Okay. I’m writing down and posting right now how I think about this (so forgive the half-baked nature of the writing, no image header, typos, etc.) because I don’t want to miss out on what’s going through my mind as I experience this. While I want to abide by the counsel I give, I’ll risk losing where I’m at in this specific sermon in order to help my fellow preachers for the long haul. Here’s the counsel:

If in sermon study, you find your heart beating faster, tears of joy/sorrow/excitement forming, and you feel led to worship God, stay right there! Don’t move! For you stand upon the ground whence the heart of the sermon should flow.

This is happening to me right now as I’m preparing the message on Luke 8:22-25. I’m not even in that specific text but doing work to help unfold that text for modern hearers. I’m working through a biblical theology, if you will, of God, water, and chaos.

The Bible is clear: God is Lord over chaos! And to see the litany of works where Yahweh not only conquers the waters but uses them to do his bidding (and looking forward to the day where “the sea was no more”) – has overwhelmed me. I’m in tears. I’m overwhelmed with the greatness of God (and him in Christ!), the goodness of Jesus to me, the grandness of the plan of redemption being workout out in history, and more things that I can piece out from what my heart is aflutter with.

It leads me to worship right now! To put on music that gives a soundtrack to what my heart is feeling and my head is awash in.

And I don’t want to leave my computer. I want to stay here. I want to preach whatever this is as the emotional heart of my message. Whatever I say on Sunday (which is obviously connected to what I’m studying), I want my hearers more than to know what I’m feeling, I want them to feel what I’m feeling. I want to share it. I want them to also experience the wonder and glory and grandeur of God in Christ.

If you get these moments in study. Stop. Don’t move. Stay right there. Soak up every feeling, every tear, every hand raised, every knee dropped on the floor, whatever the response, just know you’ve hit upon the greatest emotional center that you can discover in a sermon – your own!

Now, pray that God would be as gracious to the congregation in the preaching of the message as he’s been to you in the preparation for it.

Preacher, seek to be overwhelmed in your study and be grateful for the gift that it is.

Okay…back to the study.

I love to read. Over the years I’ve seen a consistency of certain attitudes and actions concerning the things I read. Here are some of my quirky unwritten rules of reading:

  1. I confess that I must read every footnote or endnote in a book or I feel like I haven’t really read the book.
  2. Don’t buy books (that have been made into movies) with movie poster covers. Buy the literary cover if available.
  3. Reading the inside flap of a novel’s dust jacket is like taking the risk of watching a movie trailer: it may give away too much of the story and ruin it for you. This is also why you absolutely don’t read guest author ‘Introductions’ that preface books until AFTER reading the novel.
  4. Never watch the movie before you read the book.
  5. If I lend you a book I expect it to be returned in the condition it was given. Additionally, if you write in it, we may never be friends again. In fact, I may contract a hitman.
  6. If I don’t return your book as I received it, get ready to receive a new book from me.
  7. For getting a good novel my first move is the library not Amazon. Why pay for something (online) that you’ve already paid for (in taxes) at your local library? Plus, my local library is awesome.
  8. If the cover has permanent badges which say Oprah Book Club or Soon to be a Motion Picture, etc., I look for a different cover.
  9. Don’t ask for any of my Cormac McCarthy 1st edition books. They’re not on the loan list. But feel free to add to the collection.
  10. With rare exceptions, I don’t buy a book unless I’m going to read it within a few months if not weeks.
  11. If I start a book I have to finish it. No matter what. No incomplete reads (unless a reference book).
  12. Use bookmarks. Dogearing a book is like keying your own car.
  13. I don’t read two novels at the same time. Only one kid on the diving board a pop.
  14. I kinda judge a book by its cover.
  15. If you read the end of the book before actually getting there by reading it from the start…GET OUT
  16. If you see me reading a book you’ve read, it’s great that you tell me you loved it (and generally why) but if you reveal plot-wise why that was the case you’re dead to me.



Technically, now #myformerlyunwrittenrulesofreading


Book Update: A Great Start

January 3, 2018 — 2 Comments

Yesterday my new book Preaching That Moves People was released. Within 24 hours it had become Amazon’s #1 Hot Seller and, even better, Amazon’s #1 Bestseller in the field of preaching books. Granted, it’s a fairly narrow field but I’ll take what I can get. 😉 The book has received a warm welcome and I hope God uses it to bless many pastors, church planters, and seminarians for years to come.