Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Classics of Christian Devotions

Besides Intermediate Greek, I am taking a seminary class called "Classics of Christian Devotions." The writers range from Athanasias in the 4th century to Thomas Merton in the 20th century. The class is in a seminar format, so I won't have to read the entire work of 13 different writers. My particular writer is Thomas a' Kempis and his Imitations of Christ.

We read Brother Lawrence's Practice in the Presence of God as a group to get the gist of what the professor wanted in class participation. Brother Lawrence troubles me because of his lack of scripture reference. In fact, he doesn't mention the Bible in any form at all. Also, he all but shuns any sort of personal devotions other than what was required of him. That strikes me as funny (weird, not funny=ha ha). Why would a man of God who is seeking as close a relationship as possible with God not make any mention whatsoever of scripture or its impact on his life?

Any way, let me start by throwing this question out to you? What devotional reading do you like? I like scripture reading along with some classic literature, whether it is Augustine, Kempis, Puritan writers or C. S. Lewis.

Monday, January 28, 2008

National Kazoo Day

In case you didn't realize it and left your kazoo at home, it is National Kazoo Day promoting long life by puckering up and playing a kazoo!

Preaching Update

I had the opportunity to preach last night. Since I answered God's call to preach a couple of years ago, I have done a lot of studying and reading on expository preaching. I don't get many opportunities at the moment, so I savor each one.

The text I used last night was Matthew 9:35-38. I have blogged previously concerning this text so I won't continue those comments. More so, I am , I guess, evaluating the experience. First off, I don't think I bathed the sermon in enough prayer. Of course, when do you know that it is enough? Still, I may have relied less on my notes and more on the Holy Spirit during the message.

In preparation, I think I exegeted the passage well, studied commentaries and read other sermons (Parker, MacLaren, Spurgeon). I got to use my new found Greek skills to parse and translate the text. The emphasis of Christ's Compassion was God's, not mine. When I first looked at the text, I wanted a missionary sermon. I was quickly reminded that the command was to beg the Lord of the harvest for more workers. The command to go would come later in Matthew. I could hear my pastor saying, "Preach the text. If it ain't there, don't preach it!"

I wrote out the sermon, then typed out the manuscript, then typed out notes and formatted it in a way that I could leave the page in my Bible. I practiced it vocally 3 times. Once at home and twice at church.

The other times I have preached, I left the Bible on the podium. Basically because I had a large study Bible that seemed to weigh 8 pounds and got heavier the longer I held it. For Christmas, I bought a smaller version of the translation I like with no study notes and wide margins. It weighs about a pound and much easier to hold in my left hand. That is how I preached last night, with the Bible in my left hand. Then I was free to move around the stage and not tied to the podium. Now, I am still getting used to this, so I didn't wander too far, but I had the sense of freedom.

I did sense the presence of the HS as I preached and my main prayer before the service was that Christ would be seen and not me. Public speaking is still fairly new to me (I have done a lot of acting, but that is totally different) and I am very conscious of hesitations, "uh", and the like. I thought I did a much better job last night in that regard. If this was a preaching class at seminary, I would give myself a B- for the overall scheme of things. There is much more to learn, get used to, and polish.

My wife said I did a good job (that is what wives are for) but that I used too depressing of an illustration (also part of their job description). I thought it worked! When you are talking about people who are distressed and dispirited, there aren't any "happy" illustrations!

Now I look forward to the next chance to "Preach the Word!"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Books vs. Software vs. Internet

I love technology, video games, IPods, synthesizers, and gadgets. Yet, I love books. I like the feel of a book in my hand. Turning a page is more preferable to hitting the "Next" button. There has been some discussion recently of this idea. Expository Thoughts delved into this matter when a question was raised concerning the sale of software from one user to another. Rolland defends the use of a library over software.

The only reason why I would want software is for my Greek class to parse verbs and diagram sentences. Otherwise, I doubt I would use it much. I will have the opportunity to purchase Logos at the seminary at 50% off. That is still about $400. All I know is that when the lights go out, I can still light a candle, open a book and use pencil and paper to write out a sermon.

What are your thoughts? Are you a software guy, through and through, or a P&P guy? (Pencil and paper)

The Result of Christ's Compassion

I would like to conclude the thoughts I have posted on the compassion of Christ from Matthew 9:36-38. After Jesus has looked upon the distressed and dispirited sheep without a shepherd, He turns to the disciples and tells them to look. Jesus mixes metaphors going from livestock to wheat, but the meaning is the same. The fields are ripe and plentiful. There are many souls that need to hear the Gospel and respond to the Gospel.

