February 2008


              Lily, age 3                Ramona, age 8


My friend, Jonathan, with some reflections on those who have influenced his preaching:

One thing I have learned is that I am none of these men, nor will I ever have such preaching stature, but that has not kept me from trying to learn how to preach the Scriptures better. Here are a few more things I have learned from them:

  • Tommy Nelson – explain the word of God clearly and push it into the crevices of life.
  • Haddon Robinson – organize your sermon around a central idea and restate it repeatedly and differently
  • Michael Quicke – cultivate communion with the Trinity during the sermon writing process, relying on the Spirit
  • Mark Driscoll – always ask “why or how do I/we resist the message?”
  • John Piper – preach the argument of Scripture, with God at the center, and bank on the promises of God.
  • Tim Keller – preach to the heart, not the will, and be culturally literate, always keeping the non-Christian in mind. Raise the problem of application and solve it with the solution of the gospel.
  • C.J. Mahaney has recently posted his thoughts on Ed Welch’s book, Running Scared.  He gives this word of encouragement to pastors:

    Pastors, whether you are preparing to teach a series on fear or worry or preparing to counsel those for whom fear and worry is a besetting sin, this book will make a difference in your soul, your preaching, and your counseling for the glory of God.

    I have posted on this book here and here as it’s been a great benefit for my own soul.  Do what C.J. says.  Get this book.  Read it and let it penetrate your soul and the souls of those you shepherd.

    • Read Tim Challies’ review of the book 
    • Read “Rest for Your Weary Soul”

    Christian Post reports:

    Hundreds of pastors, church leaders and artists will gather [on April 1-3 in Austin, Texas] for the first Church and the Arts conference to learn how the Church can reach out to artists and encourage them to transform culture in a biblical way.

    Transforming Culture: A Vision for the Church and the Arts” stems from the sense that too often pastors do not know how to connect with artists or nurture their talents to advance the kingdom of God.

    “A journalist name Steve Turner noted that when Time magazine compiled a list of the 100 most significant people in the twentieth-century for art and entertainment, there were only five who have shown any public sign of the Christian faith,” co-organizer David Taylor, arts pastor at Hope Chapel in Austin, TX, highlighted to The Christian Post.

    “It is not an option for the church to ignore the arts or the effects the arts and the media are having upon people,” Taylor said. “It is shaping our imagination and the way we see, the way we understand truth, the way we perceive what is beautiful, and the way we see our relationship with one another.”

    So my question is: How can we take steps to change the atmosphere in our churches regarding the arts and its importance in our culture? 

    • Read the whole article from Christian Post 
    • Check out the Conference Website
    • See Jonathan Dodson’s posts on the Conference

    Oprah’s New Earth Promo Video 

    Oprah recently joined hands with Eckhard Tolle, author of the book, A New Earth, to invite readers from all around the world to participate in a free, live interactive classroom discussion.  The 10 weekly sessions will be webcast every Monday night from March 3 through May 5 at 9/8c.

    The scary thing about this book is what it teaches and how many people will read it.  To give you an idea, here’s a few lines from the promotional video which aptly begins, “This is about you.”ane_book_cover_obc_lg1.jpg

    • Discover the depth within yourself … 
    • Find the goodness already within you …
    • You are that light …
    • The source of all energy is within you …

    According to Tolle, “heaven” is the awakened state within you that will bring about “a new earth” in the outer world, the world of form.  Sounds like a mix of Buddhism and New Age to me.   Yet Tolle asserts that he named the book, A New Earth, based on a Bible verse referring to the rising of “a new heaven and a new earth.”  

    I’m not sure which verse he was referring to, but if it was Revelation 21:1-8,  I pray that instead of looking inward for an awakening of self, he would look outward to Jesus with a thirsty heart (Rev. 21:6).   A heart that knows that there is no goodness in me on my own (Rom. 3:10-12).  A heart that knows that the source of life is not within me (John 14:6).  And a heart that knows that only God can make things new both in my life and in the life to come through simply believing on his Son Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Jn 5:11-12).

    Recently I’ve been thinking more about how little I am and how big God is.  How little my ministry is and how big God’s kingdom is.  All over the world there are men and women giving their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am just one man.  Just one man doing my part.  This humbles me and reminds me of a verse.  Romans 12:3 says, For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    This verse reminds me to measure myself not against others, but by the measure of faith I’ve been given.  I think what Paul means here by “measure of faith” is the common faith that each of us has been given in Christ.  When we do this, any comparison of ourselves to others becomes insignificant because God has given us different gifts and different places to serve.  As members of his body, we are all working together to advance God’s kingdom.  None of us are more important than others.  All of us are in this together. 

    So, today I can’t do what you’re doing.  I can’t be where you are.  I can only do what God has called me to do.  I can do my part and you can do your part.  And we can rejoice together as we think about each part playing a part in God’s kingdom purposes.

    On Sunday, I preached from the familiar story of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). 

    The Good Samaritan is no doubt one of the most familiar stories in the Bible.  It is recognized by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  The word itself is often used as a compliment.  Like, “You were such a Good Samaritan for changing that lady’s tire.”  So why preach on this passage if it’s so familiar?  Why not tackle something more profound, something more challenging?

    I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to live in the future.  I’m either a dreamer or a worrier.  Like Ed Welch says, “A visionary minus the optimism.”  I wait for situations to change in my life so I can get on with my life.  But this story reminds me that I must live in the present.  That’s where life is.  That’s where people are.  Real people with real needs.  Every day there are needs.  Every day there are opportunities.  And every day there are decisions.  Decisions about whether to get involved in people’s lives or pass them by.  I long to be a man who loves people, no matter who they are.  To get into the lives of others like Jesus did. 

    With that in mind, I hope you are encouraged as you listen or watch this sermon.  I’ll be the first to admit: knowing this story is not the same as doing what this story teaches.  May God give us grace to be doers of even the most simple of Scriptures like this one. 

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