Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Seminary Chapel: Don't Waste Your Pulpit

I promised to post my short sharing in the seminary chapel on March 10. However, I never got around doing so, till now.


Tuesday Chapel;
10 March 2009
Text: 2 Tim 4:1-5
Title: Don’t Waste Your Pulpit

Just imagine this scenario: If chapel is made optional this morning, I wonder whether all of you would still be here. And if you have a choice, and if you know that I am preaching, will you still come and listen to me? Even though you are here with me physically this morning, I wonder whether your heart is here and you are listening to me. Perhaps some of us are saying: “It’s the boring Lim Kar Yong again,” and you have already shut your mind from listening to me. Perhaps some of us are now thinking about our assignments, thesis and all the tasks that we need to accomplish before the end of the week. Perhaps some of us are memorizing our Hebrew and Greek vocabulary now. Perhaps some of us are now opening the book that we bring along to chapel, and we are now sliding the book in between our bible and we have already started reading it.

My point here is not how you react to sermon. My point here is what causes you to react to sermons. There are many reasons. And one of it could be me as a preacher. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been reflecting on what it means for me to preach from the pulpit. I know I have complained about bad sermons. I know I have preached bad sermons. I know that if chapel is made optional, and if I find all of you are not here this morning, I really have to search my heart. As such, over the last couple of weeks, I have been asking many hard questions about my preaching both in the church and in STM. Have I not sufficiently prepared for my preaching? Have I taken STM chapel too lightly, just because it is compulsory, and I can be a bit more relaxed in my preparation? Have my sermon failed to exhort and encourage the community? And if I have failed to adequately prepare myself for the pulpit, have I not abused the pulpit, and wasted the pulpit?

That’s why I am once again reminded about Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in the text we read this morning:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-- with great patience and careful instruction (2 Timothy 4:2). All of us here are called to be preachers of God’s word – and some of you are already preaching regularly. And to help us in our reflection of what it means to be called a preacher, I invite all of us to watch this short video clip by Dr John Piper. Piper, I think, essentially captures the real essence of preaching, and it is wise of us to take heed of his advice.

Listen again to what Piper says about preaching: “I think the reason pastors don’t preach from the Bible is because they themselves do not live off the bible day by day.” Is there any truth in what Piper is saying about our attitude towards preaching? Is there any truth in what Piper is saying about out attitude towards the Bible? Do we live off the bible day by day? Have we wasted the pulpit that God has given us? Remember Paul’s exhortation this morning: Preach the Word.


Paul said...

What I find interesting is that in this clip, Piper uses music, a song, visuals etc to help get his message across.

I think this is illustrative of what is needed today. Strong biblical preaching but making use of modern communication tools as well

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,
Yes, agree with you. Piper has demonstrated that you can still be "biblical" and yet use whatever modern tools and technology that are available.

sp lim said...

As much as preachers need to prepare themselves to preach, the hearers too must prepare themselves to receive the word of God.

I'm am guilty of sometimes writing off certain preachers even before they preach! God sometimes work in mysterious ways. He can use lousy preachers too. I read that Jonathan Edwards actually read his sermon. How boring that would be!

If I'm not mistaken the Puritans have some good stuff on how to listen to sermons.

Kar Yong said...

Hi SP,
Yes, I agree that both preachers and listeners need to be prepared.

BTW, I also read my sermons word for word :-). No wonder some say I could be boring... :-)

sp lim said...

Hi Kar Yong,

Oops didn't know that and didn't mean that. I heard you preached once and though I can see you referred to your notes but I didn't realize you read them word for word.

So I think you can still read your sermon word for word as long as you do it in such a way that your audience don't even realize it. Anyway, there is really nothing wrong in reading a sermon word for word after much preparation and prayer. Jonathan Edwards is a good example. Better than one who goes up to the pulpit and talked nonsense or cracked some jokes no matter how entertaining he is.

Preaching is really an awesome task. So is listening to the preacher.

The Hedonese said...

I hope SPLIM doesnt write off my sermon just because of the tie i wear on sunday! hehehe :D

The most inspiring book on preaching i've read is "The Supremacy of God in Preaching". No prize for guessing the author

Kar Yong said...

Hi SP,
I know you don't mean that. It's just me - I preach by reading my text word for word....but I guess many don't really realise I actually do that.

Kar Yong said...

No....the best preaching book is by my sifu - Haddon Robinson - Biblical Preaching!!

sp lim said...


I must say your choice of tie has improved. :)

davinci said...

Hi sir,

you read word by word?

haha, this would be such paintstaking job of writing complete sermon essay...bravo!I cant do it.

this is german scholar reading thesis to seminar audience have been corrupted by these NT scholars..., haha!

we usually preach by looking at short notes...

some guys lagi kuat, preach just with bible, no notes at all...haha,
try look at stephen tong ...!

davinci said...

Haddon Robinson also preach by reading out sermon?

I am keen to know.

Joseph Prince and Kong Hee, are both good speakers, capturing audience well...although their content are not exegetically passed...haha,,

Florence said...

Hehe, "The Supremacy of God in Preaching" happens to be my reading assignment for the week...

By the way, my seminary is using Terry Carter's Preaching God's Word. It contains many good sectional examples. The book helps me to finally know how to bridge across the river from exegetical outlines to homiletical outlines. I love the book.

不肖生 Sceptics said...

Hi KY,

looking at your preaching itinerary,,,reveal that you are one very sought after speaker by churches...

keep it up..加油..

Kar Yong said...

Dear Davinci,
Yes, I read my sermon word for word! But my sifu - he preaches without notes! I can never be like that - if you take 1 page of my sermon notes away - I will be paralysed... :-)

Kar Yong said...

不肖生 Sceptics,
Thanks for the encouragement - actually, I got invited because they are all my friends.

Paul said...

"Thanks for the encouragement - actually, I got invited because they are all my friends"

Not for long .... if you mess up :-) Just kidding :-)

Kar Yong said...

Hi Paul,

Haha...I think I did mess up some....cos never got invited back :-)

Paul said...

Or ... you preached "too well" and offended some influential people :-)

The Hedonese said...

i read haddon robinson's books too, some great practical tips but some of the mechanics on sermon delivery made me fall asleep :D

not so with Piper's book, riveting stuffs that fills u with a sense of how awesome the task of preaching is... but having said that, i never practise that kind of preaching hahaha... too serious for me

Kar Yong said...

Hi Dave,

I feel Piper is a bit narrow in his approach to preaching, and this is where I think Robinson is better where he encourages you to explore various approaches! I still think my sifu rocks....(I am biased here) haha..