Category Archives: sermon

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.


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.

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


Good Friday–The Great Eucatastrophe

I had the privilege of preaching at Atmosphere Church’s Good Friday service last week. What an amazing time of gathered worship. Together we gazed into the sovereign irony surrounding the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The music, the teaching, the prayer, the celebration of the Table caused me to see and savor my bleeding, dying Lord even more.

Together we explored the ironies of the Cross through the lens of Eucatastrophe.

What is Good Friday? Good Friday is an oxymoron, a day of irony, of painful paradoxes. Irony makes us… laugh and think more clearly. Irony makes us see familiar things with fresh eyes.

But Good Friday is not just a day of ordinary irony. It is THE day of the THE Ultimate Irony. It is the most catastrophic day in all of history! But it’s a good catastrophe. It is a Eucatastrophe, the Great Eucatastrophe. The execution of Jesus on that Roman Cross on that Friday afternoon nearly two thousand years ago was the greatest, most complete, the ultimate Eucatastrophe ever and that will ever be.

J.R.R. Tolkien coined this phrase to explain how good things can come from catastrophes, how unpredictable redemption can be won in the midst of unimaginable loss. But Tolkien’s standard was not fiction or fantasy like his Lord of the Rings. He believed all of the happy endings in all of our fairy tales were but faint echoes of the real gospel of the real good news. Speaking of the story of Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection, Tolkien said: “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was trueBut this story is supreme; and it is true.”

Tonight we stare into the day of irony, the day of Eucatastrophe, this Good Friday. With God’s help let us stare into the good catastrophe of the cross with fresh eyes.

  • First we will see how Good Friday is a Eucatastrophe for Jesus.
  • And then we will see how Jesus’ Eucatastrophe is good news for us.

(Click here for the whole sermon: “Good Friday–the Great Eucatastrophe”)


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

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


Does Jesus Make Life Better or is Jesus Better than Life?

When I was listening to this sermon a few weeks ago this question really struck me.  The way you answer this question makes a cosmic difference in your life. Here’s a whole chunk of the sermon. It’s worth the read/listen. I love Chandler’s love for God and his church and those who don’t know the love of God in Christ…yet.

It took me a while to become a believer because stuff I would hear was just not true. Like stuff that was said in church was just completely untrue. Almost every preacher I heard early on would talk about lost people as if we were all just like these ogres who hated our lives, like we were just at home every night in a fetal position going, “I hate it all. I never smile or experience joy.” It’s like at any moment we’re going to murder someone. And that was just kind of the picture painted, and I was like, “Are you kidding me? I love life.” That’s not true, but here’s what is. I think you can have a good marriage and not know Jesus. I do. My neighbors, in their sixties and never been church folk, don’t plan on starting any time soon. They’ve got a great marriage. Like I watch him—he serves her. They’ve got a great marriage. So I’m not saying they can’t have a good marriage, but I will say this. You will never know what the fullness of that relationship was designed to be outside of Jesus Christ. You can have good sex and not be a believer in Christ—you can—but you will never know the biblical word dode, mingling of souls, which is the biblical word for sex in the Old Testament. You will never know dode outside of Jesus Christ. And so what I want to teach is that He is the fullness of all things. And we don’t follow Him because He gets us those things; we follow Him because He is better than those things even to begin with….We don’t follow Jesus because He makes things better; we follow Jesus because He is better. I think Barry said it last week. “We don’t follow Him because He makes our life better; we follow Him because He is better than life.”

–from Matt Chandler of Village Church, “9 Pastoral Prayers”pdf mp3


Posted by on August 21, 2008 in Christianity, gospel, Jesus, sermon


Tim Keller and The Prodigal God

While I was ordering my ESV Journaling Bible from Westminister Bookstore, I happened to see that Tim Keller’s got a new book coming out this October. It’s called The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith. It’s based on his previous sermon “The Prodigal Sons.” Essentially Keller argues that there are two ways to live your life without Jesus as your Savior. The first is obvious, irreligion–live any way you darn well please (younger brother). The second is subtler, religion–live a good life so you will be accepted (elder brother).

Here’s the description…

This short book is meant to do no less than lay out the essentials of the Christian message, the gospel. It can therefore serve as an introduction to the Christian faith for those who are unfamiliar with it or who may have been away from it for some time.

This volume is not just for seekers, however. Many lifelong Christian believers feel they understand the basics of the Christian faith quite well and certainly don’t think they need a primer. Nevertheless, one of the signs that you don’t grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you think you do. Sometimes long-time church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message of grace that they feel themselves to have been essentially “reconverted.” This book, then, is written to both curious outsiders and established insiders of the faith, to both the people jesus calls “younger” and “elder” brothers in his famous Parable of the Prodigal Son.


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.


5 Tips for Clear Writing and Talking

Thank you C.S. Lewis for showing us how to write and talk clearly. Thank you Pastor John Piper for the reminder.

C. S. Lewis’ advice to children on writing is good advice to pastors on preaching, or anybody on talking.

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  4. In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

(Originally published in Letters to Children, letter from June 26, 1956. Quoted in Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root in The Quotable Lewis, p. 623.)

From Desiring God Blog: “5 Tips for Clear Writing and Talking”

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Posted by on April 9, 2008 in sermon


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.

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Posted by on July 31, 2007 in preaching, sermon