• What is a Good Sermon?

    In the book Truth and Power J.I Packer says that preaching is

    “An applicatory declaration in which the word of God delivers through the preacher a message about God, grace, the Gospel and Godliness.”

    I think this is a great quote about  what preaching is but it is also a useful definition of what a good sermon is. So I am going to use this definition to define what good preaching is.

    Firstly, preaching is applicatory. That is there are specific points of application to the lives of believers.  This is what separates a sermon from a mere lecture. A Lecture has a lot of content but a sermon has content and application. It follows then that a good sermon will be chock full of life application.

    Second, a sermon is a declaration. The main way you communicate during a sermon is using words. Also a declaration is not a discussion, as it implies that one person is speaking.

    Thirdly, preaching is about the word of God. The main content of the sermon is meant to be the Bible not stories, not thoughts from the preacher or anecdotes. Now stories, thoughts and anecdotes all have thier place in a good sermon but the meat of the sermon is the word of God with stories, anecdotes and the like being the side salad to the steak of the word.

    Lastly the sermon is about God, grace, the Gospel and Godliness. The sermon has a “Godward” focus.  That the main hero of the story is God, what he has done and the subsequent change in our lives that he has wrought. That means our sermons aren’t meant to focus on me and my felt needs (even though the gospel does in fact meet my felt needs). A good sermon directs my eyes heavenward to God and helps me reflect on what he has done in the gospel and how I am called to live in response.

    What do you think?

    Have I missed anything?

    Please follow and like us:
  • Tim Keller on Staying Spiritually Vibrant

    Here is how Tim Keller stays spiritually vibrant:

    1. Private devotions – regular, consistent; morning  (40 mins), lunch-time (5 mins – recap), evening (40 mins), bed-time (pray with Kathy his wife)
    2. Spiritual friendship – Christian brothers & sisters who hold you accountable. Intimate friendship. Hebrews 3.16. Who have you given the right to do that?
    3. Right kind of pastoral counselling – Regular evangelism, discipleship, helping others. Some form of serving.
    4. Study & reading – you’ve got to read your head off!
    5. Corporate worship – do you really worship in your services or are you merely the producer and director?

    I found this really challenging because it seems Keller and other well known pastors spend a lot of time working on their spiritual walk. This is not me and is something I need to change.

    What disciplines are you doing to keep spiritually strong?

    H/T A Faith to Live By

    Please follow and like us:
  • Training the next generation of leaders

    “What are you doing to raise the next generation of leaders in the church?”

    This is the question that Mark Dever put to me least year when I was over in Washington. He said that all pastors should be working hard at raising the next generation of leaders of the church because if we don’t who will?

    So what is your church doing to raise the next generation of leaders? Are you doing anything at all?

    This month I read a book called The Leadership Pipeline by Ram Charan, Stephen Drotter and James Noel. In the book they talk about how there is a leadership drought in corporate America. That business leaders havent developed their people to be skilled at the different levels of leadership required of them, as they go up through the corporate ranks. What companies need is a leadership pipeline which is a strategy for developing leaders from the ground level right through corporate management to CEO.

    This had me thinking about Resolved and how we are doing with leadership development and whether we should have a leadership pipeline. I think we should but what stages would be in it?

    What leadership programs have you been in? What do you think?

    What do the leaders of the church need to be trained in?

    How should churches train the next generation of leaders in the church?


    Please follow and like us:
  • Inerrancy and the Character of God

    I have been reading the book Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith which is edited by Hoffmeier and Magary. So far it has been a great read and, if the titles of the essays are anything to go by, it is a very important book in light of the current debates about the historicity and genre(s) of the biblical texts. This morning I finished Mark Thompson’s essay entitled Toward a Theological Account of Biblical Inerrancy where Mark seeks to locate the doctrine of biblical inerrancy in the doctrine of God. It’s God’s character and his ability to communicate perfectly that makes us hold to the doctrine of inerrancy. Here is a quote from the essay:

    We are brought back here to our earlier observation that God acts, not just in terms of what is possible, but in ways that are at every point in keeping with his character. Inspiration and inerrancy are not synonyms, that is true. Nevertheless, it is the unfailing veracity of God that gives a particular character to the texts, which are God breathed. Inspiration and inerrancy are inseparable in this case because of the identity and character of the One who gives us “the sacred writings which are able to make (us) wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim 3:15)

    Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith, pg. 96

    Is it therefore right to say that when we deny inerrancy or argue against it we are really attacking God and his character?



