The One Thing You Can’t Get More of—and Why It Matters for Knowing Christ

This post is adapted from In Season and Out: Sermons for the Christian Year by David A. deSilva.

Paul, of course, was not just a seeker of Christ on Sundays. His passion for knowing Christ Jesus spilled all over his calendar. Granted, Paul was a bit of a fanatic when it came to knowing Jesus and making Jesus known, but nevertheless, let’s allow his example to challenge us.  [Read more…]

Why the Mystery of Our Faith Demands Understanding

By K. Scott Oliphint, adapted from The Majesty of Mystery: Celebrating the Glory of an Incomprehensible God

When it comes to biblical mysteries, the temptation that most Christians face is . . . to favor our own thinking, to trust our own minds. If we do this, however, we exclude the rich mysteries of the Christian faith. [Read more…]

5 Things We Wish We’d Done in Seminary

seminary

A couple years ago, we asked some of our team members who attended seminary to share some of their experiences—what is the one piece of advice each one would want to leave for current seminarians. I hope the reflections are helpful to you. Many of them mention our book on this topic, Surviving and Thriving in Seminary.  [Read more…]

Preaching? Drain the Liquid Before You Give It to Others

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

By Jeffrey Arthurs, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

In an issue of Leadership journal, Lee Eclov tells the story of a researcher named Hillary Koprowski, who was a leader in the search for the polio vaccine in the 1940s. Koprowski and his team had done animal tests successfully, and the next step involved a powerful but unwritten rule of scientific research: Before testing an oral vaccine on other humans, the researcher must try it himself. 

So late one winter afternoon in 1948, he and his assistant whipped up a polio cocktail and the two men drank from small glass beakers. They tilted their heads back and drained the liquid fully. They agreed it tasted like cod-liver oil. The assistant said, “Have another?”

“Better not,” Koprowski said, “I’m driving.”

Lee Eclov says that every preacher has to take the same gutsy step. We have no right to give other people our “holy vaccine” until we’ve drained the liquid ourselves. And sometimes it does taste like cod-liver oil.

As preachers we must drain the liquid. Preach to yourself before you preach to others. Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I’m recommending to others?” “Authenticity” is one of the god-terms of our culture—and rightly so. Of the members of the old rhetorical trio of ethos, pathos, and logos, Aristotle said that ethos is number one. Your character, trustworthiness, experience, and sincerity—your ethos—are the most persuasive tools you possess. 

So this week and every week when you’re doing your sermon preparation, remember to drain the liquid yourself.

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This post is adapted from “Drain the liquid” by Jeffrey Arthurs in Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry, edited by Scott M. Gibson (Lexham Press, 2016).

 

The Formula for Success All Great Leaders Follow

We begin as servants and, if we are faithful, we become leaders. You find this pattern illustrated throughout Scripture. [Read more…]

The Disease of Modern Preaching That Will Kill Its Power

Spider web

By Scott M. Gibson, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

Charles Gore, formerly bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and finally Oxford, wrote more than a century ago, “The disease of modern preaching is its search after popularity.” [Read more…]

Throw Yourself on the Written Word of God

By Walter C. Kaiser Jr., adapted from I Will Lift My Eyes Unto the Hills: Learning from the Great Prayers of the Old Testament

In Daniel 9:1–27, we are told that Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem three times daily in order to pray to God (Dan 6:10). And we have no reason to doubt that just as often he opened the Scriptures to know the will of God, for it was from his understanding of “the word of the Lord given [earlier] to Jeremiah the prophet” (Dan 9:2) that he knew how to pray. Daniel may have carried a scroll of the prophet Jeremiah with him from his homeland, or he used one that was in the possession of the exiles. This high regard for the Scriptures is likewise very evident when we hear Daniel praying, for he does so in a series of subtly woven quotations from what we today call the Old Testament. [Read more…]

God Is Wise, and His Wisdom Reveals That He Lives Well

There is no shortage of writings on the nature of human wisdom.1

But what of divine wisdom, the wisdom that is unique and specific to the triune life of God?  [Read more…]

Pastor, Your Empathy Is Not Enough (and That’s Good)

By Harold Senkbeil, adapted from The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart

Over the years I’ve developed, in good Lutheran fashion, ten theses on spiritual cure, the care of souls.  [Read more…]

Is the Author of Hebrews Anti-Old Testament?

Moses holding up his arms during the Battle of Rephidim
assisted by Hur (left) and Aaron by John Everett Millais’ (1871)

By Adrio König, adapted from Christ Above All: The Book of Hebrews 

The basic message of Hebrews is that Christ is incomparably greater than anyone and anything in the Old Testament and that the Jewish or gentile believers should not even think of returning to Old Testament religion. [Read more…]