Monthly Archives: November 2009

Why Study for a Sermon?

I really wonder if it has come to this – pastors outsourcing the work of creating their sermons. Skye Jethani writes:

The Wizard of Oz was a mighty and powerful being to be feared and respected…until the curtain was drawn back and the Wizard turned out to be a mechanical façade created by a little man pushing buttons and pulling levers. The classic story came to mind this week as I heard two separate stories of megachurch pastors literally outsourcing their Bible study and exegetical sermon preparation work.Apparently the trend is not as uncommon as one might think, although I’m sure not every large church pastor utilizes the services of outsiders. The program works like this-a megachurch pastor has limited time and many obligation. He simply cannot pour hours of labor into studying the Bible, exegeting the texts, reading commentaries, and researching historical interpretations. So, he hires a credible and educated Bible student to do this work instead. The exegete-for-hire then delivers the essential points in a summary paper that the pastor can add pertinent illustrations and applications to before delivering the sermon to his flock.

No way can I improve on Skye’s thoughts so read the rest of his post here.

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Dirt

When you dig a hole for yourself, I guess you have to throw the dirt on someone.

Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman put this line into the mouth of a child in their somewhat controversial book. A simple line, but I found myself paused in my reading as I thought it through. How many times do we find ourselves attacking others, throwing dirt on them, to cover up our own failings? Why do we do it? The old proverb is true:

Throw dirt enough, and some will stick.

If you persistently say bad things about someone, people will begin to believe your accusations, even if they are not true. Commonly called mudslinging, it is might also be a means of distracting others from the hole being dug; or maybe from how dirty we are ourselves. Sadly, I can do this is some pretty subtle ways to the people I love the most – shifting blame, even “accusing” my wife for faults as I toss the dirt from my personal mud hole on her (probably all the while thinking self-righteously that I’m building her a castle, or a fine sculpture, or some other silly mind game).

My Bible reading for the day included this classic passage – the place I need be every day to keep from digging myself a hole or tossing dirt.

Psalm 139:23–24 (ESV)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!


A Perspective Rarely Considered

Cat and Dog Theology by Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison  is an unusual look at American Christians and their theology. Basically, there are those who are like dogs who serve the master; and others more like cats, who think they are the master. The authors nuance and develop the argument a lot more, but it works.

The book leads to some interesting considerations, rarely considered in most circles in American Christianity:P1010283

Cats, like the fastest horse at the end of a race, expect to be in the winner’s circle. They always relate to the major character; they never relate to the minor characters—those aren’t the famous ones. They want and expect life to be safe, soft, easy, comfortable, secure, and they expect to always come out on the top. They believe that’s just what God wants for all of us.

As an illustration, they point to the story of Job. Cats really love the story and identify with Job, being faithful, and having the blessings of God in the end. Sure he goes through hell on earth, but in the end he the one blessed.

But what about Job’s children? Were they not in the plan and purpose of God? What can we learn from them?

The tough question needs to be asked, Did God love Job’s kids as much as Job? The obvious answer is yes. Did God have a plan for their lives? Not as obvious, but the same answer still stands, yes.

The authors then point us to a convicting conclusion:

You see, Cats only focus on God’s blessing while on earth. “Where are the blessings in these seventy years that I’m alive?” they ask. Dogs realize that their lives can be in ruins for those seventy or so years, and eternity is where the Lord’s glory is greatly revealed in their lives. The apostle Paul writes, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all: (2 Corinthians 4:17). Therefore, relating to Job’s kids is just as viable as relating to Job. Are there lessons outside the winner’s circle in other passages?