2012 Blog Review – Part 2

Podium Medals2On Friday I reviewed the year from several angles.  But there is one left to consider.  Since this was a year of weekly series, what were some of the highlights?  Which series stirred the most responses?  Which series stirred interest with the fewest post, and which went on the longest?  Here’s a quick look back:

They got into the final – Four series stirred enough interest (comments and likes, as well as in-person conversations) to warrant a mention here:

Beyond Guilt – is there a better way to motivate listeners to change than guilt?  Absolutely.  Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Why Do We Preach – the year ending reflection on our own motivation in ministry.  Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, summary.

Truth Through Personality – reflections on implications of Philips Brooks oft-quoted definition of preaching.  Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6.

Overqualified! – how easy to over qualify important issues in our preaching and thereby undermine them.  Grace, Trinity, Go, Means, Heart & Head.

Agonizingly close to a podium finish – Just keeping up the Olympic theme since this has been such a great year for British sport!  These three almost sneaked into the top three:

Faint Not – the discouraged preacher is a title many of us carry regularly.  Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.

Biggest Big Ideas – this was my favourite series of the year to write.  The biggest big ideas weaving through the canon. God, Creation, Sin, Grace, Faith, Redemption, Community, Spreading Goodness, Hope, Christ.

Interactive Bible Observation Preaching – this was the shortest series to make the review, with just two posts.  Post 1, post 2.

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The medal places – So here are the top three series of 2012:

Bronze – Preaching New Covenant . . . a core issue for truly Christian preaching.  Introduction, Sin, Heart, Trinity.

Silver – Technology, Bible Software and Preaching, the new reality for many of us.  Online research, Social Networks+, Disconnected, Bible Software,  Downside, Ajith Fernando’s Comment.

Gold – Preaching Story (also the longest, at 18 posts!): Theology, People, Plots, Power, Function, Adults, Reading, Telling, Mistakes, part 2, Thesaurus, Bible, OT, Gospels, Acts, Storying, Super-Genre, Artistry/Accuracy.

It has been a good year to ponder preaching together.  Thank you for visiting the site, for commenting and most of all, for faithfully serving a God worth proclaiming!

 

Preaching, New Covenant and Sin

Sometimes we need to be contradicted.  For instance, we assume that if we are going to take the issue of sin seriously, then we need to give some significant attention to it.  Perhaps by implementing some self-controlled, self-disciplined approach to sin control in our lives.

On the contrary.

Hang on, am I suggesting that we shouldn’t take sin seriously?  Am I suggesting that we should go and sin freely?  Of course not!  Why do some people automatically assume that a turn from focusing on virtue is to turn in pursuit of vice?  The opposite of moral effort may not be immoral action.

I would suggest that the New Covenant takes sin more seriously than we do or think we do.  God takes sin seriously, which is why He promised the New Covenant.  Jesus Christ takes sin seriously, which is why He inaugurated the New Covenant with his own blood.  The writers of the New Testament took sin seriously, which is why they pushed the New Covenant so strongly.

And we need to take sin more seriously.  We need to stop thinking it is something we can handle by our own effort, our own discipline, our own practices.  This is true for the not-yet-saved, and it is true for the believer.  The foundation of the New Covenant is sin forgiven.

Sometimes it is hard to realize just how much we don’t grasp something we think we’ve known for so long.  Take grace, for instance.  At the core of God’s dealings with us is this issue of grace – His character, His glory, His self-giving.  Yet we turn grace into a commodity and preach grace-plus, or grace-but, or grace-however.  We don’t need to preach some sort of grace-balanced message.  We need to present to people, believers or not, the wonderful glorious extravagant imbalanced grace of a God who gives himself to deal with our sin.

If our listeners think that grace means license to sin, then we haven’t preached grace clearly enough.  Maybe we’ve offered a halfway house kind of grace, a grace that addresses guilt but doesn’t capture the heart.  A grace-as-thing that pays for guilt, but not a grace-as-person that captivates our hearts.

The solution to a license type of response is not to balance grace with guilt, pressure, codes and laws.  The solution is to do a better job of preaching grace.

At the foundation of the New Covenant is this wonderful truth that God has promised to remember sins no more, and that truth is presented like a vivid 3-d billboard to our hearts in the death of His Son on the cross.  It is there, in shocking shame and agony that we see God’s glorious grace made manifest to us.

Tomorrow let’s push this deeper and recognize the heart of the New Covenant.