Saturday, 30 April 2011

Winning over Depression Part 7. Books to Read

Welcome to my final blog in this series of Winning over Depression. I hope you have found the series useful and encouraging. In this blog I simply want to give you some recommended reading. So here goes:

Undoing Depression by Richard O'Connor, Ph.D. This is one of the best books I have read on depression from a secular point of view. Read this book!

Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert. This book is good at helping you understand the process of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I don't agree with everything he says as he doesn't write with God as part of the healing process. However, it is still a very good book.

Christian Set Yourself Free by Graham and Shirley Powell. Good book on spiritual authority and overcoming spirits. The drawback with this book is that I think it is perhaps a little simplistic. Nonetheless, it is the most thorough treatment of spiritual authority that I know of.

Awakening the Dead by John Eldridge. A book on physical and spiritual realities of living as a Christian. An easy read.

Keep fighting, hanging in there, and above all winning!

God's love to you,


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Winning over Depression Part 6. Changing our thinking

In this blog I would like to write about the process of changing our thinking. Psychologists call this cognitive behavioural therapy. The Bible calls it being transformed by the renewing of our mind.
What I am going to write here will seem very simple but let me say in advance that it requires hard work, consistency, and sticking at it. The rewards though, are great.

When you are feeling negative feelings, irrational thoughts, suddenly feeling down and you don't know why, then go through the following process in the following order. It is good to use a notebook (I have used my prayer journal). Make 5 columns across the page, as below.
We need to process the columns in an interesting order.
Firstly write the date in column 1. (If you keep doing this exercise consistenly you may be able to see that it is at certain times of the year that you struggle more than at others.)
Then go straight to column 4 - "What feelings?" Try and identify what you are feeling even though you might not understand why.
Then go to column 3 - "What thoughts?" i.e. what am I saying to myself in my head?
Then column 2 - "What happened?" Try and identify when you began feeling these feelings and when you started thinking these thoughts. What happened at that time?
Finally go to column 5 - "Counsel to self (and action)?" In this column write what Biblical counsel you would give a friend if they were coming to you for advice for the things that you have written in colums 2 to 4. Try and give some specific action to follow through on as well. The fact that this is rooted in the Bible (find actual verses in Scripture where possible), is what makes it more powerful than pure cognitive behavioural therapy.

Here's an example of one that I did when I went to talk on Winning over Depression in Edinburgh recently:

What happened?
What thoughts?
What feelings?
Counsel to self (& action)?
Preparing for talk in Edinburgh
How can I speak on something I don’t have total victory over?
Afraid, incompetent, disqualified.
God has made me competent. 2 Cor 3:4-6. Go for it. You will help many people. Be bold. Prepare well.

Hope this is helpful. I encourage to take the time and the trouble to get into the habit of doing the above. It's the only way we can stop "stinking" thinking within ourselves. I think it's a key part of discipleship - following Jesus.

Winnning over Depression Part 5. Feelings or Truth

Note the present imperfect tense of the title, winn-"ing" over depression. It's an ongoing thing, a day by day thing. Some days are better than others but we just have to get it in perspective that we will be up and fighting again. We might lose a round in the boxing match, but we are going to win the fight.

In this blog, I would like to talk about depending on God's favour over us regardless of how we feel.

In some ways we need to "ignore" our feelings - as a depressive our feelings are often negative and unreliable. The trouble is that for so long our feelings have felt so real that we have believed that they are reality. We have to reprogramme our thinking to be in line with a higher truth than our feelings. The only place I know, to find a higher truth than my feelings is the Bible. So I have to go to the Bible with the question, "What does the Bible have to say about me as a believer in Jesus?" It says things about me like, "I am the righteousness of God", "I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus who loved me", "I am loved by God", "He will never leave me or forsake me", "He is for me",  etc. etc. These things stand true even when I feel like they are not true. They are truer than my feelings.
We empower whatever or whoever we come into agreement with. We are saying, "Yes, that's right. That does describe me." We get to choose whether we are going to agree with our own damaged thinking, or with what God says about us in the Bible. This sounds easier than it is in reality. It is sooo hard to ignore feelings that are screaming at you that you are a failure and that surely God cannot bless you; and instead walk confidently in the truth that God is for you.
It means behaving like the latter is true. Often when I am on my way to preach, I have thoughts and feelings that God will not bless what I am about to do. I have to focus my thinking on what is true - that God is for me, that His intention is for me to be fruitful, to multiply believers, to fill the earth with Christians and to subdue evil spirits and exercise spiritual dominion wherever I am.

