Teaching on Preaching
by Dr. Jack Hyles
First Printing 1986 by Hyles-Anderson Publishers
First Electronic Printing March 1998 by FFEP
Table of Contents
1. One Great Truth a Sermon
2. The Outline
3. Preparing to Preach
4. Keeping a Warm Heart as You Preach
5. Choosing a Sermon
6. The Pastor Holding His Own Attention
7. The Introduction
8. Subjects on Which to Preach
9. Preaching to Everybody
10. Compassion in Preaching
11. Preachers, Let's Lengthen the Cords and
Strengthen the Stakes
12. The Invitation
13. The Preacher Must Be Stable
14. Preaching Between the Living and the Dead
15. The Preacher and Language
16. The Care and the Use of the Preacher's Voice
17. The Importance of Preaching
To my Saviour, Whose message I preach.
In Anchorage, Alaska; Albuquerque, New Mexico;
Georgia; Atlanta, Texas; Abilene, Texas; Akron, Ohio; Altoona,
Pennsylvania; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Amarillo, Texas; Ashe-
ville, North Carolina; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Augusta, Maine;
and Austin, Texas.
In Baltimore, Maryland; Bangor, Maine; Barbados,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Beaumont, Texas; Bemidji, Minnesota;
Benton Harbor, Michigan; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; Billings,
Montana; Binghamton, New York; Birmingham, Alabama;
Bloomington, Illinois; Bloomington, Indiana; Boise, Idaho;
Boston, Massachusetts; Bradenton, Florida; Bridgeport, Connecti-
cut; Brownsville, Texas; Buffalo, New York; Burlington, North
In Casper; Wyoming; Carbondale, Illinois; Canton, Ohio; Cedar
Rapids, Iowa; Champaign, Illinois; Charleston, South Carolina;
Charleston, West Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chattanoo-
ga, Tennessee; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati,
Ohio; Cedar Lake, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Colorado Springs,
Colorado; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Georgia; Co-
lumbus, Ohio; and Corpus Christi, Texas.
In Dallas, Texas; Danville, Virginia; Danville,
Ohio; Daytona Beach, Florida; Decatur; Illinois; Decatur; Georgia;
Denver; Colorado; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit, Michigan; Dothan,
Alabama; Dubuque, Iowa; Durham, North Carolina; and Durango,
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Elkhart, Indiana;
York; El Paso, Texas; Erie, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Evans-
ville, Indiana; and Evanston, Illinois.
In Fairbanks, Alaska; Fayetteville, Arkansas;
Carolina; Flagstaff, Arizona; Flint, Michigan; Ft. Lauderdale,
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Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; and
In Gainesville, Florida; Gainesville, Texas; Goose
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gan; Greensboro, North Carolina; Greenville, Texas; Greenville,
Mississippi; Greenville, South Carolina; and Gulfport, Mississip-
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vania; Hartford, Connecticut; Honolulu, Hawaii; Hollywood,
Florida; Houston, Texas; Huntsville, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama;
and Huntington, West Virginia.
In Indianapolis, Indiana; Islamorada, Florida; Iowa
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In Jackson, Mississippi; Jackson, Tennessee; Jacksonville, Flor-
ida; Jacksonville, Texas; Johnson City; Tennessee; Johnstown,
Pennsylvania; Joplin, Missouri; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Jas-
per; Alabama; Jacksboro, Texas; Jacinto City, Texas; Jasper; Texas;
Jefferson, Texas; Jasper; Indiana; and Jeffersonville, Indiana.
In Kahului, Hawaii, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Kansas City,
Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; Kinston, North Carolina; Knox-
ville, Tennessee; Kokomo, Indiana; Karnack, Texas; Kaufman,
Texas; Knox, Indiana; Kilgore, Texas; Kernersville, North Car-
olina; and Kankakee, Illinois.
In La Crosse, Wisconsin; Lake Charles, Louisiana;
Michigan; Lancaster; Pennsylvania; Laramie, Wyoming; Laredo,
Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; Lincoln, Nebraska; Little Rock, Arkan-
sas; London, Ontario, Canada; Long Beach, California; Long
Island, New York; Longview, Texas; Los Angeles, California;
Louisville, Kentucky; Lewisville, Texas; Lubbock, Texas; and
In Macon, Georgia; Marion, Ohio; McAllen, Texas;
Oregon; Melbourne, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Monterrey,
Mexico; Miami, Florida; Midland, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
Minneapolis, Minnesota; Moline, Illinois; Montego Bay, Jamaica;
Monterey, California; Montgomery, Alabama; Montreal, Quebec,
Canada; Morgantown, West Virginia; Muscle Shoals, Alabama;
Marietta, Ohio; and Muskegon, Michigan.
In Nashville, Tennessee; Naples, Florida; Nassau,
Newark, New Jersey; New London, Texas; New Orleans, Louis-
iana; New York, New York; Norfolk, Virginia; Newport News,
Virginia; North Chicago, Illinois; North Aurora, Illinois; New
Boston, Texas; Nederland, Texas; Niagara Falls, New York.
In Oakland, California; Odessa, Texas; Oklahoma
Oklahoma; Omaha, Nebraska; Ontario, California; Ontario, Cana-
da; Orange County, California; Orlando, Florida; Oak Forest, Illi-
nois; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Ottawa, Kansas; Oshkosh, Wiscon-
sin; Oxnard, California; Ottawa, Canada; Olney, Illinois; Olney,
Texas; Orange, Texas; Oak Park, Illinois; Oak Lawn, Illinois; and
In Paducah, Kentucky; Palm Beach, Florida; Panama
ida; Pensacola, Florida; Parkersburg, West Virginia; Pasco, Wash-
ington; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Peoria, Illinois; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania; Philipsburg, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Pitts-
burg, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Port Arthur; Texas; Port-
land, Maine; Portland, Oregon; Poughkeepsie, New York; Powell,
Tennessee; Pueblo, Colorado; and Port Huron, Michigan.
In Raleigh, North Carolina; Rapid City, South
California; Reno, Nevada; Richmond, Indiana; Richmond, Texas;
Roanoke, Virginia; Rochester; New York; Rockford, Illinois; Rock
Island, Illinois; Rock Springs, Wyoming; and Rowlett, Texas;
Rockwall, Texas; Rockaway Beach, Missoun.
In Sacramento, California; Saginaw, Michigan; St.
Brunswick, Canada; St. Joseph, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; St.
Paul, Minnesota; St. Petersburg, Florida; Salisbury, Maryland; Salt
Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; San
Francisco, California; San Jose, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico;
Sarasota, Florida; Sarnia, Ontario, Canada; Savannah, Georgia;
Seattle, Washington; Sheridan, Wyoming; Shreveport, Louisiana;
Sioux City, Iowa; South Bend, Indiana; Springfield, Illinois;
Springfield, Missouri; Springfield, Massachusetts; State College,
Pennsylvania; Stockton, California; and Syracuse, New York.
In Tacoma, Washington; Tallahassee, Florida; Tampa,
Temple, Texas; Terre Haute, Indiana; Texarkana, Texas; Texarkana,
Arkansas; Texas City, Texas; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Tucson,
Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Tyler; Texas.
In Urbana, Illinois; Utica, New York; University
and Uvalde, Texas.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Vale,
Vicksburg, Mississippi; Victoria, Texas; Visalia, California; Valley
Forge, Pennsylvania; and Vincennes, Indiana.
In Washington, D.C.; Waco, Texas; Watertown,
terloo, Iowa; West Palm Beach, Florida; White Plains, New York;
Wichita, Kansas; Wichita Falls, Texas; Williamsport, Pennsyl-
vania; Wilmington, North Carolina; Windsor; Ontario, Canada;
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Winston-Salem, North Carolina;
Winona Lake, Indiana; and West Hollywood, Florida.
In Youngstown, Ohio; York, Pennsylvania; and Yuma,
and in many other cities, villages, towns, hamlets, neighborhoods
and countrysides across the United States I have preached the
blessed truths of God's Word. In addition, I have opened His Word
and preached from it in many foreign countries.
In December of 1985 I preached my 43,000th sermon.
that with the passing of each year I feel I know less about preaching.
This is because perhaps I have learned more. With the opening of
every door; there are many more doors to open; with the exploring
of every cave, there are many more caves to explore; with the
climbing of each height, there are many more heights to climb; and
with the plunging into each depth, there are many more depths in
which to plunge.
The first little church that I pastored had 19
church which I now pastor has tens of thousands of members. The
smallest crowd to which I have ever preached was seven. Now each
Sunday I have the responsibility of preaching to thousands at the
First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. During these 43,000
times I have represented my Saviour before His people and before
those who know Him not. I have observed some things. Some of
these I have remembered. Some of the remembered ones I share
with the reader in this sincere effort to be a help to God's servants
and those who speak for Him.
I make no attempt at being original. I have often
said that the
definition of leadership is, "One who goes from follower to fol-
lower collecting ideas, compiles them, puts them in a book and
sells a copy to each follower." It has been my privilege for many
years to travel the length and breadth of my country. I have met
many men of God who have influenced me in my preaching. I have
collected from them ideas and methods, and now I have compiled
them. I share them with you, my readers.
Someone has said that preaching is pouring back in
a flood what
you receive from the audience in a vapor. Thank you for the vapor. I
trust that you are refreshed, and blessed and helped by the flood.
One Great Truth a
A preacher lives with his sermons all the time.
After the Sunday
evening service ends, I spend 15-30 minutes in my office alone
reflecting on the day I relive the services and try to figure the needs
of my people for the next week. Usually before I leave the study on
Sunday night I know the general direction of my sermons for the
next Sunday From that moment forward, I am planning next
Sunday's messages. They are constantly on my mind as I prepare
my mind and heart to meet the needs of my people on the next
I must remember; however; that my people do not
live with the
sermon. They spend only 30 minutes to an hour a week on each
message; whereas it is in my mind constantly Because of this, I
will remember the sermon for many days to come.
A preacher has no choice during the delivery of the
to think about it; the people do not have to listen. The preacher's
mind is totally occupied with what he is saying; whereas the minds
of those who hear him range from being totally aware of what he is
saying to being totally unaware of what is being said. During the
course of a sermon most of the people will no doubt at least
partially listen, but their occupation with the sermon can in no way
compare to that of the preacher.
These things mean that the preacher may never
forget the sermon
whereas most of the people will soon forget it. Therefore, I believe
that the fondest hope that a preacher can have concerning retention
of his sermons is to attempt to leave one great truth a sermon in the
minds of his people. The average person will not remember much
of what the preacher has said. Most people will not remember his
outline. The preacher has done well who leaves one great truth in
the minds of his people as they leave the service for their dwelling
places. This is my goal when I preach.
How may this be done? This chapter is totally
devoted to meth-
ods and means that will cause the people, the congregation, to carry
with them from each message one great truth which they will never
1. Picture the invitation and the one thing you
want to happen.
Decide on the one thing that you want the members of the congre-
gation to do or to begin to do because of the message. In other
words, plan first the destination. Then plan the best way to arrive at
that destination. It may be a message on stewardship, the purpose of
which is to inspire the people to be good stewards of their lives,
their time, their talent and their money Maybe it will be a message
on faithfulness, the goal of which is to inspire the members to
attend faithfully the services of the church. It may be a message on
prayer during which the pastor wants to impress his people to make
definite decisions concerning their prayer lives. The wise pastor
will decide early the one thing he wants his people to do, the one
decision he wants them to make, and the one destination to which
he hopes to take them. This, I think, is necessary to the delivery of a
good sermon. The purpose of preaching is not that of delivering a
good sermon. The purpose of preaching is that of delivering a great
truth that will inspire the parishioners to perform a great service.
2. Decide what truth will make it happen. You have
decided the destination. Now choose the vehicle and the route that
will properly take you to that destination. This is the truth that must
be emphasized over and over again during the message so as to
imprint indelibly in the minds of the hearers the one great truth that
will convey them to the destination you have chosen for them.
3. Write it down and look at it. Confirm to
yourself that the
decision that you want the hearers to make can be inspired by the
truth that you plan to deliver. Be convinced that the truth will be the
proper vehicle to deliver the congregation to the desired destina-
4. Decide what you think that truth will make
happen. First you
have chosen the desired goal and from that choice you have chosen
the truth that will lead the congregation to the desired goal. Now
forget the goal-- look only at the truth. Decide to what destination
that truth will lead. If this destination coincides with your original
destination, you have no doubt chosen the proper truth.
This is like checking mathematics. When a person
times 9, he gets 27. When he divides 3 into 27 and gets 9, this
proves that his multiplication was proper. When the pastor starts
with the destination and determines what truth will lead him to that
destination, then takes the truth and determines to what destination
it will lead, and finds that they coincide, he no doubt has found the
one great truth that he should emphasize throughout his sermon.
5. When convinced both ways, decide on the truth to
6. Use the time between this decision and the time
preaching of the sermon to convince yourself of the importance of
the truth that you have chosen. By the time the sermon is delivered
the pastor must be totally sold on the fact that he has the answer. He
must be totally convinced that the truth he is going to deliver is
desperately needed by his people and that their lives will not be
complete without the absorption of this great truth. This is perhaps
the key to the delivering of a message. The pastor must be con-
sumed with the idea that this is the answer and without it his people
will flounder in at least one area of their Christian lives. It must be
life or death to him! He must feel that the delivering of this truth is
the most important thing going on in the world at the time of its
deliverance. He must magnify this truth in his own mind all week
so that when he stands to speak he will be consumed with its
The person who sees a burning house has no problem
of his delivery when he warns the inhabitants of the danger they are
facing. No preacher has preached well until his message becomes
in his own mind life-changing and life-transforming to his people.
Hence, he must utilize wisely the time between the choosing of the
truth that he will soon deliver and the delivering of that truth. He
must be totally consumed with the importance of the message.
7. Write the truth and place it at several
well-traveled places. If,
for example, the truth is "Total surrender to God brings happiness
to the individual," he should write those words, make copies of
them and have them at well-traveled places. Put a copy on the door
of the refrigerator; at the telephone, on the mirror in the bathroom,
on the windshield of the car; near the dial of your watch and other
places that are a part of your daily schedule.
8. Set times to do nothing but think of the
importance of the
truth to be delivered on the Lord's Day Perhaps at least 15 minutes
several times a day should be given to such meditation. At this time
sell yourself on the importance of the truth you have chosen to
deliver; dwell on it, convince yourself that it is vital to the spiritual
well-being of your people.
9. Place the truth at the top of your prayer list.
Every time you
go to the throne of grace you will be reminded of your sermon for
Sunday and you will pray fervently for God to help you to convey
properly to your people the truth that He has led you to choose in
order for them to arrive at the destination which He has chosen for
10. As you pray, picture in your own mind the
Sunday Picture one person kneeling at the altar to make the
decision that you feel he needs to make. Fervently ask God to lead
you to present the truth in such a way that this picture in your mind
of the invitation can become a reality.
All of the things that are being listed now are
parts of a recipe that
is to convince the preacher of the importance of the sermon he is
going to deliver. He must be consumed with the desire to help his
people. He must be carried away with the awareness that the truth
that he has chosen is the vehicle that God can use to give this help.
He must be lifted out of himself and above himself and be swept up
by this great truth caused by a burning desire to see his people
make the decision in their hearts that he feels is so necessary to
their lives and spiritual growth.
11. Choose a song that conveys the chosen truth,
and sing it
often throughout the week. It could be a familiar song. For exam-
ple, if the destination chosen is that of leading your people "to
decide to be unselfish" and the truth chosen to lead them to that
destination is "living for others," the pastor could have as his theme
song for the week that beautiful little song, "Others." He could sing
throughout the week those beautiful words, "Lord, help me live
from day to day in such a self-forgetful way, that even when I kneel
to pray, my prayer shall be for others. Others, Lord, yes others. Let
this my motto be: Lord, help me live for others that I may live like
Thee." This song can be used of God to help His man to lose
himself in the message he is to deliver to His people the next Lord's
It has been my policy for many years now to choose
a song for
the day Early in the morning I choose a song that I plan to sing all
day I hum it, whistle it and sing it throughout the day until it
becomes sometimes even a subconscious activity. Usually this
song will be one that deals with the truth of my message for the next
Sunday For example, if my message for the next Sunday is on total
commitment, I may sing all day one day, "Jesus I my cross have
taken, all to leave and follow Thee." The next day I may sing, "All
to Jesus I surrender." These songs lead me to dwell on the truth that
I have chosen as the vehicle to lead my people to the destination
that I feel is best for them.
Sometimes I will make up a little song that will
help me to think
about the truth I am to deliver. Recently I was going to preach on
Proverbs 3:6, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall
direct thy paths." I wrote a little chorus using the words of this
great verse. Once I was going to preach on coming boldly to the
throne of grace. I wrote a little song entitled, "Come Boldly" This
helped to keep my mind on the truth that I want to transfer into the
minds of my people on the Lord's Day
12. Read all you can about this truth. Acquaint
every tool possible that will enable you to convey better this chosen
truth to your people in order that they may arrive at the chosen
13. Think of its greatness. Many years ago I had an
pastor who came to me and said, "Preacher; you play up your
sermons too much. You make them appear to be more important
than they are." Months later he returned to me and said, "Preacher; I
was wrong. You don't play up your sermons too much. You simply
don't play them down."
The Bible has the answer! The truths of the Bible
of that answer. They are life and death. The preacher does not have
to build them up; he has to dwell on them in such a manner so he
can build himself up to realize the magnitude of his preaching and
the importance of Bible truths being conveyed to his people. There
are no live preachers and dead preachers; there are preachers who
convince themselves of the urgency and greatness of their calling
and there are preachers who do not!
14. Repeat the truth over and over again. You have
upon it, you have placed it at well-traveled places, you have sung
about it, you have prayed about it, and you have read about it; now
repeat it over and over and over and over. Let it have the front seat in
your mind so that by the time you walk into the pulpit to deliver it, it
will be the most important event going on in the world at that time.
15. Think of the ways it can help your people.
Picture the ways it
will transform their lives. Think of what they can be and do if they
absorb this great truth. This will enable you to realize more and
more the importance of the sermon and its delivery. It will put an
excitement in the voice, an urgency in the message, an electricity in
the delivery and an attractiveness to the audience!
16. Remember that you have only one chance. This
perhaps the only time you will preach this sermon to this congrega-
tion. They must get it now or perhaps they will never get it. Many of
them will be hearing this truth for the one and only time in their
lives. This realization should lead you to do your best and give your
best as you preach it.
17. Avoid complicated outlines. For example, avoid
that would have Roman numeral one, four subheads; then Roman
numeral two, and under that, four subheads; and Roman numeral
three and four subheads. Such outlining may help to deliver a good
sermon but it gives the people too many truths to retain, and there is
too little emphasis on any one truth in order to force its retention. If,
however; such an outline is chosen, each point should be connected
to the main truth being conveyed. If you have several points, repeat
the great truth as you give them. For example, suppose the sermon
for the day is taken from Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man that
walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the
way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his
delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he
meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by
the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall
prosper." The truth could be "how to prosper always." Now there
are five things listed in these verses that are necessary for our
prosperity: (I) not walking in the counsel of the ungodly, (2) not
standing in the way of sinners, (3) not sitting in the seat of the
scornful, (4) delighting oneself in the law of the Lord (the Bible),
and (5) meditating in the Bible day and night. As each of these
points is delivered, the congregation should be reminded of the
truth that we are trying to present; that is, how to prosper. The
preacher could say something like this, "I am preaching this
morning on the subject, 'How to Prosper.' There are five things
listed in these verses that are essential for prosperity. (1) Not
walking in the counsel of the ungodly If you want to be prosperous,
you cannot walk in the counsel of the ungodly If you walk in the
counsel of the ungodly, you will not be prosperous." Notice the
constant mention of the word "prosperous" or some form of it.
Always in every point come back to the truth that has been chosen
as the vehicle to take us to the destination.
18. Have the truth that is being emphasized written
somewhere in the outline. Have it underlined or encircled so that
one glance at the outline will allow you to see the truth upon the
slightest glance at the outline. This will keep the main truth before
you while delivering the message.
19. If for any reason, there is no central truth
given in the
sermon, have something very memorable to present. If there is no
reemphasis of the same truth over and over and over again, driving
that truth like a hammer on the head of a nail in the minds of the
people, there should be something in the sermon that the people
will never forget. This could be a startling illustration. I have
accepted the fact that the people will not carry much home with
them. One central truth would be a worthy goal. If there is no such
truth emphasized in the message, there should be something some-
where in the delivery of the sermon that is startling enough to
remain in the minds of the hearers as they leave. It could be one
statement of truth. It could be one illustration that is very memora-
In my sermon, "The Dignity of Man," I build the
around a man dressed in rags who came to my office the first day
that I was Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. I tell in
that message the thoughts that went through my mind and the
lessons that God taught me through the old man. As I begin each
point, I describe again the old man. He was a man who had long,
shaggy hair that was dirty and matted. His face was dirty and ill-
shaven. His neck was caked with filth. His shirt that once had been
white had become yellow. His trousers were too big and were held
up by a rope inserted through the belt loops. The trousers had
patches at the knees. His shoes were worn and old, and there was a
slit across each toe to widen them. His odor was obnoxious!
In this sermon on "The Dignity of Man" from the
eighth Psalm, I
list probably a half dozen things that God taught me through that
man. Before each of those points, I describe the old man again as
mentioned before. People who heard that sermon 25 years ago still
remember the old man. It was not a sermon that left one truth, but
they never forgot it because of this one illustration repeated
throughout the sermon.
20. If you have a sermon with points, repeat all
when the new
one is given. In my sermon, "God's Calls to Soul Winning," the
outline is as follows:
1. The call from within.
2. A call from without.
3. A call from above.
4. A call from beneath.
As I give each point, I remind the listener that
each is a call to us
beckoning us to soul winning. When I mention point 1, I simply
say, "There is a call from within." When I mention point 2, I say,
"There is a call from within and a call from without." When I
mention point 3, I say, "There is a call from within, a call from
without and a call from above." When I mention point 4, I say,
"There is a call from within, a call from without, a call from above
and a call from beneath." People who heard that sermon a quarter
of a century ago always remember the outline.
In my sermon entitled, "Others," the outline is:
1. Jesus died loving others.
2. Jesus died caring for others.
3. Jesus died saving others.
When this outline is used, not only do I repeat the
previous point or
points when I introduce another one, but I also use the song,
"Others," as mentioned earlier in this chapter.
Repetition is one of the most important things in
for that matter; in any public speaking. A famous preacher from
Scotland said that the curse of the Scottish ministry is its un-
willingness to be repetitious. Brother Bill Harvey, who was my
music director for two years, in describing my preaching once said,
"Jack Hyles is willing to be repetitious of the obvious." This is why
I think that one-point sermons are so effective. The same point is
hit over and over and over again. Each time it is hit, it drives itself
deeper into the heart and mind of the hearer.
21. It is often advisable to have the people repeat
aloud. This will help them remember the outline if there is more
than one point in a sermon. For example, I have a motivational
message I preach called, "Seven Steps to Success." The outline is
1. A dream.
2. A desire.
3. A decision.
4. A dare.
5. A direction.
6. A dedication.
7. A devotion.
When I bring this message I ask the people to repeat
with me as it unfolds. For example, if I am on point 5, "a direction,"
I will have them repeat the first four points along with the fifth
point. Not only do they remember the points, but they remember
22. Do not change your direction while preaching a
you are feeling like it is a failure. You may be equating failure with
cloudiness of mind. Sometimes you're not following yourself well,
but the people are following you well. A few months ago I was
preaching in a southern state. For the first 15 or 20 minutes of my
message I felt that I was not succeeding. My mind was not clear. I
was tempted to change directions but did not. Soon something
happened that got my attention and something I said excited me
and pulled me into the sermon. After the service the pastor of the
church, who is a dear friend, said to me, "Dr. Hyles, I have heard
you preach hundreds of times, but that is the greatest message you
have ever preached in my presence!" Little did he realize that I
almost ditched the sermon in order to flee to another.
One Sunday morning several years ago I was
preaching in my
own pulpit. About ten minutes into the sermon I went totally blank.
I simply could not think! For some reason or other I was just
unaware of what I was saying. I became frantic but kept right on
plodding through the outline. To be quite frank, I was afraid I was
having a mental problem. When the invitation came, I was barely
aware of where I was. After the service I fled to my study, threw
myself on the floor and begged God to give me a clear mind. By the
time the evening service rolled around I had returned to normalcy.
Several months passed. I was preaching in Atlanta, Georgia. Our
oldest daughter; Becky, and her family were living there at the time.
They asked me to go out to eat with them after the service. While
we were fellowshipping, Becky said, "Dad, I recently heard a
sermon of yours on tape that was the best sermon I ever heard you
preach on tape."
I said, "Well, thank you, Puddin'."
She said, "Dad, it was not only the best sermon I
ever heard you
preach on tape; it was the best sermon I ever heard anybody preach
Well, I increased my expression of gratitude to
Again she said, "Dad, it was not only the best
sermon I ever
heard anybody preach on tape, but it was the best sermon I have
ever heard anybody preach on tape or in person."
"Well," I said, "Puddin', I guess I better know
what sermon that
is so I can preach it again." She gave me the title. Was I ever
stunned! It was the sermon I preached a few months before when I
lost my coherence. I could not believe it. I returned to my room that
night and praised God well into the night that He can use simple
things to confound the wise and that it is still true that when we are
weak, then we are strong.
Of course, every preacher has his own style of
outlining and his
own style of preaching. To be sure, each of us will, on occasion,
preach sermons of different types, but it is the opinion of this
preacher that the most effective preaching is that of determining
before you choose a topic or a truth where you want to go. Picture
the invitation. Decide what you want the people to do. Then find
the truth that can be used as a vehicle to take the hearers to the desired
goal. Then over and over again in the sermon emphasize the
same truth, driving it deeper and deeper and deeper into the hearts
and minds of the hearer until it is so indelibly and firmly positioned
in his mind that he not only will respond as you had planned, but he
will never forget the truth and the sermon.
There are two things that the preacher sees as he
message. He sees first his people and second, his outline. Only one
of these can he control-the outline. Sometimes the people Will
inspire him as he speaks; sometimes they will not. So the only
predictable thing that catches his eye as he speaks is his Outline.
Hence, it is vital that the outline do the purpose that it is intended to
do. Different preachers use different types of outlines.
One day I was sitting talking to Mrs. Billy
Sunday, whom we
affectionately called 'Ma" Sunday. She was telling me about Billy
Sunday. I asked her what kind of outlines he had. She told me that
each letter in his outline was an inch tall. I asked her why, thinking
perhaps that he had poor vision. She told me that his letters were so
big because: (1) He seldom came near the pulpit, and as he would
run by he glanced at his outline. The letters had to be big in order
for him to read them while running by (2) The big letters made him
speak louder. In other words, the fact that the letters were written an
inch high put him in the shouting mood, and he liked to preach With
enthusiasm and a loud voice.
For 22 years I traveled extensively with Dr. John
R. Rice and
shared pulpits across America with him. Over 2200 times he and I
have sat on the same platform together and preached on the same
program. Dr. Rice did not use old outlines. He would use sermons
that were old, but right before each sermon he would outline his
message again! It would be the same outline that he had used many
times and the same sermon that he often preached, but he always
outlined it again just before preaching it. We were in Ohio together.
I was noticing just before the service that he was outlining his
sermon. I asked him why he did that. He replied that it helped him
to keep his mind on the sermon and to remember the outline if he
wrote it down right before preaching it. It made it fresher in his
Some great preachers use simple outlines of less
than one page.
Some use many pages of outline. I am thinking of one of America's
greatest preachers whose sermons sometimes have thirty pages of
outline. My sermons are usually from two to four pages of outlines.
They are not usually typewritten but rather are written in longhand.
This is the most important paragraph in this
chapter. It deals with
the purpose of an outline. AN OUTLINE IS PRIMARILY TO PUT
THE SPEAKER IN THE SAME FRAME OF MIND WHILE
PREACHING AS HE WAS WHILE PREPARING AND STUDY-
ING. A preacher goes to his study. He prepares his message. The
Bible begins to burn in his heart. His message baptizes him with its
truth. He is lifted to the heavenly places. He cannot wait until the
time comes for its delivery so he can share with the congregation
the great truths and great experiences he enjoyed while walking
with God in his study Then the sermon time comes. He stands to
speak. The truth does not seem nearly as sweet; the Scripture no
longer burns in his soul; he is disappointed and that sermon that he
had so anticipated preaching becomes drudgery instead of delight.
