Ryan Huguley on sermon length:
I’ve gone for over an hour before and the only people more tired than I was after the fact were the people I’d punished by preaching so long. After 200+ sermons over the last four years, 37-40 minutes is my sweet spot. Less than that and I feel rushed, more than that and I did not prepare well enough.
I haven’t preached enough to know my sweet spot quite yet, but I do know my sermons need to be consistently shorter.
As I was doing some Advent reading this morning, I came across the following in a piece contributed by John Piper:
The Spirit is shy; he is self-effacing. When we look toward him, he steps back and pushes forward Jesus Christ.
Therefore, in seeking to be filled and empowered by the Spirit we must pursue him indirectly—we must look to the wonder of Christ. If we look away from Jesus and seek the Spirit and his power directly, we will end up in the mire of our own subjective emotions. The Spirit does not reveal himself. The Spirit reveals Christ. The fullness of the Spirit is the fullness that he gives as we gaze on Christ. The power of the Spirit is the power we feel in the presence of Christ. The joy of the Spirit is the joy we feel from the promises of Christ. Many of us know what it is to crouch on the floor and cry out to the Holy Spirit for joy and power, and experience nothing; but the next day devote ourselves to earnest meditation on the glory of Jesus Christ and be filled with the Spirit.
What an incredible picture of Christ-exalting humility we have in the Trinity!
For further reading on this topic I highly recommend Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce Ware. It’s an approachable and highly practical work on the doctrine of the Trinity.
Crossway’s ESV Study Bible+ universal iOS app is available today for only $1.99.
A new project by Shawn Blanc:
The Sweet Setup exists because I wanted a site that highlights the software that has proven to be the best, not necessarily the newest.
Here we will be recommending only the apps which are proven to be the best rather than new.
There is never a lack of new apps and shiny objects for my Apple devices. Websites and blogs that write about these new apps are a dime a dozen as well. I really like the idea of a site dedicated to identifying the best. That’s really what I’m interested in—the best, not the newest.
I definitely plan to follow The Sweet Setup. If you use a Mac, iPad or iPhone, you might consider doing the same.
Mark Dever in a recent Gospel-Centered Discipleship post on 5 Things Mistaken for Evangelism:
By far the greatest danger in apologetics is being distracted from the main message. Evangelism is not defending the virgin birth or defending the historicity of the resurrection. Apologetics is defending the faith, answering the questions others have about Christianity. It is responding to the agenda that others set. Evangelism, however, is following Christ’s agenda, the news about him. Evangelism is the positive act of telling the good news about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through him.
Apologetics is a good thing, but it isn’t the power of God:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16 ESV)
My list of bookmarklets is always growing. I have bookmarklets to save to Instapaper for later reading, send articles to my Kindle, create tasks in Omnifocus, save links to Pinboard, and shorten links using Bitly. The list goes on and on.
The problem with bookmarklets is that, the more you use, the more difficult it is to keep them all straight and easily accessible. You can only fit so many onto your browser’s bookmark toolbar and clicking them with the mouse can be clumsy and inconvenient.
Keyboard shortcuts are the way to go.
In the past, I’ve written about how I use keyboard application shortcuts for my most-used bookmarklets. Today, Patrick Welker introduced me to yet another solution: Backtick.
Backtick works much like one of my favorite and most-used apps, Alfred. Spotlight works similarly as well. Simply press the backtick on your keyboard ( ` ) and start typing the name of the bookmarklet you’re looking for. It’s that easy.
Backtick is available for Chrome only and comes with a predefined list of commands .
Try it out for free. If you like it, consider supporting the developer by purchasing a license for $5.
Brett Kelly, Evernote genius and author of Evernote Essentials, wrote about 5 Apps That Make Evernote Even Better yesterday. You should definitely check out this list if you’re an Evernote user.
Drafts is the only app on the list that I currently use. I was most interested in Powerbot, however. Brett highlighted Powerbot for Gmail specifically, but their service also integrates with Google Calendar—a combo that could prove to be extremely useful for organizing and maintaining meeting notes and support materials. I’m planning to give it a test drive over the next couple of weeks and follow up here with my conclusions.
Join me in praying for this potential future home for Coram Deo, our sister church in Omaha.
Yesterday my wife sent me a link to an NPR Planet Money blog post which highlights the most and least lucrative college majors.
