Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Festival of Lights (Part 2)

May all of my readers have a very blessed remembrance of the incarnation of Jesus this season. He is the "thematic center", the "hermeneutical principle which unlocks the mystery of the world." And now, here is the rest of the sermon by Helmut Thielcke . . .

WHAT DIFFERENCE does it make if I see in God the Creator of the galaxies and solar systems and the microcosm of the atom? What is this God of macrocosm and microcosm to me if my conscience torments me, if I am repining in loneliness, if anxiety is strangling me? What good is that kind of God to me, a poor wretch, a heap of misery, for whom nobody cares, whom people in the subway stare at without ever seeing?

The "loving Father above in the skies" is up there in some monumental headquarters while I sit in a foxhole somewhere on this isolated front (cut off from all communication with the rear), somewhere on this trash heap, living in lodgings or a mansion, working at a stupid job that gives me the miseries or at an executive's desk which is armored with two anterooms ...what do I get out of it when someone says says, "There is a Supreme Intelligence that conceived the creation of the world, devised the law of cause and effect, and maneuvered the planets into their orbits?" All I can say to that is, "Well, you don't say so! A rather bold idea, but almost too good to be true," and go on reading my newspaper or turn on the television. For that certainly is not a message by which I could live.

BUT, if someone says, "There is Someone Who knows you, Someone Who grieves when you go your own way, and it cost Him something (namely, the whole expenditure of life between the Crib and the Cross!) to be the Star to which you can look, the Staff by which you can walk, the Spring from which you can drink" - when someone says THAT to me, then I prick up my ears and listen. For if that is true, REALLY true, that there is Someone Who is interested in me and shares my lot, then this can suddenly change everything that I hoped for and feared before. This could mean a revolution in my life, at any rate a revolution in my judgment and knowledge of things.

. . . Christmas teaches us that, if we wish to know God, we must in our relationship to the world begin at a completely DIFFERENT end, namely, that we do not argue from the structure of the world to God, but rather from the Child in the manger to the mystery of the world, to the mystery of THE world in which the manger exists. For, if this Child exists, then He is the heart and center of the world, then, to put it in philosophical terms, He is the hermeneutical principle which unlocks the mystery of the world.

Then I see in this Child that in the background of this world there is a Father. I see that love reigns above and in this world, even when I cannot understand this governance, and I am tormented by the question of how God can permit such tragic things to happen. This problem confronts us even at this heart and center of the world; for how could God allow His beloved Son to be born in a stable, how could He allow Him to die on the gallows of the Cross, how could the Lord of the world be driven out of the world, how could there be a darkness which could not be overcome?

BUT if the manifestation of love conquers me at ONE point, namely, where Jesus Christ walked on this earth and loved it, then I can trust that it will also be the message at those points in the story of life which I cannot understand. Even a child knows that his father is not playing tricks on him when he refuses to grant one of his wishes and thus treats him in a way that is seemingly incompatible with love. The highest love is almost always incognito and therefore we must trust it.

So even for the Christian the mysteries of life are by no means solved so far as his reason and understanding is concerned. But as a disciple I can have the peace which passes all understanding and which therefore cannot be shaken by reason either, because it is itself allied with it.

Let me put this in the form of an illustration. If I look at a fine piece of fabric through a magnifying glass, I find that it is perfectly clear around the center of the glass, but around the edges it tends to become distorted. But this does not mislead me into thinking that the fabric itself is confused at this point. I know that this is caused by an optical illusion and therefore by the way in which I am looking at it. And so it is with the miracle of knowledge which is bestowed upon me by the Christmas event: If I see the world through the medium of the Good News, then the center is clear and bright. There I see the miracle of the love that descends to the depths of life. On the periphery, however, beyond the Christmas light, confusion and distortion prevail. The ordered lines grow tangled and the labyrinthine mysteries of life threaten to overwhelm us. Therefore our sight, which grows aberrant as it strays afield, must recover its perspective by returning to its thematic center. The extraordinary thing is that the mystery of life is not illuminated by a formula, but rather by another mystery, namely, The News, which can only be believed and yet is hardly believable, that God has become man and that now I am no longer alone in the darkness.

That's why I celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Festival of Light (Part One)

Most years about this season I revisit an old sermon that was preached by the German evangelical theologian Helmut Thielicke, entitled "The Festival of Light" (found in "Christ and The Meaning of Life", Baker, 1962). I trust you will find joy and significance in these devotional portions I share...

WHEN I am asked why as a Christian I celebrate Christmas, my first reply is that I do so because something has happened TO me and therefore - but only as I am receptive and give myself to it - something now can happen IN me.

There is a Sun "that smiles at me," and I can run out of the dark house of my life into the sunshine (as Luther once put it). I live by virtue of the miracle that God is not merely the mute and voiceless ground of the universe, but that He comes to me down in the depths. I see this in Him Who lay in a manger, a human Child, yet different from us all. And even though at first I look upon it only as a lovely colored picture, seeing it with the wondering eyes of a child, who has no conception whatsoever of the problem of the personhood of God and the Trinity and the metaphysical problems of time and eternity, I see that He, "Whom all the universe could not contain," comes down into the world of little things, the little things of MY life, into the world of homelessness and refugees, a world where there are lepers, lost sons, poor old ladies, and men and women who are afraid, a world in which men cheat and are cheated, in which men die and are killed.

CRIB and CROSS: these are the nethermost extreme of life's curve; no man can go any deeper than this; and He traversed it all. I do not need first to to become godly and noble before I can have a part in Him. For there are no depths in my life where He has not already come to meet me, no depths to which He has not been able to give meaning by surrounding them with love and making them the place where He visits me and brings me back home.

Once it HAPPENED, ONCE in the world's history it happened, that Someone came forward with the claim that He was the Son of God and the assertion "I and The Father are one," and that He proved the legitimacy of that claim, not by acting like a supernatural being or stunning men with His wisdom or communicating knowledge of higher worlds, but rather by proving His claims through the depths to which He descended. A Son of God Who defends His title with the argument that He is the brother of even the poorest and the guilty and takes their burden on Himself: that is a fact one can only note, and shake one's head in unbelief - OR one must worship and adore. There is no other alternative. I MUST WORSHIP. That's why I celebrate Christmas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Greek Help - Free!!

