Friday, April 17, 2015

Secular and Academic Impromptu Speech Development

Theme: Determine what point you want to drive home—this is your theme. Write it down--it will be like a beacon on a lighthouse guiding you through your speech development.

Main Stepping Stones: Determine what facts or viewpoints support the theme. Try to write down at least 3 facts/viewpoints. Leave space between each fact/viewpoint. (Most impromptu speeches are typically 2 to 5 minutes. If the one you are called upon to deliver is longer, you may need more facts.)

Supporting Material: Under each fact/viewpoint, use at least two or more of the following:
  • Supporting argument
  • Authoritative quote(s)
  • Reasoning points
  • Illustration
  • Humorous aside

Order & Transition: After you have all that in front of you, order your points by relevance and impact by putting large numbers alongside the main points. This will be your ad-hoc outline & speech order. Quickly think of how you can transition from one fact to the next.

Do not expect to have a word-for-word memorized speech when you get up to speak. Instead, envision a garden path with each main fact being a section of that garden and the supporting points being the various flowers in each section. The exercise of impromptu speaking is designed to teach you to think on your feet. Use your quick outline to keep you on your path.

Other Thoughts
Especially in regards impromptu speaking, one thing instructors in speech classes are looking for, although they won't tell you so, is your ability to ad-lib fluently. Being able to throw in humor that helps drive home a point is actually the mark of an accomplished speaker. For example: "Some people say that animals go to heaven too. Well, my dog went to heaven but couldn't find a tree to mark. It was hell for him."

Another approach helps add time and coherency to your speech: First tell them what you are going to talk about (introduction), then tell them what you have to say (body), then tell them what you told them (review and conclusion). This helps a speaker reuse the same material but in a completely acceptable way.

If you are a student of the Bible (as I am) engaging in secular or academic speech (as I did in Toastmasters), there is nothing wrong with citing a scripture. Perhaps a proverb, principle, or Bible story with a lesson (parable) that relates to the subject. If you frame it in the context of yet another opinion, no one can fault you for using the Bible because it is just as valid a source as is any other authority. If you decide to incorporate a scripture, make sure to highlight it’s practical application and reasonable value.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Make Learning Fun (The Secret)

Learning can be fun but unless you know one of the main secrets, it will usually be boring. Here is one secret: To make learning fun, you need a personal reason for wanting to learn. For example, when you learn a video game, your personal reason is to beat and master the game. If the game is something you play with others, then your personal reason to learn the game might also be so you can enjoy the company of your friends. When learning about any hobby, besides having fun, you also want to try something new in your life. 

Learning the Bible helps us get to know Jehovah and hopefully to live in the new system. But how do we make learning the Bible fun? Again, you need a PERSONAL reason to want to learn. To do that, when you read about any subject, first ask yourself these questions:

1. What things don't I understand about this subject?
2. What questions have never been answered for me about this subject?" 
3. Why is the subject important?
4. How can my knowledge of this make my life better?

Write down those personal questions and any others that come to your mind. That will give you a real purpose and goal to study that subject. Then, as you read the material, see if it answers your questions. If you do find answers to your questions, write those answers down. If some of your questions still were not answered, then during the discussion with your teacher, ask him your questions.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Reasons Why People Do Not Serve God

Over the years, I have met many people that offer their reasons (excuses) for not believing in God or learning what the Bible says. One such excuse is that the Bible was written by imperfect men, therefore how could we trust it. Others try to blame God for doing or not doing something they feel should have been handled differently. Then there are those that blame God for the actions of others. I suppose the list could go on and on, but those are ones I frequently encounter. All these are typically “reasons” that people parrot without really checking out the facts.

The Bible also provides reasons for people not believing. These are the real reasons behind the excuses.
Some think they are smarter than God and that the Bible is just plain stupid, or foolishness
1 Corinthians 1:26, 27, “For you see his calling of you, brothers, that there are not many wise in a fleshly way, not many powerful, not many of noble birth, but God chose the foolish things of the world to put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world to put the strong things to shame;”

Psalm 10:4 In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is no God.”

