It will be in vain for me to stock my library, . . . if I neglect the culture of myself; for books, and agencies, and systems, are only remotely the instruments of my holy calling; my own spirit, soul, and body, are my nearest machinery for sacred service; my spiritual faculties, and my inner life, are my battle axe and weapons of war.

Lectures to My Students by Charles Spurgeon (Baker), 2

Learning from the Commencement Address

How different people, speaking to different contexts, shape the message to connect

high school students graduates tossing up hats over blue sky.

What can we learn from the commencement address?  The graduation speech has a basic purpose: to encourage and congratulate students on the day of their graduation.  These days everything is recorded, so it is a great time to observe the oral presentations of some of the best speakers and celebrities of our day.

3 Aspects of a Speech to look at as you watch

  1. POINT:  What is the message that they are communicating?
  • Point – What are they talking about?
  • Purpose – What do they want you to do with the information?


2.  PERSON:  Who is speaking?

  • The person is part of the message.
  • As they speak, are they the hero or are they encouraging the listeners with their story?  There is a difference.
  • What do they bring that others don’t?  Credibility, perspective, knowledge, inspiration?

3.  PEOPLE:  Where and to whom are they speaking?

  • Context matters.  Are they speaking at Harvard, Liberty, or the United States Military Academy?
  • How do the speakers understand the unique context in which they are speaking?

We can look to the 2016 presidential candidates for an example.  They have each given thousands of speeches and been taught by the best.  Donald Trump (at Liberty University) and Hilary Clinton (at Wellesley College) both gave commencement addresses this year.  Both speeches are just over 3o minutes and as you watch them, look for the POINT, PERSON, and PEOPLE.

Setting politics aside, if you want to see how to bring humor into the equation, Will Ferrell’s address at USC  will enlighten you.  Pay special attention to his musical conclusion meant to bring inspiration to the graduates.

Today I watched two excellent, yet very different speeches given from different ends of the spectrum.  Both were presented at prestigious institutions by men, who themselves, have greatly excelled in their respective fields.

The first, was given by the Secretary of Defense, Gen. James Mattis, at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

The second is given by the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, at Harvard University.

What did you learn from the speeches?


  • What was the POINT being communicated?
  • How did the PERSON add to our take away from the point they were making?
  • Did the message connect with the PEOPLE to whom they were speaking?

Based on what you learned, how will it influence you as you speak?

ChapTalk Podcast Launched First 10 Episodes

We are off to a great start!

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In a world of noise & distraction, a Voice calls out.

Embrace your calling.  Speak with clarity.

Join a coaching community.

If you haven’t checked out the podcast yet, go to our media page or subscribe on iTunes click here.

There are some great interviews that will teach & inspire.

Stay tuned there are more on the way! large-itunes-subscribe-button

Just finished Chris Anderson’s new book “Ted Talks.” Listen on audible or pick up a copy if you want to be a better speaker.  Learn from one of the best speech coaches and presentation curators.

New Content Coming!!!

It has been a while, I am working on updating the site and publishing new content; including a podcast and some new videos.  Stay tuned!

Integrative Preaching

One of the the best teachers that I have studied under in preaching Dr. Kenton Anderson hosts a website called and is an advocate of integrative-classroom.  Click the link to open up various resources on the topic and learn the approach first hand.

The Model

The Tools

The Elements

The Process

Preaching the Lectionary

The Lectionary isindex not part of my usual preaching tradition, but today I preached as part of the Liturgical service at Ft Jackson.  It was the Third Sunday of Easter, in year B in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL).

The readings were:  Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4 (read responsively), 1 John 3:1-7, and the Gospel reading was Luke 24:36b-48.  The service was great, full of reverence, readings, and prayers.  Preaching the lectionary was more fun, yet more challenging than I thought it would be.  I began looking for the theme that connected these passages.  “Witness” seemed to be the theme that stood out.  The Big Idea for my message was,

“Witnessing the Resurrected Lord must move us from talk to walk.”

