Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What should be included in a sermon and what should be excluded?

I may be the world's worst to address this topic, because I never want to leave anything out!!! In actuality though, knowing the main point of the text let's us know what to keep and what to save for something else. For instance, Lloyd-Jones did a whole series once from "good things" that he left out of other sermons and that fit well together. So the questions I ask myself each week: "Is this information part of the main point?" "Will this information help clarify, explain, support, or illustrate the main point?" "Why should this material be included/excluded?" "Do I have a selfish motive for wanting to include this information (i.e. an axe I want to grind)?" "Will this info help someone in our congregation who is walking through something right now (i.e. because I know those I shepherd, I know that this one point though brief may still be beneficial for them)?" In John 16:12, Jesus said, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Knowing when to say what always requires dependence upon the Spirit. The beauty of pastoring though is you can take those extra things and send them in an email to your people as a part of shepherding them. You could use them on a Wednesday night to say "There were some great truths in our text last Sunday, but we could not cover all of them, but I wanted to share them on a Wed night with you so that we just didn't move past and ignore them." There are a lot of venues for you to still communicate what you see in the text without loading all of it into one sermon. You know your people better than anyone else. You know what they've been accustomed to hearing and handling from a text. No one will ever be upset with simple, clear, and faithful sermons. If it is the main point, supports the main point, or illustrates the main point then include it. If it's not the main point, but still a good point, then find another way to put it in front of your people.

Friday, April 24, 2015

So You're Not John Piper, So What?

Here is a note of encouragement I sent to the men of our faith family to encourage them in shepherding their families: Men, So you're not John Piper, so what? Be the shepherd in your home that God has made you. You may not have had 60 years to walk in Christ, but His grace is sufficient for whatever # day this is for you. I often beat myself up because I feel I need to do more and be more as the shepherd in our home. Today, however, as I sang praise songs with our kids and prayed with them on the way to school, and as I contemplated leading our family in reading the Word around our table last night - I realized my dad never did any of these things. While I'm not all I want to be yet, I'm also not the worst I could be and all of this is because of His grace. So I want to encourage you today. Don't be paralyzed just because you may not be able to provide a definition for the hypostatic union off the top of your head. If you know the Gospel, you already know the starting place for discipleship in your home. Shepherd those in your care with all that God teaches you each day from His Word. In Christ, we can do it, especially, if we encourage one another as brothers. So here's my encouragement for you. Be who God has made you to be up to this point and who He is making you to be as each moment in Christ passes. If you fail at something today, do not let it be in at least trying something as the shepherd in your home!

Monday, March 23, 2015

After Laodicea

Laodicea "did not realize" their true spiritual condition. Because He loved them, Jesus spoke plainly and said "You are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." After revealing who they really were, Jesus called them to "be zealous and repent." Both of these are written in a present tense, so Jesus was calling Laodicea to keep being zealous and to keep repenting. What did Laodicea do with what Jesus shared with them? Only Heaven will tell the full story, but we do know there is not much of a Christian influence there today. To be honest, there was not much of a Christian influence in their day either was there? What about us? What do we do after God reveals truth about Himself and ourselves to us? Do we ignore Him? Do we reject His version? Or do we respond in repentance begging the Lord for every grace to lay down our self-reliance/arrogance and to move forward in Christ? I hope we will not go on with "business as usual." As we look to Christ, may He empower us to "keep being zealous" and to "keep repenting," because we know the "Amen, the faithful and true witness" knows exactly what He is talking about and can be trusted. Lead on King Jesus. Lead on! Thank You for graciously not leaving us to ourselves but for pursuing us that we might pursue You.