Some are just too busy pursing their selfish lifestyles and find that serving God puts a crimp in their lifestyle
Luke 12:15-21, Then [Jesus] said to them: “Keep your eyes open and guard against every sort of greed, because even when a person has an abundance, his life does not result from the things he possesses.” With that he told them an illustration, saying: “The land of a rich man produced well. So he began reasoning within himself, ‘What should I do now that I have nowhere to gather my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my goods, and I will say to myself: “You have many good things stored up for many years; take it easy, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.”’ But God said to him, ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your life from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’ So it goes with the man who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Some are just too lazy to really search out the facts
Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they accepted the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (In this case, the “noble-minded” showed real interest in understanding what God wanted of them.)

Some look for and make excuses
Matthew 8:21 Then another of the disciples said to him: “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” (If a relative had truly recently died, what was that man doing tracking Jesus? Clearly, when faced with a decision of commitment, some people will invent any excuse.)

There are other reasons, but these are very common. Again, they are: 
  • Arrogance
  • Selfish Life Pursuits
  • Laziness
  • Making Excuses
Here is an index to a series of articles for those willing to give God and the Bible a preliminary consideration.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Human Eye And Evolutionists

I wish I would remember to keep links to some videos I see. However, when I view them, they typically agitate me so much, I don’t want to deal with them. Such was the case of a very pompous, self-assured evolutionist that declared that if the eye had really been a product of intelligent creation, it would not have been made, as he put it, “backwards.” Now the reason I wish I had this link again (and yes, I did search for it) is that I just came across some research that explains the issue and gives evidence that indeed this construction of the eye is an intelligent design.

I did however find a video by those making the same claim. It is commendable that they at least were not arrogant about it. They attempted to demonstrate their idea by illustrating the differences between different mussels. OK, so let’s think about this. There have been several iterations of steam-powered engines; and yes, I’d even venture that each successive design could have (but not necessarily so) drawn on the successes and failures of ones prior to it. BUT, does that mean that the first design evolved into the next one? Did it mindlessly become a different thing OR were the improvements in design an intelligent new modification? Modern society and even modern science throw around the word “evolution” so casually that they use it even when it is completely wrong to do so.

A cake and a cupcake both use flour, both have frosting, both have the same texture when done. However, it is completely possible that the flour used came from different countries. The sweetener used may also be different although tasting the same. Just as we can make something that “looks like” something else and yet be something new, so likewise the Bible is quite plain in saying that everything made came from the elements of the earth and each creative category in Genesis chapter one was a new one. Birds are birds, they didn't come from fish. Man is a distinct and unique new creation from monkeys, apes, or other mammals.

The logic of evolutionists may at times sound right, but when we ponder it, it truly makes no sense. The evolutionists’ bottom line is that there is no God, no intelligent design. This means we have no obligation to anyone. Our intelligence is inconsequential. Does such thinking promote respect for life, love and unity? No, it doesn't.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Matthew 5:6 Hungry Thirsty For What?

According to the King James Version of the Bible, Jesus is quoted at Matthew 5:6 as saying: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Most other translations read pretty much the same. The NWT changes only one significant word, “blessed” to “happy.” (Other translations) Also, “after” is modernized to “for righteousness.” This raised a few questions in my mind. First, how does a person hunger and thirst for righteousness? Next whose righteousness should people crave? Finally, how do we get “filled”?

Then I came across the rendering given in the Good News Bible (Today’s English Version): “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” Indeed, hungering and thirsting may at first seem like two different things, but really, they are both a single desire to be nourish. And just like a person who is VERY hungry, is someone who craves to serve God with every fiber of his (or her) being. They are singularly consumed with the drive, it is the “greatest” desire in their life. And just what is that righteousness?

The Amplified version elaborates that it is “uprightness and right standing with God.” Yes, it is to do God’s will, to please him by loyal devotion. So this is not self righteousness or the righteousness of some other human. Our lofty goal is to imitate our heavenly Father. Finally, how do we get filled with this righteousness? At John 6:35 Jesus promised that we would be more than adequately fed in a spiritual sense. By reading the Bible daily, by contemplating how it is practical and applicable to our own life, if we demonstrate a diligence for those things, God will amply reward us with truly knowing Him as a friend, by providing for our needs, and by comforting us through His Word. (Those who claim they’ve read (past tense) the Bible “once,” do not understand that absolutely nothing we read once is comprehended 100%. Even technical manuals that I’ve read before, I usually find a gem I had glossed over before. The Bible is full of wisdom that takes time to be absorbed. Progressively reading a little bit every day is what will benefit each of us.)

