Archive for September, 2008



September 30, 2008

From the International Christian College Website


Ten Commandments of Blogging

September 29, 2008

According to Evangelical Alliance:

You shall not put your blog before your integrity.

You shall not make an idol of your blog.

You shall not misuse your screen name by using your anonymity to sin.

Remember the Sabbath day by taking one day off a week from your blog.

Honour your fellow-bloggers above yourselves and do not give undue significance to their mistakes.

You shall not murder someone else’s honour, reputation or feelings.

You shall not use the web to commit or permit adultery in your mind.

You shall not steal another person’s content.

You shall not give false testimony against your fellow-blogger.

You shall not covet your neighbour’s blog ranking. Be content with your own content.


Desiring God Conference Videos Unleashed

September 29, 2008
I promise, this snippet of Sinclair Ferguson will whet your appetite!

Here are the rest of the videos:


The Most Important Theological Truth For Preachers On A Monday Morning

September 29, 2008

Justification by faith alone


Word-Infused Services

September 27, 2008

Here’s a quote worth evaluating tomorrow’s church services by:

“… installing exposition as the main event is not enough. God’s Word must infuse everything. The careful reading of the Word must be central. Hymns and songs must be Word-saturated. Prayers must be biblically informed, redolent with biblical reality – often reflecting the very language and structure of Scripture. The preaching of the Word of God must be the Word of God. Such a service requires principled, prayerful thought and hard work. There may be no need to parade the Scripture in and out while God’s people rise in reverence. But it must happen in our hearts.” (R Kent Hughes, in Worship By the Book, 159)


Buying ‘Bargain’ Commentaries

September 24, 2008

Quite soon I’m going to be purchasing a new batch of commentaries – not least a few from this excellent list. So I’m wondering: where do the most ‘penny-pinching pastors’ go to buy their study books?

Is there a special online place which you find best value for money? Or some backstreet second-hand book store that offers that rare bargain?

Any overseas perspective would be interesting. Any UK contribution would be invaluable!

UPDATED *comments*

  1. is comfortably the cheapest in the UK that I ahve been able to find. James Dickson books in Kilsyth has an extensive second hand list much of which is viewable online. by Scott Hamilton September 24, 2008 at 10:55 am edit comment
  2. Yes ICMbooks as mentioned above (quite local to me so I save postage too!)…superb range (and by that I mean almost everything available) and excellent prices usually. Also keep an eye for specials. by Paul September 24, 2008 at 11:20 am edit comment
  3. hey colin (and scott) – here are my 2p
    icmbooks is good
    booddepository is quite often cheapest (with free shipping)
    amazon of course (sometimes ordering from .com and paying a bit more in shipping is still the cheapest, as with the esv study bible i believe)
    the free presbyterian bookroom is glasgow can have some good prices, and i think you get minister’s discount (10 or 20%, i forget)

    dickson books, kilsyth (
    gowan books, n ireland (
    geneva books, london (0207 627 4070)
    these 3 would be fairly similar in price and all are a treasure trove of good stuff. if you want to journey to dickson sometime let me know. it’s also an enjoyable visit.
    it is also worth searching for anything, especially harder to find titles.
    that’s all for now. also i’ve started a new blog if you are interested (

    by luehrmann September 24, 2008 at 11:20 am edit comment

  4. Should have mentioned Gowan Books for secondhand, rare and antiquarian. by Paul September 24, 2008 at 11:21 am edit comment
  5. Give a whirl. by James September 24, 2008 at 11:55 am edit comment
  6. Book Aid is not only an excellent place to dispos of unwanted books, but has a bookship in South London open on Thursday mornings. Not so good for buying modern commentaries – any that come in would go abroad but good for older stuff, and very reasonable. (I’ve come across at least one of the dealers already metioned buying stock there so….)Worth a visit if you are ever in South Lordon on a Thursday morning!Their details are at: by Graham Culver September 24, 2008 at 11:58 am edit comment
  7. I use most of the above but tend to check with which checks Amazon, the book depository and a number of others, and then compare it with icmbooks.It saves some time and can includes the amazon market place sellers too. by Alastair Gooderham September 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm edit comment
  8. Not sure in the UK but I usually go to search the top 40 or so book selling websites (amazon, half, abebooks, etc) and sort all those by price including shipping. Worth a look if you don’t already know about it. by mattdabbs September 24, 2008 at 1:20 pm edit comment
  9. The Evangelical Bookshop in Belfast is definitely worth a look, if you are ever over there. They always have an outstanding range of books, and regularly have special offers on new and imported books too. Through in their back room they have plenty of second hand stock as well. by That Hideous Man September 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm edit comment

