Preaching: Off-Color Humor
by Dr. A. W. Tozer
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for
necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.... neither
filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting,
but rather giving of thanks. - Ephesians 4:29; 5:4
One of the most shocking things in the church is the dirty-mouthed Christian
who always walks on the borderline. There is no place for borderline stories
that embarrass some people, and there is nothing about sex or the human body
that is funny if your mind is clean.
There was once a gathering of officers, and George Washington was present in
the room. One of the young officers began to think about a dirty story that
he wanted to tell, and he got a smirk on his face. He looked around and
said, "I'm thinking of a story. I guess there are no ladies present."
Washington straightened up and said, "No, young man, but there are
gentlemen." The young officer shut his mouth and kept the dirty story inside
his dirty head and heart.
Anything you could not tell with Jesus present, do not tell. Anything you
could not laugh at were Jesus present, do not laugh at. Rut, Rot or Revival:
The Condition of the Church, 67.
"What an important reminder, Lord! Keep my thoughts pure so that the 'dirty
story' might never enter in the first place, and then I'll never be tempted
to share it inappropriately. In Jesus name, Amen."
Why God Used D. L. Moody, the powerful
by R. A. Torrey
1. A fully surrendered man. He heard Henry Varley say "It remains to be
seen what God will do with a man who gives himself wholly to Him" Moody said
to himself, "I will be that man".
2. A man of prayer. Often Mr. Moody wrote to Torrey, "I am about to take on
this ministry. I wish you would get the students together for a day of
prayer and fasting." They would have called for a day of prayer and fasting
and the lecture hall would be filled with students praying often till 5
3. Deep and practical student of the Bible. He rose at 4 a.m. to study the
Bible. He was not a philosopher or psychologists but a student of the word
of God. He had a very practical knowledge and application of the Bible in
his own life and preaching. .
4. Humble man. He often said, "Faith gets the most, love works the most,
humility keeps the most" He never thought of himself as famous or important.
5. His freedom from love of money. He did not love money. He gave away his
money to others and ministries. He never demanded money for his services.
6. He had a consuming passion for the salvation of the lost. He did not just
preach for souls from the pulpit but witnessed to the lost where ever his
was. (that is a lost practice today in too much of the ministry)
7. He was endued with power from on High. Two women hounded him and told him
regularly they were praying for him to see the power of God in his ministry.
It finally got to him so much so that he prayed and prayed for the power of
God. He sensed the power of God come upon him and began in a very new way to
see a transformation in his ministry.
On a scale of 1 to 10 how do you rank yourself on each of these points?
We Languish for Men
Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart?
For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the
name of the Lord Jesus." --Acts 21:13
The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men, bold men....
We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the
soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already
died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the
compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by
the squeeze of circumstances; their only compulsion will come from
within--or from above.
This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits
again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from
motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious
retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no
decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no
service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere
custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of
publicity or the desire for reputation. Of God and Men, 11-13.
"Lord, what would it take for me to be that kind of man? Do in me whatever
work You need to do today, that I might die to the allurements of the world
and serve You with high motives. in Jesus name, Amen."
Our Lord placed this beyond dispute when He said, "Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Hunger
and thirst are physical sensations which, in their acute stages, may become
real pain. It has been the experience of countless seekers after God that
when their desires became a pain they were suddenly and wonderfully filled.
The problem is not to persuade God to fill us, but to want God sufficiently
to permit Him to do so. The average Christian is so cold and so contented
with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the
blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness.
Oh, How I Love Your Law!
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. --Psalm 119:97
I remember James M. Gray, the noted Bible teacher, telling of a Christian
brother, a Michigan farmer, whose spiritual life had suddenly blossomed
until there was an overflowing of God's presence. Many in the man's
community recognized the change in his life and personality and sought
spiritual counsel from him. Dr. Gray had opportunity to ask the man about
the transformation of his spiritual life and witness.
"Dr. Gray, I began to devote myself to the Scriptures for my own need," the
man humbly explained. "Something happened when God opened my spiritual
understanding as I studied the book of Ephesians. I cannot really explain
what the Lord is doing for me and through me, but it has come through
prayerful meditation in the Word of God."
None of us can expect to get the rich, transforming blessings from God apart
from the Scriptures....
