Archive for November, 2009


Sermon Preparation For Busy Preachers

November 30, 2009

This will intrigue novice and experienced preachers alike. Dr David Murray (Professor of Hebrew and OT, at PRTS) seeks to look at realistic sermon preparation amid a busy pastoral life.  These practical videos explain what Murray does to prepare his own sermons.


Baucham and Palmer Audio

November 26, 2009

Northern Ireland Ministry Assembly 2009 Audio Resources Audio recordings of all the sessions are now available to listen online or for free download.

Session 1: Preaching that Connects … is more than preaching (1 Thess 1:1–2:12), Hugh Palmer [00:52:51, 18.2 MB]

Session 2: Clash of Cultures: Preaching in a Thessalonian Culture (Acts 17:1-9), Voddie Baucham. [00:52:21, 18.2 MB]*

 Session 3: Clash of Cultures: Preaching in an Athenian Culture (Acts 17:16-34), Voddie Baucham. [00:57:19, 19.7 MB]

* Session 4: Preaching that Connects … has a passion for people (1 Thess 2:13–3:13), Hugh Palmer [00:37:37, 12.9 MB]

Session 5: Preaching that Connects … will counter the culture (1 Thess 4:1–12), Hugh Palmer [00:46:56, 16.1 MB]

Session 6: Preaching that Connects … faces ultimate realities (1 Thess 4:13–5:11), Hugh Palmer [00:44:20, 15.2 MB]

Session 7: Why I choose to believe the Bible (2 Peter 1:16-21), Voddie Baucham. [00:49:03, 16.8 MB]

* These recordings have a few short sections that are a little muffled due to a technical problem during the recording.


Preacher, Pray This…

November 25, 2009

“Lord, keep me from saying words that later need recalling;

Guard me, lest idle speech may from my lips be falling:

But when, within my place, I must and ought to speak,

Then to my words give grace, lest I offend the weak.”

(Johann Heermann, 1585-1647)


Illustrations: the 2nd Mile

November 17, 2009

A number of pastors in Northern Ireland (myself included) were refreshed yesterday by the teaching of Voddie Baucham and Hugh Palmer. As you would expect, both gave insighful biblical expositions, which were models of clarity, and power, in equal measure. In terms of the personal application: today I’m still chewing over what God said to me through it.

From a homiletics point of view, however, something else was impressed upon me. Probably due to my own glaring weakness in this area, I couldn’t help but notice  the masterful way in which, the two speakers sermons were sprinkled with illustrations.

Most of these illustrations were brief. A few were lengthy.  Some were funny. Others were deadly serious (like when Voddie shared his testimony, with tears rolling down his cheeks, in a moving conclusion about the importance of apologetics). Always, however, the illustrations shone fresh light on the point at hand.

 Bryan Chapell reminds us of the challenge to craft helpful illustrations:

…to depart from the abstract and uncover the concrete in the difficult and sometimes treacherous realities of self, other, and world – is the most rigorous of homiletical tasks [emphasis added]. The preacher must travel an intellectual ‘second mile’ to create illustrations that fulfil their potential. It is not a mark of intellectual capitulation to use illustrations. It may well be a sign of intellectual sloth and communication resignation not to use them. (Chapell; Using Illustrations to Preach with Power, 59)


Dale Ralph Davis: My OT Narrative Crib Sheet

November 13, 2009

Here are some notes I made recently, based on Dale Ralph Davis’ excellent book “The Word Became Fresh” (preachers, if you haven’t read this book, why not?!). They list eleven things to look out for (I’ve numbered these myself) when seeking to interpret Old Testament narrative texts. I guess most of these would be relevant for New Testament narratives too.

