These days I am preaching on psalm 73 at Wangsung English Ministry . This is a very deep wisdom psalm and it has a ‘pivotal’ role in the editing of the Psalter (it appears in the middle of the Psalter, the first of Book III).
To prepare for my sermon I try to read a few good commentaries (the best must be the one by Allen P. Ross) and to listen to a few good sermons (usually from the Gospel Coalition site). Of course – one of the best on this must be Martyn-Lloyd Jones (see his book Faith on Trial).
This week I decided to also take a look at the Jewish perspective, and I found in my library the book A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, by Jonathan Magonet. It has some good insights, but I am not sure (from reading only the section on psalm 73), that it is worth the buy.
In any case, I find this quote from Levi Yitschak of Berditchev useful in connection with Psalm 73 (p. 188):
“I do not beg You to reveal to me the secret of Your ways – I could not bear it. But show me one thing; show it to me more clearly and more deeply; show me what this, which is happening at this very moment, means to me, what it demands of me, what You, Eternal One of the world, are telling me by way of it. Ah, it is not why I suffer, that I wish to know, but only whether I suffer for Your sake.”
I recently read a story about a group of about eleven women who were asked if they were faithful to their husbands. Only one answered in the affirmative. Another one of them was also faithful, but was too ashamed to raise her hand to acknowledge that.
This is the kind of culture in which we live, a culture in which people are ashamed of fidelity. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Seminary is correct when he says that “we are an adulterous generation.” And this is confirmed by a spokesman of Generation X: “We are the first generation in which adultery is now not an issue. We have so little expectation of monogamy or of faithfulness, adultery is just no big deal.” Gladly, that is not true of his entire generation, but it does seem increasingly true of the culture at large.
However, in this context of unfaithfulness, when society considers adultery the modern/sophisticated (even mature) way to live, the Bible is again countercultural by insisting that the mature is the one who lives in obedience to God. And God’s word on this issue is very clear and direct: You shall not commit adultery! In an “adulterous generation” we are called to faithfulness in marriage.
I just started another website to post some material related to this. You can find the new website here Preaching the Ten Commandments.
When I heard about the intention of the senior pastor I was not very excited. I never preached from the ten commandments and I was planning to continue my preaching through Genesis (the Isaac story), and later from Ecclesiastes. However, since pastor Steve Chang started preaching through the ten commandments while I was in the hospital (he preached through the first four), I had to continue when I came out, especially since he left for his sabbatical.
As I started preparing for my sermons I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in preaching through the ten commandments, as they reflect the character of God and as the law functions as a mirror that should lead us to God and the cross. (Of course – the law has other functions: map/guide, muzzle/restrain etc).
So far – I find these books the most useful for my preparation (my time is limited, partly because of my knee injury):
Keeping the Ten Commandments by J. I Packer – this is a good and brief introduction to the commandments from a great contemporary theologian.
Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Ryken – this is the best resource for teaching/preaching I have found so far. It is very insightful and informed!!! He gives very good guidelines for understanding OT law and has a very good grasp of the Reformed catechisms (Heidelberg and Westminster) and of today’s culture.
Words from the Fire by Albert Mohler – this is also very insightful, but I find Ryken better.
You can get all of these 3 books on KINDLE (as I did), and that makes it much easier to take notes. If you can only afford two (or have limited time), go for the first two.
Two more books look useful, but I have not been able to access one of them in time though I wish I had it (it is not available in Kindle):
How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments by Edmund Clowney. I do not have access to this, but knowing Clowney’s theology and preaching I am sure it would be very useful. See the first review on Amazon for a good idea about this book.
The Ten Commandments in History: Mosaic Paradigms for a Well-Ordered Society also looks good (and I found it in my library), but I have not had very much time to look at this and I haven’t used it (almost) at all in my preparation. However, it seems worth looking at especially for its chapter on Jonathan Edwards etc.
My sermons (from the 5th commandment on) can be found here. They are from the early (10 a.m.) service because the second one is not recorded anymore. However, starting in March we will have only one service at 11:30 am.
Again – some material/notes for preaching the ten commandments should be poster here: Preaching the Ten Commandments.
Another Easter is approaching, and sometimes it is difficult for pastors and teachers to preach and teach with wisdom, passion and integrity during these most important times in the Christan calendar.
After all – we have all preached on the cross and resurrection before.
How can our hearts be kindled again to preach and teach with passion?
As a co-pastor at an English Ministry – I try to read a few books on preaching per year, in the hope that my preaching will slowly improve.
I recently picked up a funny and instructive good by T. David Gordon (I am pretty sure he taught me Intermediate Greek at GCTS – even though I remember falling asleep in some of his classes from my early shifts at UPS :)): Why Johnny Can’t Preach.
[This is an useful book for any pastor – I just don’t see how you could pass this one to your pastor without more or less sending the message that he can’t preach :)].
