Archive for January, 2008

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The Preaching Course

January 31, 2008

A week today The Preaching Course will launch in my church, led by myself and a fellow pastor Tim Bridges. I’m looking forward to seeing the growth of the men attending this introductory course in exposition, whilst at the same time, preparing to learn myself from more experienced expositors like Derek Prime, John Brand and Peter Grainger who will be making a ‘guest appearance.’

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While The Preaching Course itself cannot be transferred onto a blog like this for all sorts of reasons, nevertheless I hope to let some of it ‘overspill’ onto Unashamed Workman. So from next week – concurrent the launch of the course – I’ll be posting various things on the subject of “Discerning a Call to Preach.”

Expect further weeks to be given to such subjects as “researching the text”, “outlining the sermon”, “illustrating” and so on. All being well, we may also have the audio from the main teaching sessions to put online as well.

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Reflections On Preaching, Preaching, Preaching

January 31, 2008

After my enjoyable trip to the North of Scotland, let me share a few reflections on preaching five times in one weekend. No doubt many of you will have had to preach multiple times in a short time period. For me it was a sharp learning curve. Here are a few things I learned, however:

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1) Preaching multiple times in a short space of time is a great blessing. Truly. For one thing, you get to proclaim the gospel of Christ again and again – sometimes two or three times in the one day. Its like Sunday sermons back to back to back. What a joy! Furthermore, you have the opportunity of preaching to the same people and developing certain themes to a greater degree.

2) Preaching multiple times is hard work and demands pacing oneself. On a normal weekend of preaching, we usually have one or two sermons to prepare ourselves for. All week we slowly prepare, focusing on that narrow passage or passages. It culminates in that pulsating burst of energy and the Sunday sermon when ‘we give our all.’ Preaching multiple times, however, radically alters the dynamic. My own discovery was that I couldn’t give my ALL in the opening sermon – otherwise there’d be ‘nothing’ left for the other four preaches. As such, perhaps subconsciously, I found myself holding back 10% every time and only on the last sermon did I go full out. Whether the congregation could tell the difference I do not know. But practically it seemed essential for me to apportion my energy.

3) Preaching multiple times creates momentum and the preacher should try and ‘catch the wave.’ As well as the pacing that I mentioned in the prior point, I found that the preaching series itself gathered momentum. This was natural for two reasons. First, I was a visiting preacher and viritually unknown to most present; therefore I naturally built up rapport as the weekend progressed. Additionally, the series itself in Jeremiah had a certain cumulative effect, as the congregation began to build up a picture of the historical context and theological themes throughout the prophecy. For these reasons my last sermon of the five seemed to be the most edifying of all for the congregation.

Any thoughts on preaching multiple sermons in quick succession?

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Back from Buckie

January 30, 2008

It really was a great privilege and joy to preach at Buckie North Church this last weekend for their winter version of Keswick. Thank you for praying as I preached four times on the book of Jeremiah and once on Luke 18.

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Reflecting on the weekend, a trio of encouragements come to mind. First, seeing a ‘healthy ecumenism’ in that part of Northern Scotland – one that is centred around Christ and His gospel and which overlooks denominational persuation. Second, the warm sense of community and a hospitality that in many respects evidenced the love of Christ. Third, a genuine hunger among many to hear God’s living Word was thrilling to see (not least by one who is a preacher!).

Continue to pray for the nation of Scotland. Lord, may there be a renewed desire across this land to hear and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as a renewed desire to preach it!

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A Brain-Orientated Preacher?

January 29, 2008

Today’s Classic Materials is a quote from Geoff Thomas, pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church in Aberystwyth, Wales

“One of the great perils that face preachers . . .is the constant danger of lapsing into a purely cerebral form of proclamation, which falls exclusively upon the intellect. Men become obsessed with doctrine and end up as brain-oriented preachers. There is consequently a fearful impoverishment in their hearers emotionally, devotionally, and practically. Such pastors are men of books and not men of people; they know the doctrines, but they know nothing of the emotional side of religion. They set little store upon experience or upon constant fellowship and interaction with almighty God. It is one thing to explain the truth of Christianity to men and women; it is another thing to feel the overwhelming power of the sheer loveliness and enthrallment of Jesus Christ and communicate that dynamically to the whole person who listens so that there is a change of such dimensions that he loves Him with all his heart and soul and mind and strength.”

Geoffrey Thomas, “Powerful Preaching,” chapter 14 in The Preacher and Preaching, edited by Samuel T. Logan. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1986, p. 369 (HT: Expositors Quote for the Week)

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Heading for the Highlands

January 24, 2008

Tomorrow morning my wife and I set off for a weekend trip to the North of Scotland. Buckie to be exact. Pray for me as I preach five times: four ocassions from Jeremiah (chapters 1, 20, 44, and 52) and once (Sunday morning) on the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18.

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(photo by Mr Pattersonsir; Creative Commons License)

Who knows, I may even meet a reader or two of this blog when I get up there?

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10 Questions – Steve Lawson

January 23, 2008

Using a familiar format, my friend John Brand puts the ten questions to Steve Lawson. Well worth a look.

Lawson – Ten Questions part one

Lawson – Ten Questions part two

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‘The Legate of The Skies’

January 22, 2008

Taking a break from some pulpit-prep this evening, I came across Ray Ortlund’s quote today on “The Pulpit.” Thanks Ray (and William Cowper!) for some inspiration just when I need it:

“The pulpit therefore — and I name it, filled
With solemn awe, that bids me well beware
With what intent I touch that holy thing –
The pulpit, when the satirist has at last,
Strutting and vapouring in an empty school,
Spent all his force, and made no proselyte –
I say the pulpit, in the sober use
Of its legitimate, peculiar powers,
Must stand acknowledged, while the world shall stand,
The most important and effectual guard,
Support, and ornament of virtue’s cause.
There stands the messenger of truth; there stands
The legate of the skies; his theme divine,
His office sacred, his credentials clear.
By him, the violated Law speaks out
Its thunders, and by him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the Gospel whispers peace.
He ‘stablishes the strong, restores the weak,
Reclaims the wanderer, binds the broken heart,
And, armed himself in panoply complete
Of heavenly temper, furnishes with arms
Bright as his own and trains, by every rule
Of holy discipline, to glorious war,
The sacramental host of God’s elect.”

(William Cowper, “The Task”)

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