me recently what books I was currently reading. I thought I would share it with you. As I draw near to the end of the series on the Ten Commandments (you can see a list of books I read for that series at I have been teaching on Wednesday Evenings at our church, I am taking up the subject of Worship. Here is a list of books I have recently read or am reading, perhaps you would be inclined to share some of yours:

Give Praise to God by Philip Ryken, Ligon Duncan, and Derek Thomas, eds. This is a festschrift in honor of the life of James Montgomery Boice. This is a wonderful exposition on worship.

How Shall We Worship? by Marva Dawn. Just about anything by Marva Dawn is worth reading, especially when it comes to worship.

Worship in Spirit and in Truth by John Frame. I read it when it was first published and since then have referred to it again and again.

People Get Ready! by Robert Darden. This is a book on the history of Black Gospel Music. A definite worthwhile read on the subject.

And Now Let's Move Into A Time of Nonsense by Nick Page. This is an insightful, humorous, and sometimes sarcastic critique of modern worship. Many interesting and valid points. The title says it all.

Cherry Log Sermons by Fred Craddock. Fred Craddock is pastor emeritus of Cherry Log Christian Church. He is the Professor Emeritus of Preaching and New Testament at Candler School of Theology and has long been considered one of the finest homileticians around. I first heard Craddock preach in a chapel service in Bible college.

Tour '72 by Michael D'Antonio. This book was bought for me by my daughter for Christmas. I am finally getting around to reading it and I must admit, it is pretty good. She enjoys seeing me read it. You know how that goes :-).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Long still Wrong

While Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church did a fine job in hosting the funeral for Coretta Scott-King, we must not allow that to blind us to the false and heretical teachings that still spew forth from Long and his fellow preachers at New Birth. John Blake, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution journalist, reminds us of this important fact in his article Message From New Birth Hits on Prosperity.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Coretta Scott King Memorial

Today will be the Memorial Service for Mrs. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The day will begin with a song service today at 11 AM. This evening at 7PM there will be a formal service with Jesse Jackson and Joseph Lowery speaking. It has been reported that Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, fresh off of their Superbowl performances, may be performing in the Song Service. Also, Usher has been asked to lend his talents. Well, Stevie Wonder is ok, and Aretha Franklin will do in a pinch, and perhaps Usher may lend some youthful credebility, but what most of you don't know is that the most talented and intriguing performance at the Song Service will come from one Allan Bynoe. Who is Allan Bynoe you ask? He is none other than the Music Director at our church, Southwest Christian Fellowship. He was called last week and asked if he would lend his music abilities and reputation to this event (if he knew I was telling you this, he would have a fit :-). We do pray for our brother Allan, and ask God to use him to bring some measure of God-honoring, Christ-exalting musical expression to this event.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sir LANCE-a-lot is at it again.

Our brother Lance Lewis has written another thought provoking piece in his Battle Stations series. Check it out! Lance is a reformed brother we should listen to.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Happy Birthday!

Today my mother turns 75! Josephine Carter-Toliver is a strong Christian black woman, who has seen it all. She raised 9 children of her own, and a seemingly innumerable host of community children, to whom she is affectionately known as Aunt Josie or Mother Toliver. She has seen one of her children become a police officer, while another goes in and out of drug rehab. She has seen one of her son's become a pastor, while another is in prison. She experienced the tragic death of her first husband, and has been married to her second husband for 21 years. Her lot in life has not always been easy, but she has endured with joy and has never wavered in her love for her children, though at times it has been hard. Here's to you Mother! You are without a doubt a mother who has been a wonderful example to this mistake prone father.