5 Indispensable Things You Should Know on Your First Time Preaching

So your pastor asked you to preach next Sunday. You got excited and also got all rattled up. In your mind you keep asking: what should I do? Well here are 5 helpful tips for your first baptism of fire in preaching:

  1. Prepare the sermon at hand – maybe a week or so will be the ideal time for preparing your sermon. Pray, re-read the text, add ideas and adjust it to make it powerful.
  2. Don’t forget the artillery – Bible, notebook, I-pad, and multimedia gadget etc., just the essentials. Don’t clutter the pulpit. It might also distract you. Our pastor advised me not to bring a pen. In my nervousness I might play with it. He was right!
  3. If you’re nervous don’t look at church members faces-Different reactions may distract you. Look beyond the crowd or at corners of the building if you’re not confident enough to take a glimpse.
  4. Be time conscious – not that long preaching is bad but there is another program coming after your delivered your sermon or you pastor set a time for you, then you must follow. He might let you get away with it for the first time but next time stick with the time allotment.
  5. Let the Holy Spirit guide you – with all this preparation I might say we are still human and limited. That’s why we need to pray and ask God that the Holy Spirit will lead us as we preach His Word. Let John 14: 26 and Mark 13:11 assure you He will help. He has done it in my preaching ministry for 3 years now and He will do help you too.

I would like to hear some of your tips for those who will preach. Let me see your reaction on the comment section.

Meeting William Girao

“Late”. That’s the word that keeps running in my mind. It seems that I won’t get a glimpse of Carmen Vargas at the Christ Strengthening Ministry (CSM )booth (the loudest booth at the fair).

It’s Saturday September 15, 2012. That’s the date that we will visit the “33rd Manila International Book Fair” at SMX Mall of Asia. I’ve been anticipating it for months now and finally its here. We will check the Christian booths over that event, buy some books, do camera frolic and rub elbows with authors. But time became the enemy. Also the bad weather threatens us.  But I won’t go home defeated. I will be the victor ha! 🙂

We came almost 3PM at MOA and got lost first before we found SMX Convention Center. We paid 20 pesos for the entrance fee. As we enter we can see swarms of book enthusiast and lots of booths making some part of the book fair crowded and as I have experienced it was hard to check the books you want to buy. Despite the dilemma, we still enjoy the booths of different local and international publishers. Discounted books over here and there, we are tempted to open our wallets and give in to buy books. We have to pinch ourselves not to because we are here to buy Christian books (goodbye Ambeth Ocampo).

We stop over to the foremost leader in Christian publishing here in the Philippines, OMF Lit. As expected it was a blockbuster. Jam-pack is the right word from the people checking the display rack to the cashier lane we can see that people still patronize Christian books especially from OMF.  We had a hard time to move around and checking books that we want to take home. Still it was fun. We get to buy discounted books like the newly revised book of R.C. Sproul “Knowing Scripture”, the new book from William Girao “Giving Up is Not An Option” (which will soon be reviewed here in this blog) and a devotional book for my friend I tag along. Speaking of William Girao, let’s jump to that story, because this whole post is all about that encounter.

I’m not expecting to see this prolific Christian author in the fair. I was expecting Carmen Vargas of DZAS at the CSM booth (well it’s too late and I’m not interested to see Pilar Pilapil’s appearance there). As I was browsing some books someone announced that Pastor Girao will be there at the OMF booth and will be signing his books. So I grab his latest book and my diglot Bible for a chance to get it signed. I saw him and he is what you may call a typical pastor. At first glance you won’t he is a widely read author. But the built, the clothes and the looks. Mukhang isa sa mga senior pastor sa iglesia ninyo. He resembles one of our pastors here in Batangas City. He welcomed me with a warm smile, a hand shake and start signing the book and my Bible. I’m star stuck at that moment, so I reinforce myself and courageously try to start a conversation. I open the topic of Calvinism. I told him I thought he is a Calvinist and it is one hot topic back at home. He looked at me and we launched into a 3 minute or so conversation about his stand on Calvinism. He said Calvinism is an open-end debate. There are questions that will be left unanswered. He could say that he is a “limited Calvinist” (or I think he’s standing on the moderate Calvinism approach). If we see Bible verses pertaining to election we should preach it and if we verse that points man’s part in salvation we should also preach it. ‘It’s in the Bible isn’t it?” he said” So there is no conflict in that.” I think our chat is getting too long but as I check at my back I’m the only one in the line (thank goodness). It was a great and memorable talk. I’m honor to meet this Bible expositor and learn spiritual lessons from his books. I hope in the coming year OMF Lit will do this again. Thank you OMF!

As for me because of the book fair experience, it added my appreciation to books and its impact to our lives a Christians. Next year I will be planning for this event with more friends to tag along and a bigger budget. And I hope next year I will see you there. Till next year, keep reading books guys!

