Drawing an audience

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, . . . Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him” (Matthew 3:1, 5).

One of the attractions of preaching in countries like Nepal and Bangladesh is the number of people who will travel long distances under difficult circumstances to hear one’s lessons. On my very first trip to Nepal I met some brothers from the mountains who had come to Katmandu to hear me preach. When I asked where they lived they said, “It is two days walk from our village to the end of the bus route, then a 12 hour ride on the bus to Katmandu.” Continue reading “Drawing an audience”

Guided by the Spirit

“…take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak” (Mark 13:11)

When I was about 13, I picked up a guitar for the first time. To say that I picked it up quickly was an understatement. I could listen to a piece of music and almost see in my mind how to reproduce that sound on the guitar. It gave me the ability to do what some of my friends only dreamed of doing, or could only do with endless hours of hard work. Continue reading “Guided by the Spirit”

Gone to meddlin’

One of my elders used this familiar phrase Sunday – you know the one. “Preacher, you quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’.” It’s a sad day when preaching meddles in our marriages, meddles in our work ethics, meddles in our use of money. Of course, that elder was kidding. But I like the phrase because it says something important. There is an idea out there, not quite said but believed nonetheless, that preaching isn’t supposed to actually demand lifestyle changes, commitment, or repentance.

It’s not supposed to suggest that some actions are morally wrong, or that if there are true teachings there must be false teachings, too. It’s not supposed to proclaim that there is a right way and a wrong way, or worse, that there is just one way, one truth, and one life (John 14:6).

That’s so exclusive! We need to include all kinds of lifestyles! Continue reading “Gone to meddlin’”

Spiritual vegetarians

When a baby is born, they are fed milk or formula until they are able to handle solid food. As we grow, we have a greater say over our diet.

Some choose to become meat eaters while others become vegetarians. Neither is inherently right or wrong since you can find a host of experts and advocates on both sides.

Spiritually, though, we can be more certain. In the Bible, God uses diet to refer to spiritual maturity. New Christians can’t handle the advanced teaching that may be a normal meal for a mature Christian. Continue reading “Spiritual vegetarians”

Writing should be seen as a ministry

The Great Commission calls upon Christians to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). We must be wise to find the most efficient and successful method to deliver the Word.

When God delivered the Law of Moses, he did so in print (Exodus 31:18). Likewise, God assembled the Bible to preserve Scripture for all generations (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus is even called the Word, which can be both spoken and written (John 1:1). Continue reading “Writing should be seen as a ministry”

Woe to those who lock the door!

Jesus was finished with the Pharisees and Sadducees.

It wasn’t that he shunned them, but they decided to stop talking to him (Matthew 22:46).

The lesson of Jesus to the crowds in Matthew 23 was to beware of these religious “leaders,” since they had no desire to become any more than what they were: they were hypocrites.

A hypocrite is a person who is an actor. The word itself comes from the drama of the Greeks and refers to the false face the actors wore while performing their roles. The Pharisees wore a false face of holiness. Underneath the mask, however, the Pharisees were quite unholy.

The first woe Jesus pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13 NASB). Continue reading “Woe to those who lock the door!”

Are they still hungry?

How often do we make rash statements? Statements, that if we had taken just a moment to think through, we would never have made, yet statements that lock us into a particular course of action. This is what we find in Acts 23.

The apostle Paul had been taken prisoner on a trumped up charge (see Acts 21:28). All the Roman commanding officer knew was that because of Paul the Jews had come close to rioting during the time of Pentecost (see Acts 20:16). When Paul spoke to him in Greek he figured out that he wasn’t the Egyptian outlaw with 4000 assassins following him. Paul offered to speak to the people and the officer gave him permission, hoping, it would seem, to gain some insight into why the people were trying to kill this man. Continue reading “Are they still hungry?”