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Rhetoric & Homiletics: Building Meaning Into or Creating A “Big Idea”

BigIdea Graphic 1

It is possible to take a true to life story about an individual, event, or news report and invest meaning into a phrase(s).  Then that phrase(s) can be used to drive a truth, a principle, and/or become the Big Idea.


Let’s actually do that!

You do not need to get into the weeds with all that the story covers.  In fact, I tried to stay out of the weeds, while providing you with enough information to see where I was going with it and/or building it — say as an “introduction.”

(If you want, you can click on the link here or below and read the full article now or you can wait.  Waiting imitates the effect of actually using it.)


KLM, a Dutch Airline company, has developed and designed a revolutionary passenger jet.  An article on it reveals and pictures how radically different and futuristic it looks.

No surprise after looking at it, the jet is called the “Flying-V.”

It has what is called a  BWB design —  “Blended Wing Body.”

It looks like this . . . .



It is fascinating! — Isn’t it?

Can’t wait until they start flying this!

Now that is 21st-century technology!

Now that is the way to fly!

Sign me up!


But hold off a minute there’s more says KLM . . . .

As the article goes on to states . . .

“It does away with a conventional fuselage and even the middle bit of a blended wing body design—this plane is all wing.”



Looks pretty impressive to the average reader! 

Wow — The plane of the future!

Impressive features – as the article states !  . . . .

√  High energy-efficient design
√  New forms of propulsion
√  Opportunity to bring about real change
√  Flying more comfortable
√  BWB – Blended Wing Body (design)
√  Passengers sit along the “Leading Edges” of the win
√  Carries 314 passengers
√  It offers new options for rest and meals
√  20% less fuel in flight

Are they flying it yet?

I’m Off to Holland!

Looks amazing! – doesn’t it?

Time to get aboard!

Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

Well, they have!

As revolutionary as it is made to sound, the BWB design has been thought of, designed, and produced before KLM. 1  I’ll tell you about that in a moment.

It does look and sound amazing, but those who know a little about aerodynamic will read this article differently than most.

If you are a novice you may read the article and not see what a pilot, or someone who knows something about flying notices.

It states . . . .

. . . .this plane is all wing. As a result, sections of the wings are much thicker than on a normal passenger jet, with a pair of engine nacelles mounted above the rear trailing edges.

If you understand just a little about aerodynamics, you understand that what looked cool is potentially high risk!

Without getting too much into the weeds, and to keep it simple . . . .

a “fatter” or “thicker” wing,
as well as a higher arched upper wing surface,
as well as a swept-back wing design

. . . . . all, and individually, radically changes the aerodynamics of an airplane  (“chord,” “camber” and “sweep”). 3

“Why hasn’t anyone else thought about this before?
Well, they have.  And the aerodynamic problems which accompany a BWB have been problematic at best and foreboding at worse.

On May 9, 1924, the first BWB  — the “Westland Dreadnought” — on its first test flight, aerodynamically “stalled,” crashed and by God’s grace “only” severely injured the test pilot.  The idea of a BWB was put back on the shelf.5

(“stalling” has nothing to do with the operation of the airplane’s engines, but means that the wings lost all ability to create the needed lift.  It then falls like a rock)


The passenger jets of the future?

Have they solved these problems since 1924?

Sorry, they haven’t.

There are LAWS which govern flight — the laws of aerodynamics.  These laws cannot be nullified by bigger engines or longer runways.  There are no workarounds of Newton’s law or Bernoulli’s principles.

Oh, did I mention anything about the aerodynamic ability of a BWB airplane to navigate turns?

Turning an airplane is not like turning a car.  That is why when an airplane turns one of the wings is lowered and the other raised.

With the BWBs — the wings are not only carrying the fuel (as with most airplanes), but are also carrying the people, luggage, and cargo.

In a typical airplane, the center of weight is located in the “center cylinder” where the passengers are seated.  The airplane rotates in regards to that “center passenger cylinder,” when lifting / raising opposite wings.

Yes, you can design and fly an airplane which is “all wing”  — it is called a fighter jet – i.e. the Vulcan B2.  With a military aircraft, with one or two people in the forward-middle cockpit area, it works.  But not with all this kind of weight on the wings!

With a passenger aircraft, with no center cylinder, with all of its weight inside the wings, turning the airplane requires a different set of skills and makes it much more dangerous.  In fact, it now goes to a level of “high risk!”


Wow!  But that’s not what it looked like at first!

High-risk — but still an impressive passenger jet concept!

It looked pretty incredible on the outside.

If someone is making it, I’d still might like to try it.


You might be willing to be one of the first to try it, but only if you like amusement parks — says the article!  You have to read down to the last paragraphs before the author reveals that.

The article points out the previous problem in its closing words . . . .
(Why did you drag me through an article and at the end says it will probably fail?)

“Sadly for the Flying-V, it will probably fail like the blended wing body designs we’ve seen down the years. It’s for the same reason, too: airplanes bank as they turn. That’s not much of a problem in a conventional airliner design, where passengers are never that far from the plane’s central axis. But as you move farther out from that central axis, the effect becomes a lot more pronounced.

That said, it’s easy to be a naysayer. Climate change isn’t going away on its own and neither is commercial air travel, so I’m all for fresh ideas. And now that I think about it, some people will queue for hours to ride roller coasters—maybe they’d actually enjoy it?2

Looked like a great idea though!

The pictures are breathtaking!

The features are inviting!

The concept is incredible!

Sounded like it would be a terrific and revolutionary alternative!

As it states, there may even be those who would try it!


But it is not as it was / is portrayed.

Looks pretty cool, but only in the pictures.

It is not as good as the hype!

It is high-risk  — to those who know just a little about airplanes.

It will not be as comfortable as it purports will be the case.

It initially sounded far different than it actually is!

That rest and meals will not happen — neither the rest nor the meals.

What you think you are boarding will turn into a roller coaster.


“Flying-V” airplane design promises fuel savings, but there’s a catch

There is a catch!
(That’s an understatement)


Now you can take that phrase – or any one of the restatements – and use it throughout the message — i.e. The Parable of the Prodigal Son.

You have packed those phrases with meaning
through the development of the story and its details.

Now you can use those phrases to call up a story.
A story which is contained in just the phrase(s).

“Looks pretty good, in the pictures.”

“You will realize that you are really boarding a roller coaster.”
“It is not as good as the hype.”



P.S. You can use far less than I have provided.

In fact, you can just go from the beginning part of the story — make some comments as to its features, futuristic look, cool design, exciting days ahead —  build in the “phrase(s) — and then go to the end two paragraphs of the story.

You decide if some of the provided details help or not.

It probably depends on the audience, situation, and time!



Other Information & Links:

Original Article Link


Just read around a little on the subject, and you will see that various pilots comment on such articles. . . .

“Why are these BWB studies published?

The author gets more attention when he/she claims a “revolutionary breakthrough” than when he/she is more honest and admits that the concept is a dud.

Even Boeing or Airbus like to publish BWB studies, so the public gets the impression they are ahead of the competition.