What has happened? He has failed to transfer the spirit of his study
to the pulpit. He has failed to realize that the only tool he has while
he is in the pulpit to remind him of the ecstasy of the study is his
outline. Because of this, the outline and its purpose is not only to
capture the truths that the preacher learned in study but the spirit
and joy with which he learned them. The outline is to remind him
not only of what he learned but how he learned it. It is to carry him
back to the same joy and thrill of preparation and transfer it to the
delivery. His failure was caused by his unawareness of the purpose
of his outline. He thought that the outline was simply to remind him
of what he learned. This it did. He did not realize that the outline
was supposed to remind him of the spirit he felt while he was
learning it. So the outline fulfilled the purpose that the preacher
had for it, but its purpose was not large enough.
When the preacher looks at his outline from behind
the pulpit, it
should remind him of the great truths he has learned, but it also
should remind him of the heavenly places in which he walked while
he learned those truths so that he may not only transfer the truths he
learned alone to the people but he may transfer the heavenly places
in which he walked while he learned those truths.
With that in mind we will examine the outline.
1. The first thing at the top of the outline should
preacher. It must get his attention. The first part of the sermon is
not primarily for the preacher to get the people's attention but for
the preacher to get his own attention. If the pastor can get his own
attention, the people will listen. People love to listen to someone
who is listening to himself, someone who is caught up in his
message and is totally involved in the truth he is presenting. If he
can get his own attention, the attention of the people will come.
This is the reason I rarely use humor in the introduction of a
sermon. Now I may use it in the introductory remarks before I begin
the sermon, but once the sermon is begun I rarely use humor in the
introduction. I want to use something that will lift me out of myself
and totally involve me in the sermon. It is important that my mind
not be on two things. It should not be on the sermon and also
wondering how I am doing. It should not be on the sermon and
wondering if the lady in the middle section is going to carry her
baby out or sit there with him during the entire service. I must be
totally lost and involved in the message. If I get involved and the
people know it, they will get involved.
In my sermon "Is There Not a Cause?" I begin as
"Several years ago I was on an airplane flying to the south. It was a
flight with a stopover in Lexington, Kentucky On the one-hour
flight between Chicago and Lexington, I looked across the aisle
and saw a familiar face. I turned and spoke to him and asked, 'Sir,
aren't you Adolph Rupp?' He replied in a beautiful southern drawl,
'Yes, suh, I am Mr. Rupp.' (Adolph Rupp was for many years the
coach of the University of Kentucky basketball team. During his
career his teams won more basketball games than those of any
other college coach in history.) I said, 'Mr. Rupp, I have been for a
long time a fan of yours. My name is Jack Hyles.' He replied, "Yes,
suh. I have read of you. You pastor that large Baptist church near
Chicago.' For almost an hour we talked together in a delightful and
stimulating exchange of ideas. We landed in Lexington and said
goodbye. I got off the plane to take a walk and go to the washroom.
I was washing my hands at the lavatory when I looked over and saw
that Mr. Rupp was washing his hands at the lavatory next to mine. I
said, 'Mr. Rupp, could I ask you a question? I understand that you
will soon retire because of the mandatory retirement at the age of
70.' A tear invaded his eye as he said, 'Yes, sub. Soon I will have to
retire.' I asked, 'Mr. Rupp, what do you plan to do when you
retire?' A tear escaped his eye as he replied, 'Sub, I guess I'll just
die.' Several months later Mr. Rupp retired. Not long after his
retirement I picked up the sports page of the Chicago Tribune to see
the big headlines which read, 'ADOLPH RUPP IS DEAD!' Why
did he die? He died because he had lost his cause-that thing for
which he got up in the morning, that thing that lifted him above
himself that made him forget himself, that pulled him out of
himself in which he lost himself-it had been removed. He had
lost his cause!"
That is the introduction to my sermon, "Is There
Not a Cause?"
Now it may or may not be a good introduction as the reader sees it,
but it is the kind of introduction that gets my attention. By the time I
finish that introduction, I am ready to preach on the subject, "Is
There Not a Cause?"
In my sermon, "Others," I get my attention as
years ago in the city of London, England, the Salvation Army was
conducting its annual convention. The giant auditorium was filled
with delegates, but for the first time in the history of the Army its
founder and leader, General Booth, was unable to attend. He was
old, nearly blind and in poor health. Gloom spread across the floor
of the convention as the delegates realized that for the first time
they would conduct their annual convention without the presence
of their leader and founder. Someone suggested that General Booth
send a message to be read at the opening session. This he agreed to
do. When the moderator engaged his gavel to the podium he said,
'Ladies and Gentlemen, as I call to order the annual convention of
the Salvation Army, I regret to inform you that our leader and
founder, General Booth, is for the first time unable to attend. He
has, however, agreed to send a message to be read at this time, as
follows: Dear Delegates of the Salvation Army Convention:
Others. Signed, General Booth."
Now, this may not get the attention of my
congregation, but this
illustration always gets my attention. When I use it, I am ready to
preach. It puts me in the right frame of mind, captures me and loses
me in my sermon.
In my sermon, "The Lust of the Holy Spirit," I
begin as follows:
"Months ago in the city of Seattle, Washington, I was enjoying a
time of Fellowship at a luncheon of Christian workers. After the
luncheon there was a question-answer session where the pastors
and full-time workers were allowed to interrogate me. One pastor
asked this question, 'Dr. Hyles, what in your opinion are the four
spiritual highlights of your life?' Now normally I would not answer
a question that involved such a lengthy answer, but for some reason
that day I did answer that question. I said, 'The first spiritual
highlight in my life took place in August of 1937 when I, as a little
lad nearly 11 years of age with bare feet and ragged clothes,
received Christ as my Saviour. The second great highlight of my
life took place on New Year's Eve just before the dawn of 1944
when as a timid, introverted teenager I felt the call of God to preach
the Gospel, and now for these many years I have been proclaiming
the message around the nation and around the world and, yes,
around the block. The third great highlight of my life took place on
the grave of my father after he had died a drunkard's death. I
returned to the grave and threw myself face down upon the dirt that
covered it and stayed there until God did a work in me. I believed
then and believe now that that was the first time in my life I was
filled with the Holy Spirit. The fourth great event of my life took
place when I was a young preacher. I was pastoring a little country
church in east Texas. It was 6:05 in the morning. I was standing in
an empty auditorium preaching from behind the pulpit on my
morning broadcast called, 'The Old-Time Religion Broadcast.' I
was speaking that morning on the indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit. Up until that moment, however, I had never spoken to the
Holy Spirit. I had never told Him I loved Him; I had never asked
Him to guide me. I knew He lived in me. I knew Romans 8:9; I
Corinthians 6:19, 20, etc., so theoretically I knew the truth, but
practically I had never experienced fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
That morning, suddenly for the first time in my life, the Holy Spirit
became more than an influence; He became a Person to me! I began
to tremble while I was speaking. When I finished the broadcast I
knelt behind the microphone and apologized to the Holy Spirit for
neglecting Him through the years and told Him that I would never
do so again. I got on my knees beside my little car that morning and
told the Holy Spirit to guide me what route to take home for
breakfast. After breakfast I begged Him to lead me to know what
route to take back to the office and from that happy day until this, I
have never neglected the Holy Spirit in my life, even for one entire
day I always talk to Him, tell Him I love Him and seek His
Now this introduction may or may not capture the
attention of the
audience, but it captures my attention, and once my attention is
captured, the audience will listen.
2. Do not worry about how many points there are in
I am basically a one-point outliner, but I know some great
preachers who are not. Dr. John Rice had many points. An example
of this is his famous sermon, "The Sevenfold Sin of Not Winning
Souls." My good friend Dr. Bob Gray uses points and sub-points.
That wonderful soul winner, Dr. Jim Vineyard, often has as many as
25 points. The important thing is that you fit it to yourself with
whatever you are comfortable.
3. Use different type outlines as far as writing is
example, if I preach on Heaven, I make the Outline orderly and
beautiful. I may type it or print it very carefully or write it with the
best of script. This is because Heaven is orderly and beautiful. If I
preach on Hell, I will scribble the outline and make it messy If I
preach a hard sermon, I will often use a bold magic marker to
remind me that I am to be bold.
If I preach a soft sermon, I will use a fine-line
If I preach a commencement address, I will make an
If I preach a sermon in which I want to become
excited, and in
order to remind myself that I was excited in my study, I will
underline the main points or capitalize them. Bear in mind, the
purpose of this outline is to carry the spirit that I had in the study to
the pulpit. If I was excited in the study, something in the outline
should remind me of that excitement. If I was tender in the study,
something of the outline should remind me of the tenderness. If I
wept in the study, something in the outline Should remind me of
how I felt at the time I prepared my message and my heart.
When I have an illustration in my outline, I write
tion, "Ill." to remind me that this is an illustration.
If I have an especially good idea that I want to
set apart in my
outline, I will put a circle around it.
I always put a bold line between points. This line
is very bold to
let me know that one part of the sermon is ending and another part
When listing things, I always number them. This
makes it easier
for me to keep my place in the list.
When I want to whisper in my message, I use tiny
I want to shout, I use bold print. Bear in mind that the purpose for
the outline is to transfer the spirit of the study to the pulpit. It is so
much easier to get excited when alone with God and His Word than
it is when standing in front of hundreds or maybe thousands of
people. This is not being hypocritical or mechanical; it is being
honest. You prepared the contents of your message in the study;
your outline is to remind you of what you learned. You prepared
your heart in the study; the outline should remind you of what you
felt, and it should help you to feel that same sweet fervency that you
felt when you were alone with God in the study
When using familiar illustrations, I just put a
word or two that
remind me of them and circle them in my outline. For example, I
have mentioned so many times in my sermons the death of my
drunken father, I will just write the words, "Dad's death," and put a
circle around them in the outline. I often use the illustration of the
Sunday school departmental superintendent who told me when I
was five years of age that Jesus loved me. Her name was Mrs.
Bethel. When I put that in my outline, I simply write the words,
"Mrs. Bethel," and encircle them.
I also write out my text at the top of my outline
and encircle it.
This is not just the reference but the very words of the text so I can
refer to them easily and remember them readily
If I am using a one-point sermon, I will write down
several times throughout the outline so as to remind me to keep
emphasizing and repeating that single point that I am trying to
4. I use an 8 ½ x 11 piece of paper for my outline.
I fold it and
place it in my Bible. This covers two pages. In other words, when
the Bible is open, the page to the left and to the right are covered
with outline. Then I draw a bold magic marker line down the center
to be sure that the pages are divided in my mind.
5. Let your outline tell you how you felt as you
prepared it. If
while I was studying, I wept over a certain truth, I may preface that
truth in my outline with a statement like this, "Nothing moves me
to tears faster."
If I was unusually excited about a truth in my
study, I may put in
my outline a preface to that truth like this-"Thank God I can still
get excited about If something irritated me in my study, such
as some sin that is so prevalent, I may preface that statement with,
"Nothing upsets me more than.
If I get happy in my study and want to laugh
because of the
goodness of God, I may remind myself in the outline that I laughed
at that particular point.
If at a certain time in my study I was overcome
ing, I may put in the outline something like this: "Thank
I simply want to deliver to my people from the
pulpit what God
delivered to me in the study I want them to feel what I felt. I want
them to be thrilled as I was thrilled, to be moved as I was moved, to
weep as I wept, to rejoice as I rejoiced, and to share with me the
ecstasy of the experience that I had of walking with God as He gave
me His message for my people.
6. Wait until you are moved and have entered into
places before you make your outline. No outline should be made
coldly, but only after God has moved the heart of the preacher. If
you make your outline on the mountaintop, you will identify it from
the pulpit with the mountaintop.
Hypocrisy is twofold: If you express something you
do not feel,
that is hypocrisy Likewise, if you feel something you do not
express, that is hypocrisy Not only should the sermon transfer the
facts learned in the study but the emotions enjoyed in the study The
outline can remind you of both; it should call to your mind what
you learned and to your heart how you felt so that you may
accurately transfer the feeling of your heart when you became
acquainted with the truth to the people so that they may have the
same feeling when they become acquainted with the same truth.
7. Outline your sermon no earlier than 48 hours
before it is
preached. If you do this, it will be fresher and it will be easier for
the outline to fulfill its purpose.
8. If using an old outline, read and reread it
preaching. As mentioned elsewhere in this manuscript, Dr. John
Rice always re-outlined his messages right before preaching. This
is a good idea. However, if this is not done, it certainly is wise for
the preacher to read and reread his outline so that it may be fresh in
his mind when he walks in the pulpit.
9. Use ditto marks in a list. Suppose, for example,
that in the
outline you are listing some things for which you are thanking God.
Do not write for each thing the words, "I thank God." Write the
words, "I thank God," for the first one and put ditto marks under
those three words down through the outline. This will make the
outline a little bit less messy and less confusing while you are
10. Write yourself instructions on your outline.
have a certain Scripture in your outline that you feel the people
should read with you. Then beside the Scripture write some words,
like, "Read in unison," or "Entire congregation to read."
Suppose that there is a Scripture that you want the
to quote with you. You may forget that while you are preaching.
Write it down in the outline.
There may be a Scripture that you want to look up
and read to the
people. Make yourself a note like this: "Look it up." In other
words, if there are certain things that in the study you feel the Lord
is leading you to do while you preach, make a note of them. To be
sure, while a person is preaching the Lord may lead him to do
certain things, but it is my feeling that the Lord can lead better
while you are on your face before God in the study than while you
are on your feet before your people in the pulpit. This is not to say
that God does not lead in the pulpit. It is simply to say that God also
leads in the study
11. It is often good to use verses that outline
are some verses that just form an outline, such as these:
II Chronicles 7:14, "If My people, which are called by My
name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face,
and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heav-
en, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
John 14:12, "Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth
on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works
than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father."
John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My
word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, bath everlasting life,
and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from
death unto life."
John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not
perish, but have everlasting life."
Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the
counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor
sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of
the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And
he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that
bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not
wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God, to them who are the called
according to His purpose."
Each of these verses outlines itself. For example,
look at the
outline in II Chronicles 7:14.
I. The people's part.
1. Humble themselves.
3. Seek God's face.
4. Turn from their wicked ways.
II. God's promises.
1. He will forgive their sins.
2. He will heal their land.
The same is true with Psalm 1:1-3. Notice the
I. Man's part.
1. Walk not in the counsel of the ungodly
2. Do not stand in the way of sinners.
3. Do not sit in the seat of the scornful.
4. Delight in the law of the Lord.
5. Meditate in the Bible day and night.
II. God's promises to that man.
I. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers
2. His leaf also shall not wither.
3. Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Now go through John 5:24; John 3:16; and Romans
8:28 and let
them outline themselves. Before doing so please note that the
purpose of these Scriptures is to try to get God to act. That means
the outline should emphasize what man can do in order to propel
Years ago a very old man was a member of our church,
passed away I was called to his bedside. The last words the old man
said before his spirit was taken to the presence of his Saviour were
these: "Thank you, Preacher, for walking with God all these years
and telling me on Sunday what God said." This cannot be done
unless the walking with God while we are alone is transferred to the
pulpit while we stand in front of the people. The only things we
have that will transfer the spirit of the study to the pulpit are the
memory and the outline. The memory is often clouded by circum-
stances in the service, but the outline can be and should be a
reminder of the heavenly walk that we enjoyed with God during our
hours of preparation and research. for the outline to remind us of
that walk is not critical; but to deliver with a cold heart and dry eyes
the message that was received through tears and a burning may be!
Preparing to Preach
It is time to preach. In a few minutes I will be
as His man before His people. I am to deliver His message. I am
about to walk to the platform. I must remember to walk correctly I
must remember to stand correctly I must remember to sit properly
I am now walking through the door. I am praying a simple prayer.
"Lord, help me to preach today as if it were the last sermon I would
I must take time to remember how much I wanted this
gone by I must remember that I am where I wanted to be. I must
remember how I felt when I was sitting in the pew. I must remember
that I am God's man. I must realize that I may not have many more
times to do this. I must give my best. I must give my all. lam about
to do something that angels covet. I am appearing in Christ's stead.
I am His representative. I am His ambassador. I must not forget it.
I am now standing on the platform. The scene has
begun. In just
a few minutes I will be doing~ the most important thing that a human
being can do on earth, ~so I must spend the time between now and
then to prepare.
1. I must examine the pulpit. I must see and decide
where I can
place my hands or if I can place my hands on the pulpit. I must
decide what to do with my hands before I preach. If the pulpit is too
high for me, I would be wise just to stand behind it with my hands
beside me or clasp behind me; or' I could use my hands for
gestures, but it would not be a help to me to place my hands on the
pulpit if it is a tall pulpit and obviously built for a taller preacher
I am about to represent God. I must do it properly
I must not be
intimidated by a pulpit.
2.1 must observe the platform. I hope it is about
six inches high
for every ten feet of depth in the auditorium. If it is a low platform, I
must speak a bit louder, be a bit more dynamic and more assertive
because I will be in a position not conducive to leadership. If the
platform is too high, I must say something early in my message that
will identify me with the congregation so that I will not feel too far
removed from them. I am God's man. I must give my best. I must
be my best. I must do my best. I am representing God. I am His
ambassador. I must be prepared. In a few minutes I will be standing
between the living and the dead. "Oh, God, help me to prepare
3. I must check how far I am from the people. I
wish that the
front row were within seven feet of me as I speak, for it is harder to
interact with the people if they are far from me. It is more difficult
for the pulpit and pew to communicate if the people are at a great
distance from me. If there are more than seven feet between me and
the audience, I must realize that I will not be as aware of their
response. I must not plan on a response, for distance has divided the
speaker from the people. I must remember that I may not be able to
hear their "Amens." I may not be able to hear their laughter as
easily as I could if they were closer to me. If they are ten feet or
more away from me, it might be more difficult for me to preach.
Maybe I should consider preaching a familiar sermon, one in which
I can totally lose myself and be more oblivious to the audience
response and participation. I am God's man. I must leave no stone
unturned. The time is getting closer when I am to preach. The choir
is singing. Soon will come the offering; then the special number;
then I will enter into the holy place and represent my God. "Oh,
God, may I give my best, be my best and do my best."
4. I must check the lighting. I wish it were a
auditorium so I could easily see the people and feel apart of them,
for when I feel identified with the people, I can best represent my
Saviour, for He certainly identified Himself with the common man.
I must remember that if the lighting is subdued, I will not be able to
see the people as well. I will not know as quickly of their laughter. I
will not see them nodding their heads in agreement. I must remem-
ber that most of my inspiration must come from within because the
dim light has separated me from the congregation. "Oh, God, help
me to be Your man today This is the only Sunday morning sermon
that these people are going to hear today I am their only chance to
receive God's message. Please help me. I yield myself to Your Holy
Spirit and present my body a living sacrifice. Please use me."
5.1 must check the temperature. If it is too warm,
I must realize
that the people could become a bit drowsy and they may fall asleep
more easily while I preach. They will not be as alert as they would
be if the building were not uncomfortably warm. No doubt it will
be a little more difficult for me to keep their attention. Perhaps I
should use a touch of appropriate humor. I must be a little more
dynamic in my presentation and delivery, and maybe I should
consider keeping my message a little more brief. "Oh, God, do not
let the warm building hinder me from delivering Your message, and
do not let the warm building hinder the people from receiving Your
message. You have given me a truth to give them that is vital. It
could revolutionize their lives. Give me wisdom as I seek to blend
and adjust to the various circumstances of the service."
6. I must check the shape of the auditorium. I must
which people to make eye contact. I realize that if the auditorium is
big, there is no way that I can have eye contact with everybody If
the building is very long and narrow, I would be wise to preach
mainly to the front half of the congregation. This will keep my eyes
pointing toward the entire congregation, but I must be aware
mainly of the front half. However, I must be sure to project my
voice so that the last row can hear me.
If the building is fan-shaped, my body must not
sively I must decide to keep eye contact basically with the two
center sections, with an occasional glance to the sides. I realize that
it would be unwise for me to constantly be oscillating from side to
side, but I must make everyone feel a part of the service. However,
for the sake of the message, my main contact will be with the two
center sections. If there is a center section and no center aisle, I
must then give most of my attention to the three center sections.
"Dear God, if I am placing too much emphasis on
is a sincere mistake. I want to be today what You want me to be, and
I want the people to hear and understand Your message. I have
spent hours preparing my message. I have spent hours preparing
my heart. Now I must not allow circumstances to prevent the
message from being transferred from my heart to the hearts of the
7. I must check the crowd. I must watch during the
ments to see if they are responsive. If they are, perhaps we can have
some interaction while I preach. I can ask them questions and
expect some "Amens" and laughter. I am trying to decide now
whether it is best for me to use them to help me in the presentation
of the sermon. It may be best for me to realize that they are not
responsive and not depend on them at all for help during the
message. At any rate, I pray, "Dear Lord, I want my inspiration
mainly to come from You. May Your Holy Spirit fill me. May Your
love engulf me. May Your grace sustain me, and may Your people
If the crowd is small, I must not be discouraged,
for it is an honor
beyond measure for me to deliver a message even to one person. I
must be aware that all of Heaven is watching, that that cloud of
Heavenly witnesses is observing!
I must remind myself of what God has done in the
past in a small
gathering. I must remember that little crowd that gathered in
Atlanta, Georgia, many years ago, but one person in that small
crowd was named Curtis Hutson, who has become one of Amer-
ica's greatest preachers.
I must remember that small gathering in Kankakee,
where it would have been easy to be discouraged, but I must
remember that one of the few people there that night was a young
man named Wally Beebe, who has become one of America's great
preachers and has influenced millions to attend church and hun-
dreds of thousands to come to Christ.
I must remember that the great message in John 3 on
birth was preached to one man. I must remember that the great
message of John 4 on the living water was preached to one woman.
I must remember the small beginning of the Fulton Street prayer
meetings and of Moody's revival in England. I must remember that
only 120 prayed before Pentecost. I must remember that the entire
destiny of mankind was changed by a little group of disciples who
followed Jesus and heard Him speak.
I must not depend on the crowd for my inspiration.
If they do
inspire me, I must let that be bonus, but I must be inspired by the
fact that I hold in my hand the eternal Word of God. There lives in
my body the eternal Spirit of God, and I have in my mind and in my
heart and in my soul a message from the eternal God, even the true
and the living God. I am about to stand between the living and the
dead. That is enough to inspire me. If the people choose to add to
that inspiration, well and good, but the inspiration of the God
Whom I represent, the message which I preach, and the fact that I
am standing between the living and the dead is all the inspiration I
really need. I must remember not to let the crowd lead me; I must
lead them. I must not let them discourage me. I must not let them
divide my mind and get it off of my message. "Oh, God, the
offering is being taken. The time is getting closer. It is becoming
difficult to wait. I long to present Your message. May I do it in Your
power, and, dear God, if I am being too finicky, forgive me, but I
just want to be sure that nothing distracts or hinders me from
conveying the truth that You have for these people to them through
8. I must fall in love with these people. I am
now. I see down in the front some older ladies. "God, bless them." I
wonder what they have done this week. I imagine that this trip to
church is the highlight of their week. "May I be what they need."
Back in the back I see some teenagers. "Dear God, it will be
difficult for them to listen. Please help me to use every tool at my
disposal to keep their attention. Some of them may wreck their
lives this week if they do not hear Your message. Help me as I
"Dear God, I see numbers of men in this room who
viously laboring men. They have worked hard this week. This is
their only day off They have chosen to use it to hear me preach. I
notice that some of them have greasy hands. They have toiled hard
all week. They need to hear from Heaven. May I be the vessel this
morning that will allow them to do so.
"Dear God, I see a little crowd of people back in
the back who
are singing with their hands. They are deaf Tell them that I love
them. Near them I see some people who have canes, and they don't
seem to be facing me exactly They must be blind. Convey to them
my love. Dear God, there are some little children. A 45-minute
sermon seems like hours to them. Help me to so represent You that
it will be easy for them to listen. Let me be simple enough so that
the smallest child can understand me, and yet may my message be
profound enough so that it will challenge the most mature Chris-
tian. lor the next few minutes, God, I will be looking over the
audience and loving them. Oh, by the way, I thank You for them.
Please help me to be what they need today"
9. I must not be distracted from my message. I must
course. I must use that part of the service that will help my message
and be oblivious to that part of the service that will not help. I must
not allow anything to offend me or upset me. I must not develop a
spirit of criticism about any part of the service.
10. I must be careful about my stance. Dear God,
is easy for me to slouch a bit and oftentimes I shift my weight from
one foot to another. I must be careful to stand like Heaven's
representative should stand. I must not carelessly lean too much on
the pulpit. I am sure that I can better represent You if I stand up
straight and equally distribute my weight on both feet.
11. l must be careful with my eyes. I remember how
used to tell me to be careful about people who had shifty eyes. I
believe that sincerity will care for this, but I must not look to the
ceiling while I preach or spend too much time looking to my
outline. I must have a straightforward look as I preach.
12. I must be careful about the use of my hands. I
fiddle with something on the pulpit. I must use my hands for
gesturing or keep them comfortably on a part of the pulpit, hold
them to my side, or clasp them behind my back. "Dear God, I hope
You're not thinking now that I am emphasizing little things too
much. I remember reading one time that someone said to
Michelangelo, 'You spend too much time on trifles.' Michelangelo
replied, 'Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle!"'
13. I hope lam dressed properly "Of course, God, it
is too late
now, for I cannot change clothes this late, but I hope that I am
dressed appropriately I am aware that young men who are God's
representatives must be a bit more conservative than the average
young man. Help me always to be appropriate in my dress. I have
not worn anything new today because I do not want to have my
mind on my clothing, nor do I want my apparel to detract from the
message that You have given me for my people today"
I must consider my voice, my speech and my
must remember that the larger the crowd the slower the speech
should be. I notice that the song leader makes larger gestures as he
leads the singing when the crowd is larger.
14.1 must be conscious of my facial expressions. I
ber that the smaller the crowd, the easier it is for me to use facial
expressions; but in a large crowd, facial expressions are less effec-
tive. I also must take into consideration the lighting and the
distance of the people from the pulpit. I also must take into
consideration the width of the center aisle. If it is too wide, my eye
contact will not be as good. I must be aware of this so as not to be
disappointed if the response is not what I want it to be.
"Dear God, it is almost time. The people are
waiting. I have
prepared my heart and my message through the week. I am trying
now to prepare myself so that I may be the best representative for
You that I can possibly be."
15. 1 call on someone to pray, I must remember the
size of the
audience. Can he be heard if he prays from the altar? Can he be
heard from the place where he is sitting? If not, I must remember to
call him to the platform and have him lead us in prayer behind the
microphone. The same is true with testimonies.
16. I must be proper in my pulpit behavior. I must
participate in the singing. I must be careful not to talk to those on
the platform. It might show an indifference to the service and lack
of respect for others who are on the program and a part of the
service. I must stand when the congregation stands or I might cause
a distance to develop between us.
"Dear Lord, I understand that You can overcome any
stance, interruption or inconvenience. I just want to be sure that I do
not cause a hindrance in the service."
I remember when I used to preach on the streets. We
pews; we had no piano; we had no organ; we had no public address
system; we had no pulpit, and I remember how You blessed. I
remember how I used to stand in the back of a little pickup truck
and preach to crowds. Ah, what sweet memories!
I remember that time when in an evening service all
went out; I preached in total darkness, and over 20 people got saved
in a small church in south Texas!
I remember the brush arbors with the mosquitoes and
treme heat with people sitting in their cars around the edge of the
arbor listening to the sermon.
I remember the time when the PA. broke when I was
to 5,000 people, yet what a good service God gave us.
I remember preaching at the Bill Rice Ranch years
ago, back in
the days when their tabernacle was open on the sides. As I stood to
preach, a torrential rainstorm came. I remember how nobody could
hear, but dear Dr. John Rice simply walked outside and lifted his
hands up and the rain stopped. I remember how sweet the service
was, and then I remember when Dr. Rice came back in, he looked
at me and said, "I took care of it while you were preaching, now you
go outside and care for it while I'm preaching!" He had that impish,
little-boy type grin on his face. God bless him. I loved him so much,
and I have so many sweet memories that are built around him.
