Sunday, March 25, 2012

We Have Moved!!!

We've moved!

I am no longer blogging at this site.

Click here to reach my new blog site.

Make a note of the new address:

All of the content from this blog is found at the new site.

Thanks for reading.

Hope you will continue to follow my thoughts about life, church, preaching, and other stuff.

God bless.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How Do You Protect Your Voice?

A new friend sent me a text yesterday, “Do you have any advice for voice control in and out of the pulpit?” he asked.

I should have responded, “You are asking the wrong person.” Instead, I ventured a brief answer. I doubt it was helpful. This post is my fuller answer to the question I should not be answering in the first place.

My father had a big, preaching voice. And many of my early preaching heroes sounded like preachers, whatever that means. However, I do not have a preacher’s voice. I sounded like Simba practicing his roar in the Lion King. This resulted in me losing my voice often in preaching.

 I had to learn a way to protect my voice in and out of the pulpit. Over the years, these simple practices have helped me to maintain my voice for preaching.

1.     Get some rest. Nothing saves your voice for preaching like resting it before you preach. Unfortunately, there are many Sunday mornings that I give the Lord a ready mind and heart, but a tired body. One of the best things you can do for your preaching overall is go to sleep on Saturday. Or take a nap before you preach an evening service. Rest your voice.

2.     Drink plenty of water. This may be the only good habit in my diet. I drink a lot of water before I preach. I even keep a glass of water on the pulpit at my home church, just in case. If I need it, I will pause to drink it. But it must be room temperature water for me. If I drink cold water before I speak, it will close up my voice.

3.     Avoid exotic vocal cures. I knew a famous preacher who drank ice-cold sodas before he preached. Many other preachers drink special concoctions before to clear their voices. I think rest and water are good enough. Avoid becoming dependent upon special remedies. A guest pastor drank a special potion before he preached for me. A few weeks later, my voice was sore between services. The ushers made me that potion. I sat in the pulpit looking troubled. One of the preachers asked if something was wrong. I mumbled, “I cannot feel my lips or my tongue!” True story.

4.     Get good monitors. Having floor monitors on the platform, which will project your voice back to you, is quite helpful in protecting the voice of the preacher. If I cannot hear myself, I start talking louder and preacher harder. I assume the congregation cannot hear me, because I can’t. Unfortunately, there are many days when my presentation is shaped by the fact that I cannot hear myself. If you are a pastor, make sure you have good monitors. Make sure you have people on the soundboard who know what they are doing!

5.     Pace your presentation. In this regard, voice lessons, speech training, or presentation feedback can be valuable to the preacher. You need to learn how to pace yourself in the presentation. Talk at a comfortable pace. Use pauses. Raise your voice sometimes for emphasis. Whisper other times. Speak in your pitch. I was preaching at a convention. In my nervousness, I started preaching in a high voice. I was thinking to myself, “What are you doing?” But I couldn’t stop. Halfway through the sermon, I had no voice. The same will happen to you if you do not pace yourself.

6.     Guard your instrument. Some singers where hats and scarfs out on warm, sunny days, determined to protect their voices. You do not have to go to extremes. But protect your instrument. Where a coat, when necessary. Don’t ride to the service with the air in the car on you. Refuse to sit under AC vents in the service. I don’t know what else to advise here. But do what it takes to guard your voice.

7.     Do your homework. I am always nervous when I stand up to preach. However, after the first minutes of the sermon, I am able to calm down. It is the ministering help of the Holy Spirit that enables me to relax and preach. It is also the assurance that I have not done my homework. I know what I want to say and, most times, how I want to say it. This eases tension and removes anxieties that I believe can affect your voice as you preach.

8.     Don’t worry about it. As a young preacher, I had the opportunity to quiz one of my favorite preachers. I asked him what he does to protect his voice. Firmly but graciously, he responded that young preachers like me worry about stuff like that. He claimed that he did not worry about it anymore. He just gets up with whatever he has by way of voice and preaches the message God has given him. I thought his answer was ridiculous. But now as an older preacher, I fully agree. Focus more on the message than the delivery. And trust that God will give you what you need to be faithful to your assignment (2 Co. 12:7-10). 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do Whatever It Takes To Be Clear

The scribbles to the left are the preaching notes from my sermon this past Sunday.

Typically, I write out a complete sermon manuscript for preaching. I usually do not have to bring any notes to the pulpit. But I am not neurotic about it. If I need the entire manuscript, I take it (having an iPad has made this much easier for me). Or if I need an outline or specific notes, that is what I created.

