Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Fastest Four Minutes Ever

time flies by ** RCB **, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   Time Flies by  ** RCB ** 
“Three minutes and thirty seconds remaining.”

***15 seconds later***

“Prep time has expired.”

What just happened?!? Those four minutes of prep time seemed more like four seconds!

I’ll bet every Apologetics competitor can empathize with this situation. Prep time is truly the fastest four minutes ever. So how can you best utilize these precious few moments?

First, find your card. After you choose one of the three topics that you drew (more on that in a later post), you need to find your card for that topic. More accurately, you need to find the appropriate Concept Card—assuming that you’re using the Conceptual Organizational System.

I’ll probably discuss Apologetics box organizational systems in another post sometime, but suffice it to say that your cards should be organized such that you can find any card within 30 seconds, tops. Even 30 seconds is long—you have just used 1/8 of your total prep time! So, no matter your organization, make sure that you can locate the card for any topic in a timely manner.

Second, reacquaint yourself with the card. It may have been several weeks or months since you last presented (or even read through) this card. Take a minute or so to quickly scan the card and remind yourself of what it says. After all, finding out what you’re about to say is a rather high priority.

You don’t need to read every word on the card. If there’s a paragraph-long quote and a dozen Bible verses, it is not necessary to extensively analyze them. You wrote the card; now you’re just remembering what it contains. Once you have skimmed through the card, move on to the next step.

Third, fit together the Concept Card with the Topic Card. Again, I’m assuming that you are using the Conceptual Organizational System. If so, you need to place the content on the Topic Card into appropriate places on the Concept Card. Remembering where you will place everything is perfectly fine, but with more complicated and lengthy cards remembering becomes difficult. An alternative is to write a few notes in the appropriate locations on the Concept Card. That is probably the easiest way to remember where everything goes, and you can just reprint that card after the tournament.

Fourth, pray. Even if you only have 10 seconds left when you have finished the first three steps, take a little bit of time to pray. Briefly bow your head and petition the One for whom we give Apologetics speeches. I always offered up a very simple prayer: help me to speak well, to say something that will bless the judges, and glorify you through this speech.

That’s it! I hope that this helps you to better utilize those short, pressured minutes before showtime. They may still feel like the fastest four minutes ever, but at least you will have used them well.

See My Apologetics System in Action

Thought plus action by magnetbox, on Flickr

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  magnetbox 

Many times before, I’ve discussed the 100+ Apologetics topics that any student must be able to cover in competition. I’ve explained how the Thoroughly Equipped Apologetics curriculum organizes the 100+ topics into 25 key concepts, saving you time while simultaneously enabling you to go deeper on each individual concept card. But I’ve never shown you how it works—until now.

Yes, I recently created a video showing my Apologetics system in action. This 9-minute video demonstrates the principles behind Thoroughly Equipped in action. I take four seemingly unrelated topics and weave them together into one coherent card. The four topics are:

  • What is the meaning and significance of Jesus as the Mediator?
  • What is the meaning and significance of Jesus as the Messiah?
  • What is the meaning and significance of Jesus as the Word of God?
  • What is the meaning and significance of Jesus as the Lamb of God?

What do those disparate topics have to do with each other? Watch this video and find out!

What Do Church Doors Have to Do with Halloween?

Church Door Brent Knoll Church Somerset by Leshaines123, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Leshaines123 

 

Happy day-after-Reformation-Day, everyone!

Reformation Day? What’s that?

Well, that’s the holiday that occurs on October 31! You thought it was Halloween? Okay, I suppose that happens on October 31 too. But we Christians have something else to celebrate!

On October 31 of last year, I explained the history behind this other holiday. Here’s what I said in that post:

“So what other holiday takes place on October 31st? To answer that question, we must go back to the year 1517. That year, Johann Tetzel–a Dominican friar and papal commissioner for indulgences–was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to raise money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. A saying commonly attributed to Tetzel is, ‘As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.’

“Martin Luther objected to the practice of selling indulgences in order to reduce time in purgatory, and he wrote up a list of 95 Theses explaining his position. On October 31st, 1517, Luther nailed his list of 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. That’s actually not as crazy a thing to do as it sounds—back then, the church door functioned as a sort of bulletin board.

“Luther’s nailing his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenburg is commonly referred to as the first spark of the Protestant Reformation. Many Lutheran and Reformed churches celebrate Reformation Day on October 31st in remembrance of this event.”

Last year, I suggested that one of the great contributions of the Reformation was its emphasis on the authority and sufficiency of Scripture—”sola Scriptura.” You can click here to read all about that.

This year, I’d like to look at another of the great doctrines recovered by the Reformation: sola fide, or salvation through faith alone. We are saved when we receive Christ’s sacrifice by faith, and we must not add our own works in order to earn merit before God.

In many of his letters, Paul emphasizes that our salvation is by faith alone—works play no part whatsoever. Some of the best-known verses in our Bibles address this subject, such as Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV), “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (italics mine).

This doctrine is probably most clearly laid out in the book of Galatians. Paul charged his readers not to abandon the faith they had received in favor of a legalistic mix of faith in Christ and Judaistic works. He warned the Galatians about false teachers who want to bring those who are free through faith in Christ back into slavery to works: “Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Galatians 2:4-5 ESV).

Paul emphasizes that “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16 ESV). The true gospel is sola fide, through faith alone—not faith and works combined.

At the very beginning of the letter Paul made the significance of this issue clear: nothing less than the gospel itself is at stake. “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7 ESV).

Sola fide, one of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, is an essential part of the true gospel. And the beginning of its recovery began on October 31, 1517, almost 500 years ago. Now that’s something to celebrate!