There comes a time when we have to discover our own voice, and I remember when I discovered mine.
I’d invested hundreds of hours in maintaining a useless system
There’s a learnt skill here, which is completely levelling.
Let me make a prediction: if you read this brief book, and rethink some of your preaching and evangelistic conversations in the light of it, you will do yourself, the gospel cause, and the people you’re speaking to a huge service.
‘Lay out the phrases in a way that makes sense to you.’ Memorise that.
How one basic act opened up a well-known passage
Did I just stick Jesus onto a Christ-less sermon, to make myself feel better? Or did I actually preach Christ?
One of the great gifts that teaching at seminary gave me, was that I was forced to say out loud, in a copyable manner, the route I take from text to sermon. In fine detail. It forced me to become conscious of what I knew and did.
By the time I put my pen down I have rarely felt so flat and uninspired in what I had planned to say. Do you ever feel like that about your sermons? Thought so.
There is a small but astonishing exhibition at the British Museum at the moment, Scythians: Warriors of ancient Serbia. The Scythians were a wide-ranging group of aggressive tribes, nomadic because of the inhospitably of their land, and superb with horses. They were also astonishingly artistic and superb at their craft: their abilities with gold and
I took the passage to a local coffee shop, and watched the customers. What does this passage have to say to 21st century urbanites, most of whom gave up on the god-idea years ago? How does this prise open their questions, address their fears and hopes, shift their distracted focus onto Christ?
How I learnt to write in six different drafts.
I hear preachers talking about their sermons as if they’re concept cars, pretty and accurate, gorgeous – but never taken for a real drive, in the rush hour, to do the shopping, in the rain. With the kids acting up in the back.
As preachers and church leaders, we get to help people decide each week to put Christ first. And when we preach we should plan to be specific.
Let me ask you the obvious question: have you ever actually read Jeremiah? I don’t mean, have you read the famous bits, and I don’t mean have you read it sequentially in your quiet times over a series of weeks. No, I mean, have you read it, all the way through, in a sitting.
So, by way of going back to basics, here’s how I approached a whole book – by some estimates, the longest book in the Bible.
In Paul’s mind the potential elder must show a double gifting from Romans 12: an ability to teach must be partnered to an ability to lead.
Do you have a passion to see the lost found, and the found built up? Do you have a desire to see the gospel understood, churches planted, men and women converted, children growing in their faith, and for you to be playing a part in that for the rest of your life? Do you treasure your time in God’s Word, and love to see it opened among his people so they are dazzled by his wonder? Then you’ve identified what he means to aspire and desire this noble task.
When we open the doors this Sunday, will they come back? Why should they, when there are the options of visiting family, going for a bike ride, hitting the shops – or even just having a lazy day with the papers and some coffee? And what do we do if no-one comes…
This week has given me the preacher’s headache: a really, really difficult passage. One of those ones where the commentaries delight in saying, ‘This is one of the most problematic texts in the canon’. One where you start to wonder if you will have anything useful to say come Sunday, or if anyone will notice
“Cutting to the Heart’ now available in both paperback and ebook form. Publisher’s Description On the Day of Pentecost, when the apostle Peter addressed the crowd, the people were ‘cut to the heart’ and asked how they should respond to what they had just heard (Acts 2:37). According to the letter to the Hebrews, ‘the