Five From the Files

Here are five articles from within the last decade that deserve to be resurrected.

Jeff Brewer contributed this post on the problem of not explaining the “why” behind our preaching applications. (2012)

Membership is important, and interviewing people for membership is not something to be approached casually. Mike McKinley wrote this helpto pastors and elders doing the interviewing. (2012)

Tim Bridges talks about something we all deal with when we preach. Hopefully not every week, but often enough, we have things happen that are distractions. (2012)

David Murray, who write such helpful material, talks about the need for grace in raising teenagers. This is one to share with parents. (2012)

Matt Smethurst reflects on the best sermon he ever heard on Christianity and politics. I link to it because it is distanced from this particular election period yet oh so relevant.

Five From the Files – October 16, 2020

Five from the Files is an attempt to resurrect some very worthwhile blog posts that have probably faded from memory and use. According to a July 25, 2020 article on TechJury, bloggers are responsible for over 4.4 million new posts each day. Not only that, “over 409 million people read more than 20 billion pages on WordPress each month in 2020.”

As followers of Christ, we are blessed to have some outstanding blogs to read. But blog posts are kind of like a stack of slides (if you remember the old days of the slide projector) – once they pass your eyes, they may be quickly forgotten.

Here are five older posts that are worth reading. I’ve listed the publication date in parentheses after the post.

The subject of Halloween is always going to be controversial. I’m not a fan of the horror and mayhem stuff that churches used to do (with a “gospel presentation” at the end). But I’m also not a fan of being a curmudgeon. This article expresses what I believe. You are free to disagree. (2013). 6 years before this, Justin Taylor quoted an article from Tim Challies on the same subject. Taylor’s article is here. Sadly, Tim’s is no longer available. (2007)

Here’s a helpful article on “Saturating Your Sermon With Application Without Sacrificing Doctrine and Exegesis.” (2012)

In 2012 Trevin Wax and Jonathan Leeman teamed up for a discussion on preaching and application. (2012)

Here’s one more article on sermon application. It was not my intent to focus on this topic, but it certainly is worth looking at.


Just a note before I adios for the weekend. I have often advocated the use of Evernote to save digital content. However, with their latest and greatest update, the simplicity with which the program worked has been massacred. A number of long-time users are apparently not happy. So if you haven’t updated yet I’d advise that you wait. If you are looking for an alternative, I’ll try to point to something else if Evernote ends up being unhelpful going forward. I wouldn’t say it was broken, but the shiny new interface is no friend.

Five From the Files

You may note that I’ve taken the “Friday” off the title of these posts. I’m going to commit to getting them done on the weekend. Friday is my day off and for some reason I end up forgetting or just not wanting to be on the computer.

These “From the Files” articles come from my Evernote archive, but Evernote came out with a whiz-bang update that is as buggy as an old stump. So until I figure out how to actually scroll through articles or migrate to another note service, we may be putting this part of the blog on hiatus.

However, I would like to share a selection of articles from Peter Mead, whose blog Biblical Preaching, is one to which I refer often. Dr. Mead posted a series of five articles back in 2012 on preaching the Epistles, and for new and growing preachers they are must reading. So take look at this link and benefit from his wisdom. And by all means save stuff to Evernote. They’ll fix what they broke before long.

Five From the Files Friday

I should call this “Six From the Sack” or something. I’ve had little success getting this done on Fridays.

The purpose of Five from the Files is to give attention to blog posts or articles that were written as far back as a decade ago. Unlike books that sit on our shelves, these articles blow past us and seem to be gone. Here are five articles to help with your life and ministry, with the year of publication following each one.

Pastoral Theology: Some Recommendations Kevin DeYoung provides a list of helpful books in twelve different categories. No doubt this list could be revised with books written in the last few years, but this will point you to some solid stuff relating to pastoral ministry. (2012)

10 Reasons to Under-Program Your Church Jared Wilson write this back when he was a pastor. His stuff is always worth reading and you’ll find I link to him frequently on Mondays and Fridays (2010)

Some Thoughts on Preaching the Minor Prophets Dr. James Hamilton (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) shares some ideas on working through the minor prophets in your preaching. I guess that description was somewhat unnecessary given the title of the article . . . (2012)

Making Sense of Scripture’s “Inconsistency” Tim Keller is always helpful on topics like this. Somewhere along the line someone (maybe even you) is going to have questions about perceived inconsistencies in the Bible. Here’s one to mark and share. (2012)

How ‘Let Go and Let God’ Almost Ruined J.I. Packer’s Spiritual Life I had a phone call from a proponent of what has come to be known as Exchanged Life theology, Keswick theology, or the Deeper Christian Life. He wanted to make me aware of materials by a particular author he was representing, and I had to tell him that while I wasn’t questioning his client’s relationship with God, I do feel that the theology expressed in his books is not helpful. I’ve personally be exposed to this teaching, and again, while I call those who hold it brothers and sisters, I believe it is based on some very shaky ground. Justin Taylor wrote this article. (2012)


That’s all for me. I’ll have links to recently printed articles on Monday. Have a great weekend.