My Book Fair 2012 at SMX Experience

    The bad weather didn’t seems to stop the excitement and enthusiasm as we took a trip over SMX Mall of  Asia Convention Center for the “33rd Manila International Book Fair 2012”. This 5 day book fair (Sept 12-16) showcase local and international book publishers and of course their products. You can buy them in discounted prices and lots of goodies that comes along with it. We came (and counquer) last Saturday Sept 15 on its 4th day of the event. We have to pay an entrance fee of 20 pesos and once inside, man books, books and more books!

       Its my first time to go to that annual event and also my first time in MOA. The place was packed and crawling with bookworms like me that sometimes its hard to find a book your looking for. Our first stop was the Anvil Publishing booth reeking with Filipino literatures. Found new “Looking Back” books by Ambeth Ocampo but I hold on to my dear cash to buy Christian books (well his book can wait). After browsing it we immediately went to the OMF booth.Their booth as expected is swelling with great Christian books (saw Holliness of God by R.C. Sproul) but before I go dive in I have another mission on that book fair. I ask someone from OMF if they can help our small ministry for books to be donated in schools. He referred me to the Marketing Supervisor of OMF Literature, Gladys Calalang. We had an interesting chat, gave me her business card and told me to e-mail me a concrete proposal of our request. So please guys  pray for the project to push through and many will get to know Christ.Before I leave the OMF booth I grab “Knowing Scripture” by R.C. Sproul , a devotional book for my friends and a suprise. Well I got to meet Christian author William Girao. But before I go on I might as well save the encounter in another post. So wait for it guys it’s awesome!

We also check some Bible Societies in the Philippines who has booths there also. We went by CLC then Lighthouse (did we?).
Then to top it all off, we went to the loudest booth in the fair. Will all much hype not only for their booth but for  the whole book fair they should get an award. Church Strengthening Ministry’s with their “CSM Book Madness” Christians are in for a treat. For 100 Pesos you can buy anything as in anything you eyes can see in the booth. What a jaw dropping deal. So I brought “The Pleasures of God”
MP3 audiobook and “When I Don’t Desire God” book by John Piper. I couldn’t believe it cost that cheap I even ask them if its 100 pesos! As if I had enough, the Navpress Philippines booth is offering 99 pesos of Jerry Bridges title. I took “The Fruitful Life” and currently reading it.

I really had fun over that event and next year I will plan for it (bigger budget and more friends to tag long). By the way, did you come to that event too? Please post your story on the comment section. God bless you till next blog post!

Used Book Finds: Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

You won’t be surprise if I’ll feature it here in Used Book Finds. Next to the Bible, this is one of the most read books in Christianity. The allegorized adventure of Christian, easily understood by children and theologians alike. The reading is engaging and I love how Bunyan tells this beautiful story. This edition of “Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan” is published by Zondervan Publishing House 1974 with a groovy cover art. I have another copy of this book, published by Moody Press, but for some unknown reason I lost it. But anyways, I got this book at BookSale ((a second hand/used book store in the Philippines) for 30 pesos. Hope in your digging you’ll find this book and be touched by its message.

Hey guys, have you read Pilgrim’s Progress? Please post it on the comments.

4 Must Read Books on Prayer

Prayer is a Christian duty of praising, confessing, and petitioning to God. Many (including me) struggle with prayer. But there are books out there that encourage us to pray powerfully. Here is my list of the best read about praying:

1. Prayer: Asking and Receiving by John Rice- the first book I read about prayer. This book is soaked with powerful Biblical teaching and personal experience on praying. Simply engaging read.

2. In Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray– a classic from this Reformed pastor. Teaches that we should be humbly willing to be a student in prayer and asking Jesus to teach us the basics of it. It’s a not so easy read but the content is tremendously inspiring.

3. Power Through Prayer by E. M. Bounds– I think this book is a sermon turned into a book. This book belongs to a collection books of Edward McKendree Bounds on the subject on prayer. This one stands out for me. I find this book preaching not only to the people of the pew but also on the pulpit. Truly soul stirring. Great book!

4. How to Pray by R. A. Torrey- Torrey exhorts us the not just how to pray but the importance of praying in different circumstances. Very basic but very helpful.

Do you have a book about prayer in mind? Please post it on the comment section.


Used Book Finds: Love Life by Donald Grey Barnhouse

I love the Gospel of John. Among all of the gospel account of Jesus, John’s gospel stands out (and I think that is another reason why we he is called “the Beloved “ J). We sometimes recommend it to new believers and skeptics to first read it. It is also the most controversial because of the opening verse (John 1:1) that cults try to twist it meaning. I also love books that have a commentary of that gospel. Though I haven’t read this book, “Love Life” by the late Donald Grey Barnhouse (2nd printing 1974, Regal Books) which I have bought at BookSale ((a second hand/used book store in the Philippines), it’s one of those books that gears on unraveling John’s gospel. I hope as you find books that help us understand the Gospel of John, let us continue to love the Bible more for it’s the true source of spiritual food.

How about you what gospel book do you like? Please post it on the comments.