Too many of us ministers and Sunday school teachers are content to reach for
a commentary on the Scriptures. What we need most is to search the
Scriptures for ourselves.
(Men Who Met
God, Page 47)
Trials and Pain: Another Day of Preparation
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed
what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like
Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him
purifies himself, just as He is pure. --1 John 3:2-3
Know that our living Lord is unspeakably pure. He is sinless, spotless,
immaculate, stainless. In His person is an absolute fullness of purity that
our words can never express. This fact alone changes our entire human and
moral situation and outlook. We can always be sure of the most important of
all positives: God is God and God is right. He is in control. Because He is
God He will never change!
I repeat: God is right-always. That statement is the basis of all we are
thinking about God.
When the eternal God Himself invites us to prepare ourselves to be with Him
throughout the future ages, we can only bow in delight and gratitude,
murmuring, "Oh, Lord, may Your will be done in this poor, unworthy life!"
I can only hope that you are wise enough, desirous enough and spiritual
enough to face up to the truth that every day is another day of spiritual
preparation, another day of testing and discipline with our heavenly
destination in mind. Jesus, Author of our Faith, pp. 92-93
"Lord, today I enter the day on my knees with this thought welling up in my
heart: 'God is God and God is right. He is in control.' 'Oh, Lord, may Your
will be done in this poor, unworthy life!' In Jesus name, Amen."
The Leader's Prayer Life
Ezekiel 22:30 “I (God) looked in vain for anyone who would build again
the wall of righteousness that guards the land, who could stand in the
gap…but I found not one.”
I. LEADERSHIP LAW: THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MY PUBLIC LEADERSHIP IS DETERMINED
BY MY PRIVATE LIFE.
A. WHEN SHOULD I PRAY?
Answer: Before I do anything else. "The less I
pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes."
II. LEADERSHIP LAW: A LEADER DOES MORE THAN PRAY, BUT HE DOESN’T DO ANYTHING
ELSE UNTIL HE PRAYS "When God intends to bless His people, the first thing
he does is to set them apraying." --Matthew Henry--
Leaders make prayer a first priority. Losers make prayer a last resort.
A. WHY SHOULD I PRAY?
1. It shows that I’m depending on God. John 15:1-8 Matthew 5:3
2. It lightens my load. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their
strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, not be
weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 LEADERS FIND THEIR
STRENGTH ON THEIR KNEES!
3. It releases Gods power. (God says) “Call to me and I will answer you and
show you great and mighty things which you know not.” Jer 33:3 KJV
B. HOW SHOULD I PRAY? A sample of a leader’s prayer: vs. 5-11
1. KEY QUESTION TO ASK MYSELF: Why should God answer my prayers?
C. SECRETS TO ANSWERED PRAYERS
1. BASE MY REQUEST ON GOD’S CHARACTER "As we rest upon God's character,
depending on the truth of who He is, we can wait in hope for His grace to be
revealed. Whatever the circumstances, whatever God does or does not do, we
can be certain of His grace extended to us. We can change our focus, looking
not at what is visible, but at the eternal truth of the invisible. We can
transfer our gaze from God's hand to His face."
-- Penelope Stokes, Grace Under Pressure,
"There are four ways God answers prayer: (1) No, not yet; (2) No, I love you
too much; (3) Yes, I thought you'd never ask; (4) Yes, and here's more."
What Nehemiah said about God: vs. 5-6a
- You’re GREAT
- You’re AWESOME
- You KEEP YOUR PROMISES
2. CONFESS THE SIN IN MY OWN LIFE. vs. 6b-7 "If the guilt of sin is so
great that nothing can satisfy it but the blood of Jesus; and the filth of
sin is so great that nothing can fetch out the stain thereof but the blood
of Jesus, how great, how heinous, how sinful must the evil of sin be."
-- William Bridge --
Father, use this one to be a great leader for you. In Jesus name.
Be a leader of Christians by example, "Be ye followers of me as I am of
Christ" 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be a leader of the lost by sharing the gospel,
"The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth"
Failure and Success: The Things That Matter
...that you may approve the things
that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day
of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus
Christ, to the glory and praise of God. -
In life there will be found certain great fundamentals, like pillars bearing
up the weight of some mighty building.
