I'll be back to blogging on Saturday, August 15.
Links for your weekend reading:
- Adulation invites narcissism.
- Opposition provokes tyranny.
- Long toil induces exhaustion or depression.
Hopefully this quick checklist will be helpful as you plan your next message.
One of the most counter-cultural things you can do is become an engaged member of a faithful local church.
Below are five questions to ask before leaving your church, as well as some suggestions for addressing the issues they may raise.
Until we repent of our discontentment and trust in God’s unending kindness, porn will continue to be the fruit from a bad tree.
Here are 7 false assumptions made of me as an introvert.
My purpose today is to encourage you, more than anything else, to rest in the finished work of Christ.
Here are eight of my favorite quotes from Sensing Jesus:
On looking to upgrade our ministries — Therefore, those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then your life would really matter— Jesus has come to confound you. (p. 40)
On our desire for celebrity and advancement — He alone is the famous one. Jesus values waiting, not haste. His views regarding what it means to advance often have little to do with changing positions, sizes, or geographies. How then do we find strength and joy for the long smallness we often endure and feel? (p. 172)
On our desire for greatness — Our goal of greatness isn’t the problem. How we define the word great is. (p. 37)
On learning our limits and relinquishing our dreams — To relinquish; to admit that some dreams are presumptuous; to acknowledge that some needs outlast me; to recognize my inability to fully supply what is lacking; to admit that I am limited; to say no to competition with brothers and sisters, and to give to others what I strongly desired for myself; and in it all to still take up the pen or give voice to preach Jesus— these indicate a surrender to noble limits. (p. 19)
On the fact we'll be forgotten — God is the remembered one. But this does not mean we are forgotten— not by him. Not by a long shot. In fact, being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world. Living humanly within his remembrance is enough. (p. 19)
On greatness and humanness — Greatness, even in ministry, cannot escape humanity. How did I ever begin to assume that it was supposed to? Being human does not mar greatness; it informs it and sets its noble boundaries. (p. 30)
On feeling out of our depth — We concluded that if we were to say to God, “Father, I constantly feel out of my depth,” God would gently ask, “And why is that a problem?” (p. 36)
On the ways we lead the church — Many of us in ministry and family leadership hastily dynamite our way through obstacles and people. We create well-respected and efficient organizations and homes but leave a trail of persons and places obliterated in our wake. Ironically, we often unnecessarily hurt people in the name of building God’s organization and doing God’s work. (p. 155)
My copy of Sensing Jesus is dog-eared and marked. It's one of those books that I need to read when my motivations for ministry get out of whack. In other words, I need to read it often.
When I was young and thinking about preaching, wondering if I ever could preach, I came across The Elements of Preaching by Warren Wiersbe and David Wiersbe. There are only a few books that deserve the title life-changing, but this book deserves that status in my life.
The Elements of Preaching presents 26 simple lessons on preaching, along with 14 simple prohibitions. As the title suggests, it aims to cover the elements of the subject, "the simplest principles of a subject of study." It is not a book on how to prepare sermons. Instead, it is a book of basics that "that the preacher must grasp before he can adequately begin to use what the other books teach." It's like The Elements of Style, except it's for preaching.
Here's a sample of the simple lessons:
- Preaching is the communicating of God’s truth by God’s servant to meet the needs of people
- Keep your preaching within the bounds of what the text says and what the people can receive
- Preach to express, not to impress
- Never be satisfied with your preaching
Here's a sample of the prohibitions, "some of the sins preachers commit that we ought not commit:"
- Wasting time on long introductions to our sermons
- Basing our sermons on suppositions instead of Scripture
- Concluding sermons with vague generalities
The book concludes with a ten-point inventory for the sermon. It deserves to hang in the study of every preacher. It's simple, but foundational. It includes questions like:
- Is the message solidly based on Scripture?
- Does it exalt the Person and work of Jesus Christ?
- Will it meet the needs of people?...
I wish every sermon I'd preached passed the test of this inventory.
The entire book is less than 12,000 words, and can be read in half an hour or so. And it should be. Even though I've been preaching for a quarter of a century now, and have taught preaching, I still need to be reminded of the basics outlined in this book.
Links for your weekend reading:
Here are 7 examples of questions leaders should memorize and use often.
Here are 7 statements leaders should memorize and use often.
As leaders, we must give people an example of what it looks like to grow in the grace of Jesus.
Ten practical steps in leading change
Here are six markers to help you assess the obstacles that might exist between your sermons and the culture of your congregation.
The age of baptizing young professing children can be a contentious issue for Baptists. It is personal for parents, delicate for pastors, and forming for believers.
Consider the 7 following areas in which you have most likely witnessed such unbiblical conscience binding.
My objection to unrequested pop-ups isn’t just practical. It’s theological: Pop-ups should not be used because pop-ups do not put others first.