Matthew 5:3 Appreciating Our Need For God

Matthew 5:3 in the New World Translation (2013) reads: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the Kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.” (Other translations) As noted in the link for other translations, they render being “conscious of spiritual need” as being “poor in spirit.” The Amplified renders that as those who are humble, rating themselves as insignificant. All of them conclude that because of this condition, they can claim the Kingdom of heavens as their own.

But is it really as simple as that? Would Jesus really be so superficial as to say that all we have to do is be poor in spirit, just to be aware of spiritual need but take no proactive action to handle that need? If you are thirsty or hungry, your body makes you very aware of that need. If all you do is give it a passing acknowledgement, does that take care of the need? No, it does not. What would a person who is aware of any “need” do? They would act on it. What would a person do that realizes their inborn spiritual need? Just like physical food and drink, they would seek to be nourished. Hence we can call to mind the action Jesus recommended: “Be my follower.” What is involved in being a follower of Jesus? In one word, obedience. Yes, obedience and attentiveness to direction are needed.

The word conscious is defined as being "aware of and responding to one's surroundings," “being fully aware or sensitive to something; having the mental faculties fully active; deliberate and intentional.” If we are fully aware, sensitive to, and responding to our “poor spirit” or “spiritual need,” we will seek out and fully perform (deliberately and intentionally) the will of God. Then indeed, we can be confident that we will be rewarded with the Kingdom of the heavens. So this is not something that we can merely passively acknowledge and then go on our merry way.

So then, putting Matthew 5:3 in context with the rest of Jesus’ words and in terms that we 21st century folks can appreciate: Happy are those who realize and act upon their need for meaningful relationship with their God and his designated King, Jesus Christ. Those who are fully committed and unreservedly obedient can rest assured the Kingdom of heavens is theirs.

Monday, March 30, 2015

John 6:15 Kingship Declined

I and a young man were discussing various facets of Jesus’ life and ministry. Without actually mentioning John 6:15, he alluded to it and asked “Why didn't Jesus accept the kingship? He could have had a much broader influence on people. When they saw the type of king he would have and could have been, they would have flocked to him.”

I commended the young man for having such an intelligent question. It is not often I hear people give that much thought to scripture. Regarding the “influence” Jesus could have had, I asked him to consider: “If Jesus had accepted that position, would people be responding to Jesus because of the message he brought or because they might be in fear of his position as king?” He immediately saw the potential of being wrongly influenced by position. There is also the matter of free will. If Jesus had accepted rulership on earth obviously his rulership would require loyalty. People would no longer feel free to decide to accept him. But there are a few other points that his question hits on.

Both the books of Mark and Luke mention a time when Jesus was expelling demons from people. Both the accounts mention something very odd -- that Jesus would not allow the demons to identify him (Jesus) as the Messiah. Why? First, he didn’t need the testimony from traitors to his Father, but just as important, he wanted the people to believe based on their own observations and faith and not something as ominous as spirit voices.

In another instance, Jesus healed a man but strictly informed him not to tell anyone who had healed him. Again, why? In this case, “people were coming at him from all sides” because they wanted the physical benefits he offered, not because of the message of the Kingdom, which was his main focus.

Yet another point (I suppose there are several others that could be cited, but these are the ones that come readily to mind), is that Jesus himself already knew that his rulership would not be administered from earth. Although in context Jesus was speaking about the “source” as not being from Satan, it bears noting that Jesus knew his rulership would be administered from heaven.

Reviewing then, Jesus' rule would not be from earth and he wanted people to accept him for the message he brought, not the position he held or the selfish benefits people could enjoy. Although the Bible does indeed promise rewards for loyalty, no real and lasting relationship (even between one or more humans) can be based on such selfish motives.