Preaching Both Folly and Wisdom: Preaching Through Chronicles

Due to the spiritual schizophrenia of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, when you reach 2 Chronicles 9:31–12:16 you preach both foolishness and wisdom. I found it to be one of my most difficult sermons in this Chronicles series. But here’s a strategy that worked.

Begin with foolishness and there’s plenty of it in 10:1-15a; 11:14-15 and 12:1, 14. Virtually every section contains some form of “go and do otherwise” examples from this king. His foolishness ranges from refusing to listen to wise counsel to unfaithfulness to the Lord Himself.

Then it’s easy to move to the cursed results of the king’s foolishness in 10:16-19; 12:2-5, 9-11 and 15. In those sections, God’s people experience division, defeat in battle, and are deserted by God. These sermon minutes are aimed at encouraging our faith-families to not follow the foolishness of Rehoboam.

Thankfully, the next section shows the king recovering some of his spiritual sensitivities. There is wisdom to emulate in 11:1-4, 16-17, 22-23 and 12:6. One critical concept throughout Chronicles is in 11:16-17 where people “set their hearts to seek the Lord….for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.”

The sermon can end on a wonderful note of blessings found in 11:5-13, 18-21; 12:7-8 and 12-13. The highlight for me in this section is in 12:7-8 and 12-13 where the Lord extends mercy: “I will not destroy them…and my wrath shall not be poured out…”

And if you have the inclination to move to the cross, key on 12:12 “And when he humbled himself the wrath of the Lord turned from him…” Not so of Christ on the cross. And that’s the reason why we can experience deliverance in our world.

Anyway, that’s the way I handled probably my toughest preaching portion in Chronicles so far. I hope it helps you preach through the books so God receives His due in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

How to Sweeten Your Sermon With A Little C.R.E.A.M. (Part 1 Contrast)

Whipped-Cream-Blue-bowl-Maureen-Abood

Lord willing, this Wednesday and Thursday (April 15 and 16, 2015) I will enjoy the privilege of teaching PAS 513 Advanced Homiletics for Lancaster Bible College’s graduate school. Besides spending time making sure we preach with accuracy, I am planning to spend some time making sure we preach with an effective style. I’m especially interested in the aspects of a preacher’s style that deal with word-choice.

My plan is to introduce the students to Humes’ C.R.E.A.M. concept. Years ago I learned of this approach while reading Humes’ book, The Sir Winston Method. In that book Humes records the results of his research into the communication method of Sir Winston Churchill.

The Sir Winston Method: The Five Secrets of Speaking the Language of Leadership

C.R.E.A.M. is one way for preachers to work on their words. It’s a way for us to create quotable quotes or packaged persuasion. It’s about finding just the right way to say what God is saying in our preaching portions. It’s about using language in the power of the Spirit to drive home God’s message.

C.R.E.A.M. stands for:

Contrast

Rhyme

Echo

Alliteration

Metaphor

Let’s start with “C” and using contrast. The old preacher, Vance Havner once said, “Too many of our services start at 11 sharp and then end at 12 dull.”

An ad for the Radisson Plaza Hotel said, “Modern convenience. Historic charm.”

A county-western song contained the phrase, “the city put the country back in me.”

Yesterday during our current in-between-book-studies series, Well-Versed, I preached on Romans 8:28-30 which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” My first thought block in the sermon was defining the kind of person who could claim that promise. It’s the person who loves God. It was easy to work the contrast between being a God-lover and a God-hater: “All things work together for bad for those that hate God.”

Before Sunday, see if you can create contrasts to communicate key concepts in your sermon.

Preach well for God’s reputation in the Church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).

Randal

P.S. If you enjoy reading some history about an important figure in world history and gaining some insights into effective communication, you’ll enjoy Humes’ book. It’s certainly one of my top five non-Christian books on communication.

Communicating Through Contrasts: Part 6 of What We Do to the Bible to Create Sermons

are-opposites-the-law-of-attraction-large

This series of posts explores what preachers do to the Bible to create sermons. It’s my attempt to expand my own understanding of rhetorical analysis (what preachers do during the sermon to affect those that have ears to hear). If you read the initial post in this series you may recall my confession that this area is probably the weakest area of my teaching. So, I’m committed this year to getting better at helping preachers craft the guts of the sermon.

One thing preachers do is explain through the use of contrast. (You can see the overlap with the first blog post in the series: preachers explain Scripture). Take for instance, 2 Timothy 2:23 “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies…” After spending a minute making sure everyone’s clear on “have nothing to do with…”, try spending another minute or so talking about the opposite approach.

God knew that it would be very tempting for pastors to have a lot to do with these kinds of destructive conversations. God knew that our flesh would want to engage, that our sense of mission would push us to jump in. The next verses will teach us an appropriate response, but for a moment it’s important to note that we are being baited by our flesh, by our sense of mission, and by our opponent (see v. 25’s description, “correcting his opponents…”). So, it’s possible that, with good motives, we jump into the destructive debate and violate God’s will.

Before Sunday, see if segments of your preaching portion can be explored through contrasting or opposite attitudes or actions.

Preach well for the sake of God’s reputation.

Randal