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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.

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.

Tools of the Trade – Extra Special Midweek Edition

I saved the links to so many good articles over the last week that I decided to have another midweek edition of the Monday “Tools.”

The Dog Ate My Doctrine: Leaving No Place in Our Pews for Theological Laziness by Aaron Earls. Just read it. Good stuff

Christians, We Are Losing Our Witness is an article everyone on social media needs to read.

The Greatest Discipleship Challenge Facing the Church is about the problem of the autonomous self. JT English has some great points here.

The Gospel Coalition posted a link to a whole bunch of essays by well-known Bible teachers. They are grouped by theological category. Bookmark this site!

Michael Cooper writes about 7 Sunday Morning Habits to Encourage in Your Church.

H.B. Charles, Jr., known for his preaching and for what he has to say about preaching, writes Three Keys to Effective Sermon Preparation. You young guys finding your way will want to look at this one in particular.

Dr. Robert Godfrey has done some great series on church history. I’ve used them in our Sunday School with adults and they have been both informative and well-presented. Here’s a new series called The Necessity of Reforming the Church.

Michael Lundy shares some helpful tips on How to Pray When You’re Feeling Anxious.

Tim Challies shared a call to worship from his church that serves not only as a good model of the call to worship, but might minister to you or someone you know.

Here’s another look at social media. Chris Martin writes about The Real Cost of Using Social Media. Some of what he says may surprise you.

Finally, here’s an article I found quite significant: Are You Cheating On Your Church. I suspect that there are people within our churches who need to read this.

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.

Tools of the Trade for the Week of October 5, 2020

I hope your weekend went well. Our Associate Pastor, Tim Hogan, preached on Daniel 3 and did a good job. If Tim sees this and mentions it, I’ll give him $1. 😃

Here are several recent articles that I believe you’ll find helpful:

The folks at 9Marks gave us Pastoring With Certainty In Uncertain Times. That’s certainly a topic that everyone in ministry can relate to.

An article by Mark Dance continues that theme, looking at Psalm 23. The title of the article is Four Truths For Pastoring Through Difficult Times From Psalm 23.

Kevin DeYoung assures us that It’s Ok to Be A Pastor.

Alex DiPrima points us to Charles Spurgeon as an illustration of how pastors should handle controversial topics. The article is How Did Charles Spurgeon Address Contemporary Issues in His Preaching?

Sam Amadi suggests that preaching through Revelation might be a really good idea for the times we’re in.

Do you ever wonder what your people say about you? Dan Miller encourages us to consider whether they would say we are good listeners.

Tony Shepherd talks about Pastoring Amid Suspicion.

Greg Gilbert followed up a post about pastors and politics with this article: How to Hold Your Tongue About Politics And Thereby Not Split Your Church Over Things the Bible Doesn’t Talk About: AN ADDENDUM.

Here’s an article that suggests three ways to reach non-religious people in our communities.

One of the great challenges of churches with a strong “family” emphasis is how to include singles. This is a helpful article that gives some solid suggestions.

Well, that’s ten bits of good reading to start your day off with. Younger pastors – make sure you’re saving a lot of these articles. As valuable as your schooling has been, these articles cover topics you likely didn’t learn about in the classroom.

I’m going to do another Wednesday edition because I have about ten more to share with you. See you then!