Used Book Finds: Footprints in the Ash: The Explosive Story of Mount St. Helens by John Morris and Steven A. Austin

As I look at my mini library of Christian books collected in BookSale ((a second hand/used book store in the Philippines), I’m proud to have this coffee tablebook on creation science. It reminds me of two things: my early days in ministry (I collect creation science books and tracts to be donated to schools) and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption (which made our place a “winter wonderland” of volcanic ashes J).

One of my prized collections, this coffee table book is not just a compilation of striking photos of the eruption of Mount St. Helen but a biblical look at this catastrophe. This book serves as a documentary of the explosion and how it relates in the Genesis flood. Rapid formation of coal, fossilations, stratification, petrified trees and mini grand canyon etc,. Can lead observers that the earth might not be billions of years old. Backed with stunning photos, graphs and illustrations the books also boast with write ups on scientific findings of the Mount St. Helen and a gospel message. This book indeed is a must have for young earth creationist (like me).  I got the book for 65 pesos (I think) it is published by Master Books, August 2003. If this post prompts you to thirst about creation vs. evolution topics you might as well check these recommended sites: Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis.

Any favorite creation science books? Please post it on the comments.

Used Book Finds: Unafraid to Be by Ruth Etchells

You got to thank IVP (Inter Vasity Press) for putting books that are responding to contemporary inquires (or sometimes attacks) to Christianity. They are one of those publications on the frontlines of defending the faith. The last book I read from them is “The Dawkin’s Delusion” by Alister McGrath.  I never thought they have this reputation of putting unique books on apologetics. I’ve found this book titled “Unafraid to Be” by Ruth Etchells (IVP, London) 1st edtion 1969. Subtitled ” a Christian Study of Contemporary English Writing” book examines contemporary literatures and the arts that, not only tries to answer mans spiritual questions, (Who am I? Why am I here for? etc.,) but undermines the truth found in the Bible. Prominent figures mentioned in the book are Arthur Miller, John Le Carre, Alfred Camus, Jean Paul Satre, William Gooding (author of Lord of the Flies), Kingsley Amis, D. J. Enright, John Osborne, Graham Greene and others.  So the next time you visit BookSale check out books by IVP and you’ll be in for a treat…

Used Book Finds: The Writer and The Writer’s Digest

  Been following blogs to help me improve my writing ability and style but nothing beats a physical material that won’t strain my eyes staring at my laptop. Just this year, as I was excavating BookSale (a second hand bookshop in the Philippines) I noticed they carry some writing magazines that are so inexpensive it cost P5-P10 per copy! Yes Virginia it’s so cheap! The magazines are “The Writer” and “The Writer’s Digest”. Both (though geared for secular writing) deliver the goods that are very useful for writers. From tips, advices, interviews, online exclusives etc.; the two magazines are great companions for writers especially for us bloggers. As of now I have 8 magazines in my collection and counting. I suggest that you go search it out at the nearest BookSale branch. You can also find them on the web: The Writer and The Writer’s Digest.Happy magazine hunting and blog writing!

Used Book Find: Cheap Apologetics Books

Apologetics (defending the faith) has never been this cheap! If you’re like me, I spend time digging books at BookSale (a second hand book store chain in the Philippines) and always find books that engaged you in defending the Christian faith. The price may be cheap but the books are not. In fact, what I find are classics and bestsellers from leading Christian apologist. Authors like Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel rings a bell to everyone who knows apologetics. So I’ll bring their books to the spotlight in this article for your search and enjoy the book.

First is the classic book (and I think the most popular) “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell. This little book is the summary of his search to refute the claims of Christianity. As a student, he was challenged by Christians to examine the faith.  This book is a must read and a must have for Christians who is starting out with apologetics. It can be use as an evangelistic tool.  It was such a bestseller it was turned into a film. For years now it seems every time I visit BookSale I find this book. I make it a point to buy a copy (since they are price P10-50 only), stock it in my cabinet and donate it to schools. The book tackles topics like the deity of Jesus, reliability of the Bible, prophecy etc.  The book ends with a personal testimony of Josh McDowell.

If you want  more meat and fast pace read about apologetics I’ll direct you to the next book feature. It’s from a former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, Lee Strobel. The titles are “The Case for Easter” and “The Case for Christmas” (which sells from P10-P45 only). Both books are excerpts on a bigger book titled “The Case for Christ”. The reason that they released it on a smaller volume is for mass evangelistic outreach. Definitely, those two books are awesome for seasonal give away or simply what I do, donate it at a school library. Having read his books (especially “The Case for Christ” which I got also from BookSale) I can say that Strobel gave skeptics a run for their money.  Using his journalistic writing style (which I love when he opens a chapter of the book) and his legal expertise interviewing Christian scholars that makes the book like a thriller novel!

So there you have it. Books that is best for apologetics.  I would like to end this article with appeal to Christian books stores here in the Philippines. If your own, work or patronized Christian bookstores please put or ask to stock these books. I’ve been checking out their shelves and I can’t find works by Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel (I stand corrected if you find one). We need such books to protect us from cults and false teaching prevailing and stand against the attacks of atheist and skeptics that undermine the truth in Christianity. God bless you as you do it not only for believers but also those who are seeking the truth.