Monday, September 02, 2013

Galatians 5:1-12 - Jesus and Only Jesus

Passage: Galatians 5:1-12
Originally Preached: 27/01/13 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: The Bible Makes Me Giggle

Description: It's about Jesus and only Jesus.

Comment:This is the last sermon I preached at Hornsby Baptist before I left to plant Reconciled Community (my new church). It was exciting to get the chance to encourage the church to focus on Jesus. And to make rude jokes while I did it.


Monday, April 29, 2013

2 Kings 2:23-25 - Elisha and the Ultimate Fighting Bears

Passage: 2 Kings 2:23-25

Originally Preached: 20/01/13 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: The Bible Makes Me Giggle

Description: Our leaders are God's leaders.

Comment: This one is all about leadership. One of the things about leaving a church is you get the chance to talk about things like leadership without being accused of having a hidden agenda. I love having the chance to encourage people to work well with leaders. Submission to leaders is important to me. Not just because I am a leaders, but more because I think a lot of the problems in church would be solved if people were willing to follow their leaders well. It doesn't always mean agreeing with your leaders but it certainly means respecting and honouring leaders.

This sermon was less funny than one would hope in a series with "giggle" in the title. It was more a bit of a kick up the bum. But sometimes we all need a kick up the bum.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Judges 3:12-30 - Ehud and the Fat King

Passage: Judges 3:12-30

Originally Preached: 13/01/13 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: The Bible Makes Me Giggle

Description: God's character is always to save.

Comment: If the name of the series is familiar it's probably because I have two other talks on this podcast with the same name. I was give the chance to preach at my church for the three weeks before I left to preach on whatever I wanted. So I chose to preach on the parts of the Bible that are funny. Partly because I think it's funny, partly because I have always wanted to do whole sermons on these passages, and finally because there is great stuff in these passages even if at first glance they seem not to hold much.

The first of the three is Ehud an the Fat King. This one is probably the most fun of the three. And it's so exciting to explore the saving character of God in this most crazy of stories.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Luke 2:21-40 - Wait Well


Passage: Luke 2:21-40

Originally Preached: 23/12/12 - 9:30am Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: Advent - God is Able

Description: Wait well, because God is able to keep his promises.

Comment: This sermon is quite similar to a sermon I preached in 2010 on Luke 12. So for all those of you who are keen listeners, you'll have heard some of this before. I hope you can cope.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Luke 23:32-43 - God's Gracious Injustce


Passage: Luke 23:32-43

Originally Preached: 12/07/12 - Morning Session - Camp Kedron

Series: People Jesus Met

Description: God's love for us is gracious injustice

Comment: It always blows me away to see Jesus' love for the people who don't deserve it. And it blows me away that Jesus accepts me because of he's done, not because of what I've done.

This is the last talk in the series of people Jesus met.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

John 11:1-43 - Don't waste your suffering


Passage: John 11:1-43

Originally Preached: 11/07/12 - Morning Session - Camp Kedron

Series: People Jesus Met

Description: Don't waste your suffering, Jesus will use it for good.

Comment: The problem of death confronts us everywhere. It's beautiful to see how Jesus is moved by death even though he knows he will defeat it. The challenge to us is to trust Jesus that he will use our suffering for good.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mark 7:1-23 - Clean Hearts


Passage: Mark 7:1-23

Originally Preached: 10/07/12 - Morning Session - Camp Kedron

Series: People Jesus Met

Description: Jesus gives us clean hearts

Comment: This is talk two in the series on people Jesus met. It's a tougher passage but it challenges us to see that our actions are not what makes us clean. OUr hearts make us unclean. We need Jesus to give us a new heart.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Luke 19:1-10 - Jesus Changes Everything


Passage: Passage

Originally Preached: 09/07/12 - Morning Session - Camp Kedron

Series: People Jesus met

Description: Jesus changes everything.

Comment: Zacchaeus is one of the great characters of the gospels. We love hearing the story of the little short guy whose life was changed by Jesus. What's challenging about Zac is that Jesus relationship with him is a picture of what Jesus' relationship with is like. Jesus has loved us even when we don't deserve to loved. As a result we need to let this change everything.

I gave this talk as the first talk in a series of 5 in the July school holidays.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deuteronomy 14 - Changed Hearts Changed Lives


Passage: Deuteronomy 14

Originally Preached: 19/08/12 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: Deuteronomy

Description: Changed hearts need to lead to changed lives.

Comment: This was a difficult get my head around. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the food laws. But I feel like I got to place where I was comfortable with the passage and it's relevance today.

If you want to watch the (rather irrelevant) video I played at the beginning, you can see it here:

You'll also notice that I have some problems with my clicker during the sermon. I had just bought myself a new clicker so I could do presentations easier, but as it turned out it wasn't working for me at all, and kept stuffing up the PowerPoint. Oh well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Revelation 13 - Don't Believe the Lies


Passage: Revelation 13
Originally Preached: 18/03/12 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: Revelation

Description: Don't believe the lies of the beast.

Comment: If I remember correctly this sermon was pretty hard to write. I spent a long time trying to figure out what the lies of our society are. And I found it difficult to sort out what the lies of the government are that the church buys into and supports. I figured there were probably some pretty controversial ones that I could tackle, but I'm generally pretty reluctant to get into controversial stuff unless I'm sure that what I'm saying is right. In the end I wasn't sure I had the issues sorted out to make the call. So I left it.

This was the first sermon I've ever given without a full manuscript. I think I always intended to have one, I just found it too difficult to write so I ended up not having one. I think there are advantages and disadvantages. This certainly isn't my most polished piece of speaking. But hopefully it challenges you in some way.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Disciples Greatest Hits


Passage: Many

Originally Preached: 21/04/12 - SoulintheBush

Series: Seminars

Description: Peter. James. John. Thomas. Those other guys. We all say dumb stuff and do dumb things, but the disciples seem to take it to a "whole 'nother level". Yet despite continually putting their feet in it in front of the God of the Universe, they also went on to change the world. Learn how to put your foot in it and change the world like a pro.

Comment: This was this year's Soul Survivor Seminar. It was fun to do. Encouraging to spend a bit of time studying some of Jesus' followers who are at least as dysfunctional as me.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Psalm 130 - Out of the Depths


Passage: Psalm 130

Originally Preached: 23/01/12 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: Psalms

Description: You are more sinful than you know and more loved than you can understand.

Comment: This was a hard sermon to preach because I felt like I had to spend a while telling people about how sinful they are. I needed people to understand "the depths" mentioned in the psalm. However I did get to spend a lot of time talking about God's love and his lack of condemnation, so that was a plus. It wasn't as funny as most sermons, but people don't listen to sermons for the jokes. At least I hope not.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Bible Makes Me Giggle - Part 2


Passage: Many!
Originally Preached: 21/04/01 - Soul Survivor Sydney
Series: The Bible Makes me Giggle

Description: The Bible is full of strange parts, doesn't mean they're not inspired.

Comment: Part two. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Bible Makes Me Giggle - Part 1


Passage: Many!
Originally Preached: 20/04/11 - Soul Survivor Sydney
Series: The Bible Makes Me Giggle

Description: The Bible is full of strange parts, doesn't mean they're not inspired.

Comment: I did this talk as a two parter, over two days at Soul Survivor Sydney 2011. I had done a shorter version in 2009, but this is twice as long as about 50% more fun.

I had a good time doing it.

I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mark 6:14-29 - A King, a Martyr and the King


Passage: Mark 6:14-29

Originally Preached: 16/01/11 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: Stand Alone Sermon

Description: Following Jesus could cost you your life, but the alternative is losing your soul.

Comment: This is the second in a series of three that I originally preached at Pennant Hills Baptist Church. But I preached that last two in the series again at Hornsby Baptist.

I often feel like preaching about martyrdom and sacrifice in Australia is a little bit preaching on hypothermia in Darwin. But the text is about it and it's important that we think about sacrifice even if life is relatively easy.

I felt challenged. I hope you do too.

Monday, August 08, 2011

1 Corinthians 7:17-35 - Singleness

Passage: 1 Corinthians 7:17-35
Originally Preached: 07/08/11 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church

Series: Love, Sex and Marriage

Description: The question is not what is the most spiritual option but how can we serve Jesus in the situation we are in.

Comment: I enjoyed having the chance to preach this sermon. Mainly because I feel like the last 28 years of singleness (with a small break) have come in handy.

Plus we rarely hear people in church talking about singleness and what's good about it and what's hard. We regularly hear from married people about marriage.

