I realize it’s been a while since I have posted anything. I know this a major taboo in blogging. It’s not that I haven’t written anything, just haven’t made it public.
I guess I’m still trying to find my rhythm. When to post? How much? You would think I would have found my groove by now since I have had this blog site up for a couple of years now. But obviously, I’m a bit slow.
As I think about trying to get back on some sort of schedule, whether that be posting something once a week or prayerfully not, once a year, I am reminded of something I heard from Cleophus J. LaRue, professor of Homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary. In regards to standing up and preaching, he said, “Are you up because you have something to say? Or are you up because you have to say something?”
I hope that as I occasionally write, and as I preach and teach as well, that I am doing so out of an overflow of being intimate with God. Granted, I know there are times that I put words on a page and stand up and teach just because that is what is expected, and I understand the importance of discipline in doing so. However, I pray that I will “crawl into the cranium of God to a acquire the Word of God and crawl of of the cranium of God to deliver the message (whether writing of speaking) wither fervor and conviction because of being in an intimate relationship with God” (Doctrine That Dances, p. 109).
At the back of Christopher Ash’s small book Listen Up!: A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons, he lists 7 suggestions for encouraging good preaching. Here they are…
1. Pray for the preachers.
2. From time to time, tell the preachers that you are praying for them and looking forward with expectancy to the sermon.
3. Be there. You may be surprised what an encouragement it is just to have you there.
4. Thank them afterwards for things you learned. Don’t flatter or just give vague comments about how good it was (if it was). Try to be specific and focus on the biblical content of the sermon.
5. Be prepared to be constructively and supportively critical. Ask the preachers to help you see where they got a particular point from the passage. Be humble and respectful as you do this. It is much harder to preach that it is to criticize preaching.
6. Relate to your preachers as one human being to another human being. Remember that the best sermon by a remote preaching hero, heard on an MP3 recording, is no substitute for the word of God preached by a human being face to face with other human beings in the context of trust and love.
7. Be on the lookout for gifts of preaching and teaching in the church, and be ready to tap someone on the shoulder and suggest they develop these gifts and get further training.
Listening to a sermon should involve more than just staying awake. Christopher Ash, in his little booklet Listen Up! A Practical Guide to Listening to Sermons, lists 7 ingredients found in healthy sermon listening.
1. Expect God to Speak
2. Admit God knows better than you.
3. Check to see if the preacher says what the Bible passage says.
4. Hear the sermon in church.
5. Be there week by week.
6. Do what the Bible says.
7. Do what the Bible says – and rejoice.