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Tools of the Trade – Special Catch-Up Edition

Last week I posted a number of articles on preaching. This week there’s more variety.

Sadly, there are times when pastors fail and have to leave the ministry. I’ve known of several situations where that has happened over the years. This article encourages us to guard our hearts.

Continuing with this theme, here are “8 Red Flags of a Leadership Integrity Gap.”.

Ok, this is different, but if you are a Mac user and upgraded to the new Big Sur operating system, here’s an article that summarizes what’s new.

My friend Cynthia Epply has a helpful article on Grief and Loss During the Holidays.

Should Christians Use the Enneagram? Maybe I’d a dinosaur, but why do Christians gravitate toward this kind of thing and take it way more seriously than they should? Good article!

Few people comment as astutely on culture and Christianity than Carl Trueman. Here’s a podcast that you should listen to on Making Sense of Transgenderism and the Sexual Revolution. (Link corrected! Sorry)

It seems like we’ve passed through the following phases with the pandemic: uncertainty > camaraderie > suspicion > weary > grumpy. So, we need to know that there are some “silver linings” in this mess.

For the Church asked H.B. Charles “What is one thing the local church needs to get right in the 21st century?” Here’s his answer in 1 minute and 18 seconds.

This article begins with the words “Spiritual warfare is a tricky subject.” Yup. This is helpful in making it less tricky.

Have a great weekend. I’ll have more for Monday.

Tools of the Trade – Special Edition

Rather than do my usual Friday Files post, I thought I’d catch up a bit with some of the articles that I’ve found over the last two weeks that I haven’t yet linked to. I’ll finish the list in my regular posting on Monday. These are going to center primarily on communicating the Word, so read and mark, read and mark. And by the way, my main gripe with the new Evernote seems to have been removed. I have to install it yet, but that awaits the arrival of a new MacBook Air. Whoo hoo.

Ben Mandrell talks about 8 Tips for Unforgettable Bible Teaching. This is one for pastors to read, but it is also one to be shared with small group leaders and Sunday school teachers.

Ryan Higgenbottom advises us to not save all our application to the end of our sermons/lessons.

Kevin DeYoung has some words about pastors and politics, and suggests that sometimes saying nothing may be the best course of action.

Peter Krol gives advice on making the most of virtual small groups.

The folks at 9Marks continue their series on preaching. This one is “On the Personal Process of Writing a Sermon.”

Trevin Wax has been doing a series on reading the Bible more accurately.

Finally, Matt Henslee gives some advice about online sermons, something a lot of churches are having to do, continue to do, and may keep doing depending on the pandemic goes.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of November 16, 2020

I’ve apologized several times recently for the lateness of blog posts. I know I don’t have a huge readership but I do hope the links are of help to those of you who are reading this. I just returned from a week with my parents in North Carolina and have a rather large accumulation of worthwhile articles to share with you. So let me list several of them here, suggest that you read, save, and/or file them, and I will try to catch up with something midweek if not more often.

Nick Batzig writes a helpful article on the need for being discerning, especially in light of the amount of online content we (or our people) are spending online.

I believe that many people don’t understand the purpose of preaching. It would seem like many people come expecting something akin to a spiritual shot of caffeine, whereas – at least in my thinking – the real benefit of preaching has to do with the cumulative impact it makes. David Gundersen shares some thoughts about this subject. It may also give you some help in answering the “Pastor, we’re not getting anything from your preaching” folks.

This article asks “Are you experiencing holy FOMO?”

Greg Morse writes about driving men away from the church.

If you’re looking for some devotionals for yourself or others, Crossway recently released two by Paul Tripp.

Andrea Burke writes about “Autumn, Anxiety, and the World.”

For the “average” church-goer, church leaders, and even the spouse of a pastor’s wife (which would be pastors). Here are some things a pastor’s wife wants to be known.

Trevin Wax says that your pastor’s wife may feel lonely, and tells us why.