I have had people mention that they felt I should have covered sex. Next week we are having a Q and A so if you want to ask a question about sex, here is the link. Otherwise you can listen to my two talks about sex in this podcast/blog (Part One and Part Two) and they hopefully will cover sex and the single person a bit better than I did in this sermon.

The video was fun to make. I was worried it'd be a little self-indulgent but people seemed to like it. I felt pretty silly singing in all those places but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Here it is so you don't feel left out when you listen:

I've come away from the sermon feeling a little bit worried that I might be single for the rest of my life. I really enjoy singleness and I love serving Jesus. And if it's God's will then I'm happy. Still, I also wouldn't mind not being single too. I guess I'll just trust Jesus to sort it out. And I'll try and play my part too.

I also felt like we as a church need to be proactive in listening to singles. Singles are under-represented in our church leadership structures. And while I fell like I get a voice (I get to preach and lead ministries) it's generally married people who are pastors to sit on church councils and eldership boards. Where are the people who have lost their partners? Where are the divorcees? Where are the unmarrieds? They're around but are they being actively sought out for insight? I don't know. I hope so.

Anyway, I hope the sermon serves you. And I hope it inspires you to serve Jesus.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mark 6:6b-13 - Living Christ's Mission


Passage: Mark 6:6b-13
Originally Preached: 04/07/10 - 6pm Service - Pennant Hills Baptist Church
Series: Mission, Martyr, Messiah

Description: We live on Christ's mission, doing his work, trusting in him, working in his name.

Comment: This was the first sermon in a series of three at a church I was visiting. It's always hard at a new church to gague the temperature of the congregation. I think it took them a little while to get my humour.

I was challenged doing this sermon about how much I live on mission. I have a very kingdom focused life, but I feel like a live in a Christian bubble. I don't go to the towns and villages. I expect them to come to me.

This sermon contains one of the few times where I do a positive illustration from my life. My obedience to the call to youth ministry is one that I feel like I've been faithful in. They say you should give positive examples some times, so here is one.

I think my favourite part of the sermon is "It's not about the bread!" I think I'd like to do a whole sermon on that. It was my mum who first showed me just how funny it is that the disciples ask Jesus about the bread. How I love the disciples. And how happy that I am one too. A couple of thousand years removed, but no less dull.

Friday, February 04, 2011

1 Corinthians 3 - Treating the Church Right


Passage: 1 Cor 3
Originally Preached: 23/05/10 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: 1 Corinthians

Description: It's not your church, it's God's church, so treat it that way.

Comment: This sermon is from a long time ago. I think it was ok. I can't remember. I talked about a girl. I'm uploading because I promised. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Proverbs - Work and Laziness

Passage: Various Verses in Proverbs
Originally Preached: 09/09/10 - School Chapel Years 7-9
Series: Proverbs

Description: We work not just because we have to but because God created us to work and work is good.

Comment: This is a talk I gave in a school chapel. It was hard because work and laziness is not a topic I feel especially passionate about. Though if I did feel passionate about any of it, I'd feel more passionate about the laziness than the work. Sleeping is so much more fun. I was also really aware that I didn't want to be the guy who just stood up and told students at school to work hard. They get that enough from the front.

I also found it difficult to make it about Jesus. Some messages lend themselves to the gospel more than others. This one, not so much.

But you do what you can with what you're given, and I was reasonably happy with the result. I may even use it again. Then again, I may not.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Luke 12:35-48 - Waiting Faithfully

Passage: Luke 12:35-48
Originally Preached: 26/09/10 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican Church, Belrose
Series: One Off
Description: God's faithful servant is alert, prepared and dilliegnt, while they wait for Jesus to return.

Comment:This was the first time I preached back at St Stephen's since I finished up there as Youth Minsiter early last year.

It was good to be back and they're a good group to preach to. I have a lot of love for that church.

The sermon itself was hard to write. Mainly because the passage seems to be quite ungracious. I didn't pick the passage, and I probably wouldn't have picked that one for me, but still, I do quite enjoy the challenge of getting a hard passage to preach.

I did feel it was a little bit of a kick up the butt for the middle class. That doesn't really bother me too much. Preaching should be a kick up the butt for whoever is listening, and it just turns out that St Stephen's is upper middle class so that's who I'm going to pick on.

Just for the record, I do more at work than read SMH, watch YouTube and play with bulldog clips. I just sometimes feel a little unproductive.

If you're wondering here is the video of the monkey on a segway, turns out it's a Chimp not a monkey:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Busting Sex Myths - Part Two: The Church


Passage: Genesis 2:23-25, Ephesians 5:25-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Originally Preached: 16/04/10 - Seminars - Soul in the City - Newcastle
Series: Busting Sex Myths

Original Conference Description: “Sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” – Butch Hancock. The church hasn’t always said much to teens about sex, but what it has said hasn’t always been helpful. Part two of the smackdown on sex myths.

Comment: This message is a seminar I did at Soul in the City 2010 for Soul Survivor NSW. I was asked to do a series of seminars for teens, two days of which I spent dealing with sex.

Part Two is a little more personal than Part One. I haven't made a habit of doing really personal illustrations in my preaching for a while, but this talk needed it, so it got it.

I enjoyed doing this. It's not as fun as the last one, but it could be the better talk. I do love that I get to spend a while talking about the Cross. Grace is excellent fun to preach about.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Busting Sex Myths - Part One: The World


Passage: Genesis 2:23-25, Ephesians 5:25-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Originally Preached: 15/04/10 - Seminars - Soul in the City - Newcastle
Series: Busting Sex Myths

Original Conference Description: The world has a lot to tell teens about sex, not all of it’s true. We’re gonna use the Bible to punch a few sex myths in the mouth. See why sex is better than you thought, and why waiting till marriage is just as good as sex within marriage, just not as much fun.

Comment: This message is a seminar I did at Soul in the City 2010 for Soul Survivor NSW. I was asked to do a series of seminars for teens, two days I spent dealing with sex.

I originally gave it in church as a sermon, which only went for 30mins. This time I broke it into two halves, dealing with the world's myths first, and the churches myths second.

I gave the seminar in a grand stand by the side of an oval. It was probably one of the strangest places I've preached in (perhaps in the corn field in rural Kenya was the weirdest), and it was a little hard to focus on the group, and on my notes. Usually I just ignored the notes, because they were along way away, and there was no room for lecterns in the grand stand funnily enough.

All up I was happy enough with this talk. The intro section seems go for about 10 minutes. I was perhaps relaxing in the fact that I had 2 hours to get the material out, rather than 30 minutes.

It does feel a bit weird giving a talk on sex when you're single, but like I say, I aimed it a unmarried teens, and I'm pretty experienced at not being married.

There is so much material out there on sex, and so much that could be discussed. I felt like I only really covered half of what I could have said. But that's probably true of most topics.

This is also the first time I've included a talk with questions. I quite enjoy the Q&A thing, but I worry I waffle on too long. If I do, feel free to just skip all that.

Some of the best materials I had for prep were (and if you're a preaching nerd you'll notice where I quote them), Mark Driscoll's sex Q&As, Tim Keller's series on Sex, Marriage and Singleness, the book "The Meaning of Sex" by Dennis P Hollinger and "Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls" by Melinda Tankard Reist. They're all worth checking out.

That's all I have to say about that. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Daniel 6 - Power Struggles and Lions' Dens


Passage: Daniel 6
Originally Preached: 05/05/10 - High School Chapel
Description: God saves in and through the hard times.

Comment: In my new job, I spend a lot of time doing talks in schools. So I decided to record one on the old iPhone, so I could post it up here. I did this in a school chapel in Sydney. I won't tell you any more because, I don't know what the privacy rules are and it doesn't really matter who was listening.

I've been doing this talk on Daniel and the Lion's Den in a few schools. I feel like it's hard to do justice to the passage in a way that will interest the uninterested, do justice to the gospel in each talk and fit it in to 10 to 15 minutes. Talking to Christians for 25 minutes is a whole lot easier. I don't mind this talk, but I feel like I would have liked to kick the gospel home a little better. Other times I did the talk I think I did a better job.

I did this one without notes. I like the freedom of being notes free. I don't like missing out on good stuff. Especially when it's important stuff to say.

Anyway, I'm learning the school talk. I hope I get better as I go.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

1 Cor 15:1-20: The Best is Yet to Come


Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:1-20
Originally Preached: 29/11/09 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: Jesus, All About Life

Description: Jesus' resurrection is the lynch-pin of our faith. If it didn't happen, then our faith is useless, if it did, then we have more to look forward to than we can imagine.

