I saw this clip and it caused me to pause and reflect.  In an interview on CBS, Actor Mandy Patinkin who played Inigo Montoya shares reflections on the classic movie The Princess Bride.  He says that his favorite and the most potent line in the film is not the one you have memorized and maybe even said, “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father prepare to die!” but toward the end of the movie when he says,

“I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it is over,

I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.”

  • Read the line again out loud and then reflect on it.

The truth is the we have all been hurt,but how many of us have let the wound control and direct our lives?

Maybe it is about time we got out of the revenge business and begin to figure out what to do with the rest of our lives.  

Take time to read these scriptures below (click on them and they verses will come up)

  • Matthew 18:15-35
  • Romans 12:9-21
  • Deut 32:35
  • Proverbs 25:21-22

Do you have a favorite Bible passage that talks about revenge and forgiveness?

How about a favorite line from The Princess Bride?

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  -Romans 12:21

I have a conviction that no sermon is ready for preaching, not ready for writing out, until we can express its theme in a short, pregnant sentence as clear as a crystal.  I find the getting of that sentence is the hardest, the most exacting, and the most fruitful labour in my study.  To compel oneself to fashion that sentence, to dismiss every word that is vague, ragged, ambiguous, to think oneself through to a form of words which defines the theme with scrupulous exactness, -this is surely one of the most vital and essential factors in the making of a sermon:  and I do not think any sermon out to be preached or even written, until that sentence has emerged, clear and lucid as a cloudless moon.  Do not confuse obscurity with profundity, and do not imagine that lucidity is necessarily shallow.  Let the preacher bind himself to the pursuit of clear conceptions, and let him aid his pursuit by demanding that every sermon he preaches shall express its theme and purpose in a sentence as lucid as his powers  can command.

-J.H. Jowett

The Preacher His Life and Work 133-134

Expository Preaching Defined

A classic definition from Haddon Robinson’s book Biblical Preaching:

“Expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept, derived from and transmitted through a historical, grammatical, and literary study of a passage in its context, which the Holy Spirit first applies to the personality and experience of the preacher, then through him to his hearers.”

There is a lot packed into the definition isn’t there?  I was taught that when preaching, you must “let the text win.”  Sometimes we come with our own ideas and agendas as we approach the Bible.  However, as we read, study, and pray, our goal must be to understand what God is saying, so we then can speak for God to our listeners.  Questions about context, authorial intent, and how the passage fits within the overall story of God and the Church, must be looked at examined.  A preacher must come humbly to God’s word, seeking to find and distill the message that should be delivered.

The definition says, “expository preaching is the communication of a biblical concept.”  While this is true, the definition doesn’t stop there.  Robinson expands the definition, as if anticipating questions from his students.  How?  What do you mean?  Yes, but . . . Tell me more. . .

The biblical concept is “derived and transmitted through” or the Biblical Idea is gathered and delivered

*Study (Context:Historical,Grammatical, Literary)

*Spirit (apply what learned personally through personality and experience)

This is an approach that a preacher should have in sifting the message from the Bible to the hears.  This idea makes me picture a gold miner who sifts all the excess rock and dirt aside to find the gold.  All the work and sweat and pain is worth it for a tiny fleck of gold found in the sifting pan.  Expository does carry with it the idea to “expose.”  We are called to expose the truths of God revieled in His Word.  This is what we do as preachers.

We mine the scriptures, remove the clutter and hold up the truth gleaned from God’s Word!

Our charge is to communicate a Biblical idea discovered through Study and the Holy Spirit.  Own the truth ourselves then present it to our listeners.

Read, Study, Pray!  Discover the Big Idea and then share it!

  • Have you heard this before?
  • What do you think about this definition?
  • Are there things you would add or qualify?
  • How do you define preaching?

The Prophetic Voice of the Chaplain

Recently there have been a few news outlets that have highlighted the prayers of the Senate Chaplain, Barry Black.

The first (above) is from “The Racheal Maddow Show” on MSNBC.

Here is another from CNN Newsroom (link here)

  • What do you think about the news highlighting the prophetic voice of the Senate prayers?
  • Do you think they are prophetic or inappropriate?

As a Chaplain in the Army, my job is to provide free exercise of religion, as well as to advise the command in various areas regarding religion, ethics, morals and morale.

