Today's Word for Pastors...

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:4-5

Today's Preaching Insight...

Contextualized Preaching Still Rooted in Scripture

In an article for the SermonCentral newsletter, missiologist Ed Stetzer points out that even as we try to contextualize our preaching for a contemporary audience, it is still essential that the message be biblically-rooted: "The Apostle Paul began where the people he was speaking to were. For the Jews, the starting point was their ancient history rooted in the Old Testament Scriptures. On the other hand, Paul connected with the Greeks at their point of relevance. Notice that he presented Christ in both cases. For us, we may start in a different place, but the context of the message needs to be Christ and the fullness of Scripture. The key is where the communication begins. Scripture sets the agenda and shape of the message, but every message must answer the question, ‘Why is this important to me/us?' If there is no point of connection, the message is simply meaningless facts rather than life-changing truth.

When we begin at the point of relevance, it does not in any way nullify the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God. We think that a common mistake many seeker-driven churches made early on was trying to communicate relevant messages that had little or no biblical content. It seemed that the sermons were basically explanations of common-sense wisdom or perhaps biblical principals, but the Bible did not set the shape or agenda of the message.

We must always remember that ‘consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ' (Rom. 10:17) and ‘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' (Heb. 4:12). The Bible is not simply a tool for scriptural footnoting or common-sense wisdom.

One of the cultural shifts that we are experiencing is the shift from the secular to the spiritual. This shift lends itself to biblical preaching and teaching. People are looking for a higher power, a sense of mystery, revelation, and spiritual authority for their lives. Scripture was given to reveal Jesus; therefore, all of our preaching should be Christ-centered. With this in mind, we must ask, ‘How do we communicate the good news of the gospel in a way that the story of redemption is heard and experienced?'"

(Click here to read the full article)

Today's Extra...

Excellence

In the 1980s, Tom Peters, having traveled around the world interviewing heads of large corporations, put together a two-day presentation with 700 slides on the subject of leadership excellence. He was to present it to the directors of PepsiCo, which was headed by a man named Andy Pearson. But Peters knew Andy wouldn't sit through a long presentation. Mulling this over, Peters sat in his office overlooking San Francisco Bay, closed his eyes, leaned forward, and jotted down eight things on a pad of paper.

Those eight principles became the basis for the book he coauthored that changed the landscape of corporate life in America. The title of the book wasIn Search of Excellence. To this day, the word "excellence" is a buzzword in the daily life of successful businesses. Everyone wants to work with excellence.

David Jeremiah observes, "Colossians 3:23 is the only maxim we need on the subject. If we realize everything we do -- selling a product, cutting the grass, baking a cake, preparing a sermon -- is to be done for Christ, we'll do it heartily as unto the Lord, and we'll do it with excellence. Who are you working for?"(Turning Point Daily Devotional, 8-3-07)

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