Tag Archives: Talk

Something to Say

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.
1 John 1:1 (NIV)

My local gathering of Jesus’ followers has been doing something rather novel and exciting over the past couple of years. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.

God’s Message teaches that every follower of Jesus receives spiritual “gifts” from Holy Spirit. Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, “to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” These “manifestations” or “gifts” are specific yet diverse bents and abilities that are intended to help build up and encourage all the other believers. One of those gifts is teaching.

For the past several hundred years the prevailing paradigm in the institutional church has been that the pulpit and the Sunday morning message at my local neighborhood church is reserved for a person (typically a man) who has received a Masters Degree at a seminary approved by whatever denomination my church belongs to. This person has received a stamp of approval from the denominational board, administration, or tribunal authorizing them to teach from the pulpit on Sunday morning.

Along my journey, here’s what I’ve observed: any individual can attend seminary and get certified whether they have a teaching gift or not. And, I’ve heard some educated and approved teachers who definitely did not have the gift of teaching. By the same token, Holy Spirit can bestow the gift of teaching on any person of any age or gender despite that person never having jumped through the educational and ecclesiastical hoops dictated by  a given denominational institution.

So, our local gather of Jesus’ followers has been identifying fellow believers within our midst who may have a Holy Spirit given gift of teaching. We’re allowing them the opportunity to try out that gift on a Sunday morning in our church’s auditorium. We’re working with them to train them up and develop that gift. I’ve been asked to lead and mentor these individuals. There is, of course, a lot more to it than I have time to explain here. It’s a work in progress, but an exciting one.

As mentor of these inexperienced preachers, one of the common fears and anxieties that I hear from individuals when tasked with teaching a large group is “Who am I to teach these people?” This nagging doubt can be paralyzing during the preparation and presentation of a message.

Just last week while I was driving to Minneapolis I started listening to a series of talks called Something to Say by Rob Bell (available for download; name your own price). One of the things that Rob brings out is the fact that everyone has the authority to speak about what he or she has witnessed and experienced in their own lives. If you’ve lost a child, then you have the authority to speak about that experience. If you swam the English Channel then you’re an authority on that subject. If you’ve been a diesel mechanic your entire life then you have the authority to speak about diagnosing and fixing a diesel engine. If you were on upper Manhattan on 9/11 then you can authoritatively speak to what happened that day from your own experience.

This morning we begin a letter written by John, one of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, who was writing what scholars believe was a “circular letter” intended to be copied and passed around to all believers. John begins his letter the same way he begins his biography of Jesus,  by stating clearly that he is speaking to what he heard with his own ears, saw with his own eyes, touched with his own hands. “I was there,” John says. “I was with Jesus. I saw the miracles. I heard the teaching. I witness Him die on the cross. I saw Him risen from the dead. I am a primary source witness to it all.”

As I lead and mentor our fledgling group of teachers, I try to instill within them the power of our stories. In my almost 40 years of teaching, preaching, training, and presentations I have rarely had a person tell me that they remember the arcane theological point I made in a message ten years ago. I continue to have, however, a steady stream of people who tell me that they have never forgotten the story that I told even when I’ve long forgotten what it was.

I’m reminded by John this morning that I may not have all the knowledge, education, or professional training this world offers me. Neither did he. I do, however, have my stories. I have seen things, heard things, touched things, and experienced things to which I can bear witness. That means that, like John, I have something to say.

Podcast of My Message on Psalm 112

For those of you who requested it, here is a link to the podcast of my message on June 30, 2013 at Westview Church. I did not think it a particularly good message, but have been informed by my wife that I’m being self critical.

C’est la vie.

http://www.westview.org/6-30-2013-podcast/

“Companions for the Journey” Updated with Slides

Slide1

I had an alert reader ask for the slides to accompany the .mp3 of last Sunday’s message so they could see the visuals and texts to which I referred. Here are both files for any who want them!

Companions for the Journey 1 (Power Point)

Companions for the Journey (mp3 audio)

Chapter-a-Day Colossians 4

from bepster via Flickr

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. Colossians 4:6 (NLT)

This past week I was on a marathon business trip with my colleague, Bene’. The eight day trip included six straight days packed with long customer service  and escalated customer training sessions for diverse teams. Our group had never worked with many of these teams before. Typically, Bene’ and I would arrive at our designated training room a few minutes prior to starting and my job was making sure all of our technology hooked up and worked seamlessly with the client’s presentation equipment. This is sometimes a quick and easy task, but more often than not there are glitches and obstacles to overcome.

As I fiddled with chords, adaptors, mice, remotes, and other inanimate paraphernalia, Bene’ was always in conversation with the manager, supervisor or training participants. I have always been impressed with Bene’s easy ability to converse with anyone. I have always regarded myself as a decent conversationalist, but Bene’ is a rock star. A smile on her face and a positive attitude that has her always on the edge of laughter, she is able to quickly put people at ease and draw them into the most amazing conversations. I’ve learned a lot from her just eavesdropping while I wrestle with an RGB connector.

I’m afraid that in a world increasingly dependent on texting, e-mail, chat and messaging we are losing the fine art of conversation. The encouragement in today’s chapter to be a person of attractive, gracious conversation is arguably more critical today than it was when Paul dictated his letter to those following Jesus in Colosse. When most of the world communicates with one another from an impersonal, disembodied distance, the opportunity to express love through a gracious, attractive, personal conversation has never held such potent possibilities.

Chapter-a-Day Proverbs 10

by ercwttmn via Flickr

Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)

I was doing some call coaching last week and a gentleman I was working with made an interesting observation. “The longer my call goes,” he said, “the more likely it is that I’ll say something stupid or else get myself in a situation in which I should respond a certain way and miss saying something. When I keep my calls short and to the point they tend to be better quality.”

I remember being struck in that moment by what he was saying and how wise King Solomon would have applauded this gentleman’s observation. In essence, this man was capturing the heart of the proverb above from today’s chapter. The longer we go in loose, idle talk the more easily we can slip into conversation that can be inherently negative and unproductive.

I am reminded once again of what we read in the book of James a few weeks ago: “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

Today, I’m going to try and keep my conversation clear, positive and to the point.