Someone wrote in asking about revivals. I’ve never been involved in anything like a genuine, God-blessed revival—if you mean by that large numbers of the church coming alive to their faith in new, demonstrable ways. Such things happened in in this country in years past, the historians tell us. But in my time, I’ve never seen it.
However, I have seen individuals revived—getting on the ball, and doing things for Christ. I know of one church, for instance, where in a generation, forty men went into the ministry as the result of exegetical preaching. I have known people who have suddenly awakened and begun to serve Christ with new verve. But a revival? No. Haven’t seen one.
But why are we looking for a revival, anyway? Remember Elijah’s revival on Mt Carmel? It really had few lasting effects—that’s one reason he went sulking into the wilderness. Remember, God told him there were others who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal, and that He works mainly in quiet ways rather than in the thunder and the storm.
So, let’s be grateful for those here and there come alive and begin to do things for Christ—that is to say, for revivals in individuals, even if we don’t see them in the church at large. [emphasis mine]
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
James McDonald has an interesting post on reaching the culture. (You can read the entire post here.)
He states that when people claim they want to reach the culture, they actually mean one of three things:
1) They mean reaching people very different from themselves. Who doesn’t long to see people so different than we are taken and shaken by the awesomeness of who Jesus Christ really is? Such conversions are the best stories in any church and even in the book of Acts, yet more typically don’t we see people reaching people like themselves? Isn’t it much more common for us to win lost souls from inside our own cultural subset? Mom’s are the best ones to reach hurting mom’s. People who have been through a broken marriage are better at reaching someone in that heartache. Converted homosexuals will always be most effective at reaching back into that darkness and pulling others to light and liberty, etc.The article ends with...Cultures don’t come to Christ, people do, one at a time.
2) They mean reaching secular people who have no interest in God. All of us feel the weight of the teaming masses of people passing by us on the freeway or at the mall with no apparent interest in Christ, the joy of our souls. Every sincere believer has felt their faith numbed by the democracy of unbelief. Of course we want to win the aimless arrogant graduate student so articulate in his atheism, but why? Could it be that we want to win such people because framing the arguments to penetrate their secularism bolsters our own faith. Do we see Jesus spending a lot of time targeting people with no time for God? Do we see Paul dialoguing ad nausea with high profile intellectuals? Might the fascination–even preoccupation–of some churches with Mars Hill/Acts 17 flow from a misguided fear that the gospel is not universally relevant if it is not successful in every quadrant of society?
3) They mean reaching cool people who make them feel cool. One of the most disturbing trends in the emergent church is the focus on ’style.’ Living in Wrigleyville, (Chicago) or Greenwich Village (New York) etc. is most assuredly ‘cool.’ And seeking to share Christ with the masses of immensely immoral 20 somethings that inhabit such regions is a worthy goal; but why is that target so popular? Almost everyone it seems wants access to the arts district in Austin Tx., or the uptown area of Atlanta. Who is this about really? When did style statements, and fashionable eye wear, and how I dress and how I act, and my toootally tasteful music preferences become such a key ingredient in reaching ‘the culture?’ Who is all this really about? Is it about lost broken people in these areas dying without Christ and without hope? Or is it about me choosing a place of ministry that advances my personal mission of self expression? I’m just asking . . .
I think McDonald hits this one right on the head. I remember listening to an average, white, conservative, mid-western kid share how he was going to get his church to reach the jet-black-spiked-hair, tatooed, body-pierced smoker to start coming to his church. My questions were, "Are there any guys like that in this community?" (I don't think there are.) "What must you do to reach that guy?" (I don't think he had a clue, especially since he himself was not like that.) And lastly, "Why not the same amount of passion for the plain, ordinary accountant who has two kids and loves to collect civil war memorabilia? Isn't he headed to hell without Jesus too?"
It seems to me that when we preach our true citizenship, we call all peoples of all cultures to come to Him!