In my next blog I would like to write about the process of changing our thinking. Psychologists call this cognitive behavioural therapy. The Bible calls it being transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Overcoming Depression Part 4. Soul and Body

To overcome depression we also need to pay attention to our souls (emotions, will, intellect/thoughts) and our bodies. We have to take a holistic approach to winning over depression - don't let the New Age steal this concept from us. God created us body, soul and spirit. The New Age didn't think up holistic healing, God did.
Experts on emotional health recommend:
þ Get in touch with your emotions and talk to someone you trust about your emotions. Get them out in the open.
þ Work on your friendships. Put effort into them. Make your friendships 100% dependant on you. Don't wait for friends to contact you. Just keep on taking the initiative. It will bear fruit.
þ Learn the vital art of compensation. Rest after you have been particularly busy. Take a day (or extra day)off after a busy business/ministry trip. Make compensating part of your lifestyle. If you don't, you will regularly "hit the wall".
þ Learn when and how to rest.
þ Try and cultivate a pleasant, cheap hobby that is easy to turn to in order to escape and recreate.
þ 1 Hour of recreational activity per day is important. Those late afternoon, early evening supper times with the family. Get out to different places. Fight the urge to stay cooped up.
þ At least one 2 or 3 week uninterrupted vacation with the family per year, away from friends, relatives, in a place that charges your batteries.
þ Weekends away. Several times a year. Preferably in a different environment to the one associated with responsibility.
þ Live by priorities. This implies knowing what they are, planning in a diary, and the ability to say “NO” if something is not KEY & STRATEGIC.
þ Be particularly vigilant to do the above when going through high stress times e.g. changing jobs, moving house or nations, death of someone close, promotions, retrenchment, financial pressures, family stresses etc.

Our Body: Sleep, Eat, Exercise.

þ Get plenty of sleep and rest.
þ A healthy diet. Avoid junk food, processed foods and foods loaded with preservatives. These break down the body’s resistance. Sugar is a poison in your system. Eat as much uncooked, natural stuff as you can. Drink at least 2 litres of water/day.
þ Possibly a vitamin supplement, especially when under pressure. Vitamin B’s are important here.
þ Get out of the house and into the fresh air.
þ 20 minutes of exercise a day to maintain cardio-vascular health. Don’t make it overly ambitious otherwise you will do it in great pendulum swings of over-exertion to absolutely nothing. Do something that is easy to keep at and that doesn’t cause you discomfort. Swimming and walking are good options. You must fit your exercise into 6 days. On the 7th day thou shalt rest!

When you are emotionally/spiritually tired, you are probably also physically tired. Pushing yourself to recreate or exercise can overtax you. You need rest. Rest is not recreation. It is to stop doing the things that you normally do and not to fill your time with other things.
When you are already emotionally/spiritually exhausted, you burn more energy than normal doing the same things – even answering the phone can become an emotional crisis! You're like the lumberjack who had to work harder and harder and harder because he refused to stop and sharpen his axe. When you find yourself in this state, recognise where you are at and be gentle on yourself. We all have different capacities and levels of endurance. Don't try and compete with others or measure yourself by others. Be gentle on yourself, rest, compensate and recharge your battery.

Overcoming Depression Part 3. Malevolent spirits

I agree with psychologists White and Blue [sic], that Depression is never purely psychological and never purely spiritual but always a combination of both.
In Part 3, I would like to look at another aspect of the spiritual side of depression. It concerns the issue of spiritual beings that are against us because of the image of God in us. 

According to the Bible, malevolent spiritual beings are able to influence our:
      Health (woman bowed down for 18 years with what looked like osteo phirrosis)
      Moods (King Saul would have terrible mood swings)
      Thoughts (Judas, Ananias & Saphira all had their thought life demonically influenced to turn away from God)
      Mental Health (Many evil spirits in the man in the Gedarenes)
      Speech Defects (Deaf and Mute man)
      Epileptic type seizures. (Young man)
      Influence to sin against God (1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— Ephesians 2:1-2 (ESV)
What can we do about the spiritual dimension to our depression?
Firstly we need to be Spiritually Strong ourselves. For a Christian this means:
      Regularly Reading the Bible and meditating on what we read and applying it to life.
Watchman Nee, in his book “The Prayer Ministry of the Church” writes that the prayer life of the church is the pipe through which God has limited Himself to get His purposes and resources to the earth. If a church is weak in prayer then the diameter of the pipe is very small, and though God’s resources may, in Nee’s words, be as vast at the Yangtze River, they can only get through at a very slow trickle. The same applies to the individual.
      Fasting (There are some excellent books on this - Arthur Wallace, Derek Prince, Richard Foster have all written good books on this subject. Get yourself clued up on this powerful spiritual weapon)
      Fellowship with other believers.