    Please follow and like us:
  • Do you do ministry or empower others to do ministry?

    I have been reading a lot about growing churches of late and one of the major factors in a growing church is getting everyone involved in doing ministry. If people are involved in doing ministry they feel like they have more ownership of the churches ministry and they are more likely to invite their non christian friends to church.

    The problem is that we, as pastors, have been trained to do the ministry but rarely have we been equipped to lead others to do the ministry. What does it take to lead others well? I found this very helpful quote from John C Maxwell:

    “To lead others well, we must help them reach their potential. That means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power and helping them to succeed. That’s not traditionally what we have been taught about leadership. What were the two leadership games we were taught as kids? King of the Hill and Follow the Leader. What was the object of King of the Hill? To knock other people down so that you can be the leader. And what’s the point in Follow the Leader? You do things that you know the followers can’t do to separate yourself from them and make yourself look powerful. The problem with those games is that to win, you have to make all of the other people lose. The games are based on insecurity and are the opposite way to raise up leaders.”[1]

    Here are five questions I asked the Elders of Resolved church last night as I talked about moving from doing the ministry to empowering others to do the ministry.
    1. Are you doing or enabling others to do the ministry?
    2. What do you find hard about letting others do the ministry that you lead?
    3. List the ministries you are involved with/leading
      1. Who are you training up in those ministries?
      2. Who should you train up?
    4. What steps are you going to take this month to go from a doer to a leader?

    What about you? Are you a doer or a leader? The stats show that the growth of your church depends on you being a leader first and foremost.

    [1] John C Maxwell The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, pg. 145



    Please follow and like us:
  • Do you love Doctrine more than you love Jesus?

    I’ve been reading Iain Murray’s great book Spurgeon Vs. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching. The book is about Spurgeon and his battles with pastors who said that a pastor should not offer salvation to everyone because God has only given salvation to the elect; therefore you offer salvation only to those who have either great knowledge of who God is and what he has done or great sorrow as a result of their sin. In other words you only call those who are pretty much already Christians. Spurgeon argued that even though few may be saved it is everyone’s duty to believe in Jesus and therefore the gospel should be offered freely to all. He also showed from the scriptures that the apostles and Jesus called all to repent and believe in Jesus. This is how Spurgeon argued his case for a universal call to repent in one of his sermons:

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you,” said Peter. As John Bunyan put it, one man might have stood in the crowd and said, “But I helped to hound Him to the Cross!” “Repent and be baptized every one of you.” “But I drove the nails into His hands!” says one. “Every one of you,” says Peter. “But I pierced His side!” says another. “Every one of you,” says Peter. “But I put my tongue into my cheek, and stared at His nakedness, and said, ‘If He is the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross!” “Every one of you,” says Peter. “Repent and be baptized every one of you.”

    I do feel so grieved at many of our Calvinistic Brothers and Sisters—they know nothing about Calvinism, I am sorry to say—for never was any man more caricatured by his professed followers than John Calvin. Many of them are afraid to preach from Peter’s text, “Repent and be baptized every one of you.” When I do it, they say, “He is unsound.” Well, if I am unsound on this point, I have all the Puritans with me—the whole of them almost without a single exception! John Bunyan first and foremost preaches to Jerusalem sinners, and Charnock, you know, has written a book, ” The Chief of Sinners, Objects of the Choicest Mercy'” But I do not care for that. I know the Lord has blessed my appeals to all sorts of sinners, and none shall stop me in giving free invitations as long as I find them in this Book!”[1]

