May the Lord bless and keep you today.
Westminster Books has a lot of great deals in their year-end clearance sale.
Logos users, remember to grab the free and nearly free books of the month before it’s over.
CT has a roundup of the year’s top discoveries in biblical archaeology.
Dan DeWitt turns an unfortunate Christmas gift into a lesson about the holiday season. “This is life though, isn’t it? We have Christmas. We celebrate. We enjoy the moment. And then real life rushes at us without as much as a warning.”
Glenna Marshall offers four common but important questions to ask of your Bible reading. They are designed to help you read with greater intentionality.
Lieryn Barnett: “It’s difficult to know how to help or respond when you learn someone in your church family is suffering from bipolar, but a good place to start is striving to understand the struggle. Here are four things to know as you walk beside your brother or sister.”
There is some good counsel here, courtesy Jerry Bridges, about resolving to grow in godliness.
PetaPixel has a fascinating new photo of the sun taken by an astrophotographer.
Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter. —Charles Spurgeon
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By Tim Challies — 8 months ago
Sometimes a book obscures its subject behind a clever or even misleading title. Sometimes, though, it just goes out and says it. And that’s very much the case with Bob Fyall’s Why Are We Often So Boring?. Having dedicated his life to both preaching and training others to preach, he has collected his thoughts and reflections in this small but punchy book.
His concern, of course, is that too much preaching is boring. Yet he is not lobbying for preaching that is novel or entertaining. He is not suggesting that pastors adopt some of the practices you might observe in many of today’s seeker-friendly megachurches. Rather, he wants to see pastors become committed, faithful, engaging expositors of the Word. Such preaching, while perhaps not fitting any definition of entertainment, will be interesting and effective. “Underlying this book is the conviction that expository preaching is not only one of many good things for a church but the lifeblood of a healthy fellowship. Without it, other things, which may be good in themselves, can go badly wrong and fail to build anything of lasting worth. It is hard work and, particularly when results appear to be meagre, there is the temptation to try what seems to be more attractive and rewarding. This book is an attempt to encourage all of us to stick to the task and to be the best that we can be.”
He begins the book with a brief look at the task of the preacher and the wonder that God chooses to use weak, fallible men to accomplish great things through the preaching of the Word. He wants pastors to become confident in what God has called them to do even with an awareness of their many inadequacies. He considers why too many sermons are non-events that do not accomplish what they otherwise might—whether that’s because they get bogged down in context without ever getting to the point or because they get too hung up on details that are necessary for the preacher to know but that should have been left in the study. He also offers a series of principles that underlie effective preaching.
He dedicates a chapter to the modern history of expository preaching. This is a UK-centric look at how expository preaching, a mainstay of the Reformers, was displaced for a time but then rediscovered by men like Martyn Lloyd Jones, Dick Lucas, and John Stott. He also introduces some of the scholars who dedicated their lives to producing the kind of resources that would help pastors in the task.
A further chapter turns to Ecclesiastes, of all places, to discuss the task of the preacher, while several others break down the method of going from a text to a polished and preachable sermon. He offers some reflections on where preachers can overemphasize small details while missing key ones. He assures the pastor that God is eager to help and bless him in his preaching ministry. He reminds the preacher that he himself must be first to be impacted and changed by the Word, for “just as the Word becomes flesh uniquely and fully in the Lord Jesus Christ, so the Word must be incarnated in the preacher” and “if we are not changed by the message we bring, no one else will be.” He concludes by assuring pastors that they must be faithful foremost to God, for he alone has the final authority. “No human will pronounce final judgment on our preaching. Realising that will save us from pride when plaudits come and from despair when criticisms multiply.”
Why Are We Often So Boring? is an excellent, helpful little book. It is not a textbook on preaching as much as a collection of an experienced pastor’s reflections on the sacred task God assigns to the pastor. It is a good reminder of what every pastor ought to know and a good refresher on how every pastor ought to preach.
By Tim Challies — 6 months ago
The son of King Jeroboam had fallen deathly ill. His father was understandably worried, concerned to know whether his child would live or die. He knew just where to go for a trustworthy answer. Yet he also knew that he could not go himself.
He came up with a devious plan: he would send his wife in his place. He would send her in secret, he would send her in disguise. And she, in the guise of a disinterested commoner, would ask the prophet on her husband’s behalf. So, taking the gift of a peasant rather than the gift of a king, and wearing the clothes of a laborer rather than the clothes of a queen, she set out on her journey.