I remember that tabernacle in Ft. Worth, Texas,
that was built
just for revival meetings. Dr. Harvey Springer preached one week,
and I preached the other. I remember that night when a cold front
came through. My, was it ever cold! The tabernacle had no heat, but
somebody borrowed a gas heater and placed it in the back in the
middle of the tabernacle. Only ten people showed up that night in
that 1000-seat tabernacle, and all ten of them were gathered around
the heater, holding their hands over the top in an effort to get some
warmth! Nothing went right! There was no piano; there was no
pianist; there was no organ; there was no organist! Only the pastor,
congregational song leader and I were on the platform, and I
remember that I was preaching that night on Hell. I thought
perhaps that would warm the service up somewhat. Nobody looked
at me! It appeared that no one was listening, but I went ahead and
preached the entire message as if the tabernacle were filled, while
the little crowd of 10 people gathered around the heater in the back.
I remember leaving the service thinking I had been a total failure
and that I had wasted my time.
Years passed. I was preaching in Birmingham,
Michigan, in an
afternoon service. A tall, good-looking young man stood to intro-
duce me. He said, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to
introduce you to Dr. Jack Hyles. He doesn't know it, but it was
through his preaching that I was saved. Years ago he preached a
week of meetings in a big tabernacle in Ft. Worth, Texas. One night
a cold front came through. Only ten people showed up, and they
gathered around a little heater in the back. I was one of the ten. Dr.
Hyles did not think that any of us were listening, because we were
all looking at the heater and trying to keep warm, but I'll never
forget his sermon! He preached on the subject, 'To Hell and Back.'
I got saved that night. I didn't go forward in the service to profess
publicly my faith, but I was saved that night. I would like for Dr.
Hyles to know that I love him and I would like to thank him for
being faithful in preaching in a 1000-seat tabernacle when only 10
were present, and they were gathered around a little heater in the
I remember that time in Garland, Texas, when we had
a big tent
service on a Sunday morning; 3,163 people were there and right in
the middle of the sermon the back row of the choir fell off. There
had been faulty construction of the risers for the choir!
Then I remember that time when I was preaching to
thousand people at the First Baptist Church of Hammond. It was
Sunday night; the building was packed, and suddenly about a third
into the message a well-dressed man stood up in the back, ran about
halfway down the aisle and made the time-out signal. He called
time out! One of the security guards came and took him to the back
and asked him what he was doing. He said, "That fellow has
preached long enough." In spite of it, God blessed in that service.
Then I remember that tuberculosis sanatorium in
where as a young preacher I used to go every Thursday night and
preach to the dying. I remember how some Thursday nights we
would have conversions and then find them missing the next
Thursday night when we returned. They had passed away during
"What I am saying, Lord, is that I know that You
circumstances and difficulties, but in spite of this, I don't want to
be a difficulty. I want to be my best. Lord, I have the idea that the
only difficulties You overcome are those that are beyond our
control. I have an idea that when we cause them You are not as
ready to overcome them."
17. I must be very wise concerning any child that
behave or baby that might cry. Of course, the best thing to do is to
have adequate nursery facilities and ask the people to please leave
the babies in the nursery, to have trained ladies in a clean, sanitary
place. I must remember not to let a baby destroy the service. I only
hope the pastor has trained the people to remove the child imme-
diately when he misbehaves.
I hope that the children have been trained not to
walk in and out
of the service while the sermon is being delivered.
I trust that the ushers have been properly trained
to sit down
during the sermon, for they, like all of us, need preaching too. I
hope that they will not disturb by moving around during the
sermon. I hope they will not be doing such unwise things as
counting the attendance while I'm speaking. I trust the pastor has
not been so unwise as to have someone out of the services counting
money "Oh, God, I want everybody to hear my message, or should
I say, Your message."
I hope there is not a telephone nearby that when it
rings can be
heard in the auditorium.
I hope that the people are trained not to interrupt
the service by
calling folks out of the auditorium. I hope that they realize the most
important thing in the world is the preaching of God's message and
that nothing should interfere with that preaching.
"Dear God, I hope that no one is carelessly using a
that might interfere with the service. Now, Lord, if any of these
things do happen, I'm going to deliver Your message anyway, and I
believe that You can and will overcome obstacles unless we are the
obstacles. Don't let me be a hindrance in any way in the delivering
of Your message today, and dear Lord, please help the fellow who
has that video camera not to be interrupting during the sermon.
Help him to sit down and listen like everybody else. There are so
many folks behind him that will be distracted if he moves around
during the sermon.
18. I must be wise as serpents and harmless as
doves. "Help me
to use humor in good taste. Remind me to be proper in every way
and not to be presumptuous in my opinions of people in the
I remember that time in Mesquite, Texas, while I
a lady was grimacing on the second or third row from the front. All
during the sermon she made faces and grimaced. I thought she was
angry. I told the pastor alter the service to watch her. I thought she
was a troublemaker. The pastor smiled understandingly and said,
"Brother Hyles, that woman is not a troublemaker. She has a
husband who beats her every time she comes to church. Tonight he
beat her across the back. While you were preaching, her back was
bleeding and her blouse was sticking to her back. The reason she
was grimacing was that she was in pain." To think I judged her as
being a troublemaker when she was simply suffering for her
"Now, Lord, if hindrances come, I will accept them.
I will not be
offended. If I can correct them, I will. If I cannot, I will do my best
through them, but I just do not want slothfulness to cause hin-
drances. This is Your hour. These are Your people. This is Your
Word. I am Your man. This is Your message. I believe I have done
The special music is now over. I am approaching the
pulpit. I am
now standing behind the pulpit. I am now preaching. What joy!
What total joy! What ecstasy! What total ecstasy! "Oh, God, use
me just now!"
Keeping a Warm Heart as You Preach
A preacher must realize that crisis preaching will
last only so
long. Issue-oriented preaching will take the church just so far.
Sooner or later, warmhearted preaching must take over. A preacher
must have his heart warm at all times especially those times when
he stands before his people to proclaim to them the truth that God
has given him for them. Perhaps we can discuss some things that
will enable the preacher to keep a warm heart. First we will explore
ways to keep a warm heart while preaching.
1. Use words that warm your heart. Each of us has
a little special
vocabulary of words that are very dear to him and that move him to certain
example, I like the word "Mama."
When I speak of my mother, it warms me if I call her
I speak of the Bible, it warms my heart if I say, "the Book." While I
am preaching, the little statement, "Thank God!" moves me to
emotion. I can simply say, "Thank God for all He has done to me.
Thank God for all He has done through me. Thank God for all He
has done for me." Just the repetition of the little phrase, "Thank
God!" warms my heart. I also love the words, "our Lord." There is
something about the possessive pronoun before the name of Jesus
or before the words, "God, Lord," etc. that moves me. I especially
love to say "our Lord." I also love the word "wonderful." It has a
ring to it that warms my heart when I use it. When I speak of my
people I like to use the words, "precious people." When I pray for a
group of people I often say, "God bless these precious people."
Another statement that stirs me, especially to excitement, is the
phrase, "the army of people," or "an army of people." The wise
preacher will learn the words that are very sweet and dear to him.
He will use them often. They will help to warm his heart.
2. Use superlatives that warm your heart. When used
superlatives are a great aid to a speaker. Such statements as "the
most amazing thing I ever saw," "the greatest day of my life," and
"the most wonderful thing in the world," if spoken in truth and not
through exaggeration, can be used to warm the heart of the speaker.
3. Use experiences that warm your heart. Each of us
away in his mind some wonderful memories concerning events that
have transpired in our lives. Just the thought of some of them can
move us to excitement or move us to tears. There are about a dozen
things that have happened to me, the thought of which always
warms my heart and makes me a better preacher. I have a list of
those. When I find myself preaching with a heart less than warm, I
revert to one of them. Sometimes when I am preaching I feel so
ashamed, I often think while preaching, "How can my heart be less
than warm when I am preaching about such a marvelous truth?
How can I preach on Hell without tears? How can I preach on
Heaven without shouting? How can I preach on salvation without
weeping for joy Yet, there are times when I do. At such times I
pull out of my bank of memories an event that will warm my heart,
and I speak of it. For example, it doesn't matter where I am or what
I am doing, if I think about how good God has been to me through
the years, my heart warms and my eyes moisten. When I think of
my childhood when poverty was mingled with the love of my
mother, and add to that what God has done for me, through me and
with me through the years, I am always moved. When I remind
myself that I owned my first pair of new shoes bought for me at the
age of 14, I ate my first hamburger at the age of 14, I ate my first
egg when I was 14 years of age and remember how God has cared
for me through the years, I find it easy to weep and to shout at the
same time. If I am preaching a sermon and find my heart a little
cold, I simply begin to speak about one of these subjects. It always
gets me in the mood to preach, and then I can revert back to my
sermon and go at full speed.
4. While preaching, mention names that warm your
often mention the name, "Proctor Boyd," my Sunday school teach-
er while I was a teenager. He was the best Sunday school teacher I
ever had! Just the words, "Proctor Boyd," give me a warm heart. I
often mention the name, "Dr. Rutherford." He was my Sunday
school teacher when I was a junior high lad. I can see him now
standing in front of the class with tears streaming down his cheeks
saying, "Boys, I'm not going to let the Devil have a one of you"
Just the thought of that dear man standing before my class warms
my heart. I often mention the name, "Jesse Cobb," the Chairman of
the Board of Deacons at the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Dallas,
Texas, and the man who introduced me for the first time to soul
winning. Just the mention of his name warms my heart. I use their
names often. It gives me the kind of heart that my people deserve
for their pastor to have-the kind of heart that will help me to
preach with fervor and compassion.
5. While preaching, look at places that warm your
Glance at the altar and think of all the marvelous things that God
has done there. Look down to the place where you are standing and
realize that that is the place where God has put you to proclaim His
truths. Let your mind think of the privilege of standing there to
preach. Every Sunday I look to the fourth row from the front near
the center aisle where my mother used to sit. My heart is warmed to
think of her and her faithfulness to church as she came when she
felt good and when she felt bad and sat there listening to and
praying for her boy. Let places become important to you Have
many little sacred shrines where you can go to remember. While
you are preaching you cannot go physically to those places, but in
your mind you can go anywhere you want to go that will warm your
6. Remember those who once were with you. The
wants to have a warm heart must remember those people with
whom he once served who are now in Heaven. A part of the pastor's
schedule should be a time to remember. As I preach, I often look
back to the spot where Bill Sallade used to sit, and I love him for
awhile. I then glance to the place where Henry Rose once sat, and I
love him for awhile. During the Lord's Supper, I always remember
George Huisenga, who was the deacon in charge of serving the
Lord's Supper. During the Lord's Supper, I always look at the place
where Blanford Duff used to sit; he was a loyal, faithful deacon.
Every month I take time to love him for a few minutes. When I walk
through the choir ready room behind the choir loft, I think of Mr.
Brueck, one of our men who had cancer. He became so weak that
he could not walk, stand or even sit. He would crawl on his hands
and knees into the choir ready room and lie there so he could hear
me preach just on the PA system. When I think of those with whom
I have served who are now in Heaven, it warms my heart and helps
me preach better.
7. Watch your people as you preach. Look at the
need your encouragement, the elderly facing the sunset years of life
who need courage, the young people who need strength to resist
temptation, the bus kids who need love and others who need you
As you watch them, realize their need of you It will warm your
heart, give you a purpose in preaching and throw you at the mercy
of the Holy Spirit that He may help you to be what your people need
you to be.
8. Develop rituals that warm your heart. Every
before I go to bed, I take a picture of my father, who died without
Christ in 1950, put the picture on the floor; make an altar of it and
kneel before it, asking God to help me to preach with the same
fervor that I wanted my pastor to have the first and last time that my
dad ever sat with me in church.
It was a Sunday afternoon. My father announced to
me that he
was going to church with Mother, my sister, Earlyne, and me that
night. My little seven-year-old heart leaped with joy, and I made a
mad rush down to the only house in the neighborhood that had a
telephone. I asked the Wyatt family if I could borrow their tele-
phone. I called my pastor and excitedly told him that my daddy was
coming to church that night, and I asked him please to do his best to
get daddy saved. That night Daddy, Mother; Earlyne and I walked
for the only time in our lives into a church building. We walked two
miles down Fernwood Street to the Fernwood Baptist Church. We
sat on the second row from the back on the left side facing the
pulpit. My big 235-pound giant of a dad stood beside me as we
sang and sat beside me as we listened. I prayed that God would do
something to my dad to transform his life and save his soul.
Following the offering, the pastor stood and said, "Ladies and
gentlemen, there will be no preaching tonight. This is the night of
our annual cantata. The choir will present it to us at this time." My
heart broke! I sat during the entire cantata and wept as my daddy
slept. I could not believe that my daddy didn't mean more to my
preacher than that! That was the only time he ever sat in church with
me. I think of this every Saturday night and ask God to help me not
to disappoint the little seven-year-old boys whose daddies are in the
There are other rituals that I have that warm my
heart. As I walk
into the auditorium I always pray the same prayer.
Every Monday morning I leave the office to go to
the airport to
fly somewhere across America to preach Monday night and Tues-
day night. Before I leave the office I go into the waiting room and
look at a big picture of Dr. John R. Rice on which he wrote, "To my
buddy, Jack Hyles. Signed, John R. Rice. Psalm 126:5,6." I look at
the picture and relive the 22 years that we traveled together and
shared pulpits across America. I tell him that I miss him. My heart
is always warmed as I think of this great giant with whom I traveled
and whom I loved.
Weekly I go to the mausoleum at Memory Lane
which is owned by First Baptist Church of Hammond. Just inside
the door on the left there is my mother's burial place. When I go
there, I have a ritual. I read her favorite chapter in the Bible, Psalm
103.1 take out her picture and tell her that I love her and then I sing
the song that she sang as she rocked me to sleep when I was a boy,
"Brighten the Corner Where You Are." Then I sing the last song
that we sang together before she went to Heaven, "The Unclouded
The preacher who has little rituals that help him
to remember to
love, to appreciate and to think will have a warmer heart.
9. Think of the effort spent by the people who come
to hear you.
Often on Sunday morning, about 8:00, I stop to realize all the time
and effort expended by the people of my congregation, the hun-
dreds of thousands of hours spent in preparation. This warms my
heart as I prepare to preach.
10. Think of the labor that went into the offering
that is dropped
in the collection plate on the Lord's Day Think of the greasy
mechanic, the tired and weary steel worker; the lady that cleans
houses, and of all the others who earned their money by hard
laborious toil, and your heart will be warmed.
11. Think Whom you represent. II Corinthians 5:20,
then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did be-
seech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled
to God." Pause to realize that you are there in the place of Jesus,
representing Him. I John 4:17, "Herein is our love made perfect,
that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as
He is, so are we in this world."
12. Be publicly expressive of your love and
appreciation. Say, "I
love you," to your people. Be grateful to them. Express that
gratitude openly It will warm your heart and bring tears to your
eyes as you publicly express your love to the people whom God has
given to you and to whom you are a gift from God.
13. Think where you are. You are where you dreamed
you would be. You are where you will wish someday that you could
be again. This is it! This is the culmination of all your study and
preparation. This is the fulfillment of all your dreams and plans.
You are now there-- God's man, God's representative. Always
think of it! It will warm your heart!
14. Think of what "the Book" is. Realize as you
preach that you
are preaching the very Word of God, the Word that is eternal, which
always was and always will be. It is the Book written by your
Creator; given by divine revelation, word-by-word. It is God's
eternal, never-dying Word, revealing Himself and His plan to man.
Think of it! Think of it! Think of it!
15. Think of those watching from Heaven. This will
heart as you preach. I never preach on a Sunday morning or Sunday
night in my own church or somewhere else around the country on a
weeknight without realizing that my mother's eyes are fixed on me.
The eyes of my two little sisters join my mother's, there are many
other precious saints of God who are in Heaven who watch me in
that great cloud of witnesses. There is my pastor; I C. Sizemore.
There is my friend, fellow-worker and buddy, Dr. John R. Rice.
There are my deacons who preceded me to Heaven and others of
my people. They watch me. I must never forget it! It will warm my
heart as I preach.
16. Think of those pleading in Hell. In Luke 16 we
have the story
of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is in Hell, first crying for
water; then crying for someone to go and tell his brothers not to
come to that place of torment.
A few years after my father died without Christ, my
knocked on my study door one Sunday after midnight and asked
me if I would lead her to Christ. This I did. After I led her to Christ,
I asked her why she came that night. She said to me that shortly
after Daddy died she had a dream. She dreamed that she was taken
to the second floor of a big building. She dreamed that she saw that
entire building lined with caskets. In every casket there was a body
She was taken by this creature to every casket, and she looked in the
face of every corpse. On every face there was a smile of peace until
she came to the last one. The creature tried to keep her from the last
corpse. She could only see two hands rising above the casket. She
said, "Jack, I could tell in my dream that those were Daddy's hands.
I rushed to look into his face, and there was no look of peace. There
was no smile, but a look of anguish and pain. His hands were raised
toward me, and he was crying, 'Sister, sister,' and then he would
make some kind of noises that I could not understand. I tried to
understand him and begged him to speak more plainly. He just kept
crying, 'Sister, sister,' and making those strange noises. Finally, the
creature took me away from the casket."
My sister told me that night after I won her to
Christ that she had
wondered for all those years what Daddy was trying to say to her.
Then she told me that that night I had preached on the rich man in
Hell and told how he asked Abraham to send the Gospel to his
brothers on earth. Earlyne told me then that she realized that Daddy
was trying to tell her not to come where he was. The dream of
several years before had been explained in my sermon that Sunday
night. Following the sermon she came to my study and was saved.
For many years now she has been in full-time service for the Lord.
I have been aware for all these many years that my
without Christ, and I must tell people that story so that they will
avoid and evade the torments of Hell.
The preacher with a warm heart must make himself
aware that he
stands between Heaven and Hell; yes, even between the living and
17. in order to have a warm heart, the preacher
that someday it will end. Someday he will walk in his pulpit for the
last time. Someday he will stand before his people for the last time.
Someday he will present the truth of God for the last time. It will
end someday It may be tomorrow; it may be today May my heart be
warm while I have this opportunity, for it too will pass away
18. Think of the investment that others have made
in you. Many
a dear Sunday school teacher's rewards will be increased according
to your fruitfulness. Others have invested in you; you must use their
investment wisely. Think of it while you preach. It will warm your
19. Think of the judgment seat and the fact that
will face Jesus. Think of the day when you will face Him con-
cerning the sermon you are preaching. It will warm your heart and
stir your soul.
20. Realize all of the work that has gone into the
those who labor with you. Think of the nursery workers caring for
the babies. Think of all the time spent by the choir, the choir
director and the accompanists in preparing for the services. Think
of the PA men, the ushers, those who work in the baptismal
dressing rooms, the Sunday school teachers and the countless
others that have spent many, many hours preparing for the service
that you are now enjoying which culminates in the sermon which
you are now preaching. You will find your heart strangely warmed.
In spite of all the advice given above concerning
and sustaining of a warm heart in the pulpit, the pastor will not all
of a sudden get a warm heart when he enters the pulpit. He will
eventually become in the pulpit what he is all the rest of the time, so
he must constantly be striving to keep a warm heart 24 hours a day,
seven days a week. Whatever spiritual temperature the preacher
possesses during six days, he will possess the seventh day There is
also the fact that it will be somewhat hypocritical to obtain a warm
heart for the preaching of a sermon and then lose it the rest of one's
week. There are some things the busy pastor can do that will help
him obtain and retain a warm heart all the time.
1. Schedule time to praise. Have a set time in the
the praising of God. This time should be started by the making of a
list. Think of the good things that God has done for you. Make a list
of them. Then go back through them one at a time. Think on them
and realize the goodness of God. If your mind is fixed upon His
goodness and His blessings to you, sincere praise will come. Praise
should not necessarily be the result of a spontaneous stimulus; it
should be the result of a heart that is aware of God's goodness. This
awareness should be scheduled. I have a set time in my schedule
when I do nothing but praise God. I make my list of all the things
that God has done for me recently; then I go through the list to
thank Him and praise Him for His goodness. It isn't long until I'm
having a "real spell." This sincere praise to God is caused by a
planned awareness of God's goodness and blessings on my life.
2. Schedule a time to worship. Praise is thanking
God for what
He has done. Worship is thanking God for what He is. There should
be a scheduled time in the life of every child of God when he comes
before his God to be still and know that He is God, to hear the still
small voice and to look up to our great Creator and exalt Him and
love Him for who He is and what He is. I am not talking here about
a formal worship service with chanting and liturgy I am talking
about a Christian being alone with his God to worship Him in spirit
and in truth.
3. Schedule a time to meditate. It is interesting
in the Bible to
find how many times meditation is a prerequisite to God's bless-
ings. Psalm 1:1-3, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the
counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor
sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of
the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And
he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that
bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not
wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Notice that one
of the five prerequisites to prosperity is to meditate in the law of the
Lord day and night. When God came to Joshua when he succeeded
Moses as the leader of God's people, God listed meditation as one
of His prerequisites for success. In order to keep a warm heart, the
Christian, especially the pastor, should have a scheduled time of
4. Schedule a time to confess your sins. Several
years ago I was
sharing the platform with Dr. John Rice. We were in Atlanta,
Georgia, for a Sword of the Lord Conference. It was time for our
driver to pick us up for the evening service. I went down to Dr.
Rice's room to wait with him for our driver. The door to his room
was open and the door to his bathroom was open, and Dr. Rice was
on his knees at the commode. I asked him what he was doing. He
said, "I'm confessing my sins." Then he tore some paper up in little
bitty pieces and flushed it down the commode. I asked him what
that paper was. He said it was the list of his sins. I said, "What do
you mean, Dr. Rice?"
He said, "Well, I have a set time every day to
confess my sins.
What I do is write my sins on a piece of paper. Then I go through
them one at a time asking God to forgive me for them. Then I tear
the paper on which it was written into many pieces and flush it
down the commode." I asked him why he did this. He grinned and
said, "Do you think I want folks to find out what my sins are?"
I learned something that day I learned that one of
secrets to the great John R. Rice was the fact that he confessed his
sins daily, by schedule, and he listed them before confessing them.
The preacher who comes to God asking forgiveness for his sins will
obtain that forgiveness, and this is one of the great ways to keep a
5. Sing and whistle throughout the week. Every
choose a song for the day I sing it and whistle it throughout the day
My song for today is, "Jesus, Saviour; pilot me over life's tem-
pestuous sea." I hum it. I whistle it. I sing it. I choose songs that
warm my heart. One day I will choose for my song of the day, "God
Will Take Care of You." Another day it will be, "Blessed As-
surance." Another day it will be "Standing Somewhere in the
Shadows You'll Find Jesus." When I sing and whistle some great
song of the faith, it helps to keep my heart warm.
6. Do not be around negative people. Make it a
habit to avoid
fellowship with those who are critical and negative. There is no way
my heart can stay warm if I am around those who talk about
negatives, who criticize people, who spread bad things even if
those things are true. No preacher will walk with critics during the
week and preach with a warm heart on the Lord's Day
7. Dwell on the effort spent on nice things done
for you. When
somebody brings me a batch of cookies, I pause to think for awhile
as to all the work that entered into their preparation. If someone
prepares a meal for me, I try for a time to think of the effort
expended in its preparation as well as in its planning. The pastor has
many nice things done for him. It is so easy for him to lapse into a
professionalism concerning his gratitude. The warmhearted pastor
will pause to think of the effort expended by people who love him
and are thoughtful of him.
8. Think for a little while before eating every
meal. I never sit
down to a meal without pausing to think of those little Egyptian
children who begged me for a penny while I was touring Egypt. I
see their little swollen stomachs. I see the expression on their faces
as they beg for something to eat or a bit of money with which to buy
food. I think of the starving people in Ethiopia, and yes, I also think
of the poverty that I once knew as a child. No one should ever eat a
meal without his heart being filled with praise and warmed before
his God because of the goodness of God as manifested in His
provisions for us.
9. Think of the blessing of being able to get up in
When the alarm sounds and you rise for a new day of activity, pause
for just a moment to think of those who will never get up again.
Think of those in rest homes, in hospitals and in bedrooms in
America and around the world who would give all that they own
just to get out of bed one more time. When you arise in the
morning, lift your heart in holy hosanna and praise to God and say,
"Hallelujah, I'm able to get up!"
10. Praise God as you walk out the door every
of those whose world is four walls, whose sun is a 60-watt light-
bulb, whose sky is a ceiling and whose horizon is a window. Think
of those who will never walk neath the stars again. Think of those
who will never see another sunrise or sunset. Think of those who
will never hear another bird sing or watch the blooming of a rose.
Think of those who will never again breathe the freshness of
outdoor air. Then lift your heart in holy praises to God with the
warmth of gratitude bubbling in your soul.
11. Praise God as you begin the day's work. Think
millions of unemployed who would love to have your job. Think of
those whose poor health will never give them the privilege of
another day's work. Think of those who would give all that they
possess for the privilege of being strong enough to work just one
day Thank God for work to do, and thank God for strength with
which to do it.
12. Think as your leaders stand before you. When
whom God has given spiritual leadership stand before you, think of
the load they carry, of the responsibilities they have and of the price
they have paid. Love them. Spend a few moments thanking God for
them and whisper a prayer for God to bless them and to encourage
their hearts. This will aid in the developing of a warm heart.
13. Think of those who follow you. Think of what
they mean to
you. Think of how hard they worked. Think of times that they pray
for you, encourage you and lift up your hands in the battle. Realize
that as a pastor you are God's gift to them, and they are God's gift to
you. Realize the sweetness and closeness of the tie that binds you as
spiritual leader and spiritual followers. Let this awareness of what
they mean to you create a stronger tie which will in turn aid you in
having a warm heart.
14. Every day spend some time thinking of the fact
that soon you
will see Jesus face to face. There was a day when Dr. John Rice and
I traveled together. Now I continue to travel. He is beholding the
face of the Jesus Whom he preached. There was a day when my
mother and I sat together in the same room and shared a mutual
love. I continue to do the work that God has called me to do while
Mother is beholding the face of the Christ she loved. There was a
day when Brother Lester Roloff and I fellowshipped together and
preached together and prayed together. I continue to preach and
fellowship and praise and pray He now beholds the face of his
blessed Saviour. There was a day when my heart would thrill as I
prayed with Dr. Ford Porter. How sweet was his fervency! How
close to Christ was his fellowship! How wonderful was his compan-
ionship! Now I continue to pray and to serve. Dr. Porter beholds the
face of the One with Whom he loved to talk and fellowship. Those
who once walked with me now walk with God. Those who once
beheld me now behold Him. Those who once fellowshipped with
me on earth now fellowship with Him in Heaven. Soon I shall join
their number. It is just a matter of a few days. That blessed thought
warms my heart and propels me to preach through tears of joy and
ecstasy, for soon I shall see Him face to face. I shall see Him as He
is and behold Him Who made all good things possible.
15. Visit cemeteries and the gravesides of those
loved. I regularly go to a cemetery where many of our people are
buried. I go from grave to grave and remember sweet experiences
that we shared together. Soon the tears come-tears of joy because
of victories we have known, tears of loneliness because I miss
them, tears of praise because "there is a land that is fairer than day,
and by faith we can see it afar; for the Father waits over the way to
prepare us a dwelling place there." The pastor who wants a heart
that is warm should often visit the graves of those whom he loved
and with whom he served.
16. Savor the "now." How often do I hear people
say, "I didn't
appreciate her until I lost her!" or "I didn't appreciate him until he
was gone!" I vowed years ago I would never have to say that. I did
not wait until my mother was gone to appreciate her properly I did
not wait until the years during which I traveled with Dr. John R.
Rice were gone before I appreciated him. Through these years I
have savored the present and realized what I have, not just what I
used to have! Be aware. Stop while you are having fun and realize
how much fun you are having. Stop while history is being made and
realize that history is being made. Stop while God is blessing in
mighty power and realize that God is blessing in mighty power. Do
not wait until the history of this generation is written to know what
happened! Know it now. It will warm your heart.
17. Read the Psalms. There are three books from
which I read
every day I read some of the Psalms every day, some of the Proverbs
every day, and some of the book of Acts every day The Psalms give
me love; the Proverbs give me wisdom; the Acts give me power.
