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Cynicism: The Worst Response To High Standards (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam on the worst way of wanting the best.
Falling prey to cynicism is an ongoing struggle, one that destroys the capacity for empathy, a necessary element to constructive change and growth.
The article has some lists that help to diagnose and treat the tendency to cynicism.
From the article:

Those of us engaged in Christian ministry are especially prone to cynicism or despair: we have such high expectations—and such wonderful goals because of God’s gospel promises. Sometimes, too, we have delusions about our own gifts and abilities! But ministry is hard work, and we often do not see the results we expect.
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The anger that results in cynicism usually come from discouragement and disillusionment. As this anger spreads from the original cause it becomes universal: we may have become disillusioned in a particular situation but soon find that disillusionment elsewhere as well, because we experience what we expect.

Read the whole article at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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Advice To Preachers (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam provides what is titled Advice To A Young Preacher, but his points are worth revisiting at any age or stage in preaching experience.

This one is challenging when producing sermons in a most individualistic age and culture:

Recognize that most of the Bible is actually addressed to God’s people, not to individuals. Even books such as Luke–Acts, Timothy, and Titus have wider audiences in mind. The gospel is not just God’s plan for an individual Christian’s life; it is God’s plan to create His own people for His glory. The Bible is addressed to God’s people, and we should use it for the same purpose. If you want to know how to preach that way, read Deuteronomy, 1 Corinthians, Hebrews, 1 John, or Revelation 2–3.

Read the rest here.


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Fourteen Questions To Ask Before A Sermon Is Preached (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam provides a succinct list of fourteen questions that need to be addressed by preachers before they deliver their sermon.
Here are numbers 6 to 11:

6. Have I reflected on and applied the passage and the sermon to myself, and responded with repentance, faith, and obedience?
7. Have I prayed for the people who will hear the sermon, for their understanding, response of faith and obedience, their transformation, and their ability and intention to teach and exhort others with what they have learnt?
8. Have I found what God wants to say through this passage to the people to whom I will preach, and how he wants to transform them?
9. Have I worked through the congregation’s response to this passage: what information they need, what they will find difficult, what they will misunderstand, what they will enjoy, what they need to learn, how they should be transformed?
10. Have I found what God wants to say to the whole congregation as a body?
11. Have I taken into account what different groups in the congregation will need: unbelievers, inquirers, new Christians, lapsed Christians, mature Christians?

Read the whole post here.


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How Is God Currently Changing Me To Make Me Into A Preacher? (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam writes about the ongoing process of growth that being a preacher requires:

Being a preacher requires ever-increasing Biblical intelligence, emotional intelligence, theological intelligence, and pastoral intelligence. Of course, by intelligence i mean alert and perceptive wisdom. I don’t mean cleverness but depth of understanding and wisdom.
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We need to be Biblically, emotionally, theologically, and pastorally wise to understand the Bible, to understand people, and to serve people in our sermons.
Unashamed Workmen, Chapter 1 – What Is God’s Word For These People, pp.18-19, Mentor, 2014.


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Preaching As Corporate Pastoral Care (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam continues a series of articles, this time identifying preaching as being the natural place where the Bible is corporately opened and applied to God’s people.
If God speaks to his people as a group, why attempt to individualise the focus of applications?
It’s not so much that there’s something in the text for me, as there’s something in the text for us.

It is also significant that Malachi, like most books in the Bible, was addressed to the people of God, the church of that day, and not to individuals. This means that if we read or preach Malachi and apply it to us as individuals only, we will miss an important element of the message.
“Scripture is God preaching”, and part of this sermon is the book Malachi. So we should follow what God has done, and address this book to the church of our day. Our first question should be, “What is God saying to us?” Not, “What is God saying to me?” or “What is God saying to individuals in the congregation?”
So rather than looking for individual application, we should work for corporate application. “Corporate” here does not mean big business, it means “body”, as in “the body of Christ.” We should train ourselves to look for the shared values of our churches, our shared godliness, our shared sins, our shared blind spots, our shared weaknesses, our shared strengths.
Let’s take as examples two issues from Malachi: robbing God, and speaking harsh words against God [3:6–15]. The issue is more than, “How do we as individuals rob God?” The issues are, “How are we as a church robbing God?” and, “How is our church letting individuals rob God and not challenging them?” and, “How is my robbing God setting a bad example to others in the church?”, and, “What am I doing to challenge the church as a whole to stop robbing God?”, and, “What are our church leaders doing to stop individuals and the church as a whole robbing God?”

