Archive for April, 2009

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Preaching on Two Levels

April 28, 2009

This is excellent, and opens up an important area of discussion:

“A good preacher, I believe, must also be a second-level teacher. That is, he must also show his people, over the long haul, how to do for themselves what he regularly does for them. He must teach them how to rightly handle the word of truth; how to rightly wield the sword of the Spirit. Scripture study is not a spectator sport, after all. This second-level teaching can be accomplished directly or indirectly; the latter is more common and often more appropriate. But it must be done — and done intentionally.”

Read James Anderson’s whole post.

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The Gospel in 3 Minutes

April 28, 2009

Love this. The gospel in three minutes. Produced for New Word Alive 08.

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New – Mike Bullmore Seminar on Preaching

April 27, 2009

A seminar by Mike Bullmore on “The Pastor and Preaching: How to Start a Sermon, End a Sermon, and Prepare the Middle of a Sermon” (MP3 | PDF) from the 2009 Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors Conference (April 6-8, 2009).

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(HT: Justin Taylor, via Tony Reinke, via Andy Naselli)

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The Rigour of Writing

April 24, 2009

For me, there is no harder aspect in the preaching process than physically writing the sermon manuscript.  I love to study and I love to preach. But sermon-writing?

Its somewhat hard to convey to people who don’t regularly preach just how discouraging a blank sheet of paper can seem on a Monday morning!  Somehow we must fill this blank canvas with words. Moreover, they must be fresh words; they must be God’s words; yet at the same time they must be conveyed in our words.

Now I don’t struggle with every part of sermon preparation. The first part of the process I do find rigorous but at the same time, highly enjoyable. I listen to what God is saying by studying the passage in considerable depth. With the aid of helpful tools and great Christian thinkers, I’m usually ‘enthused early’ about what I’m learning from God’s Word.

But still, the toughest part lies ahead. I must convey the truths I have learned to others. Writing becomes an important discipline in achieving this aim. But oh, how difficult it is!

I sometimes wonder if its any coincidence that writing and wrestling begin with the same two letters. Writing often feels like a wrestling match. We struggle with words. Sometimes they seem to be getting the better of us. With hard work, we manage to press them into submission, with clear sentences, logical paragraphs and apt word choices.  Yet because of the struggle, sometimes I feel I need a ball and chain to keep me seated at my desk! It is painful to seek to give birth to words.

Its now Friday lunchtime. My manuscript is written. Thanks to God’s grace, I’m satisfied.

But boy….that was hard work!

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Eric Alexander

April 22, 2009

A new website relating to the Scottish preacher Eric Alexander is now online. Check out his biography and sermons.

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(HT: Justin Taylor)

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Christian Academics Share Personal Experience

April 21, 2009

This is interesting. A free e-book edited by Steve Hayes and James Anderson: “Love the Lord with Heart and Mind.” It chronicling the answers of Christian intellectuals (including Darrell Bock, John Frame and Douglas Groothuis) to the following questions.

1. Have you been a Christian from childhood?
2. Did you convert to the faith? If so, please describe your
conversion experience.
3. Why do you believe in the existence of God?
4. Why do you believe in the inspiration of the Bible?
5. How do you deal with Bible criticism?
6. How do you deal with scientific objections to the faith?
7. What other challenges to the faith would you like to
comment on?
8. At this stage of your spiritual journey, would you now give
different reasons for your faith than when you began your
pilgrimage?
9. Looking back over your life as a Christian, how would you
say that your faith has evolved over time? How, if at all, does
your lived-in faith differ from when you were younger?
10. Unbelievers often point to the elusiveness of God. In your
personal experience, including your experience with other
Christians, can you point to any examples of God’s
providential presence?
11. Since you’ve been a Christian, have you undergone a crisis
of faith? If so, how did you work through it?
12. In your observation, why are most unbelievers
unbelieving?
13. In your experience, what’s the best way to witness to
unbelievers?
14. Christian apologetics tends to settle into certain
stereotypical arguments and formulaic emphases. Do you
think there are some neglected areas in how apologetics is
generally done today?
15. What do Christian parents, pastors, seminary and/or
college professors most need to teach our young people to
prepare them for the walk of faith?
16. What devotional or apologetic reading would you
recommend for further study?

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How High An Estimate of Preaching?

April 21, 2009

Its a question I often ask myself at the beginning of another week of sermon preparation: “how highly do I truly value the importance of the preaching task?” My heart’s answer to that question will undoubtedly be reflected in my earnest effort and prayer in the preparation that follows; or sadly, and alternatively, in the lack of diligence and desire.

James Alexander once said:

“I fear none of us apprehend as we ought to do the value of the preacher’s office. Our young men do not gird themselves for it with the spirit of those who are on the eve of a great conflict; nor do they prepare as those who are to lay hands upon the springs of the mightiest passions, and stir up to their depths the ocean of human feelings. Where this estimate of the work prevails, men even of inferior training accomplish much….The pulpit will still remain the grand means of effecting the mass of men. It is God’s own method, and he will honour it…In every age, great reformers have been preachers.” (James W Alexander, quoted in John Stott, I Believe in Preaching, p 37)

I am challenged, yet inspired.

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