Five From the Files Friday

And again it’s Saturday. But you forgive me, don’t you. Again the point of linking to these five articles is simple: unlike a book that stays on our shaves for future reference, blog posts come and go and often are never accessed again. And that’s a shame because there’s been some really great stuff written over the last decade.

So here we go with 5 from the past:

Jonathan Leeman wrote about the long-term effects of pragmatism in the local church. I believe the article was written in 2011, updated in 2014. But surprisingly (sarcasm) it still speaks to today.

I think I preached one Mother’s Day sermon during the years I was the preaching pastor. I began to get some pushback about even mentioning it, and to be honest, that bothered me at first. But then I began to think more sensibly. Russell Moore talks about at least one reason not to make Mother’s Day into a big deal. (2012)

Trevin Wax asks and answers well the question “Is it Biblical to Ask Jesus into Your Heart?” (2012)

Churches often wait until a need arises to hire additional staff. In some cases budgetary concerns make that the only option. But there’s a better way. (2012)

Eric Raymond answers an important question in his article How Do You Train Future Elders?


I hope you find something above that helps you in your ministry.

Let me leave you by pointing to the work of a friend who may be of help to you:

Hi! I’m Melanie – I redesign websites for world changers. I’m the one you call when you have big, gnarly problems that hinder putting your website to work for your mission. Through User Experience Consulting we can:

● Identify the website’s pain points
● Point to what the site should be like
● Illuminate how we get there

Reach out today to get unstuck and back on track!
https://www.mtw-uxconsulting.com/

Five From the Files Friday

Except it’s Saturday. I finished my fourth week back in pastoral work and it’s been a blast so far. I work with some great people. Well, not really, but in case they read this blog I have to say that. HA HA. At some point I’ll write a post about being back in ministry, but that has to wait for a bit.

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

How to Run an Elders’ Meeting In many churches the senior pastor leads Elder meetings. This can be a bit intimidating if you’re a young guy, but here’s an article that will help you. (2012)

Gospel-Centered Parenting Parenting could be hardest thing you and your people will ever do. There are no guarantees, but there are good approaches to parenting and those that are not so good. Here’s help to share with fellow-strugglers. (2012)

What Happens to Children Who Die? Any pastor, regardless of age, may struggle with answering this question. Tim Challies added to the discussion several years ago in an article that’s worth clipping and saving. (2012)

How to Help a Depressed Spouse David Murray, who has contributed so much to our being better able to understand anxiety and depression in a compassionately Biblical way, provides another sharable resource.

Teaching Kids the Gospel There are so many ways churches get it wrong, but it’s so important to get it right. It’s imperative that your children’s workers and parents need to know how to teach the Gospel to kids without leaving parts out or reducing it to the point of heresy.


Have a great weekend!

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

Last week I linked to an article about being a post-programming church. Here’s a followup giving some strategies for doing this by Bobby Jamieson. (2012)

One of the things younger guys have to decide is how they will respond to requests from people outside the church to do weddings. I’ll write about this at some point, but my policy ended up being I would only do weddings for people who were part of our church. But even with that policy, you’re going to have people who profess Christ who want to marry someone who isn’t a believer. By that time an article like this may be too late. But maybe it won’t, and maybe you’ll find someone dating an unbeliever and be able to talk to them before they make a mistake. Kathy Keller, Tim Keller’s wife. Wrote this piece. (2012)

Jonathan Leeman wrote a helpful article on a proper understanding of conversion and its relationship to pastoral work. (2012)

Here’a an article to share on the great themes of the Old Testament prophets. If you’re doing a Bible survey or preaching from the prophetic books, this might be worth reading. (2012)

I hope you never have to deal with younger family that just lost its father or mother, but tragedies strike Christians too. Brian Croft wrote an article that give some good counsel if you’re ever in that position. (2012)

I hope you have a great weekend!

