Category Archives: preaching

Lead 09 Conference: Tim Chester is coming to Maine

Free Total Church book if you register today this week!!!

My church is partnering with Atmosphere Church to host a conference October 9-10 that we hope God will use to bring about gospel renewal throughout Maine, New England and beyond. It’s called Lead ’09 and the theme is Gospel, Community and Mission.  This two-day conference is a call to each of us and our churches to take Jesus seriously–to radically reshape our lives around the gospel word so that we can truly be his gospel community on God’s mission.

Our two speakers are both God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-dependent leaders who teach the Word of God  faithfully with passion, humility and urgency.  Tim Chester is a writer, Bible teacher and church planter in Sheffield, UK. An author of many books, Tim is also the co-author of Total Church, a biblically-rich book on what it means to BE the church. Jonathan Dodson is the lead pastor of Austin City Life in Austin, TX. His articles have often blessed our church family, especially “Fight Club” and “Anger: the image of Satan.” On a personal note, Jonathan is a treasured friend. Having served with him in both the local church and in global missions, I can tell you without hesitation that you will be blessed by his teaching.

You can find out more and register, here.


How Will You Preach the Gospel in THIS Kind of world?

Bob Dylan didn’t have a clue how right he was when he croaked…“The times they are a-changin’.” The world we live in is morphing at a staggering rate. But. There is one thing that will never change–the gospel. And we are to be ready in season and out of season (1 Timothy4:2) to announce life’s only essential message. Take a second to get connected with the reality of our hyper-changing world and ask God for wisdom to faithfully proclaim his un-changing goodnews.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 5, 2009 in church, culture, gospel, prayer, preaching


Luther’s Advice on Bible Reading

“In truth you cannot read too much in Scriptures;
and what you read you cannot read too carefully,
and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well,
and what you understand well you cannot teach too well,
and what you teach well you cannot live too well.”

Martin Luther, WA 53, 218; emphasis mine.

HT: Joshua Harris

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 22, 2009 in bible, faith, preaching, quotes


The Most Memorable Audio of 2008

A fantastic new site I just discovered, Faith By Hearing, offers their take on The Most Memorable Audio of 2008, here. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The site is a massive resource filled with tons of God-centered teaching.

Seize your commute. Start downloading.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2009 in bible, mp3, preaching, sermon, time management


On My Way to 200 Sermons

I really have no idea where I’m at in Tim Kellers’ 200 sermons Preaching-Equation. But this week I had the privilege of jumping into the preaching rotation for our sermon series “The Messiah for the Rest of Us”, a study of the gospel of Luke. My text was Luke 3:1-20 and we looked at how John prepared the way for the Lord, Messiah Jesus by preaching repentance. So… I went with the title “Repentance is Good News!” And my big idea should have been “Repentance is only good news if you believe God’s story, repent of your religion, and exalt the Messiah.” I say “should have been” because of the feedback I’ve already received from my friends. Speaking of which, I’d warmly invite your thoughts and reflections if you have/make the time to listen.

Listen: here.

Read: here.

After taking some time to evaluate my sermon, I came up with this… Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on January 22, 2009 in biblical theology, preaching


Owen and Preaching the Gospel to your…lust

The most important daily “spiritual discipline” that a Christian can practice is to preach the gospel to one’s soul. (And of the of the best examples of what that looks like is C.J. Mahaney’s sermon “The Troubled Soul”). But there are two sides of the gospel that we need to preach: the comfort and the call. Most of us are quick to preach the comfort of the gospel to ourselves and each other. The comfort of the gospel reminds us that in Christ we are more loved, accepted and empowered than we ever dared to dream. I need that message every day (and so don’t you!). But the call (or conviction) of the gospel reminds us that we are far more sinful, flawed and rebellious than we ever thought. This is something that does not come easily (at least not in a God-honoring form)

John Owen calls this “preaching the gospel to your lust”. One of the most memorable passages in Overcoming Sin and Temptation contains Owen’s counsel to not immediately move to the gospel for relief or comfort over your sin.  Instead he urges us to bring our lust, our sinful desires, to the gospel. Why? So that our sin would become bitter to us, seen for the treasonous rebellion that it really is, an affront to God’s holiness and grace that is our in Jesus.

