500 Years of Reforming- Worship Resources

October 31, 2017 marks a monumental moment for the church and the world. It was on that day 500 years ago that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses to door at Wittenberg.  This is typically noted as the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. It was a moment that sparked a movement that continues to influence not only the Christian faith but also daily life.

To celebrate, I am planning to do a whole month of worship and preaching around Martin Luther. They are not perfect or in their final form, and I am sure the will take a little different shape by the time October comes around, but I thought I would offer them to others as a starting point for celebrating this important date.

You can click HERE or the picture below for the document. Please adapt it and use it, and I would love to hear what you do with it.


John Wesley on Why Pastors Must Read

On August 17, 1760, John Wesley wrote a letter to a preacher named John Premboth. His words are critical for pastors to hear today.:

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear to this day, is want of reading.

I scarce ever knew a preacher read so little. And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it. Hence your talent in preaching does not increase. It is just the same as it was seven years ago. It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety, there is no compass of thought. Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer. You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this. You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian. Continue reading

Easter is on a Jewish Holiday (and it is amazing)

It was a special Sunday- that first day of the week after Passover. Imagine how devastated the disciples and the followers of Jesus must have been. A week before they had marched into Jerusalem with palm branches waving saying Hosanna- Save us please. Now their savior was dead. And not just dead- Crucified. Killed publically and brutally. Could they be next? Are the Romans going to silence them also?

We also need to understand that Jesus died during a very important season for the Jews. Jesus died on Passover.  Friday was the holy day of Passover, which was celebrated in homes the day before. The death of Jesus was bathed in this imagery. Jesus was the blameless lamb that was slain without putting up a defense. Jesus purchases his people from slaver. Jesus is the broken bread. Jesus is the promised Messiah come to save the people again.Firstfruits

What most people don’t know about that Sunday is that Jesus actually rose from the dead on another Jewish holiday. I did not know until I heard it in this blog post by Ron Cantor–a Messianic Jewish pastor from Israel that I follow on Facebook.

The actual day was debated between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but at the time the Sunday following the Sabbath after Passover would have been The Festival of First Fruits. This is a festival that many cultures had to some degree or another. In that part of the world, many things would be harvested in the spring. God calls the people of Israel to a special festival at this time of year.

In Leviticus 23 God tells Israel to celebrate:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD.   (Leviticus 23:9-12 ESV)

This was a day was set apart to celebrate 2 things. First, it was the beginning of the harvest season. The people gathered together to give God the first 10% of their harvest and pray for a bountiful remainder of the harvest season. This was also a celebration of the giving of the law at Sinai. The Law was seen as the beginning of a great harvest in Israel. It would be fruitful for the people and for the nations around them.

The celebration was the beginning of the Festival of Weeks or sometimes called the Festival of Reaping. Over the next 7 weeks, farmers could come into Jerusalem to present their offering. They would bring a sheaf of grains, sometimes on the end of a stick, and people would cheer and sing on their way to the Temple. People would bring offering from the 7 harvested plants Israel was known for—wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. (Deut 8:8)

The sheaf would be brought before the priest, who would wave the sheaf around the altar. There would be dancing, praying, and singing. It was a great moment of pride and gratitude for the farmers, and it was especially esteemed to be there on the very first day of firstfruits.Sheafs

The book of Ruth was read from and sung on those days for a number of reasons. The events of the book of Ruth occur during the harvest time of year. Ruth is the great grandmother of David, and it was taught that David was born and died on the day of the bringing of the firstfruits. Ruth is a book about loving-kindness which is what the law was supposed to be about. So Ruth became associated with this festival.

This festival would go on for 7 weeks and end 50 days. In fact, the reference to 50 days in Latin is why we call this festival Pentecost.

