Stuart Briscoe observes that we live in an age when many people resent authority and do not accept the authority of the Bible. He adds:
"I think it was Spurgeon who said, 'If you point a sword at somebody, they may refuse to accept that it's a sword, but prick them anyway!' It may be that people are not prepared to accept the Word -- go ahead anyway. They may still get the message." (Stuart Briscoe, Pastor, Elmbrook Church, Waukesha, WI)
"Let me give you some bad news: you're going to die. Some very bad news: you're not going to leave a hole. Some good news: that's OK, because this is God's show anyway." (Steve Brown, Key Life Network, Key Biscayne, FL)
William Hinson recalls the story of two laymen discussing their pastor's preaching, which left a good bit to be desired. Both of them agreed that it was of poor quality, but one of them said, "That's all right. I can forgive him, because when my family really needed him he was there."
The other man responded, "Well, I'm afraid I can't be so charitable. My family hasn't had a crisis since he's been here." (William Hinson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Houston, TX)
Gardner C. Taylor relates a question that was asked of Reinhold Neibuhr when he was on the faculty of Union Seminary: "Were you afraid when you preached your first sermon?"
"Not at all," he said. It was the second sermon that bothered him, because "I had preached everything I knew to preach in the first sermon!" (Gardner C. Taylor, Pastor Emeritus, Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Brooklyn, NY)
PREACHING -- Should be personal
John D. Rockefeller Jr., in commenting on the genius of his pastor, Fosdick, summed it up like this: "He has the unique ability to make everyone in the congregation feel as if he's talking to that person personally. They all leave the congregation Sunday after Sunday asking themselves, 'How did he get to read my mail? How can he understand my problems'."
William Hinson observes: "Insightful preaching comes from taking what one knows about one's people, and offering help to them from the perspective of the gospel." (William Hinson, Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Houston, TX)
The stewardess said to the then-heavyweight champion of the world, Muhammad Ali, "Please fasten your seat belt."
He replied, "Superman don't need no seat belt," to which she replied, "Superman don't need no airplane." (Stuart Briscoe, Pastor, Elmbrook Church, Waukesha, WI)
NCP III Survey Cites Favorite Preachers
During the National Conference on Preaching, participants were invited to identify their favorite active preachers and their favorite preachers in the history of the church. While not scientific, the results are interesting in reviewing the most popular preachers with today's preachers.
Those receiving the most nominations as a favorite preacher of all time (in order of voted):
1. John Wesley
2. Charles Spurgeon
3. Harry Emerson Fosdick
4. Billy Graham
5. Martin Luther
7. D. L. Moody
8. George Whitfield
9. (tie) James Stewart
Here are those listed as favorites among active preachers:
1. Stuart Briscoe
2. Lloyd John Ogilvie
3. Chuck Swindoll
4. Stephen Brown
5. Fred Craddock
6. Billy Graham
7. John Claypool
8. John Gregory
9. Charles Stanley
10. (tie) Jack Hayford
James Earl Massey
Steve Brown recalls a recent opportunity to be on the same program as John Stott. Stott pointed out that no matter how bad a topic a speaker has been assigned, it could be worse. As illustration, he pointed out some of the topics that have been assigned to his theological colleagues on various programs:
"How to Conquer Self-Doubt Through Pretension and Ostentation." "Motivating Your Children by Guilt and Fear." "Overcoming Peace of Mind: the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment." "Guilt Without Sex: An Introduction to Puritan Theology." (Steve Brown, Key Life Network, Key Biscayne, FL)
The way we give may well express the kind of God we believe in, according to a commentary found in the newsletter of the First Baptist Church of Seattle, WA:
If I give so that I will be rewarded,
God is Santa Claus.
If I give so that I can claim an exemption on my tax form,
God is a CPA.
If I give so I can impress my friends,
Then God is my PR agent.
If I give to avoid punishment,
God is a bandit.
But if I give so that I can express my love, and so that others may hear the gospel, God is God.