While in Seminary working on my Th.M, I took a class at Harvard Divinity School, Preaching through the Liturgical Year.  It was a good introduction to the idea.  I discussed the difference between preaching sermon series and preaching the Revised Common Lectionary with preachers from each tradition.

Many of you who do this regularly might know about many resources, but I wanted to point out a few helps.

If you are preaching the lectionary as part of your tradition there are several resources to check out.

Feasting-on-the-Word-Complete-12-Volume-Set-Bartlett-David-L-9780664237134There is a great commentary set entitled Feasting on the Word
You can get the whole set or buy specific volumes.  Check out their site. 
Also there are two books that I have read that have been helpful to me in these areas.

A couple sites that have been helpful are:

Other resources that a friend of mine pointed out are below:
A resource I have found helpful is the Lectionary Lab.  Pastors discuss reflections on passages via a podcast.
Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) has been a great experience and there are many resources available to help.  The Lectionary connects us to the larger church and the cycle of the Christian year.
  • Do you used the RCL regularly?
  • How has it been helpful?
  • What has been difficult?
  • What are the most helpful resources you have used?

As you preach, do it well, honor God and use the best resources as you teach His Word!

Unbroken & the Power of Story

I just finished watching the movie Unbroken and was reminded of to power of story.  Before seeing the movie I had heard mixed reviews.  I heard great praise for the book and less for the movie.  Since seeing the movie trailer and wanted to see it.

A friend had given me the book and to be honest, I started it but failed to finish it.  I also have the audio book that is a total of 14 hrs.  I have listened to several hours, but have not finished it either.  Some of the criticism I have heard, is that the movie leaves Louis Zamperini’s faith out of the movie and his faith and what happened after the Billy Graham Crusade was the most significant part of the his life and healing.

After watching, faith was a major theme throughout the movie.  Faith seemed to be the thread that head it together.  Faith in God was a major theme in the movie, yet perhaps understated.  I left the movie, inspired and wanting the hear the rest of the story.  I had heard Zamperini’s life was changed at a Billy Graham Crusade.  Though the movie does not give specific details, it highlights that Louis gave his life to God and went back to Japan and offered forgiveness.

UNBROKEN is the story of Louis Zamperini, but it is more than that.  It is a story of faith, perseverance, and the human spirit.  It is about the struggle of life & death, good & evil, survival, the will to succeed, war & peace, the sovereignty of God and forgiveness.  Stories have the power to open up the mind, touch the heart and inspire us.

Below are more links to stories and interviews with Louis Zamperini 

As I think about the incredible story of Louis Zamperini, it has made me reflect on the power of story and storytelling.

We must think about how we tell a story.  A story can be true, yet one chooses to include some details and exclude others.


There are reasons for telling a story and various questions come into play when choosing how to tell it.

Some of them are:

  • Who is the audience?
  • How long do I have to tell the story?
  • What is the purpose of telling the story?
  • What is the point of the story?
  • What is the scope of the story?
  • Who’s perspective should I tell the story from?

These questions are key to identifying how a story is told.  Some story analysis is done intentionally and others happen naturally without even realizing it.  When telling a story, we also must ask based on our analysis questions above:  What  details, facts, emotions, pictures, dialogue, characters, do I include when telling this story?

You can’t include everything and you can’t say it all.

What you include and exclude is important, so be intentional.

As a communicator storytelling is more complex that you think.

So, Let’s do it well!

A Message of Peace at Christmas

Can you imagine peace this Christmas?  Imagine a time of where war would cease  so that Soldiers could honor the Prince of Peace.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6

This is a message that needs to be heard today, as it was years ago.

A commercial came out this year, highlighting the true events of war from Christmas 100 years ago.  As you watch the ad and reflect on the story, remember to pray for our Soldiers and Families today.

Click here to see a video on the story behind the ad

What has been the favorite Christmas message you have heard or preached?

Our Chapel is using the principles of Advent Conspiracy this year, you will  find some resources (here)

Pray for our Soldiers who are often in the middle of conflict, that they will begin to know true Peace that comes from a baby born in a manger so long ago.

Merry Christmas!