I do not really set the entire sermon to memory. I basically internalize it over the course of writing and editing the manuscript. But I do intentionally memorize the structure of the sermon. Not just the outline, the whole sermon. I memorize the message pretty much thought for thought, relying on key words.

If I can remember this string of key words, I free pretty comfortable for preaching. If I am struggling to remember my series of word associations, I jot them down on an index card or sticky sheet to stick into my Bible.

Sunday, after the first service, I wrote out an extended outline to the pulpit. I had already preached the sermon once. But there were several things I did not want to forget. So I wrote out the entire outline.

I was almost finished with the sermon, when it dawned on me that I had never pulled the note page out of the front leaf of my Bible.

I bring this up to remind you to do what you have to do to preach the word faithfully and clearly. “By any means necessary,” should be your strategy for pulpit preparation. If you need a full script, use it. If you need a little cheat sheet, take it. If you are at your best without any notes, do it. Do whatever it takes to preach the word faithfully and clearly. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preaching With No Unnecessary Words

A veteran pastor took me to lunch yesterday.

As preachers tend to do, we spent most of the lunch talking about preaching and preachers.

The conversation continued as he drove me back to my office.

The last preacher he brought up, as we were turning onto Beaver Street, was the late Dr. S.M. Lockridge. Dr. Lockridge was the pastor of the historic Calvary Baptist Church in San Diego, a well-respected preacher, and noted denominational leader.

The veteran pastor recalled the first time he heard Dr. Lockridge preach. It was at a Southern Baptist Convention event. He said it was the greatest sermon on the Lordship of Jesus Christ he had ever heard. He noted that the sermon was barely twenty minutes long. And he added one more compliment… There were no unnecessary words in the sermon.

That final compliment grabbed my attention. No wasted words?

I have never heard any sermon given such a compliment. And I do not know any sermon to which I could attribute that compliment, especially my sermons!

But this is a worthy standard for preachers to strive for, isn’t it?

There is a spiritual global warming that is slowly yet progressively ruining the atmosphere of the church. It is the result of a great deal of pollution that comes from the pulpit. Our preaching is littered with too many unnecessary words.

One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Translation: The right word spoken at the right time is priceless! This should be our goal in preaching.

Of course, preaching with no unnecessary words requires hard work. We must study diligently. We must read ourselves full. We must write and rewrite until our message is clear. We must determine to stay on message when we get to the pulpit. And we must pray that the Lord will use us to speak a word fitly spoken.

Let’s join Paul who asked the saints to pray “also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19-20).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Morning Prayer by John R.W. Stott

Good morning heavenly Father, good morning Lord Jesus, good morning Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly Father I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Holy, bless, and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me.


Roger Steer, Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott, pp. 246-247.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mac Brunson Speaking @ Wednesdays in the Word Tonight

Our Wednesdays in the Word series continues tonight at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Over the past three weeks, we have been greatly enriched by the ministry of the word from Marcus Cosby, Kerwin Lee, and Arthur Jackson III.

Tonight, we are privileged to have as our guest speaker, Dr. Mac Brunson, Senior Pastor of the historic First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.

We are neighbors with First Baptist, with only six blocks separating us. And Pastor Brunson has been both kind and encouraging to me, since my arrival in Jacksonville.

I am honored to have him as our guest tonight. Dr. Brunson is a sound, faithful, and powerful proclaimer of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. You do not want to miss hearing this man of God proclaim the word tonight!

If you are in the Jacksonville area – and you are without a church home or your church does not have a previously scheduled meeting – please join us for worship tonight at Shiloh at 7 PM.

You can also watch the service online at or

Monday, February 20, 2012

Notes from Sunday - 2/19/12

Happy President’s Day!

Great day of worship yesterday at the Shiloh Church!

I really enjoyed teaching my Sunday school class. We are studying the attributes of God. Yesterday’s lesson was on the glory of God.

As always, I was encouraged by the presence of those who were guests in worship with us yesterday.

During the 8 AM service, the song of preparation was “Beams of Heaven.” I love that song. My mom used to sing it a lot when I was a boy. I have not heard it in a long time.

Praise God for those who were baptized yesterday!

I continued my study of 1 John with a message on 1 John 2:1-2 that I called, “What Every Christian Should Know About Sin.”

There are two essential truths every Christian should know and always remember about sin: (1) God hates sin. And (2) God loves sinners.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church yesterday.

Next Sunday is our Ministry Emphasis Day. I plan to interrupt my study of 1 John to preach on the subject of Christian service and ministry. At this point, I plan to do Matthew 20:20-28. We’ll see.

I plan to spend the next two days writing.

Pray for me.