These three things top my prayer list-love, wisdom and power. If
your heart is a bit cold, hear the Psalmist say, "He that dwelleth in
the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow
of the Almighty." If the tears do not come easily, read, "The Lord
is my Shepherd; I shall not want." Live in the Psalms, and they
will help you to have a warm heart when you come before your
people to deliver the truth which God has given you for them.
18. Pray for your enemies. There is a unique warmth
only to the child of God who loves those that hate him, blesses
those that curse him and prays for those who despitefully use him.
There is a certain taste about forbearance, patience and love for
enemies that nothing else can give!
19. Think of good things to do for your enemies.
people may not be all bad because they dislike you-- ~ Look upon
them as being broken rather than being bad. I have a watch on my
wrist. Sometimes the battery gets weak and it begins to lose time,
or perhaps it will stop running altogether. I do not get mad at the
watch; I realize that it is broken. I do what I can to fix it. When
somebody does not like me, it may be that the battery is weak. I
should not give him my hatred, vengeance, revenge or vindication.
I should rather look upon him as being broken and not bad so that I
may love and not hate him, do good to him and not ill! There is
nothing that quite warms the heart like this, and once you have
tasted the heavenly manna of forgiveness, you'll never again enjoy
the bitter taste of revenge.
20. Look for people to help. "Look all around you,
one in need. Help somebody today Though it be little, a neighborly
deed. Help somebody today Help somebody today Somebody
along life's way Let sorrows be ended, the friendless befriended.
Oh, help somebody today!"
Seven times a day I bow to my knees and lift my
heart to God
asking Him to let me cross the path of those who need my help and
the path of those whom Jesus would help if He walked in my shoes.
It is an amazing thing how the Holy Spirit can cause those to cross
your path if you make yourself available to live for others.
When I get in my car in the morning, I always pray
and ask God
to help me to know what route to take to church. I rarely ever take
the same route. It is amazing how He directs me to those who have
need of help. Recently I prayed that prayer before I left in the
morning, asking the Holy Spirit to direct me as I chose the route to
church. I took a new route. A few blocks down the road there was a
lady trying to fix her car. She was alone and frightened. It was my
privilege to push her car several miles to the place where she had
purchased it. On another occasion, on a morning when it was
-12°, I found a lady whose car was stalledd. We found the problem,
and a few minutes got her on her way There are many people in
need, and God wants to help them if He could only find somebody
to be His hands, to be His feet, to be His tongue and to do the work
that He would do if He were here on earth.
Every person who sits in a pew on the Lord's Day
has a God-
given right to have a man of God appear before him with God's
message and with a heart that is warm and spiritual. If the pastor
enters the pulpit with a warm heart and retains that warm heart
while he preaches, it will be on purpose. It will not be spontaneous.
He will not stumble into a warm heart. He will so live, so think and
so love all week so that when he enters the pulpit, his heart is
overflowing with the goodness of God and with a desire to speak of
that goodness to his people and to impart that goodness to their
Choosing a Sermon
This may be the most difficult part of the
preparation of a
sermon. Especially is this true for the busy pastor who preaches to
the same people week after week, month after month and year after
year. It is no doubt much like the dilemma that faces the busy
housewife who must prepare meals for the same people year after
year. However, the preacher faces an even more difficult decision
than does the housewife, for the housewife may prepare the same
meal over and over again through the years, but the pastor must
continually bring something fresh and new to his people, and yet at
the same time he must use the new as a cloak and camouflage to
cover the same old truths. This chapter is to deal with that all-
important subject of how to choose a sermon.
1. Choose according to the needs of the people. The
will constantly be watching his people and examining them so he
can intelligently give them the fulfillment of their needs. This also
means that the wise pastor will stay in tune with God and walk with
Him so that God can reveal to him the needs of his people in order
for him to meet those needs from the pulpit.
2. A sermon is a tool. It is not an end in itself.
It is a tool with
which to fix something.
For a number of years Evangelist Jim Lyons worked
with me as
an associate. When he left me to enter the field of evangelism,
people asked him to appraise my preaching. He very kindly said
that the key to Jack Hyles' preaching was that a sermon was not a
sermon to Brother Hyles but rather it was a greasy wrench with
which to fix something. I have never heard a better explanation of
what preaching ought to be. A sermon is not a painting in an art
gallery to be admired and complimented; nor is it a relic in a
museum to be examined. It is, as Brother Lyons observed, like a
greasy wrench! It is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. The
end is to fix something. This means that a good sermon should
never be the goal of preaching; it should simply be a "greasy old
3. A sermon is a prescription. The good physician
patient, finds the problem and writes a prescription for its allevia-
tion. This is why I think that Biblical, topical sermons grow
healthier Christians than expository sermons unless the expository
sermons come from different parts of the Bible as the filling of a
prescription to correct the problems found in our people.
When I go to the doctor, he doesn't examine me and
then take me
to the drug store, find the last medicine I took and give me the
bottle right next to it and inform me that he is going bottle by bottle
through the drug store! No physician will have healthy patients
using this practice.
No pastor will meet all the needs of his people by
by-verse through the Biblical apothecary. It just may be that while
the pastor is preaching through Leviticus, his people need some-
thing from Nehemiah; or while he is in Daniel, his people need
something from the Sermon on the Mount. Some of the driest
preaching done in America is done by Bible expositors who mimic
the theologian and his method used in the classroom in Bible
colleges and seminaries. This is not to minimize the importance of
the preacher sitting at the feet of a good theologian. A young
preacher would do well to learn the truth about the Bible from a
good Bible expositor in school, and he no doubt should take the
truths that he learns and preach them to his people, but he should
not take the methods used by the expositor in the classroom with
which to deliver these truths from behind the pulpit. The pastor is
not teaching young theologians; he is trying to change the lives of
carpenters, plumbers, electricians, professional men, factory
workers, secretaries, etc. The theologian can teach him the medi-
cine available in the apothecary; but what medicine he administers
to his people and the way he administers it should not be copied
from the theologian in Bible class.
One of the sad things about training for the Gospel
that the ministry is perhaps the only profession that does not
reproduce itself. One is taught to be a plumber by plumbers. One is
taught to be an electrician by electricians. One is taught to be a
carpenter by carpenters. One is taught to be a doctor by doctors.
One is taught to be a beautician by beauticians, and yet one is
taught to be a preacher by teachers. Preachers should train
preachers in the methods of preaching! I have no scruples with
teachers teaching truths to young preachers. I do take issue with
those who would make light of old-fashioned preaching while
admonishing the young ministerial student to use the methods of
the theologian when he goes to his pulpit. The young preacher
should admire the Bible teacher, but he should emulate successful
preachers and pastors. If he wants to build a church, he should
emulate successful church-builders. If he wants to preach great
revival campaigns, he should emulate great evangelists.
4. The pastor must know the apothecary; that is,
the drug store.
If he searches for the needs of his people and doesn't know the
Bible well enough to meet those needs, he will not know the joy of
pastoring mature Christians. The most important thing about a
preacher knowing the Bible is that he knows where to find the
particular prescription that will meet the needs of his congregation.
Whatever need he sees in the hearts and lives of his people should
cause him to rush to the Word of God to find exactly the medicine
for the spiritual healing of those whom he leads.
5. The pastor must study his people in order to
find their needs.
This means that the wise pastor must know the Book and know the
people. Not to know the people will prevent him from knowing
what to preach. Not knowing the Book will prevent him from being
able to find the spiritual medicine with which to satisfy the needs
that he has found in the lives of his people. Now in the finding of the
people's needs the pastor could do the following:
a. The pastor should diagnose the people's needs
Sunday night. After the Sunday evening service and after I have coun-
seled with those who have needed to see me following the
service, I retreat to my study and relive the day I feel that I can
know the needs of my people right after having been with them
better than I can a few days later. Usually before I leave the study
on Sunday night I know the general directions that I will take in
my preaching the following Sunday, so the preaching on Sunday
is not only a time of administering the proper medicine but it is
also a time of diagnosing so that the wise pastor can write the
proper prescription for the following Sunday and, for that matter,
the following Wednesday night.
b. The pastor should counsel his people. There are
three words in the Bible used for what we call the office of pastor:
(1)pastor, (2) bishop, and (3) elder. As the pastor, or shepherd, the
preacher is supposed to protect, nourish and care for the sheep.
As the bishop he is the overseer of all of the work. He is not the
dictator, but he is the overseer. Then as elder, he is the experi-
enced one who can counsel his people properly concerning the
needs and decisions of their lives. These counseling sessions can
be wonderful opportunities for the pastor to diagnose the needs
of his congregation. This wise pastor should watch for trends or
even epidemics of some spiritual disease or deficiency. I average
about 145 people a week who come to my study for counseling
of some kind. Some of these come for just a few minutes and
some come for lengthy periods. If, over the period of a week's
time, several people come with the same problem or need, I feel
that this could represent some kind of trend in the congregation.
It may be that I would preach along that line. If 15 out of 150
people were to have the same problem, I would feel that proba-
bly hundreds of my people have that problem who did not seek
counseling, so I would go to the pulpit for the filling of a
prescription from Bible truth.
It is amazing how accurate polls can be. They say
people chosen carefully from across America can rather accu-
rately reveal public opinion about a matter. This is no doubt true
in a church.
It is a wonderful and an amazing thing how God
man when counseling. Quite often I give advice and I know that
it is God Who is leading me. To be frank, I am startled as Re
reveals some great truth to me for the strengthening of someone
over whom God has made me spiritual overseer. When such truth
is revealed, I immediately make a note of it. When the person
with whom I am counseling has left, I rush to my desk and
outline the advice that God has just given me for them. I then
prepare a sermon with that material, for the time will come no
doubt when all of my people will need what I just gave to one of
Preacher, don't trust your memory! As soon as the
is given to you from God, write it down, even while the counsel-
ing session is in progress, and by all means rush to your desk as
soon as the session has ended and capture the wisdom and truths
that God has given you in order that you may share it with your
people when the need arises.
c. The pastor should check his own feelings. He may
a deficiency himself. If the pastor has a deficiency, no doubt many
of the people would have the same one. For example, suppose
that a recession comes. Numbers of the people lose their jobs.
This means that the church offerings are down. The pastor
becomes concerned about these offerings. If he is concerned
about his needs during the recession, how much more will the
people who are now unemployed be concerned about their
needs! Perhaps the pastor should take his own feelings as repre-
sentative ones and preach to the people Philippians 4:19, "But
my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in
glory by Christ Jesus," and Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these
things shall be added unto you."
The pastor is human too. He has his fears and
doubts. I often
say that preaching is one doubter preaching to another group of
doubters trying to convince both preacher and hearer to believe.
This, of course, is an oversimplification, but the fact remains that
the pastor is human and he has his doubts, weaknesses, trials,
testings, problems, burdens and heartaches. When they come, it
is probable that his people have had them for some time already
The pastor then may administer to himself and his congregation
the medicine needed from the Word of God that will heal his
doubts and fears and the doubts and fears of those who look to
him for spiritual leadership.
d. The pastor should watch his people as he
way they respond to certain truths give him an idea of their needs.
Then he can flee to the apothecary of the Word of God to find the
right medicine that will heal them.
e. In a smaller church, the pastor should visit
regularly This visit is not primarily a goodwill ambassage or a
pastoral responsibility; but it is a splendid way to find the needs
of the people. When I was a young pastor pastoring smaller churches
one of the first things I did upon assuming a pastorate was to visit
in the home of each family in order to get to know them better. This
is just another way to diagnose the patient in order that you may flee
to the Bible apothecary for the proper medicine for his cure.
f. The pastor should make a list of all
the potential needs of
the people. Years ago I sat down and listed all the subjects that I
felt my people needed. All of these fell under twenty general
topics. Every sermon that I preach is just one of these topics
cloaked in a different Scripture with different illustrations and
different manners of presentation in order that I may keep my
people healthy while at the same time being fresh to them.
g. The pastor should schedule times to think about
and their needs. While thinking about his people, the pastor
should ask God to reveal to him how to meet these needs. The
pastor who thinks about his people and prays for his people will
learn to love his people. The pastor who loves his people will
beyond a doubt find the fulfillment of their needs in the Word of
So far we have stressed the importance of knowing
the patient and the medicine. If we know the patient as we should
know him, we will properly diagnose his case. If we know the
medicine, that is the Word of God, as we should know it, then we
will know where to find the answer for the needs found in the
6. Never preach to individuals. In 1960 on a Sunday
preached to an individual. The next Wednesday night I asked my
people to forgive me, and from that day until this I have never used
my pulpit as a whipping post or a place to single out individuals or
a place of revenge or vengeance. If I am preaching on a certain
subject and an individual comes to my mind, I immediately jump
over that thought to the next one because I do not want to be guilty
of using the pulpit with which to carry on a private feud or as a place
to retaliate. The wise preacher will never attack someone's sin; he
will attack sin but will never attack the individual. The pulpit
should be a place of action, not a place of reaction! It should be a
place of defense of the truth, but not a place of defense of self.
7. The sermon should not be for the specific
purpose of enter-
taming. That is, unless the pastor feels that the patient needs some
entertainment for his spiritual health. I often say when I stand to
preach in different pulpits across the country, "I have not come to
entertain, though I do think we will laugh some. I have not come
primarily to instruct, though I think we will learn something. I have
not come to inspire, though I think we will be inspired some. I have
come in order that God may change our lives!" It is certainly not a
sin to laugh in church, and laughter is certainly an important part of
the Christian's needs, but entertainment should not be the main
purpose of preaching.
8. The pastor should keep a list of sermons, ideas
with which to stock the apothecary. I have, at the present time, over
100 sermons already outlined any of which I could preach next
Sunday Most of these will not be preached for months or years to
come, and many of them will never be preached. They just line the
shelves of my spiritual apothecary to remain available in case they
are needed. There are numbers of ways that such sermons, topics,
outlines and ideas can be found.
a. Read the Bible looking for sermon ideas. This
not in preparation for next Sunday's sermon; it is the finding of
ideas that can be placed on the shelf of the apothecary awaiting
the time when a prescription is written for its administering.
Look for verses that outline themselves such as II Chronicles
7:14; Psalm 1:1-3; and John 5:24; 15:7; 14:12; 3:18; 1:14, etc.
Then read the Bible looking for statements and verses that lead
to good sermon ideas. Some of my most usable and useful
sermons have been found in this manner. Such sermons as,
"There is No Discharge from This War," "At Even my Wife
Died, and in the Morning I Did as I was Commanded," and "I Sat
Where They Sat," have originated from this source of Bible
reading. Keep these passages on the shelf of your drug store right
beside those that outline themselves and have them ready in case
one of them can fill a need of the congregation.
b. Read CRUDEN'S CONCORDANCE for Scriptural
phrases that can be added to those aforementioned.
c. Listen to sermons. One of the best sources for
sermon ideas is that of listening to other men of God preach.
When I hear a good sermon, I usually find three or four sermons
within that sermon. When a man of God is listening in the Spirit
to a man of God who is preaching in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit
Who knows the dilemma of the busy pastor can reveal to him
many ideas that can be placed on the shelf of the apothecary and
can be used when the need arises.
As the pastor searches for those ideas which can
in the present
and the future add to the spiritual health of his people by means
of reading the Bible for verses that outline themselves, reading
the Bible for phrases that are "preachy," listening to sermons of
Spirit-filled men, reading sermons of Spirit-filled men, search-
ing for the sermon titles in books of sermons in libraries and
bookstores, reading CRUDEN'S CONCORDANCE, and most
of all, walking with God, he is lining the shelves of his medicine
room with prescriptions that may or may not be needed, but there
is certainly a peace that comes to both pastor and people by
knowing that they are there!
9. The pastor should beg God to give him spiritual
he chooses the spiritual medicine from the Word of God for his
people's needs. This is the most important of all methods of
choosing sermons. Once the shelf is lined with great truths, Bible
lessons, etc., the pastor must plead with God to let him know
which is needed by his people at a given time. It is far better for a
pastor to plead with God to lead him to know which of the truths he
already knows that he should use than it is for him to plead with
God for Him to give him a truth when it is 11:00 on Saturday night
and the service is only twelve hours away!
10. The pastor should never use or consider such
"That will preach!" but rather, "That will help!"
11. When the pastor sees the need, he may rest
assured that the
filling of that need is the will of God. When a child is lost, it is the
will of God to try to find him. When I saw a lady fall at the airport
one day, I knew it was the will of God for me to help her up. When I
saw a wreck take place in front of my eyes one day, I knew it was my
job to rush to the rescue of those who were injured. When a Spirit-
filled pastor has lived in the Word of God in order to acquaint
himself with its every cure and has prayerfully examined his people
in order to diagnose them for their needs, and when he has bathed
both of these in prayer, he is then able to go to the pulpit knowing
that he is going to meet the particular needs of his people through
his message and in so doing he can feel that he has chosen the right
The Pastor Holding His Own Attention
1. The pastor must completely lose himself in the
truth he is
preaching. One of the most important things for any Christian is to
lose himself. The best sermons that are preached are those in which
the preacher loses himself in the truth that he is delivering. Hence,
it becomes vital for the pastor to capture his own attention. As is.
mentioned elsewhere in this manuscript, the pastor must capture
himself; the truth must hold him hostage. He should not be aware of
how well he is preaching, how he looks, the opinions that others
hold of him, etc. There are times that he should not even know
where he is or be conscious that he exists. He is totally lost, not in
the delivering of a sermon, but in the delivering of his soul!
2. He must keep his mind on one thing and one thing
has people who need him, and he has a truth that will alleviate their
needs. He has people who are weak, and he has a truth that is
strengthening. He has people who have fallen, and he has a truth
that will lift them. He has people that are sad, and he has a truth that
will cheer them. He has people who are bereaved, and he has a truth
that will comfort them. His total mental occupation should be on
the one thing of administering to his people the thing that will
satisfy their needs and their hungers.
3. He must not let anything or anybody steal the
control of his
mind or make him to follow their thinking. It is important that the
pastor who has found the message for the hour not allow his mind to
be controlled by anything else until that message is preached! He
must not allow external stimuli to capture his thinking and take it
off of the delivery of his soul through the truth that God has given
him with which to meet the needs of his people.
4. The pastor should do his heavy praying earlier
and not right
before the service. Even such a thing as feeling his need of power
can get his mind off of the truth he is about to deliver. Please do not
misunderstand me. I believe that every man of God should spend
seasons with God. He should walk with God. He should often pray
throughout the night, and the rising of the sun should find his
cheeks stained with tears. I do, however, believe that the best time
for such praying is before and during the preparation of a message.
When one has found the message and is waiting to deliver it, he
should not be thinking about power for himself but rather meeting
the needs of others. Before the message his mind should be totally
on his people and their needs.
5. The pastor should go to church early and
relaxed. His sole
desire should be to feed his people what they need for their spiritual
gn:'th and health. He may go to his study early and think of his
people as they are now preparing to come to church- they are
bathing, dressing, getting in their cars and driving. They are
coming to hear God's man give them what they need. In a relaxed
atmosphere he must think of them and love them with his mind always
fixed on the truth that God has given him for his people for that day
6. He should not allow any friction to exist at
home. It is now
Sunday morning. Nothing must take his mind off of the surgery he
is about to perform. If someone at home starts dealing with
something negative, he should deftly avoid it. If there is ever a time
when a preacher should agree with his adversary, it is on Sunday
morning and Sunday afternoon before he ministers to his people
and their needs.
7. The pastor should not be with anyone over five
minutes at a
time on Sunday morning. A lengthy conversation can be used to
capture the mind of God's man and to get it off of the truth that God
has given him to deliver. This does not mean that the pastor should
be aloof or sharp; it simply means that he should guard himself to
see that he controls his mind before preaching. There is nothing the
Devil would rather do than get the pastor's mind off the truth. The
Devil does not want God's people to be healthy; he wants to dilute
the medicine, to pervert the diagnosis and to prevent the cure. He
often uses good things as substitutes for the best in achieving his
8. The wise pastor will not mingle with the crowd
for any length
of time before preaching. Negatives may be mentioned that could
discourage him. Heavy thoughts could be used as a cloud to cover
the truth that he must deliver to those whom God has made him the
9. He should not think or talk business matters
within two hours
of preaching. The pastor is unwise who has committee meetings or
deacons' meetings before services. Dealing with business matters
could be used of the Devil to divide the mind of the pastor.
10. He should not counsel before the service. I
every service, but never before a service. This could divert my
attention from what God wants me to say and give to my people.
This is another way that my mind can be captured and directed away
from the truth of the hour.
11. He should not read notes or mail before the
worst of these could destroy his spirit, and the best of these could
capture his mind. Every Sunday I get dozens of notes and letters,
but I never read one before the service. I do not want a burden, a
problem, a dissension or a complaint to capture my mind and take
it away from the message that I am to deliver from God to my
12. He should not read notes placed on the platform
At First Baptist Church of Hammond the announcements are
placed on the pulpit. When I walk in the first thing I do is pick up
the announcements, but if there is a letter or note included, I never
read it. Such a note could be of a critical nature and it could capture
the mind of the preacher, causing his people to go unfed.
13. The pastor should not check the Sunday school
before the service unless he knows for a fact that it is a good one. If
the attendance is noticeably down, it could bring the pastor
noticeably down and could divide his mind as he takes God's
message from God's Word to God's people.
14. The pastor should not listen to anything
negative on Sunday
morning or within two hours of the Sunday evening service.
Sunday is no time for the solving of petty problems or for listening
to petty complaints. It is a time for God's man to be absorbed in his
people and their needs and in the filling of their needs as God has
directed him. No surgeon should go to the operating room with
more dedication. No Supreme Court justice should go to his bench
with more dedication. This is the highest hour in the life of a human
being, when the living God has given to mortal man a message for
His people. No responsibility is its equal. No burden carries its
weight. No duty deserves more diligence and no heart deserves
more devotion than that day chosen by God when that man chosen
by God brings that message chosen by God to God's people in
order to meet their needs.
15. The pastor should not have a schedule that
preparation of his sermons. The pressure could be used by Satan.
He should not feel that he has a deadline to meet.
16. The pastor should not wear clothing that would
attention. For example, I never wear a new suit on a Sunday
morning or a Sunday night. If I have a new suit, I always wear it the
first time to a preaching engagement out of town or where the
people will not know it is new and where I will not be self-
conscious. I do not wear a new pair of shoes to my own pulpit first. I
wear them likewise while speaking out of town so that the people
will not know they are new and so that I will not be self-conscious. I
must not have my mind on how I look or upon a garment that I am
wearing. I must be totally lost in delivering the message from God
to His people.
17. The pastor should not develop any ritual on
depends on others. His Sunday praying should be alone. I know a
pastor whose entire day was ruined because he had a Sunday
morning prayer meeting with his laymen and very few showed up.
He was so discouraged that he did not deliver the message that God
had given him, but rather chose the 11:00 hour as a time to use the
pulpit for a whipping post, and the hungry sheep went unfed!
18. The pastor should not eat before preaching. On
have eaten, and on such occasions, I have been aware that I was too
full and my mind was taken from my message somewhat because
of my discomfort.
19. Have self-control rituals before preaching. For
look at my father's picture and ask God to help me to preach with
the same fervor that I wanted my pastor to have the one time that my
father ever sat by my side in church. Before I preach I think of my
mother and realize that she is watching and listening as I deliver
God's message. I think of my two little sisters in Heaven who died
before I was born and make myself aware that they are cheering me
as I preach, but these are rituals that are self-controlled and that do
not depend upon others who could disappoint me by their ineffec-
tiveness or laxity and thereby capture my mind from God's mes-
20. I choose a last thought before walking in the
pulpit. As I
walk in the door of the auditorium at every service I think of one
thought-that this could be my last sermon. I always ask God to
help me preach as I would preach if I knew it were!
21. I choose a thought that occupies my mind
before I stand to preach. Just before I walk to the pulpit to begin my
message there is a thought that always I place before my mind. I
will not share that thought-it is too sacred and too personal, but it
propels me to do my best as I preach.
22. The preacher should remember before preaching
he wanted to preach before he ever got the opportunity. He should
remind himself that this is that to which he looked, for which he
longed and of which he dreamed. Now he is God's man, preaching
to God's people God's message from God's Word in God's power.
23. The preacher should remember that someday it
will end. At
this writing I have preached over 42,500 sermons. One day I will
preach my last. I am approaching my 59th birthday By the time this
manuscript is published I will be less than a year from my sixties. I
do not know how many more times this body will carry me to the
pulpit. I must realize every time that it does, it could be my last time
and that someday, probably soon, it will end.
24. The pastor should not judge the song service
while it is in
progress. This too can capture his mind and divert it from the
message he is about to deliver. He should not allow himself to
critique the song leader or the singing. He should not get up and try
to improve the song service. Receive its blessings. Do not indulge
in criticism on an ineffective song leader, or an ineffective song
service could be used to capture the mind of the preacher. In
principle he would be right, but he would not be prepared to stand
in the place of Christ Himself and deliver the message that Christ
would preach were He present.
25. The wise pastor will not choose a song leader
sermons or gives devotionals between stanzas of the songs. Such
palaver could steal a pastor's mind from God's message for the hour
and capture his thoughts. If such a song leader is already employed,
the pastor should not allow himself to think negative thoughts
about him while he is rambling. Pastor, keep your mind on your
sermon. Think of the needs of your people. Do not let your mind be
26. The pastor should not appraise himself while he
ing. It matters not how good the sermon is. It matters not how well
the pastor is doing. All that matters is that there are needy people.
The pastor knows their need and has the medicine that can heal
them. If the doctor makes a grammatical mistake while he is
administering the medicine, it will not harm the patient. It would be
better if the grammatical mistake were not made, but the important
thing is the patient and the cure.
27. The pastor should make his own announcements in
service. Once again he is controlling his own mind and his own
thoughts. If someone else makes several lengthy announcements,
the pastor's mind could follow him and detour from the mental path
that God has chosen for him to travel that day.
28. The pastor should not give public
responsibility in the
service to others who would capture his mind from the truth he is
about to deliver and from the people to whom he is about to deliver
it. A godly associate may read the Scripture, another godly co-
laborer can lead the prayer; but this should not be a time for fellow-
workers to rise and shine to tell their favorite little joke or preach
their favorite little sermonette.
29. The pastor should not try to create a spirit in
His mind should not be on the spirit of the service. His mind should
be on his people and the spiritual medicine he is about to admin-
ister to them. That will take care of the spirit of the service.
Sometimes God's men are so busy in the early part of the services
trying to create a spirit that they completely lose concentration. Let
God create the spirit. The preacher should carry the burden and
deliver the message given by God Almighty to His people through
30. The preacher should not try to salvage a
service. For that
matter, he should not even be aware that it needs salvaging. He can
destroy the purpose for the entire service by analyzing it, salvaging
it, measuring it and weighing it. The important thing about the
service is the sermon. If the preacher is alive, the service will come
alive. If the preacher is spiritual, the service will become spiritual.
If the preacher is totally lost in his ministry of representing his
Saviour, the people will soon become lost in the spirit.
I think it is unwise to have testimonies before a
sermon. I love
testimonies, but the best time to have them is after the sermon.
Even a testimony can capture the people's minds and capture the
preacher's mind so that he will not control his own destiny and that
of the service. This is not to minimize testimonies; they are very
important and vital, but at preaching time they can become a
competition with the message of the hour and with the respon-
sibility of the messenger.
31. The preacher should have mental pictures of
and Bible stories. This is one of the best ways to become lost in a
sermon. For example, I have in my own mind a file of images of
every story I know in the Bible. I can tell you what the prodigal
son's house looked like. I can tell you how big his father was and
what his brother looked like. I can tell you what Jacob looked like. I
can describe Esau to you. I can tell you what Bethel was like. I can
describe Mt. Moriah to you, and I can tell you the features of Elijah.
I have in my mind a mental picture of Mary and Joseph and of every
other Bible character and of every Bible location. Such a mental
file will help the pastor lose himself in his message, for he becomes
actually a participant in the Bible story and a witness of all that is
happening. He is then not just relating a story he has heard, but he is
telling a story that he has seen.