It is sickening to read such academically dishonest studies – you need to spend time to dig to the bottom of the thing and to unravel the plot; however, once you have done this a few times, they all become alike. But compared to studies made 60 or 80 years ago, where the author factually lists what he did and why it didn’t work out (which is the only way you can learn something), those modern studies are a waste of time. ” 6






“The thickness of the airfoil is a very important design parameter and as always expressed as a percentage of the total chord.” 3

Highly cambered airfoils produce more lift than lesser cambered airfoils, and an airfoil that has no camber is symmetrical upper and lower surface. 3

Wing sweep is primarily used on aircraft that fly in the transonic and supersonic regions. The sweep has the effect of delaying the formation of shock waves on the surface of the wing caused by the compressibility of air at high speeds. The ability to delay the formation of the shock waves has a dramatic positive effect on the total drag produced by the aircraft as it approaches Mach 1. 4





What was wrong with V-tail Bonanza pilots?

Introduction to Airfoil Aerodynamics

Sweep Angle and Supersonic Flight


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Today’s Illustration: What Was The Strategy Of D-Day?

situazione strategica Europa pre DDay  A Strategy & Men Who Will Sacrifice

On  This Day:  June 6, 1944 — D-Day

The Normandy Invasion was and is considered
the most decisive battle of World War II against Hitler.

Facts & Details:

D-Day:  Also called “The Normandy Invasion”

Militarily: “Operation Overlord”

American Military Leader: General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The German army was facing the daunting task of covering more than 3,000 miles of French coastline.

Invasion: The invasion required a full moon and a “spring tide” (spring tide = little difference between high and low waters).

Target Date: June 5, 1944 (poor weather and high seas)
Actual Day: Just after dawn on June 6, 1944

Approximately 5,000 transports, ships, and various vessels were used — “the largest armada in history.”

Approximately 11,000 bomber sorties were launched.

100,000 Allied soldiers landed.


The Strategy: 

The strategy of D-Day was called — “Spread and Focus.”

Spread out the German army across various fronts far enough apart so that it would be difficult to send reinforcements once the invasion began.
Focus on one place for the invasion where the German troops would be the fewest.

The goal was to create a tremendous weak spot in the German defenses and then with overwhelming forces to break through the German line of defense.

The strategy relied on “the art of deception.”

“Dummy Parachutists” were also dropped away from the invasion site to pull additional troops away from Normandy.

Calais, France and the surrounding areas were repeatedly bombed to further the deception.

Involved the planning of two fake invasions:

One of Norway by American, British, and Russian forces — “Fortitude North”
Another invasion of Calais, France from Dover, England.

The aim was to convince Hitler that a 350,000 man army was stationed in Scotland and ready to invade northern Europe.

“By April of 1944, the radio and airwaves over Scotland were humming with communications about the bustling movement of brigades and equipment in preparation for an overseas assault. One easily “intercepted” message planted by the Allies contained an order for 1,800 pairs of crampons and as many snow ski bindings.

The Germans monitored these communications and received confirmations from their own spies, who, in truth, were double agents working for the Allies. They also sent aerial reconnaissance over Scotland to get a look for themselves. German reconnoiters took pictures of hundreds of tanks and airplanes poised for the invasion. What their photographs did not reveal was that the planes were empty shells made of plywood and that the tanks were rubber “blow-up” models.” 1

The actual invasion was located in Normandy, France.

“In effect, the Allies fought and won battles using armies that did not exist. The fictional British 4th Army froze 13 German divisions in place in Norway, while the Germans held its 15th Army in reserve in the Pas de Calais region waiting for an attack by the equally fictitious.” 1

The military operation was two years in the planning.

More than 1,000,000 German soldiers were ready on the eastern front while the Allied forces attacked the western front.

American Casualties On D-Day:  Approximately 9,000 – 10,000

D-Day death in the sand

“The art installation called The Fallen, created by Sand In Your Eye, was setup recently on Arromanches Beach, Normandy, France, to depict the bodies of the 9,000 soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the Allied assault on Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944.” 3

D-Day sand 2.jpg

Image result for d-day deaths marked out in the sand


Military Historian Liddel Hart:

“[Strategy’s] purpose is to diminish the possibility of resistance, and it seeks to fulfill this purpose by exploiting the elements of movement and surprise.”

““the aim of strategy must be to bring about this battle under the most advantageous circumstances.  And the more advantageous the circumstances, the less, proportionately, will be the fighting.  The perfection of strategy would be, therefore, to produce a decision without any serious fighting.”

Churchill called the invasion — “The Beginning of the End”

“All war is based on deception” — The Art of War by Sun Tzu

“He who defends everything, defends nothing.” — Frederick the Great


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• deception
• Satan
• the beginning of the end
• defending everything
• diminish resistance
• fake fronts
• temptation
• sin
• the last enemy is death
• sacrifice
• overwhelming force
• “a decision without any serious fighting”
• diminish resistance
• two other fronts
• spread and focus
• war / death
• world dominance / the Antichrist
• the coming battle of Armageddon
• thank you / thankfulness
• love of country
• One other “Man” — broke through and overcame Hell & Death.
• God had a strategy.
• Defeating Satan, Hell, Death, and the Grave
• Great love hath no man than . . . . .
• Others stood in our place.
• “spring tides” and full moons in life
• Hebrews 11: What would the beach look like if marked by those who fought.
• a strategy
• strategy & men who will sacrifice
• The Fallen
• “Oh the humanity”
• “All gave some.  Some gave all.”
• The Other Side Of The Hill 4


Other Information & Links:

“On Utah Beach, US troops suffered only 197 casualties, the lightest of any beach, when they were accidentally landed in the wrong spot due to strong currents. Though out of position, the first senior officer ashore, Brigadier Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., stated that they would “start the war from right here” and directed subsequent landings to occur at the new location. Quickly moving inland, they linked up with elements of the 101st Airborne and began moving towards their objectives.” 2





4. pdf of “The Other Side of The Hill” – (published in 1948 — out of print)


Karl Von Clausewitz, Lidell Hart, and Sun Tzu are all well-known and recognized military theorists which are studied at most all War Colleges, such as West Point.

Link to interesting quotes by Lidell Hart:


Reading the work and/or thoughts of such individuals is all part of being “an idea generator.”  I often use the work of Clausewitz to make a potent illustration.*

 * Clausewitz indicates that there must be the defeat of two elements in any war.  #1) The will, and  #2) the resources.

The goals is to have both total zero.  No will “0” and No resources “0” = “0”

If there is no will to fight, or no will to fight any longer (Vietnam), the battle will be lost.

If there is a will, but no resources wherewith to fight, the battle will be lost.

However, if there is a will, but no resources, the battle is only postponed (until the resources become available — China today).

If there is a will and the resources, the wars / battles will go on and on (Afganistan).

Liddell Hart ( B. H. Lidell Hart): “Strategy:  A Classic Book On Military Strategy,” and
pdf of “The Other Side of The Hill” – (published in 1948 — out of print)


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Rhetoric & Homiletics: Becoming An Idea Generator!

What are you doing now to become

a better idea generator?


Not an idea generator in the sense that you are looking for ways to preach-teach your own ideas, but an idea generator for sermon construction — because there are different ways to communicate biblical truths and principles affirmed in the Scriptures

There are different ways to build, construct, design, arrange, approach, conclude, illustrate, clarify, introduce, explain, phrase, and apply a biblical truth(s) or principle(s).  


That is what makes
different preachers
distinct and distinctly effective.


That is what makes different preachers-teachers-speakers distinct, and distinctly effective — or ineffective!

“Good-to-great preachers” are separated from the “mediocre-to-poor” by their ability to construct a message.  What is the best way to “lego” the message so that it grabs the driving truth of the passage?  How can I so construct the message so that it connects with an audience?  

There is not one way to go about the task of design and construction.  The beginning “blocks” of biblical detail are the same for all preachers, but the finished process of construction is different.