Perhaps it is this festival that Paul has in mind in 1 Corinthians 15:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28 ESV)

Paul does not speak specifically about the Festival of Firstfruits to his Corinthian audience, but he very well may have had it in mind as a Pharisee. Either way, think about the stunning connection between the day of this festival and the resurrection of Jesus:

  • Jesus rose from the dead, just like a harvest. He even used the image of a grain of wheat falling to the ground so that it can grow again.
  • Jesus is the First Fruit. Just has He is resurrected, so too those who are dead in the Lord will be resurrected.
  • Jesus is the new law. He does not replace, but fulfills the law. His new way brings new fruit—the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Jesus from the line of David who is remembered on that day. In fact, Peter makes the connection in his sermon in Acts 2 when he compares the death of David and the hope of immortality with the Resurrection of Jesus.
  • Jesus the Kinsman Redeemer that saves just as Boaz saves in the book of Ruth.
  • The Resurrection of Jesus is connected to Pentecost. Though He ascends to God the Father He is with people after Pentecost in a new way.

When you think about it, this imagery is striking. Easter is the Day of Firstfruits. We may not grow our own crops anymore, but the fruit of that Easter morning can be viewed in our lives. We are an Easter people. We are a people of first fruits. May that fruit be shown in your lives this day. Amen.

LAND THE PLANE- My best advice for preachers

I was once at a denominational meeting where the speaker preached for what seemed like forever. I don’t think it was as long as it felt. The problem was that the preacher kept preaching what everyone thought was the ending to the sermon. And just as we all thought it was ending he would launch into another point. There was a certain amount of anxiety every time this happened and, in the end, the sermon lost its power.

A friend of mine came up to me afterwards and simply said, “Land the plane, man. Just land the plane.”

plane landingI thought that was a great metaphor and it has been pivotal in how I approach preaching. It felt like that preacher kept coming in for a landing and then, just as he was about to touch the tires down on the runway, he accelerated for another lap around the airport. He would come in for another landing only to take off once again.

The end of a move can make or break the movie. The end of a book leaves you with the last impression and often tints the way you see the whole book. How you end your sermon is crucial for the lasting impact of that sermon.

I am convinced that many pastors don’t know how to end a sermon. They can take off and fly the plane, but you sour the whole sermon if you don’t land the plane.

Here’s how you land the plane. To begin you have to know very clearly what your last point is. You should write it out and practice your ending. Often the end of the sermon is the only part I have manuscripted because I want to be very clear on how I am going to end.

Another way to be sure you land the plane is to be careful when you end certain points or sections of your sermon. You don’t want to preach a point onto the runway unless it is the end of the sermon. It is helpful to give clues like telling people how many points or observations you have. Sometimes if you find that you have an observation that feels like a landing maybe that point ought to be the last one in the sermon.

Here is another simply device—just say something like “Amen.” Give a recognizable end to the sermons. I often like to pray at the end of my sermons. I think it is helpful to ask God to open our eyes and hearts and to help the message sink into our lives. Praying also a clear ending to the sermon and also gives time for people to get ready for the next part of the service.

Whatever you do, for God’s sake and for the sake of your people, land the plane.


10 Tips for More Creative Preaching PART 2


This is part 2 of a 2 part blog.

6. Ask- what image do I need to drive home? Is there an image that is the crux of the text? Is there a metaphor that captures the essence of your message? Learn to find that, build your sermon around that, and leave that as the last thought I the sermon. For example, I think the Prodigal Son is carried by the two images of a father running to a lost son and of a father begging his elder son to come into the party. Those images were my conclusion to that sermon.

7. Find a way to physically act in a way that will make this come alive. I one time preached about how God is not limited by our expectations and demands on him. The phrase I kept using in writing the sermon was that God would not stay in our box. I finally thought of actually preaching the sermon while standing in a box. At one point I kicked my way out of the box in very dramatic fashion. This was a way of physically embodying the point of the sermon.

8. Ask- how can people respond to this sermon? Sometimes a message demands a response by people. If we can give them the opportunity to do that then we can make the sermon more impactful. I was preaching about Paul’s metaphors of bearing each other’s burdens and that each should carry their own loads. When people entered the sanctuary they were given a brick (or part of a brick) to hold. After the sermon, as people came up for communion, they laid their bricks down to signify their own struggle to do what Paul is talking about. The response carried the sermon.

