Today's Word for Pastors...

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

Today's Preaching Insight...

When Sunday's Almost Here

In his "Biblical Preaching" blog, Peter Mead recently included counsel for pastors when they are not quite ready and Sunday is approaching: "While some preachers may be so structured that every preparation is perfect, most of us are not able to create such a vacuum to live in. To misquote Tony Campolo, ‘it's Friday, but Sunday is coming!'  For preachers this may not be a cry of hope, but of concern.  What are those final stages of preparation that often get short-changed?  Our Lord understands and is gracious to us when life hits.  However, it would be helpful for us to be aware of these things and adjust our preparation so these things are not always cut-short or omitted altogether:

1. Conclusions matter - As someone has said, you can recover from a bad introduction, but not from a bad conclusion.  That final few moments of the sermon are critical, but often get very little preparation in a tight schedule.  Without preparation the conclusion will be forming during preaching, which often means an over-extended sermon with multiple failed landings (an experience no passenger enjoys!)

2. Cut the fat - Usually the sermon manuscript on Friday will be longer than it should be by Sunday.  While first-time preachers worry about filling the time, experienced preachers should worry about removing the fat in the sermon.  As Dave Stone put it recently, there's a huge difference between taking on a big-burger challenge and eating at a fine restaurant.  People don't enjoy forcing down two pounds of ground beef.  They would much prefer a well-prepared 7 ounce steak that they can handle.  So before you preach the sermon, cut the fat, give people a carefully prepared portion.

3. Check the balance - It is important to review the balance of the sermon to make sure the weight is distributed appropriately.  You probably don't want four illustrations in one point of the message, and none in the other points.  Make sure there is appropriate intensity and passion, but also moments of relief or listeners won't be able to stay with you.  Be careful to allow an idea (or sub-idea) to develop fully - give the necessary time to explain, support and/or apply the idea in each point.  Before preaching the message, make sure it is balanced.  Don't preach a Popeye sermon: really strong in the forearms, but lacking everywhere else."

(Click here to visit Peter's site)

Today's Extra...

Today's Illustration: Lawyers

A Rabbi, a Hindu and a lawyer were driving late at night in the country when their car expired. They set out to find help, and came to a farmhouse. When they knocked at the door, the farmer explained that he had only two beds, and one of the three had to sleep in the barn with the animals. The three quickly agreed.

The Rabbi said he would sleep in the barn and let the other two have the beds. Ten minutes after the Rabbi left, there was a knock on the bedroom door. The Rabbi entered exclaiming, "I can't sleep in the barn; there is a pig in there. It's against my religion to sleep in the same room with a pig!"

The Hindu said he would sleep in the barn, as he had no religious problem with pigs. However, about five minutes later, the Hindu burst through the bedroom door saying, "There's a cow in the barn! I can't sleep in the same room as a cow! It's against my religion!"The lawyer, anxious to get to sleep, said he'd go to the barn, as he had no problem sleeping with animals.

In two minutes, the bedroom door burst open and the pig and the cow entered...

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