Archive for January, 2008

Leadership Retreat

I’m getting out of town this afternoon (through Saturday) with my fellow elders for our annual leadership retreat. I would be interested to hear if some of you do similar things with your leadership and if so what do you do? For fun? For ministry?

Notes on the OT

Expository Thoughts contributor, Randy McKinion, has been teaching a biblical theology of the OT book by book at Colonial Baptist (Cary, NC). He has made available his notes on a class blog. This is a great resoure so be sure to check it out (here).

Should we fast today?


I am teaching an adult Sunday School class this year on the “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”  Obviously, i am using Dr. Whitney’s classic work as a guide among other resources.

I have finally come to his chapter on fasting.  He suggests that “Jesus expected that His followers would fast.” (Matthew 6:16-17 and Matthew 9:14-15).  He also writes, “And since there is nothing here or elsewhere in Scripture indicating that we no longer need to fast, and since we know that Christians in the book of Acts fasted (9:9, 13:2, 14:23), we may conclude that Jesus still expects His followers to fast today.”

 Help me out here (w/o doing my exegesis for me). :)

 1. What must read resources would you suggest I review to help answer the question: is fasting a mandated discipline for all believers today?

2. Do you agree with Dr. Whitney’s quotes? Why or why not?

3. Other specific thoughts or helps you might have for me?

Thanks to Matt for letting me post this today.  Make sure you read his quote on preaching as well since it’s a great one.

Kaiser on Expository Preaching (Part 2)

Expository preaching and teaching unwaveringly begins and remains with the biblical text throughout the whole sermon. Rather than beginning with a human need or concern as the impetus for the sermon, the expository sermon deliberately reverses the action and has the sermon originate in the exposition of the Biblical text itself. Exposition starts with the Biblical text and holds fast to that text throughout the sermon or lesson.

—Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament, p. 50

Preaching and Pancake Syrup

As I was eating breakfast this morning the following thoughts on preaching came to mind.


My wife made blueberry pancakes for the family breakfast this morning.  They were delicious ‘panners’ made perfect when topped off with maple syrup.  The syrup I have grown accustomed to is imitation “light” syrup.  As a matter of fact I really don’t enjoy “regular” syrup anymore.  It is too sweet for my liking.  I’d even choose light syrup over tree-tapped genuine Vermont maple syrup.


Sadly, I realized that many people are wired the same way when it comes to preaching.  Many Christians have become so accustomed to shallow evangelical principalizing that when real expository preaching is tasted it’s rejected (at least initially).  R.L. Dabney refers to a period in church history when Scriptural truth is presented but not in its Scriptural dress.  That has become the most accepted and familiar mode of preaching in most evangelical pulpits these days.  I’m not thinking about the Joel Osteens of the world in this particular post; I’m talking about men who honestly think they’re presenting an expository sermon and of congregations who think they’re actually hearing one.  It’s not unbiblical truth that’s presented, its actually sound doctrine that’s just not presented in Scriptural dress.


Dabney rightly believed that the golden age of preaching is when Scriptural truth is presented in Scriptural dress.  That of course is the power of true expository preaching.  When we preach, we’re called to speak as it were, the very words of God (1 Peter 4:10-11).  This is best accomplished when gifted men commit themselves wholly to Bible exposition.


The problem is that many people want so many illustrations, stories, or application points that no time is left for true exposition.  Who wants to hear about the historical background of Romans when in that time 3 or 4 stories, illustrations, or jokes could be shared?  Now most people wouldn’t say that aloud but that is in fact what they’re thinking.


I noticed this response over 10 years when I was a student at the Master’s College.  During a school sponsored Bible conference three gifted men brought the Word.  All were great communicators but one was especially humorous and “relatable”.  Unfortunately his sermons were also the lightest of the three.  His preaching was thoroughly evangelical but not truly expositional or deep.  Still most of the students I talked with in the dorms during and after the conference thought his sermons were the “best.”  Those most gifted in oratory are often most prone to this extreme.  It’s what i call “shallow evangelical principlizing.”