10. You should also try Amazon and ABEbooks. Both have UK sellers listed and you can find so very reasonable prices.

by Martin Pitcher September 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm edit comment

11. Here in the States I go to Amazon and then check the “Used” section — on numerous occasions I’ve been able to get absolutely brand new (but slightly shelf-worn) commentaries for a fraction of their list price. I’m sure they’ve been sitting on some book store’s shelf for a while, and they just want to get rid of them.

by Bob September 24, 2008 at 3:28 pm edit comment

12.  Eerdmans, The Bookstore, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Though it has been some time since I was there, they often have incredible deals on Eerdmans titles.

by Chris Brauns September 24, 2008 at 5:50 pm edit comment

13.  I’m glad to see you noticed Derek Thomas’ excellent list. His book is on Amazon and well worth it. Right now, Best Commentaries is pulling Amazon and B&N prices, but I hope to add more pricing options in the future so you don’t have to check so many sites… by John Dyer September 24, 2008 at 8:17 pm edit comment

14. You should definitely check out the prices at Christian Book Distributors . 

by Alan September 25, 2008 at 12:26 am edit comment


Unashamed Workman For Your Blog-Reader

September 23, 2008

Not being much of a technical wizz, something I haven’t encouraged much in the past is subscription to Unashamed Workman. For any who might be interested, find below the relevant click-throughs to bring the UW feed straight to your blog reader. At the same time, I’ve permanently added a feedburner icon to the top of the blog sidebar where you can sign up at any time.

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Confident, Even With Cancer

September 23, 2008

Ted Herbert was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Vice Principal of International Christian College (Glasgow) till several weeks ago, Ted was my ‘fellowship group’ leader during my time at ICC. The news has been a shock to everyone. I was greatly encouraged, however, as I listened to Ted giving his testimony to his home church in Bearsden. His confidence in God and inner peace are palpable.



September 22, 2008

Well, the wedding a rich occasion. The bride glowed. The husband gushed. The father of the bride welled with pride. The congregation sang and smiled heartily. Oh, and I spoke through a cold.

Thankfully it didn’t sound too bad during the service. But as soon as we were done, my voice cracked. By the Saturday evening I was virtually speechless. By the Sunday morning I was speechless.

So what do you do when you are meant to be preaching on Sunday morning but have no speaking voice? How do you communicate when your sentences emerge as a combination of muffled, monotone groans and voiceless wheeze?

  • You pray hard. Hard.
  • You stick a towel over your head and inhale hot steam.
  • You sip honey, gargle salt water, take paracetamol, and anything else you think might help.
  • You ask your fellow pastor to lead the service to save your voice for the sermon.
  • You drive to church, sit silently in the vestry, and don’t sing a word of the hymns – inwardly praying, praying, praying.
  • And then you trust in the Sovereignty of God, open your mouth and speak.

(Photos by Andrew Robertson)

ps. ‘Miraculously’ my voice held together, even though it was several tones lower than normal. I had my best half an hour of the day, that half hour. Imagine that…


Husbands, Wives, Kings and Queens

September 18, 2008

This will likely be my last post before the weekend: I am taking the wedding of the senior-pastor’s daughter on Saturday (no pressure!) and am preparing to negotiate an ‘all-age service’ on Sunday.