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

Before I list links to the articles I’ve collected this week, let me pause for a brief commercial. I returned to pastoral ministry last past week and have met some great people, including those I will be working with. One of them is the very talented Melanie Trammell-Wenger. I’ll let Melanie take it from here:

Hi! I’m Melanie – I redesign websites for world changers. I’m the one you call when you have big, gnarly problems that hinder putting your website to work for your mission. Through User Experience Consulting we can:

● Identify the website’s pain points
● Point to what the site should be like
● Illuminate how we get there

Reach out today to get unstuck and back on track!
https://www.mtw-uxconsulting.com/


If there is any area of church ministry where the pull to be “relevant” is strongest, I would guess it would be youth ministry. Most youth pastors and leaders probably wrestle with the question of what to teach. This article provides some helpful tools to arrive at answers. (2011)

It’s easy to talk about the weather, sports, kids, what’s going on in the world. It’s not easy for many of us to talk about our relationship with God, our points of failure and growth, what we’re learning in Scripture, etc. Bobby Jamieson wrote this article on building a culture of spiritual conversations that is worth reading. (2014)

A guest post on Kevin DeYoung’s blog gives helpful advice for Christian wives married to men who are not believers. This is one you may find yourself sharing from time to time. (2012)

It’s not necessarily easy for veteran pastors, but younger guys may struggle with how to handle a funeral for an unbeliever. Jared Wilson provides helpful counsel. (2012)

When I was a senior pastor there were times when I thought, “What would it be like to close down everything and start church over again? What programs would we keep, why would we keep them, and what would we stop?” That’s kind of where we are right now, aren’t we? Many churches are “program-driven.” Here’s an article on becoming “post-programming” that was written in August of 2014 but might never be more relevant. (2014)


Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!!

Five From the Files Friday

Here are five articles from my Evernote archives, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard something like “I prayed a prayer to receive Jesus when I was 4, but never really grew. So when I was 18 I rededicated my life to the Lord.” I most certainly believe that children can come to faith in Christ, but between the way the Gospel is often (mis)presented to children and the frequency of the above, I came to the point where I preferred not to baptize children under 13. And then I raised the bar to 18. One of the ideas that influenced me is represented in this article from Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

I linked to two articles from Credo Magazine last week on “How Seminarians Can learn to Preach to Normal People” Here’s the third installment. (2011)

How long does it take you to prepare a sermon? Is it right to spend the equivalent of 40%-50% of your work week on one sermon? This article is good reading. And the answer is yes. (2010)

Carll Trueman is one of my favorite writers. Here he raises the question, “Why is So Much Preaching So Poor?” (2013)

Christmas preaching was always a challenge for me, mostly for the same reasons the author of this article identifies. But it’s coming, and it would be better to think now about what you’ll preach than wait until Black Friday. (2011)


Have a great weekend of ministry!

Five From the Files Friday

I know it’s Saturday, but we’ll pretend, ok?

Yesterday was my last day driving for the retirement communities. Among the men and women I drove to doctor appointments were former missionaries, former pastors, and godly saints who were still faithfully following their Savior. I took time this week to say goodbye where COVID restrictions permitted me to do so. I’ll start my new position as part-time Assistant Pastor at a fine church here in the Lehigh Valley on Monday.

Tim Smith, who is the pastor of a church near where I used to serve, suggested that I post a description of how I use Evernote for tracking all of these articles that I link to. I’ll do that mid-week. Thanks, Tim, for the idea.

Here are five articles from the vaults, with the year they were first published in parentheses. Since blog posts pass by our attention and tend to fade into obscurity pretty fast, I thought it might be helpful to resurrect some helpful posts I’ve encountered along the way.

Trevin Wax writes about the need for churches to honor their missionaries. There’s some really good stuff in this article. (2011)

Here’s a provocative article by Brandon Levering on why established churches should think like church plans. (2011)

These two articles are good for guys in Bible College or Seminary, and they are equally helpful for you young guys. And us older guys.

How Seminarians Can Learn to Preach to Normal People, Part 1 (2011)

How Seminarians Can Learn to Preach to Normal People, Part 2 (2011)

Do you have guys in your family, pool of friends, or church who, uh, need to grow up? Kevin DeYoung asks, “Dude, Where’s Your Bride?” (2011)


There we go! I’ll have my usual links on Monday and hopefully a description of how I use Evernote sometime mid-week!