Making preaching and teaching a priority doesn’t mean devoting hours and hours to the study, it will mean some of that, but it also means meeting with the people, knowing them, knowing the pressures that they face, the temptations and pressures they feel and their spiritual temperature, so that preaching can be done well and relevantly and applicably to those God has called me to preach to, It’s not being an academic, it’s not being hidden behind a towering pile of commentaries. It is working hard to exegete both the word of God and the people of God.
I try to use the summer time to stop and take stock of where I am and where we are. As I do it’s always helpful to return to first things. Specifically what need to be the first things in my diary on a week to week basis, what are the priorities that we determine the reality of day to day ministry.
There is always lots to do and the good is often the enemy of the best. And so it’s been helpful to sit and try to weigh up this week does my diary reflect what ought to be my priorities in ministry. Acts 6 gives us a bit of a template when we look at the Apostles priorities when faced with the danger of distraction with good ministry but not the most necessary ministry.
There twin priorities were prayer and the teaching of the word. And they acted wisely in engaging others to take on the serving of tables – a good and necessary outworking of the gospel.
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By Bill Muehlenberg — 8 months ago
This is not just true of Joe Pagan. It is true of those claiming to be Christians yet absolutely deny God, his truth, and what his Word clearly teaches. No wonder the Bible repeatedly warns about how easy it is to be deceived, how active the devil is, and how we must all be on guard against the lies of the enemy. Consider the recent story of some guy who claims to be a Christian, who now claims to be a woman, and who dumped his wife and three kids in order to be “true to himself.” Worse yet, he is an Anglican vicar of all things.
Satan is real. Sin is real. The fall is real. And deception is real. But too many folks do not believe in any of these realities. As a result, they end up fully falling victim to them. They are bound by diabolical deception, and they do not even know it is happening.
And this is not just true of Joe Pagan. It is true of those claiming to be Christians yet absolutely deny God, his truth, and what his Word clearly teaches. No wonder the Bible repeatedly warns about how easy it is to be deceived, how active the devil is, and how we must all be on guard against the lies of the enemy.
Consider the recent story of some guy who claims to be a Christian, who now claims to be a woman, and who dumped his wife and three kids in order to be ‘true to himself.’ Worse yet, he is an Anglican vicar of all things. As one write-up puts it:
The Church of England’s ‘first’ non-binary vicar said it was ‘difficult’ when they came out to their wife and three children after having a ‘moment of revelation’ while reading the story of Adam and Eve. Bingo Allison, 36, who defines as gender-queer and uses the pronouns ‘they/them’, experienced an epiphany seven years ago while reading Genesis 1-3 in the Old Testament.
The vicar, who works in Liverpool, said they came to terms with their gender identity while reading the story and realised: ‘There’s space in God’s creation for change and transformation, just because you’re created one way doesn’t mean that you can’t live another’. Bingo also said their wife found things ‘difficult’ when they first came out because ‘obviously you marry what you think it a straight guy and obviously things are more complicated than that’. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11591517/Britains-non-binary-CofE-priest-says-God-guided-truth.html
Oh dear. Which is worse: someone living in complete delusion or idiots in the media who go along with it? You will have to ignore these dingbats for using the word “they” when speaking about him. Lying to oneself is bad enough, but when others go along with this, we really are headed for civilisational collapse.
But ‘Bingo’ (which sorta tells us all we need to know about the guy) is a real piece of work here. The amount of absolute lunacy coming from his lips is quite something to behold. The article goes on to say this:
In a speech to a panel on making churches more inclusive, Bingo said Christianity had historically been guilty of prioritising the views of ‘rich, white, straight, cisgender, able-bodied, neurotypical men’. Explaining that they are also autistic and dyspraxic, Bingo wrote: ‘I am passionate about fully including neurodivergent people in the life and faith of the Church, particularly in our telling and retelling of stories from the Bible.
Bingo, who previously trained to become a priest in Durham, said the Church of England was ‘open to me coming out’ but added that it was ‘difficult’ for some people they had worked with ‘because for them I was the first transgender person they had worked with closely’. They have since moved to the Liverpool Diocese ‘which does so much to support and empower LGBT people’ and they have found their new congregation ‘wonderful’….
By David Strain — 2 years ago
Union with Christ is, as we have begun to see, one of those architectonic principles that shapes the fabric of the Christian life. In this article, I want to highlight a few of the implications of our union with Christ for our spirituality. To be sure, spirituality is fascinating to people today. Usually when we run across the idea, it suggests the pursuit of subjective spiritual experience, often linked to mental and emotional well-being, sometimes suggesting practices like Eastern meditation and mindfulness. But true Christian spirituality has little in common with that way of thinking. And the fundamental point of difference has to do with the center—the object, the focal point. In the models of spirituality common in our culture, the self is the focal point. We pursue spiritual experience for the sake of experience, or possibly for the sense of well-being it is alleged to promise. But in authentically Christian spirituality, experience—though present and vital, rich and real—isn’t the goal and the self isn’t the focus. In Christian spirituality, God in Christ by the Holy Spirit is the focus. Knowing Him and delighting in Him are our objectives. Insofar as thoughts of self have a place in Christian spirituality at all, it is a small one. This view of spirituality helps us see ourselves truly only insofar as we come to know God truly.
For our purposes, I am defining “spirituality” as the pursuit, by means of scriptural disciplines, of an ever-growing, deeply felt communion with the triune God. My argument is that the doctrine of union with Christ is at the very heart of all our fellowship with God and every discipline or habit of grace by which that fellowship may be cultivated.
