Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Books I'm Reading this Fall 2020

What are you reading this Fall?


A woman was driving her car on the freeway got cut off by another driver almost forcing her into a bad wreck. She was so angered by the near miss that she pulled behind the other car, sent an obscene gesture flying his way, sat on the horn, and screamed at the poor fellow. As you can imagine, this caused quite a scene. The police were called, and she was taken into custody for auto theft, booked, and her belongings were put into a plastic bag. A few hours later, the police officers apologized to her for the mistake and indicated she was free to go. She shot back, “so, why did you arrest me?” The reply: “Well, I saw the fish symbol on the bumper of your car and a “What would Jesus Do?” sticker, and I just assumed you stole the car!” Ouch. – adapted from Dr. James Merritt, Cross Point Church. GA May our behavior and example match up to that of being a Christian.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

I Must Tell Jesus (August Newsletter Article)

From the Preacher’s Desk: “I Must Tell Jesus.”

Elisha A Hoffman was born May 7, 1839 in Orwigsburg. Pennsylvania. His father was a minister, and Elisha followed Christ at a young age. He attended Philadelphia public schools, studied science, then pursued the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association. He worked for eleven years with the association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, following the death of his young wife, he returned to Pennsylvania and devoted thirty-three years to pastoring Benton Harbor Church.
Hoffman’s pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents. One day, for example, while calling on the destitute of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he met a woman whose depression seemed beyond cure. She opened her heart and poured on him her pent-up sorrows Wringing her hands, she cried, “What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?” Hoffman knew what she should do, for he had himself learned the deeper lessons of God’s comfort. He said to the woman, “You cannot do better than to take all your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.”
Suddenly the lady’s face lighted up. “Yes!” she cried, “That’s it! I must tell Jesus.” Her words echoed in Hoffman’s ears, and he mulled them over as he returned home. He drew out his pen and started writing, I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! /I cannot bear my burdens alone; / I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!/ Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.
Hoffman lived to be ninety, telling Jesus his burdens and giving the church such hymns as What a Wonderful Savior, Down at the Cross, Are you Washed in the Blood? Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and many more. – pg. 130 Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations and Quotes. – Thomas Nelson Publishers. Robert J. Morgan . 2000.
Are you telling Jesus your struggles? Are you sharing Him with others? May we grow together.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Statues, Name Changes, Controversy - Oh My!

So in my community there has been lots of controversy. It almost takes a history lesson to share how this came to be. Short version: History of America and the status of our culture came to ahead. I live in Virginia. Near what some call the Capital of the Confederacy. Others - "The Lost Cause." There is a lot of tradition, pride, and southern heritage. Along with that hurt, healing, and "Racism." Social justice, civil right issues, and a deep divide between politics, people, and heart issues. If I was to sum it up people are divided over statues, names that convey what has been Racial overtones. For more see this Story

So the statutes of leaders of the Civil War on Monument Avenue and areas have come down. In my community there are 2 schools named after Confederate Leaders (other schools and names in the area as well - did I mention I live in Virginia and you can't go anywhere without some area having history of the Civil War here?)Lee-Davis High and Stonewall Jackson Middle school.

Recently our school board (having a lawsuit dismissed earlier this year to force to change the names) voted to change the names of the schools by a marrow vote of 4-3. Hanover County seems divided over this. People are thinking back to when they went to school there, or their grandkids etc. I understand. There is the Financial consideration, political, and cultural. In a lot of ways I'd like to just move forward. I have one daughter that just graduated from LD and 2 children attending the school no matter what they name it.

(Several good suggestions I've heard - Mechanicsville High, Bell Creek Middle etc and some good suggestions of mascots too). The Big Thing it how can we move on as a community. I've been reading online and there tends to be a dividing issue. Which it should not be.

Here is one thing people need to be: Civil. Agree to disagree. Recognize the other side. Did people take pride in tradition, history, and heritage ? Sure. Is it really erasing history? No. Are the names offensive and meant to be racist? you bet. (People who attended the schools might not of thought it that way but the minorities that went did did and were silenced). Do we need to be calling each other names? (Snow flakes, uncaring, racists etc) No. What does that achieve? What are we back in Middle School?