Then, in prayer, we need to take authority against the spirits that are trying to influence our particular areas of weakness e.g. fear of failure, fear of rejection, unnatural need to be in control, obsession with our weight etc. etc. I don't believe that these things are purely psychological. Evil spirits are like flies (one of Satan's names means "lord of the flies"), and they will gather around any wound in our being and try to worsen it and infect it even more. (Good books: Waking the Dead by John Eldridge; Christian Set Yourself Free: Proven Guidelines to Deliverance from Demonic Oppression by Graham and Shirley Powell)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Winning over Depression Part 2. Spirituality

Sheesh, what do these people have in common?
They are just a very small sample from a list that I have of 210 famous people who have all struggled with depression.

I started my blog on winning over depression by talking about medication but I should have started it with the most important thing to me and that is my relationship with God. It's such a part of my life that I take it for granted in the best possible way. I believe spiritual health to be the MOST important part of winning over depression on a daily basis - a bit like alcoholics win over alcoholism on a daily basis.

C.S. Lewis wrote,
“A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel that our spirits were designed to burn, or the food that our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

I have been reading a book about cycling across Tibet, and the author writes of seeing Tibetan pilgrims travelling on foot from their villages to Lhasa, the sacred centre of Tibetan Buddhism. They would take one step, then bow down on both knees and press their forehead to the ground. They would do this for every step they took. Some would take a year to reach Lhasa. Why do they do this? - In the hope of improving their karma for their next reincarnation.

We were designed to be at our best when in relationship with God. But that relationship has been cut off through our sin. The amazing grace of God has made a way for us to be reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. A sacrifice with infinite value that covers every sin you or I have ever committed or ever will commit.

 God took all our sins and placed them upon Jesus on the cross, so that you and I don’t have to take even one step or even bow down once, to be right with Him. We are reconciled to God and placed in a warm, loving relationship with Him because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and nothing else need be added.

The Bible says, "It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process."
Huh? Which is it? Perfect, or taking part in the purifying process? The only way this verse makes sense is if we understand that when someone calls on Jesus to save them, the Bible says, "they have clothed themselves with Christ". Now when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. In other words God sees us as perfect. But we know, and God knows, that from our perspective inside Jesus, there is a whole lot of "the purifying process" happening! The Bible says that Jesus "became sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God". Woah.

From these truths we gain the deepest sense of security, acceptance and significance on a daily basis - very important stuff for people who struggle with depression.

