“Fear Not”

God tells us “Fear not.” This is the most common commandment in the entire Bible, appearing roughly 150 times, because this is the most common problem for the Christian. Who are you afraid of? What are you afraid of? That fear will paralyze you. It will cause you not to live courageously and boldly. Jesus knows that there are reasons for you to be afraid. And yet he says, “Fear not.”

Nearly every time the Bible commands us to “fear not”, it also tells us why. Not because we will see things turn around soon, or even ever. Not because it’s going to be easy. And not because we will be vindicated in this life. Instead, when we are told, “Fear not,” in some fashion God is telling us, “I am with you.” Jesus, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, lives in us, works through us, goes with us, and will never leave us or forsake us, because he promised to be with us always, until the end of the age, as we limp toward home.

The Jesus who goes with you is a God who has experienced tribulation, poverty, slander, suffering, and death. He is always present to comfort you because he has walked the road that you are on and is waiting with nail-scarred hands to embrace you at its end. Since he has walked that road for you, his invitation to walk it with him is a great honor.

-Mark Driscoll, A Call to Resurgence

Session Six: Good Preaching (Execution, Delivery, and Pragmatics) [Justin Anderson]

Justin Anderson book15

[These are Session 6 notes (Session 3 of Day 2) from the Preach The Word 2013 Acts 29 West Regional Conference in Reno, NV]

[ UPDATE: VIDEO FROM SESSION SIX IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE ]

—-

“Everything you’ve heard (at this conference) becomes useless if you don’t get the delivery.”

This is essentially about critique.

–Book recommendations:

“Why Johnny Can’t Preach”

“Communicating For a Change”

“There’s no such thing as public speaking” (Henderson)

1 Cor 9:24-27 (“let’s take this out of context: you must work tirelessly to prepare preaching well)

•10 Points: (was thinking of doing ‘DON’T SUCK’ but I had 10 pts; and I thought that’d be cliche A29 stuff to I figured: ‘JOEL OSTEEN’)

Here we go:

•J – Just Be You

Nobody buys your imitation of someone else.

If you believe God has called YOU to preach, preach YOU. He called YOU to your people, not Driscoll.

“It takes 250 sermons to find your voice” (Keller) BUT that doesn’t mean that every preacher is owed that many to figure out if you’re any good at it.

Theres a lie that your preaching level should be 1-2x more excited than normal. It’s precisely that: a lie.

It should be you. Should sound like you.

If you aren’t regularly making being die with laughter, don’t try to be funny in the pulpit.

(The only time Keller and Piper are funny is when they don’t mean to be)

You don’t have to be funny to be a good preacher.

•O – Only preach for as long as people want to listen to you

“I realized then that sermon length is not measured in minutes; it is measured in minutes-beyond-interest, in the amount of time the minister continues to preach after he has lost the interest of his hearers (assuming he ever kindled it in the first place).” ~ T. David Gordon (Why Johnny Can’t Preach; p.31)

“Just about every guy who regularly preaches 50 mins would be better at 45; the man at 45 to 40; etc”

(“Keller preaches 35. None of you are better than Keller”)

–Here’s how you find your number: talk to people in your congregation that love you, are mature, are for you, have been around for a while, and ask “am I preaching too long?”

Don’t ask your wife (she loves you too much). I usually only ask her “was it clear?”

If people start shifting a bunch, you’ve lost them already.

–find that number and back 5 minutes off of that (there are moments, texts, Ideas, sermons that you need that extra 5, but if you go your full length then 5 every time, they’ve checked out).

Your people will give you grace to take the extra 5 if you honor that

•E – Every point should make the same point

“I believe in 1 point preaching”

“Your people can only understand one idea a week”

Another way: “you are only able to communicate one idea a week”

Have supporting ideas (Driscoll: metaphor of the hook; one hook, every idea hangs in that hook)

–Another way: sermon as a narrative (start-end) and each pt a stepping stone direct (not swerving side to side, etc)

Keller lays it exactly out in the very beginning (here is where we’re going; “we’re going to cover 3 points today”)

Another way: preach through the text (we’ll start in v7, know where we’re going next? 8. And after that? Yep. 9.)

You’re teaching them that they can go home and read it and understand.

-They see it doesn’t take all the jumping through hermeneutical hoops.

Do a “big idea”

•L – Listen to what your body is saying (everything communicates)

When you critique yourself don’t just listen to the MP3, watch it.

Posture, eyeline, hands, volume, pause, pace.

(Idea of facing the pulpit straight away to engage the audience and not be disconnect, tall pulpit)

“The strongest place to (fix your body/eye-line to) communicate is dead center, 2/3 back, straight ahead” (from public speaking book mentioned above)

full center/full posture on main points.

Pick out sections for eye contact (regions/zones example)

Deliver your strong points behind the pulpit, in priestly moments step to the side and lean down, be at the side (lean in, etc.) — like talking to your kids

-Let your posture communicate what your words communicate.

