To my Saviour, Whose message I preach.
In Anchorage, Alaska; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta, 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,
In Baltimore, Maryland; Bangor, Maine; Barbados, West Indies;
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 Carolina.
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, Illinois;
Dayton, 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; Elmira, New
York; El Paso, Texas; Erie, Pennsylvania; Eugene, Oregon; Evans-
ville, Indiana; and Evanston, Illinois.
In Fairbanks, Alaska; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Fayetteville,
North Carolina; Flagstaff, Arizona; Flint, Michigan; Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida; Ft. Worth, Texas; Ft. Smith, Arkansas; Ft. Sill, Oklahoma;
Ft. Wayne, Indiana; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; and Fresno,
In Gainesville, Florida; Gainesville, Texas; Goose Creek,
Texas; Grand Bahamas; Grand Junction, Colorado; Grand Rapids,
Michi- gan; Greensboro, North Carolina; Greenville, Texas; Greenville,
Mississippi; Greenville, South Carolina; and Gulfport, Mississip-
In Hammond, Indiana; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Ham- ilton,
Ontario, Canada; Harlingen, Texas; Harrisburg, Pennsyl- vania;
Hartford, Connecticut; Honolulu, Hawaii; Hollywood, Florida;
Houston, Texas; Huntsville, Texas; Huntsville, Alabama; and Huntington,
In Indianapolis, Indiana; Islamorada, Florida; Iowa City,
Iowa; Irving, Texas; Ingram, Texas; Italy, Texas; and Itasca,
Texas. 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; Lansing,
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 Lynchburg, Virginia.
In Macon, Georgia; Marion, Ohio; McAllen, Texas; Medford,
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,
In Nashville, Tennessee; Naples, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas;
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 City, 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 Ottawa, Illinois.
In Paducah, Kentucky; Palm Beach, Florida; Panama City, Flor-
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 Dakota; Redding,
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. John, New
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, Florida;
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 Park, Texas;
and Uvalde, Texas.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Vale, Colorado; Vicksburg,
Mississippi; Victoria, Texas; Visalia, California; Valley Forge,
Pennsylvania; and Vincennes, Indiana.
In Washington, D.C.; Waco, Texas; Watertown, Wisconsin; Wa-
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, Arizona,
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. It seems
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 members. The
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 Sermon
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 Lord's Day
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 message
but 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
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 forget.
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 already
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- tion.
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
This is like checking mathematics. When a person multiplies
3 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 be deliv-
6. Use the time between this decision and the time of the
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 importance.
The person who sees a burning house has no problem or thought
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
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
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 them.
10. As you pray, picture in your own mind the invitation on
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 Day
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 yourself with
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 destination.
13. Think of its greatness. Many years ago I had an assistant
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 are ingredients
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 meditated
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 will be 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 outlines
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 boldly
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- ble.
In my sermon, "The Dignity of Man," I build the
message 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 preaching,
or 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 the points
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 as follows:
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 the outline
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 their order.
22. Do not change your direction while preaching a sermon
if 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 on tape."
Well, I increased my expression of gratitude to her.
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
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 delivers
his 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
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 mind.
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
With that in mind we will examine the outline.
1. The first thing at the top of the outline should "grab"
the 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
follows: "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 follows:
"Many 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 guidance."
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 the outline.
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 concerned.
For 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 pen.
If I preach a commencement address, I will make an immaculate
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 the abbrevia-
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 is beginning.
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 writing.
When 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 that point
several times throughout the outline so as to remind me to keep
emphasizing and repeating that single point that I am trying
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 with thanksgiv-
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 the heavenly
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
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 right before
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 preaching.
10. Write yourself instructions on your outline. Suppose you
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 congregation 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
11. It is often good to use verses that outline themselves.
There 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 natural outline.
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 of waters.
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 God's action.
Years ago a very old man was a member of our church, and he
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 representing
God 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 ever preach."
I must take time to remember how much I wanted this in days
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 than I.
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 myself."
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 bright, cheerful
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 decide
with 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 oscillate
offen- 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 mechanics,
it 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 people."
7. I must check the crowd. I must watch during the announce-
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 hear me!"
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
I must remember that small gathering in Kankakee, Illinois,
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 the new
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 Your
8. I must fall in love with these people. I am looking around
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 present it.
"Dear God, I see numbers of men in this room who are
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 keep on
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
10. I must be careful about my stance. Dear God, sometimes
it 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 Mother
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 must not
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 pronounciation.
I 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 must remem-
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 remember
to 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 circum-
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 had no
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 the lights
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 the ex-
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 preaching
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
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 back."
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
Then I remember that time when I was preaching to several
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 Tyler, Texas,
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 the week.
"What I am saying, Lord, is that I know that You can
overcome 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 might mis-
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 tape
recorder 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 was preaching,
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 Saviour!
