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Quick Hits (9/5/06)

Several quick thoughts that I’ll lump together rather than making a bunch of short posts:

Marathon Prep

I was able to make a 20-mile run yesterday–my longest yet. Lord willing, that’s my last really long run before this.

Worthwhile MP3’s

I’ve been doing some research on Ancient Greece in preparation for a trip with some pastor-friends in October. In addition to reading some books and viewing some helpful videos, I was hoping to find some mp3’s. Mission accomplished: Covenant Theological Seminary offers mp3’s of their “New Testament History” class for free on-line. I listened to lectures #6 and #7 because they address Greek culture & history. I enjoyed them so much, I’ll probably listen to the the others, as well. They also have Brian Chapell’s “Christ-Centered Preaching” class available, as well as many others.

Now here’s the standard disclaimer: I’m not all that familiar with Covenant, and I’m not recommending them for their theological positions or associations. The NT class I heard had solid, objective information.

That said, I’d be interested in hearing from fundamentalists who have a better knowledge of the school. For example, I noticed that R. Laird Harris is the Professor Emeritus of OT, and–if I’m not mistaken–I understand that he holds to some less-than-orthodox theological positions. Can anyone give more details about the school?

Decentralizing Ministry

I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions that the concept of “decentralized ministry” is never far from my thoughts. Eph. 4:11-12 and II Timothy 2:2 are crucial passages for a sound philosophy of ministry. I also recommend Bill Hull’s The Disciple Making Pastor for a good discussion of the pastor as “coach” vs. “star player.”

At any rate, this summer has been a tremendous time of “decentralizing” at TCBC. For one thing, we’ve continued to enjoy our “EMM Groups” (Every-Member Ministry), 3 small fellowship/Bible study groups led by men in our church during the Sunday School hour. We’ve also appreciated having 10 different men preach on the topic of “Humility” on Wednesday nights. I was actually moved to tears last Wednesday to hear yet another man ministering the Word so conscientiously. No stories; no jokes; no misinterpretations; just another in a series of fine, serious-minded Bible messages. Talk about blessing a pastor’s heart! It’s been a delight to hear our men do such a good job. I commend a similar schedule to other ministries, at least on occasion.

At TCBC, we’ve even been having our elders take turns leading us in the Lord’s Table from month to month, simultaneously leading the flock in a precious time of worship and debunking any sacerdotalism hangover that suggests that it is the pastor who somehow makes the ordinance “legit.” I commend that practice to you, as well, if you have faithful men. It’s been a blessing!

A Couple RD Funnies

Good old Reader’s Digest: whether the articles are any good is irrelevant; the real-life humor they offer is worth the subscription price! Here are two religion-related anecdotes that made me smile, both of which relate to the aforementioned topic of “Humility”:

Pride trumps everything, according to this bumper sticker on a car that passed me by: “Proud Parent of an Our Lady of Humility Honor Student.”

Recently, our pastor fell asleep at the wheel and awoke just as he sideswiped a guardrail. When he got home, his wife peppered him with questions, trying to figure out what had happened.

“Were you sleepy when you started to drive?” she asked?

“No,” he answered.

“Then how did you fall asleep?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “There I was, going over my sermon…”

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8 Responses

  1. It’s easy to be way too picky about these things (but of course I’m going to charge right ahead anyhow) and strain at gnats. But has the mark of a good sermon really become that it contains no stories? I’m all for serious, Bible-focused messages, but you’ve pretty much just written off much of Spurgeon’s best work…not to mention Jesus and Paul. The glorification of expository-only preaching in some corners of the blogging world is starting to resemble the (heretical) glorification of a translation by the KJVO types. It is a tool, an effective tool, but it’s not the only one in the box.

    I’m glad you had different men in the church speak to the assembled saints. That is New Testament practice, though most often missing from Baptist churches today…at least the independent ones. And I’m glad you and your members were blessed. But I believe you’re holding up a false measure of a good sermon.

  2. Hi, Watchman. Thanks for chiming in.

    I don’t think you understood my point, at least not as I intended to make it. By “no stories,” I don’t mean “no illustrations.” I guess I don’t even mean “no stories” in the strictest sense. I’m addressing the “pick-a-text-and-depart-therefrom” nonsense that too often passes as serious preaching, sometimes even from well-known fundamentalists of our own day. I don’t want to leave a message remembering a funny incident or tear-jerker anecdote or clever illustration. I want to learn the Scriptures. The main point is this: What does the text mean?? If an illustration helps clarify the meaning of the text, great. If not, it’s a distraction. That’s all I intended to say.

    I do promote expository preaching. However, you’ll note that the series of expository messages I describe all addressed the “topic” of humility.

    IMO, if there is an over-reaction in the direction of expository preaching, that’s much better than the opposite alternative. I think it’s a necessary correction.

  3. Chris, I don’t know about Harris, but my understanding is that Chapell and Covenant are Lutheran, so they will definitely have different theologies and emphases than most BJ grads would have.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  4. Covenant Seminary is Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) located in St Louis, Missouri (not to be mistaken for Concordia Seminary [LCMS] also in St Louis).

  5. Oh, ok, sorry. Chapell is Lutheran, though, is he not? My copy of his book, Christ Centered Preaching says he was president of Concordia at the time.

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  6. man, I checked again. That’s not right. It says Covenant. Amazing what your eyes can do to you. You see what you want to see!

    There’s a sermon illustration for you, eh?

    Regards,
    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  7. Dr Bryan Chapell has been affiliated with the PCA, as far as I recall correctly, for over 30 years. The PCA, again, if memory is correct here, started in the mid 1970s (HQ in Atlanta). I doubt seriously the LCMS, due to its adherance to a totally separitist position on pulpit fellowship would have Dr Chapell at Concordia for theological preaching (primarily related to wide theological differences between the PCA and LCMS).

    Although solidly orthodox in its fundamentals and doctrine, the PCA would be considered by some in the “fundamentalist” arena to be less than conservative in some of its affiliations and social activity (as related to the RPCNA, OPC, ARP Synod). PCA: Think Francis Schaeffer and the L’Abri Fellowship. Very different from the LCMS (not a “reformed” church in the calvinist tradition [of course!]).

  8. FYI: check the website http://www.pcanet.org for further info on the PCA and Covenant Seminary

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