For Example:

√  We all know what “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” is teaching.
√  We all have the same beginning “blocks of information” — stated in Luke 10.

⌈⌉  a student of the law asked a question
⌈⌉  question? —  what must I do to inherit eternal life
⌈⌉  the plan — to test Jesus
⌈⌉  question? —  how do you read it as a lawyer
⌈⌉  answer: love God & love your neighbor
⌈⌉  response: do it and live
⌈⌉  to justify himself – asks another question
⌈⌉  question? —  who is my neighbor
⌈⌉  parable:  designed to answer that question

⌈⌉  traveler mugged on way to Jericho
⌈⌉  three passerby-ers saw him on brink of death
⌈⌉ one helped! — a Samaritan
⌈⌉ here is how he helped

√  We all know the account.
√  We all know what it is teaching.
√  We all have the same beginning “blocks” of information.
√  In fact, the audience probably knows what the passage is teaching before we begin!

This is not hard!*

So why is it that different messages on
“The Parable of the Good Samaritan”
can be and are so different?

Because the actual construction process differs from speaker to speaker.  There is not one way to go about the task of design and construction.

While all Bible preachers have the same beginning “lego blocks” of biblical information, they do not all go about the task of building the finished message the same way.

Here are a few contemporary preachers who differ in their construction methods.  Each of them is marked by some different design characteristics which generally mark their sermons.

They take the same beginning “blocks” found within the passage and then go about building a message using yet other “ideas” in their sermonic construction.

Warren Wiersbe:
The ability to break down a passage with meaningful content headings marks individuals like Wiersbe — i.e. Genesis 3 — The Enemy / The Strategy / The Tragedy / the Discovery / The Penalty / The Recovery.  The headings are more than an alliterated delineation of the obvious, but meaningful word(s) which encapsulates the truths and impending application of the points.

Charles Swindoll:
Swindoll is a master wordsmith.  He knows how to frame an idea with an interesting word or phrase which captures the thought — i.e. “Hand Me Another Brick” — “The Lord is the Specialist we need for these ‘uncrossable’ and impossible experiences.  He delights in accomplishing what we can not pull off.”

Stephen Davey:
There are those who are able to pull in illustrations from everyday life which relate to the subject of the passage and acclimate the audience for what is ahead.  Time and time again Davey begins with an introduction which pulls up a story from life to set up the theme of the message.

Andy Stanley:
Sometimes a speaker understands how to pull an audience into the subject by a well throughout introduction — an introduction that doesn’t begin with — “Let’s turn to Galatians 5 as we look at the fruit of the Spirit.”  Stanley takes what some might think an inordinate amount of time in the introduction because he wants to relate to the real-life thinking and feelings of his audience.  This kind of introduction takes a lot of mental work, personal experience, and people interaction.

Tony Evans:
Some speakers are marked by the ability to call up or create an analogy that makes the point so clear and understandable.  Over and over again, Evans’ messages are marked by one or more analogical illustrations which just nail the idea!  You can hear the audience responding as he builds it because they are getting the connections as he builds it!

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:
A wide historical and philosophical understanding mark some preachers like Lloyd-Jones.  His grasp of history and thought allows him to contrast or compare that with the biblical truth or principle he is addressing.  Lloyd-Jones preached during WWII and you can repeatedly hear him bring in the thinking and events of that era. 

John Monroe:
Others are masters at revealing the flow of thought within the passage in a way that the passage unfolds for the audience. The impact of the message is found in the ability to keep the ideas within a passage connected and the use of transitional phrases.  The passage’s connections are seen.  Monroe’s legal background shows up in his ability to work his way through a passage of Scripture and keep it connected.

Alistair Begg:
One of the “blocks” which Begg brings to the worksite is his love and grasp of modern culture and music.  Begg is known for his repeated references to pop culture and its music.  Begg’s use of modern musical lyrics from the 50s-60s-70s provides another method of illustrating the secular thinking of a society.   


It is not that these preachers bring a singular “block” to the construction process.  The point is that they bring other “ideas” or “blocks” to the building process, some which are used over and over and therefore seemingly mark their sermonic structure and content.

This short list of various preacher illustrates some of the varied building blocks which can also be used in the construction process.  There are creative ideas — additional “blocks” — which can be brought to the building process — which result in a different building.  “Ideas” — their “lego blocks” — which go beyond those given all of us within the biblical passage.

It all takes WORK!  Generating ideas for two, three, four Bible messages a week takes WORK!  Much of that work involves generating ideas — being an idea generator!

That is why you chuckle when someone asks you . . . .

“What do you do all week?
Do you get paid for just speaking on Sunday?”

Public speaking takes a lot of work.  It requires a lot of mentally generating ideas. 

Are you an Idea Generator?  


Effective preachers are actively greasing the skids

to generate new and different ways to go about

preaching and teaching.

Tony Evans  [Audio Link]:

Well it’s you use a great word, and that was the word “philosophy” because I assume something  – OK – and the assumption is everything is an illustration.

And because I operate with that assumption — it’s kind of hard — sometimes I do it’s when I’m with preachers — I tell them — point to point out something in the room, and they’ll just point out anything  — and I’ll immediately turn into an illustration.

 And maybe some of that is personality,  but it’s also philosophy

because I assume that everything created has been created by God or is in opposition to God and therefore has a spiritual, theological framework it can illustrate something in the spiritual realm

and because I’ve operated that way I see illustrations all the time

so I have some planned, and some come on the spot

and some events happen while I’m a while I’m preaching — something happens then it becomes an illustration at the moment — but the practice of that turns it into a mental orientation that that flows out because the more you do it — the better you get at it.

Lance Witt:

No pastor ever coasted their way to great preaching.

Let’s imagine that you and I sit down and have a cup of coffee together.  And during our conversation, we start talking about preaching and how to keep you preaching fresh.  If I could give you one piece of advice for keeping your preaching fresh it would be this . . . . Be an aggressive and curious learner(sic).

Have an inquisitive mind. Ask a lot of questions.  Learn something every single day.  Take lots of notes.  Find lessons from every circumstance and situation.

I recently had a friend mention to me that preaching was a lot like cooking.  He went on to say that he had the mindset of constantly stocking the pantry.  Every day he was filling his mind and heart with Scripture, insights from what he was reading, and illustrations from daily experience.  He is constantly stocking the shelves of his preaching pantry.

Then, when he sits (sic) down to craft his message, he simply cooks from what is in the pantry.  The problem with a lot of pastors is that the aren’t putting anything in the pantry.  And so when it comes time to write a message, they don’t have anything in the pantry to draw from. — Lance Witt – Replenish Ministries


I might also suggest to stock that pantry with a broad variety of “ideas”  — a broad variety of  . . . .

ideas as to how you might intro a message
possible word choices
ways to state a point which also captures its truth
the kinds of illustrations
contemporary thinking, culture, music
historical perspectives
current events
areas of life that are far removed from theology — “Article of the day
rhetorical concepts — i.e. topoi
congregational experiences
ways to close out a message
dictionaries / thesauruses
hymn lyrics
secular and sacred poems
effective commentators-communicators
random words**
lists — transitional phrases, related words, possible analogies
real-life, present-day stories of life and living
“Word of the day” / This Day In History / 
analyses on contemporary events from a Christian world-view

All these will give the speaker more potential “building blocks” — more “ideas” — which he can bring to the worksite.  They all become yet other “lego blocks” which change-up how a message is put together and what it looks like at the end of the construction process.