Monday, February 23, 2009
I heard Matt Chandler (of whom my wife currently accuses me of having a "man crush") say this at the Desiring God Pastor's Conference and then saw it on Justin Taylor's blog today.
This is a perfect example of exulting grace rather than simply preaching behavior modification or moralism:
While the temptation is often there to simply address the symptoms we see, the preacher (or counselor, or simply good friend) is giving the glorious opportunity to point the person to Christ and His glory as seen in the gospel! He is the source of our hope!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Yep, it's time to move some things around. Here are the Top Ten reasons why:
- 10. I grew sick of the color orange.
- 9. It had been 381 days since my last blog adjustment.
- 8. Others are.
- 7. No snooze alarm
- 6. Wider Audience
- 5. Better flow
- 4. Less Polemical
- 3. More Winsome
- 2. Sequential Exposition was incomplete.
- 1. Lines up better.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
What makes this preaching and teaching class different than the last one?
My desire is that this will be so much better that it will make the last one an embarrassment. The format has been revised and the resources are different. Hopefully, this class will be a better blessing to men than the former class, which went pretty well. Some more information about this class:
He is Not Silent, by Albert Mohler
Preaching—the practice of publicly expositing the Bible—has fallen on hard times. He is Not Silent analyzes this decline of expository preaching and then goes on to argue, in a style both commanding and encouraging, that preaching must not continue to wane. Drawing from such passages as Deuteronomy 4 and Ezekiel 37, Dr. Mohler lays the groundwork for preaching, and issues the urgent call for preaching, and issues the urgent call for preaching. In short, he portrays preaching as a confrontation with God.
MP3 Audio CD
15 Audio tracks (plus 10 bonus tracks) from CJ Mahaney, Colin Adams, John Piper, John MacArthur, James McDonald, Tim Keller, Sinclair Ferguson, Michael Horton, Matt Chandler, and Al Mohler. These sermons and training sessions will help you hear a variety of personality and style, while a similar commitment to the Word of God.
A workbook that walks through several different Scriptures, examining how each passage should effect our preaching. These passages span ages and cultures, as this workbook has been a guide for youth pastor training in the states and pastor training in the Dominican Republic. Worksheets for some homework assignments will be included in this workbook as well.
We will also incorporate time for some projects and discussion regarding contemporary issues in preaching. These projects will range from preparation and study to presentation and philosophy.
Hopefully, all these things together can lead to a productive and exciting time together.
Unashamed Workmen (a great preaching blog, by the way) recently listed Top Ten convictions for expository preaching from John MacArthur's contribution to Preaching the Cross:
1. Because Its Message Is Timeless and Truly Powerful
2. Because It Is the Good News of Salvation
3. Because It Sets Forth Divine Truth with Clarity and Certainty
4. Because It Stands as the Authoritative Self-Revelation of God
5. Because It Exalts Christ as the Head of His Church
6. Because It Is the Means God Uses to Sanctify His People
7. Because It Rightly Informs Our Worship and Our Walk
8. Because It Brings Depth and Balance to My Ministry
9. Because It Honors the Necessity of Personal Bible Study
10. Because It Makes My Ministry Dependent on God
See also: DTMW4I
Thursday, February 12, 2009
What are sermoneutics?
First, let’s be completely honest: it’s not a real word.
Second, even if it was a word, it wouldn’t be used very often.
So where does it come from?
Typically, people think of the construction of a sermon in two pieces. There are the hermeneutics: “the art and science of Biblical interpretation.” There are also homiletics: “the art and science of delivering a sermon.” For the sake of study, it’s a typical practice to separate the two. Once you are preaching, however, it’s not such a good idea to separate them.
Focus only on presentation and you may speak very well, but not have anything worth saying. If you miss the point of the text, no amount of polish can make up for it.
Focus only on interpretation and you may know the text well but not clearly communicate it. Worse yet, without evaluating your presentation, you risk betraying your doctrine.
We must consider both how we study the Bible and how we present it. However, it is not enough to just study these issues separately and strive for balance. We must actually understand that the Bible itself tells us how to study the Word and gives us guidelines on how to present the Word too. Combining these two principles will cause us to ask some questions.