“Say to your soul–What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace have I despised and trampled on! Is this the return I make to the Father for his love, to the Son for his blood, to the Holy Ghost for his grace? Do I thus requite the Lord? Have I defiled the heart that Christ died to wash, that the blessed Spirit has chosen to dwell in? And can I keep myself out of the dust? What can I say to the dear Lord Jesus? How shall I hold up my head with any boldness before him? Do I account communion with him of so little value, that for this vile lust’s sake I have scarce left him any room in my heart? How shall I escape if I neglect so great salvation? In the meantime, what shall I say to the Lord? Love, mercy, grace, goodness, peace, joy, consolation-I have despised them all, and esteemed them as a thing of naught, that I might harbor a lust in my heart. Have I obtained a view of God’s fatherly countenance, that I might behold his face and provoke him to his face? Was my soul washed, that room might be made for new defilements? Shall I endeavor to disappoint the end of the death of Christ? Shall I daily grieve that Spirit whereby I am sealed to the day of redemption?” (pg. 105)

What soul-searing questions! They ought to make us tremble. And this is the sort of interrogation of the soul that we must bring to our lust, our radical-self centeredness that tempts us to rebel against our loving Lord. Owen’s goal in preaching the gospel to our lust is to ensure proper conviction in our souls, to not take forgiveness lightly, and to magnify God’s rich mercy that is ours in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This is a good and necessary part in “the mortification of sin”, but it is not the only part. Thankfully Owen  also beckons us to the comfort of the gospel. But that’s for next time when we look at “Owen and Preaching the Gospel to your Drooping Heart”.


Posted by on December 26, 2008 in gospel, lust, preaching, quotes


Tim Keller’s Preaching to the Heart…FREE!

Well sort of.

Normally Keller’s uber-good “Preaching to the Heart” series from Gordon-Conwell goes for about $40. Worth every penny, too. We use his talks for equipping our leaders. They’ve shown us what “gospel-centered preaching” looks like and how to actually do it.

But wait. There’s more!

It just so happens that the two lectures on “Preaching to the Heart” that he gave at Oak Hill College are available to download for free. So if you’re looking for the abridged version and some mp3’s you can give away to you leaders and post on your blog/website, here you go.

> Lecture 1 (19.5Mb)
> Lecture 2 (21.1.Mb)

HT: Tim Chester

1 Comment

Posted by on December 11, 2008 in Equipping, gospel, preaching, sermon


Tim Keller’s Preaching Equation and your first 200 sermons

Every preacher wants to preach well, right?! But how many sermons does it take? According to Tim Keller…200! That’s right, two hundred, 200, 100+100=200, 2-0-0!  I first heard this during a Q&A session in his series “Preaching to the Heart”, where Keller was asked how much time a preacher should devote to sermon prep:

I don’t believe you should spend a lot of time preparing your sermon, when you’re a younger minister. I think because we are so desperately want our sermon to be good, that when you’re younger you spend way too much time preparing. And, you know, its scary to say this to the younger ministers… you’re not going to be much better by putting in twenty hours on that sermon – the only way you’re going to be a better preacher is if you preach often. For the first 200 sermons, not matter what you do, your first 200 sermons are going to be terrible. (laughter from the crowd). And, if you put in… fifteen or twenty hours in the sermon you probably won’t preach that many sermons because you won’t last in ministry, because your people will feel neglected.

However, this can be disheartening if you don’t preach often (I’m not even close to 200)! But it shouldn’t be. Being a faithful pastor definitely means being a diligent, Christ-centered exegete in the study and a Spirit-empowered preacher in the pulpit. But being a faithful pastor also includes preaching the gospel to people throughout the week–

  • as you visit the sick in the hospital,
  • as you counsel those who belive sin is bigger and better than God,
  • as you equip leaders to build a gospel community,
  • as you pray with an unexpected drop-in.