"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 my best.
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 emotions. For example, I like the word "Mama."
When I speak of my mother, it warms me if I call her Mama.
When 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 honestly,
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 has stored
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
4. While preaching, mention names that warm your heart. I
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 heart. 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 heart.
6. Remember those who once were with you. The pastor who 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 widows who
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 Saturday night
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 service.
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 Cemetery, 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 Day"
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, "Now
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 someday
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 warm your
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 sister
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 father
died 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 the dead!
17. in order to have a warm heart, the preacher must remember
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 heart.
19. Think of the judgment seat and the fact that someday you
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 service
by 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 the obtaining
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 schedule
for 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 meditation.
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 the great
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 warm heart.
5. Sing and whistle throughout the week. Every morning I 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 the morning.
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 morning. Think
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 of the 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 those to
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
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
15. Visit cemeteries and the gravesides of those whom you
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 that comes
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. Realize that
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, find
some- 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
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
stalled. 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 lives!
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 wise pastor
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 wrench."
3. A sermon is a prescription. The good physician examines
his 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 going verse-
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 ministry
is 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
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
a. The pastor should diagnose the people's needs on 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 that 1500
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 leads His 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 my people.
Preacher, don't trust your memory! As soon as the wisdom 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 have 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
d. The pastor should watch his people as he preaches. The
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 his people
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 his people
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
So far we have stressed the importance of knowing two things:
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
6. Never preach to individuals. In 1960 on a Sunday night
I 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 and outlines
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 reading is
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 getting
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 guidance
as 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
10. The pastor should never use or consider such phrases as,
"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 only He
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 goal.
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 under-shepherd.
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 counsel after
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 service. 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 people.
12. He should not read notes placed on the platform or pulpit.
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 attendance
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 includes late
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 divert
his 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 Sunday that
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
18. The pastor should not eat before preaching. On occasion
I 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 example,
I 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- sage.
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 briefly right
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 how badly
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 who preaches
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 captured.
26. The pastor should not appraise himself while he is preach-
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 the 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 the service.
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 His messenger.
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 Bible events
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. There
are 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 song being
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. The very
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 preaches.
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 asked to
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. That 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 pointing
to the sermon.
2. The introduction should not be a sermon or an outline.
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
4. The introduction could be a question that needs an answer.
5. The introduction could be a statement that needs a comple-
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 where the
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 of intrigue.
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 that the
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 spectacular
than 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 than the
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 for the
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 continue.
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
13. The introduction should not start on a mountaintop unless
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 the preacher.
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 myself.
16. The introduction should not include jokes that make others
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 has started!"
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 Jack Hyles?" 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 the occasion.
Let your dress reflect yourself, a person of propriety
2. Walk like the real you. A preacher should walk like himself.
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 talk to
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 earnestly
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 them.
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 him.
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
II Timothy 4:2, 5, "Preach the word; be instant in season,
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 benefit.
I. PREACH. The word "preach" here means "proclaim
the 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 be encouraged.
2. WORD. This is Jesus. John 1:1, "In the beginning was
the 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
other places "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
4. IN SEASON, OUT OF SEASON. This leads us to another 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
5. REPROVE. This word is also translated at other places,
"refute." This means that the preacher is to expose
false teaching. Here is another theme that should be included
in the preaching of a pastor.
6. REBUKE. This word implies to "honor, then rebuke."
It 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 used 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 "even
tem- 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 preacher
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 watch-
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 with."
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, that
I 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 challenging and,
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 force 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
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 Youth Con-
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. Feel their
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 children's workers
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 seated
by 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, the pastor
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 of chil-
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? Have
you 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 to uphold.
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 same audience
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 other
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 make them
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
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 sincerity must
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 are sitting
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 them.
Again, it is important to have the group to whom you are primarily
speaking in front of you so that you can make eye contact with
15. Have a list of sermons that are basically for children.
Have 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
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 laughter,
for sobriety, for excitement.
We have been dealing rather extensively with preaching to
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 a childish,
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 message.
Remember, you are preaching to new Christians and to mature Christians
and to Christians at every place on the spectrum of Christian
3. Mingle old truth and new truth. By that I mean, keep fresh
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 congregation.
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 sorrows.
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
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
Each week I take time to blindfold myself. I try to shave
wearing 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 see.
At certain intervals each week I also think about the educable
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
Compassion in Preaching
Jude 22b, "And of some have compassion, making a dif-
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 share 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 human 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 compan-
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 them compassion.
Compassion is the nurse given to mankind. Compassion cares
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 the north,
east, south and west to stand behind pulpits to have compassion
Her name is College Wife, USA. She was married to her child-
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 school classes.
One Sunday night her husband walked the aisle during the 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 offers compassion.