9. Don’t build the sermon around points. The modern way of preaching was to be logical and build your sermon around 3 points. You got a bonus if all the points started with the same letter or spelled some kind of word. I suggest that for more creativity you should build your sermon around metaphors. Paul and James do this quite a lot, as does John though he is more subtle with them.

10. Don’t read the text in worship before the sermon. Ask where in the sermon you can read the text to have the most impact. I sometimes read my sermon in the middle of the sermon, sometimes I read it slowly throughout the sermon. I have even read the sermon at the end. I know of churches that do the scripture reading at the beginning of the service so that the entire worship service is seen through the text. Experiment.

Bonus: Change where the sermon is in your service. I think that some sermons should be earlier in the service. Some should be later. I have even done sermons in two or three parts throughout the service and let them build on one another.

10 Tips for More Creative Preaching PART 1

This is part 1 of a 2 part blog.

1. Start with an oddball series or a difficult text. Last summer I preached a sermon looking at food metaphors in the Bible. This led me to all kinds of great themes and texts. I am now preaching parables and paying special attention to the less familiar parables.

2. Work ahead on your preaching schedule. If you spend Monday or Tuesday picking a text and topic for your sermon then you are already behind in your study and you will run out of time to be creative on how you put together the sermon. Have your sermons picked ahead so you can be thinking about them and so that you don’t waste time picking them the week of the sermon. I should also add that I plan about 3-4 months ahead and I normally leave a couple of blanks so that I can respond to God’s leading.

3. Prime the pump. A number of my sermons are inspired out of other books or lectures I am reading or listening to. This way I start with a good idea or perspective on a topic that I can study in the Bible and make my own.

4. Marinate in the text before you pick up a commentary. This is the opposite of “priming the pump” but it is sometimes also helpful. Read the text a few times and make notes about it before you look at commentaries. What do you notice in the text? What phrases, details, and images stand out to you?

5. Work ahead on your research. I like to do all my study on the text on Monday and Tuesday. I want to give me a day to sit on my ideas before I write the sermon. That gives me Thursday to write the thing. By researching early I give myself space to be more creative on how to structure and deliver the message.

Parables are Challenging my Simple

I have been preaching the parables in the second half of the summer. These have not been easy sermons to preach. This past week I preached the parable of the tenacious widow and the unjust judge from Luke 18:1-8. You can listen to it HERE. If you have never heard of it then I am not surprised. I seriously doubt if you have ever heard a sermon about it.

The challenge with this parable is not understanding the story. It is, like most of the parables, a very simple story. The challenge is that Luke gives an intro to the parable that says the parable is about prayer and not losing heart but then after the parable Jesus teaches about stuff unrelated to prayer or not losing heart. What does the parable mean? How do we apply it to our lives?

But the challenge of understanding the parables is only a surface issue. The real issue with the parables is actually about you and I want our lives to be—SIMPLE. I think things simple. I like 3 point sermons with one clear challenge at the end.

But the Bible is rarely simple. Life is rarely simple. If you can highlight the meaning of a parable or a life event in a neat and tidy sentence then you have probably missed the real meaning. Parables are meant to grab you and stick with you. You have to wrestle with them. The can still be teaching you things a long time later. Life is the same way.


Why I am so Tired after Preaching

Preaching wears me out. I am always so tired on Monday mornings. I am even worse Sunday afternoons. I only preach one service. I can’t imagine preaching 4-5 times the way some pastors do. Good preaching takes all of the pastor’s abilities and energies.

  • Preaching is physically draining. You are projecting your voice, using gestures, standing or walking around.
  • Preaching is mentally draining. You have to be totally focused, speaking clearly, knowing where you are going and remembering your sermon.
  • Preaching is emotional Draining. You have to put your emotions in the sermon, feel the stories and the ideas, and let that emotion be expressed in your voice and in your facial expressions.
  • Spiritually draining – Good preaching means being open to and following the Holy Spirit as well as connecting with your people’s needs, wounds, and challenges.

Some sermons are more draining than others. A difficult text, an emotional topic, or a more animated sermon means the pastor will be more exhausted. It is especially draining when the pastor has a personal story or talks about something that hits close to home in the preacher’s personal life.

