Thursday, September 24, 2009

Empty Sermon Recaps

Two more posts are on my Commentary blog from Ecclesiastes:

Empty Wisdom
Empty Stuff

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not So Fast

To some, it has become in vogue to join muslims in their Ramadan fast. USAToday recently covered this story here, with the likes of Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler chiming in. Brian McLaren--who wrote 5 posts before the fast started and has written a few while in the fast too--has been one of the more vocal participants. Though he has written quite a bit about it, he has made it clear he did not organize such a "movement of evangelicals" and that there are many others who are also taking such action.

Participants are quick to state their views have not changed or compromised, but that they are simply participating in Ramadan to better understand their Muslim neighbors and reach out to them.

As I read the article, the following thoughts crossed my mind:

--Fasting is to be Christocentric (Matthew 9:15). Jesus explained that fasting was unnecessary when the disciples were with Jesus, but that they would fast once they were not with Him.

--The significance of a fast is found in the purpose, not the action. It's not called a fast when you wait after breakfast until lunch. So, unless a person is celebrating the formation of the Quran, he can't celebrate Ramadan any more than I am while I sleep (assuming I don't eat in my sleep). To count this as an observance of Ramadan, the person must sympathize with the Islamic purposes.

As an example, picture your own baptism. What if, after coming out of the water an unsaved friend immediately jumps into the tank (or river, or whatever) and immerses himself. Then later, as you discuss your baptism he acts as if he is one who totally understands what you've been through and shares a common experience with you. Would you be impressed? (And for any paedobaptists out there, imagine every person who has ever taken a shower claiming to have experienced an "uber-baptism.") For any true Muslim, a fast without acknowledging the formation of the Quran as a blessed event, would not be considered a Ramadan fast.

--Therefore, to align yourself with Christ and yet also flirt with another religion is to create a form of adultery that is not compatible with true faith (Romans 7:1-6). Mohler states in the article: "It's by following these practices that a Muslim demonstrates his obedience to the rule of the law through the Quran. For a Christian to do the same automatically implies a submission to the same rule." It is not possible to be a slave to Christ while aligning yourself in submission to another religion...a man cannot have two masters.

--Evangelism, no matter how lovely, gentle and respectful, must be confrontational by nature. Repentance is a confrontation. But such compromise to "learn about your neighbor" cannot bring the necessary confrontation. In speaking about McLaren's Ramadan fast, Akbar Ahmed (chairman of Islamic Studies at American University) stated: "Here is a pastor who wants to understand us, who does not want to convert us, and who is even prepared to talk with us, to fast with us" (emphasis added).

I pray for McLaren's sake (and for Ahmed's) that Ahmed's assessment is not true.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you pray too much?

Updated post on Luke 11:5-13 on my commentary blog.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Commentary Up and Running (again)

One large downside to preaching without notes (A practice I am not committed to, by the way.), is that producing a "recap" of the message afterwards can be a little more work. Writing for my commentary blog is my favorite form, but it can take much longer than other forms of writing.

Unfortunately, the time became consuming about halfway through the book of Leviticus last year.

However, with starting a new book this fall, I'm also resolved to try to keep up with my commentary blog.

Check out the first entry, Finding Meaning in Meaninglessness (and Introduction to the Book of Ecclesiastes). The first entry basically lays out why Ecclesiastes should be read a bit differently than any other book of the Bible.

As always, children's lessons, small group study questions and mp3's of the sermons can be found at our Grace Resource page.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Please Read, You'll Be Glad You Did

Blogging has been light this week for me, this interview is better than anything I would write anyway!

Seriously, it's worth your time!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Men's Meeting Invite

Pastor Rod Shelley wanted me to get word out that all are invited:

You can contact Rod, or myself, for more information about attending.