There are many insights in this book – I will limit this post to his section on “The Annual Review” (pp. 33-34):
“My final argument to prove that preaching is in bad shape today is the annual review – or, to be more exact, its absence. Almost no churches conduct an annual review of the pastoral staff [this is certainly true in Romanian Baptist churches…]…I believe it is absolutely essential for any professional to have an annual review of his labor. Those of us who teach are reviewed; those who work in business are reviewed. Every other realm of labor recognizes the importance of an annual review, in which strengths and weaknesses can be assessed as a means to a more fruitful service in the future…
So why don’t churches routinely conduct annual reviews of their ministers? Because ministers don’t want to be told that their preaching is disorganized , hard to follow, irrelevant, and poorly reasoned; [TRUE – I certainly don’t want/like to be told that…] and because churches do not want to insult their ministers or hurt their feelings.
Therefore, I suggest that the very absence of annual reviews stands as glaring proof that preaching is so bad today that no one – neither the preacher nor the hearer – can tolerate the thought of how painful it would be to provide an honest assessment.”
Hard to argue with T. David Gordon on this one. I am convinced that an annual review of my preaching would hurt…but I believe that it would be for my good and that of the congregation!
I posted the first part of my message on Genesis 22.
You can find it here.
This is such a monumental passage that I need to get back to it over and over again!
Dr. Alan Cairns has an excellent message on this here.
As I was jogging down the hill this morning (I crawled up in the first phase) I was listening to the great messages by Keller and Clowney on preaching Christ in a postmodern world. See more about these lectures (free to download) here .
Keller mentioned a very important book in one of his lectures by Alec Motyer: Look to the Rock: An Old Testament background to our understanding of Christ .
I was very excited when I heard about this book and I was getting ready to put it on my wishlist at Amazon. UNFORTUNATELY, even though the book is only about $10-15 dollars, it is out of stock everywhere (including at IVP), and the cheapest copy at Amazon is almost $350.00.
Thank God it is available at Google books . That is not my favorite was to read a book, but at least it is available.
I hope that I will find it soon in hard copy so I can buy it. From what Keller said in his lecture, it promises to be a great book for understanding the Old Testament background of Christ.
And I like the title too: Look to the Rock! AMEN!
I started (yet) a new website. It is called Preaching Genesis.
The idea is to use this site as an aid for those who preach through Genesis and do not have access to some of the resources that I do.
I have been preaching through Genesis for a few years now (I am in chapter 22), and I enjoy very much the learning process (I hope the congregation does too :)). I will gradually post my notes and slides, when I find the time to do it.
Since it is a bit easier for me, I will probably post some of my most recent files first (like Genesis 22).
I hope to receive some comments, illustrations, and other ideas on preaching from this great and foundational book of the Bible.
Dr. Julius Kim was a visiting professor here at Torch for about a year.
We really enjoyed his friendship and ministry here.
He was very earnest in teaching us the importance of Christ-centered preaching, and he modeled this in his sermons.
I just found out that he will be speaking at the DG Conference in the fall on John Calvin.
Here is the reason why John Piper invited him:
This is especially for those of you who thought that he was invited because he is good looking! 🙂
There is an excellent article by John Piper in the Taste and See series of Desiring God ministries about television.
You can Read it on their website.
I strongly recommend that you read this, because he does an excellent job in answering the following question:
“Piper says get rid of my TV, and Driscoll says buy extra DVRs. How do you reconcile this difference?”
This quote alone is worth your time:
“I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: Prick him and he bleeds movies.”
You can also read full article below:
This Sunday we were visited by Manfred Kohl.
Dr. Manfred W. Kohl – Dr. Kohl was born in Germany during the Second World War, and was educated in Germany, England, and the US. He earned Master’s degrees in Divinity and Theology, and doctorates in Historical Theology and Ministry. After serving as a pastor in Massachusetts, he had various leadership positions at World Vision. Manfred is now VP of Programs & Int’l Development with Overseas Council International (OCI), an organization that partners with more than 100 theological seminaries and Bible colleges in the non-Western world, equipping indigenous Christian leaders. Manfred does extensive traveling, speaking, and writing. His wife, Barbara, is a native of Nova Scotia, where they now live. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, all of whom live in the US. Manfred enjoys watching sports, reading, and carpentry.
You can find the message that he preached at Hallelujah English Ministry here.
The message is titled: Everything Changes in the Presence of Jesus and is based on Luke 24:13-35.
There is a great panel discussion about what it means to be a pastor with Tim Keller, John Piper, Crawford Loritts, Ligon Duncan and Stephen Um (chair). This took place at the 2009 National Conference of The Gospel Coalition.
Here it is: 2009 Panel Discussion . Enjoy and learn!
This is the sermon from last Sunday at Hallelujah English Ministry.
I plan (when I have more time) to post some more information on preaching Christ from the Old Testament.
I will start with this series of messages (and Q and A’s) of Keller and Edmund Clowney on Preaching Christ in a Postmodern world. This is an excellent resource and can be downloaded for free for your iTunes.
Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World – RTS class with Ed Clowney (iTunes).
For other great resources from Keller click here.
Enjoy and learn!
There are some good preaching points floating out there on Youtube. The following by Walter Brueggemann is one of the better ones:
It reminds me of the text in Acts 6, where the apostles made a firm decision to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the WORD!!!
As pastors and preachers, we certainly need to decide on our priorities. As a rule, I tend to go with the advice of the apostles vs. that of the latest church growing seminar/book. The rabbis provide a fine and sobering example too!
Who is your example?