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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The Church Is Important Because The Fruit Of The Gospel Is Not Just The Conversion Of Individuals But The Creation Of The Church (via Peter Adam)

Being a Christian is a corporate experience with individual implications, not an individual experience with corporate implications.
Peter Adam is writing a brief series about preaching. Here he addresses what it means to understand the Bible (and preaching) is “mainly addressed to God’s people, not to individuals.”

Individualism in preaching [that is, merely addressing individuals] misses the main purpose and aim of the Bible, and so mistreats it. Even in individual Bible reading, we should be thinking of how this message impacts our church. We need to realise how frequently “you” in the Bible is “you” [plural], rather than “you” [singular]. It would help if we popularised the word “youse”, as we could then use it in our translations of the Bible! We should use the Bible for the main purpose for which God wrote it, to create, mature, train, correct, transform, equip, and perfect his church.

Read the whole post here.


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Preparing To Lead Prayers Of Intercession In Church (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam provides succinct and helpful advice about preparing to lead congregational prayers of intercession. (asking for things / or about situations)

Pray Global Prayers, Not Just for The Congregation’s Needs
While it is good to pray for local needs, make sure that you pray big prayers as well. Let your prayers be as global as the Lord’s prayer: ‘Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ Let God’s plan enlarge your prayers!

Pray for The World, As Well As For The Church
Remember Paul’s instructions to Timothy, ‘I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness’ (1 Timothy 2:1–2). It is good to pray for our nation, for other nations, for our world, as it is good to pray about issues in the community and our daily work, as well as the work of our church

Pray Biblical Prayers
Base what you pray for on verses from the Bible: claim God’s promises, using the words he gave us. Read Nehemiah’s prayer in Nehemiah 1:5–11 and notice how he bases his prayer on the promises, words, and works of God. Read Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15–23, and pray prayers as big as that! You could base your prayers on a Bible prayer, for example a Psalm. You could base your prayers on the Lord’s prayer

Pray Gospel Prayers
It is good to pray for our needs, for good health, safety and peace. We should also pray for people to be converted. These include family and friends, neighbours, people at work. Pray also for gospel growth across our nation and overseas. Don’t just pray for the personal needs of your missionaries, pray for their mission as well!

Prepare Your Prayers
Spend time in preparing what you will pray, the shape of your prayers, and how you will pray. You might like to include a special prayer which you will pray at the start and finish of your prayers. You might like to include a responsive prayer, for the congregation to pray. So, for example, at the end of each section of your prayers, you could pray, ‘Heavenly father, hear our prayers’, and the congregation could then pray, ‘through Jesus Christ our saviour’.
You could write out all that you will say; you could write out some parts, and use headings for the rest; or you might just write out an outline. But whether you write something or not, prepare for this important task of public ministry.

Feel Free to Write Out Your Prayers
Prayers which are prepared are not less spiritual than prayers which are spontaneous. We sing prepared songs, many of which are prayers. And the Lord’s prayer is a prepared prayer!

Include Praise, Thanksgiving, Confession, Lament, And Dedication
The main purpose of intercessions is to ask that God will act, that he will do what we are praying for. However it is good to praise God for who he is and what he has done, to thank him for all his gifts, especially salvation through Christ, to confess what we have done wrong or failed to do, to lament or grieve the many sadnesses of our world, and to dedicate ourselves, when we resolve to serve God and his purposes. Even including two or three of these will enrich and strengthen our intercessions.

Pray Prayers That Everyone Can Pray
Remember that you want all believers who are present to be able to say Amen! So don’t ride your own hobbyhorses, don’t preach at people, and don’t put words into people’s mouths which would make them feel like hypocrites. You want the congregation to be able to say a heartfelt ‘Amen’ to your prayers.

Use The Microphone Well
Most people naturally pray in a quiet voice. But we need to ensure that everyone who is present can hear the prayers we pray, and that they are engaged in praying with us. So don’t use your quiet confidential voice. Pray your prayers with a big voice, to encourage others to join in the prayers. If you speak too quietly and confidentially, the microphone and audio system won’t be able to project your voice. Speak with a big voice, engaging others in your prayers: if it is too loud, they can always turn down the volume!

End Your Prayers Well
We can and should only come to God through Jesus Christ our great high priest, and his atoning sacrifice on the cross. So make sure that every prayer ends with words such as ‘through Jesus Christ’. Make sure that you include a longer and fuller statement of this truth at the conclusion of your prayers.

Read the post at Gospel Coalition Australia.