Speaking from experience, young pastors can wrongly view these as “interuptions” from the “real ministry”, i.e. sermon preparation. No doubt we all need help with biblical productivity. But let’s not be fooled into thinking ministry would be great if it were’nt for all those people! Love your people, know your people, spend time preaching the gospel to your people throughout the week. You’ll be a better preacher on Sunday.

On a funnier note, just last month one our elders applied the “Keller equation” to his own life and shared his results during his sermon. We’ve got to get this guy preaching on a regular rotation! Check it out.

Keller’s thought was to help a young pastor not to have unrealistic expectations at the beginning of his ministry. This has helped me to relax more than Mark [our lead pastor] realizes. My last Sunday morning sermon was approximately 30 years ago. Therefore by my calculations I won’t become proficient at it for another 5970 years. Boy, does that help me not to have unrealistic expectations. But remember that when we are weak God is strong. In this confidence I’m hopeful.

Scott is right, Keller’s advice is both humbling and encouraging. While it may take him nearly 6000 years, he’s not going to give up, and more importantly he’s going to trust in God who has spoken and who empowers.

Still, if you’re interested, here’s the equation. How long will it take you?

( __ years divided by __ sermons) x 200 = ____ years until you preach good sermons!

Thank you, Tim Keller.


Posted by on December 5, 2008 in Equipping, humor, preaching


The Value of Gathered Worship: an Outline

The following is an outline of the presentation I delivered at New England Bible College’s faculty conference “How Then Shall We Worship.” If you were able to attend it’d be great to continue some dialogue or if you had any questions I’d be more than pleased to help answer them!

The Value of Gathered Worship:

Why God’s People Must Worship Together

Gathered worship strengthens and informs scattered worship (and vice versa).

  • “Worship is a subject that should dominate our lives seven days a week. Vitality and meaning will not be restored to Christian gatherings until those who lead and those who participate can recover a biblical perspective on their meetings, seeing them in relation to God’s total plan and purpose for his people.” [1]
  • By gathering for encouragement. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
  • By scattering for mission. (Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

Gathered worship fuels a God-glorifying passion in all things.

  • By sharing God’s passion for His glory. (Romans 11:33, 36)
  • By exposing God’s competitors—our idols.

Gathered worship shapes a Christ-centered, gospel-driven community.

  • By knowing the gospel.
  • We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom. The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. [2]
  • By reading the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15; Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:15-20)
  • By singing the gospel.
  • By praying the gospel. (Colossians 1:9-14)
  • By studying the gospel.
  • By celebrating the gospel. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Gathered worship motivates a Spirit-empowered mission.

  • By being the church instead of merely going to church.
  • By seeing our mission as a call to worship.
  • “There can only be one call to worship, and this comes at conversion, when in complete repentance we admit to worshipping falsely, trapped by the inversion and enslaved to false gods before whom we have been dying sacrifices.”[3]

[1] David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, p. 21.
[2] Tim Keller, “The Centrality of the Gospel”, p. 1-2.
[3] Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith, p. 147.


Recent Sermon: The Meal Jesus Gave Us

A few weeks a ago I had the privilege of preaching at CenterPoint Church, in Concord, NH. Their lead pastor, Dave Spencer, and I used to serve together in South Portland. It was great time catching up with him and his family, and I was deeply encouraged by the group of Jesus followers that had gathered to worship there in the capitol that morning.

I preached a sermon called “The Meal Jesus Gave Us” (nod to N.T. Wright). In it, I give an overview of what the Lord’s Supper is all about, and spent some time explaining two key OT background passages: Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Isaiah 25:6-9. (Pretty hard to do in about 30 minutes!) I cannot tell you how faith-invigorating Isaiah 25 has been to me over the past few years and how fills my heart with expectant joy whenever I drink the cup and eat the bread. If you have a chance to listen, I hope you’re encouraged by what you hear.

Listen/download here.

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 31, 2007 in preaching, sermon