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The Cumulative Effect of Taking in God's Word

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yesterday after church I was involved in an humorous and interesting conversation.

During the morning service, I had preached a message on Biblical change from 2 Corinthians 2:18. Following the service, we had a meeting and then after the meeting folks were preparing to leave and a lady from church commented to me that the message was "an excellent message" (no, that is NOT the interesting part :) ), to which another lady who was nearby replied, "Yes, it was - and so was last week's message." The first lady replied something to the effect of "What was last week's message, again?" And the lady who had commented on last week's message said, "I can't remember, but it was really good."

Then there was a pause while both ladies tried to remember what last week's sermon was about. (And while I also tried to remind myself of what last week's sermon was about in case they asked me - while I am currently doing a series on Right Thinking from Philippians on Sunday nights, I am not currently in a series on Sunday mornings.) After a short delay, the one who had originally made a comment regarding last week's sermon remembered that it was in Isaiah, which then triggered everyone's memory (including mine) that it was on Isaiah 6 and the holiness of God.

The thing that struck me as interesting was the fact that the individual could remember "it was an excellent sermon", but not remember anything about it. Now, I don't fault her for that but it does seem kind of strange - yet I can completely understand it.

I have listened to well over a thousand sermons in my life. Some of those sermons have been excellent sermons - sermons that I have even made it a point to listen to a number of times. However, I would guess that there are probably only a relative few sermons that I have heard that I can still remember the sermon now. I can remember one sermon from my Youth Pastor, Ron Hamilton (not THAT Ron Hamilton) on "God Can Use What You Have." I can remember a sermon by Dr. Jim Berg on "What it Means to Know God" that I first heard on a Sunday in Rodeheaver Auditorium (it was preached during the summer on Sunday AM service). If I sat here and tried, but it would still be a relatively small number compared to the totality of the sermons that I have heard, but that is not necessary for my point.

If I am typical (and I have seldom been accused of THAT), why bother preaching sermons? After all, if people are not going to remember them anyway, is it not just a waste of time?

My answer to that is "NO." It is not a waste of time. I am convinced that there is a cumulative aspect to the intake of the Word of God that affects our Christian growth. When you and I take in the Word of God (whether it be via hearing a sermon, reading the Bible, studying a passage, meditating on a passage or whatever), there is an affect from that intake - even if we cannot actively sit down later and remember what we learned from a particular sermon.

The way that I like to illustrate it is this: (I am sure I borrowed this or adapted this from somewhere, but I have no idea where).

My mom was/is a great cook. She made excellent meals and I know that I enjoyed a bunch of those meals. However, there are only a few meals during all of the time that I grew up that I can remember. I remember Mom's lasagna (wow, my mouth almost waters thinking of it). I remember the pork chops and fried apples meals that we had as a special treat. I remember some polish sausage and fried potato meals. However, when I think about it, there are a lot of meals my mom fed me that I have no recollection about at all. Yet (and this is the important part), those meals fed me and helped me grow.

So, the next time you start to think - why bother doing the work necessary to prepare and preach this sermon - OR - why bother going to hear another sermon that I am going to forget anyway, stop and remember this illustration - while we may not be able to remember the specific details, these spiritual meals can still feed a soul and help it grow.

Andy Rupert posted some similar (but briefer) thoughts from Pastor Ashbrook over here at Isle Kerguellen that kind inspired this post.

Just my thoughts,


What role does Singing have in teaching?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Over the years, I have heard a number of the "music gurus" in Fundamentalism quote from Colossians 3:16 and highlight the fact that one of the roles of hymns and other spiritual songs is that it is to help "teach and admonish" us.

Yet, when I read and study the passage, it seems highly likely to me that this is not what this verse is saying. When you look at the passage logically and when you examine a number of commentaries on this passage, it makes sense that the breakdown of the verse should be like this.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

In all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another

In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

Now, I could be wrong on this, and I recognize that the nature of punctuation is such that it is hard to be dogmatic on the punctuation (after all, the originals did not have the punctuation), but this seems to me to be the logical reading of the verse.

SOOO, if this is correct, does this remove the claim that singing is to have a teaching role in the church? Or does it just remove one of the most common verses used to support/argue for this teaching role of singing?

If singing does still have a teaching role (and I tend to think it does), what other verses or arguments would you use to support this idea if Colossians 3:16 is thrown out of the mix?

Just my thoughts,


(P.S. I find a similar thing when educators' conference point to Ephesians 4:11-12 and fail to recognize the connection of "pastor-teachers" in that passage.)

Blog Readers - Bloglines vs. Google Reader vs. NewGator vs Whatever else

Friday, July 13, 2007

Okay. Like I mentioned on my last post, I wanted to ask this question, but I wanted the discussion for this question to be separate from the discussion from the question about what type of list of recommended blogs for Pastors.

So, here it is:

I am intending on putting some type of comment on the list regarding subscribing to RSS feeds of blogs.

Which reader do you recommend and why?

Also, if you were recommending a RSS Reader (is that the right term?) to people who are most likely relatively inexperienced at this whole blog thing, would that a make a difference in which reader you recommended and why? (For instance, I am assuming that most who use the list are going to be using IE and will not be that interested in switching to Firefox, etc.)