There are a whole lot of things that disturb us in these days, but David McLemore reminds us not to neglect the things that bring joy.

If we don’t want to improve as preachers, we probably ought not to be preaching. Preaching is a gift, but also a craft that needs to be worked on until we stop doing it. Here’s another helpful article from Nick Batzig.

I’ll close with this article that probably every pastor can relate to. Aaron Earls suggests ways in which churches can get COVID-concerned churchgoers to begin coming to church. Caveat: Since this article was written, the virus has spiked in many places, and pastors may be thinking about the possibility of slowing own the process of opening. But at some point you’ll want to address this!

An End of the Week Vent

I had the best of intentions of doing my usual blogging on Monday and Friday of this past week, but some other things required my attention. I am preaching this Sunday from Daniel 8, had a good number of pastoral care responsibilities to take care of, and am preparing for a short trip to visit my parents for a few days next week.

If you are an American, you may feel a bit like the photo above. Too many signals in and out.

After reading some political posts I’m a bit irked. I have great appreciation for godly men who share their thoughts with us. However, I have a growing concern that the words of people who write books and have megachurches mean way more than the words of local pastors. One article in particular that was thoughtful, passionate, and yet an absolute train-wreck when it came to making a logical argument bothered me in particular. And it was not so much the conclusion reached as it was the fact that a man who will never meet the people I help shepherd can reach into the life of a congregation and have incredible influence.

Hey look, when I write original content, I share opinion. This is opinion. But I’m about as well-known as the name of the guy working in the kitchen at the local McDonalds, so my influence is rather limited. But if people have questions, I would love to see them ask their pastors for help rather than simply tune in to a Christian talking head, assuming that their pastor probably is clueless.

I don’t propose to have an answer. In fact I’ll keep reading these good men and sharing their good articles with you. But folks, they are not perfect, and they are not necessarily authorities on issues they tackle. So read, discern, and think on your own, whether it comes from lil old me or a guy with 5 PhD’s.

Have a good week!

Five From the Files

I’m taking a slight detour from the type of articles I’ve posted recently to focus on something that took place over 500 years ago. Too many Christians are ignorant of church history in general and the Reformation in particular. That results not only in loss of heritage, but it prevents us from benefitting from the wisdom of those who have come before us. And while you may disagree, I do believe having a handle on what the Reformers and their offspring taught would keep our churches focused on what God views as important, and spare us from the gimmicky Christianity we find so prevalent in our day.

It may well be that a series on the Solas of the Reformation and a thorough, doctrinal/practical study on Justification by Faith would be the most significant sermon series you’d ever preach. So go for it!

From Credo Magazine: ”How to Teach the Reformation to the Next Generation.”

From For the Church: “What Was Reformed in the Reformation?”

From Ligonier: ”Four Implications of Martin Luther’s Theology.”

From Desiring God: “What Did the Reformation Give Us?”

From Credo Magazine: “Why Pastors Should Engage Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.”

Of course the Reformation is not the only important event in church history. But its themes are so very relevant for the church today. Whet your appetite on the above and start finding out more about this great period and some of the great Christians who stood up for truth in an age when it was very dangerous to do so.

Have a blessed weekend!

Tools of the Trade for the Week of October 26, 2020

A day late, with apologies. Here are some articles that you will find helpful in your ministry:

Here are some interesting reflections by Darron Norwood about What the Pandemic Taught me About My Preaching Preferences.

Lara d’Entremont stares some insights about The Wisdom in Restraining Our Lips. A timely meditation.

Joseph Lanier, at For the Church has some helps for preaching through the book of Micah.

Kevin DeYoung asks and answers Should I Preach Without Notes? Some guys can do this. I’ll confess that I can’t.

Jeremy Meeks, David Helm, and K. Edward Copeland have an under 25 minute podcast on Discerning the Structure of a Biblical Text.

