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AN ORPHAN GOSPEL

The gospel preached today is often a man-centered gospel.
 
“Are you lonely? Do you feel afraid? Do you feel ashamed? Are you hurting and broken? Jesus came to meet your needs. God loves you as you are and has a great plan for your life. Jesus died on the cross to give you abundant life. Come to Jesus today and live.”
 
Much missional preaching today identifies needs and proclaims Christ as a need fulfiller. It is a man-centered gospel, but the apostolic gospel was God-centered.

What are the characteristics of missional preaching in Acts?


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HOMILETICS AND HERMENEUTICS: A REVIEW

One of the most recent books – if not the most recent – to be published for preachers is Homiletics and Hermeneutics: Four Views on Preaching Today. Edited by Scott Gibson and Matthew Kim, the book became available in December 2018. What are the theological and hermeneutical underpinnings of our preaching? Do we preach Christ-centered or gospel-centered sermons? How does the flood narrative in Genesis 6 relate to the New Testament? This book will spark discussions about those questions and many others as preachers think through the different evangelical preaching traditions.
 
The book follows a simple format. Each practitioner presents his position followed by responses from the other three writers. Each writer interacts with four topics in advocating his position: 1) A biblical rationale, 2) A theological rationale, 3) A homiletical rationale and 4) An applicational rationale. There is a refreshing irenic spirit throughout the book as each writer debates the merits of each position with a heart of respect for each other. 

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CHRISTMAS THROUGH HEAVEN’S EYES

Earthly events are the result of heavenly actions. There are cause and effect relationships between heaven and earth. We can see Christmas through heaven’s eyes portrayed for us in Revelation 12:1-5. In this story, there is a woman, a dragon and a baby. The woman is Israel. The baby is Messiah – Jesus – who will rule the nations with a rod of iron. The great, red dragon represents Satan (cf. 12:9). Satan wages war against Israel over the birth of the Messiah.

Satan is the enemy of God and God’s people. He is determined to rule this world and will do whatever he can to maintain his rule. Milton wrote of Lucifer in Paradise Lost, “To reign is worth ambition, though in hell. Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” Power is what drives Satan. That same ambition is what drives all those who serve Satan in this world. We see Satan’s global strategy pictured in these verses. He works through humans who will swear allegiance to him. In return, Satan offers such pawns the illusions of earthly success, wealth and power.


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A PENTATHLON STRATEGY FOR PREACHERS

 A modern Olympic pentathlon combines five sports into one. An athlete completes all five sports in a single day. The first three sports are fencing, freestyle swimming, and equestrian show jumping. The final two sports combine pistol shooting and running into one event. An athlete must balance her efforts to achieve the highest total score which means that sometimes she must avoid pushing to win in one event to focus on a later event. The total score of all five events is all that matters to win Olympic gold.

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SERMON WAYPOINTS

I just returned from a ten-day boat trip down the eastern coast from Falmouth, Maine to Norfolk, Virginia in Mark Halfacre’s boat Pegasus. Mark was beginning his trip down the intra-coastal waterway to Florida, and I had the privilege of joining him on the first leg. Each night Mark would get out his navigational charts on the IPad and plot his course for the next day. He had to chart a course that avoided shoals under water and buoys above yet led us to the next marina.
 
Mark would enter the GPS markers on his chart plotter as “waypoints.” Each day we would navigate the boat from waypoint to waypoint. The chart plotter would alert us when we arrived at a waypoint. We would check it off and start for the next waypoint until we arrived at our destination for the night.
 
Sermon waypoints help us navigate our way from text to message each week. I know that I need spiritual GPS markers to plot the course for my sermon preparation. The waypoints help me avoid the shoals, so my message does not end up as a Sunday shipwreck.

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