The more . . . .

knowledge we possess
experiences which mark our life
exposure to people facing real-life difficulties
curiosity we have
secular books we have read
we have listened to those in far different professions
questions we have asked
magazine articles we have read
events of life we have experienced
Bible commentators we have examined
educational opportunities we have pursued
sermons we have read or listened to (i.e. recent example)
newspapers headlines we have read

. . . . the easier it is to generate ideas which can contribute to the construction of a message.

Interrelating, patterning,** associating, connecting, using, and/or weaving this-and-that piece of knowledge into the construction process creates fresh ways to think about designing and building a message.

Oh, yea — It Is Work!

* P.S.  The easiest part may be knowing and understanding what the biblical passage teaches.

In an overwhelming number of cases, what the passage teaches is much more simple than some make it out to be — in the study and in the pulpit!

We expect laymen/women — in fact children — to be able to read the Bible and understand what it is teaching and to apply it to their lives.

Are there actually that many different commentators who disagree as to what this-or-that passage is teaching?


** Go to a random word generator or drop your finger on two or three random words in a dictionary and ask — how would this be related to what I am speaking about.

For Example:  The Parable of the Good Samaritan — The words which came up using this random word generator were . . .


Okay — Here goes!

Explain: When we are guilty of doing that — I am sure that we can explain why we did what we did.  And we probably have fairly good explanations which all seemed reasonable until those reasons are used by others to explain why they could not help us.

Studio: ugh??? How about — Let’s go to that artist studio in our minds and paint that picture and what it would look like today — in the 21st century.

Dilute: What the Good Samaritan did in helping this stranger was “dilute” the pain of all that has happened.  You see when you “dilute” something, you lessen the nature of what it is in the natural.

In these examples, you are taking totally diverse thoughts which are found in those three random words, and allowing those words to force you to think in some different directions — all for developing an explanation, clarification, and/or application.

Might you have thought of similar ideas without grabbing these three random words?  Sure.


*** When I speak of “pattering” I am not at all referring to repeating what another writer or speaker has said.  When you go analytical, when you ask — “What did they just do that caused me to respond this-or-that way? — you can deconstruct it and reuse it in a completely different context or message.

If you get really good at it, you can listen to a message that is totally unrelated to what you are talking about or to the passage you are using, and generate new ideas as to how you could develop a point or layout the legos.

It is called “lateral thinking.”

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Three Factors Which Are Contributing To Lower & Lost Church Attendance

brand loyalty 2.jpg *

There are identifiable factors which are contributing to lower and lost church attendance and membership.  We may disagree on how strong each of these influences is, but I believe you will agree that they are operating.

#1) “Brand Loyalty”* Has Eroded:  There was a time when people identified with a denominational gathering or assembly

Loyalty was strongest when it came to being a Protestant or Catholic. Loyalty was even stronger between Christendom and other non-christian religions.

However, today — a loyalty to Baptist, Presbyterian, Luthern, Charismatics or non-charismatic, “Methodist” has eroded The obvious proof of that reality is the trend in adopting the term “Community” — “Faith Baptist Church” is now “Faith Community Church” – or even “Faith Community.” 

#2) Distinctions Between “Brands” Has Blurred:  What distinguishes this religious assembly from that assembly has been blurred and may even be unknown.

There are two different trends.  One of the trends is that the statements of faith or beliefs have been blurred.  They have been shortened and/or generalized. 

Though the changes usually do not affect Who Christ is, the Trinity, Salvation by faith alone. Though, even these foundational areas of doctrine are far briefer. Nevertheless, a church’s stand on eschatology, church government, or the activity of the Holy Spirit today begins to resemble a far more doctrinal absence of explanation.

The other trend is that the members are more and more unsure as to what this-or-that assembly believes, or even what they believe.

Interestingly, part of the inviting message of a church is that this-or-that assembly is distinctive in what it offers.

But what is distinctive is not in doctrine or teaching,
but in how you will feel, enjoy, or benefit.


#3) A Saturation Of “Brand” Messages: Who isn’t sending out LARGE postcards during Christmas, Easter, VBS, Special Days, Christian Educational Ministries, etc.

PROOF: The rapid success of such companies as “Overnight Prints” — “Vista Print” — “The Mail Shark” — etc — in the religious world.

These promotional companies have sprung up with intensity and profitability because it is easier than ever to send colorful, enticing (maybe questionable on that level), large, winsome invitations.

One almost wonders why the success of such promotional card companies in a digital-social-media-world With all the other options — Facebook / emails / Instagram / Google Ad Words, why is snail mail even used any longer?

Suggested Answer:  A drive for saturation requires getting your message into the hands of those who do not use and/or respond to these other popular digital avenues!

These three factors force some, and maybe many ministries to be out there “fishing all the time” (I’m not referring to soul-winning, but fishing for more “members” and/or attendees (or payees)


And such “Full-Time-Fishing” pushes ministries to . . . .

•  hire full-time social-media-promotional personnel

•  spend more and more money, on more and more advertising options — some of them very expensive — and unproductive if you really don’t understand copywriting •  hire full-time audio-video staff 

•  fulfill the promises made in the advertising (spoken and unspoken) by constantly upping its game this week again by having this-or-that.

•  professionalize more and more areas of church ministries that used to be done without charge on a lay level — There was a time when musicians, pianist, organist, music leaders cooks, nursery workers, etc. — volunteered their God-given abilities.


Let me ask this question again . . . . . 

Can you build a church on good-to-great preaching alone?  

Answer:  Almost!

That really is what people are looking for in their lives — a message which speaks to their heart and mind in order to live for our Lord another week in a fallen world!

Your greatest strength is found in the pulpit and in your ability to be effective in communicating biblical truths and principles.

If you haven’t heard this example, you need to!  It proves the point that you can build a church with good-to-great preaching!




* I use the word “Brand” rather than “denominational” because today it is really about “brands,” not denominations.    I understand that will upset some!   Today it is not about “Baptist” or “Methodist” or Presbyterian.”   Churches are no longer divided up that way.  No longer are churches named after key or great biblical terms — Faith / Berean / Grace / Temple / Agape  — but the Willowcreek model / the Stanley model / Bill Hybles model (ugh today) / Calvary Chapel model / Harvest model (ugh today).


brand loyalty.jpeg


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Today’s Illustration: Voted One Of The Best Ads Ever!

motel 6.jpg

“I’m Tom Bodett for Motel 6, and we’ll leave the light on for you.”

“Bodett told Adweek in 2003, when the campaign was 17 years old. “I think everyone will know when it’s over, but it never seems to be over.”

AdAge magazine calls “the greatest ads of all time.”

General Information & Facts:

Born: Thomas Edward Bodett, February 23, 1955

Raised in Sturgis, Michigan

Moved to Alaska in 1976.

Tom Bodett, logger and deckhand

Married – 1978 : Debi Hochstetler

“For five years he had been corresponding with his old high school sweetheart, Debi Hochstetler, a slender, blue-eyed woman who was about to look for a job as a high school art teacher. He began to write her ardent letters, pleading with her to come to Alaska. “I just took a chance and moved out here,” says Debi, 33. “Best writing I ever did,” says Tom.”

Home: Homer, Alaska

“There’s a spot 12 miles and two ridges outside Homer, Alaska, which is about as far from civilization as you can get without a passport, where the only sounds heard by recent visitors have been of beavers turning trees into pencil stubs, moose trampling through the brush—and, of course, the incessant jangle of Tom Bodett’s telephone.”