32. The pastor should have a list of things that
can get his own
attention back. Sometimes in a service things happen that compete
for the pastor's attention. Perhaps someone is moving, a baby is
crying, or some other circumstance has entered the service. The
pastor should know and have a list of those things that affect him
enough to recapture him for his sermon. I have at least a dozen
things that always warm my heart. It matters not where I am or who
is present or what the circumstances are. To think of them is to
inspire me. When I feel in a sermon that something has stolen me
from my message, I use one of these things with which to recapture
myself so that it can deliver me again to my mission of the hour.
33. The pastor should turn away from interruptions
if they are
being solved. For example, if a crying baby is being taken from the
service, a pastor should look to the other side of the auditorium and
preach. The interruption will soon be over. He should not allow
himself to witness it while it is in progress.
34. He should correct those interruptions that
appear to be
there to stay. For example, if there is a crying baby in the service
whose mother is making no effort to remove him, it may hurt the
service more to allow the child to stay in the auditorium than
courteously to ask the mother to take the baby to the nursery or to
the hallway It is obvious that this problem is not temporary but that
it is going to continue to disturb the service. The best thing for the
pastor to do is face the problem, correct it and then use one of the
aforementioned suggestions of things that always capture his atten-
tion to get his mind back on God's message for the hour.
35. The pastor should fall in love with his people.
many ways this can be done, but one of them is to watch them
during the service on the Lord's day Look at the young people and
realize the temptations that they face. Look at the older people and
realize the anxieties that confront them daily Look at the middle-
aged people and realize the burdens and problems of life that are
theirs. Spend some time on the platform loving your people. This
will make you even more desirous to be to them what they need you
to be and to give them what God has chosen for them to receive
through His servant.
36. The pastor should decide whether or not the
sung or the special being delivered will help him or hinder him in
the delivering of his message and his soul. For example, there may
be a song that is sung that is a bit peppier than the pastor needs to
feel. Maybe a song has a beat to it that would not enhance the
pastor's spirit that he needs to have as he preaches God's message.
(I am not saying that the song would be one that is wrong to use, for
this should never be done!) It may be a good song that is not exactly
appropriate for the mental condition that the pastor needs to pursue.
37. The pastor should never preach to individuals.
thought of an individual to whom he is preaching and/or scolding
could steal his mind and capture it from the truth his people need to
hear from him.
38. The pastor should never try to impress when he
The purpose is not to impress; the purpose is to heal and to
administer the cure.
Many years ago as a young man in my twenties I was
share the platform with Dr. John Rice, Dr. Bill Rice, Dr. Bob Jones,
Sr. and Dt R. G. Lee in a Sword Conference in Lake Louise,
Georgia, near Toccoa. It was the first time that I had ever been
asked to appear on a program with such men. To be quite frank, I
felt totally unqualified and incapable. The first time that I spoke at
a Sword of the Lord Conference was following Dr. R. G. Lee's
famous sermon, "Payday Someday" I went out beside the lake and
wept uncontrollably feeling that I was incapable of filling such a
place and pursuing such a mission. Suddenly it dawned on me that
if God had me there, He had something for me to say, and if God
had me there in addition to R. G. Lee, there was at least something
that I could give the people that R. G. Lee did not have for them.
He can give them many things; I perhaps could only give one, but I
could make my one contribution. This I did, and through these
years I have realized that God has a purpose for each of us. It is not
ourjob to impress, and oftentimes our spirit of inferiority is caused
by the fact that we feel helpless to impress.
39. The pastor should realize it is life or death!
He is standing
between the living and the dead as did Aaron of old. He is standing
between Heaven and Hell. He is standing at the gates of eternity.
Nothing is as important as that!
40. The pastor should preach for a certain result.
was decided in the early part of this manuscript when he searched
to find the needs of his people, and then he searched the apothecary
of the Word of God to find the prescription that would heal them.
If the pastor is to be successful in his mission,
he must hold his
own attention, and his entire focus on the day of his mission should
be on that thing that God has called him to do. He is God's man
with God's message from God's Word preaching to God's people in
the power of God's Spirit, delivering to the people the very message
that he feels that Jesus Himself would deliver were He standing
before that very congregation!
The purpose of the introduction is, of course, to
introduce. It is to
introduce two things to the congregation: (1) Yourself, and (2) Your
message. The introduction is not just the first part of the sermon. It
is not simply to get the attention of the audience. It is to say to the
audience, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce my message to
you, and may I introduce myself to you.
Because of this, it should be honest and accurate.
It should be in
keeping with the sermon content, and it should be in keeping with
what the speaker is. It should not be beyond the speaker's ability to
perpetuate. It should be simply a sampling of the speaker and of the
message. It should project the real you and the real sermon to the
people. It should be a specimen taken from the sermon to say to the
people, "This is what it is going to be like," and it should be a
sampling taken from the speaker saying to the people, "This is what
the speaker is going to be like."
First, let us project the specimen of the sermon as
we say to the
people, "May I introduce you to the sermon.
1. The introduction should be an accurate signpost
2. The introduction should not be a sermon or an
3. The introduction should create a hunger for the
rest of the
message. For example, I preached a sermon on ingratitude. The
introduction was as follows: "A few years ago a poll was taken in
America to see which sin does the most harm. To the surprise of
many, the sin chosen was the sin of ingratitude."
Today I was in a health food store. As I walked in
I saw a little
bowl of soy beans. Beside the bowl was a little sign which said,
"Take a free sample." I did so, and in less than 60 seconds, I bought
a package of soy beans. This is exactly what a sermon introduction
should do. It should say, "Here, take a sample of the message and
let it whet your appetite for more."
4. The introduction could be a question that needs
5. The introduction could be a statement that needs
tion. For example, in my sermon on Proverbs 3:6, I begin with the
following, "I, like every other sincere pastor, have sought the
answers to the oppressions and frustrations of our fundamental
people. I, like every other sincere pastor, have sought the answers
to the heartbreaks, breakdowns and unhappiness of our fundamen-
tal people. I, like every other sincere pastor; have sought the answer
to the disappointments with life and the disillusionments of our
fundamental people. I have searched and searched for these an-
swers. I think I have found some. One is found in our text." In this
case the introduction leaves a question unanswered.
6. The introduction could create curiosity as to
speaker is going. In my sermon, "The Flesh That No One Knows
About," I start by saying, "The Devil is after you He wants to ruin
your life with unrighteousness, so he attacks your flesh in an
attempt to get you to do bad, but you are a good Christian. The flesh
is repulsive to you, and the Devil fails, but he isn't finished in his
effort to get you in the flesh. He knows that there is other flesh. So,
having failed to get you to do unrighteousness in the flesh, he gets
you to do righteousness in the flesh. Having failed in his attempt to
get you to do bad in the flesh, he leads you to do good in the flesh."
This is used to create curiosity as to where the sermon is going.
7. in the introduction, there should be a creation
For example, I have a sermon that was Dr. Rice's favorite of all the
ones that I preached. When I preach it, I always mention the fact
that this was Dr. Rice's favorite. I often introduce the sermon by
saying, "The pastor requested this one." Still another statement
used is, "The sermon that I am preaching tonight is not often used,"
or I might say, "I am preaching tonight the first sermon I ever
preached," or "I am preaching tonight the first sermon that I ever
preached here." Such statements generate intrigue.
8. The introduction should lead the people to feel
sermon has the answer to an individual need. Crisis-oriented
preaching can only take a church so far. Preaching will soon
become unfruitful if it is not geared to meet the needs of the people.
We should preach prophecy, but preaching all prophetic sermons
will dry up the church. The preacher who preaches on social issues
will someday run out of social issues and will dry up the church.
Preaching must be geared to the needs of the people, and the
introduction should lead the people to feel that the sermon has an
answer to an individual need.
9. The title of the sermon should not be more
the sermon. Spectacular titles may get a person to come once or
twice or maybe a few times, but crowds grown by the advertising of
spectacular titles will scatter when all the spectacular titles have
been used. The pastor does not realize it, but he is training his
people to come only when there is something spectacular in his
title. It also requires him to make the content of the sermon just as
spectacular as the title in order to be honest.
10. The introduction should not be more spectacular
sermon. This will cause the sermon to climax too soon. To be quite
frank, it borders on dishonesty if he introduces a sermon to be
something that it will not be.
11. The introduction should get the people desirous
preacher to continue. In my sermon, "So Great Salvation," I begin
as follows: " 'How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salva-
tion?' Now the usual interpretation of this passage is that if one
neglects being saved, he will not escape the wrath and judgment of
God. I do not believe that this does an injustice to the Scripture, but
it is not the primary teaching of Hebrews 2:3." I hope that this
introduction creates a desire in the minds of the audience for me to
12. The introduction should be the most articulate
part of the
sermon. It should not be joke-telling time unless the sermon is very
funny If the sermon is funny, then the introduction which is to be a
specimen taken from the sermon, should also be funny. In my
sermon, "A Wounded Spirit," I have as my goal the lifting of the
spirits of those in the congregation, so I feel it is only proper for the
introduction to be a spirit-lifting one.
13. The introduction should not start on a
the sermon is a mountaintop sermon. For example, in my sermon
"A Name that is Above Every Name" I preach an entire message
just about the person of Jesus. It is in every way a sermon meant to
be a mountaintop experience. So, to be honest, the introduction or
specimen must be mountaintop.
14. The introduction should get the attention of
Every sermon introduction should be examined carefully to be sure
that the preacher will get his own attention in his introduction.
15. The introduction should make it obvious that
the preacher is
preaching to himself also. Often in an introduction I will say, "I am
not here tonight primarily to entertain you. I am not here tonight
primarily to instruct you, nor am I here tonight primarily to inspire
you Let me make it plain before I start. I am here that by the grace
of God, God may use this message to change your life and mine."
Notice, I am identifying myself with the audience. I am not
preaching down to them, but I am preaching out to them and to
16. The introduction should not include jokes that
an object. If a joke is used in which someone becomes its object, it
should be the speaker himself who is the object of his joke.
Sometimes a joke on yourself is a wholesome thing
if it is done
in good taste. For example, I often tell the following on myself: "I
got up as usual one morning, got in the car, drove to work. On the
way to work I made my usual stop at the White Hen Pantry; a little
drive-in grocery store, to get my morning paper. It was a cold
winter morning; in fact, it was below zero outside. When I got back
into the car after getting my paper, I could not get it started. I tried
and tried, but the starter would not even turn over or make a sound. I
got out of the car and did the thing that all of us do in an effort to
repair the problem-I opened the hood and looked at the engine. In
fact, I even looked at it twice, but it still would not run. After several
minutes of futility, I called the service station where I trade and
asked them to come and get my car started. They told me it would
be within an hour. I insisted that I could not wait that long and
reminded them of my long years of being a customer. Finally, I
persuaded them to come immediately Within ten minutes he was
there, got in the car and within just a few seconds he had it started.
In fact, he didn't even open the hood. I was amazed at his brilliance.
As he got out of the car said, 'My, you are a wonderful mechanic.
What was wrong?' With not a smile on his face, with his eyes
pointed away from me he said, 'I put the stick in park.' Oh, brother,
was I ever embarrassed!"
I often tell in my introductory remarks about the
night when Dr.
John R. Rice and I were in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The church met
in a school building. The entrance to the building was on the side,
so when you entered, half the congregation could see you and the
other half was in front of you to your right. This Monday night
found me a little late. My plane had had some problems and I got to
the church just as the song service had ended and Dr. Rice was
beginning to speak. It was a cool night, around 400, and it was
drizzling rain. I had no coat or hat, and as I approached the door the
usher said, "I'm sorry, mister, but you can't come in!"
I asked, "Why?"
He replied, "Because the preaching has already started and
nobody goes in once the preaching has started."
I said, "Look, mister, it's drizzling rain out here, and it is cold!"
He said, "That doesn't matter! You can't come in!"
I said, "What do you mean, I can't come in?"
He said, "I'll tell you again, sir. Nobody enters once the sermon
I said, "Let me tell you who I am."
He said, "I don't care who you are. You're not coming in! The
rule is that no one enters after the speaker has started speaking, and
I'm going to enforce the rule."
I looked at him and said rather tersely, "That's a dumb rule."
He said, "Sir; I agree with you. I don't like the rule either. We
haven't had it very long. Our pastor got it in Hammond, Indiana,
where he attended a Pastors' School."
Oh, brother, was I ever embarrassed! For 45 minutes
I stood out
in drizzling rain on a cool night without a coat and hat. When Dr.
Rice heard about it, he laughed and said, "If I had known that, I
would have preached for three hours!"
I replied, "I thought you did!"
17. The introduction should convince the people
that you are on
the same level with them. If the speaker feels a little beneath the
audience, he could perhaps quote a poem or briefly give a little
philosophical thought. If the speaker gets the idea that the people
feel he is a little above them, he could say something that would be
perhaps a little revelation of his humanity and of the fact that he too
is flesh and a common person. I often use the following, especially
if people think lam somebody special just because I pastor a larger
church: "Perhaps some of you tonight have heard about the First
Baptist Church of Hammond and Hyles-Anderson College. You
wanted to see what this fellow Hyles looks like. You got here early
and focused your eyes on the door to watch him as he walked in. In
Hyles walked. You looked to your wife and said, 'There is the
custodian-now when does this fellow Hyles come in?'
I was down in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, several years
ago. A little
lady about 35 years of age came to me and asked, "Are you the real
I said, "I'm the only one I know."
She said, "I've heard about you all my life, but you just don't
look like what I thought you would look like."
I smiled and said, "You're not very pretty either."
Above all, be honest. The introduction is to
introduce first, the
sermon, and second, yourself. The introduction should say, "Good
evening, folks. Let me introduce you to my sermon and let me
introduce you to myself. Here is a specimen or a sampling of what I
am going to be like and what my message is going to say I hope it
will make you want to listen."
Now that we have introduced the sermon, let us
spend a few
moments discussing the speaker introducing himself. Bear in mind
that this is a specimen of what he is like and of what he is. It should
be an honest presentation so the people will be able to see and hear
a sample of what is to come. Do not forget-this should be the real
you, just like the introduction introduced them to the real sermon.
1. Dress like the real you. Dress properly to suit
Let your dress reflect yourself, a person of propriety
2. Walk like the real you. A preacher should walk
He should walk on the platform like he walks anywhere else. It
should not be some kind of a pious prance, but a simple, earnest
walk. Every week I go to the auditorium when it is empty and
practice my walk from the door to my seat and from my seat to the
pulpit. I do not practice some strange new walk but just my usual
walk so that when the people see me walking in they will see the
real Jack Hyles walking.
3. Sit like the real you. Sit like a man with
dignity and propriety,
not with legs straight and together like a woman in a dress, not
slouched with a pronounced crossing of the legs, but sit like a man.
Sit up straight with both feet on the floor and some space between
the knees, or with one leg slightly crossed over the other.
4. Be courteous like you. Before the sermon do not
others on the platform. Participate enthusiastically in the singing.
Look at others and listen to them when they speak. Be ethical with
other speakers concerning time, etc.
5. Speak like you. The introduction, as well as the
rest of the
sermon, should not be another speaking voice that you borrowed
for the occasion. It should be your voice-the same voice and same
type of speaking that someone would hear if they were with you for
some time. When you get loud, get loud like you would if you were
excited somewhere else. Be yourself Speak sincerely and speak
6. The introduction should not be a time of
sarcasm. Of course,
there might be an occasional exception to this rule. For example,
sarcasm would not be in bad taste if it were done lovingly by a guest
speaker who had often spoken at the church and was a very warm
and close friend of the pastor; and mild sarcasm would not be in bad
taste if used by a pastor who had served in the church for many
years and had established his love for his people. Even then, care
must be taken as to the objects of the sarcasm. There are some
people who simply cannot absorb someone being sarcastic to
7. If a preacher is a visiting speaker, he should
take time in his
introductory remarks to compliment the church, the pastor, the
city, the buildings, the area, the music, etc. This should not be
done with humor, but with a sincere heart and a sincere spirit.
Before the sermon, the speaker should spend some time in medita-
tion thinking of his love for the pastor and his admiration for the
church so that his comments will be sincere ones. The common
man has a way of denoting sincerity, and it is very difficult to fool
8. Do not try to impress or startle. The
introduction is not a time
to win friends and influence people; it is a time to get the people to
know the real you. It is a "get acquainted" time when you meet
them and they meet you. If the introduction does not give to the
people a true idea of what is to come, it has failed. It is a brief time
when a sincere preacher reveals a brief example of his sincerity,
when a loving preacher presents a sample of his love, when an
earnest preacher reveals a sample of his earnestness and when the
speaker says to the people, "Let me introduce myself to you. This is
what I'm like. Let me introduce my sermon to you. This is what it's
like. I hope you will want to continue listening as I preach it."
Subjects on Which to Preach
II Timothy 4:2, 5, "Preach the word; be instant in
out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all Iongsuffering
and doctrine. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions,
do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."
Years ago I sat down and listed twenty themes that
I thought were
necessary for the spiritual growth and maturity of my people. All of
my sermons deal with at least one of these twenty themes. Though I
have never shared them, I have on occasion explained the process
by which I arrived at them. That process will be the content of this
chapter. I chose the twenty themes from II Timothy 4:2, "Preach
the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke,
exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." In this passage God
tells the preacher what he is supposed to do when he stands before
his people. I listed these things and from these things arrived at the
themes I thought necessary for my people's spiritual growth and
I. PREACH. The word "preach" here means "proclaim
victory." From this I get encouragement. My people need to be
encouraged by the Word of God. I am to "proclaim the victory of
the Word." The doors open on Sunday morning. The crowd flows
in. All week they have been facing a Christless and Godless world.
They have heard His name profaned. They have faced criticism,
mocking and even hatred. Now it is Sunday These wounded
warriors come from far and near to sit in the pews in order to hear
God's man. He must take God's Book, open it and proclaim the
victory of the Word of God. He must encourage their hearts.
Though this is not one of the themes that I have listed, it nev-
ertheless is the source of one of my themes. God's people need to
2. WORD. This is Jesus. John 1:1, "In the beginning
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth." So the second theme that I find
here is the theme of Jesus! Preach the person of Christ. Preach Him,
exalt Him, magnify Him, teach Him, honor Him, praise Him,
worship Him, adore Him. Preach Jesus. Years ago when our oldest
daughter; Becky, was just a tot, I was preaching one Sunday
morning and, would you believe it, I forgot my sermon! I was at I
John 5:12, "He that hath the Son hath life," and to save me I
could not think where I was supposed to go from there. So I stepped
back and I hollered, "He that HATH the Son hath life!" I still drew a
blank. I stepped back and shouted, "He that hath THE Son hath
life!" Still! could not think of my sermon. I stepped back again and
said, "He that hath the Son HATH life!" Still I forgot what I was to
say I stepped back again and shouted, "He that hath the Son hath
LIFE!" Finally I came out of my tailspin before I crashed. When I
got home that morning, Becky grinned and said, "Daddy, the
record got stuck this morning, didn't it?"
I hugged her; and through tears I said, "Yes,
Puddin', but what a
wonderful place for the record to stick!" It was stuck on Jesus!
Jesus should be the center of our preaching, and the person of
Christ should always be a part of the message that we deliver to our
people from our God on His day
3. BE INSTANT The word "instant" is translated at
"set upon," "be present," "be at hand." It implies faithfulness. Be
predictable, be faithful. Here we have another theme that should be
emphasized. As the Apostle writes young Timothy, he reminds him
that Jesus should be a theme for his message, that encouragement
should be a theme of his message and that faithfulness should be a
theme of his message. Also from this statement could come the
theme of total commitment.
4. IN SEASON, OUT OF SEASON. This leads us to
theme-perseverance. This also is to be a part of the preaching of
God's man, as Paul commanded Timothy. Our message to the
people should be, "Don't quit! Persevere! Hang in there! Don't turn
back! Finish what you start!"
5. REPROVE. This word is also translated at other
"refute." This means that the preacher is to expose false teaching.
Here is another theme that should be included in the preaching of a
6. REBUKE. This word implies to "honor, then
could be translated "to scold in love." On occasion the man of God
will have to scold his people. This scolding should not be in hatred
or with malice. It should be done with a heart filled with love for the
very ones whom he is scolding.
7. EXHORT The word comes from the same word that is
in I John 2:1, "My little children, these things write I unto you,
that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The word "advocate"
means "to run to one's side and pick him up." It deals with the
theme of salvaging. One of the preacher's ministries and one of the
themes of his preaching should be to salvage what he can from all
of his people. There are those in the congregation who have been
wounded by the Evil One! They are vessels that have been marred
in the hands of the Potter; and they wonder if they can ever be used
again. Paul tells Timothy that salvaging them should be a part of his
message. Here is another theme that the preacher may include in
his repertoire of sermon themes.
8. LONGSUFFERING. This word is also translated
perature." It has to do with having a Christian spirit. From it comes
the word "temperance," which means "proper restraint." Here is
another theme that the Apostle admonished Timothy to use.
9. DOCTRINE. The word means "teaching." The
should include Bible teachings and truths in his preaching. Add this
to your list of themes.
10. WATCH. Most people feel that this means "moral
ing." In other words, the preacher should fight sin. Sin-fighting
should definitely be a major part of the pastor's ministry. He should
warn his people of the evils and temptations that lurk in the
shadows that will destroy their lives and their testimonies.
11. ENDURE AFFLICTION. This word means "suffer
This implies sympathy and understanding. The wise preacher must
include in his ministry and in his preaching sympathetic under-
standing. He must remember that his people are flesh, and as does
God, he must remember that his people are dust. They must feel the
sympathy. The preacher is not a righteous judge to stand on Sunday
to condemn his people. He is a righteous physician to stand up to
encourage, strengthen, rebuild and love his people. Now in this
loving, rebuilding and strengthening, there must of necessity be
some hard preaching, some scolding, rebuking, etc., but it must be
done in the spirit of love, of sympathy and understanding. He must
suffer with them, hurt with them and feel their burdens, their
weaknesses, their heartaches and, yes, even their failures.
12. THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST This means soul win-
ning. It means getting people saved. One of the pastor's themes
should be salvation, preaching with evangelistic fervor.
13. FULL PROOF OF THY MINISTRY This means the total
preacher who has it all! Paul is telling Timothy that he does not
want him riding a hobbyhorse or spending all of his time on one
theme. He wants him to make full proof of his ministry. He wants
him to proclaim the victory, to preach Jesus, to preach total com-
mitment, to preach faithfulness, to preach perseverance, to expose
false teaching, to scold in love, to salvage those who have fallen, to
teach Christians to have the proper spirit, to heal and mend, to
preach doctrine, to fight sin, to sympathize and suffer with his
people, to be a soul winner and train soul winners, to be an
evangelist, and in summary, to wrap it all up and to be in one
package all of these things
The things that I have listed are not the exact
words that I use on
my list of twenty themes, but it was from this passage that I made
my list in order that I might give to my people all that they need,
and be to my people all that they need me to be. From the twenty
themes that I have listed in a private place come all the sermons that
I preach. I feel that these twenty themes cover all the needs that my
people could have. These are the different prescriptions for the
various illnesses and deficiencies that my folks may have.
Preaching to Everybody
I Corinthians 9:22, "To the weak became I as weak,
might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I
might by all means save some."
There is no public speaking as difficult, as
when done properly, as artistic as that of preaching. Most public
speakers speak to a certain group who share similar interests.
Sometimes, for example, I will preach to a group of young people.
On other occasions, I speak to ladies. There are times when I speak
just to men. I often speak at conventions for Christian educators,
and nearly every week I speak at some special meeting for
preachers. All of these are challenging, but none is as challenging
as the time when I walk in the pulpit on Sunday morning to speak to
little children, to senior citizens, to the rich, to the poor; to the
educated, to the uneducated, to the young and to the old, and I try to
adapt the same sermon so it will fit and feed every person in the
congregation! This is the hardest of all public speaking, and yet, it
is the most blessed, the most challenging and the most wonderful
because it is a miracle! The Holy Spirit takes ~e same truth and
applies it through His servant to various age groups, to various
social standings and to those hundreds and sometimes thousands of
people whose life styles, backgrounds and interests are of the
greatest variety possible.
1. The preacher should learn to speak to each
group. He should
be able to hold the attention of a group of children, keep the interest
of teenagers at a rally just for them, and be able to hold the attention
of each group when speaking to them separately. The best worker
with beginner-age children in the church should be the preacher!
The best youth worker in the church should be the preacher. The
best Bible teacher in the church should be the preacher. It is wrong
for the preacher to excuse his deficiencies by saying he does not
have the gift to speak to children or the gift to speak to young
people or the gift to speak to any other special group. Sometimes
there are ways to get abilities without getting them as a gift. They
can also be earned and can be obtained by toil and diligence.
2. The pastor should be around children and should
himself to speak to them and learn to do it effectively. For 37 years I
have conducted the Vacation Bible Schools in all of my churches. I
conduct a 30-minute opening assembly where I lead the children in
singing and join in their enthusiasm and laughter. Then, in a 45-
minute assembly later in the day I lead in teaching them. I crown
the king and queen for the day, and I introduce the special pro-
grams. I have had to learn to hold their attention and to work
diligently to learn to be a children's worker. The wise pastor will be
around children, learn how to reach them and to lead them.
3. Be around teenagers. Get to know them. Find out
how to be a
successful youth worker.
For several years I have conducted a nationwide
ference. Thousands of teenagers come from all across America. I
speak to them, instruct them, joke with them and relate to them.
Recently after one of the sessions in our Youth Conference, a pastor
came to me and said, "I wish I had your gift."
I replied, "Brother, it's not a gift! It is something that I worked
hard to get, and it is just as available for you as it is for me.
4. Be around senior citizens. Get to know them.
burdens and their problems. Learn their frustrations, and train
yourself to be able to work with them.
5. Identify with the poor, the rich, the educated
and the unedu-
cated. Learn to feel at home with each group and to know how to
make them feel at home with you
6. Watch carefully those who are successful
or youth workers or adult workers. Learn what makes them suc-
cessful. Incorporate it in your own life. Be a student of every age
group and of every facet of your church's society
7. Be a childish, juvenile adult. By this I mean
when a person
comes to adolescence, he should not exchange his childhood for
adolescence, but he should add adolescence to his childhood.
When a person becomes an adult, he should not trade in his
childhood and adolescence on his adulthood. He should add
adulthood to childhood and adolescence. We should retain our
childhood enjoyments that are right and proper. Likewise we
should retain the enjoyments of adolescence that are right and
proper and add them to the behavior of adulthood. If you will listen
carefully to every great preacher, you will see his childhood shine
through and his adolescence flicker, and you will notice that added
to these will be the maturity of adulthood. Every man of God
should be a childish, juvenile adult.
8. Read a variety of things. Read books that
children like to
read. Read books that teenagers like to read. Fill that computer
called the human mind with every bit of proper and decent material
possible. One day it will become usable to you and for you. Then
read all you can about reaching each and working with each. Learn
the physical and emotional makeup of each age group.
9. When speaking to teenagers and children who are
age, have the teenagers in front of you so that your eye contact can
be with them. Let the children be on the sides. Often I preach on a
Tuesday morning to preachers, to laymen, teenagers and children
in the same building. I always ask the pastor which group he wants
me to reach. Then I ask him to put that group in front of me so that
my eye contact will be with them.
10. When speaking to a strictly children's group,
should move a lot. He should ask questions that require brief and
concise answers, and he should use the microphone heavily.
11. When speaking to a group which includes a group
dren sitting together, it is often wise to begin by bragging on the
children. Following is a good way to do it:
"Adults, have you noticed these children over here?
noticed how they sit still and listen? It's an amazing thing!
Sometimes during the sermon, glance over to them. I guaran-
tee they will be still and quiet. You'll be amazed to see what
good children these are."
This gives the children a reputation that they want
Then, on occasion throughout the message, stop and ask the adults
if they have noticed how good the children are. This lets the
children know that you haven't forgotten them, and it keeps in their
minds the goal of pleasing you and upholding the reputation that
you have set for them.
