Archive for the ‘Workman’s Toolbox’ Category


Most Read Posts – # 8

December 6, 2008

Its Thursday and so we kick off what I’ve called “Workman Watch.” This first sermon is from a preacher I very much admire, Tim Keller. The sermon is called “The Prodigal Sons” and was preached here in Scotland at the Tron in Glasgow.


Let me give one disclaimer before plunging in: this will not be a detailed sermon critique. Individuals like Keller have bags more preaching talent than I’ll ever have! What I do hope is to glean something from their examples of expository preaching.

Perhaps some of you might take time to listen to the talk and compare notes with me on what you found helpful. (Or if you’ve heard them elsewhere, do thrown in your tuppenceworth in the comments section.)


What was the opening sentence?
The parable that we’ve just read is very famous, and is almost always called the parable of the Prodigal son; but Jesus does not call it that.”

What was Keller’s introduction about? Drawing out the point that if you focus mainly on the younger brother you will sentimentalize the parable.

What was the structure of the sermon?
1) That there are two worldly approaches to God which are wrong
* Moralistic approach (elder brother):
* Relativistic approach (younger brother):

2) There are therefore two ways to be lost and alienated from God
* Trying to be very good
* Trying to be very bad
But in both cases, trying to be your own Saviour.

3) There is only one way home

The main point? The only way to approach God is on the basis of sheer grace.

Did he deal thoroughly with the text? Keller works hard to bring the original context to life. For example, he shows at length how the original hearers would not have heard this parable in a sentimental way: “this parable was not told to warm our hearts, but explode every human category of what it means to approach God.” He also carefully explains from the preceding section how Jesus was aiming this parable at a dual audience: thus the tax collectors equate to the younger brother, while the Pharisees correlate to the older. Furthermore, Keller eventually covers the scope of the text, without unpacking every detail.

What aspects of Keller’s style were helpful? The overarching thing that strikes me is Keller’s clarity. As I reflect on why this is so, I note a couple of things: 1) He puts his sermon signposts up front, even before his first point. This always aids to help with clarity. That said, the main points don’t reveal too much (the sermon is basically inductive) and therefore some suspense is retained. 2) Keller’s use of language is mainly plain and he is particularly adept at using terms which the unchurched person can understand. Nevertheless, he does use the odd big word. eg. “moralistic and relativistic approach” might not be understood by an uneducated person. And 3) Dr Keller frequently uses restatement: saying the same truth in different words to aid the listener’s comprehension.

What was the application? A challenge for the individual: “There’s more of the elder brother in us than we like to think, and less of Jesus in us than we like to think.” A challenge for the church: “Why are tax collector types not as attracted to our churches as they were to Jesus?” ‘Is it because we are like the Pharisees’, Keller asks? Keller’s ultimate remedy is that we need to understand grace – and for that, we have to focus on the true elder brother, Jesus Christ.

What was the closing sentence of the sermon? “We will never stop being elder brothers in our hearts, until we see the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ.”

If there’s one thing you could take from Keller into your own preaching, what would it be? Its hard to isolate one aspect, but I think Keller challenges me as to how well I connect the two worlds of the bible and contemporary culture. Keller’s ability to study the bible is, of course, foundational. But its his use of the bible in a sermon like this to diagnose the culture around him that makes him especially helpful to listen to.

For more free Tim Keller sermons, click here.
For Tim Keller sermons you pay for, click here.
Over at Reformissionary Steve McCoy has lots of stuff on all things Keller.


Pastoral Discernment From a Lay Perspective

January 18, 2008

Along with many of you, I’ve very much enjoyed Tim Challies recent blog tour on the theme of discernment. However, I found today’s especially helpful as a pastor.

“Today the tour moves to Church Matters, the blog of 9Marks Ministries. They asked the following two questions: Tim, from your perspective as a layperson, what steps would you like to see more pastors taking to grow in discernment? And, Are there specific areas of church life and pastoring in which you find yourself wishing pastors would exercise greater discernment? Read my answers here” (quote from


Other Workman’s Toolbox
On Children’s Sermons
Remarkable Preaching
Preaching Today Book of the Year
Trueman on the Person and Work of Christ
On Calvin’s Preaching
Beware of Default Illustrations
The A-list of Preaching
My 11 Favourite Biographies
Pure Church – Reading List on Evangelism
A Caution to Preachers
Calvin Planted Mega-Churches


A Bit Less Preaching, Please?