I have suggested several times the site at for help in quickly locating words in the NT text, doing lexical work, parsing verbs, etc. If you have not tried it, you probably really do want to, even if you don't realize it yet.

Recently I have been getting requests to repeat the Greek elements course I have taught for our church. However, there just is not time with all the other courses I'm teaching now. But, there is a free tool to teach you New Testament Greek from the very beginning. Yes, free !! It is done by Dr. Ted Hildebrandt, professor at Gordon College (formerly at Grace College). You can find it at

Happy learning !!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Any Surprise Here?

Check this article, Testing the Faith.

In it, "emergent church" leader Tony Jones says this: "I now believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and queer individuals can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!), and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."

I Just Can't Resist

Can't resist what? Letting everyone know this Monday morning that I am a joyful new father-in-law. Yes, on Saturday, November 22, 2008 my oldest son Joshua was married!! It was a fantastic day, with a ceremony of worship that gave glory to Christ alone.

Laura and I publicly welcome Joshua's wife Gena (formerly Bulgrien) and her family to ours. Congratulations to both of you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Nothing New Under The Sun

In just a few lines I'll give you a quote. No, you won't have to guess who it is - I'll tell you. But, do read it before you observe who it is. Why?

Because I suspect you should realize what is being said before you look at who is saying it, and then the significance will be quite obvious.

My comment first: this quote is not trendy, new, different, postmodern, emergent, emerging, relevant, and so on; rather it is quite "modern", liberal, establishment, just plain "old-fashioned", traditional, theistic evolution.

Are you ready? Here it is. Discussing the mess the systems of the world are in (what some of us would call systemic sin), this author says, the mess can "destroy good and living things, devalue what is precious, overvalue what is worthless, foul up the results of millions of years of evolution, and so desecrate and frustrate what I believe is a sacred and ongoing work of the Creator, in us, among us, and through us." There you have it! He said that sin is essentially messing up what evolution has accomplished, albeit through "God".

Who said this? Brian D. McLaren in "Everything Must Change", Nelson, 2007, p. 53.

How irrelevant!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Biblical Pattern For Expository Preaching

There is a powerful and exquisite pattern (not prescription) for the exposition of the Word of God seen in Nehemiah 8:1-18. Nehemiah records a preaching event that marked the temporary end of the "famine...for the hearing of the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11), bringing revival in Jerusalem. Stephen F. Olford suggested in his booklet "Preaching the Word of God" (Encounter, 1984; p.36) that Jesus Himself would have been familiar with this preaching pattern, and followed it in His preaching - the Master modeling the method! Olford shows these same points from Jesus' Emmaus Road conversation in Luke 24:25-35.

Without giving the entire exposition here (but let me assure you, this will preach!!), let's observe some high points from the chapter to help us think about biblical expository preaching. I've organized these high points into three - (1) The People's Motivation, (2) The Preachers' Method, and (3) The Power Manifested.

(1) The People's Motivation (v.1-6)

  • (a) desire - v.1
    -the people gathered of their own desire "as one man...and they asked bring the book". Wouldn't you love to have that happen when you preach?
    We're all here! We're ready! Bring us the Book!

  • (b) attentiveness - v.3
    - "all the people were attentive to the book"

  • (c) honor - v.5
    - "all the people stood up" when Ezra opened the book to read it

  • (d) praise - v.6
    - agreement with the Word, "Amen, Amen!" with lifting of hands (at the Scripture reading, without music!)

  • (e) worship - v.6
    -humility in worship

(2) The Preachers' Method (v.2-10); the whole method can be taught from just v.8!

  • (a) Read the Text!
    - he "brought the law before the assembly" (v.2) Use a Bible!
    -he read it standing "at a wooden podium/pulpit" (v.4)
    - he "opened the book in the sight of all the people" (v.5) Let them see it!
    - he "read from it" (v.3,8)
    - he read it with praise and prayer (v.6 "Ezra blessed the Lord the great God")
    - cp. First Timothy 4:13

  • (b) Restate the Truth!
    - they "explained the law to the people" (v.7)
    - they "translated to give the sense" (v.8)
    - this is the exposition

  • (c) Relate the Thrust!
    - "so that they understood the reading" (v.8)
    - "This day is holy" (v.9). Now is the time for response!
    - "do not . . ." (v.9,10) - direct application

(3) The Power Manifested (v.9-18)

  • (a) repentance (v.9)

  • (b) joy (v.10)

  • (c) celebration (v.12)

  • (d) continuation (v.13-18)

  • (e) rejoicing (v.17)

  • (f) daily obedience (v.18)

We will look at some other examples in the Bible itself in future articles, but I hope you will consider this one along with my prayer for you as a preacher of the Word of God.

A Question on the way to Exposition

A responder to this blog raised an excellent question about diagramming the text in preparation for making an expository outline. I would like to make sure that this question does get answered, because it is both helpful and important.

The essence of the question came from my recommendation of Lee Kantenwein's "Diagrammatical Analysis" approach presented in his booklet by that title. The question concerned the applicability of Kantenwein's approach to various literary genres of the biblical text. The responder felt that this approach to diagramming would work best for the epistles or other shorter, fairly direct kinds of passages, but questioned its helpfulness for diagramming other genres.

I do want to point out that Kantenwein has some good examples of using his approach with poetic material, and I have found it personally helpful with that genre. A superb example of this can be seen in George J. Zemek's "The Word of God in The Child of God" (a commentary on Psalm 119 - self published). From page 388 ff. Zemek provides his diagrams for the entire psalm with notes that relate to his expository outlines in the text of the commentary.

But mainly I want to say that I agree with the essence of the question. This form of diagramming is not best used with narrative, apocalyptic, and longer portions of text. It can take way too long to do and yields relatively fewer results than it does with other genres, especially the epistles. So what else should we do?

I probably should have mentioned this previously, so I am glad the question came up so I can mention it now. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. has some great sections in his book "Toward an Exegetical Theology" (Baker, 1981) on what he calls "block diagramming". He gives both explanation and examples of what this is and how to do it in his book. This works well with longer and especially narrative portions of Scripture. It would be well worth your time if you've never seen it.