Spurgeon on Christless Preaching--6

Recently, Tony Reinke posted six of his top Spurgeon quotes on Christless preaching. Frankly, the quotes were too good to put together, so I'm posting one a day:

What was the subject? What was Peter preaching upon? He was preaching Christ and him crucified. No other subject ever does produce such effects as this. The Spirit of God bears no witness to Christless sermons. Leave Jesus out of your preaching, and the Holy Spirit will never come upon you. Why should he? Has he not come on purpose that he may testify of Christ? Did not Jesus say, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you”? Yes, the subject was Christ, and nothing but Christ, and such is the teaching which the Spirit of God will own. Be it ours never to wander from this central point: may we determine to know nothing among men but Christ and his cross. [sermon: “The Mediator, Judge, and Savior” (5/30/1880)]

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spurgeon on Christless Preaching--5

Recently, Tony Reinke posted six of his top Spurgeon quotes on Christless preaching. Frankly, the quotes were too good to put together, so I'm posting one a day:

I know one who said I was always on the old string, and he would come and hear me no more; but if I preached a sermon without Christ in it, he would come. Ah, he will never come while this tongue moves, for a sermon without Christ in it—a Christless sermon! A brook without water; a cloud without rain; a well which mocks the traveler; a tree twice dead, plucked up by the root; a sky without a sun; a night without a star. It were a realm of death—a place of mourning for angels and laughter for devils. O Christian, we must have Christ! Do see to it that every day when you wake you give a fresh savor of Christ upon you by contemplating his person. Live all the day, trying as much as lieth in you, to season your hearts with him, and then at night, lie down with him upon your tongue. [sermon: “A Bundle of Myrrh” (3/6/1864)]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Spurgeon on Christless Preaching--4

Recently, Tony Reinke posted six of his top Spurgeon quotes on Christless preaching. Frankly, the quotes were too good to put together, so I'm posting one a day:

Sooner by far would I go to a bare table, and eat from a wooden porringer something that would appease my appetite, than I would go to a well-spread table on which there was nothing to eat. Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ whom we have to preach; and if we leave him out, we leave out the very soul of the gospel. Christless sermons make merriment for hell. Christless preachers, Christless Sunday school teachers, Christless class leaders, Christless tract distributors—what are all these doing? They are simply setting the mill to grind without putting any grist into the hopper, all their labor is in vain. If you leave Jesus Christ out, you are simply beating the air, or going to war without any weapon with which you can smite the foe. [sermon: “Why the Gospel is Hidden” (2/11/1866)]

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spurgeon on Christless Preaching--3

Recently, Tony Reinke posted six of his top Spurgeon quotes on Christless preaching. Frankly, the quotes were too good to put together, so I'm posting one a day:

Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertize it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, “Bread without flour” and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of “believe and live.” [sermon: “Christ the Glory of His People” (3/22/1868)]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Phillips on Replacing Altar Calls

Yesterday, I showed 8 of Dan Phillips 15 reasons for not doing altar calls recently posted on Pyromaniacs. Numbers 9-15 are below:

    9. It is always better to point out a better way than it is just to fault the way it's done.
    10. Plus, aren't we Calvinists always big about always preaching the Gospel? If there's no Gospel in our preaching of Ephesians 5, Nehemiah 1, Genesis 12, or what-have-you, don't we all say we're doing it wrong?
    11. And, that being the case, unless we bar unbelievers or check their baptisms at the door, mightn't the Spirit of God awaken an unbeliever in the assembly?
    12. And if that's the case, shouldn't we be the first to scramble to provide the answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?", if it's being asked?
    13. And, though we have wonderful arguments against telling people to come forward to be saved, should we not constantly be issuing invitations — that is, urging our hearers to repent, turn, believe, be saved?
    14. And so should we not be eager to help anyone on whom the Spirit of God so moves?
    15. So I think providing elders and others after a service to talk with anyone moved in any way by the sermon is a great idea, and we should do it — make them available, tell folks they're available, urge folks to avail themselves of them.
I love Phillip's list because it shows that a person can have an evangelist's heart and yet not appreciate altar calls. It also demonstrates that a church can have a great evangelistic effect in her corporate gathering, even when her emphasis is on edification.

Spurgeon on Christless Preaching--2

Recently, Tony Reinke posted six of his top Spurgeon quotes on Christless preaching. Frankly, the quotes were too good to put together, so I'm posting one a day:

Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go to hear him preach. [sermon: “A Prayer for the Church” (1867)]