Archive for the ‘Sermons & Stuff’ Category

… from a weekend at Treasure Island (near St. Pete, FL).  I did some pulpit supply at Tradewinds Church, preaching on Murder in the Church (James 4:1-10).  Since it is a bit out of the way, they have access to a home on Sunset Beach.  It was a great beach house built in the 1930s.  It had hardwood floors (a carpet would suck up the sand, but also some of the noise) and many wood walls, 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.  The backyard was shady and fenced in, making it a great place to sit and read, or smoke a cigar while watching the ALCS through the big picture window.  They had a dock on the channel, with some benches.  In the afternoon they were in the shade so you could watch the sea critters go by.  I didn’t know rays could jump that far out of the water and was amazed.  A manatee floated on by, and I saw some dolphins (I think) jump as well.  It was about 1 block from the beach and the gulf water was still pretty warm.  Our daughter just loves to hunt for shells and splash around.  The drop off is not fast, so we waded out aways and schools of fish swam around us.  I think she liked that.  We ended up leaving earlier than expected because she had a bad cough, meaning she didn’t sleep well, and CavWife started to have a sore throat.

Tradewinds is a casual church experience.  A few people were dressed up, but most of them fit in well with the beach culture- relaxed.  The worship team was not there, so the youth director played guitar and sang with a young lady who had a great voice but seemed timid.  Great collection of songs for worship- Here I am to Worship, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus, You’re My All in All and Holy is the Lord (Tomlin).  It was a fairly simple service, and the people were very friendly.  They also received God’s Word well.  It took a few minutes to get the rust off (I hadn’t preached in about 2 months).

Overall a very good weekend without cable TV and internet service.  Thankfully the ALCS moved to Fox (I didn’t know this until I stumbled upon it Friday night with the Sox up 7-1).  I was home in time to watch the Patriots put the beat down on the Cowboys.  The Cowboys played a good game overall, but the Patriots just seemed unstoppable yesterday.  It is just amazing to watch how good Tom Brady is now that he has someone to throw to.  You really begin to appreciate what he did last year with essentially no one to throw to.

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Time for the next stanze- He.

33 Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end.  34 Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart.  35 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.   36 Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;  preserve my life according to your word.  38 Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared.  39 Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good.  40 How I long for your precepts!  Preserve my life in your righteousness. 

I don’t just need to learn His decrees.  Knowing them is not enough.  I need Him to teach me how to follow them.  Don’t you?  We find ourselves coming up short so often because we, in part, don’t know how to follow them.  This is vital because one of the biggest obstacles we face in obedience is the resistence of our own sinful nature.  So, the issue is learning how to put the desires of the flesh to death by the power of the Spirit.  The more we do this, the more we will want to do this and grow in our keeping of God’s command.  But here is the kicker- this guy who we would say is probably more godly than us, is struggling!  He has not arrived, but like Paul he is pressing on (Philippians 3). 

The Psalmist then expresses a common sentiment- give me understanding.  We are like kids at times- we have to ‘understand’ why an authority figure is telling us to do, or not do, something.  And we delay obedience until we understand.  What we need to understand is not the why, but the who.  We need to understand who it is that makes these decrees more than all the particulars about why this command is for His glory and my good.  The more we love Him, the more we will obey.  No, this is not “because I said so.”  This is more like “because I who am perfectly good, holy, just, righteous, compassionate, merciful, powerful, truth, love … know this is best for you.”

Delight… not a word most people find in connection with commands.  We do not delight in being ordered around.  Nor do we usually delight in obedience.  This is evidence of a regenerate heart (Romans 8:5-8).  Again, the pleasures of sin are fleeting.  But the delight of obedience can sustain us.  Sin always demands more, with diminishing returns.  Sin eventually brings guilt and shame.  Obedience will bring delight, but this delight is found by grace because God must direct me in the path of his commands.


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I think it would be interesting to interact about preaching.  If you are a pastor, you could briefly discuss what you do.  If you are a listener, what most benefits you regarding preaching.

Style: I am an expositional preacher.  Whether I am going through a book, or handling a topic, I stick with one main text to explain and apply it.  I will often use supporting texts, but I don’t turn it into a “Bible drill” with people flipping here and there trying to keep up.

