Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Firstly, I preach expository which means I take a specific passage of Scripture, explain it, apply it, and rejoice in it! My goal in preparing to preach is to make sure the main point of the text becomes the main point of the sermon and then to make sure I communicate that clearly and memorably. What the Lord does with it from there is His business. In choosing a sermon text it is helpful to remember that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) so you can’t pick a bad or useless text. I try to preach through one book at a time but I typically break it up with a short series (2-4 weeks) on a specific theme that I will cover from other passages (still expositionally). For example, currently I am preaching through Matthew’s Gospel but I’m planning a four-week series on Church Health in March that will cover three texts from Revelation and one text from 1 Corinthians. I’m also planning to preach three or four biography sermons over the next year. For this I’ll take a specific text or a couple key texts and explain them using the biography of a key historical Christian figure as an illustration and example of application.
I’ve dedicated a few days now at the end of 2008 to forecast the general direction of what I’ll be preaching over 2009 (especially the first 6 months). I also put together a “worship card” which I pass out to my congregation as a reading guide and outreach tool. This lists about ten to twelve Sundays with the sermon title, text, and memory verse for each week. Do I have all those sermons written? No. Besides some general and preliminary research I will do in advance, the bulk of my preparation comes the week before I preach the sermon. On Tuesday I really start digging into the text and taking notes. On Wednesday I will cull from commentaries and other sources and put together my outline. On Thursday I will polish it. Thursday and Friday are dedicated to preparing my Sunday evening sermon which is a bit less “preaching” and more “teaching”. The reason I don’t write these things out weeks ahead (I used to do that) is because I want to preach fresh and from the overflow of my own devotional life in the Scriptures. These aren’t merely rehearsed speeches. So there you go- my sermon prep in a nutshell.
Monday, December 29, 2008
You may not be a President Bush fan or supporter but a recent article by Karl Rove about our President’s love for reading inspired and convicted me. Despite what the oh-so-knowledgeable Hollywood celebrities might tell us, our president is no dummy. You might not agree with his policies and you are probably not impressed with his public speaking skills but let’s be fair to his intelligence and learn something from him. I love to read but I need to read more and sharpen that skill. One of the greatest obstacles to reading is watching TV. Watching the television isn’t all bad but it must be done with moderation otherwise we can easily become poor stewards of the time and brain power the Lord has given us. So I have gathered a stack of books beside my bed (about ten or so) that I’m intent on reading by the summer. Ready to take up the challenge and expand your mind? You'll be enriching your own life and those who you influence.
Here is the article from the Wall Street Journal on President Bush’s reading discipline- prepare to be impressed.
HT: Justin Taylor
Monday, December 22, 2008
1. Simeon was a man of deep conviction and resolution. He committed to celibacy to make an uncontested commitment to the church of Christ. That is a unique calling and a rare form of endurance.
2. Simeon possessed a pervading joy. Here was a guy who was rejected by his congregation for the first twelve years or so of his ministry and he rarely had a negative or pessimistic thing to say. You can’t fake it that long. His joy was in Christ and that lifted his mind and heart above the humiliation.
3. Simeon was strong on doctrine in one hand and strong in love in the other hand. When doctrine or theological position divided him against another he was still loving and kind without wavering on truth. In this he also refused to be pigeon-holed with regards to a label so not to create unnecessary division.
4. Simeon was enduringly faithful to his Lord. Few today endure the kind of humiliation and rejection that Simeon faced among those inside and outside the church. Most would give up. We are a quitting, moping, and easily bruised generation. Simeon saw that his calling was not to be popular, beloved, or successful by any earthly standards. He was called to be faithful to the Lord Jesus and he strove for that end alone.
What a testimony Charles Simeon is for us and the transforming work of Christ! Only Christ could produce these qualities in a sinful human being. He certainly wasn't perfect- far from it. Furthermore, Simeon's story is not about his works. Simeon is a testimony of what could happen in our lives if we would daily and wholly submit ourselves to the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
“A lazy man does not roast his prey, but the precious possession of a man is diligence.”
Dr. Patterson used the illustration of the proverb to challenge us to continue our pursuit of studying and applying God’s Word. I don’t want to get lazy or complacent. That would be a waste of all the work put in thus far. I also want to keep all the study in perspective. It is for application- for ministry. So I was convicted to lay out some goals for the coming year in how I can keep from wasting my graduation. Here are my initial goals for 2009 (the first few months anyway) to carry on my studies and the application of my studies:
1. Read biographies on John Wesley, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Jonathan Edwards
2. Teach a course on sharing the gospel
3. Share the gospel at least once a week in a one-on-one conversation.
4. Finish preaching through Matthew’s Gospel
5. Preach a mini-series on church health.
6. Preach a mini-series on worship.
7. Read through the Bible with my wife.
8. Read through the Book of Acts during January with my church.
9. Preach four biography sermons (John Calvin, Lottie Moon, Martin Luther, and either John Wesley or Charles Simeon).
10. Spend more time with other pastors for fellowship and prayer.
How about you? What are your goals for pursuing a deeper knowledge of the Word and for applying that knowledge? If you don’t aim for anything you won’t hit anything either.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
"Unashamed Workman"- Sermon Preparation
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Jesus shifts gears with the statement “for this reason”. So what follows in chapter six is an application of what preceded. Jesus commands His disciples not to worry or to be filled with anxiety. Worry, anxiety, and stress are in direct relationship to what we treasure. If we treasure things of this earth which are passing away we will be suffocated with anxiety. When the thing you treasure is threatened or taken away anxiety is born and that often gives birth to things such as bitterness, constant nervousness, and depression. If we treasure Christ more than anything else and cherish Him as our source of satisfaction and delight then how will anxiety have a place to be born? For Christ is eternal. He is not threatened. He is not passing away. In fact, when a Christian is ever-anxious it robs God of glory and calls His character into question. Our worry shows that we treasure things of this earth more than God which attributes more value and glory to the things of the earth. Our worry casts doubt on God’s goodness and His ability to provide for His children. We must be on guard of worry by treasuring Christ above all things. Jesus teaches (v. 33) to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This is not to say that Jesus is a celestial sugar-daddy who will grant us all our selfish desires if we are just obedient. Jesus is saying that if we set our hearts wholly on Him all our desires will be satisfied in Him and worry will have no home in us.