Saturday, May 21, 2016


For many years now, it has been my practice to read a book on preaching once per year. Most people might think that, since I have been preaching for more than forty years and doing so fulltime for about twenty years, I ought to know how to do it by now. And the truth is, I learn very little from these books. But I still read them. I do so for two reasons.

First, I continue the practice of reading a book on preaching every year because I need to be reminded of what I once knew. I had excellent training in preaching. I took several communication classes. All were well taught. I took two preaching courses, one with Stafford North and another with Ron Beaver. These were excellent classes. If I remembered and practiced everything these men taught me, likely I would not need to read another book on the subject. But the fact is I do not remember it all, and I certainly fail to practice some of it. I do not learn much from the books I read on preaching, but I am reminded of many things that I have allowed to slip. 

My second reason for continuing the practice is that, although I do not learn much, the little bit I gain is often of significant value. The book I am reading this year is called Preaching and Preachers. It is a series of lectures by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. So far I have learned only a couple of things from the book. Its greatest value has been the reminders I have received of what I already knew. But, there have been a couple of ideas that were new to me and they are highly valuable insights that I will put to use.

The books that I read on preaching are not inspired of God. Still, I can say without hesitation that my reading of them is highly valuable – even though I do not learn much that is new to me. Just imagine what might happen if one were to read the divinely inspired book continuously and attend classes regularly where it was being studied. Do you think such a person might be reminded of something that has been allowed to slip? Do you think that such a person might occasionally learn something new and valuable?

Why not give it a try? If it works for me in reading uninspired books, I am sure it will work for any Christian who gives it a fair effort with the Bible.

Friday, May 6, 2016


Colossians chapter three has long been one of my favorites. I find this chapter particularly challenging, but also enlightening and encouraging.

The challenge of Colossians three is to live our entire life as Christians. The world has taught us to treat the faith as one aspect of our lives. Colossian three challenges us to make the faith an all-encompassing way of thinking and living. We are told, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17, ESV). The best of us falls far short of this. With many church members there is little done in the name of the Lord; most of life is lived without reference to the Lord. This should not be so.

The enlightening and encouraging aspect of the chapter comes later on. We are told, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-25, ESV).

The challenging nature of the teaching is certainly not lacking here. This is still the bold demand that every aspect of our lives be used to God’s glory. But this is enlightening and encouraging as well as challenging. This passage reminds us that it is not just in the hours of worship or the times of teaching that we have an opportunity to work for the Lord. No matter what our task may be, it can be done, it should be done, in such a way as to honor the Lord.

I have been involved in full-time preaching or in mission work for 24 years. At other times in my life I have earned a living as a punch-press operator, a welder, a delivery driver, and as a college professor. These other lines of work, if engaged in properly, were still means by which the Lord could be honored. 

Any honest task, properly carried out, is a means of honoring the Lord. The housewife, the factory worker, the clerical worker, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are all called on to do their work diligently. For in such diligence we are serving the Lord.

I am not suggesting that we can set such a good example in our daily life that evangelism becomes unnecessary. That is an excuse for laziness, and demonstrates an inexcusable ignorance of the example set by Jesus. But Colossians three teaches that everything can be done and everything should be done in the name of the Lord. Twenty-four/seven, let us live to his glory.