Emphasis: I try to preach with a redemptive historical mindset.  Meaning: I want to keep the text in its place in the history of redemption.  I want to connect that text with “Christ and him crucified.”  My goal is to preach the gospel, not morality, for both justificaton and sanctification.  It is really hard to keep from moralism, seeing as how we all have a little religious fanatic in us that wants to earn part or all of our salvation (Luther).  Listening to Tim Keller has really helped me to make those Gospel-connections better and to preach less moralistically.

Form: I am fairly flexible about my form.  At times I’ll use the old 3-point sermon.  At times I’ll preach more like a Puritan, or John Piper, laying out some explanations/doctrine and then some application.  I try to use what works best with the text- though I’m sure I err often enough.  What remains constant is that I give them the Big Idea at the beginning so they have some idea where I’m heading and think is most important.

Illustrations: I can often fall into ruts, so I have to be careful.  The last few years have been frustrating because I’ve had to shy away from sports and movies because I didn’t have many people who watched lots of sports and movies.  Getting married and having a child was the best thing that every happened to me as a pastor.  It opened up a whole new world of personal stories to illustrate things.  I use some current events- but those can lead people to think I’m taking a side on politics so I try to use discretion.  I’m currently in the wrong environment for the great works of literature illustrations.  Sometimes it is good just to pull a Spurgeon and use a biblical illustration.  Who could argue?  My personality is to try and push the envelop a bit, being a bit edgy (at least in my circles).  Evidence some of my sermon titles.  I’m trying not to be too provocative.  Key word is trying.


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Not in the way you think.  Today was “one of those days”.  I listened to an excellent message by Darrin Patrick on the Life and Death of the Missional Leader.  He talked about trials, and suffering, as a part of ministry- weaning us from dependence on self and teaching us to rely upon Him who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1).  I’ve been meaning to listen to it for nearly a year.

The last year has been one of the more difficult years of my life.  Sometimes I focus on the pain, and sometimes on what God is producing through the pain.  This morning it was the latter.  This afternoon, in the midst of the Presbytery meeting where nothing went even remotely ‘right’, it was all pain.  My humiliation seemed complete- I felt utterly incompetent before all.  Yeah, great day.  Then came the complete low-ball offer on the house.

If you are in ministry, or considering it, you should listen.

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A lot has been going in the world.  Here’s a quick take on things important to my ‘tea cup mind’.

Jason Whitlock declares Imus is not the real problem.  Today we remember Jackie Robinson, and the great sacrifices he made that others may have opportunities.  Martin Luther King Jr. as well.  These men did not allow words to destroy them.  People’s words only have the power you give them.  And sadly, many hip-hop ‘artists’ like Snoop Dogg are teaching suburban white kids that black women are worthless ho’s.  And some black women reinforce this by acting like it on rap videos.  No, Imus is not the real problem.  People need to stop listening to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and following the examples of MLK, Jackie, Hank Aaron and Bill Russell.

The Greg Oden story gets stranger.  Sounds like his father is not part of the ‘inner circle’.  I guess his parents are divorced, but I don’t know for a fact.   Mike Conley Sr. says that Greg has not spoken to him and his mother yet.  I don’t know the backstory, but it sure sounds weird to me.  Almost like his former AAU coach is his real father-figure, and Greg Sr. wants to get in on his son’s fame.  Wouldn’t be the first time that happened.  Perhaps this is why Greg doesn’t go by Greg Jr.  I hope this is not a sad story in the making.

Theologian Meredith Kline has passed away.  He was one of the elite Reformed Old Testament scholars.  Like Van Til, he ‘made up words’ to convey his ideas.  His work on covenants (The Structure of Biblical Authority) is foundational, and really helped my understanding of the Old Testament.  His book, Images of the Spirit, is profound.  Sadly these books are now self-published and expensive.  But worth the extra money, particularly in an age of shallow thought.  I read his book on baptism as a water ordeal, By Oath Consigned, when I was still a credo-baptist.  It did not convince me of the infant baptism position, but there certainly was some interesting things there.  He did respond to a letter following up on my reading of the book.

