Among all the other wonderful blessings of Christmas, at its core, this season is a celebration of the gift of life through the birth of a baby. Of course, any time a baby is born it’s a glorious event worthy of a decent party. My wife and I have 4 children, and our friends and family have greeted each birth with joy and excitement, and rightly so. ..
“Beauty will save the world,” wrote Dostoyevsky in his novel, The Idiot¹. Over the years, many theologians have played with the statement, seeking to tease from it whatever truth they can find. Certainly, when viewed through a Christian lens, Dostoyevsky’s words commend themselves to us. They are not only provocative, but instructive…
To say that 2020 has been chaotic and disappointing would be an understatement. Both nationally and globally, unbelievable challenges and disappointments have abounded again and again … and again. And these challenges have revealed the true nature of the human heart. Despite the culture’s insistence that people are essentially good, the truth of the matter is, 2020 has revealed again what Scripture long ago taught: this is a fallen world…
This is one of my favorite books, albeit a large read of over 100 biographies and reviews of Puritans and others influencing the time between the 16th and 17th century. – Mike
A Review of “Meet the Puritans”
by Andrew Smith | Dec 08, 2020
In the eighteenth century, a carnal, Welsh clergyman bought an item at the fair. The vender wrapped his purchase in a page ripped out of an old Puritan book. As the clergyman unwrapped his item, he began to read the writing on the torn paper. There was enough gospel truth on that one small page of a Puritan book to save him, and it did. That day he discovered that his true treasure was the gospel truth written on the Puritan parchment…
Identity Hermeneutics: The Obsession with Personal Identity and the Distortion of the Truth
Identity politics dominate today’s political landscape. Few would disagree that the single issue of 2020 that will have the greatest impact in the coming years is not Covid-19, but the great social reset political leaders are promising along the lines of ethnic, economic, gender, and …
According to 1 Corinthians 13:13, there are three great spiritual virtues: faith, hope, and love. And of these three, Paul says that the greatest is love. Paul makes it clear that love drives our spiritual lives, and without it, we are as worthless as a rhythm-less drummer. In addition to love, as good Protestants, we understand the importance of faith. Faith alone saves. In addition, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). Paul spends large chunks of his letters making sure we understand the role of faith in our spiritual lives. But hope? Hope can easily get lost in the shuffle like a middle child in a minivan. It’s easy to think of hope as a nice addition to our spiritual lives if we happen to have it, but not necessarily something to be purposefully cultivated and intentionally pursued.
There is a myth that has long filled the church: that the more theology you know, the more prideful you become. And sadly this is often more reality than myth (cf. 1 Cor. 8:1). Men and women throughout church history have all been guilty of becoming ‘puffed up’ with knowledge that doesn’t humble them. We have all, at one time or another, clubbed down well-intended, yet misinformed saints with our doctrine. And if we’re not careful, we all will grab our theological clubs again.
But doctrine is not to blame for pride. The one responsible is the fallen saint who wields the doctrine. What if the intended effect of doctrine was just the opposite? What if the deeper we descended in our understanding of God, the more humble we became?…
Every seminary-trained pastor who emphasizes the helpfulness of seminary for those aspiring to ministry, at some point, will receive questions like these: “Do I really have to go to seminary to be a faithful pastor? Can’t I just stay home and read books? After all, isn’t that what Spurgeon did?”
These are not bad questions. I even get the skepticism toward an expensive, often residential degree. Put simply, one does not have to go to seminary to be a faithful pastor. After all, seminary training—as we know it today—is not explicitly in the Bible.
There have been faithful pastors for centuries who had no formal training. For many throughout church history, such training was simply not an option. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, pastors who have letters behind their names will receive a crown no more glorious than those who do not (cf. 1 Peter 5:4). At the end of time, what is required of stewards—seminary trained or otherwise—is that they be found trustworthy (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2)…
Every year in Osaka, Japan, the Number Nine Chorus performs Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy. The Number Nine Chorus is 10,000 people strong. To deem it impressive would be an understatement. I am no expert on choral music, but great choirs (and perhaps even smaller ones) demonstrate a beauty and timelessness that is rare today in music—the melodies and countermelodies, the intricately woven harmonies, the beautiful textures of voices. The best of choirs contains a multitude of voices, but they sing as one. Their voices meld into a sweetness that is pleasing to the listener.
And yet when we turn to the church, it so often lacks a beautifully unified voice singing praise to the glory of God the Father. But this has always been the intention for the church. Paul writes, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Jesus Christ, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5–6)…
I remember studying in Bible college and when I first started preaching that “everyone” told me two things
you need to keep your sermons to no more than 30 minutes or you will lose folks attention
you need to preach on relatable things to keep folks coming back
I being the rebellious type that I am basically ignored (although I did and do attempt to set a point of application to each sermon) their advice. I believe God alone sets the sermon, it comes from His word, it should be logical and expository. That is verse by verse, book by book (with few exceptions Weddings, Funerals, Special Events) and expounding or as one of my friends and favorite Pastor Don says “unpacking” God’s word.
As for 30 minutes go luck I have never been under 45 and average nearer and hour. Most puritans preached nearer to 2 hours some 3. REMEMBER it is not you, it is GOD and His Word so do not be afraid to Preach it.
For those who have long winded preachers her is my advice:
Pray God will keep you focused on Him and not the world
Use helps and methods like those suggested in the article below
Remember God’s Word should be a JOY and Help daily
The last couple of decades have seen a resurgence in expository preaching in churches—sermons which truly explain and apply the biblical text. But an expository sermon is hard work to prepare. That’s why Paul writes that faithful elders, and especially those who labor hard at preaching and teaching, are worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17). With all that effort from faithful preachers, is there more that those of us in the pew can be doing to ensure we are being faithful listeners?
Some pastors spend upwards of 20–30 hours per week preparing the Sunday message. How sad it is, therefore, that so much of his preparation—effort intended to feed our souls—is often lost on inattentive listeners. What’s worse, the Lord has designed the ministry of the preached Word to be a special means of sanctification to His people (Isa. 55:10–11)…