The Preacher in the Shadows

Great job pastor, I really enjoyed your sermon!” This often heard refrain on Sunday mornings is far too often not accurate. A shockingly large percentage of those wonderful messages are actually stolen material. Plagiarism in the pulpit is becoming almost as usual as a Power Point to illustrate the points of the lesson.

I read just this morning of pastors who resigned in shame after being caught preaching someone else’s sermons. What a sad way to perhaps end a life of ministry!

We live in a fast and furious society governed by day planners and calendars and alarms on cell phones. And, ministers often have way too much on their plates to do any of it well. The ease of “cut and paste” and the temptation to circumvent the needed time to study and pray has produced a crop of habitual plagiarism preachers, …and bloggers.

Here are some simple rules to avoid being caught in the trap of stealing what someone else wrote or said and presenting it as your own original material.

  • Give credit! A simple mention of the source even if presented almost word for word makes you honest. I doubt that any minister, or writer minds being quoted if they are credited. I don’t think crediting the author will take away any of the impact of what is said or written. When I quote someone on this blog I credit them, often with a link, and send an email asking permission before, even if they have stated it isn’t necessary. Many have done the same for me and I am always glad.
  • Pray! Your ancient brothers seemed to give equal importance to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Shame on you if you don’t bathe your sermon preparation and delivery in prayer.
  • Begin your preparation with only a Bible. I have followed this rule for decades. My Bible of choice is the ESV on I even turn off the references and footnotes and read the text, comparing scripture to scripture at first using only my memory of other texts. Only after I have set what the heart of the study is do I look at outside commentary and other resources.
  • When you do use some other writer or minister’s material, make it your own before presenting it. I see nothing wrong with presenting one of Surgeon’s sermons with credit given but only after the message and biblical texts have gripped your heart and moved you toward God.

If we are nothing else, those of us who speak on behalf of God, must be people of integrity. It is easy to reason “It wont happen to me, I will not get caught“, perhaps the same sentiment of those who did get caught and resigned or were fired in shame.

I think most people are like yours truly. I am delighted when I receive a note asking permission to use a post or part of one in a church bulletin, or Sunday school class. I think you will find wonderful response when you ask permission or at a minimum give proper credit. By all means use books by gifted people, preach great sermons by others, but don’t steal anything and expect God’s blessing on your work.

I said this!


Online Reading Made Easy

this is not me

this is not me










Since I discovered Bloglineskeeping up with my friends blog posts and the latest news is so easy even I can do it! Thanks to John Dobbs’ recommendation my computer desktop tells me when there is a post I have not read yet and I click on the flashing red reminder and a list of links appear on the left side of the screen including all of those I have not seen. On the right side of the screen is the text of the post and should I want to comment I only have to click the “comments” button or the title of the blog and I am taken directly to the “comments” section of the selected blog.

I have 30 sites in my Bloglinesreader, 28 blogs and two news sites, The Drudgereport and Fox News. This tip from the Dobber has saved me lots of time. I tried Google Reader but after checking it and some others found that Bloglines suited me best. Perhaps it will save you some time too.


To Blog or not to Blog

?…..that is the question!

I have been blogging since June 29th of 2006, slightly over four years. I began blogging as an outlet for a frustrated wannabe writer, to publish some of my Bible study conclusions, and finally I thought I might be able to help someone more fully trust Christ or consider Him for the first time.

There has been times in these months and years when I have experienced great joy. The feedback in blog comments and emails from people all across the country have been reasons to keep blogging. To think that I might be able to instruct or encourage someone, anyone, so that they experience God more fully is awesome.

On the other hand there is the negativity. A few people are so intolerant of any view that challenges them to think outside of their well defined presuppositions that they lash out with fury at anyone who thinks differently. And, some folks are just mean. Oh, they are mean in the name of Jesus, but they are mean nonetheless.

I have never dodged or ducked a good healthy debate if it is civil. I have published comments from people that were pretty ugly but I have deleted many comments that were hellishly so. And, of course these people with such nasty attitudes and harsh words claim to be Christians. I don’t cherish any more of those attacks when my offence is teaching the truth about what Christ has accomplished for sinful men.

Then there is the temptation to only write posts that will get high traffic counts. While I admit readily that I like readers, I don’t want to write subject matter just for increasing numbers. I have said previously that my first priority in blogging is selfish, it fulfills my desire to write, an exercise I enjoy immensely. I know the subjects that increase traffic but they are old and worn and serve no good purpose for the most part.

I don’t think Christian blogging needs another blog with daily devotionals and there are already blogs that are funny, give great glimpses into the lives of great families, and plenty that would seem to have the stated goal of stirring controversy. None of that appeals to me. I doubt the masses care what I had for breakfast or what the neighbor’s dog did yesterday.

So, I am faced with a few options. I can just stop blogging. Or, I can just blog much less than I once did (the option I have chosen most recently). Or I can completely change the way I blog and that choice presents another set of possibilities. If I choose the last option I can post cute little chatty type posts, top 10 lists, light commentary on news worthy events, etc, etc. Or, I can blog on themes, doing series on subjects that interest me. And of course another option is to keep blogging as I have and turn off comments.

The subject that fires me up is the good news about Jesus and that so many people, even people who claim him as Lord just don’t really know what the good news is. That subject is my passion but it is largely ignored by readers. Recently on GraceConversation I have posted lengthy (perhaps too lengthy, sorry guys) comments detailing my view of the gospel story and with few exceptions elicit only silence. My comments on other blogs and my posts are scriptural and I have few disagreements in print except for that minority who are to theology what pigs are to astronomy. So, why do it?

The bottom line is that I don’t enjoy blogging as I once did. I am trying to learn why that is and if I should only change or stop.

To blog or not to blog, that is the question.



Domain change, Grace Digest history…

As you can see, Grace Digest has a new domain name (URL). Without fail, when I have told someone how to find GD on the web they frantically start searching for a pen and paper. No more! Anyone can remember

If you have us linked, the old URL will still point to the new Grace Digest domain. It will take several hours/days for Google, Yahoo, and other search robots to track us down, but they will.

Grace Digest began on June 29, 2006 at Blogspot, 52 posts later and after enormous frustration, we moved here to WordPress January 11th of 2007. Since that move I have posted 98 times for a total of 150 posts. Today, as I reviewed the archives I discovered that by far, Christ is my favorite topic. Next in number is the Holy Spirit, then the church (Christ’s body of believers), and an assortment of other subjects.

Becoming a blogger brought order to my attempts at writing. Before blogging, much of what I wrote of a spiritual nature was communicated by email only. One of the negatives about blogging is that I just realized I almost never write poetry now. I need to correct that right away. My poetry satisfies and entertains me more than anyone who reads it. I suppose the same is true to some degree about my blogging. Since my early 20’s there is in me a desire that can only be satisfied by sharing what I find on the pages of the Bible and what God has worked out in my life these many years since I was born from above.

My blog has allowed me to meet and get to know some of the dearest folks I have even known. Most of you I will not likely see face to face but I think I know many of you. Thanks for reading, for your kind comments, and encouragement.

Stay tuned, there is more to come with God’s help.

His peace,