Comment: This was a fun one to preach. Perhaps because the resurrection is so fundamental to our faith, and because the aim was to address the topic apologetically.

I especially enjoyed the section on "our best is yet to come". I would love to spend a whole sermon addressing the implications of a physical resurrection. I love the fact that our life after death is just as physical as this one, perhaps more so, as we revel in God's new creation.

I also enjoyed teasing out the implications if there is no physical resurrection. I think the resurrection is something we reference regularly in church but we don't spend heaps of time talking about it. This leaves it open to misunderstanding and people forming unbiblical ideas about what's actually happened when Jesus rose from the dead. I think it's important we give people clear teaching on what the resurrection is and is not, and what the implications are if we believe it to be anything other than a physical, bodily resurrection. I hope that I went a small way towards achieving that.

I got some feedback after preaching that I should probably have been a little easier on old people. The older members of the congregation liked it, but I can full understand the feed back, and were I to do it again I'd try and be a little more sensitive.

All up I'm happy with this one. And very thankful for Jesus and his resurrection.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Romans 8:28-39 - The Overwhelming Love of God


Passage: Romans 8:28=39
Originally Preached: 04/10/09 - 6pm Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: Romans

Description: The overwhelming reality of God's love in all things, over all condemnation, against all odds.

Comment: This was the first time I preached at a service at my new church. It was good to be preaching again to a group of people I knew. But I also had the added benefit of preaching to the church for the first time. The first time you preach anywhere you always get told it was good. So I knew I'd have to do really bad to bomb.

Another joy of this sermon was that, due to my lack of employment, I had plenty of time to work on it. What the prep I'd normally do over the course of the week leading up to a sermon I did over about 5 weeks. It was great to be so well immersed in the text.

Finally I liked getting to preach on Romans 8, one of the most famous passages in the Bible.

So all up I was going into this sermon pretty happy.

And I'm also happy enough with the end result. I think I could have gone a little harder on the first illustration. The point could have been stronger by contrast.

Also I think my American accent could have been better on the two times I used it. I'll work on that for next time. Salvations could be in the balance.

Friday, September 18, 2009

1 Peter 2:9-12 - Being Different


Passage: 1 Peter 2:9-12
Originally Preached: 28/06/09 - CrossWay Church, Ocean City MD
Series: One Off

Description: You are different, so be different.

Comment: This was a sermon I preached at my friend Nathan's church in Ocean City, Maryland. I blogged about the experience here.

You'll notice that seeing as I am preaching in the USA I decided it would be enjoyable to play up my Australianess. Hence the references to Funnel Webs and the Crocodile Hunter. Who am I to not play up to the stereotypes?

The message itself was a re-write of one I had done a few weeks before at a camp reunion. I think I liked this message better, I got to spend more time on it.

Speaking of time the sermon itself is 42 minutes. When I asked Nathan how long I should preach for, he said I should preach for as long as it took to say what God had given me. Or something like that. I enjoyed the freedom and the chance to say everything I wanted to say. But I think I generally prefer the restriction of a time limit. It forces you to remove waffle and be more succinct. That said, I've been preaching longer this year. I'm not sure why that is.

As far as execution goes, I still need to learn to slow down and learn the value of the dramatic pause.

I enjoyed visiting CrossWay. They were a friendly bunch and I appreciate them letting me preach there. If you're ever in the area you should go visit.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Why So Quiet

I haven't really stuck up many sermons this year. This is partly due to a lack of preaching. And partly due to a lack of recording of them. Or when they have been recorded there have been technical difficulties so I haven't been able to get them to you.

Anyway when I do them and record them I'll stick them up but I can't promise much will be coming. In the mean time go listen to someone better than me. You'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Jonah - The God who Chases

HBC Youth Jonah.mp3

Passage: Jonah
Originally Preached: 29/05/09 - Switch Youth Service - Hornsby Baptist Church
Series: Special Event

Description: God chases us even when we're sinful; especially when we're sinful.

Comment: This was my first preach at my new church, so I was a bit nervous. Plus I was battling with the need to impress people. You want to make a good impression on your first preach somewhere new, especially when it's your home church because you care what these people think.

But it's not like I've yet found a way to ever divorce myself from wanting to get approval from the people who hear me preach. God'll have to keep working on that one.

This was also the first long (over 15 minute) talk that I've done entirely without notes. I enjoyed the chance to have continuous connection with the congregation. I think it allowed me to be more natural in the delivery. However I did find that I stumbled over words a lot more and nothing came out as elegantly as what I had written in the manuscript. That wasn't a huge problem but it annoys me. And I found I said a lot more "like" and "you know".

I did also make the mistake of mentioning Jesus' death while forgetting to mention his resurrection. This is a rather significant part of the Gospel and I left it out. Shows my conservative evangelical roots.

I did an illustration at the end that I spent ages tossing up whether to do. I also tossed up whether to stick this talk on the podcast because of it. I told the story of when I told a girl I liked her.

I was wondering whether to do it because it involves God giving me instructions to do something rather morally dubious in my view. Namely telling a girl who had a boyfriend that I liked her. And while I did a lot of work to get confirmation and I'm sure God wanted me to do it, it's still not an action I feel entirely comfortable about. Telling the girl I liked her was a catalyst that kicked of a series of events that dramatically changed the lives of many people, to the point where there are people who exist today as a result of that chain of events. And while I don't want to claim that I was the main force for change in that drama, I really only had a bit part, I do think God wanted to use me to being making some radical changes.

Still I would never condone telling a girl you liked her if she had a boyfriend. While boyfriend/girlfriend relationships aren't unbreakably sacred, it's pretty selfish to go around telling other people how you feel disregarding the commitment two people have made to each other.

I did it because God told me to. But I still have to own my actions. So I have a hard time reconciling my obedience with my morals.

So doing the illustration made me uncomfortable because I didn't want anyone to think I was condoning telling a girl you liked her when she was taken. I made that clear, but I hope the illustration didn't muddy things up.

I also debated doing it and putting it in the web because it doesn't reflect too well on the other guy. While I never say who he was, if he listens he'll hear me say he was a bit of a jerk. I was worried that he might come and listen to the sermon and get upset that I publicly called him a jerk.

And he certainly would have a right. I would have preferred I said he was acting like a jerk. Because I don't think he is a jerk. But I'm happy to own the judgement that his behaviour at the time wasn't exceptional. I'm pretty sure he'd agree with me.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure he won't ever hear the talk. But if he does, I hope he doesn't think I hate him. I don't.

The last thing I should clear up about the illustration is that I said that I didn't go out with the girl. I should have said I didn't get the girl. We did go out, but not for long and I certainly didn't feel at the time that we really got the chance to work at the whole relationship thing.

Wow, that was a lot of disclaiming for one illustration. I think this is part of the issue of preaching without notes where you can have much more carefully worded illustrations and you don't have to do as much mopping up. Lucky I have a blog with perhaps two readers who I can clear things up with.

All up, I'm happy enough with the talk. I feel like I could have done a better job getting a cohesive over-riding thought going. And it may be too long. As usual I pray that despite all the messiness and issues God uses it to bring his truth to people's hearts.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eph 1:15-23 - Know Jesus - The Farewell Sermon


Passage: Ephesians 1:15-23
Originally Preached: 11/01/09 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Farewell Service

Description: If you know nothing else, know Jesus.

Comment: This was the last sermon I preached as Youth Minister at St Stephen's. It was always going to be an important sermon. Wrapping up six formative years of ministry was a big event for me. I worked hard to make sure I had something to say that would sum up my greatest intent for the people I had the privilege of ministering to and with for the previous six years.

I settled on the theme of knowing Jesus. It is not a particularly new message, but I never intended to bring a new message. We preach an ancient message that brings new life, transforms the world now and is continually relevant. Jesus and his gospel is always going to be the only thing worth preaching. I wanted to make it clear that it wasn't about me, but about Jesus and what he has done.

I am very thankful for the time I spent at the church. I am blessed to have worked in a place where I could develop in ministry. I grew a huge amount during my time there and am very happy to have been given the opportunity I had. I loved all the people I got to work with. The young people were very special. Most of all I am thankful for all I saw God do. I saw many changed lives, many answers to prayer and many people have Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. I had a wonderful time. It was worth it.