She eventually arrived at Shiloh, at the home of the prophet Ahijah. Yet she quickly learned that this prophet was not fooled by her disguise, for God had told him that she would arrive. And God had also told him what message he must deliver. “I am charged with unbearable news for you,” he said—the unbearable news that Jeroboam’s line would come to a tragic end and that, of all his household, this child alone would receive a proper, dignified burial. “When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD, the God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.”
There is much we ought to learn from this tragic story. But today my heart is drawn to one simple lesson: There are times when royalty passes before us and we do not see it. There are times when we are in the presence of kings and queens, of princes and princesses, and we do not identify it. We do not acknowledge it.
Jeroboam’s wife passed through the land and no one knew or even suspected that she was anyone other than a commoner. Yet she was as much a queen walking to Shiloh with dust on her feet as she was sitting in the palace with diamonds around her neck. Her simple clothes and humble demeanor may have masked the reality, but they did not negate it.
A few weeks ago, I stood in the humblest of villages in the distant reaches of rural Cambodia. This is a village that has not yet been reached by electricity or running water. Yet it has been reached by the gospel and all but a scant remainder of its people have believed and become royalty—sons and daughters of the King. They wear the disguise of farmers who tend to rubber plantations and cashew groves. But even though their homes are tiny and unadorned, and even though they wear no crowns and own no robes, they are most truly princes and princesses who simply await their full inheritance.
A week later, I found myself in Fiji, making friends with men who have traveled from across the great expanses of the Pacific to be trained as pastors. Some have come from locations so remote that until they arrived at the seminary they had never even seen a car. They are humble men who have little and who may never own so much of what you and I are certain we could never live without. They pass their days in the guise of students who attend a seminary few have heard of so they can become pastors in places few will ever visit. No one greets them with honor and no one bows in their presence. Yet they, too, are royalty, made by God, known by God, loved by God, adopted by God.
And so, it strikes me that as you worship this Sunday, as you gather with your church, you should keep in mind the reality that you are surrounded by royalty. Maybe you will begin the service with a song like:
O worship the King all-glorious above,O gratefully sing his power and his love:our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
Give praise to your King! And perhaps as you do so, look around, look beyond the disguises—the suits and ties or the jeans and t-shirts—to see God’s family before him, God’s family joined together in worship, God’s sons and daughters rejoicing together in the Father who has made them his own, the Father who is worthy of their most heartfelt praise.
By Tim Challies — 8 months ago
Grace and peace to you on this fine day.
Today’s Kindle deals include a nice selection from Crossway.
(Yesterday on the blog: The Bible Never Offers a Drink from Shallow Waters)
Analogies for the Trinity Considered, Including Bad Ones
This is an interesting observation: “The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed, which are the two most important confessions of faith that teach the doctrine of the Trinity, never even use the word ‘three.’ They say nothing about ‘how God is three in one.’ Rather, they teach that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You can count to three if you want, but it’s hardly essential, and in fact you’ll understand the doctrine better if you forget about counting.”
The Kigali Commitment — the statement from GAFCON 4
This was an encouraging report from GAFCON (despite this sad intro). “In a couple of weeks, King Charles III will swear in his Coronation Oath to maintain and defend ‘the true profession of the gospel… the Protestant Reformed religion’. Sadly, the current leadership of the Church of England has chosen not to maintain and defend this faith but to subvert and replace it with something else more amenable to modern culture.”
Lessons About God from Job
This is a helpful summary of the big message at the heart of the book of Job.
4 Benefits of Developing Position Papers in a Ministry Context
“Going through the process of developing position papers increased our clarity, confidence, compassion, and consistency.” Our elders have found the same as we’ve worked through the issues and written out position papers.
My Son’s Short Life Was Not a Waste
“Tugi Mbugua Musyimi was a part of our family for nine months. God began knitting him together in his mother’s womb at some point in July 2022. From the moment we first learned of his existence, we were excited as God answered our prayer to grow our family.” John Musyimi testifies to God’s purposes even through sorrow.
Why God Made You for Membership
“In an age that suspects and even despises authority, church membership is a loud, arresting statement of our devotion to Christ.”
Flashback: Deconstruction, Exvangelicals, and Jumping Overboard from an Ocean Liner
We hear a lot about “deconstruction” these days and a lot about “exvangelicals.” And though the terms may be new, the reality is as old as the church itself—some will profess faith for a time and then fall away.
The great enemy of peace is the consciousness of sin. He who would give us peace must deal with that first. —F.B. Meyer