    Tuesday, 12 April 2011

    Winnning over Depression Part 1. Medication

    I have had fights with depression since I was a kid. Sometimes I won, sometimes depression won - but I'm winning the war. I thought that when I became a Christian, I would have no more fights with depression - wrong! I have had some very intense bouts of depression since becoming a Christian. Most of them have happened since I have been in ministry. I felt that as a pastor I should not be suffering with depression. Surely a pastor would have it all together. That's just the kind of idea that will kill you and the kind of idea that malevolent spirits would want you and me entertaining in our heads. I'm convinced that my depression is partly genetic and partly circumstantial. This doesn't mean that I am consigned to depression. There are a number of things that I do that keep me winning the war. I'd like to share them with you over the next few blogs. Let's make a start.
    • I take medication when I need to. My local GP surgery released a paper saying, "Antidepressant is such an unfortunate term. 'Neurotransmitter supplement' would be a better term". They are not addictive. They are not uppers or downers. They are simply a means of boosting the chemical that your body uses to conduct messages through your nerve cells. When you are depressed, the level of the neurotransmitters in your body drops and that is what makes you feel low, unmotivated, have memory loss, struggle to concentrate and so on. That's why telling a depressed person to just pull themselves together is like telling someone with a broken leg to just get up and run the 100 metres.
    If you are not depressed, taking an anti-depressant will do nothing for you.
    If you are struggling with depression I suggest you go and see your GP. They are generally good people to talk to as they are outside your normal circle of relationships and it can be helpful to talk to a neutral person. They will decide whether you need medication or not.
    Before I end this blog let me give you some symptoms of depression so that you can decide whether you might be struggling with it or not. Please don't be like me and limp on through life, irritable, tired, guilty, yet too proud to face the fact that you might have depression. Having depression is not a weakness, it's a reality - like someone with diabetes or high blood pressure. Go for help. Talk to someone. Don't let you and your loved ones be robbed of the quality of life you could enjoy. As far as the symptoms go, to be considered depressed you will have had these for at least two weeks consistently.
    1.     Feelings of hopelessness and/or high anxiety.
    2.     Over-analysis of problems with great angst and negativity.
    3.     Sleeping difficulties.
    4.     Eating and appetite problems.
    5.     Decreased sexual drive.
    6.     Withdrawal from others.
    7.     Loss of self-esteem.
    8.     A desire to avoid all problems/demands.
    9.     A deep sense of guilt.
    10.   Over-dependency on others.
    11.   Crying and tearfulness.
    12.   Fatigue.
    13.   Preoccupation with body function.
    14.   Suicidal thoughts.
    15.   Self-neglect.

    Monday, 11 April 2011

    Prayers that are Powerful and Effective.

    I have been preaching through the book of James and sooo enjoying it. What a rich letter written by Jesus' half-brother who knew Him very well and yet addresses Him as "the Lord Jesus Christ." It's always helpful in evaluating a person's claims when someone very close to them validates those claims.
    James closes his letter in chapter 5 by trying to get his readers to understand how powerful and effective their prayers can be if they get hold of 5 things:
    1. Trusting God at all times.(5:13)
    Whether you are feeling crappy or happy.
    2. Recognising spiritual authority. (5:14-15)
    Kids to parents; wives to husbands; saints to elders; civilians to authorities etc. God's power flows through channels of authority. To be dislocated from these channels of authority, I think, will render our prayers less powerful and effective.
    3. Praying with faith.(5:15)
    This has got to mean that it is possible to say prayers that have no faith in them. Not much point.
    4. Confessing our sins to each other.(5:16)
    Do we actually do this? I think if we did, we would all be a lot more healthy, mentally, emotionally and physically. The Roman Catholics got it half right. The half wrong bit is that we are not meant to confess in a box to a priest but to one another anywhere it's convenient. I think that this is something largely lost to the modern church. Where are the genuine friends that we can confess to? Well, just confess to somebody you trust.
    5. Knowing we are righteous. (5:17-18)
    Heb 10:14 tells us that by Jesus' once for all sacrifice we are made perfect yet that we are also being made holy. Huh? Which is it? Perfect, or being made holy? The only way this verse makes sense is if we understand that when we called on Jesus to save us, we were clothed with Him. Now when God looks at us, He sees Jesus. But we know that from our perspective inside Jesus, there is a whole lot of "being made holy" happening! That's why there is no contradiction between this point and point 4 above. The Bible says that Jesus became sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God! Wow.

    These 5 truths grasped and lived out will make our prayers powerful and effective.

    Sunday, 10 April 2011

    Rest BEFORE you get tired.

    This week, Tuesday watched me hit the wall. Whatever it is that keeps me on the front foot was gone. I was irritable and grumpy. By the end of the day I had had to apologise a few times to people that I love and care about for my sharpness of tongue. What happened?
    What happened was that I had neglected my need to rest. I had not had a weekend off since the beginning of the year. Going for three months without taking a weekend off is not wise. A fair bit of those three months had been on the road too, which is quite a bit more draining.
    A mentor, Charles Gordon, had drummed it into me, "Rest before you are tired." I have repeated this regularly to our team but here I was having neglected it ... again. The trouble about resting when you are tired is that it takes much longer to recover than if you rest regularly even when you feel like you don't need it. Ask me - I took some days off this week and yet I still don't feel fully recovered. And I know that this is not helpful to us as a team. Ah well. Stoopid boy.
    It's not for nothing that God has put the Sabbath principle into His Word so strongly. He made us to need to rest regularly.
    I encourage our full time team to take a weekend off about every 8 weeks. The market-place guys who lead cell groups etc., I encourage to take a weekend every 6 weeks.
    Please let me encourage you to rest before you get tired. A lot of people will thank you for it.