Pastors have to learn to take care of themselves. For me, this means resting a lot on Sundays after church, staring Mondays slowly, and not scheduling demanding things for Sundays. When I started preaching regularly I became a huge fan of the NFL. It was a great way for me to rest and relax on Sundays.

For Pastors: What do you do to recover from preaching?

For Church Members: Remember to pray for your pastors.

2 Great Prayers for Preachers

I collect prayers and quotes for use before I preach and lead worship. Here are two great ones I found recently:Spurgeon

May the great and gracious Spirit, who is the only illumination of darkness, light up my mind whilst I attempt, in a brief and hurried manner, to speak from this text. —Charles Spurgeon

Dear God, through Your beloved Son You have said that those who hear Your Word are blessed.  How much more fitting it would be for us to bless You, praise, thank and laud You unceasingly, O eternal and merciful Father, with glad hearts, that You show Yourself so friendly—indeed, so like a father—to us poor little worms, that You speak to us about the greatest and highest of subjects—eternal life.  Nevertheless, You don’t stop there, enticing and wooing us to hear Your Word through Your Son.   He says: “Blessed are martin lutherthey who hear the Word of God and keep it.”  As if You couldn’t get by without our ears—we, who are dust and ashes!  Many thousand times more do we need Your Word.  O, how unspeakably great is Your goodness and patience!   On the other hand, woe!  Woe! over the ingratitude and colorblindness of those who not only don’t want to hear Your Word, but even stubbornly despise, persecute, and blaspheme it.  Amen. —Martin Luther

The Heart of Charles Spurgeon’s Preaching

This quote from one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons in 1894 shares what I think was the heart of his preaching—being and living in Christ:Lifeofcharleshad00rayciala_0494

“Often, when I come in at the door and my eyes fall on this vast congregation, I feel a tremor go through me to think that I should have to speak to you all and be, in some measure, accountable for your future state. Unless I preach the Gospel faithfully and with all my heart, your blood will be required at my hands. Do not wonder, therefore, that when I am weak and sick, I feel my head swim when I stand up to speak to you, and my heart is often faint within me. But I do have this joy at the back of it all—God does set many sinners free in this place! Some people reported that I was mourning that there were no conversions. Brothers and Sisters, if you were all to be converted tonight, I should mourn for the myriads outside! That is true, but I praise the Lord for the many who are converted here. When I came last Tuesday to see converts, I had 21 whom I was able to propose to the Church—and it will be the same next Tuesday, I do not doubt. God is saving souls! I am not preaching in vain. I am not despondent about that matter—liberty is given to the captives and there will be liberty for some of them, tonight! I wonder who it will be? Some of you young women over yonder, I trust. Some who have dropped in here, tonight, for the first time. Oh, may this first opportunity of your hearing the Word in this place be the time of beginning a new life which shall never end—a life of holiness, a life of peace with God!”

Charles Spurgeon Quotes about Preaching

Here are some great quotes from Charles Spurgeon about preaching that I found thought provoking::

  • All originality and no plagiarism makes for dull preaching.spurgeon
  • Whatever subject I preach, I do not stop until I reach the Savior, the Lord Jesus, for in Him are all things.
  • The man who cannot weep cannot preach. At least, if he never feels tears within, even if they do not show themselves without, he can scarcely be the man to handle such themes as those which God has committed to his people’s charge.
  • A sermon often does a man most good when it makes him most angry. Those people who walk down the aisles and say, “I will never hear that man again,” very often have an arrow rankling in their breast.
  • You cannot preach conviction of sin unless you have suffered it. You cannot preach repentance unless you have practiced it. You cannot preach faith unless you have exercised it. True preaching is artesian; it wells up from the great depths of the soul. If Christ has not made a well within us, there will be no outflow from us.
  • He that can toy with his ministry and count it to be like a trade, or like any other profession, was never called of God. But he that has a charge pressing on his heart, and a woe ringing in his ear, and preaches as though he heard the cried of hell behind him, and saw his God looking down on him–oh, how that man entreats the Lord that his hearers may not hear in vain
  • If I only had one more sermon to preach before I died, it would be about my Lord Jesus Christ. And I think that when we get to the end of our ministry, one of our regrets will be that we did not preach more of Him. I am sure no minister will ever repent of having preached Him too much.

