“Where does he get those wonderful toys?” Probably the best line from any Batman movie, though I’m not sure anyone is keeping track of notable quotes from Batman movies (run-on sentence). Batman, as we all well know, is not a super-powered hero like Superman or Aquaman. He’s just an angry, rich white guy with no regard for the traditions of civilized law enforcement. No super-strength, can’t talk to animals, can’t fly. The utility belt, the Bat-a-rangs, and the Batmobile make him great.
Following up on my last post’s tips for communicating, I thought I would share the wonderful toys that I use when putting my sermons or lessons together.
- An Old Testament and New Testament Introduction. I preach almost exclusively using chunks of passage from the Bible (expository). As a result, the historical and literary context of a passage are the first things I go for. A good introduction can answer these questions fast without getting bogged down with overly academic concerns.
- A Good Thesaurus. Ever notice there is no synonym for thesaurus? Anyway, words matter. The right word can make or break a point. Learn multiple ways to say the same thing, and you’ll never be out of a job. (Insert political speechwriter joke here)
- Intervarsity Press’ Dictionary Series. These things are paper gold! They can give you more insight into biblical research quickly than just about anything on the market. Need to know about Cyrus the Great for your “Out Of The Lion’s Den: Lessons from the Life of Daniel” sermon series? You can find it all here! What about the history of baptism in the ancient Near East for the “Live Like Jesus: Moments from the Greatest Teacher” post-Easter sermons? Whoop, there it is!!!! Seriously, these things are handy.
- Jewish Cultural Background Material. Without getting all Zola Levitt on you, Jesus was Jewish. Use resources like this to bring deeper insight into Rabbinical and Jewish traditions. You know, without tradition, we’re just like a fiddler on the roof. I don’t know if you heard.
- Biblical Languages Resources. Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with biblical languages. Few things give me brain spasms, more than, “The Greek word for power is dunamis. That means a power that’s DYN-O-MITE!” (Jimmie Walker reference) But the words do carry nuance and do carry weight. A good Hebrew-Greek study Bible and a word dictionary should be enough to give you the insight you are looking for.
While none of these tools guarantees sermonic success or erudite elocution (see what I did there? Thesaurus!), they can be the foundation to a great library that will benefit you and your audience.
(BTW, I created an Essentials List at BarnesandNoble.com In case you wanted to buy these online.)
What are some things you use?