The wise man will simplify his life by going to the center of it. He will
look well to the foundations and, having done that, he will not worry about
Life as we know it in our painfully intricate civilization can be deadly
unless we learn to distinguish the things that matter from those that do
not. It is never the major things that destroy us, but invariably the
multitude of trifling things which are mistakenly thought to be of major
importance. These are so many that, unless we get out from under them, they
will crush us body and soul....
Every believer as well as every minister of Christ must decide whether he
will put his emphasis upon the majors or the minors. He must decide whether
he will stay by the sober truths which constitute the beating heart of the
Scriptures or turn his attention to those marginal doctrines which always
bring division and which, at their best, could not help us much on our way
to the Celestial City.
"Oh God, we are so inundated with distracting things and clamorous voices.
Deliver me today from the trifling things and help me to spend every minute
of the day on 'the things that matter.' Amen."
Write to Doug Salser, firstname.lastname@example.org
to get his letters for leadership regularly
Nine Wealthy Financiers
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle
than for a rich person to enter the
Kingdom of God! . . . Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.
possible with God (Mark 10:25-27, NLT).
In 1923, a very important meeting was held at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in
attendance were nine of the world's most successful financiers, men who had
found the secret of
making money. Now, decades later, let us see what happened to these men.
The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, died
bankrupt and lived
on borrowed money for five years before his death.
The president of the largest utility company, Samuel Insull, died a fugitive
from justice and
penniless in a foreign land.
The president of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, went insane.
The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cotton, died abroad, insolvent.
The president of the New York Stock exchange, Richard Whitney, spent time in
The member of the President's Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison
so that he could
die at home.
The greatest "bear" on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, died a suicide.
The head of the greatest monopoly, Ivan Krueger, died a suicide.
The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser, died a
All of these men learned well the art of making money, but not one learned
how to live.
What do you think all this tells us?
Many people search for security and the abundant life through acquiring
money and possessions,
through marriage, career, or other intense interests, which can become idols
in our lives, which
we worship with our time and energy. However, security is found only in
knowing the Lord Jesus
suffered and died for our sin, paid our debt in full, rose again and was
seen by hundreds of
people. The one issue is did He pay our debt or not. Will you then trust Him
and receive the
Lord Jesus as YOUR Savior too. Tell Him so right now.
See Godly Council
Each day we get the same message over and over, Please pray
for me as I seek to do this. Very seldom is the request, Please pray for me
and what do you think of my direction? It isn't that people should seek our
counsel. We don't know everything. Yet
far too many make decisions without ever seeking Godly counsel at all. They
have good intentions but not enough knowledge, good hearts but not enough
understanding. So they fail even to realize that they don't know what
they’re doing. And what does God say will happen to our plans when we choose
not to get Godly advice? They will fail.
Are you a Christian leader? Seek out Godly counsel. Are you trying to find
out what God has in store for your own life? Seek out Godly advisers. Listen
to different perspectives. Gain a better understanding of what’s going on.
God’s wisdom rests in His people, too. Then when you pray for His guidance,
you’ll discover how much easier it will be to find.
I believe that one of the great weaknesses of preaching today is that
there are a lot of folks who are afraid to stand on the Word of God and
humbly but forcefully challenge the will of people. It takes courage to do
that, because they may reject you. They may reject your message; they may
get mad at you and talk about you behind your back.
And because so many pastors have been unwilling to challenge people and
cause a change in belief, resulting in behavior
change, our nation is falling apart. Proverbs 29:18 (NCV) warns, “Where
there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled.”
P.T. Forsythe says, “What the world is looking for is an authoritative
Gospel spoken through a humble personality.” An authoritative Gospel spoken
not as a hammer, but with humility.
So now, I have a personal challenge for you – life application. Are you
going to use the Bible the way it was intended or not? Will you repent of
preaching in ways that were not focused on application that could change
people’s character and conduct?
Creating Strong Sermon,
Devotional or Lesson Points
by Rick Warren
It has been my experience that books on preaching lift up the wrong kind
of sermons as examples. They tend to teach you to prepare academic outlines
so vague and general that they are robbed of power.
For instance, here's an outline for a sermon based on 1 Corinthians 12, "The
Corinthians and Spiritual Gifts:"
(Does that title make you want to sit up and listen?)