Someone once reminded me to "Choose your battles wisely." Love one another. Love your enemy. Love your neighbor as yourself. If this community (which I love, and minister in) is to move forward ... we have to find a way to come together and embrace change - even if we don't like it. I find Joy that maybe this might be put behind us but recognize this doesn't solve Racism or society's woes. A name change doesn't do that. It is only a step.

There is more history, divide, and controversy here than a name change or politics or government to be the answer. I find that answer, and Hope only in Jesus.

As a minister, I see people hurting. Lives needing to be mended. They say time heals. I hope so.

May we change people one life at a time.

BTW I'm thinking of a few names (Since they don't name after individuals - mostly areas.) 360 high, Turnpike High, West Store, Studley.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Books I'm Reading: Summer 2020

What are you Reading?

July Newsletter Article

From the Preacher’s Desk: We are living in a time when we need to embrace the discomfort of racism as uncomfortable as it may be. Jesus died for all people. Red, yellow, black and white ... . The church should and must be leading on these issues. Every life unjustly killed deserves justice. We cannot support the Black Lives Matters Organization since some of their views are deeply at odds with the church. The ultimate goal of the church is to see: Broken Lives Mended By Christ! How? We will act justly. We will love mercy. We will walk humbly with our God. We Have To Be United As One! It is not enough to not be racist... The goal is to be anti-racist. - Andy Stanley Our Action Steps: Admit racism is real. Listen. Pray. Love. We do not support any movement to defund the police, although we do believe some our systems need to be reformed. This is not about police officers. This is about all of us. Are there some bad police officers? Yes, let's be clear, just like there are some very bad preachers. There is bad and evil people everywhere. When it comes to police officers, every police officer that we know personally and love dearly, went into their profession because they actually love justice, because they care, because they honestly want to make a difference. We want to kind of wade into what many would consider dangerous territory and say, You don't have to choose a side. You can be whole-heartedly against racial injustices and you can be for honorable police officers. You can do both. You don't have to choose sides. We must respond well by listening to the experiences of our friends and empathizing with them. In fact, the Gospel will be diminished if we react poorly. We know that reaching people, our witness, depends on how we respond in moments like this. When Christians respond badly with no empathy or charity, it makes it harder for the church to share the Gospel with our friends. We must do better! We have to do better! Broken Lives Matter To Jesus! Racism isn't a Bad Habit. It isn't a mistake. It is sin. The answer isn't found in sociology, or the government. Jesus is the answer. This is not philosophical, an opinion, discussion or argument. This has nothing to do with politics or being political. This is all about theology and walking in and following the Gospel. This is all about being faithful followers of Jesus. Being like Jesus! As I like to say: "Being His Hands and Feet." Jesus said, your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 If we dare to call ourselves fully devoted followers of Christ, then we need to embrace the discomfort and fight for spiritual and racial unity. At Bonnie Brae Church of Christ, we are thankful to be in this "good fight" with you. God Bless, See you on Sunday. Gerrard

Being Awesome

Sermon Preparation

I was given the following sermon preparation outline by an older, wiser preacher nameed: Bill Gulick. Enjoy.



I . Begi n "Brood ing."
A. Brood ing - creative wa i t ing or "yeasting." It is known and used by art ists, m usic ians, and creative wr iters to tap hidden powers of the mi nd .
B. It is using a number of short per iods of concentrat ion over a long span of time to stir the unconsci ous m ind into creative labor.
C. Get time on your side. Start ear ly in the week , not later than Tuesday noon. Brood each day. One-half hour each day is better than 4 hours at the end of the week .
D . Brood with a pencil and paper. "Tack down" a 11 thoughts using key words and phrases. Save these sheets of "free associati on" unt i l the sermon is pr epared .
E. Let the sermon be the product of your own matur ing thought. Avo id runn ing to books now. Th is i s not the time for read ing, but for creat ion.

