Thursday, November 20, 2014

Book: Preaching by Ear

Yes, I know: you preach with your mouth. You listen with your ears.

Preaching by Ear by Dave McClellan

<-Use your eyes, see a book about using your ears to preach with your mouth. Wait, what?

Today’s book was provided by Cross-Focused Reviews. Shaun lists books, I pick one that I like and review it. No obligation, no cash, no coffee is exchanged in this case.

Dave and Karen McClellan’s Preaching by Ear addresses a question many of us preachers have never thought to ask: “Why have we taken a written approach to an oral practice?”

The sermon, after all, was initially an oral presentation. There is no biblical evidence that Peter, Paul, or John prepped a written document before their messages in Scripture. Further, many historical sermons, prior to the printing press, were delivered orally from the mind and heart rather than from paper.

First, McClellan makes his case for the historicity of the oral sermon. He clearly demonstrates how much better we understand things by internalizing them through oral practice.

Second, McClellan gives some ideas on developing and delivering sermons from an oral perspective. Rather than looking at the sermon as complete when it is good paper, the sermon is not done if it isn’t clear aloud.

Here is where the work really shines. It is one thing to express a disagreement with common practice, but without developing how-to ideas about implementation.

In all, if you are looking for a different approach to preaching than the current written-oriented methods, I think Preaching by Ear is well worth your time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Transit: Luke 10

In Summary: Luke 10 summarizes quickly: life as a disciple of Jesus cannot be focused in one place. The eyes of a disciple must look for the needs, whether they are physical, spiritual, or relational, and our behavior must work to meet those needs.

First, we see the 70 sent out to preach. They are told to go to the various towns and villages on behalf of Jesus, preaching the kingdom. The instructions are useful and will be the focus for today.

Second, we see Jesus put success in perspective. It is not the spiritual power—after all, He saw Satan fall, so you seeing one demon run away pales in comparison. Rejoice in grace, not in power.

Third, we see the woes on Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum. Why? For rejecting the message, which means they rejected the Messiah. Judgment comes from that, but the Judge is not joyful in that. He is sorrowful, but His law must be fulfilled.

Fourth, we see the Good Samaritan story. This one is familiar even to many non-Bible folks, so I’ll leave you to read it on your own.

In Focus: Consider the instructions given to the 70 that are sent out by Jesus. First, they are sent in pairs. They lost the large companionship of the disciple pack, but they retained at least one like-minded person to go with them.

Second, they are sent out to tell people that Jesus was coming (10:2). That is critical: the message was not about the travelers nor their desires. It was about the coming Messiah.

Third, they are told to be content with the provisions that come. They are not to go chasing better offers, nor to demand better treatment. The purpose is to spread the message of Christ. It is also worth noting that “being content” also kicks back against show-off style asceticism. If they were offered the fancier things of life, no protest of “oh, I’ll take something else…” was permitted.

Fourth, they are told to move on from those who reject the message. This sets up an interesting development: Jesus is still coming. The town, though, will have no preparation.

In Practice: Practically speaking, these four points come through plainly:

First, even the most prepared of disciples need support. These 70 had physically been with Jesus, were hand-selected by Him, and still needed to go in teams. Don’t go it alone. Take whatever companions are fit to the same task.

Second, focus on the message. Our message is about the finished first coming of Jesus and the anticipated second coming. Anything else is auxiliary to this mission.

In this, though, note the story of the Good Samaritan in this chapter. People matter more than schedules, so no matter how important you think you are, that person in the ditch needs you.

Third, be satisfied. This especially hits on my brethren engaged in ministry as a profession. Be content with what you get, and neither trumpet your mendicant status nor your wealth. You have what you have because the Lord sent you there—had He swapped the assignments, you’d be what you envy or disdain. Focus on who sent you, not what you get for going.

Fourth, move on. There comes a time to go on from a space where you are not being heard. Move ahead and find the next place to proclaim the message, and shake off the bitterness or frustration. The message needs to get to hearers so get it to hearers. All the stunts we pull to try and get an audience are nonsense, because they aren’t hearing the message, just watching the stunts.

In Nerdiness: A pair of nerd thoughts: you’ll see a footnote about whether 70 or 72 were sent out. Here we have the classic textual question: how do we decide which variant is appropriate? The typical methods leave us uncertain: external evidence (the number of manuscripts and the diversity of them) suggest 70 as the better reading; internal evidence (explaining why a scribe/copyist would make a change) suggests 72 as better. It’s the difference in 1 team of 2 disciples. I think 70 more likely, in part because of the connection to Genesis 10 and the table of nations…70 nations.

Second, note the use of “sent out” here. What does that matter? Apostle is a noun derived from the verb for “send out.” Rightly speaking, these 70 (72) are “apostles” in the simplest form of the word. We do reserve the word Apostle for the twelve named as such in Scripture, with Matthias replacing Judas and Paul being added. The key here is Jesus’ authority to send: send with power, send with instructions, send with accountability.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sermon Recap for November 16 2014

Good morning, one and all! Here are the sermons from yesterday. I used handwritten notes, so I'm experimenting with how to post those. I could tape them to the screen, but you couldn't see them if I did.  

Morning Sermon: Acts 4 "Prayer that Shakes the World, Compassion that Moves the Heart." (Title links to the audio file)

Nov 16 AM (Preaching notes)
   

Evening Sermon: Acts 10 "Appearances"

 

 (A quick note: I managed to, apparently, stick the title slide into the point between the 2 video files for the evening sermon. I did NOT stop at the 20 minute mark, hold up a sign, and then go forward. That's just my video oops.)