Check out

Politics
Statehouse Prayer
Encouraging report on how one Christian is influencing politics in Indiana. And here’s another post explaining how.

Books
The Biblical Counseling Movement After Adams
I’ve been reading this book myself and will review it eventually, but here’s Bob Kellemen’s take, which is an excellent summary

Mouse Tales
I was recently looking for blogs that reviewed books for kids, from a Christian perspective, and I was put on to Redeemed Reader.

Your January book may change your life
I’m not an agent for Gentle Reformation, but the brothers there are producing consistently good blog posts! (I’m also hoping to send enough traffic their way that they’ll eventually pay enough to get rid of the video commercials!)

5 “Sugar Creek Gang Books” for $0.99
Now we’re talking!

Travel
4 Online Secrets for Getting Amazing Flight Deals
One of them is to buy your tickets at 3pm on Tuesdays!

Around the world timelapse
17 Countries. 343 Days. 6237 Photographs. One incredible journey.

 


Pastoral Ministry Course

Here are links to the audio and handouts of the pastoral ministry course I taught at PRTS last semester. I took a biographical approach to the subject, by giving a maxim for ministry followed by a quote or paragraph from a pastoral biography (and sometimes a pastoral theology book) to illustrate or demonstrate the point. I’m grateful to previous students for some of the research work presented in these lectures. And thanks also to our young summer interns, Constance and Lucy, who did much of the typing.

Quite a few other pastoral subjects were covered in handouts or by links to other articles and audio.

The student handouts below include the quote from the biography, but the maxims have to be filled out as the lecture is followed (well I’ve got to keep them awake somehow!)

As I had not intended making these notes public, the handouts do not contain standard footnotes for each quote. However, if you want to track down each quote, you should be able to do so by using the code at the end of each quote together with this key. In other words if the code is (2/34) then you look up book 2 on the list and you’ll find the quote on page 24. Some of these references need to be double checked (especially the ones marked in red), and nothing has been proof-read (caveat emptor).

I’ve tried to cut out classroom discussion from the audio as much as possible so that listeners are not straining to hear distant voices.

The Pastor’s Preparation
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Qualification
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Call: To the Ministry
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Call: To first congregation
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Call: To another congregation
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Training
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Heart
Quotes
Audio 1     Audio 2     Audio 3

The Pastor’s Family
Covered by another lecturer, but here’s a handout with some gleanings from the biographies.

The Pastor’s Study
Quotes
Audio 1     Audio 2

The Pastor’s Preaching
Quotes
Audio 1     Audio 2     Audio 3     Audio 4

The Pastor’s Visiting
Quotes
Audio 1     Audio 2

The Pastor’s Relationships
Quotes
Audio 1     Audio 2     Audio 3

The Pastor’s Suffering
Quotes
Audio

The Pastor’s Satisfaction
Ran out of time!

Key to the books


Check out

Preaching
Speak up preacher
Brian Croft calls God’s heralds to be just that.

Flattery can kill
How does a preacher tell the difference the encourager and the flatterer? And what to do about the latter.

A forgotten text? Why is that, I wonder?
This is the article I wanted to write. And it’s a text that needs serious consideration and widespread preaching.

Family
An open letter to Christian wives with unbelieving husbands
Some encouraging words for an oft-neglected group

Social Media
The blessings and curses of 2011 – The year “social” went mainstream
If you have any desire to use technology to communicate the Gospel you should regularly visit Nathan Bingham’s blog. This article should demonstrate why.

The Perils of Digital Technology
Mike Wittmer listened to MIT Professor Sherry Turkle’s lecture at Calvin College today and summarizes for us.

Concerning dogs and their ears
Jeremy Walker warns about the danger of using the Internet to become wolf-hunters while neglecting the sheep God has committed to our care.

Captivated: The Movie
Got my copy of this a few weeks ago and just managed to see the whole thing a few days ago. Highly recommended for families and churches.

“Captivated” Official Trailer from Media Talk 101 on Vimeo.


Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching: Narratives

Reclaiming the Old Testament for Christian Preaching

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this book. The result of a 2009 Academic Study Conference in Cambridge, I wasn’t expecting too much, to be honest; but it’s far exceeded my expectations. Most of the writers have made a really good attempt at making their writing accessible and practical for preachers. I’ve just noticed that it also won the 2011 Preaching Today Magazine book award.

I’m going to post some summaries and comments on the best chapters over the next few weeks, which hopefully will motivate you to buy, read, and use.

The first chapter is by Lawrence Turner and covers the popular topic of preaching Old Testament narrative, with a specific focus on plot.