Regular Contributor to “All Things Considered” on NPR

Hired by the David Fowler of the “Richard Group ad agency — located in Dallas — to do a commercial for Motel 6

The line, I’m Tom Bodett for Motel 6, and we’ll leave the light on for you.” was done as an adlib line.

“David Fowler hired him because Bodett ‘sound[ed] like the kind of person who stays there.'”

“There’s a fiddle and a soft guitar playing in the background, and up front is a voice that sounds familiar, even if you’re hearing it for the first time. “You know, in some ways, a Motel 6 reminds me of one of those big fancy hotels,” says Bodett, sounding a little like a homegrown Paul Hogan. “They’ve got beds, we’ve got beds. They’ve got sinks and showers, by golly we’ve got ’em too. There are differences, though. You can’t get a hot facial mud pack at Motel 6 like at those fancy joints. And you won’t find French-milled soap or avocado body balm….Under 21 bucks in most places….We’ll leave the light on for you.”

Price of a night’s stay was $6.00 in 1986.

30 Years later (2017) Motel 6 is still using Tom Bodett’s voice to promote its brand.

Motel 6 is the largest owned-and-operated hotel chain in North America.

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• The Church:  Leaving The Lights On
• unexpected fame
• “There I said it . . . . .unburdened
• all time best
• frugality
• it put us on the map
• improvised success




Other Information & Links:

In a 2007 AdAge magazine interview, Bodett said . . . ”

“For the record, and at the risk of exposing myself as a complete fraud, we don’t actually leave the light on for you. We just say that to be friendly. You have to turn it on yourself once you enter the room. There. I’ve said it. Hmm … I feel oddly peaceful, unburdened.”

He also stated in that interview . . . ““you don’t need to have art on your motel room walls because your eyes are closed anyway.”

Stan Richards of the Richard’s Group — “Motel 6, Tom Bodett and the Ad Campaign That Put Us on the Map” :

We were close to canceling the session when someone finally spoke up: “You know, if it’s late at night, I’ll stay at a Motel 6. And I can save enough money by doing that, I can spend it on a tank of gas.”

Someone else in the room, encouraged, offered, “I do the same thing. And I can save enough to bring a gift to my grandchildren.”

The Motel 6 confessions continued. It occurred to us that this was simply a group of people who did not want to be perceived by the others in the room as being cheap or poor. As they traded stories, their initial embarrassment transformed into pride. They didn’t stay at Motel 6 because they were cheap—they stayed there because they were frugal.

There was our simple answer: We would extol the virtues of frugality.     — muse


Old Video Link


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Rhetoric & Homiletics: Topoi – “Place”

key element 2  The Topos of Place

Ravi Zacharias provides a good example of the classical concept of “topoi.” His apologetic “argument” will help to understand what “topoi” are and how they can be used.
Topos of “Place”: This example is not the only way the topos of “place” can be usedargumentatively.
In this example, the topos of “place” is used to make his argument.
It should be noted that topoi can also be used to generate ideas which provide clarity, insight, explanation, delineation, differentiation, contrast, illustration, etc.*


“Responding to the Times – Part 1,” by Ravi Zacharias  (audio):

Dawkins came to Wahington to get together a lot of atheist in a kind of rah rah campaign.

And somebody from the audience asked him — What do we do then with those who believe in God

And Dawkin said “Mock them”

His answer from the platform  Mock them – Ridicule them

Somebody wrote to me and asked me   What do I think of that suggestion.

I said I think its a great idea and I think that Dawkins should start that in Saudi Arabia

There’s bad new that’ll follow

But the good news is that he’ll only need a one-way ticket

Why, because he will at least find out that all religions are not created equal.

There is a world of a difference in the fine points, in the footnotes, and the distinctive of a world view — especially the world view to which you and I are committed in the pursuit and  love of Jesus Christ


Do you see how “place” plays into the argument which Zacharias was making?

Move the location, the place, and the argument is made:  Dawkins is right. He should mock those who believe in God. If he does that in Saudi Arabia [that “place” — in contradistinction to what the audience was probably thinking — in America]. It will not end well.

First of all, Ravi’s answer, first of all, produced an unexpected response to the question. Ravi stated, as a believer, that he thought it was a good idea to mock and ridicule those who believe in God.  That created some interest and attention because the audience was then waiting for the “why.”

Second, the answer to the “why” also produced a little “comic relief.” Humor can be the result of an unexpected answer.  Such was the case with Ravi’s answer.  The audience was not expecting to hear “start in Saudi Arabia.”

Third, the argument is built on the topos of place: If you “change the place” the results will be far different than one thinks — so different that only a one-way ticket will be needed.  In “that place” things will not go so well if you mock those who believe in God.

The “topos” of “place” suggests that the speaker should imagine how the argument being made would change if there was the introduction of a change of place.   If you take what has been said and change the place, the setting, the location, what happens to the argument or point being made?

Aristotle would say to his students:  When you get up to speak, mentally review and consider how “the place” or “the change of place” affects the point or argument you are making. What happens if we change “the place.”*

The topos of “place”
can put the point
which you are making
in bold relief.

Interestingly, Ravi’s first argument rolls into a second argument derived from the same topos of “place” —– AND if you move the location, the place (in this case to Saudi Arabia) you will also learn something else about the Christian faith — “he will at least find out that all religions are not created equal.”

Changing the place or location will also establish that the Christian faith is not like every other faith.  There are stark differences between Christianity and Islam and that will be in bold relief if you try mocking those who believe in God in Saudi Arabia.



Now, here is an example of using the topos of “place” to give clarity or force to a biblical point.

David arrives at the Valley of Elah as Goliath appears.  After asking around about what is taking place, he is told that the man who is willing to face down Goliath will marry into King Saul’s family and that person’s family will live tax-free.

And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel.
Then David asks again and sends the message that he doesn’t know why there is any hesitation in someone stepping forward.  Eliab derides his brother.
And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.
And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.
And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?
— I Samuel 17:26ff


Now, remember that when the Lord was looking for a king, Eliab was the oldest, the first born, and the most likely in stature and appearance.

“And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.” — I Sam. 16:6

Now Eliab is ridiculing David’s zeal.

Apparently, The Lord was more right than one may have realized when the decision was made to anoint David.

If you want to see who Eliab is  . . . . If you want to understand why Eliab was not chosen by God . . . . it can be seen here in bold relief.

One only need to place another individual here to see Eliab, to grasp how different in character Eliab is from David, to see the contrast.

Let’s put Jonathan here — alongside of David — here at the front lines.  What would Jonathan be saying?  Just go back to 14:6 and you will see what Jonathan would have said, and as we will see, Jonathan will admire David’s courage.  David was cut out of the same piece of cloth as Jonathan!

Or let’s put Eliab with dad and the sheep, sent by dad on what was David’s errand.  Does Eliab even get near where David ends up — moseying to the front lines watching Goliath — asking questions – suggesting that it is doable?

Had David been where Eliab was — spiritually — would he have asked any questions about the situation – the reward – or would he have made any comments of courage and daring!  If the situation was reversed, David would have dropped off the care package and returned home.


What you are doing is changing the location, the place or the placement of a person to make a point, to clarify, to make an argument, to see the contrast, or in this case, to drive home God’s selection of David versus Eliab.

