Archive for February, 2008

Welcome new McKinion

Congratulations to Randy and April Mckinion on the birth of Zoe Grace.

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in
the company of the upright and in the assembly. Great are the works of
the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and
majestic is His work, and His righteousness endures forever! (Ps. 111:1-3)

Zoe Grace McKinion
Friday, February 15, 2008
7:51 AM
9 pounds and 0 ounces
21 inches long

A personal encounter with Al Mohler

By now most have heard that Al Mohler will soon undergo a very serious surgery for a tumor that has been found in his colon. Not only are our prayers with this great minister but my thoughts turned this evening to an unusual meeting I had with him a number of years ago.

When I was wet behind both ears I had an encounter with Dr. Al Mohler that I will never forget. I was the student leader at the University of Mobile for the ministerial student association. One of my jobs was to line-up speakers for our meetings and a major coup at that time was to book Dr. Mohler for a special dinner where he could address potential students for SBTS. He was fresh into his presidency at Southern and still facing enormous challenges from his own administration and faculty. Students were actively protesting against him and death threats were being made. In the midst of this turmoil he agreed to come to UM for one evening and address our ministerial students. If memory serves me correctly about twelve showed up for the meeting.

Before Dr. Mohler was to speak we had a nice quiet dinner and I had him all to myself at the front table. For about thirty minutes we talked about military history, preaching, theology, SBC politics, Jacques Barzun and whatever else I could think to ask him about. Looking back I am amazed he was able to eat anything at all because I had peppered him with so many questions. What I remember is that he was incredibly gracious and patient with me. He listened and he helped me enormously.

When it was his time to speak to a packed house of twelve he spoke as if he was addressing a thousand yet was very personable and warm. At the end of his message which was about the need for preaching and the vision he had for SBTS he opened the floor for questions which came at a steady pace for about thirty minutes. He answered every question and stayed around to talk to the students after the dinner. Dr. Mohler stayed until every student left.

In the time since he has become a household name among evangelicals. He is a man that is hated as much as he is loved. However, his impact as the ninth president of Southern Seminary will continue to reach far beyond their own graduates. Although I didn’t know it the night I met with Dr. Mohler, I would not go on to Southern as I had originally planned. The Lord had other plans for me that took me well beyond my SBC comfort zone. Though I would not become one of his many students I remain grateful for those quiet moments we shared where he encouraged me to be a faithful minister and shepherd of God’s people.

We at Expository Thoughts are praying for a healthy recovery and God’s peace for Dr. Mohler’s family.

Coming soon: A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism

In a few weeks our own Matt Waymeyer will debut his newest work A Biblical Critique of Infant Baptism. We will have more information soon including excerpts and an interview with Matt about the project. Stay tuned.

Humor and Worship?

What do you think about the role of humor during the corporate worship service?  Is there ever a place for it?  How does one determine whether or not it’s appropriate or not?  When does it become overkill?  Is it possible to become so serious that we don’t allow people to express there joy?  What type of mood is most befitting a worship service?  What Scriptures would you turn to in effort to support your answers?

Off the beaten path

Here are a couple of very readable essays from my archives that we might say are off the beaten path:

Karl Barth on Mozart

The Enigmatic William Barclay

David McCullough on “The Course of Human Events”

Luther on Fasting

Martin Luther told a humorous story on fasting…

  An officer in the Turkish War wanting to encourage his men told them “That if they died in battle, they would feast with Christ in Paradise.”

After his brief pep talk the officer himself fled!

  When asked why he did not wish to feast with Christ, he said “That he was fasting that day.”


In the news

Newsweek profiles Tim Keller.

Time Magazine interviews N. T. Wright.

What we’ve all been thinking

Since most of us lack the British ability to say things this way, Carl Trueman has delivered a witty piece of prose that says what many of us have been thinking.


Here are a few items that have provoked thought within my “Lame World”:

Former Lutheran pastor turned Catholic, Richard John Neuhaus calls for the conversion of England (from Anglican to RCC). WWRS? “What would Ryle say?”