The point I really want to make is that we need some approach or tool that forces us to consider every word of the text in relation to its context. There is not a prize for getting your diagram correct, but there is great reward in seeing the importance and connection of every word to what is going on in the text itself. Whatever form you come up with to force you to do that work is good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Trying To Get Back To It!

I'll try to get back to the series on exposition soon. Looks like the book recommendation project didn't go very well while I was gone. Sorry, especially to the one who requested it. I think the easiest way will be for me to just do what I was doing before, that is listing books from time to time as their importance comes up in the discussion.

I will recommend a few commentaries though: Darrell L. Bock on Luke (2 vols.) and Acts in the Baker ECNT series; Bruce Waltke on Proverbs in the Eerdmans NICOT series. Great resources, whether you always agree with the conclusions or not (remember, commentators are still just "common taters", although some are indeed quite brilliant and helpful). Since I'm currently preaching through Hebrews on Sunday mornings, let me say that I inevitably keep coming back to Homer Kent on Hebrews (BMH). Preaching through Ezekiel on Sunday nights, I have not found yet anything to improve on Charles Lee Feinberg (Moody), but I'm open to recommendations.

Someone asked me recently what novels I read. I confess that I do not have tons of time to put into novels right now, but I do try to stay aware. While I am into one now, the last one I finished was The Appearing by Kristen Wisen (daughter of the late Robert VanKampen). It was recommended to me, and yes it is one of those end-time fiction type novels. This book was written from the "pre-wrath" viewpoint, of course championed by Wisen's father, and the book is endorsed by Marv Rosenthal. It is well written and has a captivating story line. However, I would have to say that it confirmed all of my worst fears about the application of the "pre-wrath" position. What the church in the novel does is stockpile food and provisions, buy land out in the mountains where they make caves into dwellings, leave their jobs and homes behind, and so on. My concerns that warning or threatening Christians that they will go through part of the time of Jacob's Trouble causes them to not live by faith, take their focus off of the Blessed Hope, diverts them from the preaching of the Gospel, and leads them to rather selfishly head for a bunker were all validated in this book. Yes, there were, thankfully, some heroes of faith in the story. But, overall, I give the book a "thumbs-down" on the point it is trying to make.

OK, last one. I've started using Beale and Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Baker) and am finding it a valuable time-saving tool when this comes up in the text. I just used it for Hebrews 7 and Melchizedek and appreciated the sourcework I saw there.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Reading List for Expository Preachers

One of the readers of this series has asked for a reading list. This is, of course, a never-ending process, that of updating reading lists. So, since I am right now a bit like an Egyptian mummy, pressed for time, I will go ahead and offer this opportunity:

Anyone who has a book, article, etc. that they feel would be a help in the preparation of expository messages may recommend it on this blog.
Especially helpful would be recommendations of particular commentaries, writings on theology, hermeneutics, homiletics, history, & science.
However, recommend what you feel would be helpful. I like cartoons and humor too.

Yes, I realize there is the terrifying prospect of all kinds of stuff I do not agree with being recommended. Therefore, I give the disclaimer up front that the appearance of a recommendation on this blog does not necessarily constitute an endorsement or agreement by the blog-owner, namely me. I also reserve the right to refuse or to make later comments. So, please try to keep the recommendations helpful and edifying for the benefit of expository preachers.

Just leave your recommendations by posting a comment. Of course, providing full bibliographical information will help people find what you are recommending.

I have, throughout the history of this blog, mentioned some worthwhile books already, so I start the recommendations with those. I will write a follow-up to this, Lord willing, in a couple weeks or so.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

From Reading and Prayer to Expository Message

Every preacher will of necessity have to come up with his own system of expository preparation moving from the reading of the Bible to the actual outlining/writing of the message to be preached. I share some of my system here, not to show that my way is right or best, but hopefully to display some ideas or concepts that will be helpful to all.

As a general practice, not an absolute rule, I am projecting and working on sermons about 18 months in advance, and have a file folder set up for each one a year in advance. This is accomplished through the repeated reading of the Bible book I will be preaching. For example, I currently am preaching through Hebrews on Sunday mornings and am in chapter six. My last three messages have been "Enlightenment, Tasting, and Partaking" (Heb.6:4-5), "When It's Impossible To Start Over" (Heb.6:4-8), and "Full Assurance of Hope to the End" (Heb.6:9-12). The preparation for those was started well over a year ago. I have file folders started already for where I project I will be in Hebrews a year from now, which will be (in the providence of God, of course) at the beginning of chapter twelve. So I have a folder for the message "Run The Race: We Have Witnesses!" (Heb.12:1-3) and one for "Run The Race: Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus" (Heb.12:1-3), and so on. Or, on Sunday evenings I am currently preaching through Ezekiel. I just preached "The Judgment and Future Restoration of Israel" (Ezekiel 20:1-44), for which I had a folder over a year ago. By this time a year from now, again providentially speaking, I should be finishing Ezekiel so I have a folder for each of twelve messages on the Millenial Kingdom, ending with "The Millenial Jerusalem"(Ezekiel 48:30-35). This flows from reading and rereading the book, the accumulation of previous study, and prayerful meditation on the text of the book to get the flow, the sense, the logic, the spirit of the text that helps me divide it into workably sized preaching units.

What goes into the folder? Notes on past work I may have done on this text: thoughts that come as I read and reread the text; notes from my reading and rereading of the Greek or Hebrew text, which I realize not everyone will do or be able to do - my Greek reading is fairly good, my Hebrew is really a struggle, but I keep at it through pure discipline and hard work; notes on all the exegetical spade work and theological study I constantly try to keep going as a lifelong learner; notes from reading commentaries, articles,research, archaeology, science, history, other books, blogs, etc.; notes from things I see or hear or experience that I think might relate to the text; notes on prayers I pray related to the text; in short, anything and everything I can possibly accumulate that might help !! The key - write it down and put it in the folder!! Jonathan Edwards used to do this by pinning papers to his clothing even when he was out on horseback ! No, I don't even have a horse, but if you saw my office you would realize that that I keep writing things down and copying them so I have them for future message preparation. I always keep preparing a collection of messages in my head.