Engaging oratory and great communication is not synonymous with a great sermon.  In our preaching we should seek both light and heat.  I’m not calling for dry, lifeless, preaching here.  Passionate, clear, text-driven preaching is what our people most desperately need.  Just don’t be surprised if you bring that type of syrup to your people if they initially reject it in favor of the “light” stuff.

Kaiser on Expository Preaching (Part 1)

An expository sermon or lesson is one that…allows the biblical text to supply both the shape and the content of the message or lesson from that text itself. The reason for this limitation is important. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of pouring what we already know of the grace of God into the different containers made up of different verses of Scripture without seriously giving each text an opportunity to first teach us what it wants to say. Not only does such preaching become repetitive, but it severely handicaps the preacher’s opportunity to grow and stretch in new areas.

Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament, pp. 49-50

Update: Question about Selling Bibleworks

Question: Does anyone know if it’s okay for me to sell my copy of Bibleworks 7.0? I was unable to find anything on their website that spoke to this issue so if anyone knows, shoot me an email (my address is under “contact”).

Yes, I’m using something else which I thought I would never do.

I just received this from the home office:

“You own the license of BibleWorks, and can sell it as well. The only matter of consequence is to be sure to pass along the serial # (which is the license) and give us a call to clarify that your license has been sold to the new owner. The new owner should give us a call as well to register the BW7 so we have the serial # in his/her name, duly noted in our database.”

The Anatomy of Unbelief in the Gospel of John

The Anatomy of Unbelief (Part 1)

Text: John 5:39-47

Four Underlying Reasons Why People Reject Jesus Christ:

  1. A Lack of Willingness: They are simply unwilling to come to Him (39-40).
  2. A Lack of Love: They have no love for God in their hearts (41-42).
  3. A Lack of Humility: They are blinded by their own pride (43-44).
  4. A Lack of Faith: They do not believe what God has said (45-47).

The Anatomy of Unbelief (Part 2)

Text: John 6:1-66

Three Steps on the Path to Apostasy:

  1. An Initial Desire to Enjoy the Temporal Pleasures of What Jesus Provides (1-26)
  2. An Underlying Failure Embrace the True Significance of Who Jesus Is (27-52)
  3. An Eventual Unwillingness to Accept the Harder Truths of What Jesus Teaches (53-66)

Weekend Fun: Yes folks, it’s back

Sometimes in my life as a pastor, with the demands on my schedule, I feel like the guy who needs to “zap fry” my pop-tarts. If you’ve been there, enjoy this.

Press on!

On Calvin’s Preaching

Someone recently gave me a copy of Steve Lawson’s little gem, The Expository Genius of John Calvin. It’s one of those books that you can read in a sitting. If you know Steve, this book reads like his preaching. It is sincere, passionate, encouraging and convicting all at once. Much of Calvin’s approach and practice in preaching will not be ground breaking to you if you read broadly on expository preaching. What will be helpful is seeing that the man who is often credited with turning the ship of Protestantism did it with the same methods that many of us employee in our preaching today.

This morning I was reading on application in Calvin’s sermons. This is the area of expository preaching that garners the most disagreement in my assessment. In that section I found a nugget of gold. The nugget comes from Calvin’s practice in preaching.

Sadly, some today take Calvinism or it’s various segments in reformed soteriology and use it to beat the daylights out of their opponents or those under their care. After all, they opine, if Calvin the Great did it, why shouldn’t we? It has always amazed me that those who come to understand sovereign grace exhibit anything BUT that [grace] to those who are not on the same page. But according to Lawson, Calvin was not like that in the bulk of his preaching. I have no doubt that Calvin called a theological spade a spade (see Polemic Confrontation later in the book). But the overall character of his preaching was altogether different. Listen to these poignant words from the pen of Dr. Lawson

“Calvin did not fire over the heads of his people while answering aberrations of other theologians. He did not misuse the pulpit to rebut his numerous critics. Instead, Calvin remained intent on nurturing the spiritual development of his people. He preached primarily to edify and encourage the congregation God had entrusted to Him. In short, he preached for changed lives.” – Steve Lawson, p. 104-105.

May we all strive for that kind of pastoral care in our preaching.

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