    Sunday, 27 March 2011


    "Missional" is the new buzzword. We do well to pay this word some heavyweight respect. It's a good word and implies every believer moving towards the lost and moving the lost towards Jesus. Every believer being a missionary here and now, learning their culture and its language. Just like missionaries to any other culture. [Christendom is over in the first world and I say "Hoorah". I sometimes wonder about the huff and puff amongst Christians at the discrimination against Christian hoteliers or foster parents, and as unfortunate as that is for the people concerned and those they could serve, I am saying bring it on. Let's make the difference between true Christianity and paganism more and more clear. Enough of a rant from me!]
    However, missional is also a dangerous word. It could kill your church. You cannot bolt "missional" onto your church like you could bolt cells onto your church or any other structure. Missional goes to the heart of the church. It will kill our church but it won't kill the church of Jesus Christ. It should and probably will kill centralised, over-led churches, consumer Christianity, passivity in the pews etc. By "kill" I mean these people will in all likelihood, leave your church. However, at the end of the day we are looking for churches that are:
    Less leadership driven and more every person driven. Although leadership still has a key role to play.
    Every saint is aware of holding the DNA of Jesus and the seeds of the church within them.
    Every saint furthers the vision of making disciples.
    Lowering the bar of permission to do Jesus ministry yet raising the bar of connectedness with leadership.

    This is risky, exciting church! 

    Thursday, 24 March 2011


    The shift in the continental plates off Japan and the resulting tsunami could be taken as a physical representation of what I think God is doing in His church at this time. The charismatic "schmooz" of the 80's and 90's  - the soft rock, stage focused, celebrity minister, zhoozhy church, congregant focused, consumer oriented ministries - has been perpetuated by us well into the 2010's in a consummately self-indulgent way. We are more interested in what the church can do for us than we are about the estimated 91% of the population (UK figures) that are staying away from church in their droves on any given Sunday. I think God is putting a tsunami in the hearts of many leaders to wash away the old habitual ruts that we are barely conscious of any more, and replace them with a church that is freshly conscious of reaching the lost.
    A great exercise in this regard is to try and see your church through the eyes of any self-respecting pagan; from parking in your car park until they return to their car after the meeting. I have tried to remember what it was like for me as an unsaved young man. I can remember feeling sweaty with unease as I entered an environment where I had no clue of what was going on and what I was supposed to do when.
    We have got to make our meetings friendly to the 91%. We don't have to dumb down the spirituality of our meetings, just explain it better and give the 91% the feeling that they are thought of and can find our meetings acccessable. e.g. before prophetic words are given we could preface them by saying, "The Bible describes how God impresses on people something that He wants to communicate to His gathered church. The Bible calls this prophecy. Here's Joe and he would like to share with us what God has impressed on him to communicate to us all."
    Every one of us in the church should be missional every day. To me, the best definition of being missional comes from Allan Scott, Causeway Vineyard, Ireland - "moving towards the lost and moving the lost towards Jesus."
    More to come on the subject....!

    Tuesday, 8 March 2011


    "Hurry sickness". It's a condition that Nick Cuthbert writes about in his book, "How to survive (and thrive) in ministry". In our culture, busyness equates to success. We love to give the impression, even subconsciously to ourselves, that we have importance and significance because of our busyness.
    John Piper says that the words "busy" and "pastor" put together should shock us as much as putting "banker" and "fraud" together, or "spouse" and "adultery".
    Cuthbert adopted the habit of driving in the slow lane on the motorway, and deliberately standing in the slowest queu in the supermarket. Sound crazy? Try it. When you undertand why you're doing it, it is a wonderfully liberating thing! In fact you begin to feel a compassion for the people flying past you as you realise they are probably chasing after the illusive holy grail of significance and importance.
    The wonder is that when we abandon hurry-sickness in favour of the identity, significance and security that we have in God our Father, we enter into that rest which He promised us. Your and my being reconciled to God through Jesus is totally by His initiative, totally His doing, is even maintained solely by Him - so we have nothing to boast of and nothing to prove. Kick hurry-sickness into touch.