About three weeks before the message is to be preached, I take out the folder and begin to start trying to organize everything in it into some kind of form which begins to sound like a sermon in my mind - this then begins to take the form of an outline. I desire the outline to be formed by the scripture text itself - I still use a lot of the technique found in Lee Kantenwein's book on Diagrammatical Analysis (BMH Books) so it starts out fairly rigid. As I keep working on it the outline gradually emerges into a more flowing, usable preaching outline. Illustrations often come from things I have put in the folder over the year, or things that come to mind as I am putting the preaching outline together. I do not go out of my way to find or force illustrations. Some of you may disagree, but I feel that not using an illustration is superior to forcing one. An illustration should actually illustrate the point that the text is trying to make, rather than bending the text to fit some great story or illustration you think you might have. If you have a really good one, hold on to it and some day it might really work as a good illustration! Then the week of the message I form sermon notes that we put in our church bulletin. The sermon notes are a strategic condensation of the preaching outline from which I preach. I do not write out my sermons word for word in a manuscript, but I do write out key phrases or words I want to use. I do preach through the sermon in my head, so I am hearing what I want to say, and of course there is a constant editing process going on even up until the the preaching of the message itself. In that sense, every sermon has taken an entire lifetime to prepare !! I do not practice preaching the sermon out loud by myself because that makes me feel really weird, although I realize many have found that to be a helpful exercise. I do try to imagine how various kinds of people who will be listening will hear and understand what I'm trying to say and be sensitive to that - although I'll have to admit I often guess wrong on that one. Better to let that up to the Holy Spirit.

Yes, the Lord can and does sovereignly direct that what I planned a year ago gets changed. He does what He wills. But, frankly, it is relatively rare that the schedule gets changed. In reality, I am continually amazed at the mercy and grace of God to his Church in causing even world events to line up with what I had been preparing to preach. He does that in all true, expositional churches. It is the Word that created the Church, and still creates Her by the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Oh, what a supernatural privilege to be an expositor of the Word of God !!

Monday, June 23, 2008

How An Expositor Does All That Reading

If you do what I suggested in the previous article, that is to read sixteen chapters (or your amount) a day six days a week, it could require as much as an hour a day just to accomplish that. Now, busy pastors may already have become nervous just thinking about this. What about family, school, and community activities . . . and meetings, and visitation, and counseling, and building programs, and special events, and emergencies, and weddings, and funerals . . . and ministerium meetings, and conferences, and seminars . . . oh, and I forgot solving all the world's problems that are now unjustly dumped at the doorstep of the pastor (like AIDS, the climate, corrupt governments, finding all the heretics on the internet, etc.) , and on, and on, and on in a way that is more run-on than this sentence.

Of course, then there is also the demand of the rest of sermon preparation - focused reading in the book or passages you are currently preaching, exegetical work, reading commentaries (and articles, and other books, and theology, etc.), organizing your research, developing a preaching outline or format, collecting illustrations, maybe discussing it with your staff or others, thinking through your wording, maybe writing a manuscript . . .

Hmmm, did I miss anything? Could it be ? . . . oh yes, prayer !!!

I have found prayer to be the main feature in the development of right priorities and disciplines, and also in the understanding and conserving of what I read or study. There probably are numbers of things you are doing that just do not need to be done at all, and other things that should be done by other brothers and sisters in the Body or on your staff instead of by you. Remember, as you pray and prepare, the most loving and effective thing a teaching-elder/"pastor" can do is preach the Word. Keep Bible-reading, meditation, prayer, preparation, and preaching foremost among your priorities. This is how the expositor loves God and loves people. Remember 2 Timothy 2:15 ? Matthew 22:37-40 ?

In addition to my Bible-reading time, I also try to devote about another hour a day to other reading (commentaries; books - including "secular" and cultural stuff, fiction; articles, etc.). In addition, I try to devote either a morning or an afternoon each week to reading. Further, in addition, I try to devote a day each quarter to reading. And also, in addition, I try to devote the bulk of a week each year to reading. I do also get some other reading time in on the go - keep reading material handy for when you travel, wait for appointments, eat meals alone, etc. Most reading other than commentaries, Bible study, and theology, comes from the recommendation of others.

Let me close by recommending you read chapter five of John Stott's now dated but classic book on preaching, Between Two Worlds (Eerdmans, 1982). Chapter five is entitled, "The Call to Study". It will be worth your time - that is if you can make the time to read it !!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reading the Bible - Where Expository Preaching Begins

I remember clearly the statement by S. Lewis Johnson in one of our summer classes at Grace Theological Seminary: "Most problems of interpretation would be resolved if people would just slow down and read the Bible." Yes, I know that's from the "old days". But it is a practical statement that has served me well over the years.

When I'm asked, "What is the starting point for becoming an expository preacher?", this is my reply - "Read the Bible. Read the Bible a lot. Read it carefully and prayerfully." Now, of course, I'm assuming that I am speaking to someone who is born-again and has the right spiritual receptors in place - if you are not born-again, that is where you start. Assuming you are, though, and have a desire to be an expository preacher, "Read the Bible" !!!

Many of you probably have "Read Through The Bible In A Year" charts - some of you even have them printed in your Bible. If you are not doing at least that already, reading through the Bible this year might be a good place to start. If you read four chapters per day you will make it through in a year (actually in 305 days which lets you take a day off each week). If you "do the math" it is easy to see that eight chapters a day equals twice through in a year, twelve chapters equals three times, and sixteen chapters equals four times through in a year. I recommend that preachers strive for the sixteen chapters a day.

What should we look for as we read? Let me suggest a brief "starter list" . . .

(1) Observe the context.
(2) Ask basic questions - Who?, What?, When?, Where?, How?, Why?
(3) Look for the relationships between words and concepts in a passage.
(4) Compare and contrast various statements with other statements all over the Bible.
The Bible is a unity, and this is a spectacular sight to see. When you touch the
Bible at any point, the whole Book "wiggles". But be careful, too, because not
everything that immediately looks the same is identical (usually related though).
(5) Look for Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, everywhere.
(6) Observe points of theology that exist in what you are reading.
(7) Note life applications that can be made from what you are reading. Often these
become future sermon titles or illustrations for what you are preaching now.

