Monthly Archives: February 2014

How Not to Use a Bible Commentary

Reading this recent interview with D. A. Carson reminded me about the importance of thinking carefully about commentaries.  Bible commentaries can be useful tools.  So can screwdrivers.  But like screwdrivers, Bible commentaries are most useful when you use them well.  And to use them well, we need to what they should not be used for, just as we (hopefully) know that screwdrivers shouldn’t be used to hammer nails into the wall.

Please don’t use a Bible commentary (or study Bible notes) . . .

1. As a substitute for reading the text.  Read the text before you read the commentary.  Read early, read often.  Don’t let someone else tell you what you need to read for yourself.  

2. As a substitute for reading the text carefully.  Read the text carefully before you read the commentary.  Don’t let someone else tell you what a careful reading of the text reveals before you have discovered it yourself.  You really don’t want to just take their word for it (or, if you do, shame, shame).

3. As a substitute for thinking about the text carefully.  Ponder the text before you read the commentary.  What is it saying? Not saying? Implying? Not implying? How does it relate to its context? What are its implications?  You can likely find out for yourself from the source!

4. As a substitute for wrestling with the text fervently.  As you ponder, wrestle.  Pray.  Wonder.  Are there difficulties in understanding and applying the text? Have you thought through a biblical solution to such difficulties? Tried to progress in your own understanding?  If so, you may finally be ready to go consult a commentary.

5. In other words, please don’t use commentaries as a quick and easy alternative to really studying the passage for yourself.  Don’t let your mental and spiritual muscles atrophy by becoming too reliant on commentaries.  They do have a useful place, but it should not be first place.  That should go to your own direct and prayerful study of the Bible.

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Next week:  Tips on How to Use a Bible Commentary

Updates Links and Deals

The Danger of Forgetting How to Read the Bible – a powerful, helpful warning from Dr. Dan Doriani

Kevin DeYoung on Jesus’ Doctrine of Scripture – a truly Christian view of Scripture will follow Christ in how the Bible is viewed

Terry Mortenson on Embracing Christ’s View of Scripture – another helpful article

Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures – Tony Merida makes a brief, but clear, case

KINDLE DEALS (Some deep discounts here on two helpful book for preachers and teachers; these prices are good through Feb. 27)

Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon ($3.99)

Quentin Schultze, An Essential Guide to Public Speaking: Serving Your Audience with Faith, Skill, and Virtue ($2.99)

These four [highly recommended] books are highly discounted to $1.99 for Kindle format, on sale through Feb. 23:

John MacArthur, editor, Fool’s Gold: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error (great critique of many modern movements in the church and Christian publishing arenas, among other areas)

Bruce Ware, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Roles, Relationships, and Relevance (one of the best books on helping think about the Trinity — and worshiping God; very refreshing and insightful – enlightening while still communicating the fact that we can’t fully understand God)

Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach, Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word (looks like a good help for Bible study)

Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life 

Free Download: Sermon Log Template

Free DownloadA sermon log can be a great tool to help keep track of one’s preaching history and income for accurate reporting for the next tax year.  It basically consists of a record, based on a given year, of the dates, locations, mileage, and honorarium for a given preaching appointment.

There are many ways to do this (including an Excel spreadsheet, mobile note taking apps, etc.), but it definitely should be done.  Keeping a sermon log will help you vary your preaching if you have frequent appointments with the same congregation (including avoiding inadvertently re-preaching a sermon).  The sermon lView postog will also make it easy to add up your honorarium income and mileage so you can report this on your income tax return (schedule C).  Whatever way you choose to do it, just make sure to keep track of your appointments and the specifics so you do not forget them!

Feel free to share, copy, or modify the following as you see fit (but we would appreciate it if you tell folks where you got it from, if anyone asks).

Updates Links and DealsWhat makes for a good commentary? Some Q & A with Bible scholar D. A. Carson, Good thoughts and tips here, as commentaries can be poorly chosen, abused by relying on them too much, or neglected altogether.

How to Preach a Stale Sermon – sadly, it may be easier than you think.

HCSB Study Bible – one of the better comprehensive study Bibles available (along with MacArthur and the ESV Study Bible).  On sale for $2.99 for Kindle.  The iOS version is $9.99 and allows you to replace the HCSB translation with a different one (such as KJV, ESV) in case you’d like the benefit of the notes with one of the other translations they have available for the app.

Some Thoughts on the Nye/Ham DebateUpdates Links and Deals

Here are three articles about the debate worth reading.  They are here in order from longest to shortest.

Dr. Albert Mohler’s review and analysis (from the front row)

Pastor Rick Phillips on 3 lessons from the debate

How Nye committed the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Sadly, this is a common approach to dealing with other positions, but it doesn’t actually prove one’s point.

Hermeneutics

I can’t recommend this article on hermeneutics enough.  If we accept a view that the Bible teaches “spiritual truth” but not “history,” we embark on a dangerous path and depart from the view of Jesus and the apostles.  The article could also be called “The Defection of a Seminary Professor”:  “Crawford Howell Toy and the Weight of Hermeneutics

Homiletics

A couple of articles to remind preachers to do the hard, but valuable work required behind the scenes to preach a real sermon.

“Don’t Outsource Your Sermon Prep”

“Who’s Robbing Whom?” From the archives here. Plagiarizing others’ sermons is a crime that has some surprising victims.