For those of you who are wondering, this will not be the end of the blog or the podcast. I have a number of preaching engagements coming up in 2009, so I will endeavour to get them to all you millions of loyal listeners.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Psalm 20 - Supporting Your Leaders


Passage: Psalm 20
Originally Preached: 04/01/09 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Psalms of Summer

Description: The Supported Leader is the Successful Leader

Comment: It's been a while since I posted a sermon, but perhaps I need to spread them out a little bit now that my preaching opportunities will slow for the foreseeable future.

This Psalm was a difficult one to get a hold on. Mainly because it's written in a very different context to the one we are currently in. Written as a prayer for the King of Israel as he goes off to war it jars with our present reality. We no longer live in a theocracy, we have true God's king, we don't really listen to our earthly king (Queen actually) and war is no longer seen as a necessary extension of God's work on earth.

I decided to focus on the theme of supporting leaders. The Psalm does give us a picture of Israel's attitude towards it's leaders, and it's an attitude which we would do well to replicate. Of course we don't serve a human king who is on earth. But we do serve in God's kingdom under many leaders and we all operate under the kingship of Christ.

I also felt that given my impending resignation from the church I had a unique opportunity to encourage people in how they support their leaders. I know what it's like to be a leader but I would not get the support I was encouraging as I was stepping down in a week. It was a good position to be in.

Since doing this sermon, stepping down from full time ministry and joining a new church I have been working hard at praying for my leaders daily. I don't have that many ways to support them yet, being a newbie in a new church. But as time goes on I hope I can live up to my own teachings.

The quality of this recording isn't brilliant. My apologies.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Zechariah 14 - The Terrible and Beautiful Day of the Lord


Passage: Zech 14
Originally Preached: 21/12/08 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Behold! Your King is Coming

Description: When God acts it is both terrible and beautiful but the end point is always holiness.

Comment:This message felt pretty sloppy and lacking in coherence right up until I preached it. Actually it felt that way after I preached it too but people told me that it was good so I'll believe them.

I'd spent a few months thinking about this one and at least two weeks giving it solid thought, but I couldn't get any kind of grip on what I wanted to do with it. In the end I just had to write it and see what happened. Part of the problem is that the passage is a hodgepodge of ideas (divinely inspired hodgepodge, but hodgepodge to us finite beings none-the-less). It has so many different ideas, so many different images, so many different connotations, it's difficult to unpack it in any kind of coherent form. Add to that the fact that it's Christmas and I found it was all too much to cope with.

But I did it, I preached it, and people liked it, so I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Revelation 3:1-6 - Dealing with Deadness


Passage: Revelation 3:1-6
Originally Preached: 30/11/08 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Seven Letters to Seven Churches

Description: Jesus doesn't give up on the dead

Comment: As I say in the sermon this was a passage that worried me. I didn't want to have to tell my church that it's dead. But as far as I can see it's not dead. But then again, perhaps that's the irony (irony?) of the situation. Even if we were a dead church, I wouldn't know, I'm part of the church. Sardis didn't know they were dead, so it's entirely possible that we haven't figured it out either.

One of the congregation was worried that by my introduction I was implying that the passage wasn't applicable to our church because we weren't dead. So let me say here, that wasn't my intention. I think all the Bible has application for us, and can speak into our current situation even if the situation we are in doesn't totally correlate with one people deal with in Scripture.

This was a hard sermon to write. I only found out I was preaching it late on the Monday before. I thought that'd be enough time, though I didn't realise how much background prep I do before I do any serious prep. I generally spend at least a month thinking about a sermon before I get down to actually reading and making notes. So this time I was a feeling like I was playing catch up bit. Add to that the fact that I doing a preaching experiment at youth group the Saturday night before, and that didn't leave me with a lot of space to be thinking up new stuff.

I went into the service on Sunday with a whole different illustration for the Back to Basics section. It was about those dreams when you turn up at school naked. I think it's a funny idea but it wasn't really serving the message. Though it was all I had, so I had to use it. I only thought of the water thing during the prayers in the service. But I realised it was better, so I went with it. I think it may have been the provision of Jesus, but I wish he wouldn't cut it so fine.

I was a little worried about talking about my old church. Mainly because I think I'm often harsh on my old church. I think probably it was a church full of wonderful people, who are now doing wonderful things, but it wasn't a wonderful church. Plus the fact that I spent a lot of time at the church wanting to leave was probably an indication that things there weren't exactly how I would have liked. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of us wanting to leave but we had no-where else to go.

Anyway, I have fond memories of my previous church, I'm just pretty sure it wasn't entirely healthy.

The congregation was very responsive during this sermon. You can hear on the recording many points where I get heckled by some person or another. I kinda like the interactivity, but when you're as tired as I was on Sunday, it means you get a little distracted and say silly things. Still I'd rather have a interactive congregation than a sleeping one.

I think all up, I was worried about this sermon. I had no idea if it was good or not. I was worried it would bomb. So if it went ok, it was Jesus who did it.

I hope you get something out of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

John 2:12-35 - Jesus Comes to Cleanse our Worship


Passage: John 2:12-25
Originally Preached: 14/09/08 - 8am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Behold the Lamb of God!

Description: Jesus cleared the temple to cleanse the worship of those days. How can he cleanse ore worship today?

Comment: I did this sermon as part of a preaching course where we wrote the sermon early, got feedback from our teacher, preached it to our class, then finally preached it to the church. I preached only at the 8am service as there was a special performance on today. This gave me the task of having to write a message specifically for the group of people in the church I am least connected to and least like. It made it hard, the challenge was good. I hope I did ok.

I also opened this sermon up to the public on my blog to edit. It was a fun process, it yielded some good conversation, some good things to think about and some good suggestions and comments. I think I'd do it again, if only I was organised enough to write things more than 7 hours ahead of time.

I think I preached a little long for the 8am congregation, but most of them seemed to stay away, so I liked that.

All up, I'm happy. It was a good process. And I do marvel at the complexity and the grandness of Jesus and his mission. This passage helped me to think more about what is going on with Jesus. And seeing as he's my Lord and all, that's worth doing.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Col 4:2-18 - Making the Most of the Everyday


Passage: Col 4:2-18
Originally Preached: 24/08/08 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Message of Colossians

Description: Make the most of your everyday opportunities, your everyday prayer, your everyday meetings with non-Christians and your everyday interactions with Christians.

Comment: When I first looked this passage I thought I was preaching from verse 7. This worried me a bit as preaching on a list of names and greetings isn't really the easiest task. But then I started warming to the idea. I wanted the challenge. But alas I found out I was preaching on verses 2-6 as well. And then I had a whole new problem. The passage doesn't seem to have one defining idea. I hate preaching on a passage and leaving out significant chunks, but I was feeling like I might have to do it.

But as things turned out, I found a through line and, for better or for worse, you can see the result. Well, hear the result.

I did try and be more practical in this sermon and do lots of stories. I did this mainly because Paul is being very practical in the passage, and stories are a great way of relaying practice, or bad practice.

I think the whole issue of prayer is one that I've been struggling with. I really do feel like a bad prayer. I feel like my ministry suffers for lack of prayer. I'm currently trying to rectify that. I think having this passage was a good reminder to me to get my act together. So if no one else was impacted by this message, I was.

Regarding the illustration about getting beaten up at the pub, I have been told by my friend Nathan that he actually did try and help me. He put his hand on shoulder of the drunk guy strangling me who looked at him and then let go of my throat. So it may in fact be that Nathan saved my life. I'm not sure. Anyway, I'm currently telling everyone who will listen that Nathan is my hero.

I did most of this preach without notes. I'm doing that more these days. The whole no notes thing I think could be the reason why I seem like I get more tongue tied in this one that I usually do. But I don't know. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be able to manage the clear, unhindered speech that I'd like, but I don't know. I regularly dream about going to public speaking classes or something. But I'm yet to make the dreams become reality.

That's the sermon. I enjoyed doing it. It feels a little messy, but God can use it, so I pray that he has and does.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Col 1:15-23 - We Are Because Christ Is


Passage: Col 1:15-23
Originally Preached: 20/07/08 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Message of Colossians

Description: We are who we are only because Christ is who he is.

Comment: I know it's been a long time since uploads. I did preach once since the last upload, but life got in the way. But we're back now.

This was a rather exciting passage. One of the Bible's Greatest Hits. So I was happy to have it. Rather daunted too. It's a big passage, with big ideas, and a lot in it. It was hard to do it justice. I'm hoping I did ok.

I preached this message at all three services. I decided to stick up the 10am one. It's not as fun as the 6:30pm one, but I think it was the best executed one. At well, slickness is what it's all about.