Please realize this list is not intended to replace your hermeneutical and subsequent exegetical work. This is a beginning. But, it is a really huge beginning. I am concerned that there are scholars, exegetes, professors, preachers, etc. who just do not regularly read their Bible. Some can talk a big talk about some point of relevance, or a doctrinal or exegetical conclusion, but they do not have the fragrance of Scripture (which is Christ) about them. Does this deal with how we preach? Well, meditate on Second Corinthians 2:14-17 and beyond, and I suspect you will see that it does. Make sure to relate verse 17 to what comes before it (the word "for" should make us do that).

So, here is my novel idea :-) . . . Read The Bible !!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Ten Benefits of Expository Preaching

10. Expository preaching demands that both the preacher and the congregation deal with the whole Bible. Some Bible portions will end up being neglected (often because of perceived difficulty or sense of irrelevance) unless there is a systematic intent to preach through every book of the Bible. When I preached through Leviticus several years ago, it was the first time anyone in our church had ever heard an exposition of that entire Book, even though some had attended "Bible-teaching" churches for over eighty years!

9. The pastor cannot only forecast where the preaching calendar is headed (this minimizes Saturday night panic, and also helps musicians and other worship participants to know how to plan), but he can personally live in the text for months and encourage the whole church to do the same.

8. Every human need or topic will eventually be covered in the course of preaching through books of the Bible. If you only preach topically, you will miss a lot of topics.

7. The congregation receives a vast collection of Biblical truth to compare and contrast, that is with which to do theology. Statements can be made like, "Remember in Exodus we saw this", or "In Romans we saw this", etc. But if you have not preached through those books you cannot build upon them with your congregation. Preaching based on creeds, lectionaries, hot topics, etc. will not produce this vast collection.

6. The congregation gets to have a Biblical benchmark to measure growth and significant events. For example, "I was saved while we were in Matthew", or "My family started coming when we were in Acts", or "Our marriage was saved while we were in First Peter". Maybe no one but me thinks this is exciting, but I find it a thrilling way to measure life and ministry.

5. Everyone can see how God moves personal or world events to match what the preacher is preaching from the Word, rather than the preacher trying to manipulate sermon topics in order to be relevant. I was preaching through Acts when the 9/11 disaster happened. We were all amazed at how the message for the next Sunday was totally matched to the times, even though everyone knew the passage was assigned sequentially from Acts months ahead. This displays God at work in the life of the Church. People are amazed that "That sermon was just for me" even though the passage was announce months ahead. No one can accuse the preacher, this way, of choosing sermon material to personally pick on them. By the way, preachers, have you noticed how whenever you think a certain sermon would be very good for a certain person, inevitably that person is not there that Sunday?

4. Preaching through the Bible keeps passages in context. This guards against improper forms of "proof-texting", misinterpretation, and the imposition of the preacher's pet points.

3. The Bible is eternal truth. The eternal is always relevant. The selection of particular Bible verses or concepts to attempt to be relevant will cause one's preaching to become time-bound instead of eternal. Therefore, the quest for relevance in preaching tends to make the preaching irrelevant (at least fairly quickly).

2. God gets the glory, because the preaching was the proclamation of His truth. When someone says to the preacher, "Good sermon!", the preacher need not be set up for temptation to pride. All the preacher needs to do is respond, "The Word of God!", to which we all say, "Thanks be to God!". The message was not about the preacher's brilliance or eloquence, but rather the faithful proclamation of the Word for the Glory of God alone.

1. Expository preaching is the essential, high act of worship in the assembled church. It is commanded: First Timothy 4:13, "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching." Second Timothy 4:2, "Preach the Word"!! Without Biblical exposition, the church has not worshipped. The message is an offering by both the preacher and the hearers to God. It is an offering of obedience and the sacrifice of praise. Other details of worship (giving, music, prayers, etc.) are not worship unless they flow to and from the proclamation of the Word.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Exposition of Exposition

While I'm still working on encouraging systematic, expository preaching, I thought it might be time for a commercial. Dan Kreider has been doing a great job helping with this blog, but he has also been helping us with our church's website. There are two features on the website that I am really happy about. One is our values page The other is our messages section, and especially our current series on Hebrews Check them out, hold me accountable, see if I "preach what I practice"!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can Topical Preaching Be Expository?

Yes, topical preaching can be expository preaching. Granted, little of it is, but that does not mean it cannot be. So, I'm asking, "How can topical preaching be expository?" and "When is topical preaching not expository?".

Topical preaching can be expository preaching when . . .

a) the topic itself is derived from the Bible, that is from a passage/passages taken in context. These could be word studies, doctrines, concepts, biographical studies,or activities (praying, evangelizing).

b) the preacher does the hard work of making sure that he has not missed looking at and considering any verses anywhere in the Bible that relate to or inform the topic. Because of this necessity, expository topical preaching is more demanding and rigorous than sequential preaching through Bible books. When preaching through Bible books, the preacher must still relate his passage to the whole Bible (the big context), but the pressure is not quite as great because the passage itself is a safety-check, and he usually has the next week or two to fix something he misses. This suggests the great advantage of sequentially preaching through books of the Bible. But sometimes topical messages are necessary - consider the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus does topical preaching expositionally and in context, or Peter's sermon on Pentecost -same thing. Whether topical or sequential, I would humbly suggest that expositors get in the personal habit of reading the WHOLE BIBLE through regularly, maybe once per month or more. In this way, the expositor is constantly looking for those biblical connections that become part of future messages/series. Does this mean that if the preacher is going to do a series on "love", for example, that he must look at and study in context every usage of this word in the whole Bible? Yes!!

c) it is motivated by a sincere search of the Bible to find the answer/s to a real question or problem that the preacher is asking or has been asked of him. In this case, one might say that the topic initially seemed to come from the culture or circumstance and then proceeded to the Bible for the answers. The preacher must be careful that a) and b) above still apply so that the temptation to give a culturally acceptable answer does not over-ride the responsibility to give a biblically accurate answer (see First Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Galatians 1:10).