-Same with your hand movements (“don’t thread the needle when you’re chopping it up”)

–Volume should be relative to the content you’re reading. (Same with pace, pause)

–Your body matters (what you wear, your weight, your presentation of yourself matters)

-Your congregation follows you not just as a pastor but as a leader (they follow your lead; your people have to see themselves in you)

Paul said “follow me as I follow Jesus”

If you’re in an urban business context, don’t wear flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt (you want to be seen as more of a boss, than an Intern)

–Present yourself as someone credible to be following.

Be aware of what everything communicates

•O – Operate a manual transmission

This synthesizes voice, body, and content.

Think about our sermons as gears:

1st gear – most pastoral/priestly voice; used to communicate difficult truths

Softest/slowest speaking; talk about serious, hard, personal content matter.

2nd gear – teacher voice, beginning of the sermon, communicate historical/cultural background, posture more upright, used when direct quotes

3rd gear – preacher’s main voice, moving from information –> exhortation, telling stories, difference of degree and not kind; roughly 50-60% of the sermon is this gear

4th gear – High point of the sermon (everything should communicate that; posture, volume, pace, focus) deliver to the middle of the room, 2/3 back. Used when delivering sin/grace; should include your best dramatic pauses. The more important your point and your voice the more impactful your pauses.

5th gear – yelling, screaming, jumping up and down (communicating something egregious). Must match the subject matter (“use only once or so a year or if you’re Driscoll, whenever you talk about men”)

This is when you’re losing your mind about something, and only do so when the text is losing their mind about it.

Screaming is not effective communication (should not be “he cares the most about everything”)

Use sparingly (but use it)

This is not manipulative, it’s storytelling (it’s used cross fly just not explicitly talked about)

In preaching (particularly preparation), think of your gears and when they will kick in.

-Use the gears to illustrate importance, type of content, shifts in content, etc. (give it to them, let it breathe, deliver truth, show care)

•S – Say less, prove more

We live in an increasingly secular society. Many of us don’t preach like that’s true. (We preach as though it’s still Christendom Bible Belt)

We go into our sermons with (our own) presuppositions (“based on XYZ”.. They lost you back at A)

The Bible’s authority and relevance is no longer culturally accepted. You will likely need to address that.

You can have powerful, amazing statements (“drowning in the cesspool of your own mess”) … But do they believe it? (non Christians, baristas, CHRISTIANS even)

Need to be convinced of their presuppositions (for the last 6 days they’ve been given different values, goals, images, etc.) they’ve been told a million different narratives OTHER THAN creation, fall, redemption, restoration. (More like “you’re awesome, but with our product you’ll be MORE awesome!”)

That power phrase just became  a complete disconnect from everyone in your congregation (at BEST they waver on it; ‘I know I should believe that…’)

–If you believe someone in your room MIGHT not believe it, prove it. (Just one or two pts; “bible as word of God” -> show a couple proofs) // [copy from audio]

•T – Teach me, move me, show me

Some struggle with structure in their sermons (most preachers tend to be prophet/priest)

[his example from how he does sermon prep: prep, main point, then push it back at look at the various angles to go about it]

    Practical example from other religions/philosophies and bridging -> Christianity (provides a parallel but clear distinction) // [listen to audio for richer example used; worth the time!]

**Think through that rhythm: teach them truth and the text; move them in response (has to get in their hearts); and show them (I taught you, I moved you, here’s how you do it)

Most of us are good at one, maybe two of those things:

Taught them new information, they’ll leave smarter, but will not care about it

Some of us move our congregation to tears weekly.. About nothing in particular.

Knowing HOW to do something doesn’t mean they will do it.

“Preaching”: a tool helping people understand the gospel intellectually, stir people’s affections for Jesus, and move them on mission

Catechism quote [pull from audio]

•E – Examples of 4 archetypes to teach from

-1) Communicate to the mechanic (50 year old dude, sun burn, hard worker, no BS kind of guy; the “hell of a talk, preacher” guy)

Give him something with handles to grab on to and in the first 10 mins (he won’t wait longer)

-2) The smart skeptic

(Intelligently address their skepticism)

Address him every time you say something unbelievable (faith-driven, the cross, etc.)

-3) Disciple

(Already bought in, committed, love you, love jesus; just give them something to chew on… This is the easiest to reach; this guy loves your sermon the minute he steps out of the car)

Show that they track with you; they just want some meat

-4) The dude that’s there for chicks (address him!)

Get them with the hammer at some point (that’s the only time he will listen to you)

Doesn’t care about your groups, handles, meat.. You need to punch him in the face to get his attention.

–These are not the only 4, but I’m convinced if you hit these 4, you hit all the rest.

•E – Everything isn’t ‘awesome’

Chose your words carefully.

Grace is amazing (everything else has to be somewhere below that)

If everything is amazing, nothing is amazing. (They are not at the same level)

“The cross is remarkable… That burrito? Was good.”

-There are some things that are amazing (you don’t have to convince someone that something is amazing if it is amazing)

Grand Canyon and “Jesus is awesome” examples (“it’s self-evidently deep”)

The more you beg someone to believe something is great, the less sure they will be in believing that.