Probably the best bit about preaching this one was that I just got to think about Jesus in all his bigness for a while. It's not really entirely comprehensible. But he's good to spend time considering, and I got to do it. It really is amazing that Jesus would pay attention to us. He seems a little to important to bother with us. But I can't say I'm complaining. It's grace that we would even get thought of, let alone lived with and died for. Go Jesus!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Mark 16:1-8 - The End of the Beginning - Easter Sunday


Passage: Mark 16:1-8
Originally Preached: 16/03/08 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Path to Glory

Description: Even in the fear and ambiguity of life God calls us to follow him to discover the resurrection.

Comment: I had been looking forward to doing this passage for a while. It really is one of my favourite passages in the whole Bible. The ending of Mark is so extraordinary. It's a courageous way to end a religious text designed to bring people to faith.

I often feel rather privileged to preach on Resurrection Sunday. I think because Resurrection Sunday is such a central day in the Christian Calender. And it's celebrated by Christians all over the world and it's been celebrated for millennia. When I preach on Resurrection Sunday I feel like I'm taking part in a sacred tradition. It's not just any old preach (though even that is special) I feel like I'm taking part in history.

I was pretty pleased with this message. As usual it was difficult to write but once I was preaching it it felt like it came together. It was enjoyable to, once again, connect with the spectacular event of Jesus' resurrection.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Mark 14:53-72 - Two Men and the Truth and Us


Passage: Mark 10:53-72
Originally Preached: 24/02/08 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Path to Glory

Description: Jesus' decision to stand for truth saved us from the consequences of our cowardice.

Comment: This was the first sermon I've ever done with no jokes. That mightn't seem like a very significant thing for many preachers. It has been for me though. Humour has always been important for me. It's been a key tool for connecting with the congregation, sustaining interest, and helping people engage with the text. But I have been challenged for a while to preach without humour. My reasoning for this has been to challenge me not to rely on laughs. But this has never been a good enough reason in and of itself.

But when the passage of Jesus' trial and Peter's denial came and I started crafting the sermon it became increasingly clear that this wasn't a sermon for jokes. So it's not.

I did enjoy doing this one though. I loved the contrast between Jesus and Peter. It was a contrast I'd never really picked up on before. So obvious, but the NIV headings in my Bible kinda threw me off.

The commitment of Jesus to holding onto and proclaiming truth was a massive challenge to me, but also a wonderful reminder of the amazing character of Jesus that was able and willing to stand up under such pressure.

Peter's denial felt all too familiar. The grace of Jesus towards Peter is wonderfully moving.

Stylistically this sermon was different in that is was more narrative based than previous sermons. While I often try and have a more narrative structure to sermons on narrative passages, on this one I scraped the idea of articulating specific points completely. I decided it would be better just to tell the story of Jesus, Peter and Us parallel to each other. It also meant that the sermon had more of a Beginning-Middle-End structure than Introduction-Three Points-Conclusion structure. I guess being a storyteller at heart this approach appealed to me.

I've been listening to a bit of Martin Luther King Jr lately too, so I think that may have had a bit to do with the finished product.

So over all I'm happy with the result. It was a rather scary experiment, but people were friendly about it. I was especially happy with the girl who told me she loved the sermon because she loves "stuff about Christmas." It's always comforting to know people are listening.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Zech 6:1-15: Horses and Crowns


Passage: Zech 6:1-15
Originally Preached: 23/12/07 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Behold! Your King is Coming

Description: Jesus brings together in himself all our hopes of both justice and restoration.

Comment: This was the closest Sunday to Christmas and I was given this passage full of judgment and strange prophesy. I preached this plonked right in the middle of a Christmas service. It was a little odd.

Still it is good to talk about the gospel at Christmas time. And it's good to talk about judgment at Christmas time. We sometimes forget that the baby grew to be a man and the man took on himself the judgment of God.

So it was good to get a little perspective at Christmas time. I don't have much more to say than that. I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

2 Samuel 6:1-23 - Unrestrained Worship


Passage: 2 Samuel 6:1-23
Originally Preached: 09/12/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Rise of King David

Description: Worship is not about being undignified, it's about being in unrestrained in your response to the character of God.

Comment: As I mention in the sermon I wasn't overly excited about doing this passage. Not because I don't like the passage but because worship is such a big thing at my church. I've learnt a lot about worship at my church, and to talk about it is a little bit intimidating. I'm not an expert. But I figured the Bible is a better authority on worship than me so I'd just preach the Bible as faithfully as possible.

Talking about the song "Undignified" meant that we couldn't sing it that night. Partly because I give the way we use the song a bit of a bad wrap and partly because I think it would distract people as they tried to work out if we liked the song or not. For the record I don't have a big problem if the song is used properly. If it is used as a response to what God has done, it's good. If it's used as a prescription for proper worship practice, I'm not all that impressed.

After I preached this one of my friends came up to me looking at 2 Samuel 6:13 and told me that he had never read the passage in terms of killing animals every six steps, but only after the first six steps. This kinda threw me as I'd never considered it this way at all. I'd always just assumed they killed lots of animals. Nothing in the commentaries, that I can remember, suggested otherwise but then again, maybe they just assumed it was only on the first six steps too.

That interpretation would make sense. To sacrifice for the earlier sin of Uzzah and Israel they kill an animal at the seventh step. Seven being the number symbolic of perfection. Plus it would also explain David's lack of clothes. That he killed the animal in priestly robes, then takes them off for the journey up to Jerusalem as they are covered in blood.

I had a look at a few other translations and they're equally ambiguous, except for The Message which says they "went and brought up the Chest of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David, celebrating extravagantly all the way, with frequent sacrifices of choice bulls." So at least we know what Eugene Peterson thinks. The parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 15 also doesn't shed much light on the issue. So I've decided to leave it ambiguous for now. When I learn Hebrew or remember to ask someone who knows Hebrew, I'll solve the issue.

At this stage I'm happy with David doing the Conan/Lord of the Dance thing.

I was pretty happy with this sermon. I had a few people who thought it helpful so I appreciated that. It was, in the end, a fun one to preach, so it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

1 Corinthians 1:18 - Ten Reasons Not to Become a Christian


Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18
Originally Preached: 11/11/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Cafe Church Evangelistic

Description: There are many reasons not to become a Christian, the message of the cross probably being the greatest.

Comment: I had been working on this sermon for a little while. I'd decided after chosing the passage that I thought it'd be interesting to do a sermon about why not to become a Christian. I figure that most evangelistic preaching is about how good being a Christian is. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul presents this view of the gospel that is at odds with much of our preaching today. We spend a lot of time trying to justify the gospel to non-believers. But Paul's saying it doesn't make sense. It is not wisdom as the world sees it. I wanted to spend some time looking at the gospel from the perspective of the world. Partly because it was fun, but also because if we can see the foolishness of the gospel then maybe we can see the glory of it as well. When we can fully grasp how counter to the values and thinking of the world the gospel is then well be a lot further along the way to having a good grasp of what an amazing thing has been done for us in Jesus.

I got help for my 10 reasons from the readers of my blog. It was fun having an interactive sermon. I kinda felt like I had all my blog reading friends there helping me out. It was an enjoyable community effort.

At the end of the sermon you may notice that I tell people that Jesus is their opportunity to move from "life to death". I regularly make that mistake. People get what I mean but I always seem to stuff it up. I got it right earlier in the sermon. One day I hope to not get life and death back to front.

All up I was happy with this one. I felt a bit more like I was back on my game after the last one. Plus this one was relatively easy to write. I had it finished by 5:30pm on Saturday which gave me time to go out with my friends. It was a lovely feeling.

Monday, October 29, 2007

1 Samuel 18 - God's Plan and Our Plan


Passage: 1 Samuel 18
Originally Preached: 28/10/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Rise of King David

Description: God's got a plan and he's going to succeed. We need to decided if we're going to work with God or against him.

Comment: I had a bit of fun with this sermon. There's lots of little strange bits that are interesting. It's not the most exciting story in the world. It's kinda like the exposition that serves to move the plot along. Still there's good stuff in there too, it's just a little more overviewish.

I think in the first 5 minutes of the sermon I say "like" about 30 times. I'm pretty much a teenage girl.

I have been listening to a lot of Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle lately. He's good fun and teaches well. I figure he's been influencing my style a bit because every now and then I'd say things and think "That sounds like Mark Driscoll." I used to say things and think "That sounds like Mike Pilavachi." But I haven't listened to Mike for a while, so Mark it is.

I didn't focus very much on David in this message. I focused much more on people's reactions to David. Mainly because David just floated through the passage doing well and saying nice things, while other people did more interesting things.