Topical preaching is not expository when . . .

a) the preacher is choosing to address the topic because of some preconceived disposition to it. Such preconceptions may include: "that topic is really popular now" (or the latest 'new word' or 'fresh moving' of the Spirit), "that seemed real effective when ______ preached it", "this is my latest hobby-horse or pet peeve", "why don't you ever preach about ________?", "pastors who are preaching this seem to have growing churches", etc.

b) the preacher does not do the hard work of Bible study and exegesis in preparation.

c) the preacher just "borrows" someone else's sermons or topics without doing his own work of Bible study, meditation, and prayer. This is not to imply that we cannot or should not glean ideas or approaches from listening to the sermons of others. I love to hear other good expository preachers!! I have learned from them, and sometimes I import their stuff. But we should not make "their stuff" the main framework of the sermon and then just stick in a few of our thoughts. Our messages must come from the biblical text, and what we glean from others becomes insight or illustration.

d) the preacher "takes a text" and uses it to "springboard" into whatever he wants to say. This kind of looks like the preacher is beginning with a Bible text (promising!) but once he gets started the text is never to be heard from again.

e) the preacher superimposes a personal presupposed "theological motif" (or any other motif) to bend the meaning of a biblical text in a certain direction instead of letting the text speak for itself. A list of examples might include liberation theology (to think of recent news headlines), liberalism, covenant theology, dispensationalism, emergent theology, prosperity theology, denominationalism, Reformed theology, etc. The goal of the expositor is to let the text speak in a manner that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God will use the text to show what of a perspective, system, or motif is correct and how.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Expository Preaching - What is it?

J.I. Packer - "The true idea of expository preaching is that the preacher should become the mouthpiece of his text, opening it up and applying it as the Word of God to his hearers, speaking in order that the text may be heard, and making each point from his text in such a manner 'that his hearers may discern the voice of God' " (Westminster Directory, 1645, paraphrased).

John R.W. Stott - "It is my contention that all true Christian preaching is expository preaching. Of course if by an 'expository' sermon is meant a verse-by-verse explanation of a lengthy passage of Scripture, then indeed it is only one possible way of preaching, but this would be a misuse of the word. Properly speaking, 'exposition' has a much broader meaning. It refers to the content of the sermon (biblical truth) rather than its style (a running commentary). To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view. The expositor prizes open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted, and unfolds what is tightly packed. The opposite of exposition is 'imposition', which is to impose on a text what is not there. But the 'text' in question could be a verse, or a sentence, or even a single word. It could equally be a paragraph, or a chapter, or a whole book. The size of the text is immaterial, so long as it is biblical. What matters is what we do with it. Whether it is long or short, our responsibility as expositors is to open it up in such a way that it speaks its message clearly, plainly, accurately, relevantly, without addition, subtraction, or falsehood. In expository preaching the biblical text is neither a conventional introduction to a sermon on a largely different theme, nor a convenient peg on which to hang a ragbag of miscellaneous thoughts, but a master which dictates and controls what is said. (Between Two Worlds, pp.125-126).

Haddon W. Robinson - "Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers". Robinson amplifies his definition with the following statements: "The passage governs the sermon", "the expositor communicates a concept", "the concept comes from the text", "the concept is applied to the expositor", "the concept is applied to the hearers". (Biblical Preaching, pp.20-30).

Stephen F. Olford - "Expository preaching is the historical, grammatical, and contextual examination and presentation of Scripture, in the power of the Holy Spirit, with a homiletical pattern and an evangelical purpose" (Preaching the Word of God, p.33).

Here is a recent attempt of mine - To do expository preaching is to speak in such a way that the Word of God is exposed to the hearers in its truth, accuracy, Christ-exalting richness, Trinity-focused theology, sense, context, spirit, clarity, and power, and that the hearers are exposed to the Word of God in faith, humility, need, joy, conviction, desire, and obedience, all for the glory of Christ.

What is your definition? Are you an expository preacher/teacher/speaker? Have you thought this through?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Preaching The Word Or Mere Application?

This will be the last of the "distinctions" articles I've been on for a while, but I think it provides a good transition to some discussions about expository preaching which I would like to get into next.

It is possible to not be preaching an exposition of the biblical text, but instead be preaching your exegesis of the text. Thus, a very cognitive, fact-oriented presentation of what is in the text may be given (assuming you got your exegesis right), but not with much power or vital spiritual/conceptual insight. Sometimes this has even degenerated into the preaching of old college/seminary classroom notes. Such a preacher may truly be working very hard and being very faithful to the text of Scripture, but seeing little progress in terms of growth into Christlikeness in the lives of his listeners.

Reacting, perhaps, to the above "dry as dust" kind of preaching, others can tend to go rather far the other direction. Some do not even do any exegesis of the biblical text in preparation for their messages. Maybe they only use a text that they feel says what they want to say to their church. Maybe they get their messages from some other source, like downloading them from their favorite big-name impersonal mentor's website, or from a homiletical lectionary, or book of sermons. Maybe they don't even crack a Bible in their church at all. Maybe they resort to "skyscraper sermons", one story after another. At worst, these may not be preaching the Bible in any real sense at all, and at best they are merely preaching applications (whether legitimate or illegitimate) of the Bible, either of their own choosing or from borrowing.

I'm not about to propose a middle-ground approach, but rather suggest that true expository preaching is a 3rd way, or different way, from the two scenarios I have described above.

Expository preaching is not a lecture about your exegesis of the text. Neither is expository preaching a lack of exegesis that just relates application and stories without serious attention to the text. Expository preaching is the proclamation of the results of your biblical exegesis done in a way that exposes the listener to the accurate meaning of the text in context, and is the proclamation of the results of humble, Holy Spirit controlled meditation that has already produced the results of faith and obedience to the text in the life/application of the preacher.

Study and prayer should not be separated. Exegesis and application should not be separated. Preaching and obedience should not be separated. Doctrine and concept should not be separated. Biblical accuracy and loving, compassionate, bold, warmhearted spiritual fervency should not be separated. Expository preaching is biblical truth set on fire by the Spirit through the lips of a godly man. Those who think they do not like expository preaching have probably never really heard any. Expository preaching is truth, love, beauty, power, holiness, grace, salvation, conviction, wonder, and praise all flowing as one stream out of the heart of a Christ-enthralled man. If you know Christ, what is there to not like about that?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Grace and Church Discipline

As I listen to pastors and church leaders, I hear (or don't hear) a few things that continue to concern me deeply in relation to the topic of church discipline. Things like, "I always want to err on the side of grace." Well who doesn't? But what does this mean? Or, "We don't do church discipline because only legalistic churches do this." Or, "What do I do about this problem situation (often a person sinning) that is dividing my church?" - when actually church discipline would stop the problem. Or, more commonly I just hear nothing on the topic. I guess discipline has been replaced by people-pleasing.