    One of the problems of the Hyper-Calvinists is that they seemed to love their doctrine more than Jesus. They seemed to want to protect their doctrine and preach against others who didn’t hold to sound doctrine more than they wanted to commend Jesus to a dying world. I think growing up as a reformed Christian I have a tendency to do this too. I have a tendency to fill my head with knowledge about Jesus rather than fill my heart with love for Jesus. I have a tendency to want to know doctrine about Jesus rather than Jesus himself. I find it easier to critique bad doctrine than commend Jesus to a dying world. Now I know we need both head and heart, we need to defend the truth and proclaim the truth, but I am not sure I have always got this balance right. I need to keep preaching to myself that Jesus is the one I love and serve and sound doctrine helps me do this. In this I need to hear Spurgeon’s words:

    There is a tendency, however, on the other hand in certain quarters, to make doctrinal knowledge everything. I have seen, to my inexpressible grief, the Doctrines of Grace made a huge stone to be rolled at the mouth of the sepulchre of a dead Christ. And I have seen sound doctrine, so called, made as a very seal to seal in the dead Christ, lest by any means the energy of His Grace should come out for the salvation of sinners. Oh, what is doctrine, after all, but a throne whereon Christ sits? And when that throne is vacant, what is the throne to us? It is the Monarch and not the throne that we reverence and esteem.

    Doctrines are but as the shovel and the tongs of the altar, while Christ is the smoking sacrifice. Doctrines are Christ’s garments—verily they all smell of myrrh and cassia and aloes out of ivory palaces, whereby they make us glad—but it is not the garments we care for so much as for the Person, the very Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2]

    What about you? Do you love doctrine more than you love Jesus?


    Please follow and like us:
  • What are you looking for in a church?

    At Resolved we have many people coming through looking for a new church. When I ask them what are they looking for in a church there are a lot of different responses. Some are legitimate some are selfish. Most Christians these days change churches every 5-7 years so we need to know what to look for when we are finding a new church.

    Here are the things you should look for when finding a new church:

    1. Expository preaching – Expository preaching is where the sermon is derived from a text of scripture. Expository preaching is not where we take a verse from Habakkuk and verse from Romans and then a verse from Colossians and make points from each passage. The main job of an expository preacher is to help you see what the biblical text says and apply it to your life. Expositional preaching is key to a good church because the expository preaching is the best kind of preaching if you want to hear God speak in his scriptures.
    2. Biblical theology – Biblical theology is where every scripture is seen as part of the rest of the Bible and so every story, verse, and word is meant to be interpreted as part of the whole Bible. This helps us interpret the Bible rightly because we see the Bible as one whole big story that reveals who God is and what he has done and not a collection of stories or sayings in which we find a hero to model our lives on or a verse to inspire us. The Bible is primarily about God not us and biblical theology helps us see this.
    3. The gospel – The gospel is the message that we have been created in the image of God but we have sinfully rejected God. In his great love, God sent his son to die on the cross in our place, taking our punishment so that through faith in Jesus we could be forgiven. This is the gospel. This is the thing that should be emphasized in the pulpit every week, in fact this is the thing that should drive the church. If you go to a church that consistently muddies up the gospel, either by preaching a message which sounds like an Anthony Robbins talk or denying an aspect of the gospel, you need to find another church because this is not a church which is teaching you about God.
    4. Leadership – Leadership is important and the Bible is very clear on what biblical leadership is and isn’t. If you are unsure of what biblical leadership looks like, read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. If the leadership in the church you are checking out doesn’t reflect the leadership that is modelled in the scriptures then it is not the church for you.
    5. Discipleship – Discipleship is the process where you grow in your knowledge and love of God. If you are looking for a new church you have to ask if this new church has a discipleship program or process. Of course expository preaching is central to any discipleship strategy but there are many other ways where discipleship can take place.  Make sure you are going to grow in your love of Jesus at the church you join.
    6. Service – Have you got avenues to serve? This doesn’t mean that they will ask me to serve in the way that I want to serve. For example you shouldn’t just go to a church if you want to play guitar and they need a guitarist but you should be going to a church where you can pitch in and help.