You'll notice the rather large mistake I made talking about Saul and Jonathan. Oops. If you wanna read more about that check out my blog post about the stuff up. Needless to say, I felt pretty stupid. It was a rather amateur mistake. Usually I'm quite pedantic about checking things, but I just kept forgetting this time.

And that, is about all we have time for. I hope you find something helpful in this message.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Titus 2:11-15: Grace to do Good Works


Passage: Passage
Originally Preached:29/04/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Grace

Description: The good things we do are not so that we can get good things, but because God has given good things, he has given grace, to us.

Comment: This is a bit older this message. I hadn't stuck it up before because the original recording didn't work very well, but I got it now.

I remember this being quite fun to do. I like the ideas. Grace is wonderful. And good works are great. So putting to two together.

Some people came up to me and asked me if I really did pick up a hot woman while dog walking. But I didn't in case you're wondering.

I think the problem of Christians being unable to give and receive grace is a big one. I think it's amazing that something that is so fundamental to our faith is so difficult for us to comprehend and live out. I feel like receiving grace is as important or more important to being able to show grace. Our faith starts at the point of receiving grace, if we can't do that, we're not going to get very far. So I'm always working at growing in it. And being on the receiving end of grace, once you get the hang of it, is pretty good.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Luke 8:40-56 - Jesus and the Faithful


Passage: Luke 8:40-56
Originally Preached: 23/09/07 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Early Ministry of Jesus

Description: Jesus' encounters with the faithful bring healing and new life.

Comment: I did this sermon just after a really intense ministry time in church. There were quite a few people in tears, and lots of people had felt God move quite powerfully. So my style is quite subdued for the first half or so. I cut out a lot of the jokes because it didn't feel like the church was in the right place for it.

The other thing I did while preaching this sermon was edit it on the fly. Usually I have a manuscript that I stick to quite diligently. But after doing this message in the 8am congregation I felt it'd work better swapped around. Originally I had told the whole story of the healings, then made three points. But in the 10am service I decided it'd be better to make the points as I got to them. So that's what I did. It required a bit of preaching gymnastics but I think it came out ok.

I have found this sermon to be rather challenging in its application since preaching it. I've been working hard to be someone who is willing to be distracted by the needs of other people. I've had a friend get quite sick recently and that has demanded a lot of my spare time. It's hard to be opening and giving when you know the precious spare time you have is being given over to someone else's needs. The temptation is to do things for them efficiently without taking the time to sit and talk and care for them. Yet from this passage I have been challenged to not let my agenda get in the way of the need to love other people. It's tough, but it's right and I'm learning. So it was a helpful sermon to preach, even if it only helped me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

1 Cor 2:6-16: Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture


Passage: 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Originally Preached: 29/07/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Leadership from 1 Corinthians

Description: God has not kept himself hidden, but revealed himself through his Spirit and his Word.

Comment: It's been a while since I preached this sermon. It's been a while since I posted a sermon too actually. I've been busy preaching in Africa, and um, not posting sermons online.

Still here is this one. And there are a few more coming soon. So that's good.

I don't really have much to say about this message. I liked doing it because I like the Bible. I had been given my passage and my title and a chapter of a book about the title and passage from my boss to prepare for the sermon. I had to try and achieve the aims of the pastor of the service while preaching what I thought the Spirit was wanting me to say, and this is the message that came out.

The illustration I did about being on camp I didn't have until 10 minutes before the start of the sermon, so it's a little more rough than I would have liked. I've polished it up since then.

I preached this message when I was in Kenya recently to a church in a small town in the west of the country. It didn't really seem to go down too well. They like the more exciting sermons in Kenya I noticed. But I still felt I wanted to give the message. Individual Bible literacy doesn't seem to be as important in Kenya as it is in Evangelical churches here. I feel like the Bible is so precious we should be encouraging our brothers and sisters everywhere to get into it.

After I preached that sermon I went on to preach this one and they liked that a lot more. It's a bit more exciting.

So there are my thoughts. Sorry it's been so long between posts. I'll post again soon.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Acts 3:1-10 - Power to Save and Heal


Passage: Acts 3:1-10
Originally Preached: 03/06/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Encountering God in Acts

Description: God heals so that people might see the power in the name of Jesus.

Comment: I wrote this sermon at about 10pm the night before I did it, after one of the busiest periods of my life I had ever experienced. Plus as I started writing I was beset by a horrid cold which didn't abate till the following Tuesday. I was feeling tired and disgusting by the time I got up to preach and I was preaching on healing. I enjoyed the irony of the situation.

As the opening illustration shows I decided to use my illness as an illustration. I figured I was going to get better and it would be good to point out the miraculous nature of all healing, whether it comes through conventional or non-conventional ways. I did this because the point I wanted to make about this passage was that it wasn't really about the healing but about what happened as a result of the healing.

Healing isn't nearly as much of a big deal for God as salvation.

People seemed quite receptive to this message and were rather positive. I think it must have been God because I wasn't really in a good position to be writing. So I'm happy that it went well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Matt 18:21-35 - Grace to Forgive


Passage: Matt 18:21-35
Originally Preached: 13/05/07 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Grace

Description: We must forgive because we've been forgiven.

Comment: I was excited when I got this topic because it's one of those ones that appeal to me. I like the practical, counter intuitive teachings of the Bible. Like loving your enemies and greatness through downward mobility. So when I got "Grace to Forgive" I thought "Yes!".

But then, when I started thinking about it, I realised that forgiveness isn't really something I know a lot about. My problem is that I rarely get upset with people, and I rarely find it hard to forgive people who hurt me. I have very few significant stories of having to work hard at forgiveness. It's not because I'm a saint, I think it's because I'm a pushover. That and people are generally pretty nice to me. But still I am in awe of forgiveness. I want to know more about my forgiveness. I think my lack of understanding of forgiving others means that I have less of an understanding of God's forgiveness of me. If others don't grieve me much, I don't feel like I grieve God much. Though, I do know that to be a lie. So I'm working on that. I hope all that didn't stunt my teaching though. Hopefully I've grasped enough to be able to teach on it. Or at least I've got a good enough grasp of the Bible to teach what the Bible says. Because it's the Bible really that has to have the kicker, not me.

I didn't get much time to prepare this message. So I spent a lot of time praying before hand. I said "God I am unable to give this the time it needs, you're going to have to help me."

I find that when I get stuck on a sermon the night before, and I'm always writing the night before, I can usually come downstairs and have a conversation with someone in my house who will help me. I spoke to my sister Jo over dinner about forgiveness and she was good. We talked for ages about the value of forgiveness if you don't have to forgive people who are unrepentant. Because at that stage I still thought you didn't have to forgive people who aren't sorry. Though I changed my mind on that, even if it isn't what John Stott thinks.

She also gave me my closing illustration about Tomas Borge, which was the corker illustration of the sermon in my view. I was most impressed with the man. Unfortunately I'm not very good at pronouncing Nicaragua.

The big question for me was "Do you need to forgive people who are unrepentant?" Because of Luke 17:3-4 I was of the belief that you don't need to forgive people who don't say sorry. I thought you should be at the point where you could forgive if they asked, but not actually forgiving. But I wasn't exactly comfortable with the view, it's just what I thought Jesus was saying. But at about 11pm on Saturday night I did a bit of reading about the subject and the internet seems to firmly believe that you do need to forgive the unrepentant people who hurt you. Luke 17:3-4 seems to be more about unlimited forgiveness rather than the conditions for forgiveness. And that view seems to fit much better with all the other teachings of the New Testament on forgiveness.

If I had to pick a quotable quote from the sermon which was fun to preach it would have been: "Just as sin has consequences, forgiveness has consequences, and those consequences have to be love." People can put that in a book with my name next to it. Or not.

People seemed to like this sermon. I had one person say they thought it was "Vintage Tom" which was a good thing. I'm not sure if that means they haven't liked my recent ones, if they think I've been slipping, or what. But I'll take it as a compliment and just keep praying that God will keep helping me preach.

If you want a text of the message you can get it here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Phil 3:10-11: Living the Resurrection


Passage: Phil 3:10-11
Originally Preached: 08/04/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Special Service: Resurrection Sunday

Description: The resurrection of Jesus holds power for us in eternity and right now.

Comment: I came into this sermon feeling lots of pressure. It was the Resurrection Sunday sermon and I had all long weekend to work on it. I had preached the week before and didn't feel that good about it. So I was wanting to do Easter Sunday justice (as if you can) and I was wanting to preach well.

