Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Why Christians Should End Their Search for 'Relevance'

In a culture hell-bent on undermining traditional institutions, including the church, Christian witness will look neither conservative nor liberal but resilient.

3 Types of Leaders

The three common leaders are: launch-the-business leader, run-the-business leader, and change-the-business leader.

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity

Here are 5 basic principles that I have reflected on in my own study of the Trinity that may be helpful for others.

4 Reasons Why Every Bible Reader Should Do Word Studies

In this post I want to make a case for learning the basics of doing word studies, whether we are pulling out the shovel of deeper Bible study or the trowel of basic Bible reading.

10 Reasons Why a Family Mealtime Is Vital

In my opinion, there are several obvious reasons why a family mealtime should be a high priority for our families.

The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time

The way to master more things in the long-run is to simply focus on one thing right now.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Ten Key Questions for Sermon Preparation

There are many ways to prepare a sermon. When preparing a sermon on a passage of Scripture, though, I’ve found that there are ten questions that every preacher must answer. Not every answer will show up in the sermon, but every answer is important to the shape that the sermon takes.

The first four questions center on the text. The next six questions center on how to communicate the text to our audience.

Four Questions for the Text

  1. What did this text mean for the original audience? One of the biggest mistakes that we make is to ask what the text means for us before we know what it meant for the original audience. Forget about your audience for now. Until you answer this question, you’re not ready to proceed.
     
  2. What is the central idea of this text in relation to the original audience? There are many ideas in the passage, but there is a central idea. Until we understand the central idea of the text, we’re not prepared to move forward.
     
  3. What does the passage reveal about God? Is there an attribute revealed? What implications does the author draw from what’s revealed about God?
     
  4. What does the passage reveal about humanity? In particular, what does it reveal about human need? How does this passage reveal our failures (i.e. sin) and finitude (i.e. that we are limited)?

Because I'm usually in such a rush to get to my listeners, I have to force myself to spend the time in these questions before I'm ready to move on to the next set.

Six Questions for Preaching the Text

  1. What does all of this mean for my audience? How does the central idea, as well as what’s revealed about God and about us, intersect with our condition today?
     
  2. How can I express the central idea practically and memorably? How can I express the central idea of the sermon so that people remember it, and so that it applies to people today? How can I structure the sermon so that it has one main point, with (when necessary) supporting points, rather than many different points?
     
  3. How can I raise the need? The sermon will address a need. If the listener is already aware of that need, how can I hook them? If they aren’t aware of the need, how can I make them aware? It’s good to show sympathy in how we raise the need. It’s not their need; it’s our need.
     
  4. How does the gospel answer this need? What is there in Jesus that answers this need? How does he become more beautiful and desirable in this passage?
     
  5. What does this look like today? What are the implications for how we love (desires), think (mind), and live (actions)? Important: don’t overemphasize actions at the expense of desires and thoughts.
     
  6. What objections will my hearers raise? How can I express these objections well, and answer them?

These questions take quite a bit of thought. At this point, you haven't even begun to write a manuscript (if you do that). If we answer them, though, we'll be ready to prepare a sermon that’s biblical and that connects.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Danger of Disqualification

It happened again. A prominent pastor stepped down this weekend due to moral failure. I used to be surprised when this happened. Sadly, I’m no longer surprised, although I am saddened and fearful.

“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things” (Acts 5:11). When someone falls, fear is an appropriate response. I want to fear because of truths like this:

  • It could be me. I am vulnerable.
  • Christian leaders are targets. Satan can accomplish a lot when he brings down a leader.
  • We are capable of being deceived. We can begin to tolerate sin rather than recognizing it for the danger that it is.
  • Pastors and teachers are held to higher account. We will be judged more strictly.
  • The ripple effects of sin are deadly. We can bring great dishonor to the church, and undo years of effective ministry. We can also bring great hurt to those closest to us.
  • God is to be feared. It is a serious thing to bring dishonor to our Lord.
    When someone is caught in sin, fear within the church is a very appropriate response.

Lest I Myself Should Be Disqualified

In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Paul himself recognized the danger of catastrophic moral failure. He paid careful attention to his life. He understood an important reality:

He knew that, if he did not vanquish his enemies, his enemies would destroy him…He was conscious that the smallest advantage gained by his bodily appetites might be attended with the most fatal consequences; and therefore he strove to “mortify his earthly members,” and to “crucify his flesh with its affections and lusts.” (Charles Simeon)

As John Owen said, we must make this our daily work. “Be always at it while you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

If Paul thought he could be disqualified, we should too. If he recognized the importance of taking this danger seriously, so should we.