Thanks again for your input.

Looking for your thoughts,


Recommended Blogs for Pastors - Part 2

In an earlier post, I asked about recommended blogs for Pastors and I got a couple of responses (feel free to add more at the end of this post or at that post).

However, this question is slightly different.

My question in this regard is in the nature of the list that I should compile (I have another question regarding this same list that I am going to ask in another post in just a minute related to "Readers" such as Bloglines, NewsGator, and Google Reader.)

I currently use Bloglines and have a number of blogs that I subscribe to regarding Bloglines. In my blogline subscription, I have 59 feeds and find that there are some which I check every time I see that there is a post on that subscription (usually starting with the ones of guys I know - such as Chris, Don, Greg, Andy, etc.), but there are others that I do not check as soon as I see they have something, but I do check them if I happen to have been blessed with a little extra time when I am online.

So, my question is:
If you were to be given a list at a conference of some blogs to check out and to be aware of, would you rather that list be pretty large or pretty selective?

I can see arguments for both sides of this, so I was wanting some additional input. If you could tell me what you prefer, that would be good. If you could tell me why, that would be even better.

Also, how would the fact that a majority of the Pastors to whom this list would be going are probably not regular readers of hardly anything in the blogosphere affect which things you would recommend?

I would appreciate some feedback from the readers on this if you have a minute.

Looking for your thoughts,


Don't Give Too Much for that Whistle!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Don't Give Too Much for that Whistle!

In the writings of the American statesman Benjamin Franklin, there is a little article entitled "The Whistle." In this article, Dr. Franklin tells the story of an incident from his childhood and a lesson that he has learned from it.

"When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My, brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle."

It is a very easy thing to pay too much for a whistle. Many men devote their entire lives seeking the whistles that this world seems to offer.

Some men give their lives in order to try to gain the whistle of prosperity - ever more searching for wealth and the things that wealth might buy. Many men have violated Scriptural principles in such a search. Many have sacrificed their families and their walk with God to pursue the "almighty dollar." Only to find themselves in the end of their lives hearing the words of Luke 12:20 "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?"

Other men give their lives in an effort to attain the whistle of power - lusting for the sense of being in control of others. Politicians and business leaders have often ran over the "little guy" in an effort to "look out for number one." Yet, in reality, the whistle of power is a fleeting toy, for man does not even have power over himself, let alone power over others. Jesus asked in Matthew 6:27 "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"

Some men give their lives in an effort to gain the whistle of popularity and fame. It is not uncommon for people today to subject themselves to absurdity in order to get a few moments of fleeting fame. People go on reality TV shows and talk shows and make a total fool of themselves because they want to be popular or famous. Many times this whistle of popularity is not sought on a broad scale, but on a small scale, people selling their principles down the river in order to not come across as odd or different among their peers. Teens often sacrifice a right relationship with their parents because they want the whistle of popularity among their friends. Guys and girls often sacrifice their purity or at least their modesty because they want the whistle of popularity with the opposite gender. Rather than fear what men think of us, we need to remember that "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe." (Proverbs 29:25)

What is the whistle that you are pursuing? Is it a whistle that is really worth all the effort? It is a whistle that is really worth sacrificing that principle or taking that wrong stand?

Perhaps there are some who may read this who are pursuing these whistles of prosperity or power or popularity or something else and think that these pursuits are worth while. If so, you are like the young Benjamin Franklin looking at the whistles and not even realizing the true worth of those items.

Jesus said it best: "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

Just my thoughts,


Recommended Blogs for Pastors

Thursday, July 05, 2007

In a few weeks, the Fellowship of Fundamental Bible Churches will be holding its Annual Conference at Tri-State Bible Camp and Conference Center in Montague, New Jersey.

As part of the packet of information that is being put together, I have been asked to contribute a list of recommended blogs for Pastors.

I have a number of ideas on my own, but one of the great things about the blogosphere is that it is easier to borrow brains from others.

I realize that a lot of you have probably given up on reading A Thinking Man's Thoughts since I have been so rare in my posting lately, but I am hoping that some of you are still around.

So, I am asking all of you who happen to still come by and read here at A Thinking Man's Thoughts if you would be willing to give me a list of recommended commentaries for pastors. If you want to give your comments on why a particular blog should be included, please feel free to do so.

Thank you for your help.

The blogs on the list do not necesessarily need to be from a Fundamental perspective, but we are looking for blogs that would be helpful for Pastors in particular.

Just my thoughts,


Sign the Declaration of Independence

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Today is the celebration of Independence Day here in the good old U.S.A.

I was hoping to write a profound article about Freedom and Liberty and Sacrifice, but who has time for that anymore (or is willing to make the sacrifice)?

I did, however, think that this was an interesting thing for the Fourth of July - over at the National Archives web-site you can add your own name as a signer of The Declaration of Independence. Your name will show up right next to John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, John Witherspoon, John Adams and all of the rest.

You can even print out the newly created document that now includes your own name.

So, be the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (if you are younger than Edward Rutledge's age of 26 at the time) or the first woman signer.

You can visit the site at:

If you manipulate the final product, you can add more than one signature - that way your whole family could sign it!

Just my thoughts,