Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

The Problem of Christian Eductation

Ed Stetzer reminds Sunday School teachers to make sure that children know the story instead of just a bunch of Bible stories. He’s right, and that’s something the preacher needs to be concerned about too.

 

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Sermon

One of the students in my preaching class in seminary used to preach a sermon based on a sticky note in his Bible. I was preaching from a written manuscript. Over time, I replaced the manuscript with a detailed outline, then a smaller outline. And now I have arrived at the point where my colleague was 10 years ago:

Sermon

(A recording of the sermon is available online. Start at the church website and follow the links.)

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Kristof on Human Trafficking

Nicholas Kristof has another column about the awful reality of human trafficking. (Reader discretion advised.)

So for those of you doubtful that “modern slavery” really is an issue for the new international agenda, think of Srey Pov—and multiply her by millions. If what such girls experience isn’t slavery, that word has no meaning. It’s time for a 21st-century abolitionist movement in the U.S. and around the world.

I agree. I don’t know how to solve that problem, but I like the work that Gary Haugen is doing at International Justice Mission. If you’re looking for an unconventional Christmas present, or a charity to support before the year-end, consider them.

(Via Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, who sadly concurs with that “millions” factor in Kristof’s article.)

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Dallas Willard on Satisfied Preachers

Dallas Willard has an great piece over at Preaching Today, on the subject of excellent preaching. The subhead really says it all: “learning to preach from the overflow of your deeply satisfying relationship with the Savior.”

As usual, he nails it. The lowest spots in my ministry have mirrored his. “I know my temptations come out of situations where I am dissatisfied, not content. I am worried about something or not feeling the sufficiency I know is there. If I have a strong temptation, it will be out of my dissatisfaction.” And it didn’t take me very long to discover that my church is full of people just like me. Ministry in a church is not without its rewards, but I can’t depend on my successes there, or my relationships in the church, rewarding though they may be, to make me satisified.

So what’s the solution? Find something more satisfying: a deeper and more rewarding relationship with the Savior:

I encourage pastors to have substantial times every week when they do nothing but enjoy God. That may mean walking by a stream, looking at a flower, listening to music, or watching your children or grandchildren play without your constantly trying to control them. Experience the fullness of God, think about the good things God has done for you, and realize he has done well by you. If there is a problem doing that, then work through the problem, because we cannot really serve him if we do not genuinely love him.

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My Sermons Should Be Improving

I liked seeing this in my twitter feed the other day:

No matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible.

It’s attributed to Tim Keller. If he’s right, then my preaching will be getting better, because I’ve surely passed that number. In fact, I’m coming up fast on 250 sermons.

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Why No Sermon Podcast?

Here’s why there’s not a sermon podcast again this week. See the yellow highlighted region?

Too-Quiet Sermon

That yellow portion is the sermon. The microphone was off, or something. I don’t know if it was something I did wrong, or something in the soundbooth. (Occam’s Razor says it was me.) But the past couple of weeks, it’s been one thing after another. Sorry!

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No Podcast of 11/21

Some kind of technology problem in the sound booth this weekend means no podcast for 11/22. That’s a shame.

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A famous preacher

Buried amid all the stewardship material in 2 Corinthians 8-9 is this little tidbit in verse 18:

With Titus we are also sending one of the Lord’s followers who is well known in every church for spreading the good news. (CEV)

Some thoughts that passed through my mind reading this:

Who is this preacher? Apollos? Apollos was apparently an excellent preacher, but the Corinthians knew him by name. Timothy? Luke? Someone else?

Why isn’t he named? Fame is fleeting: this preacher was famous in his time — remember, this is Paul describing him this way. But today we don’t know who he was. Which is fine, because the only fame that really matters is that God approved of his preaching.

We still need preaching. We could have become a Christian 30 or 50 or 75 years ago and still need to hear the gospel preached. Not because we haven’t heard it, but because we need to hear it again. C.S. Lewis says, “We need to be reminded more than instructed.” Paul (Paul!!) had nurtured this congregation for 18 months, and was still corresponding with them to help them grapple with tough doctrinal matters. There aren’t many churches that have heard the gospel as well as this one. But they still needed to hear the gospel, so Paul sent them a famous preacher.

We can hear preaching just as excellent. I’m assuming it was excellent preaching, because Paul endorses it, so it was done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Who is still at work today.

If, like most people, you attend a church that doesn’t have a famous preacher, don’t worry about it. Fame isn’t important. Instead, ask yourself if the Holy Spirit is speaking through them.

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Robes

“Pastor, when are you going to start wearing your robes again?”

Several of you have asked me that question. As you know, I’ve worn a minister’s robe in worship since arriving at Desert Hills. But I quit this summer. Now fall has come, and soon winter will be here, and I haven’t resumed wearing the robes. Why not?
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Use words if necessary…

Have you ever heard that quote by St. Francis of Assisi? I couldn’t guess how many times I’ve heard it. I’ve used it myself. It’s a great quote. Except it’s not a quote. Who knew?

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