Not Just About Sex

When we think of moral failure, we usually think of sex. Sexual sin is clearly a danger, but it’s not the only one. I’m increasingly seeing other sins take out leaders. The qualifications for elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) list a number of areas in which we can fall: marriage, self-control, use of alcohol, temper, use of money, spiritual maturity, reputation, doctrine, and more.

We’re seeing more leaders step down for reasons other than sexual immorality.

What We Can Do

Here are six actions we can take:

  1. Take the threat seriously. It could happen to you. If you don’t think it can, you’re in even greater danger.
     
  2. Take sin seriously. There’s no such thing as a little sin. “Every unclean thought would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression; and every thought of unbelief would be atheism” (John Owen).
     
  3. Know your enemy. “We need to be intimately acquainted with the ways, wiles, methods, advantages, and occasions in which lust has the victory” (Owen). Satan’s tactics aren’t new or secret, but they’re effective.
     
  4. Know your weaknesses. We’re all vulnerable in predictable ways, especially in the areas we think we’re strong. “The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness” (Oswald Chambers).
     
  5. Eliminate secrets. Sin grows in the dark. Every one of us should have at least one or two people who know the worst about us, and who love us anyway.
     
  6. Run to Christ. “The great danger in your struggle is that you will devote all of your energy to thinking true and awful things about pornography and spend no time dwelling on the true and wonderful things about Jesus” (Heath Lambert). This applies to other sins as well. "For every look at self—take ten looks at Christ!" (Robert Murray McCheyne).

The Apostle Paul recognized the danger of disqualification in his life. So should we. Like him, we should take every action possible to avoid this danger. There’s too much at stake. Let’s watch our life and doctrine for God’s sake, for the sake of those we serve, and for the sake of our very souls.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Passion for God's Word Changes the World

Note: I'm so glad to see Dr. George Guthrie blogging. I encourage you to follow him.

Mary Jones' passion for God's Word is still changing the world even today.

How to Pray in Our Time of National Crisis

Throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, we find lamentations that can serve as model for how we can respond in prayer in times of crisis.

21 Thoughts on Preaching

In no particular order, here are some reflections, musings, and bits of advice on the noble task of preaching the Word of God.

5 Strategies for Shortening Your Sermons

A good preacher, like a good director, edits material regularly.

4 Reasons Why Every Christian Ought to Know the Traditional Creeds

Below we briefly engage with four reasons he gives for why every Christian ought to know the traditional creeds.

An Unsung Evangelistic Hero

There is an unsung hero when it comes to evangelism. What is this unsung hero? It is Christian community.

The Silent Marriage-Killer

In almost a decade of counseling, I’ve seen very few marriages that aren’t hampered by shame on some level.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Why Pastors Should Pay Attention to the Trinity Debate

You may be aware of the debate that’s happening now on the nature of the Trinity. In short, some theologians disagree on whether God the Son is eternally subordinate to God the Father. Christianity Today has a summary of the issue and how it’s unfolded.

It’s tempting to think that pastors don’t need to worry about this debate. Let the scholars trade insults, and let the pastors focus on the work of ministry. I’d like to suggest, though, that pastors need to pay attention to this debate for at least three reasons.

Theology Matters

Theology matters. Nobody’s put it better than A.W. Tozer:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.

It’s easy to think that debates like this don’t matter. But this debate is about the very nature of God himself. Ideas have consequences. What we think about God has importance in itself, but it also has implications and consequences for life and ministry.

Heresy Threatens

The Nicene Creed says:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.

A quick reading misses the precision and beauty of this statement. It was written in the middle of a theological debate on the nature of Christ, and expresses theology in a way that’s beautiful and that counters heresy.

As Christianity Today points out, debates like this help the Church continue to clarify its theology. It helps us avoid heresy, which is an ever-present threat to the Church.

We Need to Grow as Theologians

I’m a pastor and a church planter. I feel way out of my depth in debates like this, and that’s a good thing. It reminds me that I need to continue to learn. It makes me want to be more careful in how I preach and teach. Pastors are, after all, public theologians.

Mark Jones tweeted:

If pastors are driven to become better theologians through debates like this, then we will have gained something valuable indeed.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.