12 Questions Preachers Should Ask about their Sermons

Here are 12 questions for pastors to ask about their preaching. They relate to both particular sermons and the overall sermon.george whitfield preahcing

  1. Are you preaching both the Old Testament and the New Testament? Both need to be preached if you are going to give your people the full testimony of preaching.
  2. Are you helping people know AND do? Sermons need to be about both practical living and theological insight. Some sermons might be more one or the other, but your people need both on a regular basis.
  3. Are you only preaching what people want to hear? If everybody loved every one of your sermons then there is probably a problem. If they hate all your sermons there is probably a problem too. People need to be both convicted and encouraged.
  4. Are you using the right number of stories and examples? There is a problem when you tell too many or too few examples and stories. Too many and people can actually lose the point. Too few and people won’t remember the point. Some points require more or less examples.
  5. Are you too point driven? People don’t remember points. They don’t think in points. They think in stories. They remember images. Gone are the days when your sermon should be jammed into a 3 or 4 points system.
  6. Do you have too much or too little energy? If you are monotone and never get excited then your people will sleep. If you are too bubbly and wild then your people will be scared. You need variety and to avoid extremes.
  7. Do you have too much or too little tradition? I like tradition. I like history. I like the creeds. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. People live today, not 500 years ago.
  8. Are you too focused on Biblical themes or particular passages? There are times when certain large biblical themes that need to come up in sermons. There are other times when a particular passage needs mined for all of the precious nuggets in it. Both are important.
  9. Are you preaching the same message every week? So many pastors have their hobby horse like evangelism or social justice. You are not just preaching what you like. Not every sermon and topic can come back to the same idea that you like.
  10. Are you preaching to your congregation? This sounds dumb, but many pastors preach with little or no regard for where their congregation is. Is your preaching simple enough? Does is speak to real issues in your congregation?
  11. Are your conclusion too open ended or too specific? The best sermons have guidance on what to think about and how to apply them but also leave room for the message to haunt people throughout the week.
  12. Who is the hero in your sermons? It should be Jesus. Our faith is not about self-help. It is about God-help and how we turn around and help others.


Why I don’t always Preach Exegetically (but I think it is cool that you do)

There is a big discussion going on in the world of preaching right now about how pastors should preach. At one extreme is the die-hard exegetical preachers. These preachers generally preach text by text through sections of scripture and stick almost exclusively to the Bible. Sermons often come in series through Biblical books or passages on particular themes. On the other extreme are topical preachers that use some scripture but are primarily driven by the topic they are discussing. Sermons from these preacher center on themes for applying your faith to your life.

Pulpit Bible

Most pastors are in the middle somewhere or preach a variety, yet there are vocal proponents of both extremes. Exegetical preachers argue that you must be guided the text so that you take ideas out of the text (called exegesis) and you do not read your own ideas into the text (called eisegesis). The topical preacher often counters that preaching needs to connect with the congregation where they are.

There are great examples of both styles of preaching. John Calvin preached verse by verse through almost all of the Bible in Geneva. His commentaries come from his sermons. On the other side, Charles Spurgeon was a topical preacher known as “The Prince of Preacher.” Thought we should also not that Calvin preached with sensitivity to the issues in his world and Spurgeon was very biblical.

So while I think that it is crucial that we as preachers to submit to the authority of scripture and not just give opinion, I also think that both kinds of sermons are necessary. Here is why I don’t always preach exegetically:

1. There is no command to preach exegetically in the Bible. There is not even an example of exegetical preaching in the Bible. Jesus, Peter, and Paul all preach in a way that is soaked in scripture but they do not exegete a text. To define biblical preaching in this way is actually not biblical.

2. Exegetical preaching is a very modern way of preaching. The early church was not exegetical, though they were focused on scripture. They were more focused on metaphor than verse by verse analysis. I do not think we should make a commandment out of something that the church has not done much in its history.

3. Exegetical preaching does not always help preachers preach variety. I have heard many preacher who preach exegetically but still always find their same message in every passage. Isn’t it convenient how people can find their own opinion in every text?

4. The Bible is one book and has lots of themes and topics throughout. I want to preach the fullness of those things. Some of those themes can only be seen by looking at the full testimony of scripture. For example, I once preached a sermon on the theme of water in scripture and found some great insights by not sticking with one particular passage. Most exegetical preachers will miss out on some of those things that the Bible has to teach us.

5. We proclaim Jesus as the Word made flesh. I have heard preachers proclaim the Word (the Bible) as if it saves people. The Bible does not save us. The Bible is not a 4th member of the Trinity.

6. The Bible itself is open to other ways that God is proclaimed and glorified. If the Bible says that mountains and rocks and stars can proclaim God’s glory then why do preachers get in the pulpit and insist that only that Bible can glorify God? Surely our culture also has reflections of God’s glory that can be given voice in sermons.

7. I am not as scared of eisegesis as others are. The Bible talks about how we have the Holy Spirit. Why can’t the Holy Spirit give a preacher a message and then they go and find a text to fit that message? Also, when we go to write a sermon it is not the first time we have ever read the Bible. There is nothing wrong with understanding a biblical principle and then backing into a text.

So in the end I preach both ways. I like to do my work in series. Sometimes I will do a series on a theological topic, a cultural issue, or a theme like prayer. Other times I will preach straight through books of the Bible or important passages. I think that pastors should have some variety.

If you are not an exegetical preacher, make sure you have systems in place to make sure you are not just preaching things people want to hear or things that make you sound impressive. And if you are a die-hard exegetical preacher, I appreciate your discipline, but have some grace for those of us who do things a little differently.



Why I don’t Preach the Lectionary (but I think it is cool that you do)

Throughout Jewish and Christian history there have been various sets of readings for both daily use and Sabbath use. These are sometimes referred to as lectionaries. In 1994 a major ecumenical lectionary was released after years of study and experimentation called the Revised Common Lectionary. This 3 year cycle of texts for Sundays includes a Psalm, an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, and a Gospel reading. This lectionary is used by many mainline denominations including a number of Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist bodies.

Billy Sunday

It has become quite popular to preach from these texts. Commentaries have been developed as well as liturgical resources to accompany those texts and themes. There are many die-hard fans of preaching this way. In fact, many pastors go so far as to say that all pastors should follow the lectionary. It is helpful because it takes the guess work out of picking sermons, forces pastors to preach a variety, and there are so many resources available for lectionary preaching. IF there is no system in place, pastors often end up preaching out of their own passions and not their weaknesses so they end up passing their weaknesses on to their congregations.

I am not a lectionary preacher. I appreciate the idea. I use a lot of those lectionary resources and even do some of my liturgy based on those themes. Still, I don’t preach the lectionary except on a few important dates. Here is why I don’t preach the lectionary:

  1. I find it constricting. I know that some people have trouble coming up with sermon ideas. I never seem to have that trouble.
  2. The lectionary skips things and is not complete itself. The lectionary does not have every text or even every book of the Bible in it. It also often jumps over troublesome verses.
  3. I don’t follow strictly to the church year. I track with Lent and Advent, but some of the other days (like Pentecost, Ascension, or Epiphany) I only emphasize every couple of years.
  4. The lectionary does not always work. Preaching the lectionary does not guarantee that it forces the pastor to preach a variety or in their weak areas. I have found that pastors have the ability to find what they want to say even if they are preaching the lectionary. They can also favor certain areas of scripture and pick the text that week that fits them best.
  5. There are other ways to fix the problems that the lectionary is trying to solve. I have found that I can find variety and preach my weak areas by listen to the Holy Spirit and by preaching through books of the Bible. I actually like to push myself to preach wherever I am being pushed and whatever I am comfortable with

I think that the lectionary is a good idea. If you are not a lectionary preacher I would encourage every pastor to look at it and try it. And if you are a lectionary preacher, I appreciate your discipline, but don’t have to try to make me a lectionary preacher. Even though it may be helpful, it is not a biblical commandment and it is not for everybody.