Jon Payne gives an excellent summary of Reformed liturgical worship. This is helpful for those who don’t want to read hundreds of pages from Hughes Old’s Worship: Reformed According to Scripture. There are numerous holes in his logic but nevertheless some very helpful correctives for American Evangelicalism (e.g. The Public Reading of Scripture).

Peter Mead, who has one of the best preaching blogs around, has posted a review of Eugene Lowry’s The Homilectical Plot. Mead is very gracious in his analysis yet rightly points out that narrative preaching often tends to miss the crux of explaining the text. I will be saying more about this in the days to come as this comes in to play for my doctoral dissertation (which I should probably be writing instead of writing blog posts).

Here is an interesting interview of J.R.R. Tolkien on BBC radio way back in 1971. “Ramble on, now it’s time to sing my song!”

In case you missed it. You should probably download the latest 9Marks eJournal which is on Public Prayer. There is some very good and practical wisdom for those involved in public ministry (PDF).

I found Tim Challies post, “Reflections from a First Time Author,” to be insightful and helpful for those of us who are on the front end of writing for public consumption.

If there are any Lost fans out there. Did anyone notice that the new character “Charlotte Staples Lewis” shares two of her names and all of her initials with C. S. Lewis. The writers of Lost enjoy making literary connections as well as philosophical connections (e.g. Locke, Hume) to bring out various dynamics of a character. It will be interesting to see what connections there may be between the two Lewis’s.

Is expository preaching against discussion?

We have been discussing the role of dialogue within the context of the sermon. Craddock has argued that the preacher should inductively lead a person to make their own conclusions about the text as it applies to their life. In essence, he argues that this brings the hearer into a form of dialogue with the preacher even though actual dialogue may not take place.

Pagitt has taken this a step further and seeks to “re-imagine” the sermon as a discussion rather than a declaration. The sermon in this case does not rest on exegesis but on group formulation although Pagitt attempts to claim otherwise (Preaching Re-Imagined, 54; 185-89). The representative works of progressional dialogue and inductive preaching are so full of straw argumentation that one would think that folks who regularly hear good expository preaching are never allowed to discuss the sermon. One could get the idea that questions about an expository sermon are forbidden and always considered out of order unless one embraces a postmodern rationale that says the best direction is no direction.

While discussion is excellent even essential at the right time, we should still remember that preaching is a “live” event in which the Word of God is to be heralded (2 Tim. 4:2) not discussed. Additionally, an argument could be made that the moment of the preaching event itself is the defining moment and everything else (application, discussion, etc.) is simply part of the necessary ongoing response. Jonathan Edwards made statements along these lines when he wrote, “The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by the impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered” (Works of Jonathan Edwards, 4:397).

So how can we positively dialogue “around” an expository

  1. Have a plan: The reason why some may balk at the idea of sermon discussion is because we’ve all been in groups where the level of involvement never gets past the narcissistic “what this means to me” style of dialogue. Have purpose and intentionality when forming discussion groups. There should always be a knowledgeable facilitator who can bring out the best and help move things along.
  2. Create Discussion times: There can be discussion/application groups that meet for Sunday School or at other times in homes. We encourage our church members to invite visitors and fellow believers into their homes on Sunday nights for fellowship and discussion around the Word. One of our families makes it publicly known that there is always lunch available at their house for anyone who wants to come on Sunday afternoon (and there’s always someone there). We have some family in our home most Sunday nights.
  3. Know Your Congregation: A good sermon will raise questions and provoke natural discussions. Pastors should make themselves available and not hide away from their congregations. One way I do this is to meet with the men of my church over lunch once a week where anything can be asked or questioned.
  4. Cultivate Sermon Accountability: Meet with people who will speak honestly about your sermons and genuinely help you become more effective. All of my elders do this and I also have fellow pastors in other churches who challenge me. Video yourself once in a while and force yourself to watch it (you will learn a lot).
  5. Pay attention to the craft of sermon construction: An expository sermon does not mean that there should be no mystery or “a ha” moment of discovery. Inductive homileticians like to point out that there is no discovery or building of anticipation in expository sermons. There’s no reason why this has to be the case. Work hard on transitions and “plot development” especially when preaching narrative (which is the majority of Scripture). Maybe we can develop this more in a later post.

Any thoughts?




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