F. When it w i ll, organi zat ion of the sermon. the week .

let free associ ati on suggest the Never try to force the plan ear ly in

G. You can have sever al sermons in the br ood ing pr ocess at the same time, thus prepar ing for the future.

II. Select the Idea.
A . Ideas "hit you" as you read, study, converse, dr ive, work, or do your calling. Do not strain for ideas. Rece ive them.
B. Wr ite each id ea d own at once. Do not d epend upon remember ing it. A few sentences should suff i ce to ind icate the essence of the idea.
C. File wr itten ideas in a special folder , card -index, or note book . These id eas wi l l accumulate by the score.
D. Look through these i deas occasi onally, add ing a few sentences as they occur . You may wa nt to d iscard some. Keep the f ile "alive. "

_sel ect ing_ the Idea
A. Leaf through the f i le of sermon ideas that you have been gather ing. Select the one that seems most 11 al ive."
B. Or seize upon a r ecent "inspirati on" that seems to cry to be preached upon.
C. Mak e th is cho i ce ear ly i n the week --not later than Tuesday noon, prefera bly by Monday even ing.
D. Forsak ing all other ideas, keep thee only unto this one idea for the rest of the week . Do not d ivide your attent ion by flirting with other ideas.
E. Wr ite out the idea at the top of a blank sheet of paper­ your work sheet.

I . Continue Brood ing (See Monday
I I . Wr ite the Proposi t i on.
A. The pr oposi tion i s the whole sermon boi led d own to one
B. The pur pose of the pr oposi tion is to g ive unity to the sermon by exclud ing the irreleva nt and drawing in the relevant.
C. It may be stated or im pli ed in the f inished sermon as delivered. If stated , i t may be used most advantageously in the intr oduct i on. Other good places for it are in the conclusi on and at the transi tions between the mai n poi n ts.
D. It should be wr itten ou t in fu ll on the work sheet early in the week . Never om it i t in sermon preparat i on.
E. Labor to mak e your pr oposi tion say exactly what your sermon says. Mak e it accurate .
F. It should be worthwh i le and im portant, theref ore , more speci fic then general, but not tr iv ial.
G. Mak e i t clear and inter esting.

III . Phrase the Title.
A. A good sermon wi ll be better for a suitable name.
B. Avoid mak ing it too general, or technical, too revea l ing or sensational.
C. Mak e it accurate, clear , i nteresti ng, and suggestive.
D. Use ver bs and colorf ul picture-nouns for acti on and concreteness.

E. Prefer a
F. State it
G. Arr ive possi bi l ities and

phrase to a single word .
in up-to-date terms (e.g. "Night Fl ight") .
at it by trial and error. Write outseveral choose the best.



I . Continue Brood ing (See Monday I )
II. Decid e on Sermon Plan
A . The plan is the t y11e o f outl i ne found i n the ma in body of the sermon.
B. The pur pose of the outl ine is to impart pr ogr ess or movement of thought to the d iscourse .
C. The reason for varyi ng types of outl ine from sermon to sermon is to supply freshness and v i tal i ty to the pul pi t message over a span of t ime.
D. See var i ety i n your sermon plans.
1. Proof. " I t i s true because ...11 Reasons for uphol d ing a posi t i on .
2. Rebuttal. Reasons for rejecti ng a bel ief or posi t ion.
3 . Im pl icat i on. " I f. . . then. 11 An insight and i ts many impl icati ons.
4. Jewel. The many "facets" or appli cat ions of a truth d isplayed one af ter another .
5. Ladder . Each new poi nt becomes the platf orm for ascend ing to the text. (e.g. John Wesley's sermon, "Money:" I . Ear n al l you can.
I I . Sa v e a 11 you can. I I I . Give all you can.)
6. Ant i thesi s. The Wr ong and the R ight Way.
7. The Chase. The guest of the r ight way thr ough exam ini ng and re ject ing a number of proposed ways.
8. Analogy. Fram ing the whole sermon on an i llustrat i on. (e.g. The church as a ship, with special attention t o captan, crew, cargo, port, etc.)
9. Dialect i cal . Thes i s, Anti thesis, Synthesi s.
10. Problem Solv ing. Mo ve from a pr oblem through its analysi s to i ts soluti on. (A number of other plans are possi ble. Work out some of them for yourself. )

1. Textua l. A short part of a verse. from the text.

passa ge of Scr i ptur e is used --one verse or All the d ivi sions of the sermon are drawn

2 . Exposi tory. A par agraph, chapter, or book of the Bible is used as a text, and all the d ivisions of the sermon are drawn from it.
3. Topical. The topi c is d eveloped in its own way. A text may be used for back ground or emphasi s, but not as the source of the sermon's structure.

