Monday, June 19, 2017

Water into blood / wine

I have preached an John 2, the wedding at Cana a few times. I have heard a number of sermons on it. I have read and listened to quite a bit about it.

It was in the Day One Travel Guide to Israel, that I can across the idea, new to me, I think, that there is a particular contrast between Jesus and Moses here:

Moses' first public miracle was to turn the water of the Nile into blood in judgement on the people.

Jesus' first sign was to turn water into wine for people's blessing.

The other New Moses stuff in the context of course makes seeing the connection more likely.

John 6:1-15 Feeding of the 5000 Sermon Heading Competition

I recently preached on the feeding of the 5000 from John 6:1-15.

(1) The people's need (vv5-6)
(2) The disciples' inability (vv7-9)
(3) Jesus' ability
(4) Jesus chooses to use his disciples

I encouraged my listener to see if they could make the headings more memorable or engaging, perhaps with the aid of alliteration's aidful art. Their suggestions were:

(1) Picnic unplanned
(2) Panic
(3) Perspective
(4) Provision

(1) Provide?
(2) How?
(3) Eyes on Jesus!
(4) Wow!

(1) Woe
(2) Whoa
(3) Wow
(4) What, me?

(1) People's predicament
(2) Problem posed
(3) Perfect powerful plan
(4) Partner participation

(1) People in need
(2) Philip can't help
(3) Provision from the Shepherd
(4) I'm still working on that one

(1) Hungry humanity / tummies
(2) Helpless disciples
(3) Huge provision from Jesus
(4) Humbled disciples used by Jesus

Need
Ability
Inadequate
Let's help

And I think there was one other I failed to write down!

Given that they were doing this in snatched moments in a busy schedule, I was most impressed and delighted with their enthusiasm for engaging in this little evangelical parlour game.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Irked!

Now, dear reader, it will surprise you to hear that I can sometimes be irked, irritated, riled, downright cross.

We know of course that there is such a thing as righteous indignation. But it is worth asking why I am cross. Or why inordinately so.

You might say, because I've got 4 young children. Well, okay. They have been known to be irksome.

You might just say that I should stop being angry, and you might be right. But what is it in me that causes rage?

For example, is it desire for peace, pleasure, ease, fun, interest, control? Is it that the dear children misbehaving shatters my image of myself as the perfect parent? Am I stressed by what I think of as wasted time or duties prevented? Do I long for harmony and a domestic idle as a refuge from the world? Do I think my temper tantrums can solve things quick? Are my outbursts intended to make me feel better or make them lot share my frustration? These, and probably many other questions.

No doubt introspection can be overdone. We must look to Christ a million times for every look at ourselves. But what are our sins and what are the causes of our sins? We might then begin to see cures. Naming the rat might be a step towards killing it.

Luther

The Revd Andy Robinson, a Sunday evening sermon on Luther, audio & handout (mainly Luther quotes). http://wrbc.org.uk/2017/06/04/an-evening-with-martin-luther/

Dear Preacher

As a preacher who sometimes has to listen to sermons, and indeed wants to be helped by them, please indulge me for a moment.

I hope you will think this post is stating the obvious. And we can all have our off-days or preach a dud sermon. I imagine many of mine would require some pretty firm feedback. But please could we resolve to do this:

Sermons should have a point. They may have points. They probably usually should. But they really should be purposeful. What is the point of your sermon? Do you know? Could you tell me?

Sermons should be intentional messages aimed at changed thinking, feeling, willing, praying, praising, living, relating, speaking, or some other transformed outcome. That is what they are - what they are for. Unless you do that, you have given a lecture or read out a potential commentary or told stories or jokes or made noise, but you have not preached.

Now God is gracious and sovereign, good. You may not have it all sown up. There may be lots of other good things along the way. But please don't get into the pulpit unless you can briefly and clearly state at least one truth to do with God, Jesus or the Bible which you hope to impress upon your hearers and one way in which you have prayed that they will respond. I'm sorry, but I really think it is worth deliberately bothering with the old theme and aim sentences in your preparation. One big truth and the difference it should make, please.

It is not rocket science, really, is it? So please, don't just fill x number of minutes with true statements or walk us through a passage of Scripture. Think and pray about your application and try to push beyond, "Isn't that remarkable / great!".

Thank you. And with my love and prayers.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Pentecostal Fire & Wind

The Day of Pentecost is often spoken of as a kind of birthday of the church. We might think of blowing out candles. But the day of Pentecost is almost the opposite of that: when the Spirit / breath / wind of God comes, he sets the church on fire. The church burns with a zeal to make the light and life of Jesus known in a cold dead world.

Gerald Bray on The Lord's Prayer

5 lectures: https://myrrh.library.moore.edu.au/handle/10248/7619