A note from my homework…

I’m taking a seminary class on Homiletics (which is just a fancy way of saying “How to give a sermon”). In my textbook, one of the paragraphs really struck a chord with me, and my thoughts were much longer than a Facebook post should ever be:

A preacher who wants to infuse his sermons with freshness
and vigor must also see to it that his discussion contains
variety. He will not draw all his quotations from
Shakespeare or all his illustrations from his own children.
He will take pains to gather his material from every
available source, new and old, and use them wherever they
may be effectively applied. While he must aim for variety,
at the same time a preacher must make sure that the
material he uses holds human interest. Anecdotes and
factual material that relate to the circumstances men and
women find themselves in or that appeal to human emotions
and sympathies are certain to arouse attention. But the
preacher does not have to tell sob stories just to make
people weep. Instead, whatever material he brings into
the discussion should connect with people’s hearts.

– James Braga

I think this is one of the advantages for me as a missionary to having a Ukrainian wife, speaking Ukrainian, and really living among the people. I get to experience the culture in Ukraine and allow myself to become Ukrainian.

On the other hand, I’ve taught and heard sermons delivered that used examples from films that many Ukrainians have never watched or English songs they may or may not fully understand, and the preacher has to take 3-4 minutes of time to explain his own illustration… which takes away the purpose of an illustration. I also don’t think this is a pitfall that only applies to missionaries – we as American teachers can also lose our hearers to illustrations that make no sense to them. Describing the beauty of a ballet and its intricacies may be completely a lost cause at a biker church (or it may not!), or describing the passion of a metal concert will only get you cross looks at some Baptist churches.

Like Paul said, we need to “be all things to all people” as pastors, as teachers, and as Christians in general.

Men, we need to…

Men, we need to stand up for our families and lead them to the King.
There is nothing un-manly about following Jesus Christ; in fact, it’s
the biggest challenge you’ll ever face. Too many men are staying home
while their wives take the kids to church, taking a nap while their
wives read their Bibles to the kids, and turning the TV on while their
wives pray for their souls. #standup – Your example will either pull
your kids closer to God or push them away.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a man, what it takes to be a good father, and stuff like that. Somewhat out of frustration and somewhat out of just a desire to encourage others to do and be all they can be, this was my Facebook status a week ago. One of my prayers is just to be a better husband and eventually a good father. (No – Katya is not pregnant! You can stop asking now! We’ll let you know if that happens – we’re “waiting” right now! 😀 😀 😀 )

You may have had a good dad, you may have had an absent dad – either way, if you’re a Christian, God is your dad. When you feel like being absent, going to the TV instead of interacting with your wife, etc., God can and will give you the strength to be a good husband and Father. That’s a fact, if you ask Him for the strength. He is your ultimate example.

We are in a very unique time in America. More kids are growing up without a dad than with one, and we can see the impact on our culture. Let’s take our God-given responsibility seriously and #standup. Be men.

Today’s Sermon: A Citizen’s Responsibility

davidbibleHere is the sermon I taught today! It’s both in English and Ukrainian – Katya was right by my side translating the whole thing! I really enjoy working together with her (she’s been translating for me since long before we were even dating). Unfortunately we didn’t get any pictures!!! We forgot to hand the camera off to someone else before I got up to preach.

The sermon is called “A Citizen’s Responsibility”. In light of the current events in Ukraine, I thought it would be a good topic to go over. If you like it, you can share it with your friends.

Click here to listen to the sermon.

Katya should get her passport TOMORROW…


*UPDATE* – Katya has her passport! 😀 😀 Now we’re just working on the VISA! Keep prayin’, guys! 😀 😀 😀

Katya and I have been waiting a LONG time to just receive her international passport. We had to change it because of her change in last name. Man – that was a pain! I *LOVE* it that she is now “Katya Snead”, but there have been a lot of headaches along the way…

Anyways – please keep praying for this process! A week ago tomorrow they said it would be ready in a week, and we’ve already been waiting for over a month. After that, we are going to apply online for Katya’s visa to the U.S. with the United States’ government, and they can deny the application for whatever reason they choose, even without telling us what that reason is. That’s one of the reasons we’re buying a two-way ticket, even though we don’t know exactly when we’re coming back.

Please pray for this whole process! It’s exciting, an adventure, stressful, painful, and puts you on your knees. I’ve grown to really hate documents, especially paper documents, because of this whole thing. You go here, get this signature, go there, get that stamp, go back, get everything translated, go to get it stamped and find there’s a translation error… yech! It kinda makes you look forward to Heaven, where God’s Law is written on our hearts and the Holy Spirit is our signature stamp of His ownership! AKA – NO MORE DOCUMENT HUSSLE! 😀 😀 😀

Anyways – this is one of the last steps in the process of getting ready to see all of you in America! I have this almost strange peace that it’s all going to work out just fine. When I’ve come to situations like this in the past, I’ve had a hard time trusting God, but I’ve seen Him come through so many times… It just makes sense to trust Him this time.

I think that’s what James was talking about when he said “count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials“. A friend of mine and I were talking about my experience here in Ukraine compared to Bible college, and I told him, “You know… when I was interning at Bible college, I learned more in those 3 years than my 2 years in college, but my 3 years here in Ukraine have taught me more than all 5 years at CCBCi combined.” I wouldn’t trade this time in Ukraine for anything.