It’s 3:45 p.m. Friday afternoon. You promised your family you would finish your sermon before leaving the office so Saturday could be a day together. You’re pretty much finished, but you could sure use a good quote; a pithy, memorable statement that will clarify the core truths in your sermon. But where can you find this perfect quote? How long will it take to track it down? Every pastor has faced this challenge.
A striking quote, skillfully employed, resonates in the memory, enabling listeners to carry the sermon’s lesson with them during the following week. The ancient wisdom writer said it well: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11 ESV). That well-chosen quote carries immense power to drive home the spiritual truth in a Sunday sermon.
Elliot Ritzema, editor of pastoral resources at Logos Bible Software (also an editor of the Lexham English Bible and contributor to Bible Study magazine), knows the value of a great quote, but also understands the challenge in finding, organizing, and retrieving thought-provoking quotations.
Along with colleagues Elizabeth Vince and Rebecca Grant, Ritzema has compiled a five-volume series, 1500 Quotations for Preachers with Slides. The volumes are organized as follows:
- 300 Quotations from the Early Church (100-600)
- 300 Quotations from the Medieval Church (600-1500)
- 300 Quotations from the Reformation (1500-1650)
- 300 Quotations from the Modern Church (1650-forward)
- 300 Quotations from the Puritans
The first four volumes are chronologically organized, while the Puritans get a volume of their own, since these Christian leaders overlapped the Reformation and Modern church eras. Dedicating an entire volume to the Puritans enabled Ritzema to include far more quotations than if he had limited them to their respective chronological periods.
While Logos users have their favorite ways of accessing the vast resources in their package, I like creating and saving layouts. For example, I opened all five volumes in this series, along with a Search window set up to “Search All Text in All Open Resources”. I saved the layout with the name “1500 Quotes.”
When I want a quote related to a particular text or theme, I open my “1500 Quotes” layout, type in my Bible text or theme and within seconds I have collected every quote related to the text or theme – all organized according to the volume from which it came.
For example, I am currently preaching through Paul’s letter to the Colossians and already know I will incorporate Richard Baxter in the sermon which covers Colossians 3:5 where Paul writes:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5 ESV).
By entering “Col 3:5” into my Search bar, I discovered 13 quotes from the following: Thomas à Kempis (Medieval era); Theresa of Ávila (Reformation era); Richard Baxter, John Owen, Henry Scougal, George Swinnock (Puritans); Henry Alford, Charles Finney, John Wesley (Modern era).
I settled on one of Richard Baxter’s quotes, titled “Pluck Sin When It’s Still Young” because I felt it really hit the mark I am seeking.
The longer you delay, the more your sin gets strength and rooting. If you cannot bend a twig, how will you be able to bend it when it is a tree? If you cannot pluck up a tender plant, are you likely to pluck up a sturdy oak?
Directly beneath the title (Ritzema’s titles are sometimes as striking as the quotes themselves) you find several Bible texts, all of which relate in some way to the quotation. Beneath the Scripture references are suggested themes. Then follows the quote and the person to whom the quote is attributed.
Along with the text of every quote, Ritzema has created an attractive slide with artwork reflecting the era from which the quote originates. These slides can be imported directly into a power point presentation. As all power point users know, quality pre-made slides are significant time savers.
As with all Logos resources, placing your cursor on a Biblical text brings up that text in your preferred version. This feature often suggests fresh lines of thought and cross references I can incorporate into my sermon.
Clicking on the name of the person being quoted brings up the source of the quote. If you happen to have that resource in your Logos library, you can go directly to the original source of the quote and get the full context.
This reasonably priced resource provides preachers with a vast array of though-provoking material which will help illuminate and reinforce great biblical themes and theological truths. I use it regularly in my ministry preparation.