In my last post I examined Elliot Ritzema’s resources that are part of the new Pastorum Series Collection from Logos Bible Software. In this post, I will look at Jeffrey Miller’s resources and how his and Ritzema’s books work together.
Jeffrey Miller is the author of Hazards of Being A Man, co-author of Zondervan’s Dictionary of Bible and Theology Words and A New Reader’s Lexicon to the Greek New Testament and has been a contributing editor on three commentaries. Additionally he has 11 years of pastoral ministry experience so he understands the pressure of having to write sermons week after week. In the Study, Apply, Share guides which are included in this collection, Miller offers sound exegetical advice and helpful hints on how to make the Bible meaningful to your congregation.
In this collection, Miller looks at five New Testament books: Mark, Luke, Philippians, Hebrews, James. The Study, Apply, Share guides divide each of these biblical books into pericopes and gives exegetical hints (Study), provides two possible applications (Apply) and two creative ideas for presenting this passage (share). So if you were looking at Study, Apply, Share: Luke you would see a series of questions which help you dig deeper into the text. Here’s a look at Luke 3:1-20 (I chose this because it coincides with the Lectionary text for Advent C3):
Each of these questions link to different resources in Logos. As you can see from the above example, many of Miller’s ‘go to’ commentaries are not in my personal Logos library (of the above, I only have the Word Biblical Commentary). If I do click on the questions with a ‘lock’ I get a splash page in Logos which directs me to the Logos product page that corresponds to that resource (for purchase). While I can’t buy everything that Logos suggests, Miller’s questions are helpful for digging into the text and I can easily follow his hints by cross referencing the passage comments in other commentaries (which I do own). Granted, those who have a more comprehensive library than I will be able to accomplish more, more efficiently.
Miller highlights two possible preaching themes which offer guidance on how this passage may be applied. Here is a look at the ‘Apply’ section for Luke 3:1-20:
These themes help preachers frame what they are to say, providing the ‘big idea’ as they craft their message. If I were preaching this passage, I might use one of these themes to give me a general direction (provided my study, didn’t direct me another way). The suggested applications answers the ‘so what?’ question. Our exploration of John the Baptist should lead us to question our own hypocrisy and the need for preparation. Miller helps hone in on what it means to live out the truth presented in this passage. Other passages would yield different themes and applications.
Finally the ‘Share’ section presents creative suggestions for sharing this with the congregation in the worship service. As with the application, Miller relates this to the same two preaching themes:
This section has creative activities which involve the congregation (as in the first suggestion above). Sometimes these are suggestions for particular pastoral duties (i.e. preaching an evangelistic message, holding a baptismal service, etc). This is the section I think I will get the most use of. Miller gives some great suggestions on how we can make this passage come alive for congregants.
Other passages also include full color graphics which illuminate an aspect of the message or book being studied. These resources (Luke and the other books) are time savers which provide hints, suggestions and ideas for sermon preparation and delivery. Thankfully, Miller stops short of writing the sermons for pastors. Obviously for pastors to preach well, they need to sit under the text themselves, study and hear from God what he may be saying to that particular congregation at that particular time. Nothing that Miller says short circuits that, but he does help preachers listen well to the text, and get the point before they start communicating.
So how do the Study, Apply, Share resources integrate with 300 Quotations for Preachers and 400 Prayers for Preachers? All of the resources in the Pastorum Series Collection are tagged by preaching theme and by passage. So for example, a search of the Preaching Theme ‘Hypocrisy’ will bring up this quotation from John Bunyan which a preacher may use to illustrate a point in his message:
I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion, as the white of an egg is of savour.… Thus say the common people that know him, “A saint abroad, and a devil at home.”
300 Quotations for Preachers, ed. Elliot Ritzema (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).
This prayer Peter Ainslie might be prayed in the sermon or as part of pastoral prayers (perhaps before communion):
O Healer of souls, purge me of the leaven of hypocrisy and teach me the holiness of sincerity, frankness, honesty and courtesy. You have shown me the nobility of faith, and in my secret moments let me be busy in learning the principles of your kingdom, fastening them to my heart, that I may not fail in practicing them when I am tested. Open my eyes to the sacred trust that you have laid upon me, and let me know that all fruitfulness is the work of your grace, for I am only a steward awaiting my Lord’s return, to whom belongs my affection and my life. Amen.
400 Prayers for Preachers, ed. Elliot Ritzema (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).
A search by passage would also yield a prayer from Anselm of Canterbury and an incisive quote from Augustine. So for any given passage, there may be several prayers and quotes which can be correlated to Miller’s material.
As an entire collection, these resources are a tremendous help to the overworked preacher. Miller’s resources are different from Ritzema’s but they compliment each other well. Miller helps preachers delve into the Bible, study deeply and present relevant messages. Ritzema’s resources give preachers and worship planners a means of introducing the congregation to significant voices from Church history. Taken together they help pastors and worship leaders plan Sunday worship in a cohesive way. I happily recommend this resource and believe that preachers will make good use of it.
(Notice of material connection: I received this resource from Logos Bible Software in exchange for my honest review).