My Romans Commentaries

I recently finished preaching through the book of Romans. My usual method of preaching in our church is verse by verse exposition. I usually am working on one or more books of the Bible in our regular preaching sessions. I call my method “the glacial approach to exposition,” which is to say, “I go slow.”

I began my Romans series on September 23, 2007. We finished 318 messages later on November 15, 2015. Of course there were interruptions for special speakers, mini-series, special occasions and Christmas (I usually take a month or more off for Christmas, preaching on a special Christmas theme each year). [Read more…]

me, the Holy Spirit, and my Bible

The great William Tyndale gave us most of our English Bible. He is credited with a quote about desiring to make the Bible such that the common plowboy could understand it. The quote (as many such) may be a bit off. Wikipedia reports it this way: “John Foxe describes an argument with a ‘learned’ but ‘blasphemous’ clergyman, who had asserted to Tyndale that, ‘We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.’ Tyndale responded: ‘I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!’”

Regardless of the accuracy of the quote and Tyndale’s intended meaning, there is a common perception among Christians that they should be safe in personal Bible study by means of their reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide their understanding. To some extent, this is true. The simplest Christian, reading his Bible with the eyes of faith, guided by the indwelling Spirit is often able to discern more truth than learned scholars who study the Bible without faith or the Holy Spirit.

In spite of this, the individual who relies only on his own faith in Christ, God, the Spirit and the Bible will inevitably fall into misunderstanding and error if he pursues truth thus entirely on his own. There are several reasons for this.

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P&D post: At Liberty to ‘Trespass’

I was thinking about Christian liberty the other day on my walk. I wrote up a little illustration on it and posted it to Proclaim & Defend. You can read it here.

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Proverbs 31

I have just posted an article called “Proverbs 31 – How ‘my son’ turned out after all” over on the FBFI blog, Proclaim & Defend. In it, I argue for the significance of the passage as the conclusion of the whole matter that is offered to us in the book of Proverbs. I think the passage neatly ties the whole book together and serves to demonstrate Solomon’s wisdom and skill in compiling all the material (even though one small portion was added later by the men of Hezekiah, though still the work of Solomon).

I bring it to your attention here because some of you might not be regular readers of P&D.

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apostasy

In a recent exchange elsewhere, I was taken to task over my use of the word ‘apostasy’ with reference to the change in emphasis in another Christian ministry.

This leads me to some thinking on the term. What is ‘apostasy’ anyway? What is ‘the apostasy’ (the specific usage that was challenged)? Is it legitimate to use the term in connection with Christian brothers? So a little Bible study ensues…

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preaching Christmas

The holidays are now behind us. We had a seven part series this year, “The Son of David”. I love to preach Christmas series. We have had a different series almost every year of my ministry.

Other preachers have spoken to me of being challenged by preaching at seasons like Christmas. I suspect that perhaps the reason is a too narrow view of what is acceptable for a Christmas series. If we simply return to the Christmas passages in Matthew and Luke again and again, it can get difficult. One can only exegete so much out of these very familiar passages, especially when our people have heard it all before.

I don’t wish to make a big point on this post, but simply to ask a few questions of any preachers who read it. First, do you find Christmas to be a “homiletical challenge”? Do you dread Christmas for that reason? If not, why not? And what do you do to preach Christmas? What are your goals in preaching for the Christmas season?

I am thinking of writing up some of my approach, but I’d like to hear from others first. Is it a topic of interest?

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is musical talent a spiritual gift?

I’ve been thinking about spiritual gifts and musical talent lately. Some people talk like musical ability is a spiritual gift that is especially given for service in the church. Some of these people will almost refuse to serve in any other way.

Is this a Biblical way to look at one’s gifts and/or talents?

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Choir of Creation – Ps 148

We are nearing the end of our study of the Psalms. Just two more to go! Tonight’s offering was Ps 148, a beautifully crafted psalm, full of powerful thoughts concerning God and his relationship to his people. As I presented the material, I felt a little ‘flat’, not as engaged as I had anticipated in the study. As I was thinking the process over, I thought that this was one psalm that could have used some visual aids and perhaps a bit different style. I alternate between a preaching style and a ‘Question/Answer’ style for the Psalms. (The Q & A style is also known as “read my mind”, since I seem to come up with incredibly obscure questions. I need to learn how to write leading questions!)

Psalm 148 is called the Choir of Creation by Derek Kidner, one of the supreme commentators on the Psalms. His little work is just outstanding and has taught me an incredible amount about Hebrew poetry and how to pick out the features of the psalms, not to mention keen insights into each individual psalm.

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commending a new blog

I’d like to introduce a new blog to you. It is written by an on-line friend who is known as “JG” on Sharper Iron. I have long appreciated JG’s contributions in the SI forum and have had some correspondence privately with him over the years that has been a blessing.

JG recently started writing at Mind Renewers. He is not a ranter and raver like me! I think you will find his writing challenging and uplifting.

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the kindle changes many things

I haven’t posted for a while. I think the reason is my new Kindle. I have entered the e-book era with a vengeance, a little late, I suppose, but  I entered it nonetheless.

A whole world of e-books is available, much of it for no charge. Check out Project Gutenberg for many titles, already formatted for the Kindle.

In addition, I have saved many pdf books, booklets, and articles on my hard-drive over the years, meaning to read them later. My Kindle makes this much easier to accomplish. You can copy your pdf files right over to the Kindle, although you may want to edit the font size for best viewing … or convert that pdf to a Kindle format book. I have discovered several free software packages for performing this task and for managing Kindle content.

  • Calibre is a library and conversion program. I think you can convert books from B & N’s Nook format and other e-publishing formats into the Kindle format. (You can also convert from Kindle format to other formats if you use a different sort of reader.) Really an excellent program.
  • MobiPocket Creator is a program that converts pdfs into e-publishing format. I have discovered that it may require some formatting and html coding in some books, but it does get you started on the project. This site also offers books for sale, but I would recommend staying away from that portion of the site.
  • Sigil is a program that edits html and saves it in epub format. This allows you to customize your file to display how you would like it. Some knowledge of html is required.

There are other programs out there, perhaps some better than these. I’ve found these helpful, but my projects take on a life of their own and often consume a good deal of time.

As for reading, I find the Kindle to be quite handy – I seem to read a little faster with it as well. You do need good lighting, the e-ink technology can be read in sunlight, but no backlighting makes my living room somewhat problematic in the evenings.

I also am using the Kindle for preaching. I write my sermons in my ‘normal’ 8.5 by 5.5 templates and then copy and paste into a special template for the Kindle. I have to boost the font to 25 or 30 points, then print to a pdf, then copy over to the Kindle. But from there, the file reads very well in the pulpit and it means I can get away from my compulsive saving of paper notes.

One of these days,  I’d like to get an iPad for the preaching – it wouldn’t require “pumping up the fonts”, at least from having a look at a friend’s iPad. And it might be way more cool. However, for now, the Kindle is an affordable and very adequate solution.

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