The Challenge Preaching and Teaching to All Who Are Listening!

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV Bible:

[1]  Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  [2] I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  [3] You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?

FIRST of all, I’m not a Pastor.  But a preacher, a teacher…that I am.  Now that I cleared that up, I can proceed with some principles.  Principles I’ve discovered over 40 years of teaching… which might just help in your sharing of the gospel to all!.

Preaching and Teaching to the Immature and the Spiritual Giants…

Every week, pastors all over the world are asked to do something that is almost impossible:  Preach and teach a message to a group of people which includes…

—  Teenagers to seniors.

—  Men and women.

—  Mature disciples and not-yet-believers.

—  The faithful and the skeptical.

—  Regular attenders and first time guests.

—  Singles, married, divorced and “it’s complicated.”

—  Those who need comfort and those who need a swift kick in the…!

No wonder the pastoral burnout rate is so high!

As a Christian Blogger, I’ve been teaching through writing, as THE WORD DETECTIVE for 44 months with mixed results.  It’s still tough, but I’ve become steadily better at it in time.  But mostly by trial and error.  While I don’t claim to have mastered the art of writing down all my thoughts, I have discovered a few simple principles that may help in your particular giftings.

"Babes" and "Giants"
“Babes” and “Giants”

“Babes in Christ”–Who are they?

“I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn’t digest [“stomach”] anything stronger.  And even now you still have to be fed milk”  (1 Corinthians 3:2 TLB).  {I added the word “stomach” in brackets for emphasis}

“Babes in Christ” are Christians who aren’t sufficiently advanced to the teachings of the Word of God.  They are still majoring in the simple and easy truths of the Bible; they see Him as a God of Love but can’t picture Him as a God of wrath and judgement.

So, they RESIST any kind of “strong” or “hard” preaching/teaching against sin.  It doesn’t fit in their elementary theology box.

Could there be sadder words spoken by a Preacher to his congregation?

The Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthian Church here–a church that was enriched with much knowledge and many spiritual gifts.  Yet in spite of their many BLESSINGS, they remained as “babes in Christ”–couldn’t “handle” the matters of doctrine. so they fill in the blanks with unsound reasoning and began making up their own DOCTRINE!  I’m sure they thought that they were “Spiritual Giants” in their thinking.  But were they not “babes in Christ” and didn’t know it?

Stay Fixed on THE WORD
Stay Fixed on THE WORD

PRINCIPLE NUMBER ONE:  Start and Stay with Scripture.

This is  KEY when teaching or preaching.  Don’t just use a verse or two–a jumping off point to say what you want to say.  STUDY IT and STICK WITH IT throughout the entire message.  Sure, we need to use personal stories, current events and common experiences in our communication, verbally or our writings.  BUT, as I have found, going down a “spiritual rabbit holes” can lead you in the direction of wrong intentions.

When I first started blogging, my oldest daughter sent me a message via Email:

“DAD, I enjoyed reading your story about Jesus in the Bible. Just a suggestion, you might use more personal stories to get your point across. LOVE YOU DADDY, Karen.”

Too many, well-meaning pastors and Christian writers are basing their messages, not on a passage from God’s Word, but on the title of the latest movie, a news headline, or the latest “a funny thing happened to me” story.

Forget Your Bible?
Forget Your Bible?

When in doubt of what to say, or teach is…“the TRUTH of God’s Word always, and I mean “always” speaks to everyone.”

PRINCIPLE TWO:  Learning Something New.

One of the best ways I’ve found in reading and using Scripture  is to MEDITATE on the passage I’ve chosen until I discover something I’ve never seen before.  Reading the words before me until they begin to speak to me.  And, if I don’t feel I’m ready…read it again until it does speak!

Second, I’ve learned over time, the things that I teach orally, preach or write might likely be deep enough for the “mature believer” as well.

I love reading the comments left on my published blogs;  “Thanks, Mel!  I never saw it in that way before!”  To which I reply, “Me either!”

There are few things more invigorating to a church member, as hearing from their pastor who keeps learning and sharing new depths in God’s Word.  And by the way, tell your pastor, encourage your pastor, in acknowledging the truth presented.

PRINCIPLE THREE:  Using the Simplest Language Possible.

After studying and prayer each morning, I go through my notes and edit my rough draft with a Roget’s Thesaurus next to the computer.  I try to replace all the multisyllabic theological terms into everyday terminology.  The same words I would use in casual conversation at the local coffee shop.  I feel it is my responsibility to help my readers, or the Bible Study attendees, to understand biblical concepts and doctrine in such a way, that they can take with them and live them out.

It’s not easy…

Sometimes it’s hard to explain deep concepts in simple language with all the commentaries, books available,  etc., but I’m learning in the process. If I can’t explain it in simple terms, I probably don’t understand it as well as I think I do.  So I study some more until I have a better grasp of God’s Word and can explain it simply [you might disagree].

PRINCIPLE FOUR:  Leave the Results in God’s Hands.

Although frustrated at times, I have certainly learned over the years…you can’t speak with your lips or write weekly blogs, that everyone will get something different from the same message or topic given.  Only God’s WORD can do that.  So I do what I can do, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

I can’t reach the sorrowing widower, the struggling single parent, the alcoholic dad, the skeptical seeker at the same time.  But the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word in speech or in writing can.

The Holy spirit steps in and does something we could never do.  He speaks to each person so specifically, that I hope and pray they leave the pages I write, leave knowing, “That MESSAGE was just for me.”

“Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” are listening…

HEBREWS 5:12-14 AMP:

[12]  “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.”

[13]  “For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!”

[14]  “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”

Who are the “someones” and the “everyone’s” in your life?

I wanted to leave you with a question rather than an answer.  And if you don’t know the answer, that’s okay.  Should you know the answers?

I have only presented a brief summation of God’s Principles and presenting the TRUTH to Pastors, teachers, preachers, and bloggers (writers).

“If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advance teaching].  For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit.  And have felt how good THE WORD OF GOD is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come”  (Hebrews 6:3-5 AMP).

 

Photo Credits:

Photo Pin

Credits: 

Signs of Spiritual Immaturity – “Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” by Connie Giordano – Walking in Faith.

 

 

 

 

My Spiritual “Rabbit Hole” and Taking the “Redpill”

Preview of the Coming Attractions:

Going Down the Rabbit Hole!
Going Down the Rabbit Hole!

In 1999, there was a movie entitled, “The Matrix”.  A hacker named Morpheus offers a choice to the films protagonist, Neo, to take the BLUE PILL, where “the story ends, you wake up in bed and believe whatever you want to believe,” or take the RED PILL, where “you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”  The “Redpill” appears to have seen “glitches” within the Matrix. The choice between the blissful ignorance of illusion (blue) and embracing the sometimes painful truth of reality (red).

Thus I begin my personal story dating back over five years ago, when I overcame the Religious Matrix.  Yes, I took the “Redpill” and ventured down My Spiritual “Rabbit Hole”.

My “born-again” moment in life began in 1972, at the age of 30.  You can read the story on how I came to that moment in the “about” section of “The WORD Detective”.  During the next thirty-two years, my developing experience by spiritual maturity grew.

It’s Good to Be Comfortable–

Courses in “Discipleship Training”, “Evangelism Explosion”, Gospel Music men’s trio, choirs, Christian Drama, deacon, Adult Sunday School Teacher, and so on and so on.  I was comfortable in my Religious Clothing.

Then in the spring of 2005, something began to change in my spirit; it was a mystery at first then it became clear.  God’s Spirit was tugging at me from every direction; soul and spirit.

Every morning, I would read from my Bible, then pray and then read from a Christian author’s book.  In the afternoons, at exactly 3:30 PM, Monday thru Friday, I would turn the television on and watch Dr. Creflo Dollar’s World Changers Ministry;  I took hand written notes almost everyday, soaking up the Word of God like I had never done before.  His God-Based teaching was so simple and practical, why hadn’t ever heard Scripture made this clear before?  The more I listened, the more I studied the Word, the more I understood.

Now my wife Dianne, also every morning would read from her Bible, pray and read from Christian Fiction while in a different room of the house (at the time, I read only non-fiction books).

The “Me too’s” in Life…

In 2006, after we had both  finished reading, I went where she was sitting and said, “I am tired of the same-old, same-old ‘stuff from the church pulpit every Sunday.”   Surprisingly, her reply to my statement of “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired…” (Paraphrased) was simply, “Me too!” 

The Holy Spirit had been speaking to us separately, in different rooms, about the same thing, at the same time.  I have found that after 46 years of marriage, God’s Spirit speaks loudly sometimes to husbands through their wives.

Dianne quietly said,  “One of my favorite smells in the whole world is freshly baked bread coming from a bakery. I am tired of picking up old, stale bread crumbs in the church aisles and pews.” You could have knocked me over with a ‘turkey feather’ when I heard her make that statement.  My quest was the same, and I replied with two words;  “Me too!” 

Unbeknownst to both of us, God had been speaking the thing, but in different ways.  Because of my inpatient spirit, He spoke more directly to my inner ear.  Now to Dianne, who has a more artistic personality, more visual, He spoke to her much differently.  In any case, our previous ways of thinking were going to change.

God was giving us a choice:

Take the “Red Pill” and the Holy Spirit would show us both… how deep the spiritual rabbit hole would go.  Or, take the “Blue Pill” where the story would end and we would wake-up in bed and believe whatever we wanted to believe.

By taking the “Bluepill” didn’t mean we would lose our salvation, not at all.  It meant that we would continue to miss out on what God wanted to expose us to in His Spiritual “Wonderland”.

The “REDPILL EXPERIENCE”:

After taking the “Redpill”, the Spiritual journey began.  I was saved through a Baptist preacher, in a Baptist church and had been exposed to Baptist doctrine and teaching for over 34 years.  After the “Redpill” experience, things were going to significantly change.  I could plainly smell the fresh bread baking for the first time in my Christian life.  With the help of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, I needed to head towards the kitchen instead of looking in the windows from the outside.  Hebrews, Chapter 6 came to mind as I looked down the “Rabbit Hole”.

Hebrews 6:1-3; verse 1 [Paraphrased]:

“THEREFORE LET us go on”  down the “Rabbit Hole”,  “and get past the elementary stage in the teaching and doctrine of Christ, advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity…”  verse 1b.-2,  “Let us not again be laying the foundation of … [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware of, long, long ago.]”  verse 3,  “If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching.]”

I like how the Amplified version of Hebrew 6:4 says it in regards to what follows… after taking the “Redpill”. 

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once and for all ENLIGHTENED, WHO HAVE CONSCIOUSLY TASTED the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit.”

Once you swallow the “Redpill”, its impossible to go back to where you were spiritually. You become ENLIGHTENED after tasting the freshly baked bread.  One day, you too, may make the same choice.  “The Redpill”, or “The Bluepill.”