    Is there anything you would add to this list?


    Please follow and like us:
  • You shouldn’t go out with him/ her if…..

    1. He/she doesn’t love Jesus. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because the two of you aren’t on the same page no matter how much you love each other.
    2. He/she is impairing your walk with Jesus. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because the point of your life is to follow Jesus and if someone is impairing this then they are not helping you have your best life!
    3. He/she leads you into sin. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because this person should love you and help you to be more like Jesus
    4. He/she doesn’t love Jesus passionately. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because they will be a drain on your faith.
    5. He/she isn’t striving to make you more godly, just striving to get in your pants. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person?  Because they will make you compromise morally.
    6. He/she justifies the sin in his/her life. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person?  Because you should be with someone who loves Jesus and hates sin.
    7. He/she is arrogant and proud and yet can’t see it. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person?  Because they won’t be open to loving correction from you, no matter how truthful or needed it is.
    8. He/she hardly ever goes to church, reads the Bible or prays. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because he/she will hinder your faith from growing into what it could be.
    9. He/she makes you doubt the bible. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because you need encouragement, not reasons to doubt from the one you love.
    10. He/she repeatedly hurts you physically or emotionally. Why shouldn’t you go out with this person? Because you are created in the image of God and are worthy of love and respect and they aren’t giving you love or respect.


    Please follow and like us:
  • Book Reviews March

    Humility CJ Mahaney

    This is a book I read every year. Not only because it is a great book but I am realising that I need to be humbled more and more. Two great thing about this book are:

    1. It grounds humility in the gospel
    2. It is extremely practical

    This is a book I am reading with all the guys I am training. If you haven’t read it buy a copy and read it.

    How to Read the Bible for all its Worth by Fee and Stuart

    This is a great book on how to read the Bible. I wish that I had read it when I was a teenager. It goes through how we should read the different genres of the Bible so that we would be better readers of the Bible. This is a book I will be reading with trainees in the future.  It is a book that pastors would do well to read with keen people in their congregation.

    Four obsessions of an extraordinary Executive Lencioni

    Lencioni is one author that you will never waste your time reading. He is always stimulating and engaging. This book is really about culture and about getting the right culture in your organisation. So if you aren’t after a book on working at your culture this is not the book for you. But if you are wise and you realise that culture is more important than almost anything else you will get this book, devour it and apply it.

    Jesus and the eyewitnesses Richard Bauckham

    This is the best book on the historical reliability of the gospels by far. Yes it is that good! Bauckham argues very persuasively that the gospel accounts were based on eyewitness testimony and that we can trust that these testimonies were transmitted faithfully. This is a technical book to be sure but it is a book which is well worth your time in reading it!

    I want to read 50 books this year. So far I have read 12 and I have got 38 to go!

    Please follow and like us:
  • What I wished I knew before getting married: all the hard work is worth it

    As the last few days have shown marriage is hard work. The thought of two sinners committing their lives to each other and then coasting along is a recipe for disaster. Just like anything good in life we need to plan and work hard for our marriages to succeed.

    That being said it is all worth it. For all the tears, work and repentance that I have caused and had to go through because of my marriage to Kate I wouldn’t change a thing. I have thoroughly enjoyed marriage and have been changed into a better man as both Kate and God have worked on me in Kate and my marriage.

    I tell myself that it is all worth it when it is hard. Especially when my sin apparent for all to see and I need to deal with it. I never want to deal with my sin but when I start I keep telling myself that it will be all worth it and it always is!

    If you are married or you are single remember marriage is one of Gods greatest gifts that he has given us and all the hard work you put in is worth it!


    Please follow and like us: