I think my sermon is complete. I’m ready to pack up and head home to rest before tomorrow comes and I must open my Bible and speak.
Not so fast! Here are six final questions to ask myself before I’m truly done with my sermon preparation.
Question #1 — What is the problem I raise?
Every sermon should pose a question, surface a problem, set out an issue that demands an answer. What is mine? Is it the same as the one the Scripture passage raises?
Question #2 — How is Jesus the answer?
No matter which Testament I am preaching from, Jesus is the ultimate answer to the problem that has been raised. How do I set this forth?
Question #3 — Where is the cross/gospel?
As I set out the question and ultimately point to Jesus as its answer, where and how do I hold forth work of the cross and the call of the gospel?
Question #4 — What am I calling/asking for?
What response am I asking for from the listeners? Is it realistic? Is it inviting?
Question #5 — Can I say this more simply?
The path of profundity is marked by the sign of simplicity. Am I following the signs?
Question #6 — Can I say this more succinctly?
“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Eccl. 6:11, NIV)
Long Story Short — Sorani Kurdish edition
No Road Too Far is an collection of seven short stories of Biblical fiction. This is a first for me. All my previous published works have been non-fiction, mostly commentaries and Biblical expositions. So, some may wonder, What is the origin of these stories?
I wrote these stories throughout the 2010’s at a rate of about one a year. Each of them was written originally as a Christmas gift to the people of the Stow Alliance Fellowship, where I served as pastor from 2001-2020. Year by year on Christmas Eve I shared a new story I had written.
Though not all the stories are dominated by the biblical narratives of Jesus’ birth, they do all in some way relate to His first Advent. For this reason, though they are not presented now as a Christmas book, they do make good meditations for the Advent season. Reading a couple of stories a week as a family might be a wonderful way of preparing for the celebration of Christmas.
While this is the immediate genesis of each of these stories, indirectly their roots go back much further than that. As is the case in many families, our three children all begged for stories at bedtime. My default question in the face of their request was: Real or pretend? When “real” was their answer I would unfold some experience from my past. But when they said, “pretend” my creative juices began to flow. So I’ve been telling my children stories for decades.
But actually the origin of my story-telling goes all the way back to my preschool years. If my mother were still with us she would readily tell you that I’ve been telling stories from the moment I could speak.
Somewhere along the line I became captivated with the one great Story, the Story God is authoring across the ledger of human history and in each of our lives. As the hymn says, “I love to tell the story.” I have written of that Story (and how our personal stories can be a part of seeing its final chapter written) in non-fiction form in my book Long Story Short: God, Eternity, History, and You. But the seven short stories that make up No Road Too Far are another means by which I can tell the Story of God and His pursuit of writing you into it.
I’m delighted to announce the release of No Road Too Far: Encounters with the Christ.
Andrew Peterson loves to say, “If you want someone to know the truth, tell them. If you want them to love the truth, tell them a story.” This is my attempt to move others to love the truth that with Jesus there is No Road Too Far for the reach of God’s love.
It is currently available in paperback and electronic (Kindle, etc.) formats. I’m working on the possibility of an audio version in the future.
You can help others love the truth that there is No Road Too Far for the reach of God’s love by buying a copy, sharing it, giving copies as Christmas gifts, posting on your social media accounts about it, rating it (after reading it!) on Amazon, better yet, also writing a review of it on Amazon, Goodreads, or other bookseller sites. Thank you for spreading the word and for holding forth to others the gospel-hope that there is No Road Too Far for the reach of God’s love.