At this point, does He tell them to go do the work? Does He tell them to preach the word? Does He tell them to knock on the doors? No, He tells them to pray. He commands them to pray. Literally, He commands them to beg God to send workers. The Greek word that is typically translated as "pray" or "beseech" means to beg and Jesus used the imperative form of the verb. He isn't asking them to pray. He isn't giving them a suggestion. He is commanding them to beg the Lord of the harvest to call out workers to respond to the task at hand.

I tend to jump to conclusions that an action must take place first. This is a reminder that prayer needs to precede anything we do, because we may NOT be called to do the task. We are told to pray that God would send the workers. He will send those who have been prepared for a certain task.

Several years ago, I was leading a team from my church to Brazil to build a church with a ministry called Christian Missions Unlimited. 6 weeks before we were to leave, 4 people backed out. I was sick about it and dreaded telling the ministry that we would be short-handed. The ministry asked 4 men from a church in Alabama. One of these men did not have a passport, let alone a valid visa. These 4 men prayed about it and God picked each one to go. There were construction situations and relational situations that required each of these men. Without them, certain ministry would not have happened. We need to pray that God will bring the right people for the task.

That also means, that we need to be listening to that still, small voice that is calling us to a task. When the Lord of the harvest calls, you must respond. Souls are at stack. It is not about you, not about me, but God's work. God's sheep. The flock that is wandering about without a Shepherd need to hear the Gospel. Their only chance may be the one that God gives me or you.

The Compassion of Christ. Think upon it this day. How will you respond?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Yet here is a man who looks upon a multitude and His heart is filled with pity. He did not say, "How great, what force, what wondrous resources of genius, and strength, and money, and power of every degree!" His heart filled with tears; He said, "It is a sad sight." If He had taken any other view of the multitude, he could never have been the Savior of the world.
- Joseph Parker

Friday, January 18, 2008

Compassion of Christ

This has been a slow week posting wise for me. I have been doing a lot of thinking about my sermon in a couple of Sundays. Since I don't have a chance to preach on a regular basis at the moment, I do a lot of reading and thinking about what I might like to preach on: a topical sermon or which book to preach through. I haven't wanted to get too far ahead in preparing my sermon, because I want it to be fresh and at the fore front of my mind. (I also have limited short-term memory space!)

There has been a text that God placed on my heart over a year ago. I have preached a few times since then and the time was never right for this text. Now I know that God is saying to preach this text. It is Matthew 9:35-38. This is the pivotal point of Christ's ministry. In chapters 5-7, Jesus preaches His amazing sermon on the mount. Then in chapters 8-9, He spends a lot of time teaching, performing miracles, calling some disciples and traveling all over Galilee. It is at this juncture that Jesus, in His humanness, seems to be overwhelmed, and in His divine nature, He felt a level of compassion for the people that we will never be able to experience.

To me, the key to this passage is the compassion of Christ. The Creator of all things is looking upon His children that were created in His image, and sees the lost and dying world on a whole other level. When I am at a sporting event, I see the players, the workers, the people. I see the loud, boisterous fans, the laid back fans, the drunks, the rich, the beautiful and the average Joe. Christ sees the heart. He sees the woman who has agonized for a decade because of the abortion she had at 16. He sees the man who has had numerous affairs behind the back of an unsuspecting wife. He sees the young kids that are cutting themselves, sniffing glue and hooked on pornography. He sees the old man who hasn't talked to his oldest son in 17 years and would like to say he is sorry before he dies. He sees the many people who are ravaged with cancer but don't realize it. He sees the people that will die in the next week and have never heard His gospel. This is only the outer layer of the compassion that Christ has for us.

What would you do? What would you change in your life? Think about it. I am.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sermon Preparation

Peter Mead's latest posts have been about sermon preparation.

Abstract truth served up without some form of illustration is like a rich steak without accompanying vegetables - after a while it is just “too much.” So generally we look for ways to have truth touch down on the tarmac of reality.

Blogroll Addition

I have recently come across Pastor and People while visiting one of other blogs and have added a link to the site. Dustin Benge is the author of the blog and is highlighting some good audio books today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Effective Preachers of 2007

I saw this top 10 list of preachers at Pastor and People today. This goes along with my earlier post the 10 people that greatly influenced my life in 2007. This is a list of just preachers that I have listened to this past year that I really enjoy.

  1. Dr. Charles E. (Bobby) Holt - Senior pastor of Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs.
  2. Mark Dricscoll - Preaching pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle
  3. Rev. Greg Teel - Children's Ministries pastor who fills the pulpit when Dr. Holt is out of town.
  4. Colin Adams - You must listen to his teaching in Jeremiah. Excellent!
  5. G. Campbell Morgan - I love his writing and sermons and I read through his commentary of Psalms this year.
  6. Joseph Parker, Charles H. Spurgeon and Alexander MacLaren - contemporaries in London during the mid to late 1800s. I read a lot of their sermons throughout the year.

