…when people come from unhealthy homes, they can come with foundational issues. Ones which can cause problems throughout life if they are not dealt with in a healthy manner. Fortunately, we have the balm of the gospel which can overcome any earthly deficit.
No matter where or how formally I try teach my kids how to be Christians, no words I say will ever be as important as they way they see me living on a day to day basis. A carefully crafted lesson about forgiveness means nothing if I hold a grudge against a family member or friend. A lecture about the importance of obeying God’s word is useless if they see me ignoring His commands.
In this Q&A Panel, Sinclair Ferguson (30:50-34:30) laments that many preachers never develop the humility to train their voices. This is how he puts it:
The voice is the instrument that employs the words and the voice needs to be sanctified, needs to be developed, the ability to use it needs it to be developed. It’s part of your sanctification.
He commends the practice of testing out different voices as you read the same words and then says:
Just as we are to grow in grace and make progress in our gifts, we need to encourage younger men not to assume they’ve got all the necessary gifts, nor that, of course, they’re able to use their voice because they’ve been called to preach.
He notes the lack of pathos in much contemporary preaching…
which means that the preaching is going to be instructional and cognitive….We really need to see that pathos is an important element and its got to do with the way the use of the voice matches the teaching of Scripture if its going to be communicated vocally to living souls who are emotional as well as cerebral individuals.
I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Ferguson. If the voice is unimportant, we should just get Siri to preach for us. Reformed seminarians and pastors seem to be strangely reluctant to develop this talent with a view to maximizing the impact of their teaching on their hearers.
But where to start? Do what Dr. Ferguson suggests. Just get a paragraph and read it out in as many different ways as you can. I get students to do a form of this. I ask them to speak on a verse for a few minutes without notes and to do so as if their life depended on it. Some still manage to be executed.
Or try this NPR video. Don’t dismiss the techniques as silly or a gimmick. Something similar to the first breathing exercise saved my voice from burning out in my first congregation and continues to influence the way I speak even in everyday life. It’s amazing how just getting the air coming from the right place opens up so many vocal possibilities.
Of course, this is not just for preachers but for anyone who has a role in publicly teaching the Bible.
Most Christians are Violating the 1st Commandment “If we were meeting with our most important client, or our boss, we’d never talk to him from a treadmill, or spend one minute getting to know him. It’s not that it can’t be done. I do pray occasionally as I walk or drive. I just can’t imagine God being truly honored by slipping him in when it’s convenient. If I were God, I’d want to know that for at least 15-20 minutes a day, I have your undivided attention and loyalty. If not, I’d conclude that almost everything else in my day was another god!”
Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians “Barna’s research shows that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview. So, if Christians are open to nonbiblical perspectives, what are they believing?”
Maximum Security Seminary “When I came to prison I could not read and write,” Hudson said. “Today they’re giving me a four-year degree in Christian studies. That’s to the glory of God. If they would’ve said to me the day I was arrested, ‘If you can spell can, you can go home,’ I’d still be in that bullpen. But today I can talk about transubstantiation. I can talk about systematic theology. I know about the Belgic Confession.”
How to Make an Effective Preacher “John MacArthur, as the President of our seminary, read this out at my graduation ceremony. It has haunted me and inspired me since I became a pastor eleven years ago. When I am tempted to rethink and retool the focus of my ministry, I read and reread this lyrical piece of sage advice, and I am reassured that the priority of my calling is preaching God’s word in God’s way to God’s people.”
Five Terrible Reasons to Enter Vocational Ministry “I recently went through my old seminary pictorial directory. I was able to locate 47 people I knew in seminary who I know where they are today. Of that 47, only eight remained in ministry. If you are doing the math, that is an 83 percent dropout rate. Vocational ministry is a calling. It is not just another vocation. If you enter ministry for the wrong reasons, you will not likely do well. Indeed, you will not likely make it.”
5 Reasons You’re Still Procrastinating “It happens to most leaders at some point. I’ve found the best way to get yourself out of the rut is to understand the reason you’re there in the first place. There are 5 big reasons that people get stuck along the way.”
Student Life In Digital Babylon “Younger Christians are living in what I describe as Digital Babylon. It’s very similar in some ways to the kind of head-snapping change that Daniel and his peers would have experienced in Babylon—exposure to a broader world, immersion in a whole set of worldviews and beliefs and ideas about spirituality, interacting regularly with people with very different points of view, very different perspectives about God, very different perspectives about human meaning and flourishing.”
“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” This is one of William Shakespeare’s most oft-quoted lines. What few realize is that it was uttered in the context of Juliet saying goodnight to Romeo “till it be tomorrow.” The sorrow of that parting was sweetened by the knowledge that it was only for a few hours.
But what about those partings from loved-ones that will be for years and years? There is nothing sweet and plenty bitter about such partings. What unmixed sorrow when a dying husband has to kiss his wife and children goodbye for the last time! What bitterness when soldiers on the way to Afghanistan have to say goodbye to their family and friends! What agony when a pastor and his beloved flock have to part, in response to God’s providential call, and sever the bond of love built up over years! Such partings are not “sweet sorrow,” but usually bitter, bitter, bitter.
The Lord Jesus also knew the deep sorrow of parting from His beloved family and flock on this earth. Time and again, He cautioned them that he had to “go away” (John 16:7). This was not easy for them; but neither was it easy for him.
The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that all who enter hell will experience unending punishment. Hell will have no end or exit. Annihilationists must repent of the false hope which they give. It’s loving to speak the plain truth to the unredeemed, especially in matters concerning eternal punishment.
The Cost of Leadership “Although the biblical qualifications [for elder and deacon] are quite straightforward, there are two ways that many churches have abandoned what God has said about biblical order and leadership and have inserted worldly qualifications into the equation.”
Seven Prayers for Christian Dating “If we refuse to pray in dating, we refuse to receive the precious resources we need most in dating. Too many of us struggle in dating — to discern our hearts, to communicate with one another, to balance priorities and responsibilities, to reject sexual temptation — without ever asking God for his wisdom, strength, and help.”
Don’t chase people. This refers to number two. Certainly, we should pursue reconciliation. We should own mistakes if we’ve made them. But we can’t focus our ministry on chasing people who have left. The truth is, even if we were able to sit down and address the concerns in detail, many of the concerns of those who leave are beyond our ability to remedy.
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Social Media Isn’t Your Teens’ Biggest Problem “Yes, we must pay attention to social media. Yes, it’s wise to limit and monitor phone use. But doing so won’t fix our teens’ hearts. The only solution to a heart bent toward sin is repentance and trust in the gospel. In a selfie world, let’s help our teens understand their true identity is found only in Jesus.”