This sermon completely wiped out my long weekend. I was working on all weekend right up until the hour I preached it. I didn't have my last illustration until that afternoon. It was really one of those ones that take it out of you.

The question of what it meant to have fellowship in Jesus' sufferings was tough. I'm not sure if I got my head around the concept. But I did at least get to think about it for a while. I came to the conclusion that is about Christ being present with us in our sufferings. Christ has suffered and we too will suffer. He understands what we go through. In our suffering we join with him in fellowship.

The illustration about my little sister may have sounded like she lives in an institution. But like I said on my blog, she doesn't.

Other than that I don't think I have much more to say about this sermon. I was pleased with how it turned out. I think the pressure helped. It ruined my weekend, but there were twenty something minutes of gospel at the end, so I guess it's an alright trade off. I hope it was.

After this sermon I got a visit from the Assistant Minister who had some constructive comments for me. He had feed back on my delivery. His suggestions for me were to slow down, give sustained eye contact to the audience, not move too much when I speak. It was good. I rarely get people giving practical delivery advice, so I'm working on those things now. Hopefully I'll get better at them.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Matt 13:44-52: Responding to the Hidden Kingdom


Passage: Matt 13:44-52
Originally Preached: 01/04/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Growth of the Kingdom

Description: The Kingdom of God requires a lot of those who find it.

Comment: If I had to rate my sermons, of the recent ones, I'd put this one near the bottom. I think it could have done with some editing. I don't think I spent enough time working on this one. I did spend a while thinking about it, but not enough time in the writing process. So while I had all the right thoughts, the actually sermon was a bit half baked. I think it could have been better if it was about 5 minutes shorter.

It was an interesting on to prepare because of my last experience preaching this passage. Last time I reinterpreted the passage at the last minuted to a less accepted interpretation. But I came to a different, more conventional outcome this time. I don't like disagreeing with my past self, but what can you do. I guess you gotta go with what you think is right.

If you're wondering about the break dancing move, it was pretty lame.

I'm not sure if I have much more to say about the sermon. You can hear it for yourself.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


The server for crashed and we lost most of our data from the last few months. This is rather aggravating as the progress of growing our little database of speakers has been set back a few months. It also means a lot of the sermons that are on this site are gone too. But I'll be working at putting them back up. Oh well. As he said, moth and rust and technology.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Technical Issues Again

For those of you who are trying to listen to the sermons at the moment, and can't, I'm sorry. The server who hosts crashed a few days ago and they're very slowly restoring things. So until then, no audio. I hope you can survive without the melodic tones of my voice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Matt 13:34-30,36-43: Living with the Weeds


Passage: Matthew 13:34-30,36-43
Originally Preached: 11/03/07 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Growth of the Kingdom

Description: How do we deal with the continuing presence of Evil?

Comment: I worked on this sermon for weeks. It caused many a phone call and a meeting. Mostly because I was trying to coordinate with a drama group that might have been performing beforehand. But it was good because it gave me about 2 weeks extra lead time than I normally put in. It was nice to do a sermon with extra thought put.

I was pretty happy with this sermon. I'm not sure what other people thought, but I was pleased. I was pretty tired when I preached it, I was in the middle of a massive week. You can tell I'm tired because I stumble over my words a little more than usual. But people understood me I think.

The opening illustration was probably the most political I have got in a sermon. I rarely get explictly political because there seems to be an idea that preachers should tell you how to vote. I guess it's to stop preachers using the pulpit to further human agendas of power. But I'm regularly tempted to tell people who not to vote for.

Anyway, while I was pretty silly in this illustration, it's pretty clear where I stand politically at the moment in this current political climate. But saying where I put my vote is different from telling other people where they should put theirs.

I spent a while thinking about the Kevin Rudd illustration in. I wasn't sure if the youth would be all that interested. But I figured if I did it right they could stay with me. I think it worked.

The whole idea of talking about people going to hell wasn't easy. Especially when it is as black and white as this passage. And also as positive. Jesus seems to just say "And then the evil people will get burned". And in an abstract sense it works fine, i want to see the end of evil. But when you talk about actual people you know going to hell it wasn't sitting as comfortably for me. So I tried to address both those issues.

Knowing that it was going to be a hard passage about evil and judgment, I worked hard to have illustrations which were more light hearted. Maybe it's just me, but I figure a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

I think that's all I have to say about this one.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Psalm 45 - The Wedding Song


Passage: Psalm 45
Originally Preached: 07/01/07 - 630pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Psalms of Summer

Description: Psalm 45 is the prophetic love song of Christ and his Church

Comment: It was a hard sermon this one. They're all hard these days.

The Psalm is a psalm that doesn't immediately jump out at you as a psalm with a clear point or application. Because it's a wedding psalm from thousands of years ago it seems to quite well restricted the antiquity.

When I discovered the link with Hebrews 1:8-9 (which I found as soon as a read a commentary, shows how well I know my Bible), it gave up a bit of a direction. But the question was still, how far do go you preaching on the New Testament application, and how much do you keep it in its original context. I wanted to to stay away from falling back on the whole "Bride of Christ" thing because it seemed like an easy place to go. But in the end as I looked at the Psalm it made the most sense in the light of Jesus. So that's the direction I went. But I did try and do the original context of the Psalm justice and talk about that, before I ran off to New Testament land. I guess I just wanted to maintain it's Old Testament foundations.

I did this sermon 3 times and the recording I've posted is the 3rd one of the day for the evening congregation of the teens and young adults. This being the last one of the day I was more tired so I stumbled a bit, bit I think it was my most passionate too, because I knew it and I was getting into the swing of it.

I found that in the later preach the jokes fell flat a lot more than the morning congregations. I think this is because I wrote it thinking mainly of the earlier congregations because they're more similar. And they found the jokes really funny. But the evening congregation are harder to please. The jokes have to be a bit sillier and a bit more "risque". So when I realised the jokes flopping I started cutting a lot of the punchlines out. It was only in the Aqua Golf illustration that I found an opportunity to chuck in some jokes that were more age appropriate. And just a note, in the mentoring program I don't really to "coughing" evangelism. I'm very well behaved an obey the rules of the program. I just thought it was a funny idea.

Anyway, the jokes aren't the point. But I think they're important. They keep people focused, at least I think so. But I just thought the comedic differences between the three congregations were interesting.

The three illustrations were interesting because they stared people who weren't me. I often think about what illustrations I can do about people, and which ones I need to get permission for. Even if I leave people's names out of things I wonder still if I'm doing the right thing. I generally try to make sure they are positive if I'm going to mention any names. If they're negative I don't identify the people involved and I still try not to make character judgments and just talk about how I found things.

I hope the mentoring program (who I am deliberately not naming in the blog post so it can't be Googled) don't mind me talking about them and what I do. I figured seeing as it was wholly positive and I kept my friend anonymous it should be alright. I hope so.

Anyway, they're my thoughts on this sermon. It was a good one to do in the end. I'm very pleased to be loved by Jesus. It was a positive way to start the year I think.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

1 Kings 17:1-24 - God's Training Scheme


Passage: 1 Kings 17:1-24
Originally Preached: 8/10/06 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Days of Elijah

Description: Just as God did with Elijah, God uses the small things in life to train us for the big things.

Comment: I got to start a new series on this sermon and that's always fun. Plus this is Elijah and I think Elijah is rather cool, as I say in the intro. This sermon didn't take all that long to come up with the themes. But it took a bit of thinking to get an illustration. I think illustrations are coming slower these days. I need to dig deeper to find them. I know some people keep files for illustrations and the like, but that just doesn't do it for me. I generally work from personal experience and I'm not sure it works to put my personal experiences into a filing cabinet.

The illustration I did about teaching my Sunday School class was about my last church. What I forgot when I thought of the illustration was that I was having visitors at church that night from my old church. One of the girls visiting was one of the two who came to talk to me at the reunion. So I felt a little embarrassed, like that they might think that I just talk about my old church all the time. I think they survived though.

The ministries we want to "go to bed with" was one of my more embarrassing slips of the tongue. But at least people laughed.

I don't think I have much more to say about this one. I enjoyed it, people were happy, I like Elijah.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Romans 14:1-12: Love Accepts Difference


Passage: Romans 14:1-12
Originally Preached: 17/09/06 - 10am Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Romans: Love

Description: As Christians we must remember that the things that divide us are insignificant compared to the Lord who unites us.

Comment: I was looking forward to doing this passage because it looked pretty straight forward. It didn't seem all that hard and the application was pretty straight forward.