If you’ve been here awhile, you notice a change in the pictures I use for book reviews.  Thanks to Justin Childers, I’ve begun using the bookstore at Westminster.  They will ship your order for a flat rate of $5 in the continental US.  Though their selection is not as good as Amazon, their prices are better whenever I have compared, including my latest order of books by Powlison, Tripp, Lane and Mack.  So, I’ve included links on each title to get you to the WTS Bookstore.  I have an incentive, they provide gift certificates for every 50 referrals from the blog.  So, if you want to know more about a book and see their great prices…

Today was one of ‘those’ days.  I had a migraine all night, and didn’t sleep well.  Medication took the edge off, but I was still suffering this morning.  I thought my sermon completely stunk.  I had to remind myself, like Tim Keller, that man is not justified by preaching.  But the sermon really connected with the congregation (The Passions of Christian Prayer).  It was probably important as we go through a time of uncertainty about our future as a congregation.  I’ll post some thoughts on ‘why churches die’ soon.  I’ve been asked this, and I’ll say that Isaiah was not the problem (second half of Isaiah 6).  It is difficult to pastor a dying congregation.  Obviously no pastor is perfect, especially me.  But I’ve tried to faithfully present the Word and love the people.  There is more going on than meets the eye, and pastors receive too much credit for ‘success’ and blame for ‘failure’.  I trust that God is accomplishing His purposes, for His glory.  That, and that His mercies are new every morning because of Jesus, are all I can hang my Red Sox cap on.  Whew, sorry ’bout that.  Long day.

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I just listened to Mark Driscoll’s sermon from the Desiring God national conference.  WOW!  What a great sermon, a necessary sermon. 

He talks about the need for both the incarnational and the exalted Jesus.  Without the exalted Jesus, the incarnational Jesus lacks authority.  Without the incarnational Jesus, we don’t have a Great High Priest who is able to sympathize with us.  We need both.

He talked about the need to contend for the Gospel and contextualize the Gospel.  He listened 9 essential doctrines we need to contend for in the postmodern world.  In the process he takes on the emergent conversation.  Having contended for the faith, we must also speak timeless truth to a particular culture.  To do so, we must contextualize it.  Part of the proof of contextualization is the reality of the 4 Gospels- 4 different culture groups.

I just read 2 Timothy this morning.  Paul suffered all things for the sake of the elect.  We must be willing to do all things permissible to bring the gospel message to the elect, regardless of their culture instead of expecting them to meet you on your cultural turf.

So… move on over to Desiring God ministries and drink this one often.

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I finally got around to the message Donald Miller gave at Mars Hill (Grand Rapids).  [quick complaint- why do they keep the announcements?  i can’t fast forward on the old MP3 player]  It was more like a lecture… not really much work with a text of Scripture.  But he did say some really good things.

He focused on Christianity as relationship, not a system of ideas.  Yeah, we can get too focused on the theology.  But… theology is essential to knowing who the God we know is, and how we come to know Him and ….  Theology is not optional.  And I don’t think he’s saying it is, just reacting to those who study, study, study but don’t actually know God.

He starts by talking about the Magic Bullet, one of those food prep devices on an infomercial.  He uses this as a metaphor for how consumerism views God.  We get caught up on formulas and all kinds of things.

But God is a Father to us who believe.  As such, we does what is best for us rather than what we want or think is best for us.  I’ve been gaining a new appreciation for that as a father myself.   She doesn’t care about what is best for her, only that she wants something and I’m not coming through.

After listening to this at the gym, I was thinking about my own father and how that relationship makes my relationship with the Father difficult at times.  I can lapse into a functional relationship, finding intimacy so hard- mirroring the earthly one.  And I try hard to make Him proud of me.  But you see, He loves & accepts me in Jesus… so such machinations are really a waste of time.  In those moments I’m living like Jesus doesn’t matter- and not much could be more sinful.  I am a lousy son… but I am His son- all because of Jesus.

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Kris Lungaard recently spoke at the Omaha Bible Church.  If you are not familiar with Kris, he is a student of John Owen.

He has written 2 books in which he summarizes Owen’s thought, making them suitable for spiritual kids like us.  The Enemy Within summarizes a large portion of Volume 6 of Owen’s Works- On Temptation, On the Power of Indwelling Sin, and The Mortification of Sin.  His book Through the Looking Glass tackles Owen’s The Glory of Christ.

I was just reviewing The Mortification of Sin today for sermon prep.  This is the subject of Kris’ lectures at Omaha Bible Church.  The Irish Calvinist (on staff there) has a link, or you can go directly to their website to download or listen.

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My friend, the Jollyblogger, has just started posting sermons on Sermon Cloud.  I noticed it this afternoon, and when I looked back tonight, he had an ‘amen’.  But…..

I looked and he ‘amen’ed himself.  What?!  Huh?! 

