April 14, 2016
by Nigel Shailer
In most churches, a significant proportion of the budget is assigned to ensure the preaching pastor has sufficient time and resources to prepare sermons. On average, it takes around twenty hours to prepare an expository sermon. When it is a difficult passage or topic, that time allotment increases. Now twenty hours is a big chunk of the pastor’s week, and yet we are prepared to free him up for that commitment, because we believe the sermon is one of the most important weekly activities we undertake. But is our commitment to pastoral-preparation matched by our own congregational preparation? I’m not saying that every parishioner should give twenty hours a week to prepare to listen to a sermon, but there should be some preparation in order to listen well.
What needs more preparation—the sower or the ground? Charles Spurgeon’s comments are appropriate:
We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted, but we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher.
Of course, we are not downplaying the effort required from the preacher, but we listeners should consider our efforts too.
This week, I’ll present four pre-sermon spiritual preparations, and then next week, five physical preparations. Here we go with the spiritual preparations . . . Continue Reading →
March 28, 2016
by Francisco Martinez
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
The work of Christ on the cross and his triumphant victory over death are of first and high importance. Why? Because it is fundamental and foundational to the Christian life. Without the death of the perfect Son of Man there is no forgiveness of sins. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no power to live the Christian life. That is the reason for our celebration on Easter day all throughout the world.
But, on Monday morning, post-resurrection, we must not stop where most churches stop. We must not end where most contemporary teaching and discipleship ends. There is something much more than the justifying work of Christ and his glorious resurrection. Continue Reading →
March 14, 2016
by John Pleasnick
FYI- Desiring God ministries has released a new book, full of readings to prepare your heart for Good Friday and Easter. The book is called Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy and is available digitally for free. Get it now, so you can start reading on Palm Sunday (March 20) and continue through Easter.
Download ‘Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy’
December 29, 2015
by Peter Spiers
We humans have a thirst for knowledge. We have a passion to expand our understanding of the nature of things. For example, we have developed numerous satellites that probe the mysteries of the physical universe. We’ve walked on the moon and placed robotic data gathering “dune buggies” on Mars. We now have imaging machines that can examine the previously unseen world of molecules—the smallest building blocks of the material universe. We have developed a super computer that can process quadrillions (e.g. 1,000 trillion!) of data per second. Wow, if we keep going we will figure out everything, right?
While we humans have come to understand much that is true about life, and science and technology have developed things that bring tremendous value and help millions of people, there is one thing we humans will never truly figure out on our own—what life is ultimately all about. What is its true origin? Where is it going? What does it mean? Why is the world like it is? What is our purpose? Why am I the way I am? Continue Reading →