18 November 2009


A woman moved to a new city and started working in a downtown office building as a janitor. One Sunday morning she visited a church that she walked by on her way to work each day.

The parking lot was filled with beautiful cars and everyone was well dressed. Almost to the sanctuary, a tall, silver haired man in a three-piece suit stepped in front of her and suspiciously asked, “Well, now where are you going?”

Pointing towards the sanctuary she said, “In there, with everybody else … to worship the Lord.” The man steered the woman over to a side door and asked in a disingenuous tone, “I want you to go home and ask Jesus if this is the church He wants you to attend.”

The woman replied, “I walk by here each morning and thought it would be a good church to visit. But now that you mention it, I didn’t really talk with Jesus about visiting your church”. And at that, the man opened the door, and motioned to the woman to exit. And so, without a chance to even enter the sanctuary, the women left.

The following morning the same man went to a downtown office building on an errand. Walking into the lobby, he saw the woman who’d tried attending his church the day before – there she was, polishing stair rails. He went over and asked, “Did you ask Jesus yet about what we talked about yesterday?” And the woman answered, “Oh, yes, I did.” “Well, what did He say?”

Without missing a beat of her polishing the rail, the woman said with a smile, “Jesus said, ‘My child, don’t feel bad. I’ve been trying to get into that church for years, and they wouldn’t let Me in either.’”

The church at Laodicea, like the church in this story, and many churches in America and around the world had become comfortable with what they had and who they’d become, even though God wasn’t.

It’s my hope that each person reading this post will invite God to use Jesus’ words from REVELATION 3:14-22 as a mirror that we hold up to ourselves, to see our motivations, to see our priorities, and to see our faith with honesty and clarity. And then, based on what we see, that we’ll make the course-corrections we need to in order to become more like the FAITHFUL church at Philadelphia (REVELATION 3:7-13), and less like the LUKEWARM church of Laodicea. Godspeed.




When I was in Seminary I learned to "preach" from a Nazarene Evangelist. I thought he was creative. But basically he had just one sermon, taught from different places throughout the Bible. He was an evangelist, not a pastor-teacher, what could I expect? Here's a simple distinction between PREACHING and TEACHING ...
  • PREACHING is done by both evangelists and pastor-teachers. It is what evangelists do all the time, and what pastor-teachers do some of the time. It is done to share the Gospel with people and invite them into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The gospel is so woven throughout Scripture that pastor-teachers can't avoid it, nor should we. At 2nd Street I invite people to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ on Sunday mornings on a regular basis. But I am gifted and called as a pastor-teacher not an evangelist.
  • TEACHING is done primarily by pastor-teachers. And it is done to grow and mature the flock in their relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what I do at 2nd Street on Sunday mornings, 40+ times a year. I believe that the teaching of God's WORD is most effectively done verse-by-verse through individual books of the Bible, using other passages from the Bible as support.
When I showed up in Klamath Falls in 1984, fresh out of seminary, it didn't take long for me that while I'd learned to preach in seminary, I hadn't learned to teach. Bummer. Because since I wasn't spiritually gifted and called as an evangelist, the way I'd been taught a way to teach the Bible that didn't fit with my gifting as a pastor-teacher.

So instead of staying frustrated (which I really was for about a year), I started listening to a number of pastor-teachers on the radio. Here are the five God primarily used to help shape, change, teach, and train me in how to teach His WORD (these folks aren't all serving in these positions anymore, but they were during my time in Klamath Falls / 1984-1991).
  1. Chuck Smith, pastor-teacher at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA
  2. Burt Smith, pastor-teacher at Little County Church in Redding, CA
  3. Jon Courson, pastor-teacher at Applegate Christian Fellowship outside of Jacksonville, OR)
  4. Kay Arthur, Bible teacher, founder of Precept Ministries
  5. Bob Yandian, pastor-teacher at Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, OK
These five pastor-teachers all taught God's WORD verse-by-verse, and I loved it. I saw that when using this method of teaching, it was easier to allow the Holy Spirit make the outline of the teaching, and that the application flowed out of the verses along the way, instead of being pasted onto the end of the teaching like a postscript.

So learning from these five pastor-teachers (none of whom I'd ever met ... but I eventually met Kay, Burt, Bob, and Jon's brother Jimmy), I simply looked at the end result of what they taught and worked my way backwards, developing my own methods of study, preparation, and delivery of God's WORD.

I study on Tuesday afternoons, Thursday afternoons, all day Friday, Saturday morning, and then finish everything up early Sunday mornings. All told, I usually invest about 15 hours into each Sunday's teaching. But I think that it is worth it. The way I study, plan, and prepare isn't complicated. Here's a basic outline of what I do ...
  • Read the next passage from God's WORD that I'll be teaching from many, many, many times, out of a variety of translations. www.youversion.com helps me do this. Knowing where I am going, not just on a given Sunday, but in the coming months and even the coming year, helps out tremendously. Take notes.
  • Pray.
  • Read more of God's WORD / look up all the cross-references listed in the main Bibles I use for study (New American Standard Bible, New Century Version, The Amplified Bible, The Message, J.B. Phillips New Testament in Modern English, Contemporary English Version, and English Standard Version) along with all the other Scripture passages that the Holy Spirit brings to mind. Take notes.
  • Write.
  • Pray.
  • Write. Incorporating more Greek/Hebrew word studies.
  • Pray.
  • Add the Faith Lessons throughout the teaching as led by the Holy Spirit to do so. These are short, application points from individual verses, or words/themes encountered along the way.
  • Pray and deliver the teaching.
I hope your life with God is maturing and deepening. Godspeed.