My Schuyler Goatskin Preaching Bible

After preaching yesterday, I realized that over the years I’ve developed a routine I follow almost every time I preach. This is in addition to the process of studying and writing my sermon notes.

It includes steps between finishing my main sermon preparation and actually preaching the sermon, and a few post-preaching steps also. Some actions are intentional and other just happen.

This ritual is my way of depending on God, familiarizing myself with my message, and getting mentally and physically ready to preach the Word. It could be compared to an athlete “getting in the zone” before a big event.

Here is the ritual in three stages, all built around the preaching event. This is based on Sunday morning preaching. I adapt it to fit other situations.

Print out or finish handwriting the final draft of my sermon notes.

Make solid pink circles in the left margin with a highlighter indicating when to advance PowerPoint slides. (I advance my own slides. I’ve seen too many PowerPoint fiascoes to entrust it to someone else.)

Highlight main points with pink . Underline other key statements with pink.

Highlight Scripture I will read with yellow, including references we will turn to, phrases from the preaching text I will repeat, and selections from other passages I will quote.

Read through my notes, underlining with a black fountain pen or gel pen to connect my mind to the ideas and to mark phraseology and emphasis for speaking. Also write in additional ideas and cross out what I decide to omit.

Place the Bible marker ribbon at the page of my preaching text. Place other marker ribbons as needed. (My Bible has three!)

Retire early enough to get a full night’s rest.

Rise at least 3 hours before I leave the house.

Brew strong pour over coffee with my Chemex and fill my 10 ounce Yeti tumbler.

Kneel in my quiet place and pray through my Prayer List for Preaching.

Talk through my message to familiarize my mind and mouth with the  wording and smooth out as needed.

Fold my notes, leaving a ¼ inch overlap for easy opening later, and put them in my leather Bible case along with my preaching Bible.

Put the Bible case, my Unique Planner, and a bottle of water in my book bag.

Shower, dress, eat a good breakfast, and drive.

Verbalize a prayer of dependence and thanks while walking from my car to the building.

Fellowship and worship.

Drink most of the bottle of water during the first part of the service.

Mentally offer one more prayer of dependence during the song before the sermon.

Open the Word and preach it.

Silently give a prayer of thanks and commit to God the ongoing work of the Word in people’s lives.

Finish the water left in my bottle.

Fellowship and leave.

Sometime later, arrange the sermon note pages back in order and pass them to my administrative assistant to record and file.

What’s your preaching ritual?

A Wedding Charge

You are surrounded today by your family and friends who love you, support you, and celebrate this momentous day with you. We can say with confidence the blessing of God is on you as you each have entrusted your lives to God and are following His lead in the step you are taking today.

Your families have invested their lives in you, prayed for you, and hoped with you for the right person, at the right time, for you to marry. I think I can speak for them and say they are thankful for you and proud of you today.

During the past couple of years, my wife and I have enjoyed getting to know you and speaking into your lives. We’ve laughed a lot and cried some too through conversations and counseling, while we kept a few local Mexican restaurants in business.

A wedding is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on things that matter in life. In a world where we are barraged with thousands of trivialities every day, this moment is one of the most exalted and truly meaningful experiences a human being can have, or observe – a man and a woman who up to this day have lived separately and independently, willingly giving up their separateness and laying down their independence and joining themselves together into one, vowing before God and witnesses to have, hold, love, cherish, respect, and submit until the end of their earthly lives. This is big stuff! It’s worth watching!

One of the most significant elements of a Christian wedding is the countercultural nature of it. The prevailing attitude in many marriages is, “We’re getting married so we can be happy.” Marriage can bring you happiness, but if that’s your primary goal, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I like Gary Thomas’ way of addressing this in his book, Sacred Marriage, when he says, “God did not primarily intend marriage to make you happy, but to make you holy.” If you make it your goal to grow in holiness, and to help each other grow in holiness, you will find fulfillment, and happiness will be a by-product of your pursuit.

Can I ask you to think about one quality today? I believe it is the key to your marriage being everything God designed it to be, and everything you hope it will be.