When Satan is in the Church is a great reminder from Nicholas Batzig that Satan’s not just hanging out with drug dealers and terrorists. A must read.

There you go! Have a great week of ministry. The list is not that long today, but there’s some really good reading and listening.

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.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of October 19, 2020

Our wonderful Lead Pastor was gracious enough to give me the opportunity to preach yesterday in both morning services. Haven’t done that for over 40 years. Anyway, the sermon was on Daniel 5 and was called Uncommon Arrogance. The video begins around 40 seconds into the clip.

Before I share a list of links from the last week or two, let me highlight the website of Tim Reigle. Tim leads our worship team and has a ministry – online and in-person – for men who are dealing with the problem of pornography. In addition, there are some solid articles on his site. Check them out.

Now, here are some helpful articles for your reading this week:

Aaron Earls tells us 5 Ways the Church Can Relieve Covid-Related Family Stress.

Dave Van Dyke shares 5 Myths about Pastoral Leadership.

Jason Allen helps us with our preaching in How to Assemble Your Sermon.

Ryan Higginbottom answers the question, “How Long Does it Take to Prepare a Bible Study?”

In my opinion there’s no one better on the subject of Justification than R.C. Sproul, and his explanation of What Does the Roman Catholic Church Believe About Justification? may be surprising to you.

Luke Holmes provides 4 Ways Social Media Can Be Leveraged for Discipleship.

Darryl Dash writes In Praise of the Average Pastor.

Peter Mead talks about Preaching as Connecting (relationships).

A Little Book for New Preachers: Why & How to Study Homiletics, by Matthew Kim, is available on Kindle for 3 bucks.

Finally, Rob Hurtgen addresses 3 Areas In Which All Church Leaders Must Now Be Revitalizers.

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.

Tools of the Trade – Extra Special Midweek Edition

My apologies that there was no Monday Tools of the Trade. I have the privilege of preaching this coming Sunday – something I have not done with a “live” congregation since August, 2017, and my focus has been on preparing my sermon on Daniel 5.

Before I give you a list of great articles to look at, let me address something that came to my attention. I don’t have a huge readership, but there are several dozen people who seem to drop in regularly and/or get updates by email. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that over 10% of the traffic has been for this particular article: What If I Don’t Like My Pastor’s Preaching.

I’ve had hits on that post almost every day for the last two weeks, which is fine. I hope that it is helpful. But if you’re reading this and you’re one of the ones who has been reading it (I have no way of telling), I can offer a confidential ear if you want to email me at If on the other hand you’ve been reading it to help you sleep, I understand perfectly. 😀

Here are articles to read, share, and file:

Brianna Lambert says (I paraphrase) that a lot of ink has been spilled on the subject of leadership. However, I’m glad she wrote this article sharing three leadership lessons.

The ubiquitous Tim Challies helps us understand that The Church is You, So the Church Will Be Like You.

Paul David Tripp’s recent book Lead is being used by Crossway to provide resources for Christian leaders.

Jared Wilson shares 4 Keys to a Heart-Level Discipleship.

In 2017 we celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Michael Reeves tells us why the Reformation still matters. (And I urge you to read this!)

Max Lucado contributes to the subject of lonely leaders in ministry.

Jacob Haywood tells us how the cancel culture can actually make the church stronger.

I’m preparing the groundwork for an exciting project in our church, and this article by Mary Wiley touches on the need for our people to know theology and theological terms. Go Mary!

This article infers that there may be some disunity over the issue of politics? Really? (Sarcasm). Good reading!

YOUNGER PASTOR MUST READ ARTICLE ALERT!!! Your Church is Not A Stepping Stone.

Peter Mead has some suggestions on preaching to students during this pandemic period. And he also has an admonition to evaluate our sermons before giving them.

This is the Babylon Bee at its best. The Bee Explains: Main Differences Between Popular Bible Translations. All in fun, folks.

Have a good rest of the week! I’ll share some older articles from my files over the weekend.