Thursday, April 30, 2009
Two cases of the swine flu are now in Iowa. One of the suspected cases was recently in Coralville for a conference. The University of Iowa Hospital now has this web page up where they are posting regular updates regarding the spread of the H1N1 influenza virus in Iowa.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I just re-listened with my wife to Tim Keller's talk on the Gospel and Idolatry from the Gospel Coalition Conference and have to say that the talk really hits it out of the park. If you are trying to gain a fundamental understand regarding how to win your community for Christ, this talk puts the discussion into crystal clarity. If you are hoping to gain a better understanding of your own battle with sin, this talk will aid you in discerning your personal idols. It effectively frames life and ministry within the Biblical dichotomy of idolatry and God worship. Good stuff. You can listen to the audio or watch the video here.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Glory hallelujah! According to USA Today and Wired Magazine, the iPhone is getting closer to possibly cutting a deal with Verizon. Those with iPhone's in our area have long lamented the poor reception offered by AT&T. Hopefully change is on the horizon!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
1. Parallel the Meaning of the Text
A good sermon illustration must closely parallel the emphasis of the subject matter within the text being taught. It’s important to remember that if an illustration doesn’t strongly tie-in with the text it’s better not to use it. A lot of Pastors use stories or movie clips because they are “hip” or “inspirational” but in doing so, totally miss the point of the text.
2. Be A Story Teller
The best preachers are great story tellers. Even if you’re a person who uses a manuscript when teaching, the illustration gives you and excellent opportunity to pull yourself away from the text and fully engage with your listener. For the less experienced teacher, it is imperative to practice your illustrations so they flow naturally and capture attention.
3. With Age Comes Wisdom
In the pastor panel at the Gospel Coalition Conference Tim Keller remarked how he is a better preacher because he is an older preacher. At his stage of life he’s helped scores of people walk through difficult suffering, struggled with personal health issues, endured persecution, etc. It’s no question that, like a good wine, preachers can become more effective with age because they bring more wisdom and experience to the illustrations they share.
4. Study Culture
In my preaching class at Covenant I remember the quote that every teacher should have a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Though today it’s probably more accurately said, “a Bible in one hand and a laptop (preferably a Macbook Pro) with Google Reader in the other” the point is the same. If we hope to relate to culture, we must be a student of what is going on around us. Using illustrations directly from the culture give us powerful points of relevance with those we teach.
5. Develop a Filing System
Recently I started trying to assemble a file folder of good illustrations. The content of these illustrations come from blogs, books, podcasts, emails, and life experiences. Many preachers find ways to organize and store good illustrations either in file systems or on their computer.
6. Don’t Overdo It
First of all, illustrations that are shared more than once or twice loose impact, so don’t become lazy by using the same illustration again and again. Second, just like the parables, illustrations are only helpful at emphasizing one or two points. Use it to make the point and then move on. It’s fine to say the egg illustrates three being also one, but the illustration breaks down quickly when you assign the yoke to God, egg white to Jesus, and shell to the Holy Spirit. I think you get the point.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
As the apostle says to Timothy, so also he says to every-one, 'Give yourself to reading.' ... He who will not use the thoughts of other men's brains proves that he has no brains of his own... You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible... the best way for you to spend your leisure is to be either reading or praying."The fact that the apostle Paul, who knew he was in his final days, was still concerned about reading and writing, gives us a great insight into his life-practices that advanced His influence for the advance of the Gospel and building of the Kingdom of God. May his example influence us to do the same.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
1. What can I learn?
Though it is humbling to have someone critique your work, it is important to maintain a teachable attitude.
2. Always assume the best
Unless it is substantiated that this is not the case, it is important to always assume that people have good intention when they share their concerns.
3. Validate people’s concerns
In most cases, the person sharing the concern is very sincere. Try your best to “walk in their shoes” and empathize with them.
4. Rebuke when needed
If people are sinning in how they confront (critical spirit, arrogance, etc.), then call them on their sin. If they are complaining about someone else then ask them to take that concern directly to the person before speaking with you.
5. Consider subjectivity
Remember that people’s opinions are often subjective. Sometimes you simply have to agree to disagree.
Often people disagree with a decision because they aren’t aware of all the information that went into making the decision. Do your best to inform them so they can get your perspective on the issue.
Sometimes our strongest critics can become our greatest ally if we get them involved in the process of coming up with solutions. If someone doesn’t like the way a specific ministry operates, then get them involved in a group working to reform or guide that ministry.
8. Let it go
Try your best to not take criticism personally. If our identity is too tied into our work, then we will allow criticism to paralyze us, making us ineffective for the Kingdom. Once you’ve received and learned all you can from criticism, the next step is to move on.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
Addiction is a worship disorder we can all relate to. Are we satisfied in God or do we turn to other things as our source of comfort, escape, or purpose? In some measure we all know what it’s like being addicts. Though our addictions may not be as dangerous, or obvious, or public, we have all struggled. For some of us, God’s grace has matured us in such a way that we’ve been freed from some of the deep entanglements we once had with certain areas of sin.
I just finished the book Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Edward Welch. Though it primarily references people struggling with addictions like alcoholism, it is a book that would greatly benefit anyone struggling with any kind of addiction. One of the things I enjoyed most was the way the book synthesized contemporary therapy-speak with a Biblical understanding of disease and slavery to sin. I now view this book as my counseling handbook as I meet with people struggling with different areas of sin. I pray many will read it and learn how to turn from their idols and embrace the transformation available only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Caught Twittering or on Facebook at work? It'll make you a better employee, according to an Australian study that shows surfing the Internet for fun during office hours increases productivity.
The University of Melbourne study showed that people who use the Internet for personal reasons at work are about 9 percent more productive that those who do not.
Study author Brent Coker, from the department of management and marketing, said "workplace Internet leisure browsing," or WILB, helped to sharpened workers' concentration.
"People need to zone out for a bit to get back their concentration," Coker said on the university's website (www.unimelb.edu.au/)
"Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the Internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days' work, and as a result, increased productivity," he said.