Sermoneutics asks the question, ”Why preach?” Sermoneutics is also asking the question, “What should we preach?” It’s also the acknowledgement that knowing why you preach and what to preach will greatly impact how you preach. This does not mean that the Bible dictates only one style of preaching, but it does mean that some styles may betray the purposes of preaching.
Sermoneutics desires not only to see the Bible as the master over the content of the sermon, but over all of preaching. The Word of God can answer all our questions about preaching.
We will meet every other Monday night from 7-9 pm. The evenings will include teaching, discussion and practice.
Scripture—We will look at specific texts that should impact our preaching. The Word of God will help us discern our motive, discover its purpose and even give us some guidelines on how we should preach.
He Is Not Silent, by Al Mohler—We will use Mohler’s new book to help us walk through philosophy, mode and content of preaching. While the subtitle is Preaching in a Postmodern World, the focus is really on equipping a preacher to preach in any culture, during any time period.
Audio—We’ll also listen to various sermons, seminars and classes regarding preaching. These will come from a variety of men and help shape our thinking about preaching, while at the same time showing the diversity of style that is available within a Biblical preaching context.
This fee includes the cost of the book, audio cd and “Blueprints” study guide.
As with any ministry at Grace, if the cost is prohibitive, simply let us know, and we’ll find a means to cover your expenses.
Simply contact Danny Wright and let him know of your interest.
(Please register by March 8th)
At this time, the class is reserved for men only. If there is enough interest, a class may be offered for women who are interested in teaching other ladies and children.
Every other Monday night, 7-9pm
March 16th—June 22nd
4805 St Rt 49 S
Greenville, OH 45331
who could benefit from this workshop?
==> sunday school teachers
==> small groups facilitators
==> any man who wants to investigate if they are gifted in preaching/teaching
==> any father who wants to better instruct his children from the Scriptures.
==> any man from a search committee who wants to better determine what they should be looking for in a pastor
==> any man who wants to explore the grace of God in preaching
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
He Is Not Silent
Preaching in a Postmodern World
by R. Albert Mohler
© 2008, Moody Press
I received a CBD gift card for Christmas from family. Though I ordered it in early January, the snowy weather delayed it's arrival by a few days. It arrived two days before we left for a Pastors' Conference (and one day before SB43). Though I can barely look at a map in the car, I have no problem reading in a plane (other than staying awake for a 6am flight), so it quickly became my travel companion. I virtually knocked the book out on the flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis and back.
Mohler is no mental lightweight, but perhaps the most telling sign of his intellect is his concise and clear use of language. My pages were filled with highlights, underlines and comments in the margin. He is a master of developing a thought throughout a paragraph or page that culminates in one strong sentence or two. Some examples:
The audacious claim of Christian preaching is that the faithful declaration of the Word of God, spoken through the preacher's voice, is even more powerful than anything music or image can deliver.--p 17
The preaching of the apostles always presented the kerygma--the heart of the gospel. The clear presentation of the gospel must be a part of the sermon, no matter the text.--p 20-21
True worship always proclaims the gospel, the good news of what God has done in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the work of Christ, and it centers in the cross.--p 35
I realize it might seem bold--and maybe even shocking to some--to say that preaching in the central component of Christian worship. But how could it be otherwise? For it is primarily through the preaching of Scripture that we come to a true vision of the living God, recognize our sinfulness, hear the declaration of redemption, and are called to a response of faith, repentance, and service.--p 35-36
A theology of preaching begins with the humble acknowledgement that preaching is not a human invention but a gracious creation of God and a central part of His revealed will for the church.--p 39
One of the first steps to a recovery of authentic Christian preaching is to stop saying, "I prefer expository preaching." Rather, we should define exactly what we mean when we say "preach." What we mean is, very simply, reading the text and explaining it--reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and patiently teaching directly from the text of Scripture. If you are not doing that, then you are not preaching.--p 52
If you are not confident that God speaks as you rightly read and explain the Word of God, then you should quit.--p 57
The preaching ministry is not a profession to be joined but a call to be answered.--p 71
Of this we can be certain--no congregation will revere the Bible more than the preacher does.--p 73
Every Sunday, far too many preachers read a wee little text, apply it in wee little ways to the people's lives, and then tell everyone to come back next week for another wee little story.--p 89
Every single text of Scripture points to Jesus Christ. He is Lord of all, and therefore He is the Lord of the Scriptures too. From Moses to the prophets, He is the focus of every single word of the Bible. Every verse of Scripture finds its fulfillment in Him, and every story in the Bible ends with Him. That is what our people need to understand--that the Bible is not just a compendium of good short stories, but a grand, life-encompassing metanarrative of God's work of redemption in the world.