FREE BOOKS

Michael Lawrence’s Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church is free this month for those who have a Logos account.

R. C. Sproul, The Prayer of the Lord is free this month for Kindle.

Studying and Preaching the Bible in the Digital Age (Part 4 of 4): Resources for Presenting Lessons and Sermons

Bible Digital AgeThis is part 4 of a 4 part series. Part 1 is herePart 2 is here; Part 3 is here.

Several resources are available to help in presenting lessons/messages and in recording them.

Presenting

For the following, you will need a setup at the church where there is already a computer or a place to plug in your device (know what you have — VGA? HDMI? etc.  Apple devices can work with Apple TV’s on same WiFi network, or with an HDMI adapter for a direct cable; many Android devices have MICRO HDMI ports that use a microHDMI to standard HDMI cable).

Powerpoint

Keynote (Mac)   (iOS) (has some compatibility with Powerpoint files, works great with Apple TV)

Slideshark iOS (free, use with Powerpoint slideshows you have made; works great with Apple TV)

Prezi iOS  computer program

Deck Slideshow Presentations (Android)  ( iOS)

Haiku Deck Slideshow Maker (iOS)

Recording

Voice Recorders (There are many options you can find, but most cost a few bucks to have unlimited recording time; I really like RecForge on Android; I’ve also used an MP3 voice recorder from Sony, with a lapel mic attached)

Please comment or contact us if you would like us to look at other resources to add to these lists.  Here are some other resources listed at ProPreacher:  iOS    Android

Tonight’s Local Debate Locations

hamnyeHere is a list of local churches I know of (there may be others) that are showing the live stream of the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham tonight at 7:00 p.m. I would recommend arriving at least 15 minutes before 7 to get a seat and allow for any preliminary remarks by the facilitators at the host site. This should be an informative and helpful event for pastors, churches, and students.  For more information about the debate, see www.answersingenesis.org or debatelive.org.

Abingdon, VA
Abingdon Bible Church, 16210 Elementary Drive, Abingdon, VA

Bristol, VA
Fellowship Chapel, 201 Crockett Street, Bristol, VA

Johnson City, TN
Boones Creek Bible Church, 1528 Old Gray Station Road, Johnson City, TN
Johnson City Alliance Church 2837 Boones Creek Road, Gray, TN

Kingsport, TN
Temple Baptist Church, 2200 Memorial Court, Kingsport, TN

Income Tax Information for Supply Preachers

taxtimeRender therefore to all their dues: tribute [taxes] to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7)

Well, it’s that time of year again — tax season.  That means this for those of us who do supply preaching: if we receive $400 total or more for services we provide in a given year, we are obligated to pay self-employment tax on our federal income tax returns, by reporting it on a Schedule C form (this applies to any line of work, including preaching). We may also deduct your mileage, which will offset the final amount of self-employment tax due. This can be done in e-filing programs as well as with the paper forms (but may require a 1040 and not a 1040 EZ).

I have heard of some preachers who get financial gain via what is called a “love offering” and never report it as income; but it is in reality money that is provided as a result of the service the person is giving. (This is different from a church giving a gift, such as a pastor appreciation day gift, etc., that is not a standard part of their way of remunerating an individual for ministry.) Only a minority of churches, in my experience, have given a 1099 form for supply preachers, and that was only when I was there enough to receive a certain amount. Therefore, it would be easy to “fly under the radar” and not report this income – I want to make sure we are being above reproach, and that includes disclosing all the income received from ministry for ministry, including that which you have to keep track of yourself.

If you are actually serving as a pastor in a church, the situation may be a bit more complex.  I recommend that you consult this guide by Dr. Paul Bufford, pastor of Abingdon Bible Church, to get started, and follow it to find the necessary information.  If you have any questions about this, I would encourage you to talk to a tax professional.

SERMON LOG

Free DownloadA sermon log can be a great tool to help keep track of one’s preaching history and income for accurate reporting for the next tax year.  It basically consists of a record, based on a given year, of the dates, locations, mileage, and honorarium for a given preaching appointment.

There are many ways to do this (including an Excel spreadsheet, mobile note taking apps, etc.), but it definitely should be done.  Keeping a sermon log will help you vary your preaching if you have frequent appointments with the same congregation (including avoiding inadvertently re-preaching a sermon).  The sermon log will also make it easy to add up your honorarium income and mileage so you can report this on your income tax return (schedule C).  Whatever way you choose to do it, just make sure to keep track of your appointments and the specifics so you do not forget them!

Feel free to share, copy, or modify the following as you see fit (but we would appreciate it if you tell folks where you got it from, if anyone asks).

Reminder: Ham/Nye Debate Tomorrow NightUpdates Links and Deals

Locally, Temple Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee, is hosting a viewing of this creation/evolution debate live at 7 p.m. on February 4. You may also attend a live viewing of the debate at Fellowship Chapel in Bristol, Virginia (click here for more details), or Abingdon Bible Church in Abingdon, Virginia (scroll to the bottom of this link for more details).  If you would like to host a viewing in your church or school, click here.

Other stuff

What to do while waiting on your shot to preach

10 Guest Preaching Tips (if you wish to be invited back)

Seven steps of Bible study preparation

FREE BOOK

Josh McDowell’s Who Is Jesus….Really? is free for Kindle through February 7.