She sent me the post because the major I began college with, Chemical Engineering, and the major I ended with, Religious Studies, are both represented in NPR’s graphs.
You’ll notice I moved from one extreme to the other in a decidedly southward direction.
We had a good laugh about it—she obviously didn’t marry me for my money or earning potential.
OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review | Ars Technica
Apple made OS X Mavericks available today as a free upgrade. Read John Siracusa’s comprehensive review.
Mac Power Users 160: Getting Ready for Mavericks
While we’re talking about Mavericks, consider giving this episode of Mac Power Users a listen before you pull the trigger on the upgrade.
7 Arrows for Bible Reading | Trevin Wax
A helpful tool for understanding the Bible and knowing how to apply it to your life.
10 Productivity Experiments for Pastors | Pastoralized
Lots of great suggestions here. Not just for pastors.
The Art and Science of the Humblebrag | Tim Challies
“Have you managed to get thousands of people to follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook? Do you need to keep reminding them why you are worthy of their attention? Let me offer you some ways you can grow in the art and science of the humblebrag.”
Your Pastor Needs YOU!
David Kraft suggests six ways you can support your church’s pastors and leaders.
John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference stirred up quite a bit of debate and controversy over the weekend. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a quick Twitter search should do the trick. I’m sure the #strangefire hashtag is still going relatively strong.
Now, the downside to the internet is that much of this debate and controversy is public. On the other hand, the upside to the internet is that much of this debate and controversy is public.
So, for my own reading and study purposes, I’ve put together a collection of links to all things Strange Fire. If you’re interested in following the discussion or doing some personal study and exploring the topic on your own, then check out the list. You’ll find material from both the cessationist and continuationist standpoints. This is a running list and I will continue to add to it until I get bored or all the bloggers move on.
Finally, before you dive in, hear Thabiti Anyabwile’s wise counsel:
So, whether you’ve watched the live feeds or not, whether you’ve read multiple volumes on the debate or not, I hope you care about these things. I hope you’re following with careful concern to know the truth rather than to vindicate your party. I hope you’re listening with rapt attention because you’re eager to hear God’s voice more clearly and to walk with your Savior more closely. Even the thoughts of folks who get some things wrong can help us to do that if we’re discerning and humble beneath God’s word.
Wow, the folks at Nest have done it again:
Safety shouldn’t be annoying.
We all know why smoke alarms are torn off the ceiling or missing batteries: because every time you make stir-fry, the smoke alarm cries wolf. Or just as you’re falling asleep, you hear a low-battery chirp. They’ve become annoying. And that’s a safety issue.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost two-thirds of US home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarm or no working smoke alarm.
So we made something new. Meet the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm.
Nest Protect in a sentence:
We made a smoke and CO alarm you’ll love, because hating it is dangerous.
Until seeing this, I never imaged someone would utter the words, “I love my smoke alarm.”
It’ll cost you though. They aren’t giving these things away.
How Should a Suit Fit? Your Easy-to-Follow Visual Guide
If you’re going to suite up, then make sure it fits correctly.
Marked 2 Launched
If you write using Markdown, then you should consider picking up Brett Terpstra’s Marked 2. This latest release includes a number of improvements upon his original Marked app, including Scrivener support.
A Conflict of Christian Visions: Gen. 1-2 vs. Gen. 3 Christianity
Anthony Bradley challenges Christians to think about the nature of the gospel and our role in stewarding God’s desire for creation. Dr. Bradley:
In the end, the Gen 1 and 2 framework sees the missionary mandate and the commission to create and steward cultures that glorify God as a “both/and” while the Gen 3 framework tends to see the missionary disciple-making mandate exclusively as the Christian’s main concern. For Gen 3ers, the cultural emphasis is merely an implication or application of the gospel as opposed to the restoration of creation as something to which the gospel directly points.
Introducing Evernote for Salesforce
I’m really excited about this partnership.
A Beginner’s Guide to Pinboard
Shawn Blanc offers some great tips for using Pinboard, which has been my preferred bookmarking service for some time now. The title of the post says “Beginners Guide,” but there’s some good stuff here for more advanced users as well.
Jonathan Dodson, lead pastor of City Life Church in Austin, TX, recently sat down with John Chandler as a guest on the SermonSmith podcast to discuss his weekly sermon prep rhythms.