  • In our ministry of presence there is a clear pastoral role, but where does the prophetic role fit?

Currently I am enrolled in a class at Boston University entitled “Prophetic Preaching“.  The syllabus explains, “This course is designed to help students wrestle with several central issues around prophetic preaching in contemporary Christian churches: the relationships of prophetic preaching to the gospel, to the Bible, to the social-political context, and to pastoral ministry generally.”  In the class we have discussed forming a theology of Prophetic Preaching, read and discussed various books and sermons dealing with the topics of prophetic, pastoral, and social change and the interconnectedness of these ideas.   We have even looked at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his role as a preacher and civil rights leader in Lischer’s book, Preacher King.

The class has given me a lot to think about and caused me to reflect on the role of the prophetic voice of the Chaplain.

As I write this post, the government is shut down due to Congress’s inability to agree on a spending bill.

  • But what is the role of the Chaplain?
  • Do we have a role to speak truth to power?  If so in what way and how?
  • Is there a way to speak truth that transcends partisan politics and look to the greater good?

I think the answer is contextual and each Chaplain must examine his or her own calling, role and sphere of influence.

However each Chaplain has a word to speak into their context.  We must find our voice!

Maybe you, like Esther, are in your unit and location in this moment in time for a reason.

“. . .And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

My prayer is that if a fire is burning in your bones and a word is on your heart you will speak!

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”  (Jeremiah 20:9)

Find Your Voice. . . Make Your Point!

Chaplains Under Fire (Documentary)

HPIM2166During my first deployment to Iraq, “the Surge” in 2007-2008, I was interviewed by two reporters filming a documentary on the Chaplaincy.  I didn’t know that I was featured in the film until years later, as I watched the film.  The film “Chaplains Under Fire” shows first had accounts of the unique ministry of Chaplains during deployment.

On the film’s site it states:

Should the military be hiring clergy? Can the military tell them how to act?  How does a Christian chaplain minister to a Buddhist? A Muslim? An atheist?

To explore these questions, Lee Lawrence and Terry Nickelson spent three months in Afghanistan and Iraq, where troops let them into their lives.

They joined them on patrols and missions, hung out with them in guard towers, flew on medevacs with the wounded, and attended memorials. It was there, where troops deal with boredom, anger, loneliness, fear, death and grief that they learned why military chaplains are crucial and how they sometimes become controversial.

The result is CHAPLAINS UNDER FIRE, a feature-length independent documentary that explores the world of military chaplains through the lens of the troops they serve in combat and the Constitutional issues they raise at home.

Find out more on the film from “Chaplains Under Fire” Site (Click here).

If you would like to stream it live you can Watch Now.

  • What did you think about the Film as a whole?
  • Do you have any questions about parts?
  • Did anything surprise you about comments or situations in the film?
  • I have been told I look like Bruce Willis, Do you think so?

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.

Phillips Brooks

Chaplains are a part of the lives of Soldiers on the home front and battle front.  Incarnational ministry is the core of all we do.  U.S. Army Chaplains are assigned to every battalion and go where the Soldiers go and do what they do.

The Chaplain Corps. Mission is to provide religious support to America’s Army across the full spectrum of operations.  Assist the Commander in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion.  Provide spiritual, moral, and ethical leadership to the Army.

The Chaplain Corps. Philosophy is to perform religious leader and staff advisor functions while nurturing the living, caring for the wounded, and honoring the dead.  We will always remain “Courageous in Spirit, Compassionate in Service.”

If you are interested in more information on the U.S. Army Chaplaincy check out:

The real presence of Christ in the Christian community is God’s pastoral care for the world.  And this mist be preached!

-Rudolf Bohren

Preaching in Community (Richmond: Knox Press, 1965), 131

Check out this recent TedTalk based on Malcolm Gladwell’s new book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.  Gladwell discusses a unique retelling of a familiar story.  He brings various outside resources to the ancient story to fill in some of the details and draws different conclusions about the story.

  • What do you think about the way he tells and explains the Biblical story?
  • What reactions did you have to hearing his approach or unique insights?
  • Anything that you noticed about his speaking style?
  • Is is surprising to have this topic as a TedTalk ?