But while I managed to get one point (we need to accept each other) and one illustration (my friend James) I was pretty stuck after that. I spent ages thinking about it. I got my house involved in the thinking. And it was only late on the night before that the second point came to me while listening to a sermon by John Stott. He's a good man that John Stott.

The sermon's pretty short because we were filling out the NCLS. That was fun because I like surveys.

People were pretty happy with sermon. I got a lot of good feed back. So I guess I did alright. I may even use it again some time.

Monday, September 04, 2006

1 Timothy 5:1-16: Relating to the Communities We Live In


Passage: 1 Timothy 5:1-16
Originally Preached: 03/09/06 - 630pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: T Timothy: The Healthy Church

Description: Practical advice on how to relate to people in the church, your family and those most in need.

Comment: This was a hard passage to preach on. I spent ages, weeks, trying to work out what to say. It's mostly about widows and how to look after them and I'm thinking "How is that relevant to a congregation of teens and 20s?" It was 11pm on the night I had to had it written by and I had only written two paragraphs. I just couldn't do it. And then it clicked. Things were getting pretty tight and I didn't finish it that night, but I did managed to slot writing it in around other activities.

When I got to preaching on the night I was pretty nervous. I knew how hard the passage has been and I wasn't feeling very confident about it. The nervousness got to me a bit, if you listen I have even more "Ahh"s than usual, my voice goes a little cracked at times because I was feeling rather parched, and I keep stuffing up my words. But I guess that happens sometimes. You just have to soldier on.

This sermon was probably the one that I changed the most from it's manuscript through reading the congregation as I preached. I didn't feel real confident in how I'd dealt with the passage and how I applied it, so as I looked around I tried to gauge where people at, or how they were responding. And so as I went I tried to answer what I thought might be the issues. I'm not sure if I was reading people correctly but I did my best. And I think that's where knowing your congregation goes well because you can see the people and think "That person's having a hard time at home", "That person is probably thinking I haven't justified my point well enough" etc. But I'm not sure how effective it was, but I think it's probably a good skill to be working on.

When I was preaching the bit about looking after your parents and loving your family members I could see some of the parents in the room nodding their approval. I'm going to be their favourite person.

Someone told me afterwards they liked the illustration about me wanting to run away from home because for once my family hadn't been painted in a perfect light and we didn't look like the Brady Bunch.

When I finished this one I felt rather drained. But people were very encouraging. After the sermon the service leader got people to come up and share for the congregation what ways they were meeting the needs of the people around them. On guy got up and said he wrote letters to his grandma regularly. Another girl got up and shared about her voluntary work in the office of an organisation that helps young women with eating disorders and depression. Someone else shared about how they volunteered at a soup kitchen once and were convicted to go back. It went on for a while. It was great. It was a wonderfully positive and practical way to respond to the sermon. I felt so blessed. Probably blessed because I felt so apprehensive about the sermon and the passage. And then God showed that he even uses the obscure "uninspiring" parts of his Word to convict and changed. I am so happy to be serving my God and preaching his Word.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

1 Samuel 6 - God Wins


Passage: 1 Samuel 6
Originally Preached: 25/06/06 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: Raiders of the Ark

Description: God shows his power to win and demands the respect of both the Philistines and the Israelites.

Comment: This is the last sermon in my three weeks series in June on 1 Samuel 4-6. I would have posted the other two sermons in the series, but the first on didn't get recorded and the second one I didn't want to post on the internet. So here you have the last one. But I reckon this last one is the best one.

I started off with a quick recap of the story of the Ark so far. It's a really interesting piece of story in the Bible because it's a story that doesn't really fit in with how we think that stories in the Old Testament should go. God seems to get beaten in the first bit. But really it's Israel getting beaten and God is just biding his time so he can show the Israelites and the Philistines who is boss. It's a great bit of the Bible.

This sermon, being the last, was the wrap up, and the climax of the series. My brain was completely immersed in the passage by that stage. The sermon came two days after Australia made it through to the final 16 in the World Cup, hence the World Cup illustration.

I liked the idea of being people who are always celebrating the victory of Jesus. It was a challenge though to get excited about our salvation, because when you hold what Jesus won at Calvary against what we normally celebrate, it pales in comparison.

The second point about the bigness and terrible nature of God was really good to be reminded of. It's exciting remembering who God is, remembering he isn't just some nice old guy in the sky but he's a God who could very easily kill us. That just to be in God's presence should kill us. We have forgotten to fear God because we've spent so much time talking about how nice God is.

The illustration about the guns was fun. People at church were rather shocked that I love guns as much as I do. Especially since I'm almost a pacifist. But they're real fun. I do however want to say I wish they'd never been invented.

I think if people listened to this sermon and it was the only thing they'd ever heard of me, they would probably get quite a distorted picture of me, seeing as my two illustrations are about sport and guns. Two things I rarely talk about even if they do excite me sometimes.

I love the quote from Annie Dillard. I think I should read her. I've never actually read her so I feel like a bit of a fraud quoting from her but not ever having read her. I'm like someone who wears a Ramones t-shirt but never having listened to them.

In the end I was pretty happy with this sermon. I love talking about Jesus and I love talking about God. I hope I get to keep doing it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Luke 9:57-62 - Following the Uncomfortable Kingdom Builder


Passage: Luke 9:57-62
Originally Preached: 14/05/06 - 6:30pm Service - St Stephen's Anglican, Belrose
Series: The Cost of Discipleship

Description: Following Jesus is uncomfortable, urgent and unending.

Comment: When I first heard I was preaching this passage I was a little nervous. I read it and saw that Jesus is making big requirements of his followers. So I was bit worried that if I started work on this sermon and realised the depth of what Jesus asks of us I would be having to make big changes to my life. I wanted to remain in the bliss of comfortable ignorance.

While doing this sermon did challenge me, I haven't gotten myself homeless. What it did do was start a mild crisis of asking why I'm not homeless, and am I willing to be homeless for the sake of Christ. It has challenged me to have less and live with less. I haven't sold everything for the sake of Christ but I have resisted buying myself an iPod, which is quite and a achievement. It'll be even better if I still don't own an iPod next week. But we'll see. Let's let next week worry about itself.

Of course the point of the sermon is not to have less. It was only a side note. I guess I just want to make sure I'm not attached to my things. I want to have a life that I can leave behind if Christ calls me too. And I figure the less "stuff" I have the easier it is to let go off.

The sermon did challenge me to be more willing suffer for the sake of Christ. To be more willing to hold fast, to not enjoy myself. I guess it's ok to not enjoy following Christ and still be entirely satisfied. I do enjoy myself and am quite satisfied. But my faith doesn't rest on my enjoyment of its consequences. Even if I have to live a live deprived of some of my most basic needs for the sake for Christ, I can still hold on, because following Jesus means being willing to follow him all the way to the cross.

While I was writing the sermon I got a call from my family saying that our dog, the pet I had grown up with for the past 15 years was about to die and would I like to go see her one last time. My first thought was to say "No". The first thought was to "Let the dead bury their own dead, I must preach the Kingdom of God." It was significant that when I'm writing about that passage I get called away to say goodbye, as death is coming (the death of a dog not a father, but I think the point still stands.) In the end though, I went. Because it seemed to me that not going to write my sermon was not about serving Christ, it was about serving my desired deadline. Being with my dog and family, was more important to me than getting an earlier night. Whether I went and saw the dog or not would have not bearing on whether I preached the following night or not.

In the end none of that made it into the sermon, but it did clarify a bit for me that the work of the kingdom doesn't mean missing funerals, it means going to funerals with Kingdom priorities. Feel free to disagree with me on that one.

The opening illustration was probably one of my poorer opening illustrations. Not so much in its writing but in its execution. I feel like I was a little too subtle, too many people didn't really get it. Subtlety is good, especially in art. But in preaching, when you're preaching the opposite of what you believe and people don't get that, then you're in trouble. We preachers have a responsibility to preach the Word clearly and if I get up and spout a bunch of heresy, I want to make sure people know I don't mean it. What I could have done with the opening illustration is explicitly explain it during the sermon, but that treats the hearers as idiots. Things work better if you're clear enough that people get it without having to tell people what you're actually saying. That way you make your point and they feel smart for figuring it out.

That said I didn't have any issues with people not understanding me, I just feel like I could have been clearer. If any of you are wondering, I don't think you need to have a big car and nice house to make Jesus look good.

So that's the sermon. Next up is the three week series on 1 Samuel. Cool, I'm looking forward to that.