This past Lord’s Day had its fair share of challenges. I am five weeks into my series on the Book of Acts. The week started off great, with several challenges along the way. I would imagine if I were not a parent, or atleast a hands-on parent or husband, my preaching over the pulpit would be a little more exceptional. Parenting is HARD. I don’t want to say that it will get easier when they are older because, after all, do they ever really leave you? So…in short, last week…time just escaped me and somehow flew by. The routine is quite different, with trying to get my family more active at the gym and also spend more quality moments sharing, praying and being together. Needless to say, the evenings come fast; and there is very little time to waste. What does this mean for me? I can only hope to explain. I am a voracious reader. I will read any and everything. Also, I’ve developed a habit of storing (in my mind and on paper) the things I study and read regarding the message I plan to preach in a few days. My father taught me how to basically do disciplined and well-rounded study for sermon preparation; Dallas Baptist taught me how locate the right resources and collect/gather all of the information; seminary taught me how to combine all of this….on steroids! But what I struggle with is ‘sifting’ through it all and moving my sermon to the place of dislodging what I’ve heard H.B. Charles, Jr. note as ‘unecessary words.’ So….I can be different from many on Fridays and Saturdays. While many preachers may have too little to share, I have WAY too much! A typical sermon, for me, when it is finalized is about 5 to 7 pages, single-spaced, in Pages or Microsoft word, with an 11 font. My notes, before the sermon is scaled down to the final manuscript, is usually between 15 to 20 pages. Well…because I waited until Saturday to scale it down, I ended up rushing, with a final manuscript 10 and a half pages. Not good! As a result, I think I do a disservice to the overall flow of sermon delivery.
Fortunately, I kept my sermon to about 40 minutes. My usual time, for years, has been about 50 to 55 minutes; but my goal is to be around 30.
What have I learned?
I am aware that I am ambitious & impatient. There are 28 chapters in Acts; and I want to make a dent in this book; and feel I am getting no where. But I think this should be avoided. I have preached through Acts chapter 2 before; and it took me about 5 weeks to deal with Pentecost. What I found myself doing Sunday was trying to preach a 4-week sermon series in 40 minutes. While our congregation may have remarked the the message was helpful and people responded, I am aware that this may not be the best way to help the people. I’m thinking the best thing to do is either take my time, or so sift through the material so that, when it is delivered, it is condensed yet powerful and clear.
Here is my sermon outline:THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING (vs. 1)
a. God Keeps His living promise. (Dead men can’t always keep their promises)
b. God Keeps His personal promise. (Luke 24:49; Joel 2:28-32)
c. God Keeps His conditional promise. (Acts 1:4) THE MANNER OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING (vss. 1-4)
a.Where He shows up (Location)
b. How He shows up (Wind/Fire) THE RESULT OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING
a. NEW ENVIRONMENT (verse 2)
b. NEW LANGUAGE (New tongues – the principle is diversity. We don’t speak the same language. i.e. – Mary and Martha)
c. NEW OPPOSITION “Others”
d. NEW ATTITUDE (Verse 14…Peter is standing)
God be praised for His giving of direction in this portion of the scripture in Acts 2. While I do feel that it would have been better for me to have taken a smaller portion and deal with it accordingly, it is now over; and if the Lord so allows, the time will come again to share. Fortunately, I can work now to summarize it in review of the next portion of scripture, which is Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost.
Thankful and grateful for the one who came forward.
The day ended with news that my maternal grandfather (my Mom’s Dad) had been rushed to the hospital in Corpus Christi. He would move from labor to reward early the following Monday morning. I am grateful for a life who touched so many. Rev. Alvin Francis, Sr. will be missed. Such a presence of a man is rare as the years go by. Please keep the Francis and Pullam families lifted in prayer.