mgpcpastor's blog

reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware


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Five Points To Improve Preaching (via Kevin DeYoung)

Kevin DeYoung identifies these five points as being indicative of feedback on his preaching.
They strike me as being generally true, and the first three are part of my goals for preaching after leave.

  • Your introductions are too long. Don’t be afraid to dive right into the text.
  • Your sermons could be five minutes shorter without losing anything.
  • You seem rushed when you get to your conclusion. That’s often the best, most important part. Think about trimming back earlier in the sermon so you can slow down at the end.
  • Your content is great, but it can be too much.
  • Just be yourself.

Introductions are necessary, but should be crisp. Better no introduction than one that is simply a ‘warm-up’ anecdote.
The time thing and the rushed thing flow together. Pacing is important and time spent earlier could be better invested in the end.
Although if application material is introduced and referred to during the sermon, the conclusion is more of a summary challenge than a point on which all the preceding material hinges in order to make sense.

Go and read DeYoung’s post where he also provides some points about the support churches can provide for their pastors.


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Six Ways Smartphones And Online Activity May Changing You (And Me)

Tim Chester has transcribed six questions that close an audio interview Tony Reinke conducted with David Wells and Douglas Groothius that was posted on the Desiring God website.
I recognise the issues identified in these questions, where the tool goes beyond a means and becomes an end in itself and starts to redefine our perceptions of self in subtle and unhelpful ways.

  1. Am I becoming like what I behold in my iPhone? Are my face-to-face relationships conforming to modes of communication that are shaped by my online habits?
  2. Am I overlooking my finiteness? I am finite. I am a man severely limited in what I can know and what I can read and what I engage and what I can care about. So do I want to know everything? Do I fear being left behind on what’s trending online right now?
  3. Am I multitasking priorities that should be uni-tasked. Specifically is my time with God in the word and I prayer being distracted and even being replaced by digital interruptions?
  4. I am deleting my embodiment? Do I truly value the personal, face-to-face relationships in my life over the disembodied relationships I maintain online? Are my face-to-face relationships with my neighbour, my wife and my kids suffering as a result?
  5. I am losing interest in the gathered church on Sunday? Baptisms, the Lord’s Supper, corporate worship, the laying on of hands – do I truly value the embodied reality that is my local church? Do I fiddle through it on my phone looking for something more entertaining?
  6. Am I careless with my words? It’s easy for my words to be published online. So what self-imposed limitations do I have to filter what I say and do I have any accountability in my life for what I say online?

Read Chester’s post here, and see the link to the original article at Desiring God.


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Time To Stop Flogging This Parson (via Simon Manchester)

At The Briefing, Simon Manchester seeks to address the historical imbalance that have been present in appraisals Samuel Marsden’s life.

The introduction:

The second chaplain to New South Wales—Samuel Marsden—was born 250 years ago on 28th July 1764. He was slandered for most of his life, and the epithet ‘flogging parson’ has (sadly) stuck down the years and prejudiced thousands against a mighty man. Wise historians have recognized that standing so alone for Christ in a colony made up largely of soldiers and convicts it is no wonder Marsden was vilified.
Consider this entry in Marsden’s diary as a sign of his theology and godliness—as he faced the challenges of gospelling native inhabitants:

“What would I have given to have had the book of life opened which was yet a sealed book to them—to have shown them that God who made them and to have led them to Calvary’s mount that they may see the Redeemer who had shed his precious blood for the redemption of the world… but it was not in my power to take the veil from their hearts. I could only pray for them and entrust the Father of mercies to visit them with salvation. I felt very grateful that a Divine revelation had been granted to me, that I knew the Son of God had come and believed that He had made a full and sufficient sacrifice or atonement for the sins of a guilty world.”

Read the rest of the article at The Briefing.


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Five Directions Of A Missional Church

This info graphic was designed by Jeffrey Kranz in response to a post by Trevin Wax that seems to summarise ideas from a book called The Community Of Jesus by Kendell Easley and Christopher Morgan.
It is posted at Wax’s blog.
I don’t know anything more about the book, but this graphic is interesting.

5-directions-missional-churchA


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The Quiet Time (via David Cook)

David Cook writes about the Christian devotional custom of Quiet Times.
And yes, I did read through to the end with his comments about social media.

From David’s page at the PCA website:

On my way to pick up my newspaper recently, I passed by the local taxi rank and one of the drivers had spread his prayer mat on the footpath and was praying, facing Mecca.
Here I was on my way to read the paper, here he was at prayer!
It used to be called the Quiet Time, personal devotions, time alone in the presence of God for prayer and Bible reading.
It is not much emphasized these days, maybe because we see all of life as worship or too often, we judge the health of our relationship with God on the basis of the regularity of our Quiet Time. But we must not stop doing something that is good, simply because it has the potential of attracting our trust.

Here are three reasons why I believe daily devotions are a healthy discipline:
1. The distinctive Christian understanding of God is that He is our Father. His fatherhood is perfect and according to the Confession of Faith, revolves around his providing, protecting and pitying of us. I am to live in that relationship 24/7, but it is surely a healthy habit and honouring to the relationship, to spend time with God with a devoted, single mind. I don’t find it easy to think of two things at once, to speak to God and to understand what he says in his word, requires a single minded intention.
2. Christians duplicate the offices of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus is prophet, he is the revealer of God;
Jesus is priest, he intercedes for us at God’s right hand;
Jesus is King, he rules over all things.
The believer has a prophetic ministry, proclaiming God’s truth; a priestly ministry, interceding before God; a kingly ministry, ruling over all things, because the ruler has promised to work in all things for our good, to make us like Christ.

For each of these ministries to flourish in our lives they need to be nourished by truth –
I need to know the truth to be proclaimed:
I need to be reminded how crucially God regards the prayers of his people;
I need the reminder that every event which seems out of control, is actually a gift from God’s hand, driving me into the secure arms of the Shepherd King.
To be an effective prophet, priest and king, I need time in the nourishing word and the strengthening relationship of my heavenly Father.
Because of the way we grow in our knowledge of God. Human relationships grow as time is invested, and depths of thoughts and fears and insights are shared.
To be an effective prophet, priest and king, I need time in the nourishing word and the strengthening relationship of my heavenly Father.
3. J I Packer on page 20 of Knowing God, writes of turning our knowledge about God into knowledge of God, “the rule for doing this is demanding but simple. It is that we turn each truth that we learn about God, into matter for meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.”

Here are three hints:
1. Try and take the same time and place each day. For early birds this may be early, for night owls, later on, whenever your brain is at its best.
2. Variety is the spice of life when it comes to content – read with aids, without aids, according to a Bible overview plan or more thoroughly through one book. The 1:4 rule is a good one, read for one minute think about it for 4 minutes. Take notes.
3. Focus your mind for prayer – pray through a Psalm or a hymn, pray down a list or through a family or missionary photo album.
Remember your goal is to know God better and for you to be more like Him, to clothe yourself with the righteousness of Christ (Colossians 3:12 – 14, Galatians 3:27).
Time cannot be created, there are only 24 hours in the day.
Time needs to be made, the greatest time killer used to be TV but, without a doubt, these days it is social media.
Shut down the social media and spend focused, uninterrupted time with your heavenly Father.

David Cook