Point #1 – The source of the Corinthians’ gifts
Point #2 – The function of the Corinthians’ gifts
Point #3 – The purpose of the Corinthians’ gifts
Now, here's what I think is wrong with this outline:
- It’s abstract and suggests an academic outline rather than a plain
explanation of biblical application.
- It’s in the third person, and therefore, not personal at all. It’s
about somebody else - the Corinthians.
- It’s in the past tense, which gives the impression "that was then
and this is now."
- It doesn't mention either God or people. Do you really have a great
sermon if you don't mention either God or people?
In short, the points don't say much of anything to anyone. You can avoid
this pitfall by taking a few simple steps toward creating points that make a
First, use the biblical application as the points of your sermon. In other
words, start with your application, and show how the Scripture illustrates
it. Your sermon point should be a present tense application statement
followed by the biblical text. When you stand to preach, you're not just
giving a moralistic pep talk. You want to change lives, and the power for
changed lives comes only from God.
Second, put a verb in every one of your sermon points. The easiest way to
help people be doers of the Word is to put a verb in the point. It turns the
biblical truth into action steps.
Third, put “Jesus” or “God” into each of your points. Frankly, I'm very
concerned about pastors who try to build seeker-sensitive sermons by
eliminating "God" and "Jesus" from the
message. In fact, I think the best sermons put “God” or “Jesus” right into
the application points. When you stand to preach,
you’re not just giving a moralistic pep talk. You want to change lives, and
the power for changed lives comes only from God.
Fourth, personalize your sermon points by using personal pronouns. I rarely
use the word “we” in an application or an outline because it weakens the
application. In other words, say, “Jesus Christ came for me. Jesus Christ
died for me. Jesus Christ is coming again for me.”
Here’s an outline of 1 Corinthians 12 to show you what I mean. I titled the
sermon, “Using Your Gifts:”
Point #1 – God gave you gifts.
Point #2 – God gave you gifts to use.
Point #3 – God gives you gifts for the benefit of the body.
I like this outline because it’s personal, practical, God-centered and
Finally, during your sermon suggest a practical assignment for the week. At
Saddleback we often assign some homework! This reflects the way Jesus
taught; he often gave assignments by saying, “Go and do likewise.”
Calling, Commitment and
Jesus’ call to leadership is nothing short of revolutionary, if for no
other reason than what it costs us. Think of what it takes to be a leader in
Christ’s kingdom. It will mean leaving our sanitized, romanticized, and
homogenized view of Christianity and leadership and taking on the mantel of
Revolutionary Leadership. That is the mantle Jesus gave to us. It takes
calling, commitment, and courage.
Calling. Jesus said "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea
and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Revolutionary leaders
must be willing to let Jesus set the agenda for their lives. Too often we
approach the task of leadership with the idea that we’re first in command.
But we’re not. Jesus is the commander in chief. We simply carry out his
orders and follow his battle plan. The question every leader needs to ask
themselves is, "What is it that Jesus has said I will be?"
Commitment. Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he
must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
Leaders, of all of Christ’s followers, must be those who demonstrate ongoing
commitment to the cause of Christ. The most important truth about the cross
is that Jesus endured it. He went the distance. He denied giving in to the
pain and suffering and hung in there, literally, to the end. Christian
leaders must do the same. We can no longer allow petty issues, hurt
feelings, difficult people, or struggles of any kind to sway us from
pressing forward toward fulfilling our passion and purpose.
Courage. Jesus said, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but
whoever loses his life for me will save it." Jesus lost his very life in
fulfilling his passion and purpose. But through his death came the
resurrection, which completed his work of redemption for mankind. Leaders
must have the courage to suffer personal loss, perhaps even death, as they
fulfill their passion and purpose. It is often through the courageous
sacrifices leaders make today that the mission is fulfilled in the future.
I realize that talking about calling, commitment, and courage in leadership
is a little frightening for some. But Jesus’ mission is no ordinary mission.
It’s a mission to turn the world upside down. It’s a mission to fulfill the
commission of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That’s why, my friend, we
must become revolutionary in our mindset. If 81 Black Panthers can take over
New York City, just think what could happen if every leader reading this
article decided today to be a revolutionary leader? In the words of Pastor
Erwin McManus, we would be an "Unstoppable Force."