Monthly Archives: August 2012

Jude Contends for Good Sermons as Well as the Faith

Note: This post is part one in a six-part series on how the book of Jude demonstrates qualities of a good sermon.

As I studied the book of Jude recently, I realized that although an epistle, Jude demonstrates several qualities of a good sermon. Over the course of six posts, I hope to elaborate on how Jude starts with a humble introduction, presents a unified thesis, illustrates his point through biblical examples and natural analogies, makes application, and draws to a God-glorifying conclusion.

Jude’s Humble Introduction

As I have preached in various places, I have noticed that the more the introduction focuses on what degrees I have obtained or what books I have written, the greater the barrier with the congregation. Whenever someone simply introduces me as a friend or someone who loves the Lord, then the audience identifies with me sooner. In fact, at men’s conferences or sports banquets, I have asked that they not use titles such as “Dr.” Following a few introductions, I felt the need to start off by saying, “I am just a country preacher saved by grace” in order to connect with the audience. Many audiences just want to know that you are one of them and that you don’t look down on them by thinking that you are a better person. An introduction will create barriers or help connect you to the audience.

As I recently studied the book of Jude, his humble introduction caught my attention. The text states:

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. (ESV)

Jude states he is the brother of James but notice that he does not state he is the half brother of Jesus. Now let’s be honest about this. Jude holds the trump card. In modern society, he pastors the mega-church, has written the New York Times best seller, and has been named Preacher of the Year by all the magazines. He could have started off, “I’m related to the Creator of the universe, your Creator, so listen up before I put my big brother on you.” Yet, he doesn’t mention the kinship to Jesus in his introduction.

Perhaps we can learn from Jude’s wisdom here. While he could claim to be the half brother of the Son of God, he instead introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. It matters not how many degrees we have obtained, how many books we have written, how many members attend the churches where we serve or what letters follow our names. What matters most is whom we serve. A simple introduction may create a connection that helps you succeed in your primary assignment—communicating the Word of God.

I hope you will think intentionally about how you introduce others and how you want to be introduced. May we be known more by the God we serve than what “we” have done, and may we identify with the words of John the Baptist, “I must decrease so that He may increase.”

In the next post, we will look at the big idea of the sermon, central idea of the text, fallen condition focus, or if you are writing a paper … the thesis statement. Jude sets an admirable example for us there as well.

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Lessons from a Mathews Ultra 2

Last night I pulled out my Mathews Ultra 2…I know, I know, that’s really old technology on a bow. It’s from 2004, but it still will shoot better than one pulling the string back so I am still happy with it.

At any rate, my daughter and I like to shoot bow and arrow together so she grabbed her pink bow and pink arrows while I opened the case to see that my Mathews bow had a problem. Instead of its normal curved, this bow laid as flat as a preacher on the couch Sunday night. The string had broken and normal curve no longer existed. So today, I went to the shop to drop it off and get if fixed for hunting season.

On the way, I began thinking. My bow was broken and I didn’t even know it. I had neglected the bow since hunting season ended last year, and I put it away. That’s typical with me and my bow, and it’s probably why I am not that great with it. I’m sure there’s a lesson there too. The good news is that I can drop it off and someone can fix it in short order.

But that’s not okay when it comes to relationships and especially our relationship with Christ. How often do we neglect our parents, our wife, our children, or our prayer time or quiet time and then wake up one day to discover we have a broken relationship and didn’t even know it? Relationships with people, our church, and even God cannot be fixed nearly as easily, but I fear that too often they are neglected just as often.

Among many other lessons that I have learned from shooting a bow, today, God reminded me not to take for granted the important relationships in my life. Doing so may result in waking up one day to find that all you have is a worthless mess that needs a lot of work.

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Religious Freedom for Chickens and Cows

I supported Chick-fil-A by helping organize Southwestern Seminary’s purchase of 250 sandwiches. I also ate breakfast, lunch, and dessert after dinner there on Wednesday. In fact, today, I have already eaten at Chick-fil-A twice, but it’s time to move past financial support and discuss the more important issue. It’s not about chicken sandwiches or even about the definition of marriage as important as that is…the key issue is religious liberty.

I used to say, “it’s a free country” with regularity.  Nowadays, elected officials tell companies not to bring their jobs to town if their leaders hold certain beliefs. Government overstep seems to be removing the “free” from speech.

Let’s look at a little history. In the 1600s, the Anabaptists gave their lives standing for religious freedom. A few crazy people aside, most Anabaptists were pacifists who simply wrote to defend their beliefs. You should read “On Heretics and Those Who Burn Them” by Balthasar Hubmaier if you haven’t. Hubmaier defends not just his own religious freedom, but the right for heretics to believe whatever they like without persecution.

In 1801, the Danbury Baptist Association wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson. Many quote Jefferson’s 1802 letter as the document that established the wall of separation between church and state, but I want you to notice a section from the Danbury Baptists’ inquiry.

“Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty–that religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals–that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions.”

Mr. Cathy should have the freedom to state his religious beliefs without any suffering. Similarly, those who protest today have the right to state their religious beliefs without any suffering. Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s summarized Voltaire’s “Essay on Tolerance” by writing, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.”

As one of my professor’s used to shout, “That’s the Point!”  Will we one day find out that our “free speech” has been classified as “hate speech” when we defend the biblical view of marriage?

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