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The missing ingredient in many sermons
“Like cooking, preaching can become bland. It can fail to have that freshness worthy of the gospel table. There are many reasons why. One could identify a lack of preparation, lack of understanding, poor delivery, and shallowness. We would not disagree that under-cooking the homiletical meal is a problem. But there is something else that can make preaching bland: the deadly reality of not being personally wowed by the subject.”

Femininity: June Cleaver, Clair Huxtable, or the Valiant Woman
Trillia Newbell shares a little of her personal journey to a biblical view of womanhood.

Depression: Helpful things to say and do
Nine “Do’s.”

Ways to capture and hold attention
Sam Crabtree: “Capturing and holding attention is simultaneously an art and a science. To the degree that attention-grabbing is a science, is learnable, is transferrable—here are 24 suggestions that come to mind.”

Being a pastor and speaking out in today’s culture
Michael Milton offers four guidelines. And Sam Logan offers four more for Christians who want to speak about President Obama or any other politician for that matter.

The Bachelor Pastor: Premarital reflections on singleness, ministry, and purity
This is a great blog post: “I have waited 44 years to write this. It is my last sermon as a single man. This coming Saturday I will marry the love of my life, Miss Jennifer Terrell.”

Tweets of the Day

Christian hiring and firing

In a recent Entreleadership podcast, Dave Ramsey talked about his hiring principles and process. Some of the bullet points:

  • The #1 hiring mistake is not taking enough time in the interview/hiring process
  • Every year we increase the time we spend in hiring and every year our turnover goes down and productivity goes up
  • Some of our people were interviewed 10 times over a period of 6 months.
  • Sometimes we hire someone in less than 30 days but that’s very unusual.
  • If you don’t spend enough time in hiring someone, you’ll eventually spend much more time in dealing with their short-comings, and hiring their replacements

Ramsey then spoke of the two essential Christian characteristics of every hire:

  • Opportunistic motivation: People who are fired up and excited about working really hard for a growing and expanding business.
  • Philosophical motivation: People who see this work as a Christian ministry of hope to needy people.

“If people just buy into one of those, we’re in trouble,” warns Ramsey. And what’s the most common missing element? “Most get the philosophical motivation but not the opportunistic.”

Some want to work in Christian ministries but think that means work rate and work standards don’t matter so much as in the private sector. Ramsey tells potential hires: “We work hard, really hard. We view part of our spiritual walk to be excellent in the marketplace. If you can’t cope with Superbowl level of play you aren’t going to be happy here.”

The podcast goes on to a fascinating interview with Clint Smith, CEO of, a business that helps 40,000 business around the world with email marketing. His hiring process has 14 steps!

Churches, Christian ministries, Christian employers and business people, we have much to learn!

Listen to the podcast on iTunes here (it’s about #9 on the list).

Check out

Silencing the Devil
R.C. Sproul Jr. with a courageous post on the difficulty of recovering from sin in the ministry.

Why most pastors won’t tell the truth
Adam McHugh on why it’s so difficult for pastors to be open and vulnerable with their congregations.

Be careful with “How-to” sermons
Joe Thorn: “The gospel is what gives power to any practical advice we may give in a sermon. A how-to sermon is powerless without a who-did foundation.

The child isn’t the one that needs killing
So many great lines in this article. Here’s one: “We need to stop focusing on saving the baby OR the mother. We should focus instead on saving the baby AND the mother.”

Report highlights consistent pattern of hostility toward Christian in US.

Be counseled by Thomas Chalmers
12 counseling principles from a Thomas Chalmers sermon.

Tweets of the Day

The Best New Testament Dictionary is…

…the Old Testament. As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, let me give a few examples of how the Old Testament acts as a dictionary for the New Testament.

Say “prophet” to most people today and they will think of a fortune teller, someone who predicts the future. However if we turn to the Old Testament we find that while a prophet sometimes told the future, his main task to explain and apply God’s Word to people (Deut. 18:15-22). As it is often put, he was to be a forth-teller more than a fore-teller.

Thus, when Christ is presented in the New Testament as THE prophet (John 6:16; Acts 7:37), we should not be looking for new revelations and predictions of the future (although there are some of these), but explanations and applications of God’s existing Word.

“Priest” makes most people think of Roman Catholic priests. In the past, with less media scrutiny, they were thought of as some kind of detached, perfectly holy, super-spiritual order of beings. Today, with the never-ending media revelations, many people hear the word “priest” and think “hypocrite” or “abuser.”

However, Old Testament priests were to be ordinary men who could sympathize and identify with sinners. They were not dressed in pompous royal clothing, but rather in white linen, often spattered with the blood of sacrifices. They were to be filled with love for needy souls (Heb. 5:1-2).

If we want to present Christ as a sympathetic and trustworthy high priest (Heb. 4:14-16), then we need to turn people away from their ideas of modern priesthood and toward the Old Testament description and portrayal of priesthood.

For most people a “King” is someone who is above the law. They can do what they like without consequence. They live lives of unbridled luxury. They often oppress the innocent and befriend the evil.

The Old Testament, though, presents the king as someone under God’s authority, someone who was answerable to God, someone who was accountable for the way they related to God and the people, and someone who was to represent God to the people (Deut. 17:14-20; 2 Sam. 23:1-5). That view of kingship will transform our view of Christ’s kingship (Phil. 2:9-11).

A couple of years ago, a student and I filmed some “man-on-the-street” interviews on the streets of Grand Rapids. We asked passers-by: “What is a covenant?” You would have thought in such a Dutch Reformed city that at least some people would have some idea of what a covenant was. However, what we found was large-scale ignorance. The closest most people came was the idea of a contract or a deal. “If you do this, then I’ll do that.” That’s what most people think of – some kind of commercial bargain or contract.

However if we go to the Old Testament we find that a covenant is a relationship, initiated and imposed by a superior, with life or death consequences.

Biblical Covenants are always initiated by God, and bestow benefits upon needy and undeserving sinners, who can never repay, but who are encouraged to respond with thankful obedience. That gives a whole new understanding to Christ’s word, “This is the new covenant in my blood.”