My Blank Page

mikol-notebook-6-600x505What do you do when you’re 53 years old and not sure how to spend the rest of your life? That was my status at the beginning of 2016.

Last week, I heard Dr. Vernon Rosenau speak. As he encouraged college students to fully yield their future to God’s leading and plan, he illustrated his point using a blank piece of paper with his signature at the bottom. We naturally make our own plans, then ask God to sign His approval of what we’ve already determined to do. Yielding our lives to Him means we sign the bottom of the blank page, hand it to Him, and then He fills in His plan.

As I heard the illustration I realized that is what I did last March. Although I enjoyed a secure and rewarding local church pastorate, I knew God was leading me out of that role. But I had no idea what would be next. The night before I made my decision public I told my wife, “I feel like I’m about to jump off of a cliff.”

By God’s grace and in response to His work in my life, I reached a place of being fully yielded to Him. It was as if I were signing a blank piece of paper and handing it to God to fill in.

Now it’s one thing to do that when  you’re a college student about to embark on your life’s journey. It’s a little different when you’re already pretty far down that road. I had fears, and yet I trusted my Heavenly Father.

I had no idea of the opportunity about to open up to me. Soon after my decision, I was offered the teaching position I am in now. I am using everything I have learned in 26 years of pastoring to equip men and women to serve in ministry around the world.

I handed God the blank page. He filled it in with His perfect plan. I’m now on the next stage of the journey, the grand adventure of living a life yielded to Him. The blank page is a great way to plan the rest of your life.

Elements of Effective Sermon Delivery

Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Moving and school have kept me occupied. I desire to pick it up again, with some new features. Soon.

I developed this quick guide to elements of effective sermon delivery for my Homiletics class at Faith Baptist Bible College. In first semester Homiletics we’re focusing on what to preach – learning to develop an expository sermon from a passage of Scripture. Second semester we’ll focus on how to preach – effectively communicating the sermon. But the guys will be preaching the sermons they’ve been working on this semester, and I wanted to give them a quick, helpful guide to some of the practical aspects of effective sermon delivery. I thought some of  you might benefit from it as well. Here you go. (I don’t usually try to alliterate, it just sort of happened.)

Your Heart

  • Prayerful – Invest time in prayer throughout the preparation process and before the preaching event.
  • Personal – Develop genuine concern, love, and compassion for the people you are speaking to.
  • Passionate – Believe what you are preaching and feel a compelling burden to communicate it.

Your Head

  • Finished – Prepare thoroughly and completely so that you know what the text means and what you will say about it.
  • Familiar – Go over your message repeatedly so that you can communicate freely.
  • Fresh – Review your message close to the time you will preach. Avoid distractions as much as possible without being uncaring or rude to people.

Your Mouth

  • Awake – Do mouth calisthenics to warm up your vocalization muscles.
  • Articulate – Pronounce your words clearly and correctly. Don’t mumble. Read your Scripture text clearly, reverently, and expressively.

Your Face

  • Eye contact – Look everyone you can in the eye at least once.
  • Expressive – Smile. Don’t look mad. Show compassion.
  • Enjoy – You’re preaching the Word of God. What a privilege and joy! Show it.

Your Voice

  • Clear – Lift your voice and enunciate your words. Hydrate before preaching, and while preaching if necessary. Use a small cough drop if needed.
  • Confident – Declare your message without mumbling or stumbling around. Avoid “uh.” Just wait until the thought comes. Speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
  • Controlled – Purposefully vary your pitch, projection/punch, pace, and pause for emphasis and interest.

Your Hands

  • At ease – Keep them in a natural position.
  • Accentuate – Reinforce what you are saying with appropriate gestures.

Your Body

  • Starting point – The centered pulpit is the most powerful position on the platform. It should be your base of operation. Start from it and, if you move away, return to it.
  • Stability – Maintain a poised yet energetic stance. Avoid nervous or distracting movement.
  • Steps – Move in ways that emphasize the message, keep people’s attention, and connect with the audience.

Your Audience

  • Focus – Concentrate on connecting with them, not on yourself or your notes.
  • Not Fans – Do not seek their approval or affirmation. Speak to please God, not man.
  • Friends – Help them along the journey that you and they are on.

The “T” Word

This is a quick update for anyone who follows Speaking of God.

Who knows how many times I’ve used the word “transition” in the past two months? Much about my life and ministry is changing. We’ll move to our new home in Ankeny, Iowa, at the end of this month. I start as Professor of Pastoral Training at Faith Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary on August 1. God has been very good to me. He has led, provided, and encouraged in numerous ways during the past few months. I am excited for what is ahead!

This blog will transition as well. I plan to keep it up, but it will no longer be connected to Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, where I have been pastoring. There will be no post notifications through the Calvary Internet sites. I will continue notifications through my personal Facebook page. My posts will be on similar themes related to Bible study, preaching, and pastoral ministry. But I will be more focused on content that will supplement my new role of equipping and encouraging people for vocational ministry.

Thanks for reading and following. I appreciate your prayer during this time of transition, and I look forward to sharing more on Speaking of God in the days ahead.