Actually, I think someone else puts them up for him, and ‘amen’ed it using his name.  So it just looks funny.  Scott, can I borrow you to listen to one of my sermons?  Seriously, the Cavman isn’t getting any play over at the Sermon Cloud.  Crushed I tell you.  I mean, do you really think Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll and Rick McKinley preach better than me?! 

If you are smart you do….

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With the help of Justin from Ekklesia 360, I got all of the technical issues sorted out.  This week’s sermon- Restoring the Peace– is now available on The Sermon Cloud.  Now that I’ve done it, I get it (understand it).  I can use the technology to enhance the material on our church web site as well.  I hope others are edified!

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Sermon Cloud(y)

I’ve spent significant portions of Wednesday and Friday trying to upload my sermon onto Sermon Cloud.  Call me frustrated, nay, exasperated.

I get the green print saying “Still uploading…. Don’t interrupt” but it never seems to finish.  Anyone have any idea what I’m doing wrong???  Unless I read the “Terms & Conditions” wrong, support is pricey (afterall, it is a free service otherwise).

Oh, did I say that I’m not the most technologically savy guy (not quite any “generation”, I am a freak).

You may be asking, “Cavman, the sermons are already on your website, why bother?”  Well, people who have never visited this blog, and the church’s site, will visit Sermon Cloud.  Just trying to expand ministry.  We hope to also be on Sermon Audio (it reaches a different crowd -more traditional- than Sermon Cloud).

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Inconvenient Christianity is the first Rick McKinley sermon I’ve heard. Initially it was a struggle because he sounds like Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  But once you get beyond the “dudes” and “killer”, he has some very good things to say.  This is his recap of Romans, with a focus on relationships and risk out of Romans 16.  Christianity, following Jesus, will lead us into uncomfortable places.  He even talked about distancing ourselves from those who try to teach false doctrine in the church (the Imago mafia).  Sounds like Imago Dei is a congregation committed to both doctrine and mission.  Awesome!

In his recap of Romans, Rick talked about justification, affirming the historic Protestant view (as opposed to the new views), and how the 7 steps stuff is religion, not Christianity.  He also talked about the already/not yet.  This was a good sermon, and I think I’ll be going back to hear some more of Rick McKinley’s sermons.

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The Sermon Cloud

I was surfing tonight and came across something while on HisMethod, a blog by an Australian pastor.  It is The Sermon Cloud.  Membership is free.  They have sermons from some of the newer pastors.  If you are a pastor, they also have tools to optimize your MP3s for the internet, syndication etc. to expand your ministry.  I’ve been looking for something user-friendly to optimize my MP3s.  You know, something to compress them so they use up less space (I’ve seen 60 minutes sermons as 10 MB files, while my 30-35 minutes sermons are 35 MB files).  I’ll see how well this works.

Tonight I also downloaded a bunch of stuff from the Acts 29 Network’s bootcamps.  Of particular interest to me is creating missional community groups, and a sermon on Jesus-centered Reformed Theology.

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“He (God) will put the desires, and put the expression of those desires into your spirit by His grace; He will direct your desires to the things which you ought to seek for; He will teach you your wants, though as yet you know them not; He will suggest to you His promises that you may be able to plead them; He will, in fact, be Alpha and Omega to your prayers, just as He is to your salvation; for as salvation is from first to last of grace, so the sinner’s approach to the throne of grace is of grace from first to last.”  Charles Spurgeon from “

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This was preached at Farm Fest, so it has not been recorded.  So here are the notes.  I am working with “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” from James 4 and 1 Peter 5.

Intro: Can’t be two places at once, I have to choose. Can’t be proud & humble- choose the place of grace.Big Idea: God glorifies Himself by giving grace to the humble.

I. Background: These 2 letters are striking in similarities & differences.

– Both were written to scattered Christians, born anew by the word of truth.

– Both quote Proverbs 3:34 from the Greek translation of the OT to foster humility over pride.

– James focuses on sin in the community, affliction is secondary.

– Peter focuses on affliction in the community, sin is secondary.

– Peter highlights the sacrificial death of Jesus in light of sin & affliction.

Transition: Both of these letters help us to understand the place of grace we need to find. (more…)

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“Well, let Luther call me a devil, call me what he will, yet I will acknowledge Luther to be the servant of Jesus Christ, and one whom Christ doth use as an instrument of a great deal of good.”  John Calvin, as noted in Sermon XIII of Jeremiah Burroughs, The Saints’ Happiness.

