"As I Ought to Speak" - Biblical Dynamics for Preaching and Teaching (Part 1)

Just as we seek to discover our hermeneutical method from the pages of Scripture and to apply those principles consistently, we also need to recognize that Scripture has much to say regarding how we should communicate God’s word to others. These principles even go so far as to help us think through the appropriate dynamics of communication.

Keep it as Simple as Possible

In John 16:29 the disciples acknowledged that Jesus was speaking plainly or boldly (parresia), rather than with figures of speech, and they responded, “Now we know…” They were not confused about His message, and understood what He was telling them. While certainly there are appropriate uses of figurative language and illustration, it is generally better to communicate simply and straightforwardly in order to ensure the point is not lost in translation through the use of too many rhetorical devices. Read more about "As I Ought to Speak" - Biblical Dynamics for Preaching and Teaching (Part 1)

Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Implementing Grace Giving

Most of what I have shared previously unpacks the biblical basis for Grace Giving. See Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. This final article will focus on the practical application of these biblical truths. Once you understand Grace Giving, how do you start doing it?

As a reminder, here is a quick review of biblical facts. These are fully presented in the previous articles, so I will just state them here without explanation.

  • Material and financial giving to the Lord has always been a response to grace and an act of grace.
  • The Jewish people under the Old Testament system were required to “tithe,” which means give 10%, of their material and financial possessions to the Lord. There were actually three tithes, so they gave more than just 10%. There is no requirement for New Testament Christians to tithe.
  • The Old Testament followers of God also gave free-will offerings, which were voluntary contributions to show worship, devotion, and thanks.
  • Jesus had a lot to say about giving, especially the motive for it.
  • The New Testament church, described in the Book of Acts, practiced voluntary giving according to people’s individual ability. The offerings were received and distributed through the church.
  • There are two objectives of grace giving presented in the New Testament: supporting Gospel work and helping people in need.
  • The key word in the New Testament that is associated with financial and material giving is grace. The motivation for giving is not obligation or manipulation, but a willing heart.
  • Every Christian should regularly practice the grace of giving.
  • Biblical giving is willing, voluntary, responsive, and generous.
Read more about Tipping, Tithing, and Grace Giving: Implementing Grace Giving

Taste and See

Still Life by Gerard Van Honthorst
Still Life by Gerard Van Honthorst

You’d think after ten years, I’d have figured out a better way. You’d think that I’d have learned how to motivate, how to cajole, or how to simply avoid the conflict altogether. But no. Ten years into this thing called parenting, dinner time can still be a battle.

Not every night, of course. The nights I serve up macaroni and cheese, chicken, or pizza, all is well and all manner of things shall be well. But the nights we’re broadening our palate, the nights my husband and I enjoy a grown-up meal or attempt some exotic recipe, these nights devolve into protestations, stalling, and outright depression. I can never guarantee precisely how it will all go down–which food will be the stumbling block or which child will stumble–but I have noticed a pattern.

It begins with quiet resistance, moving the food around on the plate, sad looks, and barely uttered sighs. Perhaps all the other portions are consumed, leaving behind the one offending pile of vegetables or curry. My husband and I will have finished by this point. We will be ready to clear the table or have dessert, ready to move on. But instead, we stay. We stay for round two. We stay to encourage, to confront, and eventually to demand. We set timers, appeal to their sense of gratitude, and promise no other food until morning. Sometimes this works; sometimes they take us up on the offer.

After ten years, I should know better. Yet, each time, I continue to be surprised. Read more about Taste and See

Books of Note - How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

Image of How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible
by Keith Ferrin
Bethany House Publishers 2015
Paperback 160

When I was a kid I hated reading. My sister on the other hand loved it. I would read what I had to for school and that was it. When I reached high school I read through the Bible a few times for our youth group program and I did enjoy it. But outside of that I hated reading. I wanted to be outside rollerblading, or skateboarding, or shooting my pellet gun. I did not want to read. Reading required me to slow down and be quiet. Sometimes I literally cried when I had to read.