Union Leads to Communion
In John 14:16, Jesus promised the disciples that He would ask the Father to give them another Helper, whom He identifies as the Spirit of truth. The phrase “another Helper” means another of the same kind. Jesus was departing to the Father, by way of the cross, but He would send another helper of the same character as Himself. This Helper is the Holy Spirit, who would dwell with the disciples and be in them. But in verses 18–19, we learn that the link between Christ and the Spirit is far more profound than we might first think. Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me” (emphasis added). Jesus, though departing, would come to His disciples. This isn’t a reference to the resurrection or to the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age. This is a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit. There is a union between Christ and the Spirit such that the Spirit communicates to us the presence of Christ. Jesus comes to us and indwells us by the Spirit. When Jesus says, “Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I in you” (vv. 19–20), He is telling us the consequence of the Spirit’s mighty work. In the Spirit, we are united to Jesus Christ.
By Henry Anderson — 1 year ago
What matters most to God is what fuels our obedience, and it should be love. When we come before the Lord in song, it’s not enough to merely be engaged with the words intellectually, it’s not even enough to follow through on what we sing, we must be a people that love God in these realities. That’s what the Lord desires.
Over the past few decades, there has been a tremendous emphasis placed upon exposition in the church. The benefits of this are too many to count. A revival has taken place where a number of churches have moved away from a surface level study of God’s word (like skipping a rock on the ocean), to an in-depth comprehensive study of the text––exposition (like dropping an anchor down to the ocean floor).
After all, if God’s word is breathed by Him and therefore sourced in Him, then it is incumbent upon us as His people to draw the last drops of sweet nectar that we can from every single word. Paul tells Timothy
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped, having been thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Tim 3:16–17
Since the Scriptures are profitable to equip us for every single good work prepared for us, we should not just know a little bit of them, we must live in them (cf. Matt 4:4; Eph 2:10).
To that end, many pastors have written books on the topic of expository preaching. That is, preaching that seeks to understand a text within its larger context and draw out the God-laden meaning from the words and grammar that has been used by the Biblical writers. G. Campbell Morgan put it this way, “The sermon is the text repeated more fully.” That’s the idea.
In a related but slightly different direction, in 2010, Ken Ramey wrote a book entitled, Expository Listening. His work is a primer on how God’s people should approach listening to an expository sermon. It is based on passages like Jas 1:22, “But become doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Building off of the momentum, in 2017, Josh Neimi released the book entitled, Expository Parenting. The book aims to show parents that they must expose and lay bare the pure milk of the Scriptures to their children.
With that being said, you opened this article expecting to learn about a different type of exposition. At this point, I do want to speak about expository singing.
Now, there are two ways that we might approach this topic. The first would be more for worship leaders. Expository singing could mean the way that writing hymns and spiritual songs should be done, based on the exposition or explanation of the meaning of the Scriptures. That’s one way, but that’s not what I intend with this article.
The second approach is seen in thinking about expository singing, not from the approach of creating content, but rather based on how we approach the songs that we sing to the Lord each Sunday (or throughout the week). Well-written hymns and spiritual songs are expository in nature. The Scriptures are the light unto our path, and good praise songs will emphasize the light of the Lord through His word and bring us near to Him (Ps 119:105).
With that in mind, there are four principles that I want to deliver to you that should cause you to enjoy God more through song when rightly appropriated. In finding your enjoyment in God, you bring honor to Him in fulfilling your created purpose… the exaltation of His name (Ps 34:3).
Here is a question for you, what makes a good Christian song? Is it the date in which it was written (a pre-1900 hymn with preferably some old English mixed in)? Is it the melody that the song has or its tempo, upbeat or slow? What about the instruments used or lack thereof (drums, guitars, cymbals, harps, a cappella)? How about the number of times the chorus is sung? Here’s the answer. None of those make a good Christian song, inherently.
What makes a good praise song is the words. It’s the content. After Jesus’ ostensible disciples depart from Him, there’s this precious interaction between Jesus and his disciples…
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”
Where else can we go, but you Lord? We sing songs that make much of the God of our salvation.
But here’s the rub, how many of those words do you actually think about when you sing them on Sunday morning (or ideally throughout the week)? It is so ingrained in our culture and in our world to value songs that have catchy beats and rifts and then to mindlessly puppet the words the artist sings. That has no place in Christianity. This is the first principle of expository singing, we must be engaged singers.
We Must be Engaged Singers
There are two quotes that I use often but have never been able to find (if you can identify them please let me know). The first is from Charles Spurgeon (at least I think) concerning sanctification, “we must move, but He must move us.” I love that quote, but I can’t find it anywhere. The second pertains to our topic. Paul Washer once said (at least I think) that “we never lie more than in our singing of songs of praise.” Why would Paul Washer say that?
It’s all too common for people to sing glorious lyrics on Sunday morning but not truly mean them. If I told you, “I like your outfit,” but I didn’t mean it, what would you call me? You’d call me a liar. But doesn’t that happen with how we approach God through song? Yes, I said “we,” I am guilty of this too. Here are some relatively well-known lyrics… through introspection, answer as to whether or not you meant them fully when you last sang them.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King; I will tell the wondrous story how, my lost estate to save, in His boundless love and mercy He the ransom freely gave; When morning gilds the skies, My heart awaking cries, May Jesus Christ be praised; I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no pow’r, no wisdom.”