The topos of “place” like all topoi, are designed to get you thinking some other directions that you might not have thought.  Some directions will help you make an argument, other directions will help you clarify, explain, illustrate, introduce, conclude, make the point, etc.

Example: “Where do you think John-Marc (Acts 13:13) would have been in his mind and heart as he watched Paul get stoned (14:19)?  If you can’t run with the footmen, how will you ever make it with the horses (Jeremiah 12)?



* The topos of “place” can also be used to heighten an argument — look at — notice where it took place!  As Aristotle would argue — “The crime took place in the very halls of justice, in the offices of those who were committed to upholding the laws!”  Sound familiar?

Someone made the argument against a particular church project — “It takes too much time in preparation.  We will spend one week getting it all set up, then another week to tear it down, for a two-day event.  If it takes more time to set something up, than it does to execute it, we are wasting our time!”

My response:  “Then let’s cancel Sunday and most all family dinners — and surely Thanksgiving!  Surely, shopping, preparation, cooking, and presentation takes far more time than the 20 or 30 minutes it takes in eating it.”

Just change the place and see what it looks like is how Aristotle’s topos of “place” works.

• “Imagine doing that today!
• “Try that when you are in “this-or-that” situation.”
• You put men like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego in today’s world they will perform like they did in Babylon.
• “See how that works if you bring that into the family.”
• “If the government did that . . . . . ”
• “Do that in a local church and see what happens.”
• “Try that raising children.”
• “You can’t build a marriage like you build a . . . . . “

Example:  If today’s family ran their finances like the government, they would be bankrupt by now (changing the “place:” family and government).

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Rhetoric & Homiletics: Why Don’t We Do This?

See the source image  Consistently Pushed To Do Better!


Listen to this four-minute clip of Alistair Begg and then ask this question.


Why is it that some Bible preachers-teachers, after listening to someone like Alistair Begg, do not see how far short they are in their own preaching abilities!

Is it possible to hear someone that is “Really Good” and no examine one’s own ability at preaching and teaching?  Do some really see themselves as not so far removed from such examples of effectiveness?

Why is it that some Bible preachers-teachers, after listening to someone like Alistair Begg, do not consistently and intensely strive — the more — to be effective communicators of God’s truth!

As I listened to him in this clip which someone sent me, I thought — “He Is Good!”  I knew that, but I was reminded once again that he really is an effective communicator!

As An Aside: Is it biblically improper to say, “He is a good preacher!”  Because he really is a good communicator of God’s truth!  Over the years of listening to Begg, I have said to myself — “I would welcome and enjoy sitting under his preaching ministry!”  Is it inappropriate to recognize that he is a gifted speaker-communicator-preacher?  – that “He gets it!” “He gets preaching!”

Begg is PREACHING — really preaching — not just doing a “running commentary on the obvious” and calling it expository preaching!

Begg is . . . .

taking a truth  (exposing a truth – which comes out of Scripture)
driving it home!

That is the heart of preaching!

Why is it that far to many preachers-teachers, after listening to someone like Alistair Begg (and others),  do not realize how different their preaching is in approach and effectiveness?

When you listen to someone who is “Really Good” — it ought to drive a preacher-teacher to make real and meaningful changes to be more and more effective!

As I listen to a 100 or more preachers a month, primarily the most effective (as anyone who doesn’t like being uninspired or bored would have it), I am challenged over and over to become more and more effective as a speaker!

As I have previously stated over the various posts, I not only respond to a great message in my spiritual life but I also “go analytical” — “What is he doing that makes him so easy to listen to, effective, clear, comfortable, interesting, helpful, etc.!”

I go analytical because of my background and education in classical rhetorical theory, but also because I have spent and continue to spend my life as a communicator, a biblical communicator.  I live in the world of words and communication by education and profession!

Speakers are different but saying that does not explain effectiveness from ineffectiveness.  Begg is not Evans, is not Swindoll, is not

H. B. Charles
Adrian Rodgers
And Stanley

. . . . . is not Spurgeon.  But they are all effective communicators with all their personality and background differences.

As a preacher-teacher, you cannot just say — “They have their approach and I have mine.  We are all different.”

No – No – No . . . . .

Are you actually challenged when you listen to really good preaching?
Are you as effective as a communicator?
As you listen to Alistair Begg, would you come back to hear him again?
Why?  What is he doing differently than you?
Do you preach so that people want to hear you again?
Go analytical!  What makes him so pleasant to listen to?
What are you doing to improve?
What are you doing differently this year that has made you more effective?
How has your preaching changed?
What do you read about preaching-homiletics?
Do you believe your own press?
Can you separate what people say at the door, from reality?
Do good-to-great speakers push you to be better? — far – far better!


What did Alistair Begg Do That Caused You To Enjoy Listening To Him?


See the source image

May others preachers and teachers who are Really Good push us to be even more effective so that those who listen would welcome the opportunity to sit under our ministry of the Word!



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Rhetorical & Homiletical Concepts: It Sounds Simple. But It Isn’t.

See the source image But . . . Over Time The Mind Sees Differently!


Tony Evans: 

“I am regularly asked where I get my illustrations.  My answer is always the same: Everything for me is an illustration, because I have learned to think illustratively.  The wonders of God’s creation make everything that exists, as well as all the events that occur, possible illustrations.  The key is to learn to view everything through this lens.” — (from “Tony Evans Book of Illustrations”)

Tony Evans makes it look simple and as I lay out and deconstruct the process, it may sound simple.  But it is not!

If you want to develop the skill, there are processes you can take to improve your skill at construction — and end up doing it yourself.

√ Read as many examples / analogical illustrations as you can.
√ Take in the process — deconstruct it to see what makes it work.
√ Identify the keywords which are being built into the analogical illustration.
√ See how those keywords and concepts are being “pulled down” in the application.
√ Think about how to take one of Evan’s analogical illustrations and run with it — run it out even further with a little more knowledge about the analogy and/or in a different direction.

Evan’s book is replete with these kinds of illustrations — 100’s built on analogies.  That is because as he states he see God’s world and the events that occur in light of a possible way to make a truth or principle clear or more forceful.

Over the weeks ahead I am going to go through his book of illustrations and list out the areas of life which drive his various analogies.

The book is invaluable in its breadth of analogies.  It is worth your while to purchase a copy!

With this listing (a listing of only his analogies — which, by the way, is most of the book), you won’t see how he fully develops most of the analogies, but you will have enough to understand how analogical illustrations work and to build out these examples!

Without having to read every one of them, you can take the basic identified concept, the analogical kernel, and construct your own analogical illustrations.

The aim is not that you replicate the words and thinking of Evans’ analogies (which is another interesting discussion*), but that you see the pattern, effectiveness, and potential of the various analogical areas.

Your mind will begin thinking about the ways to use the analogical areas to make, clarify, explain, and/or illustrate a point in your message.  You can take the area, the kernel, and Run With It!


Sample Page:

Tony Evans page from book.jpg



Here are some of the areas, concepts, events, and ideas which Evans uses to construct “analogical illustrations.”

• Food hardens on the dinner dishes when left overnight.  It takes just soaking them a little while  — letting them abide in the water and the soap — to make it easy to clean.

• The planet Mercury versus the planet Pluto.  How close to the sun determines how hot that planet is.  The planet earth is just right — and therefore it has seasons.

• A phone beeping because it was out of power.  The battery was low and it finally shut down.  It had lost its power.  It needed to be put back on the charger.  The Christian can be caught short — on empty.