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Well, not actually.  I have seen a few of the Nooma DVDs.  But this was the first sermon of his I’d heard.  Enough Dirt for My Mule was a very good sermon.  It was faithful to the biblical text, contextualized and applicible to the circumstances of the people.  I will have to listen to more of his sermons.  You may want to get there before it gets shuffled off.

Update: I’ve since read Velvet Elvis and find it unfaithful to the biblical text and misleading in many ways.  If you search this sight for the book title, you can find my interaction with the book.  Dude be dangerous.

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“For a minister to preach other men’s sermons it is negligence, but for him to preach Christ’s sermon it is faithfulness.”  Jeremiah Burroughs in The Saint’s Happiness.

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We have moved into the 21st Century folks.  If you are interested in hearing my sermons, just click.  Today you will find only one as we begin fresh with a new series from Sunday.  But each week (vacations/study leaves excluded) there should be a new one up there- technology permitting.

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if you want to listen to this sermon, it’s now on Sermon Cloud

Intro:  We follow people, period.  Celebrities, musicians, authors, teams/athletes, professors.  Magazines, websites, shows etc. help us stay up to date.    We dress, talk, & vote like them!

Big Idea: Jesus is perfect & perfectly willing to help.

Context: Writing to a Jewish audience, Matthew is proving that Jesus is the true son of Abraham and David through whom God will fulfill all the promises given to them.  After a miraculous, prophecy-fulfilling birth Jesus was affirmed to be God’s much loved and delighted in Son.  He must be tested before His ministry.

I. Jesus didn’t have a perfect life.

         He was a blue-collar kid who mourned the loss of those He loved.

         He was tested to prove He was the Son of God, Abraham & David (Mt. 1:1).

         Jesus was tempted, just like us.  What can we learn from this?

         Temptation is not accidental– but appointed by God (led by the Spirit, Heb. 4).

         Temptation reveals who you are under pressure.  Ill. Fighting with the copier

         Temptation is painful because we’re put to the test or tried to reveal quality.  Ill. PSAT

         Temptation is on-going for a follower of Jesus.  Satan returned to test Jesus.

         Temptations are Shortcuts: seeking blessing without God, faith and obedience.

         Abraham & David tried to fulfill God’s promises in their own power.

         Shortcuts are a means to MY prosperity, protection or power.

         Athletes =>steroids.  Enron=> cook books. Parents =>stop the crying.  Students => tech

         The world is upside down, and all its conventional wisdom leads us astray.

         Jesus talks about everyday stuff- the stuff we face & He faced stuff just like it.

         The Sermon on the Mount: temptations we face at home, school, work, playground.

Transition: Jesus was a man just like us; He understands our circumstances perfectly.

II. Jesus practiced what He preached perfectly.

         Adam and Eve failed the test in the Garden.  Israel failed the test in the wilderness.

         We fail the test each and every dayIll. I wouldn’t make it 40 days w/out food.

         Jesus was tempted, but still was without sin.  He didn’t have to learn from mistakes.

         Jesus resisted by seeking the Father’s glory first

         Jesus resisted by living for more than just Himself.  Ill. Cinderella Man vs. Baer

         Loving God’s Word is better than prosperity.  Ill. Cinderella Man (stolen food)

         Loving God-given limits is better than unnecessary risk.  Ill. Rock climbing/MI:II

         Loving God Himself is better than power.

 Transition: Jesus experienced temptation just like us, but obeyed perfectly.

III. Jesus is perfectly able & willing to provide grace.

         Jesus obeyed; meriting grace for us.  Sinners, we receive the benefits of His obedience!

         Jesus suffered the penalty for our disobedience on the Cross.

         Jesus sits upon the throne of grace, offering grace to us (Heb 4).

         Tempted: ask for grace!  Grace empowers you to walk obediently (Matthew 16). 

         Afflicted: ask for grace!  Grace empowers you to persevere in hardship.

         Guilty: ask for mercy! Mercy removes our guilt, so we can still right with God.

Conclusion: There are too many voices telling us what to do.  They want us to follow them, do life their way.  But their way is marked by failure and sin.  Jesus blazed a trail of perfect obedience in the midst of imperfect circumstances.  Jesus doesn’t want you to buy his tapes and books.  He is perfectly willing & able to give you the grace and mercy you need to follow Him in your imperfect circumstances.

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