The Bible’s Not About You…

 

…so who’s it about?

This excerpt from a message by Tim Keller (quoting from Sinclair Ferguson’s Preaching Christ in the Old Testament) was a great reminder for me as a writer, and occasional preacher:

If Jesus isn’t at the heart of the message, it’s nothing worth saying.

HT: Jared Wilson

Sermon Audio: Be Heavenly Minded, It Only Leads to Earthly Good

On August 22nd, 2010, I had the privilege of preaching a message titled Be Heavenly Minded, It Only Leads to Earthly Good, at Brussels Community Bible Chapel in Brussels, Ontario. Sunday’s sermon looked at Colossians 3:1-4 and the necessity of keeping our focus heavenward.

Here’s the audio:

You can also download an MP3 here.

The original sermon notes follow:

The last time we were together, we looked at Psalm 63. And we learned what David’s inspired prayer teaches us about the heart of spiritual abundance—that as we seek God, as we worship Him, we become satisfied by Him and because we are satisfied by Him, we can rejoice in Him, regardless of our circumstances.

The key to all of this is being Christ-centered in our worship and our lives. That everything is to be focused on Him.

But since the last time we were together, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about one thing:

Do we really understand how important it is to be focused on Christ? [Read more...]

The Art of the Illustration

As I’ve been going down this road of substitute preaching, there’s one thing that’s become obvious:

I’m not good with illustrations.

I know that there are some, like Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who are staunchly anti-illustration. Then there are others who are of the opinion that illustrations will, to a limited degree, make or break your sermon. Personally, I really appreciate good illustrations, but don’t find it terribly interesting when a message is basically a long series of them that don’t really have a lot to do with the text being preached.

Probably one of the best illustrations I’ve heard is one that Mark Driscoll used a while back to talk about the power of forgiveness. My paraphrase of the story is this:

Just before a couple from Mars Hill got married, the wife committed adultery. She kept it hidden from her husband for years until finally she couldn’t any longer. When she told him, he left the house, got in the car and left; she wasn’t sure if she’d ever see him again.

A while later, he came home. He asked her to undress and he put on her a white nightgown that he’d gone out to buy for her. And all he said to her was, “I choose to see you the way Jesus does.”

That was an extremely moving example; in my mind it’s one of the best that Driscoll’s come out with.

Matt Chandler’s “Debt is Dumb” illustration is genius:


 
as is “Jesus Wants the Rose”:


 
While I’m sure a lot of it is just that I need practice, a problem for me is I’m not always sure where to look. Despite writing a blog filled with my opinions on theology, I don’t actually like talking about myself (I’m not all that interesting), and I’m not always comfortable talking about work (particularly since I wouldn’t want to say something that could be misconstrued). Plus, my wife has mentioned how much she dislikes it when preachers talk about their wives in sermons excessively, so out of respect for her, I am cautious about family remarks.

So I’ve got a couple of questions:

What’s an illustration you heard in this weekend’s sermon that brought the message home for you?

Do you have a “favorite” sermon illustration?

And for the preachers out there:

Do you find it challenging to find appropriate illustrations? Where do you look first?

How do you use an event or conversation involving another person without it coming across as defaming or dishonoring of the person talked about?

How are you doing on mastering the art of the illustration?

Sermon Audio: Spiritual Poverty and the Worship of God

On Sunday, July 25, 2010, I had the privilege of preaching a message called Spiritual Poverty and the Word of God at Brussels Community Bible Chapel in Brussels, Ontario. This message from Psalm 63 looks at our need to be satisfied and comforted by God’s presence as we seek Him in His worship.

An MP3 of this message is available here.

The original sermon notes follow: [Read more...]

Preaching is Not Speeching

 

Over the last couple of years, I’ve felt a growing need/desire to preach. In some ways, it’s not unlike, as Jeremiah put it, “there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9).

When this first hit me, it caught me off-guard. Historically, I’ve not been known for my abilities as a presenter. In fact, just the thought of standing in front of my class in high school made me feel sick. (Anyone who might have seen me give a presentation in school will back me up.)

After a year and a half in Toastmasters (2008- 2009), so I’ve been able to overcome my fear of speaking and my general incompetency in that area. I can make a presentation. I can give a speech.

But preaching is not “speeching” as some like to call it.

It’s something completely different.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave the following example to illustrate:

I remember reading years ago an account by a well-known journalist in Scotland of a meeting which he had attended. He used a phrase which I have never forgotten.; it has upbraided me and often condemned me. He had been listening to two speakers speaking on the same subject. He went on to say that they were both very able and learned men. Then came the devastating phrase, “The difference between the two speakers was this; the first spoke as an advocate, the second as a witness.” . . .

The preacher is never just an advocate. . . . This is [. . .] one of the differences between the preacher and the lecturer. The preacher is involved all along, and that is why there must be an element of zeal. He is not just “handling” a case. Tod o just that is one of the greatest temptations of many preachers, and especially those of us who are combative by nature. . . . [I]f the preacher gives the impression that he is only an advocate presenting a case he has failed completely. The preacher is a witness. . . . Nothing is so fatal in a preacher as that he should fail to give the impression of personal involvement. (Preaching & Preachers, pp. 88-89)

In order to preach God’s message to a congregation, it must also be God’s message to him. Because preaching, true preaching, transforms—not just the hearer, but also the preacher.