    Saturday, 5 March 2011


    There were 17 couples sitting in a large circle in the education centre in Dubai. Along with the warm friendship sustained over more than two decades for most present, there was quite a bit of angst in the room. People expressing genuine and legitimate fears of anyone attempting to form an "uber" church planting movement. Was there a need for any structure at all? Could the Eph 4 ministries present not just get on with their own sphere of influence and connect organically and naturally? I think some may have been concerned that Chris Wienand was possibly hoping to form an uber group. Having talked quite a bit with Chris, nothing could be further from his heart! He is very clear that he does not have anything like the apostolic gifting that is on Dudley Daniel and sees the hope of the future in the multiplication of apostolic ministries that were raised up, equipped and envisioned under Dudley. The multiplication of apostles is the fruit and crown and legacy of Dudley's ministry.
    We had two days together mingled with eating together and much laughter and catching up. We even celebrated Jan Howard-Brown's 50th birthday dinner! On the third day Terry Virgo and some of the Newfrontiers guys from the Middle East region joined us for the day. It was a very special day. Terry told us his story from salvation to the present and his hope for the future. Newfrontiers are recognising and releasing eight (I think it is) apostles to get on with their own spheres yet remain under the overall title of "Newfrontiers". There will no longer be a single leader of Newfrontiers, as Terry has been, but a group of apostles that will gather from time to time to keep their history and their future connected.
    A particularly poignant moment was when Terry wept as he was talking about Dudley Daniel. Terry expressed such an admiration and love for Dudley and all that he has meant to Terry over the years. A number of us wept along with Terry. I think the emotion of the moment caught us all by surprise, including Terry himself.
    At the end of the day Terry prayed for us all. He began by saying "If it is of any help to you..." and proceeded to say some very life giving things over us all. He said that he did not detect a whiff of rebellion and independence in the room. He said that he saw us as people trying our best to be true to the dream that Dudley had put in our hearts many years ago. Somehow Terry's ministry was affirming and healing. There were once again many moist eyes in the room. Terry was somehow uniquely able connect together love for Dudley, and love for us, into what was a healing moment.
    What was the outcome of the Dubai time then? Nothing really! Except the genesis of an idea that apostles get on with their own spheres and gather together from time to time to connect relationally and to keep their spheres of influence connected to each other. To keep our deep, rich history connected into the future, rather than just letting it bombshell into nothingness. I reckon there were probably four or five apostles in the room - Pete Howard-Brown, Tony Johnson, Mike Eltringham, Chris Wienand (and possibly Andrew Selley as an apostle in the making?). Just my opinion mind. I think that just about every other man in the room was some other Eph 4:11 ministry.
    I left feeling affirmed, encouraged and motivated to get on with my calling to be a local church pastor and an Eph 4 teacher. Chris Wienand is the apostle that I mostly serve with. Yet I feel complete freedom to work with any other apostle e.g. Tony Johnson invited us to come and minister in India. I also feel a great freedom to exercise and pursue my calling and gifting without having to check with Chris every 5 minutes. I want to walk that fine line of fully discharging my gifting to the best of my conscience and yet also working in team with an apostle.
    I think we'll look back on the time in Dubai as the time of the genesis of a wonderful future.

    Saturday, 26 February 2011


    Dooleydoodling: PREACHERS PROCRASTINATION: "If you are a preacher you may know what I am talking about. Somehow, even though there's a limited amount of time available for sermon ..."


    If you are a preacher you may know what I am talking about. Somehow, even though there's a limited amount of time available for sermon preparation, I seem to be drawn to doing inconsequential and time consuming things rather than getting my head down to study through the Scriptures, meditate, see the patterns, repetitions, key words, links, study the commentaries, word studies and so on. But no, there's my email account that's not sending, financial information for the book-keeper, phone calls to make that just seem very urgent at that moment, my calendar to plan, and so on and so on. Any body with me on this?

    In a recent trip to another nation, Nola and I visited some churches. In most of the churches I felt like I was sitting in a Psych 101 lecture with a few Scriptures bolted on. The Bible is the heart of the church. Without it, we are nothing. Scripture is so powerful. When we preach it as we should, God is glorified and people are strengthened, admonished and encouraged. I think we could do a whole lot less vision casting, topical sermons and so on, and preach through books of the Bible. Let's put in the effort of good exegesis, in order to preach the Scriptures accurately and powerfully. God's Word cannot be chained.

    [I recommend reading John Piper's book The Supremacy of God in Preaching]