Archive for May, 2011

Some people are gifted in their ability to “think on their feet,” while others aren’t. The gifted seem to have an innate capacity to answer questions, make points, and recall almost anything in an informative and clear way, while those not so gifted struggle in all of those areas. I don’t think, however, that this is an unbridgeable gap. We can learn to think on our feet and get better at it.

I listened to a podcast a few days ago that made that very point. Lisa B. Marshall, in her The Public Speaker: Quick and Dirty Tips, gave some excellent advice. She was responding to a question from a listener who said she could make a good presentation or give a good talk because of her preparation, knowing what she wants to say, and due to the fact that it’s a monologue and not a dialogue. The listener, however, dreaded being asked questions because she doesn’t thin well on her feet. Marshall gave 3 points to remember and put into practice when you’re asked a question.

  1. Restate — When you’re asked a question, ask the questioner to repeat it. Quite often, the question will be stated more concisely or clearly than before. You can also repeat the question in your own words, and then ask the questioner if you have it right. This tactic gives you time to think about your response.
  2. Pause — Always take a moment (but not too long) to think about how you’re going to answer the question and how you want to frame it. Pausing gives you time to reflect and think and keeps you from a hasty or “snippy” answer, especially if the question is emotional or has some criticism in it.
  3. Structure your response — Your answer should have some form of organization to make sure your answer is not too brief or rambling. There are 3 basic structures involved in responding to a question – they all involve dividing or breaking down the answer into smaller parts.
    1. PREP — State your position. Give at least one reason. Provide an example or story that supports your position.
    2. PEP — State your position. Provide an example or story that supports your position. State your position.
    3. Divide and Conquer — Use divisions such as “past – present – future,” “problem – solution,” “cost – benefit,” “ideal  -reality,” or “low – medium – high” to form a simple structure for your answer.

The best way to think better on your feet is to practice answering  easy questions, which will build your confidence.

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This morning I had the honor of preaching on Ephesians 3:20-21 (a great passage!). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: To God be glory forever!

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Harold Camping was wrong. The rapture didn’t happen Saturday as he predicted. But before we start the fist-pumping, name-calling, and finger-pointing, we’d do well to remember that the day of God’s judgment really is coming.

Whether it be our own death or at the second coming of Jesus Christ, every one of us will stand before God in judgment. That should be a sobering thought, but I’m afraid quite a few people, including some Christians, are directly or indirectly mocking it.

The writer of the book of Hebrews said in 9:27, “And just as it is appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” As part of his charge to Timothy to “preach the word,” the apostle Paul wrote, “I charge you in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ, who is to judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim. 4:1).

the one who stands before the perfectly holy God in his own “righteousness” will instantly realize that his sinfulness and depravity merit only death. He must pay for his own sins against God because “the wages of sin is death,” according to Romans 6:23a. But for those who are clothed in the perfect righteousness of Another, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23b).

Our only hope against the judgment of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The wrath of God is averted by turning from our sin (and from the idea that we can do anything at all to earn our salvation), and trusting Jesus Christ and Him alone to deliver us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

In the midst of all of the “sound and fury signifying” very little in the matter of Harold Camping, Family Radio, billboards on the highway, and countless “see-I-told-you-so” statements, let’s not lose sight of the reality of God’s judgment and His grace.

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Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 3:14-19. Here is my sermon in summary in one sentence: Paul passionately prays for our greatest needs – strength, a growing knowledge and experience of the love of Christ, and the fullness of God.

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No matter what we call it – “spending time with God” or “devotions” – a common problem arises (at least in my experience, but I assume yours, too): we think we need to “get something out of it.” If we don’t, we feel guilty. If we do, we thnk we’ve been successful.

Tim Challies applies some common sense to the issue here. The same thing applies to worship services, too. It’s worth the five minutes or so it will take to read.

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Harold Camping, head of Family Radio and purveyor of false teaching, has made news by claiming that “the rapture” of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will take place on May 21st (this Saturday). As the saying goes, this isn’t “his first time at the rodeo.” Camping has predicted the date of the return of Christ for His saints on several other occasions. All of them have been wrong, and I have no reason to believe this prediction will be any different.

Albert Mohler gives his thoughts here.

Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to this earth someday (Acts 1:9-11)! We don’t know when, however (Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7). We are to be busy and ready until He comes (Luke 12:40).

Not only do predictions like these disobey the Lord, they also hurt the cause of His kingdom.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 3:8-13. The summary of my sermon in the space of one sentence is as follows: Paul’s calling by God to proclaim His mystery reveals the depths of man, the heights of God, and the realities of life.

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Romans 3:23 is a familiar verse, at least I hope it is – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

At a Bible study on Romans this week, the relationship between our sin and God’s glory (the two major themes of the verse) seemed to jump out at me as never before.

“Glory,” as it relates to God, is an umbrella term that refers to His attributes, character, and nature as a whole. We, as sinful human beings, don’t measure up to God’s perfect standard (His own character and law). In fact, we fall far short of it. These two themes are connected. If we fail to understand God’s perfect, righteous character, we won’t know the depths of our own sin. If we think of ourselvees more highly than we ought, the glory of God will be severely diminshed. Not only that, as our vision of God as He really is grows, we grow in our realization of how sinful and depraved we remain.

The bad news that we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God is good news, too. Without it, we’d never know our need for a Saviour or God’s grace.

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I’ve always thought of myself as a patient person. I was wrong! I’m not saying I’m a “zero” on the patience scale of 0-to-100, but I’m far from 100, too. As time goes by, I’ve become more aware of the impatience that resides in my heart. It’s in your’s, too.

Patience is a willingness to wait. It’s not the desire, yes even the demand, to have what we want exactly when we want it and how we want it. impatience is exemplified by Veruca Salt, the character in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. She knew what she wanted and she wanted it “now!” No waiting for her and no waiting for us, either.

We have a hard time waiting in line at the post office or the grocery store. Delaying “instant gratification” by saving our money until we have enough to buy something seems to be a relic of a bygone era. Even waiting for something to download on high-speed Internet drives us crazy. Remember dial-up anyone?

But God is patient. Psalm 145:8 says, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,” the apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:9. Several verses later, he exhorted his readers to “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (verse 15). God’s patience  is perfect, infinite, and eternal.

You and I are to imitate the moral character of God by being patient. We reflect His character and nature by being willing to wait. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law,” says the apostle Paul in Galatians 5:22-23. Notice that patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and not a result of our own effort, even our best efforts. Patience flows from the gracious work of the Holy Spirit in us to empower and enables us to be slow to anger rather than “quick on the trigger” and willing to wait.

I’m not as patient as I should be, but by the grace of God and the strengthening of His Holy Spirit, I’m more willing to wait than I used to be, even for the virtue of patience. Praise God!

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Ephesians 3:1-7. In one sentence, my sermon was: The “mystery” made known to Paul, and us, is that believing Jews and Gentiles are members together of the same body (the church) by God’s grace through the work of Jesus Christ, and it’s our responsibility is to get the message, get it right, and get it out.

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