Every time we preach a text of Scripture, we are accountable to that text. We must read and explain accurately to our people what that text means and how it applies to their lives. Yet we have another task as well, for we must take that particular text and place it within the larger story of Scripture.--p 96
The pastor who is no theologian is no pastor.--p 114
Instead, our perseverance in the task of preaching must be based on God's promise that He will, by His own power, make the preaching of His Word effective.--p 147
Though the subtitle is Preaching in a Postmodern World, Mohler only spends one chapter (8) looking specifically at the challenges of postmodernity. I think this was a wise decision. Instead, he puts the focus on defining real preaching and where that authority comes from. He also shows how God's people have always grown through the right preaching of the word. Bottom line, if we preach Biblically, it is applicable for modernity, postmodernity or post-postmodernity. The preaching of the Word of Christ truly is timeless.
Mohler is probably better equipped than almost anyone to comment on the conditions of the culture and philosophies of this age, yet this book is not written as a panic manual...calling the church to adapt her ways before she become extinct. No, Mohler simply calls the pastor back to the Word of God. Why were you called? For what have you been called? What have you been called to preach? Why will it work? He reminds the pastor that we did not stumble upon preaching because it works (allowing that someday it may quit working and we abandon it), but instead we have been commissioned to preach, because God has said it works. And it works, because He makes it work! On page 157, Mohler states:
People often ask me, "Are you hopeful?" And the answer is yes, I am hopeful. I am not optimistic. Christians have no right to be optimistic, but at the same time we have no right not to be hopeful. Optimism is a belief that things are finally going to end up happy. Hope on the other hand, means that we know the Lord God of all creation, who sits in the heavens and rules over all the people of the earth. We know His grace. We know His mercy. We know His holiness, His character, and His love. Above all, we know His Son, and thus we live in hope.
This book caused my hope to burn more hotly. I would rate it a must read for any pastor/missionary and a definitely should read for faithful members of a church.
See also: Book Review
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
What is contextualization? One of the best online descriptions can be found here. (This site is also host to the images below.) It's amazing how obsessed we can become with "contextualization."
We are so quick to jump from the content of the message preached to focus on how the message is being conveyed. Unfortunately, this "jump" usually means we depart from considering the accuracy of the content.
I remember meeting with a pastor of a large church to discuss how their church handled a "transition." Our new (and improved) youth pastor had just arrived and I was moving into the position of teaching pastor. His church had been through a similar transition and I was intrigued to find out how they made it work well and hoped to gain some insight from him. We sat down to talk, and the first thing he said (and the only thing he wanted to discuss) was:
Danny, if your church is going to grow and survive, you must become more seeker-sensitive.
I was amazed at the course of our conversation for a couple of reasons. A) He was not interested in talking about content, at all. Instead, he simply wanted to talk about delivery and style. He was concerned that unless I seek to adjust my ministry in a way that is much more attractive to non-believers, I was going to find my ministry obsolete. B) He's never heard me preach at our church, nor has he ever visited our congregation. Now, this man has had limited exposure to my ministry, but his decision to hammer home this topic must have been born out of something I said when asking him if we could talk. Needless to say, our conversation just didn't really get anywhere.
