Over the years, I’ve been asked about how I go about preparing a message. That’s a big question with a complex answer because no two messages or series are the same. Here are some of the obvious nuts and bolts, including-
- prayer and guidance by the Spirit,
- what I’ve been reading through Scripture on my own- praying through and studying the text using multiple methods,
- what topics, concepts or issues may be culturally relevant (like my series in July on compassion as our nation was, and still is, embroiled in racial turmoil),
- what is on my sermon/message list,
- is this a “one-off” message or will I be in the pulpit for more than one week,
- direction from church leadership.
With those things, and probably a great many others, there are other influencers on me. Family, friends, conversations, blog and Facebook posts, what I see on Twitter, the media I consume- music, movies and television, each of these things weigh in on messages that I prepare.
With all of that said, I’m in the pulpit at our church on November 6, just two days before our national election. And, I’m going to be speaking to that reality- my message title is currently, “Rendering Unto Caesar” based upon the instruction from Jesus found in Matthew 22:15-22 and Mark 12:13-17. I’ll be spending much time over the next few weeks reading, studying, praying and thinking about those texts. BUT…there are a great many other texts and resources that will be shaping this message. Some I will mention in the message, others I will not.
- From the Bible: Deuteronomy 17:14-20 (God’s instructions about an earthly king); 1 Samuel 8 (God’s instructions about an earthly king); 1 Samuel 24 & 26 (David refusing to kill God’s anointed leader); Daniel 1 & 3 (faithful living in the midst of a government that is hostile to them); Acts 4 & 5 (the apostles and the governing authorities); Acts 22 (Paul’s use of Roman citizenship); and Romans 13:1-7 (Paul describes the purpose of government); Ephesians 6:10-18 (who is, and who is NOT, our enemy).
- The October Christian Standard: “Can I Be a Christian and a Patriot?“. The articles are toward the bottom of the page and are well worth reading.
- Author Greg Boyd’s book: The Myth of a Christian Nation. When Greg preached a series (that became the book) in 2004, he had over 1,000 people leave the church where he was the pastor.
- Singer/Songwriter Derek Webb:
- Mockingbird album, specifically the songs “A New Law”, “A King and A Kingdom”, “My Enemies Are Men Like Me”, “In God We Trust”.
- The song “A Savior on Capitol Hill” from album “The Ringing Bell”
- Stockholm Syndrome album, specifically the songs “The State”, “The Proverbial Gun”, and “American Flag Umbrella”.
- Article: “How Should We Then Vote?“