Rhetoric & Homiletics: All Too Common Complaint:  “It Wasn’t Practical.”

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A Way To View Application

Have you found yourself aware of something which had happened or was happening and said to yourself or others around you —   “What was/is that about?” 

√  You make what you believe to be a passing comment and a person goes ballistic. You say to yourself — What is this about?

√  A longtime and/or significant member of the church abruptly ups and leaves — maybe even a pastor — and you ask or think — What was that about?

√  You are personally told or hear about a friend, fellow believer, or relative who has made a decision to divorce his wife or husband.  The unanticipated nature and/or the bewilderment of this happening so suddenly causes you to say or think — “Where did that decision come from?”

√  You see someone weeping across the auditorium as they are talking to a fellow believer, or family members and you think or say — “What is happening over there?”

√ A friend was suddenly fired from his/her job after years of employment.  They walked him/her out of the building with all of his desk-possessions in a box —  What happened?


Or flipping the coin —   Someone says to you, “I have not seen so-in-so in church for weeks.  In fact, I only see his wife and children.  Is he okay?

Many times, you or someone else might respond . . . .
• “I have no idea.”
• “That is what I thought — What happened?”
• “That’s crazy!”
• “Didn’t see that coming!  What caused that?”
• “Can’t be — What is that about?”
There are times when someone responds with an explanation.  That explanation might be . . . .

an answer with TMI — really wasn’t asking all that
a simple truncated account of what happened — minus the gossip
a short statement — “Sometimes the Lord tears back the facade.”

Those kind of situations happen to pastors a good number of times.

√ A solid, longtime member of the church has disappeared from sight.  They were arrested and jailed for some criminal and immoral behavior  — “What happened to so-in-so?  I haven’t seen them in the choir, orchestra, services, working in AWANA.”

√ A well-respected ladies Bible-teacher got involved with another man of the church, left her child, moved in with . . . — “Isn’t Mrs. _____ teaching her Bible study anymore?  I don’t see her class listed in the bulletin anymore.”


There are all kinds of events of life . . . .

in a church setting
within families
at the workplace
midst relationships
among friends / friendships
at school — from childhood thru teens to adulthood

. . . . which people try “to get a handle on.”

A part of preaching is to help people understand life and living —  To answer the confusions which litter life in a fallen world — To interpret life’s events.

You can see “interpreting life” as “sermonic application” or as the task of exposing biblical truths, precepts, and principles in such a way so as to help people understand . . .

What is happening?
Why did that take place?
How do I fit that event into my view of life and living?
How should I understand that event, response, action, reaction . . . . ?
What just happened there?

For Instance, here is a biblical principle which could easily be found in the Scriptures — “Sin Is Irrational.” 

When people sin, it is because they are not thinking clearly, rationally, or reasonably.  Satan himself is irrational — i.e. He continues to fight with all zeal while still knowing that he will lose the war at the end.

When Paul says, “I beseech you by the mercies of God,” he is asking people to think rationally, logically — Consider all that God has done for you, through you, in spite of you — it is only reasonable to serve and follow Him.

It is learning about, stowing away, calling up, getting under one’s spiritual belt biblical truths, precepts, and principles, which cause God’s people to find personal value and help in listening to a Bible message — week after week.

People get up on Monday morning and go to work.  On the previous day, they were seeking some biblical truth or principle that would help them navigate life and/or live for the Lord in this fallen world.

So that when . . . .

∗ a boss explodes all over him/her
∗ a son or daughter makes a terrible decision(s)
∗ he/she find themselves ill, or now facing new health problems
∗ someone made a move which was self-serving and damaging
∗ nationally or politically events are taking place which upset
∗ their spouse is talking about separation/divorce
∗ etc. . . . . . .

a Bible message has helped them interpret and understand life.  Those who faithfully listen to a lesson or a sermon are honestly trying to navigate life.  To do that, they need to understand life and living from a biblical perspective.

What biblical truths, precepts, or principles have you shown them from the Bible that will help them see, with greater clarity–  “What ‘s that about?”

Are You Helping People To Navigate Life?

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