I really haven't listened to a lot of other preachers this past year. I am thankful for these men ministering to me during this past year.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Traditionalism vs. Innovation vs. Truth

I am currently reading Mark Driscoll's book "The Radical Reformission." I enjoy listening to his teaching at Mars Hill in Seattle and decided to read up on him and what he has to say. So far, I am not disappointed. In the chapter titled "And now, the News," Mark tackles the traditionalist view versus the view of an innovator and how both can hit the mark.

  1. Traditionalism
    1. "The result of traditionalism is a Christianity that has all the right answers to all the wrong questions."
    2. "There has never been a "good old day" since the Great Thud in Eden. Every age is filled with sin, sinners, God's love, and work to be done. Each generation has its resistance to the Gospel and each culture is equally far from God because of sin and equally close to God because of His love. As Solomon repeatedly says, there is indeed nothing new under the sun." both quotes from page 51
  2. Innovation
    1. Innovation, when not tethered to the truth of the Gospel, leads to heresy. Every heretic in the history of the church who took relevance to the culture beyond the bounds of orthodoxy...exchanged the truth of God for a lie." page 53
  3. Truth
    1. "The underlying motivations for both traditionalism and innovation are a sense of homelessness and a sense of lostness. In our fast-paced and ever-changing culture of insanity, many Christians are prone either to cling to yesterday or to run headlong into tomorrow searching for a home. What's our goal? Not to perpetuate a tradition or embrace an innovation. The goal of reformission is Jesus, to faithfully walk with Him on each step of our journey as we head toward the home He has prepared for us. Anything and everything less than life in Him, ministry through Him, glory to Him, by grace from Him as we journey with Him must continually be repented of as a sin, regardless of our history or degree of hipness." [emphasis mine] page 53

Do you want tradition? Do you want the latest fad? Or do you want Truth?

Integrity and Rationalization

Jerry Wragg concludes his 3 part study of integrity. It is an excellent read. But beware, you may be convicted.

Those who neglect the issues of the heart must develop elaborate ways of working around the truth. Like a master chess player, a leader who rationalizes sin carefully calculates every evasive move and counter-argument. He may appear composed to his followers, but deep within there is a cauldron of desires being cleverly excused in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Thanks and Remembrance

I have started translating Philippians for my Greek class that starts Jan 21. We have homework that is due the first day and a quiz to prepare for. Yippee! My first assignment is translating and diagramming (T&D) Philippians 1:3-6. I worked on verses 3-4 last night. I think, when I am in the midst of T&D, I won't be able to look at the passage theologically. But I have been looking at it this morning and searching for sermon points.

The main point is that Paul is thankful for the church in Philippi. Every time God places them on Paul's heart, he is thankful for them. Because (there is no 'oti in the Greek at this point. It is my inclusion of "because") God has placed them on his heart, Paul joyfully prays for them. Why? Due to their participation in the gospel from the first day that he was with them to the present. Then verse 6 might be the main topic for the whole letter. "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." The rest of the letter is encouraging them to live as Christ, to be like Christ, to strive for the perfection that we cannot attain until our bodies and spirits are glorified.

This letter doesn't ask what I am thankful for, but who am I thankful for. Who do I pray for in joy? My daughter would be the first to come to mind. She accepted Christ as her Savior when she was 5. She understood the basics and has grown, spiritually, since then. I am always encouraged when she talks about Pastor David's messages at youth group on Wednesday nights. David is an excellent youth preacher. A youth guy that can do expository preaching and captivate the kids for 30 minutes is amazing!

Another is a young lady in my singles class. She has traveled with the church to teach ESL in Croatia twice and again this year. She continues to grow in the Lord and I am thankful for her leadership in the church.

There are two others in my singles class: one is a teacher and the other is a paramedic in the fire department. I enjoy watching their spiritual development and pray for them all the time. The fireman struggles with a non-Christian environment, but I believe they are beginning to accept his conversion more. That is a prayer request.

God's word is powerful and I am learning more and more. I will T&D verses 5-6 tonight and then start going through my vocabulary words. Don't forget to pray and be thankful.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I am teaching on choices Sunday morning. In Genesis 12-13, Abram and Lot have some big choices to make. Abram's main choice is to obey and trust God when God tells him to leave his country and relatives to go to a place he had never been before (the Promised Land, Canaan). Why should Abram trust God? God gave him several reasons:
  1. "I will make you a great nation."
  2. "I will bless you"
  3. "I will make your name great"
  4. "You will be a blessing to others"
  5. "I will bless those who bless you"
  6. "I will curse those who curse you" (In essence, "I will protect you")
  7. "In you, all the families of the earth will be blessed"
In chapter 13 Abram gives Lot the choice of land. Lot chooses unwisely. Abram takes the Promised Land, Canaan. Lot sees the lush Jordan Valley and wants it for himself. He does not seek God's council. He is selfish and makes a rash decision. He does not care that Sodom is the main city of the valley.

