Growing up baseball was a huge part of my life.  I began playing at the age of 4.  I played in High School and even had the opportunity to play in college.  In High School and College the biggest desire, other than winning, is to be seen.  In high school you want to be seen by a college or pro scout.  Once in college you want to be seen by a pro scout.  Deep inside of most athletes is the desire to be able to perform at the next level.  So when someone notices your ability it is amazing.  Personally, for me, one of the most exciting days was when Coach Fullerton passed along a letter to me from a Chicago White Sox scout.


It was the first one I received and there was an incredible moment when I realized, someone was watching me.  I began to carry myself differently.  My mindset changed instantly.  I had so much more confidence.

We all have within us a desire to be noticed, to stand out, to be seen.  It is why we spend so much time changing clothes, asking how we look, trying to cover up our imperfections.  We want to be noticed for our looks, our clothes, our athletic ability, our intelligence, our music ability, our leadership, our planning ability, our preaching.  We all want to be noticed.  Even those who are behind the scenes, who would never want to be out front, I believe, want people to take notice of how well they do what they do.  And now with the reach of the internet, through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instangram, ect. our world revolves around the ability to let people see what we want them to see about us.  Have you seen the new State Farm Commercial?

We have the ability to control other people’s perception of us.  And honestly we love it that way.  Jesus talks about a new righteousness in chapter 5 of Matthew and leads into chapter 6 with a warning.  Be careful not to do acts of righteousness for the purpose of standing out, of being seen, because if you do the only reward you will get will be from the people who praise you for your piety.

Jesus knows us so well.  He understands our nature will be to seek praise for what we do.  If we give, there will be a tendency for us to want people to see how generous we are, or at least how generous we want them to think we are.  If we pray, we will want people to be impressed by the depth of our relationship with Christ.  If we fast, for all to know we are fasting, so they can be impressed by our devotion.  So Jesus says, BE CAREFUL!  This is a dangerous trap.

Jesus tells the first followers, be careful because Your MOTIVES MATTER!  You can say it like this…

WHY you do, WHAT you do, is just as important as what you are doing.  

But why?

The focus of these and other disciplines is to grow closer to Christ.  Period!  If you are doing it to be seen you are merely pretending.  Interestingly enough the word Jesus uses throughout this section, “hypocrite” was not a word that was made up just for the Bible; as in someone who says one thing but really does another.  Hypocrite was actually a secular Greek word that was used in the theater.  In theater a hypocrite was an actor who wears a mask.  So anyone on stage wearing a mask was a hypocrite.  So Jesus uses this word to describe a person who gives, prays or fasts for the purpose of being seen.  He says, if you are just giving so others see how spiritual you are, you are an actor, wearing a mask pretending to be someone else.  There is a danger in fooling others but there is an immense danger that you would fool yourself, that you would deceive yourself and think you are something you are not.

This deception causes two problems.  Some might see you and feel they could never be as close to God as you are, when in fact you’re not that close.  Secondly, it creates a false sense of security.  It becomes easy to look at others and say things like…

Luke 18:11-12 NIV
‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

Jesus is merely reminding his followers, you are not saved because of what you gave, how you prayed or how often you fasted.  You are saved by grace.  Stop deceiving others and yourself, making them think you are saved by your own works.  Life in Christ is not about being perfect, it is about realizing you are not perfect and are desperately in need of a savior!


I am beginning some sermon prep today for next Sunday, June 10th.  Arlington Work Camp begins on Sunday and runs through Wednesday night.  So, needless to say, I will not get much preparation time next week.

I set up a template in Word which I use to work through my research, study, preparation and message.  I created the template by combining the things I like best from Ken Daivs’ “How to Speak to Youth… and Keep Them Awake at the Same Time” and Andy Stanley’s “Communicating for a Change.”  Both are must reads for speakers and preachers.

I.        Main Idea:  Summarize your sermon in a sentence.  I shoot for a memorable 140 characters or less statement.  In other words if you can’t fit it on Twitter you are not ready to preach it.  I put this first because I the value I place on it.  Although, this statement is usually not developed until later in the process.

II.     Passage:  I space out the passage verse by verse.  In the space below I make notes from commentaries and record thoughts.  I try to fill up this page.  I print this out on an 11*17 sheet of paper so I will have plenty of room to write.  I make sure I write down references so I can go back if I need them.

  • Know Where You Are Going:  Five questions you must be able to answer before you step up on stage.
    • What do they need to know?
    • Why do they need to know it?
    • What do they need to do?
    • Why do they need to do it?
    • How can I help them remember?

III.    Message: I use a storyboard with these five headings to work through the message.

  • Me: Building a connection with the audience.
  • We: Creating a tension which must be resolved.
  • God:  Resolving the tension through the Word.
  • You:  When the audience walks out of the room, what do they need to go do.
  • We:  Paint them a picture of what it would look like if we changed.

IV.    Transcript:  From this point, I write out my transcript.  I try to write just as if I were talking on stage.  I want it to be conversational.  Just FYI this practice creates bad habits for academic writing but it really helps with my preparation.  Once I have a transcript I move on to the process of internalizing the message.  The more study and preparation you have put in at this point the easier internalizing the message is.  I will try to read through the message 7 times before I preach it.  The first 4 times I focus on memorizing.  I usually do this sitting down.  This is the point I will make any changes, and word smith.  The next three times I think through non-verbal communication, tempo, speed and voice.  Where are the parts I can move fast because I am just giving information?  Where do I need to slow down and give time for reflection?  You can run a good sermon by talking.

V.     Rehearse:  At this point I typically have a really good grasp on the message so I will rehearse a time or two.  I use a basic outline which I will use on Sunday.  I run through everything and make sure I feel comfortable.  At this point, I’m ready to go.

 VI.   Prayer:  I know someone will read this and ask where is prayer in your preparation?  Well, it is through the entire process.  Prayer must be central from the beginning of your study and preparation to stepping of stage and allowing the spirit to move through your words.