Don’t say “Jesus is great,” show them! (“Isn’t grace amazing?!” -> show it)

Ephesians 2

“Everything isn’t awesome, but some things are, and they should be self evident”

•N – Nurture your brain and your heart

What kinds of ministers does such a culture produce?  Ministers who are not at home with what is significant; ministers whose attention span is less than that of a four-year-old in the 1940s, who race around like the rest of us, constantly distracted by sounds and images of inconsequential trivialities, and out of touch with what is weighty.  It is not surprising that their sermons, and the alleged worship that surrounds them, are often trifling, thoughtless, uninspiring, and mundane.  It is not surprising that their sermons are mindlessly practical, in the “how-to” sense.  It is also not surprising that their sermons tend to be moralistic, sentimentalistic, or slavishly drafted into the so-called culture wars.  The great seriousness of the coming judgment of God, the sheer insignificcance of the present in light of eternity — realities that once were the subtext of virtually every sermon — have now disappeared, and have been replaced by one triviality after another.” ~ T. David Gordon (Why Johnny Can’t Preach)

And that was written before Twitter!

~~There is very little in the social media world that makes you better

(not saying it’s ‘bad’, but you have been called by God to deliver the word and deliver His people)

~~The question we should ask ourselves (not just with social media but with everything) is “is this making me BETTER?” (Husband, pastor, friend, etc.)

Put stuff out there that’s valuable, imbibe things that make you better.

Read your bible

Read books about the bible

Read thoughtful critiques of the culture (but don’t imbibe it straight; it’s too much) [listen to audio for context of this point]

Conclusion: We have to work hard. We have been given a great task, we have to work at it (its fun and rewarding, we get to play a part in this! Nothing is bigger than this story)

–We ought to be compelled to learn it and communicate it as well as we possibly can.

“Well God used Moses, a stutterer, and an ass in the OT” (it’s the exception not the rule)

(“Our goal should not be ‘ass'”)

“God, at the same time you call us, you equip us”

“I pray that we would never tire of it and never tire of doing it better”

Book Review: Who Do You Think You Are? (Driscoll)

I am admittedly posting this review before finishing up the book, but I feel that I have a solid enough grasp on the direction, intention, and contribution of this book that it will be just as beneficial.

This book, for me, definitely seems like a little bit of a different perspective than the typical Mark Driscoll books of old. Being a part of the Acts 29 Network, and even using a couple of his books for Deacon School curriculum, I consider myself somewhat educated on the way Driscoll does and communicates certain things. With this book, it’s definitely a breath of fresh air. It’s as if this concept really captured his affections and truly directed the writing of the book.

This book serves as a guided commentary of sorts through the book of Ephesians and examines the concept of identity.

Where do you find your identity? WHO or WHAT may determine your identity? How does your identity affect who you are, what you do, and how you think? And most importantly, how does our identity affect our relationship with God?

All of these questions are addressed and wrestled through within the text.

If you’ve been opposed to Driscoll in the past because of his brash style, abrupt tone, and proud demeanor, I would encourage you to pick this book up and give it a fair chance. He appears to me as tender, caring, and well-versed in this topic, and I would argue that this could be the single most important thing for us to “get” as Christians.

God must be the foundation of our identity or else it’s idolatry, and I believe this book is a much needed contribution to the concept of our identity in Christ and what it looks like to functionally, practically, prayerfully, and devotionally live out of that identity to focus our lives on giving Christ glory.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and the views expressed in this review are my own.

7 Tips for Better Bible Study

When tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread after a 40-day fast in the wilderness, Jesus responded by saying simply and profoundly, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).Paul, when writing to his protégé, Timothy, writes that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

David writes, “I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes” (Psalm 119:48).

The implications are clear: life and growth come from the study of God’s words through Scripture. We are not to read and study the Bible begrudgingly but rather view it as the source of life and, like David, love God’s word.

But the reality is that we all struggle at times to study faithfully or joyfully. So, it’s nice to have a few principles to help us refocus our love and study of Scripture. Below are seven principles that I’ve found beneficial.

1. Actively serve and participate in a local church to learn with and from other Christians.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV): “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

2. Be under the authority of Scripture to be interpreted by it, not over the Scripture to be interpreted by you.

Hebrews 4:12–13 (NIV): “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-­edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

3. Pick up the Bible for life transformation, not just mental information.

John 5:39–40 (NIV): “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

4. Pick up the Bible for relational purposes—not functional ones—so that you will love God and not just know or use him.

Matthew 7:21–23 (NIV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’“

5. Don’t just get into the Word; get the Word into you.

Memorization, Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Meditation, Ezra 7:10: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”

6. Take advantage of godly Bible commentators, your pastor, respected theologians in church history, and wise Christian friends to better understand Scripture.

Romans 12:7 (NIV): “If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach . . .”

7. Don’t think you need more knowledge. Often you need more obedience to the knowledge you already have.

James 1:22 (NIV): “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Original post found on Mark Driscoll’s website here: http://ow.ly/at6Gl