On the other side, I am also concerned about some who seem to "discover" church discipline, and end up becoming so narrow that suddenly a huge group of people in the church are put under discipline without appropriate biblical instruction. If discipline has been neglected in a church ( and in many cases it has been), careful instruction and patience must be given in implementing biblical teaching on discipline. Sometimes, rather than rushing to discipline, a pastor may need to realize he has inherited a flock of goats instead of a flock of sheep. The answer to this will be the consistent preaching of the Gospel through expository preaching before one starts the disciplinary process. The Word of God and the Spirit of God will sort out the goats until you can see what you are truly dealing with.

The Brethren movement has as its main historic distinctive the loving exercise of church discipline. As I have stated in Childlike Faith (p.30; <>), "page after page in (Alexander) Mack's writing, and in writings over the the next century and more after him, make allusions to Matthew chapter 18 as the description of Jesus' teaching concerning living in spiritual community with mutual accountability to one another in church discipline." The establishment of "mutual accountability" will need to precede the implementation of a formal or official disciplinary process.

A book that was helpful to me years ago was Disciplined by Grace by J.R. Strombeck (Strombeck Agency, 2nd ed. 1947). Even the title should suggest that grace and discipline go together. We are not operating in grace when we overlook or even give tacit approval of ongoing sin in the life of a professed brother/sister in Christ by our unloving silence. Neither are we operating in grace when we become harsh, legalistic, or self-serving (i.e. "win-lose" attitudes instead of "win-win").

Quite often disciplinary experiences do not end up the way we desire. Our desire is for forgiveness and reconciliation. Jesus predicted that sometimes the final step will be to "let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Matt.18:17). Even then the door should be left open for future forgiveness (Matt.18:21ff.). But we must not allow the realities that church discipline can be difficult, is sometimes very uncomfortable, and often does not end up as we desire, to prevent us from doing it the way Jesus taught us. What is at stake if we do not? - marriages, families, personal testimonies, evangelism, truth, the church herself.

Of course we must do this in grace and love. But in these days of apostasy and pseudo-tolerance, the greater danger is that we may not be doing it at all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Preaching The Gospel and Methodologies

Back on November 17, 2007 I promised that I would cover a few more distinctions that may help us in doing ministry.  This is one of the remaining topics.

When asked what the best method/approach to evangelism is, my response is, "Preach the Gospel."  Often the questioner will look at me as if I'm a bit dense in the head, and thinking I've not understood she/he rephrases the question, "But what is the best method for preaching the Gospel?".   Then my reply is, "Preaching the Gospel IS a method - it is THE method - it is GOD'S method."

While you will have to throw out his Anglican sacramentalism, Roland Allen's book "Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours?" (originally written in 1912; 2nd ed. 1927; Eerdmans ed. 1962) will be a refreshing read to many who may have missed it.  How did Paul do missionary work?  He preached the Gospel !  How did Paul plant churches?  He preached the Gospel !  How did Paul carry out his "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18)?   He preached the Gospel !  Allen clearly makes the point that preaching the Gospel IS Paul's method.

How does God "save those who believe" ?   Answer :  "through the foolishness of the message preached"  (1 Cor. 1:21).    What is God's "power ... for salvation (including justification, sanctification, and glorification)  to everyone who believes" ?   Answer:  "the Gospel" which Paul was "not ashamed" to preach (Romans 1:15-16).   Paul, even under tremendous pressure,  had no alternate method, no "plan B"  -  only the "boldness in our God to speak to you the Gospel of God amid much opposition"  (1 Thess. 2:2,4).

Paul did seem to have some methodology/strategy for meeting people and deciding how he would spend his time.  He would go "to the Jew first" and if the Jews were not receptive he would preach to others until he saw who would be receptive and preached to them (Acts 13:45-52).  How did he decide who was receptive?  He preached the Gospel to them !   Paul would go to places where he thought people who had some spiritual interest might be gathered, and then he would preach the Gospel to them (Acts 16: 13-14).   There are methods for meeting people, for building relational bridges of love into their lives, but the preaching of the Gospel is not up for methodological variance.
 Yes, methods of doing things may and must keep changing.  They are temporal and finite.  I assure you I would not have been writing a "blog" twenty years ago.  We are always preaching the Gospel in the context of culture which is changing.  We want our message to connect with people's receptors.  But, the message does not - must not - change.  The Gospel we preach must be the same Gospel Paul preached or it will not save.

Jesus did not say "go into all the world and be the Gospel" - He said "preach the Gospel".   Paul did not go into Corinth to take surveys to find out what people wanted to hear, but rather with "weakness and in fear and in much trembling" he determined that he would know nothing among them "except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" so that their faith "would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5). Jesus and Paul did not avoid warning people about eternal punishment and hellfire (Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43ff, 2 Thess. 1:6-10, and many more)  hiding behind some notion that such is not their "purpose" or "ministry".   Warning people to flee from coming wrath is a major purpose of Gospel communication (Matt. 3:7 cf. 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9).

If you preach the truth that is eternal, you will always be relevant, because the eternal is always relevant.  If you adapt the Gospel to try to be relevant, you preach "another Gospel" (Galatians 1:6-7) and make yourself irrelevant in the process.  Far better a smaller group of faithful believers looking for heaven, than a larger group of make-believers who just want their "best life now", and don't even really get that  (2 Tim. 4:1-8). 

The Gospel IS God's method.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Back From Africa

Thanks so much to all who prayed for the recent ministry in C.A.R. It was truly a fruitful and significant time. 28 evangelists and potential pastors received training in Bambari, the home of Pastor Mboi Andre. These men are on the move to reach eastern C.A.R. with the Gospel (most churches and believers live in the western portion of the country, so there are still unreached and least-reached people in the east). Mboi Andre is currently on a trip to Zemio, an eastern town, where he is engaging in evangelism and church planting. Pray for his ministry, his travels on rugged roads (and sometimes no roads), and for his family while he's gone.

27 students also received training in leadership and communication at Bangui with Hibaile Augustan's CIDEL ministry. This was a great class with some very sharp students. They are from varied professions, so pray for their impact as salt and light in Bangui.