December 13, 2007

Today’s Featured Toolbox is a provocative post I came across this week. Though I disagree with some of what Gordon Cheng proposes, I found it stimulating to reconsider why declarative preaching must have a central place. How would you respond to Cheng’s points? Not least – I’d be interested for any Richard Baxter experts to comment!


A bit less on preaching, please.

I’ve never really agreed with the evangelical emphasis on preaching, and never quite understood how evangelicals make so much more of this than of other forms of teaching. It seems to me that the emphasis on public preaching, or should I say perhaps ‘pulpiteering’—as against private and personal ministry through, for example, conversation or Bible study groups—is quite unbiblical.

So I was heartened today to pick up Richard Baxter’s old but still revolutionary work The Reformed Pastor to discover that he agrees with me. He makes this sharp and relevant observation about ministry through conversation (or as he calls it, ‘interlocution’):

“I hope there are none so silly as to think this conference is not preaching. What? doth the number we speak to make it preaching? Or doth interlocution make it none? Surely a man may as truly preach to one, as to a thousand. And… if you examine, you will find that most of the preaching recorded in the New Testament, was by conference, and frequently interlocutory, and that with one or two, fewer or more, as opportunity served. Thus Christ himself did most commonly preach.”

Baxter gets around the difficulty I’m thinking about by redefining preaching, which is fair enough, I suppose. The quote is from p. 228 of my Banner of Truth edition, which I got for just under five bucks, a little while ago.

UPDATE: Gordon Cheng has added a helpful clarification comment in this posts comments section. Also, R. Scott Clark of Heidelblog has already replied on his blog and in our comments section. Here is the crux of it:

The practical reason that evangelicals still emphasize preaching, to the degree that emphasis still exists, is because they haven’t yet rid themselves of the every last vestige of the theology, piety, and practice of the Reformation or the original evangelicalism (as distinct from modern evangelicalism).

The original evangelicals, i.e. the Protestant Reformers emphasized the public proclamation of the Word (law and gospel) because they were convinced from Scripture that God has made promises specifically to use and bless the preached gospel (Rom 10). We summarize this understanding of the preached gospel by speaking of the preaching of the gospel as a “means of grace” (medium gratiae). It is our understanding of Paul’s teaching in Romans and elsewhere (e.g. 2 Tim 4:2) that the Spirit of God operates with and through Word (in the law) as it is preached to convict sinners of their sin and jeopardy before the all-holy God and through the Word (in the gospel) to raise them to life (regeneration), to give them faith, and to unite them to Christ.

Thus, in Heidelberg Catechism Q. 65 we confess that the Holy Spirit “works faith faith in our hearts through the preaching of the Holy Gospel and confirms it through the use of the holy sacraments.” We have a high view of preaching as a means of grace because Paul had a high view of the “foolishness” of gospel preaching (1 Cor 2). It doesn’t seem like it ought to “work” and if you’re looking for big numbers then call Bill Hybels or Bob Schuller. They know how to pull a crowd. If you want to know about preaching, however, look at Paul at Mars Hill. He preached the law and then he preached the gospel. Did he get a great response? Well Dennis (Dionysius) and a few others (Acts 17:34) followed him. That’s what happens sometimes. The Spirit blows where he wills (John 3).

What’s the big deal about preaching? It’s the vehicle, the instrument, the means by which God the Spirit brings his elect to faith. Otherwise, it’s not big deal.

Other Toolbox This Week
Challies Top 7 Books of 2007
Alliteration Device!
Puritan 2008
Baxter – How to Spend a Day With God
Allan Jacob’s on Pullman’s Trilogy
MP3 – Carson on Jeremiah
The Foolishness of Preaching
Some Excellent Historical Theology Books
Os Guinness on Evangelical Relevance
Geoff Grogan MP3: Expository Preaching – Some Important Principles
I almost Died – Noel Piper
Derek Thomas – Puritan Preaching and Conscionable Preaching
4 Reasons It Might be Worth Visiting Israel
News Report: British Ignorance Over Nativity
That Time Before You Speak
Philip Ryken Sermons List
Why Join a Small Church
You Might be a Bi-Vocational Pastor If…
G Campbell Morgan: A Preacher Come from God (pt 2)
G Campbell Morgan: A Preacher Come from God (pt 1)
What Sam Storms Believes


Dever Lecturing on Preaching

November 30, 2007

This week’s Featured Toolbox was actually included in last weeks list. Worried as I am that it may have been lost in the shuffle, I wanted to ensure you didn’t miss Mark Dever’s excellent lectures on preaching. These three talks were delivered for the 2007 John Reed Miller Lecture Series.