12. When teenagers and adults are present in the
and are sitting in groups, preach to the teens. Start off by being
honest and telling of your predicament. Then tell the teenagers how
you felt when you were their age. I may start off with something
"Kids, what do you say that we make peace with each
and that we decide to endure each other during this message! I
know we are both stuck here! You had to come because it was
a school requirement, and I need the money, so all of us are
stuck. Why don't you just look at me and say, 'Well, he
doesn't look like much, but I'm going to hear what the guy has
to say I may as well listen to him. I've got to be here.' Then,
kids, I'll look at you and say, 'Well, they don't look like much
but they are part of the crowd this morning, so I'm going to see
if I can get something through to them.' Probably you've
already looked at me and asked, 'Can any good thing come
out of that?' and I've looked at you and said, 'Can any good
thing go into that?' but I'll make you a deal, kids. Give me a
good hearing, and I won't preach long at you or hard at you"
When preaching to teenagers, it is always good to
feel adultish. After all, a teenager is more adult than he is a child,
though it is hard for us to believe because we have recently known
him as a child and have never known him as an adult.
Let me suggest at this point that the reader get a
copy of my
book, HOW TO REAR TEENAGERS and read carefully the
chapter on communicating with teens.
13. When speaking to teenagers alone, don't bend
all the way to
meet them. Let them know that you are aware of the fact that they
are nearly adults. (They will like this.) Let them know that you
don't plan to treat them like little children, but like the near adults
that they really are.
When speaking to teens, love must be shown and
be obvious. Teens are very adept at reading a speaker's intentions.
They can spot insincerity as well as sincerity. To them, the real you
will shine through!
One of the most important things in speaking to
teens is to not be
defeated before you start. Convince yourself that you can hold their
attention. Many speakers are defeated before they begin when
speaking to teenagers. If you are defeated at the start, you will be
destroyed by the end. When preaching to a crowd of preachers, lay
adults, teens and children, preach to the teens on behalf of the
adults and let the adults identify with you as you preach to the teens.
Preach to them a truth that all the adults there would like to tell
them. Become the representative of all the adults present. Let the
adults identify with you as you speak to the teens.
I have a sermon entitled, "Let's Hear it for the
Other Son." It
deals with the brother of the prodigal son. It is a sermon that
reminds the young people that though the prodigal son's brother did
not cooperate in the welcome-home party, he nevertheless was a
man of character. It is said of him by his father; "Son, thou art ever
with me." The son said to his father, "Lo, these many years do I
serve thee." He also said that he had never once transgressed his
father's commandments or disobeyed. I remind the teenagers that
the fellow was probably a pretty good guy who had character and
decency, and I would rather have them be like him than be like the
brother who went into the far country and became a prodigal.
While I'm preaching this sermon, I can see the adults nodding their
heads up and down in agreement. I am saying to the teenagers what
the adults would like to say, and they are identifying with me. In a
sense, we together are preaching to the teenagers.
14. When preaching to several different groups who
together as groups, preach to the crowd most obvious. Don't try to
reach all. In a sense, get alone with one group and let the others
listen in. It is enjoyable for an adult to watch a preacher preach to
young people. They can learn from him how to do it. It is enjoyable
for them to watch him handle children. This can be an education to
Again, it is important to have the group to whom
primarily speaking in front of you so that you can make eye contact
15. Have a list of sermons that are basically for
another list of sermons that are basically for young people. Have
another list of sermons that are basically for preachers. I have a list
that I use for Christian educators. Then, choose a sermon or a few
sermons that you would use in the presence of children and teen-
agars; likewise, sermons that you would use in the presence of
teenagers, preachers, children and adults. Have special sermons
that you could use for any combination of groups.
16. Have one truth to put across. Hit it over and
over and over
again! Remember, you are dealing with minds of various abilities
to retain and to comprehend. A profound truth presented in a
simple manner is perhaps the best when you speak to a group of
17. When speaking to a group of groups, make
mention of each
group in the sermon. Let them know that you are aware of their
presence, even if you are not addressing them primarily
18. Include something for all emotions-- for tears,
for sobriety, for excitement.
We have been dealing rather extensively with
different groups or to groups of groups. However, most of our
preaching is to a mixed congregation on Sunday morning, Sunday
night and Wednesday night. Therefore, the following should be
1. Preach mainly to adults, but if you have become
juvenile adult, even the adults will enjoy seeing your adolescence
and your childlikeness. The main thing is to become what you
ought to be and then when you are what you ought to be, it will
manifest itself in your preaching.
2. Check your sermon for milk and meat in the same
Remember, you are preaching to new Christians and to mature
Christians and to Christians at every place on the spectrum of
3. Mingle old truth and new truth. By that I mean,
and new for the people who have heard you for years, but don't
neglect to teach the simple and old truths, for the new Christians
4. Fit profundity into simplicity True profundity
can be trans-
ferred only from one mind to another through the vehicle of
simplicity The vehicle of simplicity can appeal to the youth, to the
children and to the new Christians, whereas the truth of profundity
can appeal to the mature Christians and older people. When pro-
fundity is transported in simplicity, it has a way of appealing to
everybody and reaching everybody.
5. If what you say is over someone's head, reach
them with how
you say it. You can feed a heavy piece of meat to mature Christians
and yet the way you feed them can be enjoyable to young people
and to baby Christians.
6. Think all week of the various groups in the
Every week, sometime during the week, I pause to think of my
teenagers. I pray for them and spend some time loving them. I
pause to realize that they are growing up in the generation where
the Devil is most active in trying to destroy them. Every weapon in
his arsenal is pointed toward them.
I then spend some time thinking about my senior
citizens. I pray
for them and love them. I hurt with their pains and mourn with their
Every week I spend some time during the day
thinking about my
men who are at work, and for that matter, the ladies who work in
public. I spend some time loving those men who are working in the
blast furnaces of the steel mills. I think of their getting up in the
wintertime before daybreak; fighting the traffic, the zero weather
and the snow to go to work; them working in the blast furnaces all
day long, only to leave work after it is already dark, again to fight
the traffic, the snow and the cold to come home weary and tired. I
often think of them late at night gathered around in the family
circle, leading their families to pray for their preacher.
Every week I take a few minutes to stop up my ears
so that I
cannot hear. I walk in silence for sometimes as much as thirty
minutes in order for me to identify with those whom [serve who are
Each week I take time to blindfold myself. I try to
this blindfold. I try to dress wearing the blindfold. This enables me
to identify at least for awhile with those whom I serve who cannot
At certain intervals each week I also think about
slow, the poor' the bus kids. I try to make it so that by the time I
walk into the pulpit on the Lord's Day I will have such a love and
compassion for all of my people that I "preach to everybody"
Compassion in Preaching
Jude 22b, "And of some have compassion, making a
First came the light. Then the firmament. Then God
lit the starry
host. Then He made the fish of the sea and all the tribes of the
animal kingdom. After that God was ready for man. He made man
in the image of Himself. It was marvelous. Every tree that grew was
pleasant to the eyes. Rivers flowed peaceably through verdant
valleys. Every sound was a melody Every scene was a delight.
There was no war to unrest the breast; no sickness was there to
cause a fear of death. The leaf never withered; the wind never
chilled. No perspiration ever moistened the brow. There was no
profanity to curse the ear. There was no weariness, no heat, no cold.
No blossoms were smitten by a tempest. Man had not learned to
sigh or weep. There was no withering frost to chill the rose. There
was no shadow of guilt ever known. For Adam there were choirs of
birds to sing to him.
Yet something was missing! Adam needed someone to
with him. He yearned for companionship. He longed for commun-
ion with a kindred soul. He needed one whose wants and joys were
like his own. The virgin world was cold and blank.
HERE SHE COMES! Dressed in all the beauty for a
being to possess! Milton said, "She was adorned with what all of
heaven and earth could bestow to make her amiable. Grace was in
her steps. Heaven was in her eye. Every gesture possessed dignity
and love. Perfection was stamped upon her. The sons of God
shouted for joy, the morning stars sang together, and Eden was
transformed! The earth was sad, the garden wild, the hermit sighed,
until woman smiled."
Not a creature since Adam has escaped that need for
ionship. The weary housewife, the trudging laborer, the busy stu-
dent, the aged mother, the harried boss and, I must confess, the
preacher behind the pulpit-all have a need for someone to offer to
Compassion is the nurse given to mankind.
for the helpless. It mothers the orphan, feeds the hungry; clothes the
cold, helps the helpless and raises the fallen. Compassion shines
upon coldness and warms it. Compassion shines upon suffering
and relieves it. Compassion shines upon sorrow and cheers it.
God has given us His men and has called them from
east, south and west to stand behind pulpits to have compassion
Her name is College Wife, USA. She was married to
hood sweetheart. They lived in an apartment and sacrificed for
years. Finally they were able to buy a little house. A small down
payment was made, and monthly payments were paid. They drove
an old rattletrap for years; now finally they are able to get a small
new car. Things are looking up! Her husband got promoted at work.
She sings in the choir; he is an usher. They both teach Sunday
One Sunday night her husband walked the aisle
invitation. She wondered why When they got home, he said to her
that God had called him to preach. Suddenly all of her dreams were
ended; the air castles were broken on the pavement of providence!
They put the house up for sale. They sold the new car and bought an
old one and put what belongings they had in a U-Haul trailer and
came to Hammond, Indiana, to attend Hyles-Anderson College.
They couldn't afford a little house like they had back home. They
couldn't even afford one of the nicer apartments. The little house
has now been traded for an attic apartment. The shiny new little car
has now been sold, and an old one has taken its place. Her husband
enrolls in college. He goes to college at 7:00 a.m. in the morning
and gets through just in time to go to work. He works into the night
and gets home and has a few hours to sleep. She hardly sees him.
Oh, by the way, she has a few children for whom she cares. No
longer does he come in at 5:30 after a busy day's work to spend the
night with the family She who was Miss Typical Housewife now is
Miss Typical College Student's Wife. There are four years, maybe
five, maybe six, maybe more before it will all be over. She needs a
man of God to stand behind the pulpit on the Lord's Day who feels
her heartache, who feels her loneliness and who really cares and
Her name is Grandma. She has seen her last child
marriage altar. Her husband was taken to Heaven. She tried to keep
house as long as she could, but she began to fall. She couldn't see
too well. Her hearing was failing. Her hands were trembling. Her
brow is furrowed, her face is wrinkled, her shoulders are stooped,
her steps are uncertain. One day the children had a meeting. They
had to do something with Grandma. She suggested that they put her
in a rest home. Ungrateful children said, "Well, if that's what you
want, that's what we'll do, Mother;" and there she sits with hands
that never open a letter, ears that never hear the ring of a phone,
cheeks that never feel a kiss, feet that never take her outside, eyes
that never see loved ones or friends. She hardly knows her grand-
children, and there she sits fellowshipping with her memories-
memories of days when she washed and ironed and cooked and
cleaned house and was in the busy activities of rearing a family, but
now those days are gone!
A church group came by the rest home. They said
running a bus to church. Now she can get on the bus and ride to
church. There she sits in the auditorium. She needs a man of God to
walk to the pulpit, to open the Book and offer her compassion. She
needs to feel that someone cares, for compassion makes a dif-
His name is Johnny. His address is Ghetto, USA. He
is a bus kid.
He doesn't know where his daddy is. One day his parents called
him in and told him that Daddy was leaving. His only Christmas is
if the church remembers. He has never had a birthday cake or seen a
new pair of shoes on his feet. He has never heard, "You are a cute
little fellow." Such words as steak, love, peace and kindness are part
of a foreign language as far as he is concerned. He didn't know he
wasn't normal until he saw other boys and girls that had nice things.
His mom leaves for work every morning early and comes back
home late at night. He may suspicion you at first a little bit, and he
may disturb your worship service, but he needs somebody to care.
Oh, I know, buses are expensive. Your auditorium is pretty You
now have a good drive-in crowd, and Johnny is a financial burden,
but there he sits covering up a hole in his pants. Little Johnny needs
someone to car. He needs a pastor who has compassion which
makes a difference!
I can relate to little Johnny The first toy I ever
owned the church
gave to me. The first hamburger lever ate was bought for me by the
church. The first balloon I ever blew up I got at church. I know!
I will never forget the day that I walked into the
test Church as a five-year-old lad. The Beginner Superintendent
whose name was Mrs. Bethel, took me to the Beginner Depart-
meant. She put me on her knee. My little bare feet were obvious. My
knees were showing through the holes and through the patches of
my pants. I had on a little white T-shirt, and I noticed that all the
other little boys and girls had on shoes and the boys had white shirts
and ties. Mrs. Bethel put me on her knee. She said, "Boys and girls,
we have a visitor this morning. His name is Jackie-boy Hyles.
Aren't we glad to have him?" Nobody said a word. Then Mrs.
Bethel looked at me and said, "Jackie-boy, Jesus loves you" I'll
never forget how I felt! Mama had told me that, but nobody else had
ever told me! I looked up and said the first words that I had said
that morning. I asked, "Mrs. Bethel, does Jesus love me as much as
He loves the little boys and girls that have on shoes?"
A tear escaped her eye and invaded my brow as she
boy, He probably loves you more than He loves anybody here this
morning." The joy of Heaven flooded my soul as I heard my teacher
tell me that Jesus loved me.
There are millions of little Jackie-boys all over
need to be contacted and brought to church, to sit in a pew and look
up and see a man of God walk to the pulpit who has compassion
which makes a difference.
Oh, someone needs to care Someone needs to offer
to the one who cannot hear the whipporwill, to the one who has
never heard the church choir or the voice of the preacher, but who
sits in his world of silence while dedicated fingers reveal to him
what is being said. He needs compassion; it will make a difference!
Someone needs to care about the one who has never
sunrise or a sunset, who has never seen a rose or a daffodil, who has
never seen a meadow or a forest or the dogwood or the azalea. He
has never seen a rainbow. He has never seen his own mother and
father. He lives in a world of darkness following a white-tipped
cane. He needs somebody to love him. He needs to feel that
somebody has compassion that will make a difference!
He lives at the rescue mission. His world fell
apart many years
ago. He was too weak to face reality and now he sleeps on a cot with
others who share his plight. His family has left him, his children do
not want to see him, but he is still a creature of God, made in the
image of God! He is the object of the love of God, Christ died for
him, the incarnation was for him, Bethlehem's manger was for
him, the shepherds watching their flocks by night were for him, the
wise men from the East bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and
myrrh were for him. Mary brought forth her firstborn Son and
wrapped Him an swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger for
him. Jesus lived for him. He lived a perfect life for him. He went
before Pilate and on to Herod and back to Pilate for him. He was
beaten with a cat-o'-nine-tails for him. He carried His cross up
Golgotha's hill for him. He was crucified for him. He rose again
after 72 hours for him. He ascended back to Heaven for him. He is
now doing His priestly work at the right hand of the Father for him.
He is going to come someday for him. Just a rescue mission man,
and some folks would call him a bum, but God loves him! There
needs to be some place where he can go and sit in a pew and look in
the pulpit where somebody loves him and where a man of God can
have compassion on him that makes the difference!
He lives in Backroom, USA. When he was born he
same joy and happiness to his mother and daddy that all babies
bring until one day they noticed he was not developing as he should.
He had a look on his face that was different from other children.
Finally the doctor told the bad news to the parents that the child was
not normal. He would never be able to learn like other children. He
would join the special classes for the educable slow. Physically he
will grow like others, but mentally he will never develop! He sits
over on the left in the First Baptist Church auditorium with scores
of others just like him. He is a teenager now. He looks to the pulpit.
He needs to see a man walk in that pulpit who loves him, who hurts
because he hurts and cries because he cries. He needs a man who
has compassion that makes the difference!
Several years ago a lady came to our church to
visit. She did not
like me and she voiced her displeasure at my preaching. However,
to my surprise she came back the next Sunday! She returned that
night and the next Sunday and that night and the next Sunday and
that night. I couldn't believe that she kept coming. Finally one day I
saw her in the line outside my door after the Sunday morning
service. She had a harsh look on her face. I found out later that she
had come to rebuke me and to criticize me to my face. Finally it was
her time to enter my office. She walked into the office; her lips
began to quiver and she said, "Reverend, I came this morning to tell
you all the bad things I could think of that I think about you, but I
have been watching the people who come into your office. I saw
you as you wept when you said, "Good-bye," to a college couple
who was leaving to go out into full-time work. I saw your lips
quiver and your eyes fill with tears as you talked to another one who
had a burden, and then it dawned on me why I keep coming to your
church. I don't like your preaching; I never have, but something
draws me back Sunday after Sunday It just came to me what that
something is. Reverend, it's that moist spot in the corner of your
eye. It's always there. That's the reason I keep coming."
Ladies and gentlemen, that moist spot is a sign of
Oh, for preaching that is strong, hard, straight and Spirit-filled!
Oh, for preaching that challenges, scolds, rebukes, chastens and
reproves! Oh, for preaching that is a warning against sin! Oh, for
preaching about judgment, Heaven, Hell, righteousness and holi-
ness, but may God help us to always have that moist spot in the
corner of the eye! Oh, men of God, have compassion that makes the
Let's Lengthen the Cords and Strengthen the
Isaiah 54:2, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and
stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not,
lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes."
In an American Legion Convention in New York City,
man wandered out on the platform, looked out to the delegates and
asked, "Would somebody please tell me who I am?"
I wonder if maybe independent, fundamental Baptists
to ask ourselves, "Who are we?" God has singly blessed us. He has
commanded us to enlarge out tents, and we have dutifully obeyed.
We have built the largest Sunday schools in America. We have the
largest buildings and the largest budgets. We are building the
largest Christian schools. We have the largest bus fleets and the
largest outreach. We have large staffs. We are sought out by the
press. We sit with senators and shake hands with presidents. The
lights of television cameras expose our freckles. Our auditoriums
have become chancels. Our "Brother" has become 'Doctor." Our
lightbulbs have become chandeliers. Our Sunday school buildings
are now Christian family centers. The preacher is now called the
senior pastor. The custodian has become the maintenance engineer.
The secretary is now the administrative assistant. Our mimeograph
machines are now off-set presses. Our choirs have learned to sing
"The Messiah." Neon signs have replaced hand-painted ones, and
"good will" is now an attitude instead of our favorite clothing store.
We meet the press and greet the mayor. Yes, our tents have en-
Now the fiercest winds from Hell blow to topple our
Spring winds have become tornadoes. Summer breezes have be-
come hurricanes. Warm air has become a winter blast. Our en-
larged tents are the objects of Satan's most deadly storms. The
sharpest swords are thrust at us. The most delicate microscope
examines us. The sharpest minds plot against us. The most poi-
sonous pens write of us. The most incredible accusations are railed
at us. We are called "hate mongers." We are called "shallow." We
are called "cultists. " The truth is that winds are blowing in an effort
to topple our tents. Our brethren are actually going to jail. Our
churches are actually being padlocked. Many of our brethren are
commuting between the church house and court house. FOX'S
BOOK OF MARTYRS seems to be an incomplete manuscript, and
"Give me liberty or give me death" is no longer just a high school
declamation but a definite possibility! Prison walls seem as immi-
nent as Holiday Inns and Howard Johnsons. Martyrdom seems
more prophetical than historical. Freedom is only a slogan used by
the liberal to gain liberty to enslave the fundamentalist. Detente
with Russia is more popular than detente with God's people. Some
are declaring us insane, and many have had to leave the mourner's
bench for the judge's bench. Some have left the prayer room in
order to go to the court room. Ladies and gentlemen, basic training
is now over; this is war! We are off the rifle range; we are in battle!
Yet, sad to say, some of our tents have toppled.
Some have been
toppled by financial winds; some by winds of immorality; some by
winds of compromise.
Our text reminds us that as our tents enlarge, we
need to strength-
en our stakes and lengthen our cords. Many a church has fallen as
the tent enlarged and the wind increased. Many a preacher topples
as the Sunday school grows, the offerings increase, the school is
open, buildings rise, the staff is enlarged and outside invitations
come, for he has a larger tent without stronger stakes and length-
Watch it as your work grows! Watch it as you become
affluent! Watch it as you get more education! Be careful as you get
busier in God's work and as you get more power and authority! It is
so easy to have a larger tent without lengthening the cords and
strengthening the stakes!
We had better strengthen our stakes of the Word of
God. A few
borrowed outlines won't do when the storm wages. Fifteen minutes
a day at the throne of grace won't hold back the hurricane. Warmed-
over stories and a borrowed illustration will not stand the tornadic
enemy We have larger tents now. The stakes must go deeper.
Devotionals, tyrades, lectures and book reviews are not enough! As
the tent grows bigger, the stakes must be driven deeper and the
cords must be longer!
We had better strengthen the stakes of our walk
with God. When
the tent is larger, ten minutes a day won't do it any more. Grace at
the table and five minutes of reading a page from a devotional book
is not enough now. Our folks need to know how to get things from
God. We must teach them about walking in the Spirit. Somebody
has to pray all night. Somebody has to pray down fire. The tents are
bigger. We must go deeper, and our ropes must be longer!
We had better strengthen the stakes of our
power of positive thinking won't do; the wind is too strong. Possi-
bility thinking won't make it; the storm is too great. This new
fundamentalism with no invitation will not withstand the storms
that are upon us now. Religious rock won't hold back tornadic
winds. Sharing the platform with cultists and false teachers won't
stem the hurricane.
We need to strengthen the stakes of honesty We must
what we cannot afford. We must not borrow on projected income.
We must not over-build and extend ourselves beyond our ability to
pay We must not start things we cannot afford. We must not sell
bonds that we cannot redeem. When the winds of temptation come,
we had better have stronger stakes and longer cords. When the
winds of discouragement come, we had better drive our stakes
deeper and have longer cords. When the winds of persecution
howl, we had better be sure we have made the length of our cords
and the depth of our stakes commensurate with the size of our tents.
When the winds of materialism blow, we will wish our stakes were
deeper and our cords were longer.
Oh, men of God, some warmed-over sermons won't do!
outline borrowed from a book is not enough! We must walk with
God! We must be men of God! We must walk to the pulpit before
the people of God with the message from God! May God help us as
preachers to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes as our
Immediately when we think of the word "invitation"
we think of
a song such as "Just As I Am" or "Softly and Tenderly" or "All to
Jesus I Surrender." We think of folks coming forward to receive
Christ as Saviour or to present themselves for church membership
or perhaps believer's baptism. However, the invitation starts a long
time before the end of the sermon. Basically, the invitation is the
response of the audience to the service and message. This response
should begin before the service ever starts. Consequently, the
invitation begins before the service ever starts. Following is a step-
by-step explanation of what the invitation really is.
1. The invitation begins when a hand of welcome is
the door. When a member of the church reaches forth his hand, he is
asking for a response. When the visitor extends his hand for a warm
handshake, he is responding, and the invitation has begun! This is
why it is so important for there to be a friendly, relaxed atmosphere
in the early part of the service. This beginning of the invitation is
hindered in churches that do not encourage fellowship before the
services. There seems to be a certain kind of feeling that the church
building is where God lives and that we come by to see Him every
week. Therefore, the church house is a place of austerity and
quietness, and to fellowship and shake hands is irreverent. Nothing
could be farther from the truth! Spurgeon called the church build-
ing simply a meeting place. God does not live inside the church
building any more than He lives inside your home.
To be sure, there was a Shekinah Glory that dwelt
over the Holy
of Holies in the temple and in the tabernacle. This Shekinah
represented God's presence with His people. There is still a temple,
but that temple is not a church building.
The temple today is the body of the believer. I
6:18-20, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is
without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth
against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the
temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of
God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which
are God's." The church building is not a temple, or for that matter
even a sanctuary, which means a place where God dwells. It is a
meeting place where God's temples come to meet each other. A
warm handshake and a "God bless you" are always in order. When
a friendly greeter or usher or a happy member extends his hand to a
visitor, the invitation has begun! He is beginning to respond. We
trust that this will lead to total response which will lead to respond-
ing to the invitation of receiving Christ as Saviour.
2. The prelude is apart of the invitation. It, too,
should invoke a
response. For this reason, it should be familiar hymns or Gospel
songs. It should not be classical music. Now I'm not criticizing the
classics. I love them, but a church service is no place for them.
There is no way that it can lead to a response, but if the organist or
pianist is playing "Blessed Assurance" or "Leaning on the Ever-
lasting Arms," people can hum along, at least in their hearts. Even
thinking of the words that are being played is a response. Hence, it
becomes a part of the invitation.
3. The song service is a part of the invitation.
When the song
leader announces the number and the audience turns to that
number; it is responding to the song leader, and the spirit of
responding is being increased. When the song leader asks the
congregation to stand for the next song, the fact that they grant his
request and stand is in itself a response and becomes a part of the
invitation. The singing itself is responding. It is the audience
participating. It is used by the Spirit of God to make responding
easier and to make the service conducive to a response when the
invitation song is sung. This is the reason that familiar songs should
be chosen-songs that sing easily and that people enjoy singing.
Songs such as "At Calvary;" "At The Cross," "The Old Rugged
Cross," "Amazing Grace," "How Firm a Foundation," "Come
Thou Fount of Every Blessing," "Rescue the Perishing," 'Sweet
Hour of Prayer" and other songs that speak to the heart and envoke
a response both in the heart and in the singing are certainly apart of
4. The opening remarks by the pastor are a part of
tion. Perhaps he says something that prompts a smile. This too is a
response and helps to create a spirit of responding. This means that
a warm introduction that causes the people of the audience to even
have a nice thought is a part of the invitation. The people become
participants with their thinking and with their acting. This Will
make it easier for them to participate throughout the service and
especially at the end of the service when they can find the spirit of
responding an asset to their responding to the call of Christ to
receive His gift of eternal life.
5. The recognition of visitors is apart of the
invitation. The fact
that they are asked to stand gives them an opportunity to respond.
Of course, by this time they are accustomed to responding. They
responded to the handshake at the door. They responded to the
congregational singing. They responded to the pastor's opening
remarks. Now they are more likely to respond by standing as
In a smaller church the visitors may be asked to
give their names
and home town. This will be difficult for them if they have not been
in a service where responding is convenient and easy, but if
throughout the service there has been an interaction between the
pulpit and the pew, the visitor will find it far easier to give his name
when he is recognized as a guest.
6. The offering is a part of the invitation. When
the plate is
passed and the guest accepts it and passes it on, he is responding.
When he places a gift (regardless of the size) into the plate, he is
7. Responsive reading is a part of the invitation.
At the First
Baptist Church in Hammond we always do this in our Sunday
morning and Sunday evening services. The people stand and read
either responsively or in unison a portion of Scripture. This is apart
of the invitation. We have invited them to respond, and they are
responding. They do so readily by this time, if the service has been
one conducive to response.
8. Humor is a part of the invitation. Humor, in
good taste, is an
excellent way to invoke response. Something is said from the
platform, and people smile, chuckle or laugh. They are responding.
This is one reason that humor is such a vital part of a church
service. It is simply another way for the platform to seek a response
and for the audience to grant it.
9. ldentification with the speaker is an important
part of the
invitation. If the congregation feels that they are part of the sermon,
if illustrations are used that pull the congregation into the speaker
so that they can identify with him, it becomes easy to respond in
one's mind. One of our members once said to me, "Pastor, I feel
like you and I have done so many things together because the
illustrations that you use are illustrations with which I can identify
and I feel like apart of you when you preach." This too is apart of
The sermon is now over. The unsaved person entered
church and responded by extending his hand to a friendly greeter.
He responded to the usher by following him to his seat. He
responded to the song director by opening his song book to the
number announced. He responded during the singing of a familiar
song. He responded in his heart to the opening remarks. He
responded with a smile or chuckle to some well-chosen humor. He
responded at offering time. He responded at the recognition of
visitors. He responded during the responsive reading or the reading
in unison of the Word of God. For an hour or more he has been
responding. Now it is time to respond to the Gospel. He is comfort-
able. He feels at home. The service has not been starchy or
ritualistic. The Holy Spirit speaks to him. Response has not been
difficult thus far; it will not be difficult now. The invitation is
begun. A song of invitation is being sung. Soon there are tears and
conviction and then, praise God, a response. He is now in the aisle.
He is coming to the altar. He is now kneeling with a soul winner. He
is praying the sinner's prayer. He has received Christ as Saviour! He
is born again! He has escaped the fires of Hell! He is on his way to
Heaven! His name is written in the Book of Life! He is a new
creature in Christ Jesus, and to think, even the usher at the front
door had apart!
The Preacher Must Be Stable
Genesis 49:1-4, "And Jacob called unto his sons,
Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall
befall YOU in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and
hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of
my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of
power. Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou
wentest up to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up
to my couch." Psalm 112:7, "He shall not be afraid of evil
fidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."