I've been chewing on this conversation for about two years now. But recently, a couple things have returned the issue of contextualization to the forefront of my mind.
1. Last week, at the Desiring God Pastors' Conference, Matt Chandler did an excellent job in his message: A Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep. While I had heard Matt speak a couple other times (in recording, this was the first time in person) and had no reservations from previous messages, the message title had me a little concerned. I feared that we may spend our time speculating and peeping at the lives of Harry and Mary. Instead, Matt did a phenomenal job walking through 1 Timothy 4, looking at the standards Paul lays our for Timothy.
It was so refreshing that Matt did not spend all his time striving to describe and label the society around us. Instead, Matt simply pointed out the message which Christ has called us to preach. Then, in the Q&A session, Chandler answers a question about contextualization with, "Here's how I contextualize, to be honest with you, I will constantly contrast the difference between the gospel and religion. Constantly." Huh? Oddly, the contextualization for Matt Chandler in suburban, large church Dallas/Ft Worth area doesn't sound that different than the contextualization of rural Darke County, nor the contextualization of Catholic/quasi-voodoo/hybrid Dominican Republic. The "context" is men who are in darkness being called to His marvelous light.
2. This week, we had a brother from a Middle Eastern country share with our congregation. After the service, he offered a workshop, with a question and answer time at the end. I asked him:
When attempting to share the truth of the gospel with a Muslim, should we refer to God and Jesus, or is it more profitable to speak of Allah and Isa, since those are the words in the Quran? (I had an opinion before asking the question, but attempted to ask the question in a neutral way, so as not to lead him.)
He looked me straight in the eye, leaned forward, and his first words out of his mouth were:
You Westerners are the only people in the world who are obsessed with "contextualization!"
He went on to describe all the ramble on "contextualization" as "Western Intellectual Arrogance." This man, who truly has lived within the Muslim context, explained to us that if you use the words "Isa" or "Allah" before a Muslim, you will confuse the issue, not clarify it. Yes, you'll feel good about yourself (Look how sensitive I am and how aware of this man's culture. Surely, he and the Lord are impressed by my knowledge.), but the listener will be drawn to think about a god who is not the God of Scripture and a Jesus who is not the Son of God. This will not help issues, but will simply make the lines cloudy. While this brother exhorted us to make sure our evangelism is gentle, respectful and not hostile when sharing with one who has embraced Islam, he also stated when he gets these opportunities he speaks of Jesus and God. He wants the lines to be clear.
Now the typical response you get when you downplay contextualization is an accusation that you do not care about the congregation and are simply interested in your own noise. It will be drawn to ridiculous extremes, citing you as a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. However, these characterizations are false. When I speak at our church, I use English (or a modified Appalachian version of it). When I was in the Dominican, common sense said I should have a Spanish translator. When I use a term or a phrase and see a glazed look in the listener's eye (either in preaching or in congregation), I seek to stop and define the term. A de-emphasis of contextualization does not mean you would go to Kanpur, India and just preach out of English, expecting the listener to understand (though I do not deny that God could miraculously intervene at this moment as He has done before). Speaking the language of the listener is not contextualization, it's simply called common sense.
Instead, when contextualization is done in the name of thinking globally and outside of our own box, we should maybe first ask the question:
Is anyone other than the minister in the west attempting this endeavor? If we are striving to think globally, wouldn't that mean we quit all the fuss on contextualization?
Saturday, February 7, 2009
As we work through the objections to a Jesus Hermeneutic, we'll take a look at altar calls. To preach Jesus weekly means that you will be preaching the gospel weekly. Now, can we simply say we are preaching the gospel as long as we offer an altar call? More than once, the question has come to me like this:
I give an altar call every week, yet you seem to be saying something different. How is preaching Christ and the gospel every week different than giving an altar call?
I find this question ironic for two reasons:
1) While the inquiring pastor may offer altar calls, I actually do not. In fact, I don't care for altar calls.
