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Old Timey Preaching

June 26th, 2017 by Dr. Dan

It finally happened! I was introduced as an “old timey preacher.” The only time I dislike introductions is when I have to live up to one. So what were they expecting out of me? What is an “old timey preacher”? True, I’m older than most preachers who introduce me these days. Was the introduction because I simply read the scripture and tell the audience what it says (explanation), what it means (application), and what it looks like (illustration)? I do use power point with pictures for clarification purposes, but maybe that’s already an old method. Was the introduction because I still preach 28-30 minute sermons and quit when I’m finished? I realize that the modern method is 45-55 minutes, but if you work at it, you can say just as much in less time. Was it because I believe in leaving the listeners wanting more rather than exhausting the subject, and leaving them tired? Perhaps it was because someone noticed that I didn’t sing some of the worship songs, complete with hand clapping and raising? I’m not opposed to contemporary music, just bad contemporary music. Plus, if I don’t know it, I can’t sing it, no matter how many times you repeat it. Was it because I believe in exegeting the audience as well as exegeting the Scripture? Was it because I believe in talking to God about the people before I talk to the people about God – call it prayer-driven preaching? If any of these are true, I plead guilty to the introduction of “old timey preacher.” Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). That too is “old timey.”

Pray on the Armor or Refrain from Removing It?

June 19th, 2017 by Dr. Dan

I have a question for those who speak of “praying on the armor every morning.” Why did you take it off the night before? I know. You say you can’t sleep with all that armor on. The Roman soldiers did, especially when they thought the enemy was near. The analogy to spiritual warfare and the “armor of God” is in Ephesians 6:10-20, and it is a reference to the Roman soldiers being ready to protect themselves from the enemy. In all probability Paul was in prison when he wrote Ephesians, and thus was quite familiar with the Roman soldiers and their armor. While not so described in scripture, Satan is identified by John Milton in “Paradise Lost” as the “Prince of Darkness” and so he is – one who often works in the shadows and attacks in the dark of night. Why was Isaiah so concerned that there be a watchman on the wall during the night watch (Isaiah 21:11), unless he feared a darkness attack by the enemy? Satan may well attack you in the night when you are armor-less. Let me be clear – I have no problem “praying on the armor of God.” My problem comes with removing it. So don’t “pray on your armor” each morning, rather refrain from removing it, and affirm its presence daily.

Words

June 12th, 2017 by Dr. Dan

I’ve always had books. I learned early the value of being well-read. My pastor-father had a large library and upon his death, some of it added to mine. Henry Ward Beecher, a clergyman and writer from an earlier generation, wrote, “A little library, growing every year, is an honorable part of a man’s history. It is a man’s duty to have books.” Thomas Jefferson said, “I cannot live without books.” One wonders how these men would have fared with e-books. But back to my point – books are good, for a season. There comes a time to pass on the books. I have now donated twelve boxes of my library books to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. My last will allows for more books to go to that same institution. I’m trying to decide what to do with over 300 books on the subject of prayer, and several hundred on the subject of discipleship. As one who has spent a career as a teacher, preacher, author, words have been important to me. I agree with Mark Twain who said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” Now I find myself doing less research, reading slower, focusing more on the words than on the thoughts. I need fewer books, but more words. The writer of Proverbs said, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Perhaps you and I could pay closer attention this week to the words we read, and the words we speak.

Solitude Sometimes

June 5th, 2017 by Dr. Dan

As a workaholic, I never cared much for solitude. Oh, I knew about it and my need for it, but I just never made time for much of it. I could quote Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” and even learned the NASV translation, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Even when I taught this as a part of discipleship, I quickly added, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Workaholics think very little of solitude and workaholics who are also perfectionist think even less. But we who are defined as such, grow older and to some extent at least, wiser. As the body slows down, the mind finds time for quiet reflection. Now, rather late in the journey, I’m learning about the benefits of solitude. I’m learning that the best time to rest is when I don’t have time for it. Socrates warned to, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” A little bit later, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “He who sows hurry reaps indigestion.” More recently, Ralph Marston, Owner and Writer of the internet based, “The Daily Motivator” wrote, “Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.” So having acknowledged solitude and its benefits, please excuse me – I need to get back to work.

The Sweetness of Friendship

May 29th, 2017 by Dr. Dan

The first call came when I was out of the country. It was a request for prayer. I promised not only to pray but make a visit as soon as I returned home. The second call came in less than a week - from his sister – one year ago this past week. Unfortunately, my promised visit would be to conduct his funeral. When I was fourteen years old my pastor-father changed churches and I was not happy - leaving my friends, changing schools, changing churches, etc. I dutifully went to Sunday School on the first Sunday and took a seat in the only empty chair in the room of unfamiliar boys. The one next to me said, “Hi, I’m Jimmie Don.” Thus began a friendship that lasted sixty years – through baseball & basketball, car-pooling, double dating, groomsman at my wedding, Vietnam, his post -Vietnam marital difficulties, car sales (him to me), phone calls, birthday calls every year on Pearl Harbor Day with a comment of how easy it was to remember his birthday, High School reunions, prayer times, long conversations about life and eventually about death. Jimmie Don Ulrich was my friend. I miss him. Friendships are a wonderful part of life, often taken for granted until it is too late to appreciate them. Proverbs 29:9 speaks of the sweetness of friendship. So if you have a really close friend, recognize them as such, communicate with them, and appreciate them. Enjoy the sweetness of friendship – while there is yet time to do so.