For a successful ministry; there must be some
about the preaching. I have a little saying-it is almost a motto-"I
want the services at First Baptist Church to be such that if a visitor
comes on any given Sunday, he will find about the same thing that
he would find on any other given Sunday" I want there to be a
stability, a predictability and a consistency about the services,
especially about the preaching. The congregation should not won-
der in what kind of mood the preacher is going to be. They should
expect him to act, not react! His temperament should lead instead
of follow. A trip to church on the part of a parishioner should not be
one of investigating whether the pastor is on the mountaintop or in
the valley I often say to our people, 'Travel as fast as you can
continue to travel. Choose a speed that you can consistently con-
Jacob was dying. He called his sons to his bedside.
called. Jacob described him. He called him his strongest boy, his
most thoughtful boy, his most talented boy, his most gifted son, his
smartest, his most intellectual, his most proper, his most mannerly,
his best leader, his most personable, and perhaps even his most
handsome son! I am not sure that such a description is given about
anyone else in the Bible.
Yet Jacob sadly reminds Reuben that he will never
potential because he is unstable as water! When the tide of sorrow
rises higher, he goes to pieces. When the dark waters overflow in
life, he loses control. When the storms of bad news billow over his
path, he wavers. When the tempest of testing comes, he is unsure.
When the battle comes, he is blown as waves by the wind. When
tides of cloudy tidings loom overhead, his mast is torn. When
rumblings of recession roar; he is ravaged. When the deep depicts a
depression, panic grips him. When venomous, vicious, vindicative
words are vociferously voiced about him, he becomes a victim of
their vice. Like water above, foul winds move him. Like water
beneath, strong winds ruffle him.
With all of his talents and abilities, Reuben was
because of one great weakness-instability
Give me the weaker one with less talent, less
ability and less personality whose anchor holds when his vessel is
attacked by watery winds or windy waters. Give me the one who is
stable when his soul is concerned but not destroyed by evil tidings,
whose work is done midst the storm that idles others, who is not
rattled by the morning papers, because he has already read his
Bible! Give me the one who feels the wound of pain but it leaves not
a scar of panic. Give me the one who possesses trembling but not
whining. Give me the one who when his bosom heaves midst the
storm, his will is not broken. Give me the one who stands when
winds of disappointments cause his soulish ship to tremble but not
to sink. Give me the one whom the storm takes off his calm but not
off his course. In trouble he may fold his arms for a moment, but
quickly he will take hold of the wheel. When the mountains are
moved and cast into the sea, he will not detour to watch them fall.
He will stay where he is and do his duty in the midst of the clash.
When the death message comes, his heart is smitten but not
stricken. His mind may be assaulted by a panic-stricken rumor, yet
he fights on! He is undercut by the undercurrent of unemployment,
but he is unwavering in his undying faith in his understanding God.
Tidings of disease may come, but to him they bring no defeat.
Tidings of defeat may come, but to him they bring no depression.
Tidings of death may come, but to him they bring no doubt. Tidings
of difficulty may come, but to him they bring no despair. Tidings of
depression may come, but to him they bring no detour. Tidings of
delay may come, but to him they bring no discouragement. Like
Obadiah of old when he heard the evil tidings of Edom, he replied
with the words, "We have heard tidings from the Lord."
When the evil tidings of recession come, he flees
6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His right-
eousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." When
tidings of depression come, he turns to Philippians 4:19, "But my
God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory
by Christ Jesus."
When tidings of death come, he reads John 14:1-3,
your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In
My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I
would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go
and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you
unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
When tidings of want come, he reads Psalm 23:1,
"The Lord is
my shepherd; I shall not want." When tidings of fear come, he
reads Psalm 91:1, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the
most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
When tidings of betrayal come, he remembers that
there is a
Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. When tidings of disease
come, he remembers that "He healeth all thy diseases." When
tidings of loneliness come, he finds refuge in Hebrews 13:5, "Let
your conversation be without covetousness; and he content
with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave
thee, nor forsake thee."
When tidings of weariness come, he finds Isaiah
they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they
shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be
weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." When tidings of
disappointment come, he hides in Romans 8:28, "And we know
that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
them who are the called according to His purpose."
When times of decision come, he looks to Proverbs
3:6, "In all
thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
When tidings of suffering come, he races to Philippians 3:10,
"That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and
the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto
When tidings of trouble come, he rushes to John
14:1, "Let not
your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me."
When tidings of temptation come, he scurries to I
10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is
common to man: but God is faithful Who will not suffer you to
be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
When tidings of need come, he nestles in Philippians
my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in
glory by Christ Jesus."
When tidings of doubt come, he shouts, "I know that
Redeemer liveth!" When tidings of poverty come, he flies to
Jeremiah 33:3, "Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and
shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."
When discouragement comes, he hustles to Revelation 21:1, "And
I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and
the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
Poor Reuben! Think what he could have done! Lesser
he have crossed seas, won battles, built cities, marshalled armies
and ruled kingdoms; yet one thing held him back! How sad! How
Though the story of Reuben is such a pitiful one
because of his
instability, it is infinitely worse for us. Reuben had no Romans
8:28. He had no John 14:1-3. He had no Jeremiah 33:3. He had no
Psalm 37. He had no Philippians 4:13. He had no Psalm 23:1. He
had no Psalm 91:1. He had no Proverbs 3:6. He had no John 15:7.
He had no Philippians 4:19. He had no New Testament church. He
had no pastor to preach to him three times weekly He had no
Christian school. He had no written promises, but we do! Think
how much more stable we should be! We have a full Bible; he
didn't. We look back to the virgin birth; he couldn't. We have a
record of the life of Christ on earth; he didn't. We know about the
sinless life of the Saviour. We know about the vicarious death, the
bodily resurrection, the heavenly ascension and His promises to
return; Reuben didn't.
Think what might have been for Reuben, and think
have been for us. May we possess stability, perseverance, predic-
tability and consistency Stability without anything else can have
some success. All else without stability will fall. Whatever else you
get, by all means get stability.
There are many things that lead to this great
trait, not the least of
which is schedule. At last count, 507 people are either full-time or
part-time employees of the First Baptist Church of Hammond and
its related ministries. All of these have a boss on duty; yet, I have no
boss! There is no one who makes me come to work on time. There
is no one who orders me to study Since I have no boss, I made
one-I call him my schedule, and I obey him and follow him
faithfully This is so necessary for preaching. There must be a
scheduled time for study There must be scheduled time for medita-
tion. There must be a scheduled time for praying for the power of
God. There must be a scheduled time for praise, a scheduled time
for worship, a scheduled time for confession.
When God chose a name by which He would call His
He chose the word "disciples." This is very interesting. He wanted
them to be disciples, or disciplined one~ To be successful in
preaching, the man of God must be a disciplined one. He must be
stable, consistent and, in a true sense, a disciple!
Preaching Between the Living and the
Some of the people rose up against Moses and
Aaron. They said
that Moses and Aaron had taken too much upon themselves. They
would take away from Aaron his embroidered vest, strip him of his
mitre, remove the glittering stones that sparkled on his breast,
silence the bells that jangled on the hem of his garment, blot out the
embroidered pomegranates near the bells and destroy both him and
his brother, Moses.
Suddenly the earth opened. An earthquake consumed
rebels. Then the Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for the death.
God was furious. He sent a plague that killed 14,700 people.
Moses said to Aaron, "Quick, take a censer. Put
fire in it. Run to
the people. Hold it high." Aaron did so, and as he did, the plague
was stayed because he was standing between the living and the
dead. Picture this old man, probably 100 years old, running up and
down between the living and the dead and holding high his censer.
This is exactly what the preacher does when he walks to his pulpit.
He is God's man standing between the living and the dead. Oh, for
a holy awe to grip us as we enter the sacred place, open the sacred
Book and preach the sacred message!
Several years ago at the Bill Rice Ranch I was
riding on horse-
back to the morning cookout breakfast for which the Ranch is so
famous. A young man rode up beside me and said, "Dr. Hyles, I'm
a young preacher. I'm trying to decide what type preacher I should
be-a Hell-fire and brimstone preacher or a deeper-lifer (whatever
that is)." He said that he had talked to a deeper-lifer and gotten his
advice; now he wanted my advice about the future of his ministry.
Re said, "Could you counsel with me?"
I asked him, "Young man, is there a Hell?"
He said, "Yes, there is, but would you counsel with me con-
cerning what kind of preacher I ought to be?"
I asked, "Is there a Hell?"
"Yes," he said, "there is a Hell, but would you give me advice?"
I asked, "Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell?"
He said, "Dr. Hyles, aren't you going to counsel with me? The
other preacher did."
I asked, "Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell? Is there a Hell?"
He rode off with a look of bewilderment on his face.
Several weeks passed. I was talking to Dr. Russell
the telephone. He said, "Dr. Hyles, I heard a young man preach the
other day who said that he had talked with you recently at the Bill
I said, "What was his name?"
He said, "I don't know what his name was, but he sure preached
a great message.
I asked if he knew the title of the message.
He said, "Yes, I do. The title was, 'Is There a Hell?'
It was the same young man. Re had made his choice.
decided to stand between the living and the dead. I ask you that
question: Is there a Hell? Is there a place where people are burning
right now? Is there a place where they plead for one drop of water to
cool their tongue for they are tormented by the flames? Is there a
place where the worm dieth not and fire is not quenched? Is there a
place where He shall say to those on the left hand, "Depart from
Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his
angels"? Is it true that the wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all
the nations that forget God? Is there a place where those not found
written in the Book of Life shall be cast into the Lake of Fire? Is the
rich man still weeping and begging? Is it true that my unsaved
father who died a drunkard's death is there? Is he burning alter all
these years? Was I standing between the living and the dead when I
talked to my father that Sunday afternoon, January 1, 1950, and
pleaded with him to get saved? He told me that he would, but he
was going to wait until the spring-but spring never came because
he died and was buried on May 13 of that same year! Is it true that
there is a Hell? Is it true that your loved ones without Christ are
going to Hell? Is it true that the one who carried you in her womb
who is unsaved is going to burn in Hell forever? Is it true that the
only man you can ever call Daddy who is lost is going to Hell? Is
your unsaved brother really going to a place of torment? Do those
who hear you preach and reject the Gospel really die without Christ
and go to Hell to burn forever? Is it true that those millions in
Chicago within driving distance of my church who live without
Christ and die without Christ will burn in Hell forever?
If it isn't true, I'm going home! If it isn't true, I'm not walking to
the pulpit again! If it isn't true, let's eat, drink and be merry! If it
isn't true, let's call the missionaries home! If it isn't true, let's stop
the buses from rolling! If it isn't true, let's make a planter out of the
baptistry, close the church doors and quit the ministry! If it isn't
true, let's make money! If it isn't true, let's live it up! If it isn't
I've gotten my last lonely boarding pass on an airplane! If it isn't
true, I've checked into my last motel room! If it isn't true, I've made
my last all-night flight!
But if it is true, get the soul winning organized!
If it is true, plead
for God's power! If it is true, get the buses rolling! If it is true,
set our preacher boys on fire! If it is true, let's fill the baptistries
every week! If it is true, let's quit trading the prayer closet for the
voting booth! If it is true, let's quit turning bus captains into
precinct captains! If it is true, let's keep our concern about the
murder of the unborn, but be more concerned about the salvation of
the born! If it is true, let's keep our burden for the right to life but
have a bigger burden for the right to eternal life! If it is true, let's
back to the old-fashioned, window-rattling, shingle-pulling, barn-
storming, Hell-fire and brimstone, Bible preaching; to Christ-
honoring, soul-winning, Heaven-populating preaching! If it is true,
let's dust off some of our old sermons on Hell and use them again!
If it is true, "Let's talk about Jesus, the King of
kings is He, the
Lord of lords supreme, throughout eternity; the great I Am, the
Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door; let's talk about Jesus more and
more!" If it is true, let's organize more soul-winning campaigns
than voter-registration campaigns! If it is true, let's get back to soul
winning, which is really the answer! Soul winning will sober more
alcoholics than Alcoholics Anonymous. Soul winning will clean
more slums than social programs. Soul winning will feed more
hungry bodies than welfare. Soul winning will save America quick-
er than politics. Soul winning will do more for educating children
than Head Start Programs. Soul winning will keep folks from
burning in Hell!
If it is true, let's get back to talking about
souls more than about
offerings! If it is true, let's get back to talking about baptisms more
than about registrations! If it is true, let's do church work more than
school work! If it is true, let's make the Sunday school more
important than the day school! If it is true, let's make the Sunday
school teacher more important than the history teacher! If it is true,
let's make the deacon more important than the school board! If it is
true, let's make saving souls more important than basketball goals!
If it is true, let's make soul-winning clubs more important than
fellowship groups! If it is true, let's find the answer in the Father's
house instead of in the White House!
All I ask is, "Dear preacher, is there a Hell?" Oh,
fashioned preaching about warning people about the wrath of God,
the old-fashioned preaching that has a Hell that's hot and sin that's
black and an eternity that's long.
Several years ago a man was dying. I was called to
and these were his dying words: 'Teacher, don't lie to me. I'm
dying. Is there really a Heaven? Tell me. Is it true that there's a
I ask you this question: Is there really a Heaven?
Is there "a land
that is fairer than day, and by faith we can see it afar, for the Father
waits over the way, to prepare us a dwelling place there"? Is it true
that in my Rither's house are many mansions? Is it true that He has
gone to prepare a place for me'? Is it true that He will come again? Is
it true that He will receive me unto Himself? Is it true that where He
is, there will I be also? Is it true that to be absent from the body is to
be present with the Lord? Is it true that John saw the Holy City,
coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband? Is it true that "when we've been there ten thousand
years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's
praise than when we first begun"?
Is it true that at 3:37 p.m. on September 30, 1984,
really went to Heaven? Is it true that she is in Heaven now? Is it true
that she is with her two little girls who preceded her in death many
years before? Can she actually see Lorene, and is she with Hazel
now? Is it true that her blind eyes can now see? Are her shoulders
really straight? Is she beholding the face of the One she loved more
than life? Is her face unwrinkled? Is her brow unfurrowed? Can I
really sing, "Tell Mother I'll Be There"? Does she hear me preach?
Can she walk? Can she run? Can she jump? Can she hear? Is she
watching me now'? Was she wrong when she said on her death bed,
"There's Lorene; there's Hazel; there's Uncle Harvey and Aunt
Jimmie"? Is she really free of pain? Was she right as we talked and
held hands and she said, "I'm going to Heaven, son," and we joined
hands and sang, "0 they tell me of a home far beyond the sky; 0
they tell me of a home far away; 0 they tell me of a home where no
storm clouds rise; 0 they tell me of an unclouded day"? Is there a
Heaven? Is there a Hell? Will my mother really never hurt again? Is
there a city really being built there with streets of gold and gates of
pearl? Was I right when I stood beside my mother's bed and told
her of Heaven? Was I right at the airport when I called her after she
had died, temporarily forgetting that she was gone? The operator
said, "Sir, no one answers," and I said, "Oh, I forgot, operator. Last
Thursday she moved to a new address." Did she really move to a
Is my good friend, Dr. John Rice, really with
Jesus? Is Brother
Lester Roloff beholding the face of his Saviour? Is Dr. Ford Porter
talking to Him now? Is Dr. Bill Rice actually with Him?
I ask you: Is there a Hell? Is there a Heaven? Do
we really stand
between the living and dead? Is Jesus really the difference? Is the
need of man the old rugged cross? Was Paul's message to the
Philippian jailor really right when he said, 'Believe on the Lord
Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved"? Did God really so love "the
world that He gave His only begotten Son"? Then what else
Oh, men of God, it is true! There is a Heaven!
There is a Hell!
There is a Jesus! There is a virgin birth! There is a sinless life!
There is a vicarious death! There is a bodily resurrection! There is
an ascension! There is a coming back to the earth on the part of the
Saviour! There is a rapture! There is a tribulation! There is a
millennium! There is a New Jerusalem! It's real! There is a Hell!
There is a Heaven! As we stand to preach, we do stand between the
living and the dead! May God give us that awareness as we walk to
the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, as we hold the censer of the Word of
God high to stay the plague, as we stand between the living and the
The Preacher and Language
There are several things that should be sacred to a
nation: (1) Its
flag, (2) Its National Anthem, (3) Its landmarks, (4) Its Pledge of
Allegiance, and (5) Its language. We cringe at the thought of
profaning any of these. Nothing raises to a boiling point the blood
of a patriot like seeing his flag abused or profaned. A number of
years ago a group of rebels gathered across the street from our
church, took an American flag, dipped it in soapy water and
washed a car with it. I organized a posse of our men, and we went
over and captured the flag from the rebels. We were infuriated, and
All patriotic Americans are alarmed when people
during the playing of the National Anthem. One fellow mentioned
to me that he was at a ballgame. The person next to him did not
stand during the playing of the National Anthem. My friend
grabbed him by the collar, jerked him up and said, "You stand up,
fellow, while our National Anthem is being played!" Whether or
not this is the action all of us would have taken, it is the action that
all true Americans would like to take!
Not many years ago some hoodlums defaced the Statue
Liberty. All of us who hold the United States dear were shocked and
angered by this defamation.
We are equally alarmed when someone refuses to pay
our country by refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
All of the above abuses are abhorrent to those of
us who love
America and its heritage; yet people who would not dare profane
the flag, the National Anthem, our landmarks and the Pledge of
Allegiance, think nothing about defacing the fifth of those things
which are sacred to us-our language. Now I am in no way a
grammatical Pharisee, nor do I feel superior to those who have not
had the opportunity to learn the language, nor do I condemn in the
least a faithful preacher of the Gospel whose grammar is imperfect
because of interrupted or denied training. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. used
to say, "I would rather a man say, 'I seen,' who has seen something
than to say, 'I have seen,' who ain't seen nothin'." I agree with him;
yet I believe that the man of God should equip himself with the best
tools available. I am not criticizing a person who drives a nail with
the heel of his shoe, but a hammer would do better. I am not
criticizing a person who eats with his fingers, but a fork and a
spoon would be better; nor am I criticizing a sincere man of God
who because of circumstances has not been allowed to acquaint
himself with the English language as he would like to have done,
but I do feel that the best equipment available should be used in the
proclamation of the Word of God! If a person is using the best tools
that are available to him, he certainly will have me in his corner
cheering; and regardless of what language he used to proclaim
Christ, I will pull for him and in no way criticize him; but as we
have opportunity as God's men, we need to polish our tools as much
as possible. One of these tools is our language. The English
language is the preacher's trowel, his hammer; his scalpel, his
chisel. The English language is the conveyor of his feelings. The
more words and phrases that the preacher knows and the more
proper his grammar is, the more effectively can he convey his true
feelings to those who hear him.
Not only is the language the means of conveying the
feelings, but it is also his means of thinking. We think in the
English language, so the better that we know it, the better we can
think. Not to know it well limits our minds, for the language is not
only a tool with which to convey thoughts and feelings, but it is a
tool with which we exercise and improve the mind.
The language is also the way of communicating
truth. It is the
vehicle by which truth is passed from one mind to another, so the
more of the language we know and the better we know it, the more
able we are to communicate truth.
Someone said to a famous preacher one time, "God
The preacher replied, "God doesn't need your ignorance, either."
Bear in mind, we are not talking here about the person with limited
opportunity. We are talking about the person who refuses opportun-
ity or squanders it. We are not being critical of those with limited
vocabularies; we are simply encouraging God's men to learn better
how to communicate, how to think, how to transfer truth and how to
express their feelings.
Language is one of the greatest unifiers of people.
tower of Babel was built in the book of Genesis, it was done so in
order that the people might become one, but God looked down and
did not want them to become one; that is, He did not want them to
have a one-world government, a one-world religion, etc. So God
went down and confounded the language. Because of this, they
were scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. Their method of
unity had been taken from them.
Because of the aforementioned reasons, English is
most important subject for a ministerial student to study in college.
Immediately the reader may think that the Bible is the most
important, and he may be right. However; a successful preacher
will study his Bible. A good Christian will read his Bible. God's
man will search the Bible for truth and in the years following his
college training, he will continually live in his Bible, but he will not
continually live in his English book. Certainly he should take all
the Bible in college that he can, but he should give unlimited
emphasis to the learning of the English language. With it he will
preach the Bible. With it he will tell of the grace of God. Whether
by pen or tongue, every sermon he preaches or writes will be done
in the language. Not to know it and use it well will limit his
opportunity of adequately expressing the love of God and transfer-
ring from his mind to the minds of the people the great truths of the
Bible. If the preacher does not know it well, he should use it in the
best way he can, but his best should continually improve! This is
not just in order to reach a few educated snobs and grammatical
Pharisees. This is so he can more effectively proclaim the greatest
truths in all the world-those that God has revealed to man!
Thank God for the English language-that beautiful
handed down from our fathers. May we guard it carefully and hand
it down in its purity to those who follow us, and may I while I am its
custodian learn it to its fullest so that I may properly express the
real "me" to you, and may I so preserve it that I can express to you
what I really am, what I really know and what I really feel.
Let me show you the crime of profaning the
John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was John." John 1:14, "And the Word
was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and
truth." Revelation 19:13, "And He was clothed with a vesture
dipped in blood: and His name is called The Word of God." You
will notice these verses have at least one thing in common. In each
of them Jesus is called The Word of God. Why was He called the
Word? Because He was God's way of expressing Himself to man
just as our words are our way of expressing ourselves to man. Since
Jesus is the Word of God, or God's way of expressing Himself to
man, I rebel when He is not expressed properly and when someone
mars the perfection of God's expression of Himself to mankind. I
rebel when someone refutes and rejects the virgin birth, for the
virgin birth is one of the letters in God's Word. It mars God's
expressing of Himself to man. I rebel when someone rejects the
sinless life of Christ; they are marring God's Word, or God's
expression of Himself to man. I feel equal disdain when people
deny the vicarious death, reject the bodily resurrection, verbal
inspiration of the Scriptures, etc. Why do I have this rebellion and
disdain? I have it simply because God's method of expressing
Himself to man has been marred.
Man has a way of expressing himself to man. This
done through his word, or his language. What a tragedy to mar it
and to profane it! Just as a sinful Jesus would be an inadequate
expression of God, the man; even so a misused and abused lan-
guage limits man's expression of himself to man. If one person
really loves another; he should have all the tools possible with
which to express that love. If a preacher really wants to convey truth
to his people, he should have all the tools possible with which to
convey that truth.
Now what can the preacher do who has not had the
that he would have preferred? There are several things he can do.
1. He should Learn to spell. He can get a spelling
book, just like
a child in the first grade, get with a friend who understands, and
learn to spell! For the preacher to say, "I never could spell very
well," is not a shame. For the preacher to say, "I never will learn to
spell very well," is a shame.
2. The preacher should learn new words on a regular
Learn a new word a week. It will be another weapon in your
arsenal, another vitamin in your menu, and another tool that you
can use in the expression of yourself and in your revealing of God's
truths to your people.
3. Read. Nothing will substitute for it. One of the
reasons we do
not know the language is that we do not see it enough. One of the
reasons that we do not spell properly is that we do not see words
enough. People who read extensively will soon learn how to spell
properly. People who read proper grammar will one day use proper
grammar. Read, read, read, read, read! Of course, choose carefully
what you read, but read! Of course, do not read heresy, but read!
4. Write. Write sermons. Write essays. Write poetry
write, use a dictionary When you doubt the spelling of a word, look
5. Do not use improper words. It is a shame and a
this generation has done to its language. Money is "bread"; a good
time is "a blast"; an uncooperative person is "a square"; a nice
person is "cool." We call young ladies "guys," and in general, we
have profaned one of the things that should be most sacred to us
I was in Jamaica preaching. On Monday I checked
into the hotel
It was a small hotel, so the owner and his wife and five-year-old
daughter were at the desk when I arrived. They were so gracious to
me. I had never been treated with any more hospitality and
courtesy After chatting with them for awhile I looked to their little
five-year-old daughter and said, "My, you are a real little sweet-
heart!" Immediately their attitude toward me changed! Their treat-
ment of me became cool and distant, and sometimes bordered on
being rude. I couldn't understand it. All week they treated me that
way While the pastor was driving me to the airport on Friday, I told
him what had happened and asked him if he had any idea what
caused their treatment of me to change. The pastor said, "Dr.
Hyles, you don't know? I thought you knew. When you checked in
on Monday and called their daughter "a sweetheart," you were
actually calling her in Jamaican language a prostitute! You thought
you were saying, 'You are a little sweetheart.' What you really were
saying is, 'You are a little prostitute.' "Think of it! A week of my
life was lived in misunderstanding because of a misuse of the
On Monday night of that week I preached to a group
preachers and missionaries. I kept stressing a truth that Christian
people should get out, knock on doors and tell folks about Christ. I
noticed that there was a subdued response on the part of the
Jamaican people. I could not understand it. I did understand,
however, when after the service I was asked by a Jamaican, "What
is this thing that you preached about tonight called "knocking on
I was stunned! Then I told him that that means that
we should go
out where people are and visit their home and tell them about Jesus.
He said, "Oh, you mean hold-doggin'."
I said, "What in the world is hold-doggin'?"
He said, "That is the same thing to us that knocking on doors is
to you." He proceeded to tell me that not many of the homes in his
neighborhood even had doors. It was not a door that kept the family
safe; it was the dog in the entrance of the house! So when you go up
to tell someone about Christ or visit in the home you simply holler;
"Hold the dog!" They call that "hold-doggin'."
The next night I preached on, "Go into all the world and do hold-
doggin'." It was quite humorous as I challenged them to go hold-
doggin' and scolded them because they were not going hold-
The language is important. Of course, no one should
of another or think himself superior to another because his gram-
mar or use of the English language is superior to that of his friend,
but each of us should do the best that we can to learn the language
and its use in order that we may better convey to those whom we
love our true feelings and to those whom we preach a proper
presentation of the truth that God gives us for a message!
The Care and the Use of the Preacher's
The voice of God's man is the thing that is used to
is in his mind to the minds of his people. It is the vehicle which God
has chosen with which to deliver His truth to His people. Because
of this, the preacher must take extra care of his voice. It matters not
how spiritual he is, how sincere he is or how prepared he is; when
his voice is gone, his primary purpose is gone. John the Baptist was
called a voice. Because of the importance of the preacher's voice,
he should watch it carefully and care for it properly
There are four things that cause voice trouble for a preacher.
Strain is almost always caused by improper care of
the voice and
by improper knowledge of its limitations. There are many things
that a preacher can do to prevent this enemy from hampering or
eliminating his opportunity for doing the thing that God has called
him to do and being the thing that God has called him to be.
1. Perform vocal exercise. Any muscle in the human
needs exercise. Athletic teams must properly exercise before a
game or they will damage their muscles. The wise pastor will
perform vocal exercises before preaching and, for that matter; make
them a part of his regular schedule. Singers are taught to exercise
their voices before concerts. Athletes are taught to exercise their
bodies before games. Soldiers exercise their bodies before battle.
Why shouldn't the preacher exercise his voice before preaching!
When God called me to preach, I saw no way that I
could ever be
a success at it! I went to the Texas University at Arlington and told
the Dean that I was going to be a preacher; so he gave me permis-
sion to take an excessive number of speech and public speaking
courses. It was there that I learned to exercise my voice, and though
I do not have the strongest voice in the world, it has enabled me to
preach over 42,500 sermons over a period of nearly 40 years. This I
think would not have been possible had I not been taught vocal
exercises. In the morning early I use the long vowels preceded by
an "h"-like "ha, ha, ha, he~, he~, he~, hi, hi, hi, ho, ho, ho, hu~, hu,
hu." I exercise with my voice coming from the stomach and not
from the throat. Then I do the same thing with the short vowels,
"ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, hi, hi, hi, ho, ho, ho, hu, hu, hu." Then I
put my hands on my stomach and do the same thing several times.
Then I lay across the bed with my head hanging off the side of the
bed and go through the same exercises several times. If a preacher
has the slightest voice problem he should, while he is young, take
voice lessons and learn the proper care for that part of his anatomy
which is the same thing as a hammer is to a carpenter, a stethoscope
is to a doctor; a scalpel is to a surgeon, a trowel is to a brick mason
and a needle is to a seamstress.