Her name is Grandma. She has seen her last child leave the
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
A church group came by the rest home. They said they were
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- ference!
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
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 will never forget the day that I walked into the Fernwood
Bap- 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 said, "Jackie-
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 America
who 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 compassion
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
Someone needs to care about the one who has never seen a 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
He lives in Backroom, USA. When he was born he brought the
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 compassion.
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 difference!
Lengthen the Cords and Strengthen the Stakes
Isaiah 54:2, "Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let
them 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, a strange
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 don't
need 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- larged.
Now the fiercest winds from Hell blow to topple our tents!
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
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- ened cords.
Watch it as your work grows! Watch it as you become more 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 convictions. The
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 not spend
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! A little
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 tents enlarge!
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 extended
at 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 Corinthians
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 the invitation.
4. The opening remarks by the pastor are a part of the invita-
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 visitors.
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 responding.
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 invitation.
The sermon is now over. The unsaved person entered into the
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
Genesis 49:1-4, "And Jacob called unto his sons, and
said, 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 predictability
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- tinue."
Jacob was dying. He called his sons to his bedside. Reuben
was 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 reach his
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 not usable
because of one great weakness-instability
Give me the weaker one with less talent, less intellect, 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 to Matthew
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, "Let
not 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
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 40:31, "But
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 His death."
When tidings of trouble come, he rushes to John 14:1, "Let
not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in
When tidings of temptation come, he scurries to I Corinthians
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 4:19,
"But 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 my
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 men than
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 what might
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 followers,
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!
the Living and the Dead
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 these rebels.
Then the Israelites blamed Moses and Aaron for the death. God
was furious. He sent a plague that killed 14,700 people. (Numbers
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
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 Anderson
on 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 Rice Ranch." 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. He had
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 true, 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, let's 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 get 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, for old- 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 his bedside,
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
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, my Mama
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 new address?
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 matters?
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 dead!
The Preacher and
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 justly so!
All patriotic Americans are alarmed when people remain seated
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 of 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 homage
to our country by refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance to
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
Not only is the language the means of conveying the preacher's
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 doesn't
need your education." 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
Language is one of the greatest unifiers of people. When the
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 probably
the 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 heirloom
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 language. Read
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 expression
is 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 opportunities
that he would have preferred? There are several things he can
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 basis.
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 As you
write, use a dictionary When you doubt the spelling of a word,
look it up.
5. Do not use improper words. It is a shame and a tragedy
what 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 our language.
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 of Jamaican
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
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- doggin' enough!
The language is important. Of course, no one should be critical
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 Voice
The voice of God's man is the thing that is used to transfer
what 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
1. Perform vocal exercise. Any muscle in the human body 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
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
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 speaking.
4. Sing a lot. Singing is good voice exercise. Of course,
this 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 which you
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 find some
way to express his enthusiasm and excitement at a ball game other
than straining his voice.
7. Pronounce words distinctly A mispronunciation of words
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 tightens the
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 usually 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
13. Do not use an adjuster or a mixer on your PA system. This
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 preach an
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 public 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 regular basis.
16. Try to avoid tension while preaching. The more relaxed
the 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 deadline.
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 allow
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 bring
some 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 the voice.
6. Avoid heavy praying before preaching. This is mentioned
in 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 mentioned else-
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
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 the stom-
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 problem with
the preacher's voice while he delivers his sermon.
4. Rely a lot on juices. Many years ago I used to preach revival
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
6. Avoid dairy products within two hours of preaching. Dairy
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
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 and colds.
1. Keep your head and feet warm and dry. My mother used to
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 the service.
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 his throat.
5. Always keep a coat, a hat and rubber shoes available. 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, let your
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
Several years ago a poll was taken among preachers concerning
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 time?" 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 the least.
Oh, how America needs preaching! When John Knox left 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 here
who 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 about chemistry?"
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 about that?"
I replied, "I like the good in that formula, but I am
concerned 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 decision."
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 your
busi- 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 hand?"
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 sermon entitled,
"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 a workers'
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 Jones
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 nation's life."
Thomas Betterton said, "Actors speak of things imaginary
as if they were real; preachers speak of things real as if they
Philip Brooks said, "Preaching is truth delivered through
per- sonality. Preaching is personal counseling on a group scale."
Hugh Latimer said, "Preaching is the delivering of meat,
John Newton said, "Preaching is breaking the hard heart
and healing the broken one.
William R. Nicoll said, "Of all vocations, the Christian
ministry is the most sacred, the most exacting and the most humbling."
Richard Whately said, 'Preach not because you have to say
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 angels stop
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 corners.
I 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
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 minimizing the
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
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 on a 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 or selling
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 Christian school
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
If I had my way, America would be the strongest military power
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
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 this nation
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 the world!
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