Protect Your Church in One Simple Step

A few days ago I tried to demonstrate how a church self-destructs. There is a sad progression that begins with the people growing weary and ashamed of truth. No longer able or willing to endure sound teaching, they get rid of the truth-tellers and accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. Inevitably, they soon turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. All of this is laid out in chapter four of 2 Timothy. In …

If Preaching Was Like Playing

I went to the Blue Jay game last week. The Rays were in town and I like to go and cheer/jeer for my buddy Ben who plays for the bad guys. “You stink! And thanks for the tickets!” Don’t mention it to him, but at the end of the game he represented the winning run…and struck out. That was kind of fun (for me, at least). Anyway, while I was watching the game I began to think about some of …

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To Be Looked Through, Not Looked At

I wrote last week of Alister McGrath’s new biography of C.S. Lewis (C. S. Lewis – A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet). Fifty years after his death, Lewis remains a fascinating, prophetic figure and a much-loved author. His insights into the Bible were often very interesting but it is his insights into human nature that I find even more helpful. At one point McGrath writes about Lewis’ understanding of poetry and here I found truth that is applicable all over …

More Lessons Learned Along the Way

A few months ago I shared a few lessons I’ve learned along the way–a few things I’ve learned about preaching since I rather unexpectedly found myself regularly standing in the pulpit. I learned that preaching can be discouraging, that preachers are fragile, that success in preaching is difficult to measure, and that preaching is a joy. Upon further reflection, I want to add a couple of items to my list. Don’t Romanticize It Another lesson I’ve learned is that the …

What I’ve Learned Along the Way

This is an article about preaching that is meant to be read by non-preachers. I am an unlikely preacher, a guy who was paralyzingly shy through high school and college and into later life who rather suddenly found himself speaking at conferences and preaching at churches. As someone who is rather new to the pulpit, I thought it might be helpful to tell you what some of the surprises have been as I’ve somehow transitioned to a person who preaches on …

A Word to Those Who Preach the Word

It has been a couple of months since I’ve had the privilege of preaching, and I am looking forward to stepping into the pulpit again a couple of weeks from now. It is always a joy and always a weighty responsibility. In reading Kent Hughes’ commentary on Isaiah I was challenged by his “Word to Those Who Preach the Word”–his preface to the Preach the Word commentary series for which he serves as general editor. It’s a powerful meditation on …

The State of Preaching

I don’t often read The Southern Seminary Magazine but recently I came across some notes I had taken on an article from all the way back in 2006. In the “President’s Journal,” Al Mohler wrote a brief commentary on “The State of Preaching Today.” He wrote “On the one hand, there are signs of great promise and encouragement. On the other hand, several ominous trends point toward dangerous directions for preaching in the future. The last few decades have been …

The Freedom and the Burden

I think I knew more about preaching before I began to preach. At least I was more sure of the things I was sure of. Now that I preach on a regular basis I have a better assessment of how little I really know about the art or science or whatever it is of preaching God’s Word. There is a mystery to preaching that makes it so very different from anything else I have attempted, succeeded at or failed at—and …

On Doing Ordinary Things

It has come as kind of a shock to me, now that I am a pastor and preaching on a regular basis, that the vast majority of the sermons I preach will be rather ordinary. I will study hard and pray hard and work hard, I’ll get started early in the week and give it a couple of days to germinate and give it another look-through early on Sunday morning, and at the end of it all I will have …

The Divine in Preaching

I’ve always found the word unction to be a bit of a strange one. I see it as a part of the Christian lexicon since, in my experience, we are pretty much the only ones who use it. We typically use it in prayer, asking that God would give unction to a man who is about to preach. I’ve never known it in another context. In Power Through Prayer, E.M. Bounds talks about this word, giving its context and explaining …