Have you ever wondered how to preach without notes? Then you should read the book Preaching By Ear that is written by authors Dave and Karen McClellan. This unique book on preaching involves the typical steps of building an outline, utilizing specific illustrations, and relying on one’s notes. But, unlike the typical preaching book, Preaching By Ear encourages a style that emphasizes the “speaking from the heart.” To establish this ideal the authors use historical, biblical, and practical examples.
Written notes for speaking is a recent invention within the history of Christianity and even the world. Citing historical figures such as Augustine, Quintilian, and others, the McClellans show various forms of public speaking and rhetoric principles. Like the biblical examples of Moses, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Paul, and even Jesus, a pattern of oral tradition is established. Oral tradition was historically how stories were passed from one generation-to another through simple conversations. This is because there were not sufficient means to document events in written form until Edison was first able to quickly document things with the photograph in 1891. Couple this with the author’s statement that says: “In 90 percent of the history of God’s people, there were no personal Bibles feasibly owned by commoners” makes the case that written form for everyday use is a new idea. Therefore, people must have “spoken from the heart.” Continue reading “Preaching By Ear by Dave & Karen McClellan”
Doubt is the appropriate word to describe if I was going to be able to write this book review or not. At the time of this writing I confess I have had a rough few weeks in my life where I did not feel like reading or writing. So I was doubtful that I had the energy to read or write. However, by the grace of God that sustains us even in our deepest times of doubt I was able to finish reading John Steven’s book, “How Can I Be Sure.” As a result, I have found it to be a very timely fantastic book, as we each struggle at some point in life. As Stevens writes, “doubt is dangerous, but we need not be terrified by it… it’s an opportunity for spiritual growth.” Therefore, Christians should remember that doubt is different than unbelief, that doubt produces spiritual maturity, and that we must look beyond ourselves.
According to Stevens, the most troubling aspect of doubt is the difference between “doubt and unbelief.” Often the failure to distinguish between these two terms causes one to move beyond a casual doubt and towards questioning one’s salvation. Stevens offers hope and comfort by simply asking,
“Do you believe and trust in Jesus?” If the answer is “yes”, then you have every entitlement to assurance of salvation. If the answer is “no”, then you have no grounds for assurance.”
This is because our salvation is not based on any work we do as Christians. It is not even based on the level of our faith. Rather, salvation is based on the object of our faith, which is Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus fulfilled all the religious requirements we could never keep. As a result, we should trust what God did for us on the Cross of Christ than our works and effort. Then we will move from unbelief back to simple doubt. Continue reading “How Can I Be Sure? by John Stevens”
When writing a good story the ending can be the most difficult part. God’s story of redemption found within the Bible is no different. The difficulty is found when one is required to interpret the Bible’s ending from a list of possibilities. As a result, for centuries many scholars and layman have debated exactly how Jesus will return. Churches have split, false teachers have risen, and new Christian sects have developed from a variety of end time theologies. Therefore, it is very important that Christians interpret prophetic passages in the Bible carefully.
According to author Jermaie Rinne in the book How Will The World End one can be careful by simply remembering that, “Jesus is returning.” No matter how Jesus will return, He is returning. When He comes back one won’t argue if His return is theologically correct or not. Rather, one should be glad He has returned, period. This simple, yet profound truth allows Christians to be able to “focus on the work at hand” than “watching the clock” for His return. By knowing He will return, Christians should be motivated to engage in missions more. After all, this best prepares as many people as possible for His certain return. These pieces of sage advice are sprinkled throughout How Will The World End, along with specific theological explanations and other practical applications.
For example, one-way Rinne made How Will The World End practical is by using contemporary examples people are familiar with. Early in the book he references movies like Armageddon, and Pacific Rim to contrast what the Day of Judgment will look like from the happy endings often shown in Hollywood. However, if one has professed Christ as Lord then there will be a happy ending for the Christian. This book is also concise, which makes it easy to understand basic end time theology without the elaborate prophecy charts found in other eschatological systems. Continue reading “How Will The World End?: Book Review”
Theological debates occur within Christianity; sadly, some miss the main point biblical authors were really communicating. For example, the book of Titus is often remembered for the checklist of qualifications concerning elders, yet there is more to the book than this one topic. Author Tim Chester of Sheffield, England does a great job in Titus For You of summarizing Paul’s intent for the entire epistle. Basically, Chester believes Paul wrote this letter to Titus, his younger son in the Christian faith (1:4), by saying, “His goal was not converts, but disciples. For any ministry we are involved in…that should be our goal, too.”Chester explains his thesis by exegetically explaining this epistle verse-by-verse, which includes topics such as the Gospel, discipleship, character, God’s grace, and His glory.
The Gospel is the Cornerstone of Discipleship First, Chester’s summary of Titus may be discipleship. He realizes that Paul’s letter begins by emphasizing the Gospel (1:1-3). Only the Gospel can “bring those to whom God has chosen to saving faith” because one cannot rescue oneself, which feeds into holistic discipleship. In other words, the Gospel must be lived out in each believer’s life and not just received as a one-time moment of salvation. In chapter three in the book of Titus (3:4-7), Chester explains the difference between God’s grace and His glory. He starts by showing how Paul emphasized correct Gospel application in both belief and in culture. As a result, one lives a purposeful life because one’s motivation for living is founded in the Gospel’s redemptive application in not just their past, but also in their present and future. Continue reading “Titus For You: Book Review & Summary”