Archive for December, 2009

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Bible Reading Plans

December 31, 2009

Calibrating your bible-reading schedule for 2010?

Justin Taylor directs us to 10 bible reading plans.

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The History Defining Question

December 24, 2009

Larry King, the CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history.

He said, “Jesus Christ.”

 The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?”

King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.”

—from Just Thinking, RZIM, Winter 1998

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Don’t Preach Santa At Home

December 22, 2009

Noel Piper gives us three reasons why:

First, fairy tales are fun and we enjoy them, but we don’t ask our children to believe them.

Second, we want our children to understand God as fully as they’re able at whatever age they are. So we try to avoid anything that would delay or distort that understanding. It seems to us that celebrating with a mixture of Santa and manger will postpone a child’s clear understanding of what the real truth of God is. It’s very difficult for a young child to pick through a marble cake of part-truth and part-imagination to find the crumbs of reality.

Third, we think about how confusing it must be to a straight-thinking, uncritically-minded preschooler because Santa is so much like what we’re trying all year to teach our children about God. Look, for example, at the “attributes” of Santa.

  • He’s omniscient—he sees everything you do.
  • He rewards you if you’re good.
  • He’s omnipresent—at least, he can be everywhere in one night.
  • He gives you good gifts.
  • He’s the most famous “old man in the sky” figure.

Read her whole argument.

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Jesus: A Better Joshua

December 21, 2009

I mentioned in this morning’s sermon that there are some connectons between Joshua and Jesus – not least their names! While it didn’t make it into the final cut of the sermon, I was enriched by Charles Spurgeon’s reflections on how Joshua – Jesus’ namesake – foreshadows our Lord:

“There was one, then, of old, who bore this famous name of Jesus, or Joshua, and was a type of our Jesus.  What did Joshua do?

  • When Moses could not lead the people into Canaan, Joshua did it; and so our Jesus accomplishes what the law never could have done.
  • Joshua overcame the enemies of God’s people: though they were very many and very strong, and bad cities walled to heaven and chariots of iron, yet in the name of Jehovah, as captain of the Lord.s host, Joshua smote them. Even so doth our glorious Joshua smite our sins and all the powers of darkness, and utterly destroy our spiritual enemies. Before him Amalek is smitten, Jericho falls, and Canaanites are put to rout, while he giveth us to triumph in every place.
  • Moreover Joshua conquered an inheritance for Israel, took them across the Jordan, settled them in a land that flowed with milk and honey, and gave to each tribe and to each man to stand in his lot which God had ordained for him. Precisely this is what our Jesus does, only our inheritance is more divine, and on each one of us it is more surely entailed.
  • Though Joshua could not give to the people the heavenly Sabbatismos, or rest of the highest kind, yet he gave them rest most pleasant to them, so that every man sat under his own vine and fig tree, none making him afraid; but our glorious Joshua has given us infinite, eternal rest, for he is our peace, and they that know him have entered into rest.
  • Joshua, the son of Nun, caused the people to serve the Lord all his days, but he could not save the nation from their sins, for after his death they grievously went astray: our Joshua reserves to himself a people zealous for good works, for he ever liveth an is able to keep them from falling.
  • No more doth Joshua lift sword or spear on behalf of Israel, but Jesus still rideth forth, conquering and to conquer, and all his people have victory through his blood.

Well is his name called Jesus.”

(Charles Spurgeon: “Jesus” – Matthew 1:21)

 

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Are Your Illustrations Fact or Folklore?

December 15, 2009

Paul Grimmond (Sola Panel) has written a searching article for preachers, in which he challenges us to take care in checking the validity of our sermon illustrations (Do we Pass on more error than we realise?). Grimmond uses two common examples which aren’t true to the facts, including the theory that Jesus died by asphyxiation. He concludes:

Whether we like it or not, the parts of our sermons that get passed on most often are the illustrations. They rapidly become part of our folklore because the illustrations are the part of the preaching that captures our imaginations. This tells us something significant about communication. But if this is true, it also leads to a sobering conclusion: perhaps the facts of the text—the things that God most wants us to hear—are not always the things that are most easily passed on. All the more reason for preachers to work hard on communicating what the text puts in front of us, and all the more reason for congregations to keep reading the text.

A couple of searching questions he asks include:

What drives human beings to approximate the data to suit their own conclusions? 

and

…how often and how much do I gild the lily in my apologetics and preaching for the sake of bolstering my point?

Ok, I’m off to re-check a few of my prospective illustrations for Sunday.

(HT: David Armstrong)

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Variety

December 14, 2009

A table to stimulate our thinking about keeping variety in our preaching. Here is the wider article it comes from by Peter Adam.

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Reading and Preaching

December 12, 2009

Cornelius Platinga Jr on a preacher’s reading:

Good preaching needs good reading to nourish it, and the best preachers read a great deal more than Scripture and commentaries. They also read fiction, for instance, and biography, and essays. They read great children’s literature for its “noble simplicity.” A few even tune their ear on the poetry of such masters as Jane Kenyon.

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