• It is hot in Texas.  Some people like air-conditioning, others like the hot weather.  Most people don’t like to hang out in the sun.  But if you hang out in the sun . . . .

• Flying on a Platinum card with American Airlines gives you some special benefits  You are a preferred customer because you fly with them so many miles.  Some people don’t care to fly first class with a Platinum card — they would rather fly second class most of their life.

• Sunflowers follow the sun.  Their yellow heads move from east to west throughout the day.  They are always looking for the sun.

• Ways to drink tea — letting the bag just sit in the hot water, or repeatedly dunking the bag in and out of the hot water.  One takes more human effort.

• Mc Donald’s value meal — the clerk may ask you if you want to super-size it.  Do I want the regular meal, or do I want a bigger box of fries and a larger drink?

• A POW — is a prisoner of war.  They are held hostage and cannot do what they want to do, but do what they are told to do.  Some Christians are POW’s of Satan.

• Bodybuilding — pumping iron, lifting weights, running on a treadmill, working out all require some discipline, sweat, hard work that a person must go through.

• Going to a gym — all dressed up for the occasion and with all the right gear — headbands, wrist bands, water bottle, gym bag, etc.  but don’t really take the time to work out — just dressed for it – on Sunday morning.

• A caterpillar — turns into a butterfly bu metamorphosis.  Something is happening in the inside of the cacoon and it finally comes out a butterfly.  It was the process of working its way out of the cocoon that gave it wings the needed strength to fly.

• Ambassadors — Ambassadors go to a foreign land and represent another.  They are not there to represent themselves, but the one who sent them to that country.

•  Hurricane (Katrina) — Many people were given food, shelter, clothes, schools to attend, money to buy goods —  but at the end not happy until they could get back to their home.

• Baptism and A Wedding Ring — The ring does not make you married, it is a symbol of the fact that you are married — It is a sign of a covenant.

• Queen of England — a figurehead.  She has a position but no real power.

• Reading the car manual — The manual is there but many do not take it out and read it.  I realized that there are a lot of features and lights which I didn’t understand until I read the manual.  Ignorant of the provisions that were part of owning the car.

• Putting a bike together for a child — I didn’t need the manual, I can figure this out myself.  Hours later I pulled out the manual.

• Duck hunting — don’t throw the dog into the air to catch the duck.  The dog is there to retrieve the duck which you shot.

• A Football — There is no game of football without a football.  Put on all the equipment, go out to a playing field, have two opposing teams ready to engage, have the refs ready to make the appropriate calls — but there is no game without the football.

• Getting Lost — Asking five other people for directions, relying on my sense of direction, the GPS said turn here but didn’t agree or didn’t hear it — “recalculating.”

• Driving — You are to be in one lane or the other, not straddling the middle.  There is a right way to change lanes.

• Prego Spaghetti Sauce — “It’s in there” — mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes, seasonings — it is all in there.  It is all in the Bible.

• Castor oil could fix anything — May not like the taste but it will solve your ailment.

• A Real Pizzeria — The dough is abused, beat up, slammed down on the counter, punched rolled, squeezed, pinched, twirled around, throw into the air — all to get the dough ready for the ingredients on top.  At times the dough is not ready yet to receive the ingredients.

• Blood Banks don’t hoard blood, but they store blood to be used in order to save lives.

• Buying a gift for the children when on various trips and times away — kids were excited about my return because I had a gift for them — excited about the blessing, not the blesser.

• Universal Studies tour — tour guide will tell you that this-or-that house on the movie set that is a facade.  It looks like an old western town of stores, but they are only storefronts, there is no real structure behind it — just facades — just the external.

• Grocery stores only sell vegetables.  They don’t plant them, grow them, water them, fertilize them, pick them, transport them — they just sell them.  Don’t get enamored with the grocery store — it is all that takes place before the fruits and vegetables arrive that make a grocery store possible.

• Symbiotic versus Parasitic Growth — With symbiotic growth both benefit together. With parasitic growth only one benefits.

• The Systems Of The Human Body — They all depend on each other.  If one goes down the others are affected.

• Power Steering — There was a time when there was no power steering.  To help turn the tires-wheels you have a large steering wheel because it gave you the ability to leverage a lot of pressure to turn the car.  Then there was power steering and you could turn the car with a finger or two — because something was assisting you.

• Breaking a stallion — It wants its independence and freedom.  It doesn’t want to be told what direction to go or when to move.  It doesn’t want anyone on its back.  But a cowboy will break a stallion and it will try to throw the rider, but the cowboy rides it out and the horse finally gives up and accepts the direction of the cowboy.

• Perfume — you must break the seal — open it — to enjoy the fragrance.  You must break the shell of the peanut to enjoy the smell.

• Refinishing furniture — You use strong chemicals to break down the old finish, and them sandpaper to get down to the wood grain — to see if repairs are needed.  Then it is ready to be refinished with a never cover of varnish.

• Remodeling a kitchen — Colors, cabinets, flooring, sample wallpaper, counters — great to see it all on paper what it was going to look like when it was finished  But before the new kitchen could be put into place, the old one had to be torn out.  A new life requires taking out the old life.

• Piggy bank — Slot in the top, plug in the bottom to get it out.  To get the money out you had to shake and shake it until it found its way out.  God has to shake us up to get all that is in there out.



That is just the “A’s” and “B’s” — “Abiding to Brokenness”

If you want to see some of the pages from his book, here is the link to Amazon

You can . . . .

• do a little research on any of the above areas
• call up your own experience
• tease out an area of the analogy
• add your own knowledge of the analogical subject

. . . . and make it your own effective means of clarifying, explaining, illustrating, and/or driving home a sermonic idea or concept.

After doing just the first 20 pages of his book, I was reminded again of how effective and commonplace Tony Evan’s use of illustrations is.




* What is the purpose of a book of illustrations?  A speaker-preacher buys a book like this to help in sermon preparation and preaching.  But the illustrations are not his!

Are the speakers-preachers to say, when they use the illustrations . . . .

“Tony Evans says in his ‘Book of Illustrations — “I was talking on my phone one day, and it began going  ‘beep-beep-beep.’  The beeping noise indicated that the battery was low.  After a couple of minutes, I heard a clicking noise.  The battery had died . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

Obviously, some of the stories in the book at his own personal stories and not “ours.” It happened to him, not us.  But what about the overwhelming majority of the illustrations which are “analogical?”

I think that is what makes Evan’s book of illustrations unique, in that you most of the illustrations are analogies, and therefore a speaker-preacher can grab a particular idea, the kernel of analogical illustration, tease it out and/or run with it using his own words, research (i.e. Sunflowers), and/or experience.




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Today’s Illustration: An Overnight Millionaire Selling . . . . . !

See the source image 300,000 Pairs Sold In One Month

Joe Sugarman was the man who wrote the copy for . . . .“BluBlockers.”

Joe Sugarman was the “copywriter”* for the BluBlcoker sunglasses television ad.

“The BluBlocker experience all starts when you first put on a pair. The world will change and you’ll never want to go back to ordinary sunglasses again.” –(


The Story Behind BluBlockers [ interview]:

Joe: What’s interesting about success–this might be an interesting insight–I have found that you can go along going in the direction you think you should be going and then all of a sudden something comes up and directs you 90 degrees in a different direction and that’s where you’re going to make your success. That’s the case with BluBlocker. We were selling electronics. I wasn’t selling sunglasses. I was selling all kinds of electronics, digital watches, whatsoever.