I also had a great time preaching in the churches, being present for the dedication of the Project Hope and Charity orphan center, meeting and encouraging some pastors I had not met before, and fellowshipping with our missionary staff in C.A.R as well as some others who were visiting from the States while I was there.

If you are following the current unrest in Kenya and Chad, you know the importance of praying for the stability of the Central African Republic. Situated as it is geographically, if it is stable it has the potential to halt the spread of unrest throughout the rest of the continent. If unstable, the unrest could spread through C.A.R. like a wildfire. Great days, maybe the greatest ever, could be ahead for our ministries in C.A.R., but this could be sidetracked by any time of turmoil. Let's pray First Timothy 2:1-4 for Africa in these days.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Truth and Relationships...Continued

This will be my last entry before I leave for Africa.  I will try to resume as soon as I can after I return and recuperate.  You may post comments while I'm gone, but I won't be able to respond until I get back.  My blog helper, Dan Kreider, will monitor your comments and clear the helpful and edifying ones (and the vast majority have been great!).

If you have not been reading all the comments on the last TRUTH AND RELATIONSHIPS article, you are missing some interesting stuff.  I am encouraging additional comments on this article because I feel they are surfacing some very important concepts.  To keep up to date you may wish to respond with your comments, even from the previous article, to this article.  That way I will be less likely to miss them when I return.

Now for a few more concepts.

I hinted at this one, but no one went for it.  So, I'll say it more bluntly and you all can kick it around.  Am I the only one, or is professing Christianity/evangelicalism just a lot wimpier than it was 30 years ago?  I remember times when  men of God who disagreed could confront, argue, and edify one another - like "iron sharpening iron" - and still walk away with mutual respect.  Yes, there were some cruel, unloving abuses too.  But it seems that now the pendulum has swung so far the other direction that many just suffer in unloving silence for fear of someone getting upset or disagreeing.  It seems that we have quite a representation of babies (under the guise of postmodernity?).  Consider 1 Corinthians 11:19  -  "there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you."  We need not fear controversy, because controversy reveals those who are approved, and sorts out those who are not.  Controversy can sharpen our convictions!  Exhortation, rebuke, reproof, confrontation  -  these do not have to be bad things to avoid.  They are, in fact, an important part of biblical love.

Next one; does anyone else feel the danger I feel with this mindset of "major and minor doctrines" (or essential and non-essential, or primary/secondary/tertiary)?  Of course, some truths are more central/foundational to our truth claims than others (the Trinity, substitutionary death of Christ,  But when other matters are made minor, it appears to me that the "minor compartment" keeps getting larger and larger, swallowing up even these very central truths.  So, now the push (relative to Islam) is "as long as it is monotheistic"- that is to say, the Trinity is not as important (a minor or secondary doctrine!!).  Some may feel I'm being extreme, but this does seem to be the trend.  Where does it end?  I would say apostasy, except for a relatively small, faithful remnant.

Last one; why does it seem that I am being pushed to settle for the "lowest common denominator" instead of "going for the gold"?  Let's learn more and more of God's precious truth instead of settling for less.  All for His glory!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Project C.A.R. '08


Please pray . . .
1.) for the spiritual health and growth of New Beginnings Grace Brethren Church while Pastor Keith is gone (for ministries, attendance, offerings, and a great spirit of worship.)

2.) for Pastor Keith's family during the time of this project.

3.) for safe travel for Pastor Keith (see Itinerary).

4.) for physical health and strength for Pastor Keith.

5.) for revival among the churches of C.A.R. (over 350,000 believers) as Pastor Keith preaches to their National Conference.

6.) for the lost to be saved and the saved to be edified as Pastor Keith preaches at three churches in C.A.R.

7.) for the success of the pastoral leadership training that Pastor Keith will be doing in Bambari, C.A.R.

8.) for wisdom for Pastor Keith to identify one or more new men to be nationwide/continentwide leaders in Africa.

9.) for the training Pastor Keith will be doing for business and government leaders in Bangui, C.A.R.

10.) for the missionaries NBGBC supports there – Mboi Andre, Francois Ngoumape, and Augustan Hibaile – that Pastor Keith will be an encouragement to them.

Jan. 08    Tuesday
·        Depart Myerstown at 3 PM for Newark, NJ airport
·        Depart Newark at 7:15 PM on Air France Flight #0019
Jan. 09    Wednesday
·        Arrive Paris at 8:40 AM (2:40 AM, EST)
·        Depart Paris at 10:55 PM on Air France Flight #0880
(4:55 PM, EST)
Jan. 10    Thursday
·        Arrive Bangui, C.A.R. at 5:40 AM (11:40 PM – Jan. 09 EST)
·        Depart airport immediately and travel by truck with Mboi Andre to Mbaiki (108 km) which is the site of the national conference
·        Preach at the National Conference of GBC's in C.A.R. at 2 PM (8 AM, EST)
·        Evening – counsel with pastors and leaders
·        spend night at Mbaiki (rainforest)
Jan. 11    Friday
·        Morning – counsel with pastors and leaders
·        Mid-day – travel back to Bangui (truck)
·        Evening – counsel with pastors and leaders
Jan. 12    Saturday
·        Travel with Mboi Andre and team to Bambari (all day truck trip)
Jan. 13    Sunday
·        Preach at the 1st Bambari GBC
·        begin training (formation) of new pastors and evangelist in Bambari
(eastern C.A.R.)
Jan. 14-18   Monday – Friday
·        continue training classes
Jan. 16    Wednesday
·        Preach at the 2nd Bambari GBC
Jan.  19   Saturday
·        return truck trip to Bangui
Jan. 20   Sunday
·        Preach at the Ngou-Mboutou GBC in Bangui
Jan. 21-24   Monday – Thursday
·        SALT training with Augustan Hibaile in Bangui(for key government and business leaders)
Jan. 24   Thursday
·        Depart Bangui airport 11:05 PM (5:05 PM EST) on Air France Flight #0883
Jan. 25   Friday
·        arrive Paris 5:45 AM (11:45 PM, Jan. 24, EST)
·        depart Paris 1:15 PM (7:15 AM, EST) on Air France Flight #0018
·        arrive Newark, NJ  3:40 PM
·        arrive Myerstown @ 8:00 PM