The Gospel and busyness

How do you help people with busyness from Scripture without preaching a therapeutic, self-help message? Tim Chester gives us an example of how to do this:

For most us, our busyness is self-induced...Some of us are busy because we can’t say ‘No’. We crave people’s approval or we fear people’s rejection. The Bible calls this ‘the fear of man’. And the good news is that God is bigger. And living for him sets us free from being controlled by other people’s approval or disapproval...

There’s nothing wrong with being busy. Most of us enjoy being busy. What creates stress is the feeling that we cannot meet the expectations of others or of God. But Jesus offers rest from the burden of self-justification. We are accepted by God. This is how we find meaning and value. At the most fundamental level, Tim Chester is a justified sinner. I’m not fundamentally a writer, or preacher, or even a husband and father. I am a sinner saved by grace and all I contribute to that identity is the sin bit. I don’t need to prove myself as a sinner saved by grace. Instead I praise the gracious embrace of the Father, the complete atonement of the Son and the Spirit’s enabling presence. This is who I am. And it’s a gift. I don’t need to earn it...

‘So what can I do about my busyness?’ Perhaps that’s what you hoped I would tell you. But the question itself is flawed. What if I told you five things you could do about your busyness. Where would that leave you? With five extra things to fit into your schedule, you’d be busier than ever! Busyness is one problem we can’t solve by doing more! But the situation is not hopeless. We’re not doomed to be busy. Someone has done something about our busyness - the Lord Jesus Christ. You don’t need to ‘do’ more to overcome busyness because Jesus has already done all that is required. ‘It is finished’ he cried. ‘The job is done. The work is complete.’


Cruciformity: Entering God's Story

The Meeting House, a large church outside of Toronto that calls themselves "a church for people who aren't into church," is going through a series on how to enter Scripture as God's story.The first week outlines the story of God in six acts (MP3 audio | PDF sermon notes).The second week is on basic hermeneutics (MP3 audio | PDF sermon notes). It includes a section on three exegetical mistakes that lead to anthropocentric interpretation: over moralizing (turning narrative into moral example without regard for context), over symbolizing (turning history into allegory), and over personalizing (making everything about ME first, Jesus second).Next week's sermon is on Christocentric interpretation.This series is a good example of teaching basic Biblical interpretation to an entire congregation.

Stingy with the gospel

Jared has a great post at The Gospel-Driven Church. "Maybe something's in the air, because I'm hearing this growing dissatisfaction with Jesuslessness in the churches more and more." He quotes a post from Dave Cruver:
Now, this pastor was exegetically accurate and precise. He conveyed the meaning of the verse fairly well. He was not boring. He was engaging. His love for the people of which he is Undershepherd was compassionately displayed.But there was no GOSPEL! The pastor's main point conveyed was, "pick yourself up by your own bootstraps and keep going!"We may be exegetically accurate and precise. And we may convey the meaning of the text as the original hearers (possibly) understood it, but when it comes down to where the rubber meets the road, it's still moralism. It's a promotion of self-salvation. At the very core, both teachings are saying, "Jesus' finished work is not enough! Go and do! Save yourself!!"For a preacher of the Gospel, it is sad there was no preaching of the Gospel.
Jared concludes, "But I am hopeful. There is something in the air. Perhaps the tide is turning."

Preaching the majesty of God

The Majesty of God in the Old Testament, a recent book by Walter C. Kaiser Jr., is designed to provide preachers and teachers with insight on appreciating and preaching the majesty and greatness of God as presented in the Scriptures. Kaiser writes:
Alas, however, much of our teaching and preaching suffers from a mediocre view of God's majesty. We are too much like those chided in Psalm 50:21, who "thought [God] was altogether like [one of them]." As presenters of the Word of God, we desire to soar to the heights of the heavenlies and to lift the sights and hopes of our listeners to the very portals of the throne room of God himself; yet, more often than not, we feel frustrated and vacuous in the final results, both in our private study of the Word of God and in our listening habits on Sunday. Therefore, we and the people we serve, starve for the awesomeness, greatness, and sheer majesty of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Kaiser quotes one of Martin Luther's letters to Erasmus: "Your thoughts of God are too human."

Preaching the Gospel

Steve Mathewson has an excellent post on preaching the gospel in the coming year:
Earlier in my life and ministry, I’m afraid that when I read Romans 1:16 I only thought of the gospel in terms of conversion. But the more I read Paul, I realize that the gospel is all-encompassing because salvation is all-encompassing. Salvation has past, present, and future aspects. It involves justification, sanctification, and glorification...So when Paul challenges Philippian believers to stand firm in the face of opposition, he calls them to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel” (see Philippians 1:27). When Paul challenges Peter’s legalistic behavior in Antioch, he accuses him of “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel” (see Galatians 2:14).The point is, then, that the gospel is never something we outgrow. It’s at the core of Christian living. It’s at the core of what God is doing to save us – including the past, present, and future aspects of this great salvation. The answer to our struggles with greed, immorality, legalism, jealousy, hatred, and selfish ambition is the gospel...Whatever challenges or problems we are facing in our churches, the solution takes us back to the gospel. That’s why I’m eager to preach the Holy Scriptures which present the gospel. What a message! I’m eager to preach it in 2008 and beyond!

Daring proclamations of Christ

Jack Miller gives some advice on how to preach with power:
Make each sermon a daring proclamation of Christ, not just of the text, but of Christ in His glory and power. If I were to say what I see in many men who foster the bland saltless model...they just do not lift up or herald Christ Himself in their sermons. Since they are not heralding Christ, they do not receive Christ's power. Will Christ empower a man to make an intellectual discourse when the preacher has no real intent to preach Christ? He can give the intellectual content via his own strength and zeal. The delivery is his own and he can do what he intends to do. I have had some experience of this. But this is not the preaching of the New Covenant. We are a city of good news. We are commanded to lift up our voices with strength and to get up to a high mountain to proclaim this good news. Exposition minus the heralding has all of Christ's foolishness in it, but none of Christ's power. (The Heart of a Servant Leader)