1. Narrator’s revelation, or reticence. Does the narrator comment on how we are to perceive the story in question? (rare) Or is there a reserve about what we are to make of it? If the latter, we are probably meant to think for ourselves.
2. Eavesdropping. Is there some salient detail we know, that the character(s) don’t know (eg. Job 1)?
3. Selectivity. Is the writer deliberately selective? Is there something he leaves out that we think he should include. It is probably irrelevant. What does he include and why. (eg. We’re not told Jonah’s final response to the Lord in chapter 4)
4. Sarcasm. Is there anything deliberately sarcastic in the text? Anything that the reader is meant to laugh at? Something presented that is preposterous?
5. Imagination. Does the author anywhere paint a picture, to help us see what is going on? (eg. Taking a great number of verses to describe an opposition army).
6. Surprise. We must learn to be first time readers. There are shockers everywhere in biblical narrative, if we’ll open our eyes. (eg. Jonah sleeping easy below deck: hardly a troublesome conscience there!)
7. Emphasis/Repetition. What does the author say more than once? This is usually an emboldened, or underlined.
8. Intensity. Is there a particularly concentrated portion of text, packed into just a verse or two (Naomi’s family disaster in just five verses; 600 years of Israel’s history covered in 13 verses in Joshua). These are clearly meant to jolt the reader.
9. Tension. Where is the tension point, or points in the narrative? Where do you feel these are?
10. Nasty. Is there something nasty and unpleasant in the narrative? What can it teach us?
11. Application/Appropriation. Look for the procedure the main character(s) follows, good or bad, and compare it to the modern day believer/unbeliever. Is there a conceptual application: not so much a thing to do or something to feel, but a new way to think? Look into your own sinful heart, you’ll soon find application! What is God doing in the narrative? What do I learn about him? Is there a doxological application (have I simply to praise God for something?).


Carson on Elders

November 12, 2009

I’m preaching this weekend on eldership in Titus. Here is Don Carson on the whole topic of eldership:


As One Who Must Give An Account

November 10, 2009

A young preacher once complained to C. H. Spurgeon, the famous Baptist preacher, that he did not have as big a church as he deserved.

‘How many do you preach to?’ Spurgeon asked.

‘Oh, about a hundred,’ the man replied.

Solemnly, Spurgeon said, ‘That will be enough to give account for on the day of judgment.’


Preaching Christ At Christmas

November 9, 2009

The incarnation is a wonderful theme to preach on. But preaching multiple Christmas sermons each year on a limited number of passages, can be a challenge: especially if you’ve been doing it for 20 years! 

If you are based in Scotland, you might be interested to go along to a workshop Peter Grainger is running on the 28th of November in Edinburgh: “Preaching Christ at Christmas.” Peter will be sharing some thoughts on how to approach your Christmas preaching with freshness. If you’re interested, contact Peter directly for more details:


Hopefully, for those of us further afield, Peter will be able to produce some of the material in a form that can be disseminated.


Hubbard and Duguid

November 3, 2009

By the way, my two favourite commentaries on the book of Ruth were…


The first was excellent on exegesis and historical context: arguably the best technical commentary on Ruth. The second was underpinned by such scholarship, but added a layer of application that generated good ideas for the preacher.

Also, I’m reposting those links from yesterday. Some of them were not working:

  1. The Kindness of Boaz (2:13-23)
  2. Will You Marry Me? (3:1-18)
  3. Marriage and Children (4:1-17)
  4. The Genealogy of David (4:18-22)

Ruth Sermon Series – Audio

November 2, 2009

I’ve just completed my first series in Ballymoney. Entitled “Astounding Grace”, it was a consideration of the book of Ruth.


Ruth is a short, suspenseful, and ultimately spectacular (Ruth 4:18-22!) story, showing how the grace of God can work in the most unlikely of situations. Despite sin and suffering, God blesses the small and endangered household of Naomi, all while providing the greatest King in Israel’s ancient history.  Key themes covered include providence, redemption and kindness. Here is the audio:

  1. The Kindness of Boaz (2:13-23)
  2. Will You Marry Me? (3:1-18)
  3. Marriage and Children (4:1-17)
  4. The Genealogy of David (4:18-22)

Luther: Letting the Word Act

November 2, 2009


I will preach the Word, will declare it, will write it. But I will never force or press anyone with violence, for faith can only be willingly, unconstrainedly nourished…I have done nothing; the Word everything. If I had so wished, I might have deluged Germany with blood; yea, I might have started such a game at Worms that the Emperor himself would not have been secure. I have only let the Word act.

(Christian Preachers, p 56)