The Pastor's Study: Cross-Word Dictionary and the CIA
It's been a while since our last installment of The Pastor's Study, but I'm grateful for some other pastors who have chosen to contribute to this series. This new installment comes from Levi Durfey, Pastor-Teacher of the First Baptist Church of Baker, Montana.
How I Use Accordance in My Sermon Preparation
While I use Accordance’s user notes feature for short notes and quotes, I use iWork Pages for the writing of my sermon notes. This is partly because I like writing in one tool instead of using two and transferring from one to another, and partly because Accordance notes do not support Mac Services (Which I depend on for a very good clipboard utility named PTH Pasteboard and Joe Weak’s Accordance services for copying and pasting verses from Accordance into documents).
So one of the first things I do is create a new Pages document. (If needed, I create a separate document for each chapter of the Bible.) This document is 5.75 inches wide so that it fits nicely beside Accordance. I then paste in the sermon text in English and Greek (using the Accordance services that Joe Weaks made). I use the parsing function in Accordance and print out the parsing for the passage for easy reference.
I also copy the English and Greek texts to another document, which I call my “Observation Worksheet.” There I double-space the text and print it. At the beginning of my study, and continuing throughout the study, I use this sheet to jot down little bits of information, draw connecting lines, mark key words, etc. I find that my mental juices flow more easily at times with good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.
I work through the text systematically, verse by verse. First, I read the whole passage aloud or silently and jot any new insights onto my Observation Worksheet (I do this after each verse).
Then I precede through the verse systematically, using the phrase, “Cross-Word-Dictionary and the C.I.A.” as my guide. As insights come to me, I write them down in my notes. Here’s my Accordance and Pages layout:
1. CROSS-references: One of my favorite Accordance features is how you can hover your mouse over a list of cross-references. When you do, it turns to a magnifying glass. Then you can click and select some or all the references. When you release the click, all those references open in a separate window. From there you can easily read through all the references without hovering over each one and reading it in the Instant Details box.
In terms of my study, doing cross-references first helps me see the wider Biblical picture first, before I get into the details of the verse. For my sermons, I usually pick only a few: ones that the congregation knows or should know or ones that would make a good Biblical illustration.
2. WORD studies: This step actually includes several parts. I work through the Greek, using the parsing sheet that I printed earlier. I look for any grammatical insights and connections.
Then I may look up some of the words in a lexicon. For in-depth study, I have a separate “Greek Lexicons” workspace with all my main lexicons opened in separate tabs. All I have to do is select the word, click on the “Favorites” icon and select the “Greek Lexicons” and it opens my lexicons to the appropriate word.
I often do a word search on the word to see how it is used elsewhere (right click on the word and select “Search For”). I have a tab named “Greek Search” set on recycle so it is used for every Greek search I make. Accordance allows me to open a parallel English text alongside the search results in Greek, so it isn’t a hassle to quickly scan my search results.
This is also the step where I compare translations (for which I have a separate tab in Accordance) to see what other translators did with the word definitions and grammar in the verse.
3. Bible DICTIONARY: Is there an obvious topic or a cultural question? I try to make my first stop a Bible dictionary rather than a commentary. I have the IVP Dictionaries in Accordance as well as the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. I’ve put these into a group called “Dictionaries,” so all I have to do is click the search icon on the Resource Toolbar to search all my dictionaries. It's nice that I don't have to wade through the whole article of each search hit in each dictionary, as the Search All window will just show the relevant parts of the articles where a hit was found.
Next I move on to the C.I.A.
4. Commentaries: I have separate tabs for the commentaries in Accordance. I don’t want to see them too early in my study, so I don’t keep them visible. I try not to just copy and paste. I read, and then try to put whatever interested me (or answered a question) into my own words.
5. Illustrate: It’s miserable to get done with your sermon study and then have to find illustrations. If the week was too busy, you end up skipping them. So I try to illustrate as I go. I am not trying to find a neat story to entertain people, I want to illustrate the points and principles that I am finding in the text.
6. Apply: What are the implications for us? Again, I don’t want to be left on Saturday trying to figure out applications, so I make it a point to try and find them as I go through the text.
After I work through a verse, I go back to my Observation Worksheet and read the text again to keep sight of the forest and start the process over with the next verse.
Another step, after I’ve worked through the passage completely and if I have the time, is to use FoxTrot Personal Search to search my past sermons and other articles and sermons that I’ve collected.
I will Search [All Tools] in Accordance. I love how I can search for a range, like Romans 9:19-24, and Accordance will pick up single references like 9:20 and 9:21, or even phrases like “verse twenty-two.”
As a final step, I refine the notes and shape them into sermon form. I copy information that I don’t need to the end of the document. I usually put Pages into full-screen mode for this, as I like being able to focus on just the sermon.
One inspirational quote that I keep before me is this (I’ve lost the reference):
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a gifted expositor who saw preaching not as “preaching a sermon for each service, but simply [as] continuing where he was in the ongoing exposition of a book of the Bible.”
That’s what I want to do. Accordance, because of its speed, its tool set, and its ability to help me focus on the Bible, is an integral part of my own ongoing exposition of the Bible.