Avoid these two errors
1. Retelling the biblical account blow by blow and then appending a general moral obligation
2. Picking one point from the narrative and impaling it on the frame of Aristotelian logic

Don’t be averse to literary “criticism” (fancy word for scholarly studies)
1. Just because liberals have focused on narrative studies, doesn’t mean evangelicals should avoid them
2. Understanding the dynamics of narrative leads to theological and spiritual gains

A classic plot has a fivefold structure
1. Initial situation
2. Complication
3. Transforming action
4. Dénouement (or resolution)
5. Final situation

Look for how narratives vary
1. Consider what the narrator omits or includes
2. There can be any number of transforming actions before resolution and final situation
3. Resolutions can be full, partial, or open-ended
4. The difference between narrative time (how long a period the events take) and narration time (how much Scripture is devoted to the events) tells us what to focus on

Always connect the micro-narratives with the macro-narrative
1. How does this narrative relate to the rest of the book?
2. How does this narrative relate to redemptive history?

Use different ways to present narratives in sermons
1. Try to avoid imposing three-point sermons on narratives (I’ll come back to this)
2. Follow the five-part narrative structure (see above)
3. If following the five-part structure, connect each element of the plot with the world of the congregation (e.g move from the initial situation of the plot to the situation of the congregation, etc), resulting in two stories presented in parallel
4. Preach in the first person adopting the persona of one of the characters (please don’t do this!)
5. Identify the “big idea” in the resolution and relate it to the other parts of the plot
6. Individual micro-narratives should be preached as part of a macro-narrative series, resulting sometimes in unresolved plots in some sermons (which are also closer to reality)

Connect the plot to the overarching plot of the Bible
1. The whole message of the Bible matches the five-part narrative plot structure
2. OT narratives lead to the NT, are often resolved by the NT, and shed light on the NT
3. OT narratives should not ignore NT reflections on the OT story
4. To make a narrative sermon live, you need an understanding of other narrative elements (e.g. character – in the next chapter) and biblical theology

Comments
This chapter provides lots of practical help for preachers wanting to become better at communicating OT narratives. If I pick up one good tip from a book on preaching, I’m usually quite content. However, this one chapter alone has given me three or four things to try out in my preaching.

I agree with Lawrence, that we have much to gain from literary studies. Richard Pratt, Leland Ryken, and David Dorsey’s work in this area have greatly enhanced my appreciation for the literary characteristics of OT narrative. However, it can all get a bit over-complicated at times and the insights are often difficult to convey in a sermon, unless the congregation have some handout to follow along with.

While I understand Lawrence’s criticism of “story+moral” and “three points” approaches, he is over harsh on these older methods of preaching narratives. Although they have often been done badly, there are many excellent examples of such preaching styles in the past and the present. While we welcome new insights to freshen up our preaching, surely we don’t want to throw out all the old methods. One of the problems with the newer narrative-style approach to preaching narratives is that while it’s quite compelling at the time, it’s often difficult to remember a day or two after. Structure is so important to understanding and retention.

The fivefold structure insight is extremely helpful in working our way through the exegesis of a plot, but it shouldn’t become the regular structure of our sermons. We just become so predictable again.

I liked Lawrence’s idea of connecting the micro-narrative with the bigger OT and NT story line. But I also liked his idea that if the particular plot we are working on that week does not result in a total resolution, sometimes we should just leave it that way, because that’s what life is so often like. It’s more like people’s experience.

I would strongly advise to avoid the first-person persona idea. I know it’s novel and trendy, but as far as I can see it’s not a pattern we find in Scripture. It results in too much focus on the preacher, and virtually turns him from a herald into an actor.

I’d give the chapter 8 or 9 out of 10. A good start!


Check out

Singing
Improving congregational singing
Barry York has 8 great tips (and not a handclap anywhere!).

Guidance
inDecision App 
Can an iPhone App help you to discern God’s will?

Family
Shaping the culture of your home
You’ll never buy furniture the same way after this.

Tim Challies gives the Kellers’ book on marriage a “must buy,” but says save your money when it comes to the Driscolls’ book on the same subject.

Politics
This house sold on Goldwater
A good read for the many who are going to be disappointed by the nation’s political choices over the next year.

Christian Principles for Realistic Politics
Kevin DeYoung gives us a biblical foundation to political practice.

Work
Monday Morning Motivation
Returning to work after the holidays can be tough. Here’s a great discussion between Collin Hansen and Matt Perman about Gospel Motivation and work. Looking forward to Matt’s book named as his blog: What’s Best Next – How the Gospel Changes the Way You Get Things Done.

Monday Morning Motivation from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.