Lecture 1 – the Symbol and Significance of Preaching
Lecture 2 – The Use of Preaching
Lecture 3 – The Art of Preaching

Other Toolbox This Week
CJ Mahaney on Biblical Masculinity and Fatherhood

Preaching in Spite of Persecution in India
I-Pod Food for Pastors
Phil Johnson pt 3 – the Word of God is precise
Breaking Writing Rules for Manuscripts
New Sovereign Grace Music Website
Crawford Loritts MP3 Sermons
Patrick Sookhdeo on the Challenge of Islam
Nine Marks Audio: Interview with Derek Thomas
Books for A Preacher’s Soul
Forum: On Choosing What to Preach Next
Elements of Good Preaching: the Life Study
Phil Johnson pt 2 – the word of God is penetrating
Phil Johnson pt 1 – the Word of God is powerful
Conrad Mbewe on Pastoral Purity
Greidanus: Six Steps to Historical Redemptive Sermons
Chuck Swindoll: Discipline in Study
Sinclair Ferguson: How the Pulpit Shapes the Pew
Steve Lawson: the God Driven Church (HT: Resolve)
Piper Responds to Witherington
Preach Like It May Be Their Last
Witherington Takes on Christian Hedonism
Good Reasons to Crossreference
Imposing Points on a Text?
Lloyd Jones Summary of Ephesians
Basic References: Recommendations
Piper: Multi site Church Models

(Workman’s Toolbox is featured each day at the top right hand corner of Unashamed Workman. Four or five links are added each day)


More from the Reformission Rev

November 23, 2007

Previously I’ve heard mixed reviews about Mark Driscoll. But I can honestly say that I’ve been impressed by his gracious demeanour and powerful preaching on his recent visit to Scotland. Along with our senior pastor, today I had the great privilege of meeting Mark and showing him around our church building.


So this Friday I thought I would link you to a few more Driscoll resources. Once more, I cannot recommend Mark’s recent talk on the atonement highly enough. Also find below Mark’s two recent series: one on Nehemiah, the other on Philippians. The vigilant will notice that Mark’s last sermon was preached in absentia: via video recording!


The Rebel’s Guide to Joy (Acts 16; Phil 1:1)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Loneliness (Phil 1:1b-11)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Suffering (Phil 1:12-18)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Death (Phil 1:19-30)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Humility (Phil 2:1-11)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Temptation (Phil 2:12-30)
The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Conflict (Phil 3:1-11)


Nehemiah 1:1-11a
Nehemiah 1:11b-2:8
Nehemiah 2:9-20
Nehemiah 3:1-32 (Pain and Progress)
Nehemiah 4:15-23 (The Sword and the Trowel)
Nehemiah 5:1-13 (Wealth and Worship)
Nehemiah 5:14-19 (Humility and Hospitality)
Nehemiah 6: 1-14 (Diversion and Deception)
Nehemiah 6:15-7:5 (Completion, Critics and Continuation)
Nehemiah 7:5-73 (Multitudes and Money)
Nehemiah 8:1-12 (Air War and Ground War)
Nehemiah 8:13- 18 (Religion and Revival)
Nehemiah 9:1-27 (Prayer and Repentance)
Nehemiah 9:30-10:37 (Change and Covenant)
Nehemiah 11:1-36 (Urban and Missional)
Nehemiah 12:1-26 (Movements and Bricks)
Nehemiah 12:27-43 (Dedication and Delight)
Nehemiah 12:44-47 (Ministry and Money)
Nehemiah 13:1-14 (Anger and Action)
Nehemiah 13:15-22 (Work and Worship)
Nehemiah 13:23-31 (Fathers and Fighting)


Other Toolbox This Week

Piper – Multi church site model
Why to Leave a Church – #1. Preaching
An Irish Powerhouse In Preaching
Mark Dever – Lectures in Preaching
Great Themes in Puritan Preaching
Carson – Preaching the Whole Counsel of God
Piper Address to ETS on Justification


The Fulwood Conference

November 16, 2007

I’m fighting the sin of jealousy this week. First a friend from church notified me that he would be attending the “Fullwood Conference.” Then, after the event, he pointed me to the audio. This surely was to punish me since I now realise what I missed! Carl Trueman, Dan Strange, Edward Lobb and Graham Benyon all gave talks on the theme of the church. Here are the treasured links:

Carl Trueman
– The Church in History: part one; part two

Dan Strange
– The Church in Culture: part one; part two

Graham Benyon
– Understanding the church: part one; part two

Edward Lobb
Titus 1:1- 2:10; Titus 2:1 – 3:7

Other Toolbox This Week

Piper’s Address to ETS on Justification
Bible Works or Logos?
Rob Bell – the gods aren’t angry?
Roger Nicole: How to Deal with those who Differ From us
Some Monday Reflections on a Longwinded Sunday
Grudem’s Advice on Preaching The Word
Joel Beeke on Targeting the Audience
An A-Z Outline!!
Q and A With Prof Patrick Collinson
Is there No End To This Man’s Talents – JP Does Dishes!
Three Common Preaching Errors
Choosing the Right Bible College – Brand
Top 10 Things To Say When Returning Home from Conference With Book Plunder
Worship Leading Seminars: Bob Kauflin


Expository Preaching Conference Audio

November 9, 2007

My i-pod’s going to be full for the next few weeks with the link I’m sharing with you today. This week’s Featured Toobox is the Expositors Conference recently held at Christ Fellowship Baptist Church with Steve Lawson and John MacArthur. If you couldn’t be there (!), the free audio below is the next best thing:


Famine in the Land Dr. Steven J. Lawson (Amos 8:11)
The Invincible Weapon Dr. Steven J. Lawson (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Why I Am Committed to Expository Preaching I Dr. John MacArthur
The Ten How To’s of Expository Preaching Dr. Steven J. Lawson
Why I Am Committed to Expository Preaching II Dr. John MacArthur
Expositors Conference Question and Answer Session
What is Expository Preaching? Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Other Toolbox This Week
Review: Commentary on the New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament (Beale and Carson)
New Nine Marks Newsletter: Church and Transforming Culture
Westminster Preaching Conference Audio
Top Priorities When Looking For Scottish Pastors
20 Books To Read on Christians and Culture
S. Lewis Johnson Resources
Put It On Your Christmas List: Reverse Greek Interlinear
Bible and Reference Survey 2007
Books For Your Bride From Mine
Expository Misunderstanding
Two Different Views of Mission
Preachers, Politicians and the Spoken Word
Rethink Christmas @ Church
Video: A Call To Preachers
Scott Hamilton: Problems With Pastoral Training
Review: Expository Genius of Calvin
Ephesians – Best Book in the Bible?
Good Questions About A Pastor’s Home


Preaching Points Podcast

November 2, 2007

This really seems worth a listen: the Preaching Points Podcast. Coming out of Gordon Conwell Seminary, you’ll find here short audio clips on stand alone topics from the likes of Haddon Robinson, Jeff Arthurs and Scott Gibson.


Other Toolbox This Week

Good Questions About Pastor’s At Home
Facilitating Evangelism in the Church
Article: Calvin the Evangelist
New Books By Tripp and Welch
Audio: Life of Martin Luther (John Piper)
Reformation Day Synopsium
Evaluating Outlines
Worship and Idolatry
Open Air Preaching Doesn’t Work?
Audio: A Great Message for Pastors
Useful for Preachers – Argument Analysis
Gestation of the Biblical Text
Peter Grainger – Preaching Advice
Audio: How to Make the Most of Listening to Preaching (Piper)
Edward Lobb – Sharpening Up Your Preaching
Excellent Article: Fellowship Rediscovered
My Children: Blessings not Burdens!
Hanging out to the Glory of God
More than Preaching: A Vision for Shepherding God’s People


Expository Preaching Seminars

October 26, 2007

Being on holiday last week means that its a bumper Workman’s Toolbox today. My featured item this week is some practical thoughts on Expository Preaching by Dr Robert C Stone (Hillcrest Chapel, Washington).

The series of notes covers the sessions: The Introduction to Expository Preaching, The Preparation and Process of Expository Messages, The Principles of Interpretation and A Potpourri of Expository Questions and Texts.

