Pastoral Musings

Thoughts, devotions, book reviews, and miscellanea from the pastor….

Book Review: Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition by Calvin Miller

Posted by JasonS on April 6, 2010

Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition by Calvin Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition
What I expected was to be another book teaching how to prepare a sermon was a very pleasant and different book. There are indeed some very good points about creating a sermon and the author gives many pointers along the way in the form of questions and outlines that one can use to help guide them in their sermon preparation. This book was different in that it teaches things that most preachers will probably never learn in seminary: the interaction with the congregation.
Miller calls for us to be expositors, but not dull, dreary ones. We should be expositors who can tell the story of God’s glory in a manner that grips the hearts and minds of the people. Whether we add humor, drama, good illustrations, or use a narrative text, we should always seek to create something more than a three point sermon. It’s not that we should have a 4-7 point sermon. It’s that we should rather refuse to take the one point of a text and break it into pieces that seem unrelated. Let the sermon have one point even if our outline has seven. What? Yes. The sermon should find the big picture of the text and simply repaint the picture so as to appeal to the heart of each hearer with the message of God.
In so doing, Miller reminds us to exegete our text before we turn to the books. We should read our text and learn all that we can from it on our own before we turn to the library to see what others have to say about it. In so doing, we become part of the text, it becomes part of us, and our people recognize the fact that what we are preaching is from our hearts.
Not only should we exegete the text, but we should exegete the congregation. Most pastors know to whom they are preaching. We should see the crowd, know their needs, heartaches, and struggles. We should then take our text and see how it relates to them and how we should apply it to them.
What truly spoke to me, however, is the fact that Miller calls for the preacher to be a person in whom the fire of God burns. The church will seldom get on fire if the pulpit is not burning brightly. He calls for the pastor to be a man of character who will live what he preaches and have a good testimony before the people so that they know he is genuine. The strength of a sermon is not always found in rhetorical skill, but often in relationships. The people often listen because of what and who the pastor is instead of how he speaks.
The author also warns us about common pitfalls such as: expecting each sermon to be our best, and the next sermon to improve upon that. Often we fail. When we are committed to being faithful, and the church knows that we love Christ and them, we can relax in the performance category and get down to the work of simply getting the message across. He also speaks about dealing with disruptions, long-term pastorates, and much more.
If I were to sum it up, I would say that Miller calls the preacher to not only be a good expositor who can relate the message to the people, but to be a sermon in himself so that the people will listen to him.
Thanks to our friends at Baker for this review copy.

View all my reviews >>

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Just A Note To All Who Visit Here

Posted by JasonS on January 1, 2013

I get the occasional visitor who comes and comments here.

This is a note to direct you to the current Pastoral Musings blog.

Thanks, and welcome to Pastoral Musings.

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Posted by JasonS on April 12, 2010

There may be some downtime for Pastoral Musings over the next few days as I seek to migrate to a new server.

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A Couple of Things Relating to Modesty

Posted by JasonS on April 10, 2010

Much is said in fundamentalist circles about modesty.  Sometimes the line between a good standard and legalism is blurry.

There are times when much is said about what modesty is, but then the heart and attitude of the person is neglected.

These two things often lead to a harsh spirit that is critical of all who do not conform to a particular standard.

This post was a refreshingly different one, and one that I must say hits the nail on the head about the attitude that leads to modesty.

When reading this I was reminded of a sermon by C.J. Mahaney entitled “The Soul of Modesty”.   You may listen or download the sermon here (Registration may be required).  One may also go to this link and read more about modesty and download the sermon, too.

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Interesting Thoughts on The KJVO Movement

Posted by JasonS on April 10, 2010

Erik, over at Fundamentally Changed, has posted a very interesting piece about the King James Version Only movement and things that influenced it.

Sharper Iron linked to the post, KJVO Debate Blog and Fundamentally Reformed have linked to it as well,  and it has received scores of comments.  The comments section has proved to be another source of information.  Who would have known that the US KJVO movement has roots in Seventh Day Adventism?  The proof is presented, however.

As much as I love the KJV, I must say that the KJVO movement has made some very strange bedfellows.

Click on over to Fundamentally Changed to read the post.

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The New Testament Use of The Old Testament

Posted by JasonS on April 9, 2010

A few days ago I posted a piece on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Having received some comments on the post, I felt it would be well that I expand it just a little for the purpose of giving a little more light on why I hold to the position that I do.

As we read the New Testament we find that there was a very well developed Christological expectation in existence at the time of the birth of Jesus. The reader will recall that Simeon spoke to Mary about Jesus and even hinted that His work would actually be one that would bring grief to His mother (See Luke 2:25-35). In so speaking, it is obvious that Simeon’s expectation of Jesus’ work was not simply that of an exalted king who would rule over all. Simeon evidently understood somewhat of the suffering that was to come to Jesus. It is most likely that he had this understanding based upon the Old Testament Scriptures and not solely on the basis of any spiritual experience he may have had.

As the Baptizer came on the scene we find that there was much musing about him. He was questioned whether he were the Messiah or not, showing us that there was a Messianic expectation. John’s response was to preach Jesus as one who would be a sacrificial lamb given as a sin offering: “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. ” (John 1:29, KJV) For this to have made any sense to anyone listening there would have of necessity been an expectation of a suffering Christ who would forgive sins. Again, that expectation would have had its roots in the Old Testament prophecies and promises.

Jesus, Himself, testified to this expectation when He told the people that the Scriptures testified of Him (See John 5:39), that Abraham rejoiced because he saw the day of Christ (See John 8:56), and when He rebuked the disciples because they did not believe the Old Testament Scriptures which prophesied of His coming, suffering, and subsequent glory: “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. ” (Luke 24:25–27, KJV) The Old Testament prophecies of Jesus were so clear that Jesus rebuked them for not believing them. This would have been impossible if the prophecies were vague, imprecise, and could only have been interpreted in light of the New Testament

after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven


Posted in Bible, doctrinal issues, doctrine, exegesis, hermeneutics, Preaching | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Spiritual Depression Part Two

Posted by JasonS on April 8, 2010

See part one here.

Probably the most under rated help for spiritual depression is the Word of God.

The Psalmist stated that the Word of God would restore the soul, give joy, and understanding (See Psalm 19:7-12).

Moses stressed that the Word was given for our good (Deuteronomy 6:24) and is our life (Deuteronomy 32:46-47).

Jesus quoted Moses saying that we live, not only by bread, but by God’s Word (Matthew 4:4).

Paul stated that the inspired Scriptures are profitable to perfect us and make us into that which God would have us to be (2Timothy 3:16-17), and that it is the thing to which we should cling in perilous times (times difficult to deal with) (2Tim 3:1;13-17).

How many times do we cause our own troubles, worries, fears, anxieties, stress, and times of depression because we do not heed the Scriptures? How much of our grief can be attributed to our not believing God’s Word? When we apply ourselves to learning and believing God’s Word we may be very surprised by finding the answer to those questions.

Posted in church issues, doctrinal issues, doctrine, Family, Preaching, Social, spiritual depression | Tagged: , | Comments Off


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