Have you ever found yourself in Lot's shoes? I know I have. I have chosen unwisely with bad results. I have chosen hastily without talking to my family or God...with bad results. Wise decisions have been few and far between. I have learned my lessons, but I need to be more attentive to God's promises and blessings. When I have chosen wisely, I have been blessed.

How will you choose today?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Jerry Wragg has some good thoughts on integrity at Expository Thoughts.

Where there is doctrinal compromise there has already been a contentedness “with unbiblical notions that raise [the] comfort level and either justify or overlook…sins.”[1] Integrity is having an untarnished moral character both publicly and when no one else is around.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mars Rover Develops an Attitude

I found this a couple of years ago and it is still funny. It's from The Onion, so that will explain the humor. I am sure you would get loopy too after 4 earth years alone on a red planet.

New Books Just In

I just received a couple of new books:

"Radical Reformission" and "Confessions of a Reformission Rev" by Mark Driscoll

"Paul's Letter to the Philippians" by Gordon Fee

I am NOT a fan of the emerging church fad and Mark describes his church as such. The big difference between Mark and the other emergent "pastors" is that he is an expository preacher that will go for up to 90 minutes! He is a student of the Puritans and can't read enough of C.H. Spurgeon. I don't know of any other pastors from that movement that will admit to the same. I have heard several of his sermons and he is excellent.

I will be studying Philippians in Greek this semester and Gordon Fee is about as good as it gets.

Missing in Action

Sunday morning was a strange morning. It started snowing at about 6:30. The forecast was for 1-3 inches of snow in the evening. It looked nasty all morning. I have taught a 20-something singles Sunday School class for 3 years now. This was the first Sunday I had a shut out. It was just me and the class deacon sitting around, drinking coffee or cocoa and talking about the church. And waiting....waiting....waiting... Oh well, I learned a lot from preparing the lesson!

Ambassadors and Soldiers

The Thirsty Theologian is sharing some insights from John MacArthur.

Postmodernism is simply the latest expression of worldly unbelief. Its core value—dubious ambivalence toward truth—is merely skepticism distilled to its pure essence. There is nothing virtuous or genuinely humble about it. It is proud rebellion against divine revelation.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Blogroll Additions

I added two new blogs to the Daily Blog list. One is an apologetics site called Alpha and Omega Ministries. The other is The Thirsty Theologian which is another good expository preaching site.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Blog Update

John Brand's blog, "A Steward of the Secret Things", has been updated and is now Encouraging Expository Excellence. I encourage you to see his new and improved site.

The Ministry Needed for a Good Report

I will be speaking at our monthly men's breakfast next Saturday, the 12th. God has laid on my heart to use the text from 1 Thessalonians 2:3-13. Yes, I know this is a large chunk of scripture to go through. If I was preparing to preach before the congregation, I would split this up into at least 3 sermons. But the idea that God gave me was to read the 1:2-10, which is Paul giving his thanks to God for the fruit of his ministry that the church in Thessalonica was exhibiting. This section of the letter is a Good Report, a commendation of sorts. But what was behind that good report? How did Paul and company minister to these people? That's where 2:3-13 come into play. I was working on the outline this morning ( I have been praying and thinking about this for about a month) and this is what I have so far:

  1. 1:2-10 - The Commendation or Good Report
  2. 2:3-4 - We are entrusted with the Gospel
    1. We have been approved by God
    2. We have been entrusted with the Gospel
    3. We answer only to God (examined by God)
  3. 2:5-8 - A Mother is Our Greatest Influence
    1. We do not:
      1. Use flattering speech
      2. seek to gain profit (greedy)
      3. seek glory
    2. But we are gentle as a nursing mother:
      1. Having fond affection
      2. Sharing the gospel
      3. Sharing our lives
    3. Because:
      1. You became dear to us
  4. 2:9-12 - A Father is the Greatest source of Encouragement
    1. Live a godly, spirit-filled life to be an example by:
      1. Working hard
      2. Proclaiming the Gospel
      3. Being devout, upright and blameless
    2. But also:
      1. Exhorting
      2. Encouraging
      3. Imploring
    3. So that:
      1. You would walk in a manner worthy of the God that calls you
  5. The End Result
    1. For this reason:
      1. We thank God for your salvation
      2. You accepted it as the word of God not man
      3. 1:2-10

As I said, it is a lot to fit into 20 minutes, but God will get the message across. Any thoughts?