Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Best Preaching Ever?

You've probably heard this before, but this is what preaching is supposed to be!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and the Art of Preaching

My sixteen-year-old daughter got me hooked on American Idol this year. I just used to watch the try-out shows when people who shouldn't sing in the church choir embarrassed themselves for my amusement. But this year, Bethany (and a DVR) got me watching all but a couple of episodes.

Last night, an amazing thing happened. The underdog, Kris Allen, pulled off the upset and beat the heavily favored Adam Lambert. Today, post-mortem examinations are being done. Many are criticizing the choice and are trying to figure out how this could happen.
I have a theory. Adam is an amazing singer. He is a once in a generation talent. But there was always a sense that he was "in character" - acting out a certain role. About the only thing Simon ever criticized him for was being over-dramatic. He's polished, but plastic. He amazed, but did not connect.
Kris is also a talented singer. His church in Conroy was blessed to have him on the worship team. But, he probably was not the talented singer that Adam was. But he connected. You felt like he was real, an average guy with golden pipes. He did not seem to be acting a part, but was just being his own talented self.
That's my armchair analysis. Kris won because he connected with people, because voters sensed his authenticity, integrity, and reality. He was himself and we liked that.
Now, what does that have to do with preaching? I believe that it is important when we proclaim God's Word that we do more than just give an eloquent pulpit performance. We should study and prepare to accurately communicate the Word. But we also need to be real. We need to communicate God's truth with integrity and authenticity.
I've seen a lot of Adam Lamberts in the pulpit - people with amazing homiletic skills, but you didn't sense it was real. We need to strive to preach Kris Allen messages - the simple truths of God's Word from real men with real struggles in real lives.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Keeping It Simple!

I had to wash my hair. It seemed unfair – I was on vacation after all. I figured I was clean and didn’t need a shower. I spent an hour in the chlorinated pool. Chlorine bleach is a cleanser, right? How much cleaner can I be? But the chlorine had turned my hair to straw, so it seemed best to hit the shower for a shampoo.

Thats not such a big deal at my house. I buy a large jug of shampoo at Sam's and use it till it runs out. But I was a guest and the bathroom had a collection of shampoos. And that was where the problem started.

I remember when shampoo just cleaned hair. But none of the shampoos in the shower were satisfied with simple cleaning. They wanted to change my life. One shampoo promised to “amplify” my hair. I didn’t want big hair, just clean. Another assured me it could “correct and restructure” my hair. I like my hair. I don’t claim it is the best in the world, but does it need to be corrected? My grandpa was bald in high school, so since I am nearly 52 and still have hair which is only partially gray, I feel I am ahead of the game. Restructuring seems extreme. Another shampoo would “clarify” my hair. But isn’t clear hair about the same as bald? What is an old-fashioned old-fogy supposed to do? My hair is clean now; volumized, amplified, corrected, restructured, and clarified!

Only in America does someone need a doctorate to understand shampoo. I long for the days of “lather, rinse, repeat.”

What makes us take simple things and complicate them? We have complicated the Christian life as well. The Christian life may not be easy, but neither is it complicated.

God’s Word is amazing in both its beauty and its simplicity. Some scholars forget the doctrine of the simplicity of scripture. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit, you don’t need a degree to read God’s Word. You don’t need a secret decoder ring to understand its truth. Sound theology is built on a clear and simple reading of God’s Word.

Scripture is God-breathed and is therefore useful. It teaches us the ways of God – who he is, how he works, what he desires. It rebukes us when we go astray, showing us wrong doctrine or aberrant behavior. It does not just condemn a sinner, but corrects him, showing him how to leave the wrong path and return to the right one. Finally, God’s Word trains us in righteousness, teaching us to walk on the right path and break the old patterns of sin. That is the glory of God’s Simple Word.

When the Word does its work, we are prepared for every good work – ready to be all God wants us to be and do all God wants us to do.

Do you want to grow as a Christian? It is not complicated. Immerse yourself in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit goes to work. Read what God says about your life, then by the power of God’s Spirit, do it! God renews your mind with the truth and begins to change your behavior to conform you to the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit enables you to obey what God’s Word commands, and strengthens you to endure in obedience when things get tough.

Maybe I’d better take a shower after all. If only I can find some clarifying soap.