As I was preparing – and thinking about husbands and wives – I was reminded of the following story

“A public lecture was once advertised under the title, how to make your wife treat you like a king. The lecture hall was absolutely packed out, with men from all sections of society waiting to hear where they were going wrong. Finally, the speaker stood up to address the packed and expectant gathering. Gentleman, he said to them, the answer to the question being posed is every simple. If you want your wife to treat you like a king there is one thing you must do: treat her like a queen.” (J John, Ten, p118)


Processing Pulpit Gaffe’s

September 16, 2008

A reader of Unashamed Workman recently posed this question: “When preaching spontaneously and you make a remark that is ill-advised, unbalanced. Or you phrase something badly that may be misunderstood. How does the preacher respond to the weight of his own errors and follies after preaching?”

I would suggest he respond in seven ways at least…

1) He should see his failings and foibles as evidence of sin’s continuing presence and view it as an opportunity to develop humility. JI Packer speaks of “growing downward” in humility and I have no doubt that preaching is one of God’s chief means to bring pastors low. However, low and contrite is better than high and haughty. So lie low. “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up in due time.” (James 4:10)

2) He should rest upon the grace of God and cling to the cross for his sins in preaching. While the gospel is ‘good news’ for sinners generally, it is equally ‘good news’ for sinning preachers particularly! True, it is hardly the tip of the iceberg in terms of Jesus Calvary-achievements, but one of the things Jesus died for was bad sermons (and bad lines within sermons). ‘Sins of speech’ are covered too!

3) He should pray. Its amazing the difference simply bringing our cares to the Lord can make! Rather than bemoaning our failings to our wife in the car, why not bring it to the Lord first? Occasionally I return to the vestry alone for a few minutes following the preaching and handshaking, just for this very purpose.

4) He should consider how frequently such ‘spontaneous’ and ‘ill-advised’ comments recur in his preaching. If he sees a pattern of carelessness or sin, he should seek to address it. When I say a pattern of sin, I’m referring especially to pastors who frequently aim to shock with their words. These preachers like to be found on the ‘contemporary edge’ – a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. Frankly, a lot of this tightrope walking quickly slips into patently sinful speech. Such sordid speech needs to be confronted and called-out like any sin (especially if it has become typical in our preaching).

On the other hand, some misdemeanors occur simply because of carelessness: a combination of a lack of preparation or laziness. For example, some preachers tend to prepare everything thoroughly except the conclusion. It may well be that it is within this ‘extemporaneous finale’ that the pastor tends to ‘say what he didn’t mean to.’ Yet once the pastor identifies the source of the problem, the solution is self-evident. Why not write out the conclusion in full?

5) He should query his motive. The preacher should honestly ask himself this question: Does the ‘weightiness’ of my after-sermon worry stem from a genuine concern over the congregations spiritual health (in light of my teaching/comments) or a fear over my precious reputation? Increasingly I am coming to realize that most of my feelings of failure after preaching are actually linked to a concern over what people will have made of me; not how harmful my misguided teaching might be for them.

6) He should – if the teaching has blatantly erroneous or a remark has been grossly unhelpful – later retract the comment publicly. By very definition, this would hopefully be an exceptional and extreme case. In such a situation, it would be better to protect the congregation from error than protect our pride. An apology can also remind the congregation of our own fallibility. Moreover, Scripture reveals that those who teach will be judged by God more strictly (James 3:1); it would be better then to remove some of the grounds of that judgment by correcting our errors as we go!

But I would also say, don’t be doing this every week. For one thing, the flock may lose any kind of confidence in the ability of their undershepherd to feed them solid food. Moreover, if the sermon has merely lacked some ‘balance’ on a doctrinal point, I would tend to think that consistently preaching the ‘full council of God’ would eventually redress the balance in any case.

7) He should normally move on by Monday morning. Its often said to be a discouraging thing that however well we preach on a Sunday, we have to create another ‘great sermon’ for only seven days hence. However the same is true following a sermon we would put in the ‘bad’ camp: seven days later we get a chance to put it right. Fix what we can. Improve what we must. Work even harder next time to handle the word of God in an ‘unashamed’ fashion.


Keller: Preaching Well = ‘Lots Of Practice’

September 16, 2008

I preached about 200 different expositions a year for the first nine years of my ministry (when I was age 24 through 33.) During that time I was considered interesting and good but I never got a lot of feedback that I was anything special. I’ve grown a lot through lots of practice.

(From 10 Questions to Expositors, Keller)