I I I . Outl ine the Sermon.
A. Arrange your poi nts w ith a vi ew to an ascend ing ord er of importance .


B. Try to achieve an equal pr oportion of space or time devoted to each po int.
C. Test the points for uni ty by hold ing them up against the proposi t ion. Do they a ll belong to this sermon?
D . Phrase your mai n po ints in parallel structure.
E. Work to mak e your statement of poi nts concrete and memorable.
F . Keep the number of points d own to 3 or 5 as a rule.
G. In developi ng sub-points, d o not treat i llustrations as points. Use a separate symbol for them.
H. Do not force the outl ine too ear ly in the week . Normally it wi ll appear about Thursday or Fr iday.
I . Outline fully before yo u wr ite.

I . Continue Brood ing (See Monday, I ). II . Plan the Conclus ion.
A. In planni ng a conclusi on always th ink of the a im of your
sermon. What d o you hope to achieve?
B. Conclude on the posi tive note.
C. Br i ng the sermon to its cl imax. Round out and complete the sermon.
D. Mak e it br ief--not longer than 1/10 of the whole sermon.
E. Seek var iety by usi ng d i f ferent elements: poetry, quotati ons, stor ies, questi ons.
F. Seek var iety by usi ng d i fferent types of conclusi ons, or by combining them.
1. Reca p itu lat i on and summary.
2. Appl ication
3. Challenge to act i on. Avoi d a stereotyped manner of conclud ing all sermons.

III. Plan the Intr oducti on.
A. Relate your whole sermon to human need.

Human Pr oblems

1. Personal ity d i f f iculties which pr oduce futi l ity, i nadequacy, anxiety, lonel iness, worry.
2. Li fe ad justments and d ecisi ons that must be made: vocati on, Chr istian l i fe, li fe partner.
3. Econom ic d istress.
4. Moral pr oblems.
5. Socia l injust ice.
6. Expand ing i nd iv idual inter ests.
7. Church problems.
8. Fami ly confl icts.
9. M isf or tunes.
10. Chi ld traini ng.
11. Thwarted amb it i ons.
12. The meani ng of rel ig i on, spir itua l ity.

B . Get attenti on and creea te interest, but be sure to tie this i nterest into the sermon i tself. Do not tell stor ies merely to enterta in. Create interest, d o not satisfy it.
C. Work for brevity. Mak e i t short.
D. Begin at a level from whi ch you can soar. If you begi n at the climax, you wi ll have no place to go, but d own.
E. Present not more than a single thought.
F. Work especially hard on that first sentence. Mak e it short and inter esting.
G . Include a statement of your pr opositi on and of your plan occasionally.
H . Work for var iety in the types of intr oducti on:
1. Mak e a strik ing statement and ampl i fy it.


2. Begi n with a good quotati on.
3. Questi on the valid ity of the subject. Challenge an
ancient truism.
4. Tell a story.
5. Read a news clipping or a letter.
6. Relate an inter view.
7. Make a d irect statement of pur pose.
8. State a problem.
IV. Revise Your Outl ine (See Wed nesday, III )

I . Continue Brood ing (See Monday; I ). I I . Choose I llustrat i ons.
Gathering I lustrati ons and Quotations