Other Workman’s Toolbox

* Audio: Daniel Akin on Expository Preaching @ Southeastern
* The Cross: Your Greatest Criticism and Affirmation
* On Writing Book Reviews: Reinke
* Bible Exposition – Verse by Verse
* Why I Preach
* 9 Marks Workshop – Online for Free
* Choosing Stand Alone Sermons
* Lloyd Jones – Specialize in Preaching Jesus
* Joel Osteen and The Glory Story
* Applicationed To Death
* Better Bible Study Throughout The Church
* Audio: Alistair Begg, the Basics of Expository Preaching part A
* The Basics of Expository Preaching
* Expository Thoughts – Your Favorite Series
* Resolve Update
* Geoffrey Grogan – Advice for New Preachers
* How To Identify A Reliable Carrier of the Word
* How to Know Whether Preaching is For Me – Christopher Ash
* Dawkins and Lennox – Dawkins Debate Audio
* Able to Teach? – Pure Church
* Glorifying God With Your Senses
* Interview with Geoff Thomas
* Mohler: Recovering a Bold Vision of Expository Preaching
* Where and When Does One Pick Up the Faculty of Good Preaching?
* Reflecting on How We Read the News
* Thabiti: Leaders, Are We Hospitable?
* Perpetual Preaching Student?
* The Day I Missed The Point: MacArthur
* Interview with Ron Gleason: Fulfill the Ministry the Lord Has Given You


Word and Image

October 5, 2007

My American friend Tim Bridges has an interesting, short post over at the Conventicle this week entitled: “Word and Image.” It explains why the Puritans downplayed the place of image (quite contrary to what most homileticians seem to be suggesting today).

(Image courtesy of

Other Toolbox this Week

10 Things I’ve Learned About Ministry – Jim Martin
How NOT to Take Sermon Criticism
Grudem Lectures – Doctrine of the Atonement 1
The Life of David Brainerd Audio Book (HT: Desiring God blog)
Deconstructing Defeater Beliefs – Keller
Warnock Interviews Dever
How Do Ideas Develop?
Keller – Moralism vs Christ Centered Exposition
Expositors Conference 1
MacArthur: Messengers or Manipulators?
EY Mullins Lectures on Preaching
October at Beginning With Moses
Draw Your Child’s Heart Out
Desiring God ‘Stand’ Conference Audio
Audio: Certainties that Drive An Enduring Ministry (MacArthur)
Audio: Piper and MacArthur Interviewed
Public Prayer Tips From John Newton
Preaching Wrath to Those It Angers


‘Preach The Word’ Audio

September 28, 2007

The first “Preach the Word” seminar took place on September 15th 2007 in Harper Memorial Church, Glasgow. Whilst sadly unable to make it myself, I have already been blessed by the audio they have made available. Dominic Smart, a gifted expositor from Aberdeen gave the talks.

(Photo courtesy of Preach the word)

“God uses preaching like nothing else” (audio)
– pdf outline
Exposition of Acts 8:26-40 (audio)
– pdf outline
Dominic’s Notes on Sermon Preparation pdf


Other Toolbox This Week
Respectable Sins: Jerry Bridges New Book
On Sermon Subscription Series
Review: Its all in how you Tell it (Haddon Robinson)
Not Indespensible, Pastor
Taylor, Duncan and Thomas Discuss Forgiveness
A Friendly Discussion With Expository Thoughts Over Apostolic Hermeneutics
Reading the Psalms With Wenham
Challies – Five Years!
An Exercise For Preachers
Interview With Iain D Campbell: Watching Life and Doctrine
Piper Video: How Failed Kingship in Israel Ultimately Glorified Christ
Hate Commitees?
Who are You Preaching To?


Reformissionary – How I Prepare To Preach

September 22, 2007

This Saturday’s Featured Toolbox comes from Steve McCoy [correction] (of Reformissionary blog) and highlights his sermon preparation steps.

Other Toolbox This Week

Hercules Collins on Lazy Preachers
Hearing Is Not Like Reading
Weaver – I Need Preaching Too
A New Song from Newsong
Martin Luther As A Preacher
Gospel Coalition Books RSS
Good Books for Young Believers
Three Pastoral Concerns in 800 Words
Know What You Preach, Or Sit Down
In Praise Of Proclamation
The Pastor’s Role In Missions
Thoughts On Recycling Sermons
More To Ministry Than Preaching
Read More and Read Better
New Genderblog
Jesus, I’m NOT ‘In Love’ With You
Piper and Driscoll Video: Scripture and Preaching
10 Reasons to Read Calvin’s Institutes
Find Illustrations
When Cross Referencing Is Wasteful
Taking Preaching to the Next Level
Pastor’s Bookshelf Review