For years I have worried weekly about how to effectively shape messages from God's Word. You know how it goes: begin with an attention-arresting anecdote, follow with scholarly exegesis peppered with witty, well-timed illustrations, and close with a heart-wrenching final story to lead toward application and call for response.
But I've been gradually growing in my awareness that it's a whole lot more effective, for everyone, when the Word shapes the messenger first.
My transformation in this area has been gradual, but the realization came suddenly. It happened over dinner with our middle child, a college sophomore.
About a month into his fall semester, I drove to his college and took him to dinner at an Italian restaurant off campus. He explained that anything tastes better when it's prepared somewhere other than the cafeteria. As we talked he told me that he'd been assigned to give a five-minute devotional thought at choir the next day.
"Got any ideas?" he asked.
I didn't, but to stall ...1