There’s an old story about a loving wife who had her beautiful knee-length hair cut and sold it so she could buy her husband a platinum chain for his prized pocket watch. When she presented his gift, she discovered he had sold the watch to buy her a set of jeweled combs she had wished to use in her hair.

This story illustrates the quality of unselfishness. Each sacrificed their most prized possession so they could give something valuable to the other. That’s the quality I hope will resurface in your minds after the whirlwind of this day. Learn to live unselfishly. Learn to sacrifice what is important to you so you can give to help each other, meet one another’s needs, encourage each other, and delight one another.

This is what scripture means when it says, “Husbands love your wives” and when it says older women should teach younger women to “love their husbands.”  

It’s what scripture instructs us to do when it says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Marriage reveals selfishness in ways you haven’t experienced yet. We naturally think of ourselves first, take care of ourselves before helping others, and choose what pleases us. Many marriages die from a thousand cuts inflicted by selfishness. In a marriage that lasts and thrives, you will learn to do unselfish things over and over again.

And you won’t just make big life-changing sacrifices, but thousands of small ones. But they all add up to a life of love. This love is not just squishy, feely, happy feelings of, “I’m in love,” but steady, solid, relentless, self-sacrificing love.

Thankfully you don’t have to wrestle with your selfishness on your own. As Christians, you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, enabling you to produce fruit consisting of character qualities, the first of which is love. As you walk in the Spirit daily, allowing His Word to direct you, you will know how to supplant selfishness with love.

And you have each other. A marriage of Christians doesn’t mean you have perfect harmony all the time. But when sparks fly, it’s an opportunity to speak truth in love, to be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, and to learn about the selfishness in your heart. Sometimes your spouse will help you recognize that selfishness, and it’s time to confess it, be forgiven, and grow.

In fact, the wisest man said,
Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another
[an enemy, like selfishness],
Two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

That will be your story.

All of this points us to another story. In fact it’s been called the greatest story ever told.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

This is the message all need to hear. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. God loved us so much He gave His Son as a substitute. He died for our sins and rose from the dead so we can be forgiven and have eternal life.

This free gift is promised to those who believe in Him – who trust in Jesus and no one or nothing else. You have done that, and I know you desire for the people you care about to know and believe also.

As you live out your lives together, and learn to love each other, you will display God’s kind of love for others to see. In a day when marriage is viewed very casually, or as a convenience, or inconvenience, God’s plan is for marriage to be a covenant for life before Him, and for you to display His glory together all your days.

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)


Leading Through Change Podcast Notes

Shepherdology: A Pastor’s Friend podcast Episodes 21 & 22 address essential steps for a pastor to follow when leading through change.

Episode 21 – Essential Steps to Leading Through Change (Part 1)

A concise outline of what I covered is below.

Also, here is the link to Leading Through Change Without Splitting the Church, an article I referred to which is very helpful.

1. Start with Why

  • Scripture
  • Mission, Objectives, Plan
  • What is our purpose? What is the desired outcome? What will our church look like in 5 years if we take this step of growth? 10 years?

2. Prayerfully Evaluate

  • Is there a biblical basis for this step of growth?
  • Why are we considering this? Intentional or reactive?
  • Who would it help?
  • Who would it impact negatively?
  • What are the negatives of doing this?
  • What are the unintended consequences?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen if we take this step? The best thing?
  • Is there consensus among the pastoral team? What about the deacons?
  • What do we believe is the best way to move forward?

The law of unintended consequences: Any significant organization will have reactions that extend well beyond the change itself.    Thom Ranier

Categories of people’s receptivenesss to change:

5% Eager for change. This group is wondering what’s taking you so long.

20% Open to change. They need to understand the details of the change, but they typically will be okay with it.

30% Followers. They tend to move where the loudest and most convincing voices are.

25% Resistant to change. They like the church just the way it is.

20% Highly resistant to change. This group is not much fun.

from Who Moved My Pulpit?: Leading Change in the Church by Thom S. Rainer

3. Teach truth that prepares the congregation.

4. Establish a realistic timetable.

5. Patiently respond to questions and resistance.

6. Lead by objective.

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

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