I had actually become convinced that altar calls were doing more damage than good awhile ago. But then, after reading Martyn Lloyd-Jones' words in Preaching & Preachers, I wrote a nine part series (relax, posts are brief) examining the topic with "the doctor's" aid. (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
It is amazing how many ears hear, "Preach the gospel weekly," and somewhere between their ears and their brains it translates itself to "offer a gospel invitation at the end of your sermon." They immediately think we are referring to the same thing, and most of the time they assume this means I offer an altar call. As they seek an area of commonality, they actually expose greater difference.
2) This very question is probably the greatest reason I don't like altar calls.
Now, if you responded to the gospel message in the midst of an altar call, relax. I am not by any means stating that God cannot call people to faith and repentance through an altar call. Quoting from "Post 9":
Altar calls diminish the need for clear gospel preaching.I'd like to add a sixth point as well.
At first, this seems counterintuative. Messages that are followed with altar calls are typically considered quite evangelistic. However, many times, the sermon itself is not evangelistic, but simply the altar call is.
I remember listening live to the "pastor" of America's largest "church." As he waxed on about Christians having better fuel economy, surrounding ourselves with more positive people and overcoming obstacles, he completely neglected any mentions of Christ, the cross, sin or grace. His "sermon" did not deal with man's depravity, God's righteousness or the great exchange. No mention was made of heaven or hell or even life beyond the grave. Not only did the message lack biblical accuracy, but it's complete avoidance of the gospel prevented even a remote assessment of it being evangelistic.
However, then came his altar call. As he called people to stand and act, he then laid out certain terms (yes, he called for action before he even explained toward what). Within the altar call, he then spoke of sin, Christ, the cross...he even uttered the word "repentance." Suddenly, he's got a group of people standing and responding to a message that seems to include elements of the gospel.
But would Paul simply rejoice that the gospel was preached? Shouldn't we just celebrate that elements of the gospel were present?
Well, techinically, the gospel was not preached. The gospel was given a brief moment. The gospel was quickly presented. The details of the gospel were shared, but it was not preached. In essence, an altar call can often allow us to mop up the damage from a message that was not centered on the cross. However, because people were challenged to trust Jesus, most would never think to examine the message. Consider some of the problems if the gospel is not made clear until an altar call:
1. Again, the sermon and altar call become two separate entities. The "action" does not even derive from the sermon.
2. The gospel is given very short treatment. It is not developed over the course of the message, but handled quickly at the end.
3. The challenge becomes only immediate and introductory.
4. The gospel challenge appears to be severed from the text which was preached.
5. Any action/challenge given during the sermon is separated from the gospel. To call people to action outside of understanding the gospel is legalism.
My experience has been that messages with altar calls typically to do not call upon the sinner to repent until during the altar call. Proper preaching requires that the call be rooted in the gospel. This call should come the whole time as the preacher is working through the text.
- 6. Altar calls tend to make the believer think the gospel message is only beneficial for the unsaved and that this is the point where they can relax. If the altar call extends beyond justification only, and hits into areas of sanctification in a believer's life, the altar call tends to leave the listener believing the power is in their own will. Not to mention, it probably calls the listener to completely violate Ecclesiastes 5:1-6.
I am not talking about giving Jesus a commercial spotlight at the end of your sermon. To preach Christ is not even to hand out "7 steps for a happy marriage" and make "trust Jesus as Savior" one of the seven steps. No, Jesus must be given preeminence. He is not one of 7 action points. In reality, He is the point of marriage!
A pastor who preaches with a Jesus Hermeneutic will not merely get around to talking about Jesus and the gospel. He will understand that proper exegesis requires that he sees this text pointing to redemption which can only be found in Christ. I am not speaking of odd typology or an allegorical approach. We preach what the text says, but we keep in mind that the Law was not intended as a list of rules, but a schoolmaster. This helps us realize that no passage is being read or preached properly unless it is being done while facing the cross.