Now I love to read and I love reading the Bible. Though my youth pastor played a large role in my current love for reading, there were a number of factors that led to my love of reading. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many Christians. Not only is there a decline in reading in the general population there is a decline in reading of the Bible by Christians. Not only is the culture post-Christian, it seems that the Evangelical Christian church is becoming post-Christian merely because less and less Christians are reading their Bible and therefore don’t know it.

So how can Christians begin to read the Bible and develop an enjoyment of it? This is the question Keith Ferrin addresses in his new book How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible (Bethany House, 2015). There are many factors that contribute to a lack of enthusiasm for reading the Bible. Ferrin aims to help his readers avoid these obstacles and learn to love reading their Bibles. Read more about Books of Note - How to Enjoy Reading Your Bible

Christian Pacifism and Non-Resistance? or, Does the Believer Have the Right of Physical Self-Defense?

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.


Under OT law, it was expressly permitted to the inhabitant of a dwelling to defend hearth and home if necessary by lethal (death-causing) force against an intruder, without penalty: “If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed,” (HCSB, Exodus 22:2). But does the NT believer, under grace, have this same right? Some would affirm, and strongly, that we do not. Pacifism and non-resistance has been a professed doctrine of a number of Christian groups over the centuries. One thinks immediately of the Anabaptists, Amish, Mennonites, Grace Brethren, and Quakers. But are they correct in embracing this understanding of NT teaching?

NT Teaching

James, a son of Mary and Joseph, was the leader of the congregation in Jerusalem, indeed a veritable “pillar” in the church (Galatians 2:9), and wrote what is by consensus the earliest book in the New Testament, the epistle of James, credibly assigned a date before 50 A.D. James 5:7 characterizes the victimized righteous man who suffers wrong at the hand of a wealthy man as one who “does not resist you.” Is this merely descriptive of how the individual acted in this specific case (that is, giving no cause for the violent man to act as he did), or is it exemplary, even prescriptive as a guide for our conduct, that is, presenting us with an example we are obliged to emulate? Read more about Christian Pacifism and Non-Resistance? or, Does the Believer Have the Right of Physical Self-Defense?

General Orders No.11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868

Headquarters Grand Army of the Republic

General Orders No.11, WASHINGTON, D.C., May 5, 1868

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic. Read more about General Orders No.11, Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868

The Knowledge of God

(About this series)



The man who does not know God has not begun to live. He may eat and drink, make merry, accumulate a fortune or wear a crown; but he has not entered into that better life of high hopes and noble purposes and aspirations which make us worthy of our Divine birthright. For “this is life enternal, to know God.”

To put ourselves into just relations with God is literally a matter of life or death. All the ologies are worth mastering but THEOLOGY is indispensable. We must know God.

But where is He? “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him! Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward but I cannot perceive Him; on the left hand where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand so that I cannot see Him!” The horizons recede as we approach them, and the darkness thickens as we grope like blind men feeling their way along the wall. Read more about The Knowledge of God

A Call to Travel Sufficiently Far from Home

Reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.

Have you come to prize the importance of journeying sufficiently far from home? To illustrate negatively, do you not bristle at the thought of a privileged young woman, growing up in a mansion, residing in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, attending posh private schools, who never leaves her comfortable surroundings? Would not this woman be aided by the experience of volunteering to scoop soup at a rescue mission, or by distributing medical supplies to refugees in a war torn country overseas, or something? If this member of the privileged class never leaves her comfort zone—never witnesses poverty and suffering firsthand—will she not nurse in her mind a distorted view of the world?

Conversely, consider a poverty stricken inner-city youth whose neighborhood is crawling with vice and whose chances of ever leaving his environment are bleak. Do we not readily commend the opportunity for such a youth to visit a rural farm or to attend a youth retreat in the Rockies, or something of the sort? Read more about A Call to Travel Sufficiently Far from Home