2. Arise early in the morning; drink a big, tall
glass of hot
water; and then do the vocal exercises. Some people put a little
lemon juice in the hot water. This is a good way for a preacher to
start the day
3. Avoid lying down and/or taking naps right before
4. Sing a lot. Singing is good voice exercise. Of
should not be excessively loud singing; just sing with a normal
singing voice, being careful to sing from the diaphragm or stomach
rather than the throat.
5. Do some public speaking prior to the service in
will preach. I find it helpful to teach a Sunday school class before I
preach on Sunday morning and to speak in some way at an early
service on Sunday evening. Since the teaching of a class is not as
strenuous as preaching, I find it good vocal exercise for the preach
mg that is to follow.
6. Stay calm at other events. The preacher should
way to express his enthusiasm and excitement at a ball game other
than straining his voice.
7. Pronounce words distinctly A mispronunciation of
is usually caused by improper training and will often cause prob-
lems with the speaker's voice. The same thing that causes a
preacher to mispronounce his words also causes the voice to
become strained. The wise pastor will work diligently in an effort
to learn to pronounce properly his vocabulary
8. Do not force excitement. Forced excitement
voice muscles. Let the excitement while preaching come from the
heart to the voice, not from the voice to the heart. When excitement
comes from the heart to the voice, it is a natural excitement and will
aid in taking the voice to the diaphragm. When excitement is not
natural, it lifts the voice to the throat and leads to strain. It is
best for a preacher not to start his sermons with a loud voice. Start
with a calm, assured voice. Then when excitement comes in the
heart, the heart will send the throat a message and say that it is
ready now for volume! The heart has done its work first, and strain
is less likely.
9. Start slowly. Have you ever noticed two prize
fighters in the
ring at the beginning of round one? They spar awhile; each feels out
his opponent; and then gradually the intensity builds. This is what
the wise preacher will do. Re will start gradually, let his voice
become adjusted to a certain pitch, and then the volume can be
increased without damaging the throat.
10. Stay close to the microphone. Use the
microphone! I do not
like for the public address men to "ride gain" on me while I preach.
By that I mean, if I get loud, I do not like for them to turn down the
volume of the public address system. If I get soft, I do not like for
them to turn it up. I prefer to use voice fluctuation rather than
"riding gain." Because of this, I do not prefer to use a lapel mike.
Many splendid preachers use them with great success; however; I
would not advise a preacher who has even the slightest problem
with his voice to use a lapel mike.
11. You should be able to hear your amplified
voice. The public
address system should have speakers placed close enough to the
preacher so he can hear his own voice easily. Avoid using small
speakers throughout the auditorium. The sound should come from
speakers near the preacher so he can hear himself. Often I will
preach in a church building where the people can hear me better
than I can hear myself. This always poses a problem. In an effort to
hear myself I speak louder than I should. I soon find myself hoarse
and often make the mistake of straining my voice.
12. Use an excessive amount of treble on the PA
system with not
much bass. Get behind a microphone and test this for yourself. Ask
someone to adjust the PA system to be heavy on bass. In fact, turn
the treble all the way down and the bass all the way up. Notice how
muffled the words seem to be. Then turn the bass all the way down
and the treble all the way up and notice how much easier it is to
understand the words. This is not to say that the treble should be all
the way up and the bass all the way down, but the emphasis should
be on the treble rather than on the bass.
13. Do not use an adjuster or a mixer on your PA
will lower the volume automatically when you speak loudly and
will raise it when you speak softly This may be good for lecturing,
but is treacherous for preaching. Some electronic engineers who
have never preached love them, but no real preacher enjoys preach-
ing when the volume of his voice is controlled by a machine. of all
the things that destroy my voice and cause me to strain it, this is the
one that does the most damage the quickest!
14. Use a change of pace while preaching. Do not
entire sermon at full volume. Give your voice a chance to rest. An
athlete does this with his body. A preacher should do it with his
voice. This also enables the hearer to have a chance to relax. It
provides added effectiveness. If everything is emphasized, nothing
is emphasized. For proper care of the voice, there should be some
loud speaking, some soft speaking, some conversational tone and a
variety of volume.
15. Exercise your voice on days you do not do any
speaking. The voice is like a muscle. It can be sore if it is not used
regularly A preacher who preaches daily and who cares for his
voice properly will have less voice trouble than a preacher who
preaches one day a week, all other things being equal. So on days
when the voice is not used for preaching, it should be exercised on a
16. Try to avoid tension while preaching. The more
preacher can be, the less likely he is to strain his voice. Enjoy
preaching. Don't let it be a chore or a time of unnecessary tension.
Relax in the Lord while you preach. Enjoy it, and avoid tension as
much as possible.
17. Use your voice early in the service so as to
test it and
therefore learn how to pace yourself and use it when you preach.
By that I mean, make the announcements and/or recognize the
visitors so that you will know your voice and its condition before
you stand to preach.
18. If following another preacher, learn to be
yourself Do not
fret if he has taken the congregation to a high pitch and to a lofty
spiritual experience. Realize that God has you there for a purpose
too. Do not compete with him. Do not fret or try to out-preach him.
Just be yourself. Yield yourself to the Holy Spirit and let Him use
you for the purpose that He has you there.
19. Do not try to deliver a sermon, but deliver
your soul and
lose yourself in a truth. The throat loosens when a preacher is lost
in his message. When he is totally consumed with what he is
saying, there is less strain on his voice.
Just as strain causes voice problems, tension is
also a great
enemy to preaching.
1. Prepare in advance, and avoid the meeting of a
When a deadline is approaching, the preacher's entire body be-
comes tense. It affects his voice and will lead him to not having his
tool sharpened for its work.
2. Do not discuss problems before preaching. Do not
church problems or personal problems to be a part of your con-
versation or thinking process before you preach. Problems will
tense up the body, including the voice, and often cause serious
voice problems while preaching.
3. Take care of no church business before
preaching. Do not
have board meetings, committee meetings or counseling sessions
that could cause tension.
4. Do not read your mail before preaching. It could
bad messages that could cause you to enter the pulpit with a tense
body and a tense throat.
5. Avoid fellowship before preaching. There should
be no coun-
seling or fellowship. This too could create tension that could affect
6. Avoid heavy praying before preaching. This is
another chapter and on both occasions I approach this point with
fear and trembling for fear I be misunderstood. I believe in heavy
praying. I believe in all-night praying. I believe in fasting and
praying. I believe in supplication and prayer, but I do not believe
that right before a sermon is the time for a preacher to become
tense. It can affect his voice adversely
Nothing should be done that would take the
slightest chance of
causing any disagreement before the man of God walks in the
pulpit. This will not only affect him adversely in his preaching, but
also it could damage his voice.
7. Always preach with a collar that is loose. If
you like to button
your collar while preaching, then buy shirts that are a half size too
large. Do not be timid about unbuttoning your collar and slightly
loosening your tie. Of course, there are circumstances when this
should not be done. These would include commencement exer-
cises, weddings, funerals, etc., but behind his own pulpit, the
pastor should feel free to do what is necessary to care for his voice.
8. Do not preach to individuals. This also is
where under another subject, but when a preacher preaches to
individuals and uses the pulpit as a whipping post or scolding
place, he will more than likely become tense, and his voice could be
All of this is to say that the preacher should
avoid tension. Voice
problems are caused not only by strain but also by tension.
Most voice problems are really stomach problems. If
ach is in good shape, the voice is usually in good shape.
1. Never speak right after eating. I try to leave
at least three hours between
my last meal and my sermon.
2. Eat very little at bedtime.
3. Wear loose clothing. Tight pants can cause a
the preacher's voice while he delivers his sermon.
4. Rely a lot on juices. Many years ago I used to
campaigns. Sometimes I would begin a revival campaign with a
hoarseness. When such was the case, I would get off all solid foods
and stay on vegetable and fruit juices for the entire revival. Usually
my voice was in better shape at the end of the revival meeting than it
was at the beginning.
5. Eat plenty of vegetables. Though I do not live
on strictly a
vegetarian diet, I believe that I could do so because I believe one of
the great secrets to health is the consumption of many vegetables.
Eat salads that include lettuce, celery, greens, cucumbers, etc.
Then enjoy cooked vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, green
beans, zucchini, squash, greens and other leafy vegetables.
6. Avoid dairy products within two hours of
products have a way of causing a congestion in the throat and should
be used on a limited basis and not at all near the time of preaching.
IV. COLDS AND SORE THROATS.
I travel every week. In January I am in the Florida
Keys one week
and in Alaska the next week. I go from sub-zero weather to tropical
weather within a matter of days. I am in all types of climates, all
degrees of humidity, and I must constantly watch myself. Thanks
be to God, I have not missed a speaking engagement in over 20
years. Part of this is because I fight constantly to avoid sore throats
1. Keep your head and feet warm and dry. My mother
say to me, "Son, the most important thing about being outside in
the cold is to keep the extremities warm. Keep your feet warm and
your head warm."
2. Avoid drafts. Avoid drafts on airplanes, while
driving in a car,
while sleeping, and by all means, while preaching. Pamper your-
self. When you are in a draft, do whatever you can to have it
removed or to have yourself removed from it.
3. Watch auditorium temperature. A building that is
too hot or
too cold can play havoc with a preacher's voice. Every Sunday
morning at 7:45 I go to the auditorium in our church, read the
temperature and look at a chart of days in the past when the outdoor
temperature was nearly the same. Then my maintenance man and I
decide the degree of heat or air conditioning that we will need for
4. You may be wise to wear year-around suits. It
may be below
zero outside, but the temperature in the auditorium will be about
the same in January that it is in July If the preacher preaches in a
heavy wool suit in January and a thin light suit in July in the same
auditorium with the same temperature, it could affect his voice and
5. Always keep a coat, a hat and rubber shoes
Weather can change. In the fall and winter do not be very far from a
hat, coat and rubber shoes. If the preacher must stay late after the
service, it might be wise to have some dry underclothing available.
If he is perspiring heavily when he finishes his sermon, it might be
wise for him to consider changing his undershirt and perhaps his
shirt before counseling or fellowship or caring for other duties
before he goes home.
There are many other things that a preacher should
do or avoid
doing, but time and space will not permit us to cover them. For
example, it is wise for a preacher to choose a sermon that will fit the
condition of his voice. It is wise for him to know the condition of
his voice and to decide to keep his sermon within the range of his
voice for that particular day.
Perhaps the most important thing that we can say is,
voice be honest. Let it show your heart. Use the same voice in
preaching that you always use. Be yourself and take good care of
that part of your anatomy that God has chosen to use to spread His
truth, to train His people, and to point sinners to the Lamb of God
that taketh away the sins of the world! You have only one voice; it is
the only one you will ever have! Take care of it! God needs it!
The Importance of Preaching
Several years ago a poll was taken among preachers
the different duties of the ministry: (1) administration, (2) teaching,
(3) preaching, (4) pastoring, (5) priestly work, and (6) church
business. The question was asked to hundreds of preachers, "What
do you think is the most important of these ministries?"
Overwhelmingly the response was, "Preaching."
The second question was asked: "Which occupies
most of your
To that question the answer was overwhelmingly, "Adminis-
tration," and preaching was last on the list.
How tragic! That which we feel is most important
is what we do
Oh, how America needs preaching! When John Knox
Scotland, the country had deteriorated morally and spiritually.
Finally John Knox decided to return to Scotland. It is said that on
every street corner the word was being spread, "Knox is coming!
Knox is coming! Knox is coming!" The entire country was filled
with electricity because the preacher was returning. Scotland
needed Knox. England needed Spurgeon. America needed Moody,
and this old sin-cursed world needs preaching again! In Isaiah 61:1,
Isaiah called himself a preacher. In Luke 4:18 Jesus was a preacher.
In II Peter 2:5 Noah was called "a preacher of righteousness." In
Ecciesiastes 1:1 Solomon was called "the Preacher." In I Timothy
2:7 Paul said that he was "ordained a preacher." In Mark 1:14 we
find that Jesus came to Galilee "preaching the Gospel." In Mat-
thew 3:la we find, "In those days came John the Baptist, preach-
ing." In Jonah 3:2 Jonah was admonished to preach to Nineveh the
preaching that God bade him to preach. Acts 8:4 says, "Therefore
they that are scattered abroad went every where preaching the
Word." In Acts 14:1 we find that they "so spake" that multitudes
believed. Oh, how we need some "so-speakers!" Preaching is
exactly that. It is "so-speaking."
The most important hour of the week in a nation is
the hour when
God's men approach the pulpit. Several years ago the mayor of our
city called our offices. Our receptionist answered the phone,
whereupon the mayor asked if he could speak with Jack. Our
receptionist replied that there was no one here who answered to the
name Jack. The mayor told her that there was such a person there,
and that he was the pastor, and he said, "Let me talk to Jack!"
Our receptionist said, "Your honor; we have nobody
answers to that name. We have a Brother Hyles, we have a Preacher
Hyles, we have a Pastor Hyles, we have a Dr. Hyles, but no one
answers to the name Jack."
The mayor told her that he wanted her to know that
he was the
mayor. She replied that she wanted him to know that she was the
receptionist and that she would connect him to my office if he
would call me the proper title! Finally he yielded and she put the
call through. She was not being stubborn; she was simply giving to
the preacher his proper position and to preaching its proper place!
Years ago I was on an airplane flying to Denver;
Colorado. I sat
down beside a man who appeared to be a businessman. He had on a
very beautiful navy blue suit and was very neatly dressed. We
talked for some time before we introduced ourselves by name. I
finally asked him what business he pursued. He replied that he was
a chemical engineer. He then asked me, "Do you know anything
I replied, "Yes, I know a little." (I did know a
little. I knew that
H2O was water; that AU was gold, and that I dropped chemistry in
college for the safety of the student body!) Re informed me that he
was so impressed that a layman was knowledgeable about chemis-
try I assured him that I did know a little-a little is exactly what I
knew! He called off a long formula and said, "What do you think
I replied, "I like the good in that formula, but I
about the bad."
He said, "Put her there! That is exactly how I
feel. I am so
refreshed to know that you know a little about chemistry." He then
called off another formula that made the other look very simple.. He
said, "What do you think about that one?"
I said, "Well, I feel that we should not make an
opinion on that
one until we are sure and that a person should not make a hasty
Again, he said, "Put her there! That's exactly how
I feel. How
refreshing it is to meet someone who is a layman who knows
something about chemistry!"
Then he asked me the $64,000 question: "What is
ness?" he asked.
I suddenly replied, "I am an ambassador."
He sat up in his seat and said, "Sir; do you mean
that you are a
real, live ambassador?"
I said, "That's exactly right."
He said, "I've never met an ambassador before. May
I shake your
I said, "You certainly may"
After we had shaken hands, he said, "Sir, let's get this straight.
You mean your citizenship is in another country, and you represent
a king here in America?"
Well, praise God, that's exactly what I've been doing for years,
so I said, "Yes, sir. My citizenship is in another country, and I
represent a King in America!"
He said, "Sir; could I ask you, what country and what king?"
I replied that the country was Heaven and that the King was
Jesus! He smiled and in fifteen minutes he too was an ambassador
and a citizen of my country.
Years ago I read a famous Southern preacher's
"I Magnify Mine Office." How important it is to magnify the office
of a preacher!
Preaching is teaching with a tear in the eye.
Preaching is truth on
fire. Preaching is the Word of God in the hand, the fire of God in the
heart and the zeal of God in the soul. Preaching is the gift of God
wrapped in an excited voice. Preaching is the moral conscience of a
nation. Preaching is the soul of the church. Preaching is the throne
room of society Preaching is the scepter and crown of the preacher.
Preaching is the moral level of the succeeding generation. It was
preaching that originally built our secular colleges. It was preach-
ing that originally built our public school system. It was preaching
that originally established our law system, and in the early days of
our country, a degree in theology was a prerequisite to a law degree.
Every great denomination was founded on preaching. It was John
Wesley who said, "I just set myself on fire and folks come to watch
me as I burn."
Sam Jones, the famous Methodist evangelist, went to
conference one day with a friend. As they rode their horses home,
Sam Jones looked to his friend and said, "I learned something
His friend asked what he had learned, whereupon Sam
replied, "I learned that my pulpit is my throne, and I am a king."
Richard Baxter said, "I preached as never sure to preach again, as
a dying man to dying men.
John Hall said, "A strong and faithful pulpit is
the safeguard to a
Thomas Betterton said, "Actors speak of things
imaginary as if
they were real; preachers speak of things real as if they were
Philip Brooks said, "Preaching is truth delivered
sonality. Preaching is personal counseling on a group scale."
Hugh Latimer said, "Preaching is the delivering of
John Newton said, "Preaching is breaking the hard
healing the broken one.
William R. Nicoll said, "Of all vocations, the
is the most sacred, the most exacting and the most humbling."
Richard Whately said, 'Preach not because you have
something but because you have something to say"
Abraham Lincoln said, 'When I hear a man preaching,
I like to
see him act as if he were fighting bees."
Preaching is the answer. Let nothing take its
place. Let no
concert be given at preaching time. Let no cantata be given at
preaching time. Let no movie substitute for the preaching of the
Gospel. Let no vespers take the place of preaching. Let no play or
dramatical presentation be given at preaching time. Preaching is
the loftiest of the professions and the greatest of the arts.
Preaching is truth set on fire. Preaching is
demolition of error.
Preaching is doubt's healing balm. Preaching is the Holy Spirit's
amplifier. Preaching is the Saviour's projector. Preaching is fact on
fire and truth aflame. Preaching is worship's entree. Preaching is
the adornment of the Bible. Preaching is the power of God unto
salvation. Preaching is revival's forerunner. Preaching is the
church's heart. Preaching is doctrine clothed in excitement.
Preaching is love's smile. Preaching is sin's greatest adversary.
Preaching is frustration's funeral. Preaching is doubt's demise.
Preaching is fear's failure. Preaching is depression's death. Preach-
mg is disappointment's decline. Preaching is faith's food. Preach-
ing is profundity delivered in simplicity. Preaching was the first
thing done by the Mayflower pilgrims. Preaching is the mender of
broken relationships. Preaching is the healer of broken hearts.
Preaching is the revival of broken dreams. Preaching is Hell's
greatest enemy Preaching is the sinner's best friend. Preaching is
the saint's diner. Preaching is genius with a halo. Preaching is fire
in the pulpit that melts the ice in the pew.
Preaching saved Nineveh, ignited Pentecost and
turned the Jude-
an wilderness into a Baptist revival.
When the man of God approaches the pulpit, let
flying, let Heaven's hosannahs hush, let adults hearken and chil-
dren listen, let young people be alert, let E. F Hutton pay attention,
let Heaven respond, let Hell tremble, let ushers sit down and listen,
let the church wait in holy expectation, let all eternity tremble, let
Satan and his angels be anointed with fear!
Oh, how I love preaching! I have preached on street
have preached in jail houses. I have preached in taverns. I have
preached in brush arbors. I have preached in tents. I have preached
from the back of pick-up trucks. I have preached in city parks. I
have preached in barber shops. I have preached in living rooms.
I have preached on vacant lots. I have preached in school rooms. I
have preached in city auditoriums. I have preached in coliseums. I
have preached in football stadiums. I have preached in gym-
nasiums. I have preached in opera houses. I have preached in many
of our states, including Hawaii and Alaska. I have preached in
Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Jerusalem, Egypt, Japan,
St. Thomas, Cyprus, Lebanon, Germany, Jordan and other coun-
tries around the world. Over 42,500 times I have stood and pro-
claimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing like it! Thank
God for preaching, and thank God for making me a preacher!
Years ago I was preaching in the city of Wichita,
Kansas, at a
convention. The convention was held in a beautiful church au-
ditorium, but the preaching pulpit was over in a comer, and there
was another pulpit in the other corner of the platform. I stood in the
corner and tried to preach, but I simply could not do it. I had no
other recourse. I just lifted up the pulpit and carried it to the middle
of the platform and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I simply cannot
preach when preaching is put in the corner. I must preach when
preaching is the center and the focal point of the service." Hallelu-
jah for preaching!
Now I am not minimizing social work. I am not
importance of the Christian being involved in politics. I am not
minimizing fighting for righteousness. I am simply exalting
preaching. If I had my way, every tavern would be padlocked. If I
had my way, prohibition would return to America. If [had my way,
to make or sell alcoholic beverages would be a penitentiary of-
fence. If I had my way, driving while intoxicated would be a major
crime. If I had my way, one who killed another while under the
influence of alcohol would be considered a murderer. If I had my
way, every package store in America would close, and no stewar-
dess would ever again walk down the aisle of an airplane serving
alcoholic beverages! If I had my way, not one sweet woman would
be hit again by a drunken husband. If I had my way, not one child
would see his dad walk out. If I had my way, not one mother would
be left to rear her children alone. If! had my way, no one who sits in
Congress would be allowed to drink as he governs the affairs of our
nation. If I had my way, no judge on a bench would be allowed to
drink. If I had my way, no car would ever swerve, no hotel would
have a lounge, no Playboy bunny would take liquid poison to tables
of deceived customers, no TV screen would advertise John Bar-
leycorn. If I had my way, not one child would be orphaned by
alcohol, and the local tavern owner would not be a respected
member of society. Yet, in spite of my hatred for the liquor traffic,
we are not commanded in the Bible to work in Alcoholics Anony-
mous. We are not commanded to work in the Christian Temperance
Union, though I am not opposed to those who work in either
organization. We are not commanded to give our lives just to
fighting liquor; but we are commanded to preach the Gospel and to
preach righteousness. Preaching will close more taverns than Alco-
holics Anonymous will, and it will dry up more cities than the
Christian Temperance Union will.
If I had my way, every adult bookstore would be
burned. If I had
my way, every Playboy Magazine would be destroyed. If I had my
way, all adult movie houses would be demolished. If I had my way,
every curse word would be taken from radio and television. If I had
my way, no filth would ever appear on television screens. If I had
my way, every questionable book would be banned from the school
room. If I had my way, every nude painting would be taken from
our art galleries. If I had my way, every immoral professor would be
fired. If I had my way, books like CATCHER IN THE RYE would
be declared unfit for use. If I had my way, every Playboy Club
would be closed, never to reopen. If I had my way, Penthouse and
all other dirty magazines would be made fuel for a bonfire. If I had
my way, all sexy and suggestive shows would be removed from
radio and television. If I had my way, rock music would be banned
from the department stores and shopping centers. If I had my way,
our newspapers would be free of profanity, and I am for every anti-
smut organization in America. I am for the Anti-Defamation
League, I am for the Clean-Up Television movements. Yet, we are
not commanded just to be moral reformers by supporting organiza-
tions that improve society, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, every office in America would be
filled by a
capable, born-again fundamentalist. If I had my way, Lee Roberson
would be President; Tom Malone, Secretary of State; Bob Jones,
Secretary of War; David Gibbs, Attorney General; Wendell Evans,
Secretary of Education; Bob Gray, Secretary of the Interior; Curtis
Hutson, head of the Welfare Department; Gary Coleman, Secretary
of Housing and Urban Development; Bill Pennell, President of
Cuba; Johnny Ramsey, President of Mexico; Raymond Barber,
Secretary of Finance; and John Rawlings, Secretary of Labor;
Harold Henniger, Secretary of Agriculture; Bruce Cummons, Sec-
retary of Finance. If I had my way, Bob Jones III would be Vice-
President; Buddy Franklin, Governor of Maine; A. V. Henderson,
Governor of Missouri; Myron Cedarholm, Governor of Wisconsin;
Al Janney, Governor of Florida; Walt Handford, Governor of South
Carolina; Steve Byrd, Governor of North Carolina; Bob Kelley,
Governor of Tennessee; Cecil Hodges, Justice of the Supreme
Court; Tom Wallace, Governor of California; Greg Dixon, Gover-
nor of Indiana; Jim Vineyard, Governor of Oklahoma; Ed Nelson,
Governor of Colorado; Wally Beebe, Secretary of Transportation;
Bill Dowell, head of Department of Physical Fitness; Mrs. John R.
Rice, head of National Organization for Women; David Cavin,
Speaker of the House; Russell Anderson, Director of the National
Budget; and Bob Billings, United States Representative to the
United Nations. Every city would have a fundamentalist mayor;
every school board would be staffed by fundamentalist deacons,
every courtroom would be occupied by a fundamentalist lawyer,
the security guards of Hyles-Anderson College would be the Indi-
ana State Police, and the politics of our nation would be run under
God; but in spite of this, we are not commanded to clean up
politics, to head movements for better government or to head
political actions groups, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, not one Communist would ever speak
college campus. If I had my way, Cuba would be blockaded until
Russian troops are pulled out. If I had my way, every Communist
book would be taken off the library shelves of every classroom in
America, and every person found guilty of spreading Communism
would be tried for treason. If I had my way, no Communist would
ever again appear on a talk show, and the Communist party would
be outlawed in the United States! If I had my way, no pink professor
would ever again criticize George Washington; yet, in spite of this
fact, we are never commissioned to head the Committee of Un-
American Activities and we are never commanded to join the Anti-
Communist League, but we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, a person found guilty of growing
marijuana would be placed in prison. If I had my way, never again
would a teacher teach evolution in our schools. If I had my way, the
classroom would never be a place of profanity again. If I had my
way, sex education would be turned back to the parents. If I had my
way, it would be illegal to bottle or sell alcoholic beverages. If I had
my way, there would not be a coeducational dorm in America. If I
had my way, there would not be another half-time chorus line at a
football game. If I had my way, no Christian child would be again
ridiculed for refusing to dance at the local high school. If I had my
way, not one girl would be allowed to attend school in a mini-skirt,
shorts or pants. If I had my way, no Madalyn Murray O'Hair would
be allowed to shake to faith of our youth, and yet we are never
commanded in the Bible to join "Clean-up America" campaigns. I
am for all of them, but there is no Bible command about it. There is
a Bible command to preach!
If I had my way, there would be a fundamental
in every city, town, village and neighborhood in America. If I had
my way, every child would sit under a soul-winning teacher. If I had
my way, no Christian young people would ever go to a heathen
school. If I had my way, every school in America would be built on
the Bible and its principles and would be bathed in prayer, but we
are not commissioned to be educators primarily or to leave our
pulpits for Christian education; we are commanded to preach!
If I had my way, America would be the strongest
in the world again. If I had my way, America would have won the
Vietnam War. If I had my way, we would never have relinquished
the Panama Canal. If I had my way, not one gun control law would
ever be passed in the United States so that only thieves and crooks
would have guns and the common citizen would be at their mercy
If I had my way, America would never again enter
into an arms
treaty with Russia. We would simply become the most powerful
nation on the face of the earth and ready to defend ourselves at any
cost! If I had my way, the Bay of Pigs would not have failed. If I had
my way, America would stand up in defense of Taiwan. If I had my
way, America would pull out of the United Nations, and draft
dodgers would be convicted of treason. If I had my way, our Navy
would be second to none, our Air Force would be the greatest in the
world, our Army would be the mightiest on earth, and we would
stop Communist aggression in Cuba, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cam-
bodia, San Salvador; Iran, Poland, Nicaragua, El Salvador and
Mexico. If I had my way, nobody on the face of the earth would live
in fear of the slavery of Communism, and every free nation on earth
would sleep peacefully because of our dedication to their indepen-
dence and freedom. If I had my way, the mightiest military defense
in history would be ours; and yet, we are not commanded in the
Bible as God's men to spend our time improving the armed forces,
but we are commanded to preach!
The Pentagon needs to be improved, but the hope of
does not rest in the Pentagon. The White House needs to be
improved, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the White
House. God knows the Supreme Court could use a world of
improvement, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the
Supreme Court. Congress needs improving, but the hope of this
nation does not nest in the Congress. Our city halls need cleaning
up, but the hope of this nation does not rest in the city halls. The
United Nations General Assembly could use some housecleaning,
but the hope of this country and this world does not rest in the halls
of the United Nations. It was preaching that saved Scotland under
John Knox. It was preaching that spared England under Whitefield,
Wesley and Spurgeon. It was preaching that spared America under
Moody and Sunday, and it is preaching that will save America
again if she is ever saved. I Corinthians 1:21b, "It pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." It
was preaching that inspired Pentecost. It was preaching that saved
Nineveh. May God take us back to old-fashioned, Spirit-filled,
Christ-honoring, sin-hating, soul-winning, Bible preaching! It is
the hope of the church! It is the hope of the nation! It is the hope of