A . Let them r i se of themselv es out of your read ing and obser vat ion. A good i llustrat i on or quotati on should "ache to be remember ed."
B. Carry a small note book or card case for wr it ing these d own and not i ng the i r source . Do not depend on remember ing them.
C. Transfer these cards or notes to some per manent f i le.
D. Look thr ough these occasi ona lly to keep them fam il iar. Discard those tha t our out of date.
E. Wor k out your own system of i ndex ing or use no system at
F . Note date of use· on each as it becomes a part of a sermon. Do not repeat for 7 years.
G . Do not subscr ibe to magazi nes of quotat i ons or buy books of i llustrat ions. They ar e crutches that wi ll mak e you weak .
I llustrati ons

A . See tha t every sermon is suppl ied wi th illustrati ons.
B. I llustrat i ons are the w ind ows of sermons, but d o not f lood your sermon wi th too much l ight.
C . Mak e them "rea l." Avo i d mor bid , sent imental sto:r ies.
D. Do not cul l them from book s of i llustrati ons.
E. Vary the types anu sources of i l lustrati ons.
1. V iv id words - pictur e words.
2. Metaphors and simi les.
3. H istor ical stor ies, includ ing Bi ble accounts.
4. Current events.
5. Parables and allegor ies.
6. Descr ipti ons.
7. Anecd otes.
8. Dialogue.
9. Humor and sarcasm .

II. Wr ite the sermon i n full.
A. Wr i te only after caref ul ou tl ining. Wai t unti l late in the week --Fr iday or Saturday.
B. Reserve a per iod suf f iciently long to enable you to wr ite the whole sermon at one sitting. Make this a habi t .
C. Do not become cr it i cal of your style at this stage . Create; you can cr i t icize later .
D. Never be satisf ied wi th what you have wr itten in the first draf t; go over i t for possi ble im pr ovement.

IV. Rewrite for Style.
l. Take out word padd ing. Boi l it d own.
B. See how many adjectives and adverbs that you can eliminate wi thout loss of force.
C. Look at each verb. Is there another verb that is more exact, more active, or more concrete?
D. Use specific nouns in place of general ones: "schools" instead of "educati on," "ballot" in place of "democracy," etc.
E. K ill overused stock phrases.
F. Str ive for variety in the length and type of sentences.
1. Simple declarati ve
2. Compound
3. Complex
4. Imperative
5. Question
G. Use some of the devices of style.
1. Per iod ic sentences.
2. Balanced sentences.
3. Rhetor ical questi ons.
4. Repetition.


I. Cont inue Brood ing (See M onday, I ).

I I . Mak e a Preachi ng Out l ine for the Pulpit.
A. Wr ite out only key w ords and phrases.
B. Pare i t to the bone. Wr i te d own only what you need to aid your memor y of the or ig inal outl ine.
C . Test the ad equacy of the outl i ne by usi ng it to "run over the sermon i n your m ind ." Mak e necessary
revisi ons.
D . Commit the outl i ne t o memor y. Test your memory by runni ng over the sermon i n your mi nd without notes.

III. Read the Manuscr ipt Aloud Three Times.
A. Read the manuscr i pt a loud several times, as near to the t ime of d elivery as possi ble, pr efer ably ear ly on the Lord's Day mor n ing .
B. Read the man uscr i pt a loud f irst to recreate the sensual images wh ich lie back of the words. Try to taste, smell, hear, see, and t ouch what you are talk i ng about.
C. When your word s a re gerwr a l, supply concrete
imagi nati ve symbo ls for them (e.g. for "democracy" see an electi on boot h or the Capi tol dome ).
D. Read the manuscr i pt aloud a second time to convey the ma in uni ts of your th ought. Give special a ttenti on to peaks of emphasis and to transi tions.
E. Read the ma nuscr ipt aloud a th ird time, v isual izing the persons to whom you are to d e liver it, tryi ng a lso to preser ve the va lues of your f irst and second read ings.
F. Lay the manuscr ipt as id e an hour bef ore d eli very and d o not thi nk of i t aga in unti l you del iver the sermon . Do not carry the manuscr ipt into the pulpi t.

IV. Reconstr uct Sermon, Usi ng Preachi ng Outli ne Alone . (See Above, II )
V. Outli ne Sermon from Memory.

Friday, June 05, 2020

The Third Option


Books I'm Reading this Fall 2020

What are you reading this Fall?