I just happened to be driving down the 405 in Los Angeles and I was with a friend of mine. We were driving to see a new product. He hands me a pair of sunglasses because he saw I was squinting. I put them on and I stopped squinting. It was really amazing. I said, “What’s the story with these?”

He says, “Don’t think you’re going to sell them because they’re made for astronauts and they’re like $300 a pair. They block all the blue light.” He gives me this whole pitch. I said, “This sounds terrific. This would make a great mail order item.” He says, “No, the company is going out of business.” I said, “Okay.”

We finished the meeting. I fly back to Chicago, my hometown. I’m preparing an eight-page catalogue for United Airlines, eight pages, one of the pages dropped out because the company went bankrupt. I had to fill that one page and I only had like a couple days to do it. So I called up my friend and I said, “Those astronaut sunglasses that you’ve got, please, could you send me a pair? I’ll get them made. I’ve got two months to get them made. But I’ve got to get an ad done in a couple days.”

He sends me the pair. I photograph it real quick, wrote a real quick ad, ran it in this insert. It was the bestselling product not only in the insert but that we’ve ever had. It was selling like crazy. So I saw that, and then I started running print ads. Just to give you an idea how much we sold, I sold about 100,000 pairs from the print ads we ran, which was like six months. . . . So we created this infomercial. Remember I said we sold 100,000 pair in six months.  Well, with this new infomercial, we were selling 300,000 pair in one month. . . . . 300,000 pair in one month, primarily from TV. So I went from selling electronics to all of a sudden my focus was totally not on BluBlocker sunglasses. I’ve built that up so we’ve sold 20 million pair.” 2


Apparently, he was a very colorful individual in the copywriting business and became one of the icons of the industry!

Joe offered readers $10 for every spelling error they found in his copy.  Interestingly, he included some on purpose and people spent hours going through his advertising looking for an error, even if not interested in the product.

Joe offered “loaner” watches to customers as part of a service guarantee.

Joe offered a $6 million home for sale in the airline magazines, accepting American Express, Visa, Master Card or any negotiable hard currency.

Joe sold a $240,000 airplane in a single mail-order ad — valued at $190,000.

He was the first one to develop and use the idea of toll-free telephone numbers for accepting credit card payments of=ver the phone,

The number one reason for his claim to fame may be the fact that he was the most prolific copywriter in the United States!  He produced his own JS&A catalog.1

“One of the revolutionary direct marketers and copywriters in the 1980s and 1990s was Joe Sugarman, who changed direct marketing by introducing the toll-free 800-number.

What’s more, Sugarman was the first to market a cordless telephone and a digital watch.

“The Irrepressible Joe Sugarman” — If you traveled back then, your in-flight magazine was certain to have one or more page ads for Sugarman’s goodies and high-tech gadgetry. They were immediately obvious with bold, catchy headlines and long copy that grabbed the reader by the throat and would not let go.” — targetmarketing


“How did Joe learn his trade? He claims he learned it from his failures and not from the mail order greats who preceded him.” 1

“My failures far outnumbered my successes.  In fact, I have yet to find anybody who has experienced the number of failures I experienced during the early stages of my career.  But it was through these failures that I received a very costly education that to this day has guided me through a successful career in advertising and direct marketing.” 1


Quotations Of Joe Sugarman:

Not many people are willing to give failure a second opportunity. They fail once and it is all over. The bitter pill of failure is often more than most people can handle. If you are willing to accept failure and learn from it, if you are willing to consider failure as a blessing in disguise and bounce back, you have got the essentials of harnessing one of the most powerful success forces.

Everybody saw my successful advertising and thought I was a big success. But, behind those successes were several failures that I had to learn from before I made it. I’ve always looked at failure as just another step you need to take to reach success.

View every problem as an opportunity.

What you focus on expands.

You have two choices in life:  you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct.  To be distinct, you must be different.  To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be.


Key Illustrative Thoughts:

• failure
• giving up
• two choices in life
• being  different
• being  distinct
• the sons of this age are wise than the sons of light
• focus
• problem and opportunity
• purposeful errors
• you will never want to go back to the ordinary [sunglasses]again

Other Information & Links:

* “Copywriter” is a term used to refer to those who engage in the profession of writing the script for various products being sold on TV, radio, magazines, billboards, and the like.

1. Book: “The Adweek Copywriting Handbook: The Ultimate Guide To Writing Powerful Copy,” by Joe Sugarman
2. A great read



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Rhetorical & Homiletical Theory: John Bisagno’s Interview

John Bisagno went home to be with the Lord this past year.  However, there is still much to learn in reading his books on preaching, sermons, and through this 20-minute interview.

John Bisagno preached in the First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas for 30 years.  The attendance was approximately 1,000 – 2,000 in attendance a week and 200,000 on television.

“The final two years of Bisagno’s life were “extremely difficult,” his son-in-law Curt Dodd said, but he always maintained a positive attitude. His wife Uldine died of cancer in 2017 just after Hurricane Harvey destroyed their house and nearly all of their possessions.”


Here are some takeaways (transcribed from the audio interview) . . . .

#1) Before Improvement Is Dissatisfaction:

Let me begin by saying that — for some years I’ve had a personal frustration somewhere in my ministry.

I was not able to find what it was — I really didn’t know . . . . somewhere inside of me there was a frustration and unfulfilled desire that was the cause of my excessive concern and unhappiness with something about my own personal ministry.

It was a very real thing — a very simple thing . . . .  a dissatisfaction with myself — that I was not doing something as well as I knew I could do it

but the thing that was specifically bothering me was at the point of my sermon preparation.


#2)  Good Preaching Reinforces Leadership:

I want to say to you that if you knock a home run on Sunday morning you can cover any of that–  about 90 percent of the problems before they ever happen and keep them from happening– that you might have to run around solving and putting out a lot of little brushfires all through the week.


#3) “There Is Trouble In River City:”

I hear far too much preaching with — the same old rhetoric — the same old cliches — and after the introduction– and the Firstly — you know what the Secondly — the Thirdly — and the conclusion is going to be.

Most preaching that I hear

states a point and illustrates
states a point and illustrates

I believe in making your point

I believe in illustrating the point

But before — 1st making it

And 3rd — illustrating it

There must come in between presently — some logic

some argument
some support
some  buoying up
some logic
and reasoning
supporting up the point you have made

or you have shallow preaching.


#4) Preaching Involves Creative Thinking:

The thing that was bothering me was that I was not doing any creative preaching.

I was really parroting what somebody else had said [from commentaries or previous messages]

and in fact about all that I ever said was to just repeat the original thoughts of someone else

or we’re they originally — they got them from someone — who probably got them from someone else — who probably — well  — on and on it goes. . . . .

. . . . to analyze it — to see what it’s saying —

and hear me — then to make the application — of what that says to people today . . . . and it is hard creative, disciplined work.

. . . . we must understand that God has something to say – fresh – today – new to our people with a personal present-day application — for them where they are — it has to meet people’s needs. . . . .

You must apply – hear me pastors — application – application – application is the name of the game.

You get a lot of historical facts — or a lot of Greek interpretation and finish with a “SO WHAT!”


#5) Focus On One Main or Big Idea:

I try to get one key word about what we’re going to be talking about and center around that I’m thinking next Sunday morning.


#6) The Value Of Preaching “Without” Notes:

I think one of the most important things for a preacher to do —  is to preach without notes.

For this might not be for everyone — but I think that it is — it’s– it is for me.


Dr. John Bisagno on Writing Sermons