I'm not talking about altar calls at all. In fact, the pastor who preaches with a Jesus Hermeneutic will not need altar calls, for he will have called people to submit to Christ throughout His sermon!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Yes, I'm still working my way through a series of objections I have heard regarding a Jesus Hermeneutic. As a reminder, these objections are real statements I have heard (sometimes several times) from pastors who share a like heritage with myself. One of these questions is:
Can't Jesus be central in my ministry without me seeing the need to talk about Him in every sermon?Honestly, this is a slight adaptation from the quote I received. I had a "pastor" (sort of) share that he had discussed my hermeneutic with others and they corporately concluded, "We believe our ministries are Christ centered, we just don't think we need to talk about him every week."
When I heard the statement, I had no reply (a feat for me). I just sat their with my jaw dangling. Even now, I sit here at my keyboard with the same expression (trust me, it's not pretty).
Quite honestly, I'm dumbfounded. Not because I don't have an answer, but because I can't believe I have to answer such a question. In one of my briefest replies, I will simply say this.
Such a question shows a real apathy toward pulpit ministry. If a pastor preaches 52 times a year (which few do) for 50 years (which even fewer do), he will preach 2600 times. If a pastor preaches 45 minutes per sermon (again, pretty generous numbers here), that means he has 1950 hours of preaching. At first these numbers seem big. However, consider...
By the time a child completes second grade, they will have received more instruction in a class room than this pastor will give from his pulpit in 50 years! Starting January 1, if you calculate a person's sleep (assuming 8 hours a night), they will exceed in sleep, this entire pastor's hours of preaching by the end of August! If all of his sermons were placed back to back, they would only last for 81.25 days. (By comparison, my pathetic excuse for an iTunes library--I'm not a music collector--consists of over 30 days worth of music, played back to back.)
Bottom line: Pastor, you do not have a lot of time. You better preach every sermon as if it is your last.
You cannot lazily assume you have plenty of time to get to the cross. You may die before your next sermon. The person in the pew may die before your next sermon. Make them count!
Second, I would simply quote Jesus:
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.--Matthew 15:18
Brother, if you don't want to preach about Jesus, you've got a heart problem.
This is hard to swallow, but this is the direct point that Jesus made clear back in John 5:37-47. They refused to see that the text was about Jesus because they did not have the love of God in them (5:42).
The question that must be asked is not Can I keep from preaching about Jesus and still have a Christ centered ministry? but instead should be, Why would any Christ centered ministry waste an opportunity to preach by neglecting to preach of Jesus?
This does not mean I believe I perfectly exalt Christ in the midst of my preaching. Just last week, I was pretty discourage about my sermon because I fell short in this area. But my failure was not due to lack of desire. I was not aiming to preach principles and concepts to the Body, but was aiming to preach Christ. However, as a "cracked pot" I'm going to miss that which I am at occasionally. However, my concern is with the man who does not think this should be his aim! He'll miss that target every time then.
See also: hermeneutics
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
February 1st was my 33rd birthday (more on that next week), and there were a few highlights from the day, I'd love to briefly mention (from least significant to most):
5. Steelers game--wow!
4. Getting to preach. I wish my birthday always landed on a Sunday!
3. Enjoying a meal with my parents after church. What a gift to have parents who are humble enough to allow their son to be one of their undershepherds.
2. A brother informed me that the ministry of our church is benefiting some brothers and sisters in Christ in Honduras. Wow. What a grace from God that He would allow the ministry of the Word at Grace to benefit some I've never met.
1. Hearing two young men from our church present the gospel during halftime. During the presentation, they ended up sharing from Leviticus and as they were explaining the purpose of the sacrifices, they carefully (and accurately) navigated through the fact that the sacrifices did not bring forgiveness, but pointed toward Jesus Christ, who is our Atoning Sacrifice.
(He is Not Silent arrived at my house the day before. [INCREDIBLE...review to come soon!] The day after, I left with four friends for the Desiring God Pastor's Conference [Matt Chandler's message is a MUST LISTEN].)