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Aug 21 17

Why Some People Equate “Expository” With “Irrelevant”, And What To Do About It…

by Joe Pursch

I’ve been thinking lately about changing out the phrase “expository preaching” for a different one when I describe my ministry to people.

No, not really … but I do get tempted at times. Here’s why.

The problem isn’t that I’m not a practitioner of the expository method in my teaching because I very much am. The challenge is that there are a lot of well-meaning communicators out there who are aiming to be expositors but delivering messages that stay trapped in the mechanics of the Bible text. They deliver great scholarship but then can never find their way out to a point of meaningful application in the lives of their New Millennium Listeners. As a result, a lot of folks that have listened to that kind of preaching (or in the words of some, endured that kind of preaching!) end up walking away with the permanent impression that if it’s expository, it’s boring. What a tragedy!

I think expository preaching only seems irrelevant when we deliver the scholarship, but then never do the equally hard work of building a bridge of application from the Biblical passage into modern life. It’s sort of like choosing all the best cuts of wood from a lumberyard and laying them in a pile, but then failing to line them up, brace them firmly, and nail them as planks into a bridge across the river. The river, in this illustration, is the river of time between the Biblical Writing and the present experience of our listeners. It takes a lot of creative effort to build this bridge, but it’s part of the preacher’s task.

In my early days as a pastor, I spent most of my preparation time on the scholarship dimension of my preaching. Today, however, I spend nearly equal amounts of time in the exegetical portion of my work (discerning the meaning of the text) and the homiletical portion of my work (delivering that meaning in an outline that makes sense, with illustrations that stir the heart and focus the mind). It’s demanding and creative work, but feeding the flock well demands nothing less. It’s also a weekly reminder to me that preaching is as much an art as it is a science. And that’s what we need to remember.

I caught an interesting article today by an older pastor on the challenge of delivering expository preaching with an eye toward compelling application. You can check out Dr. Iain Murray’s article by clicking here.

Aug 19 17

Event Horizon Part One

by Joe Pursch

Aug 19 17

The Best Legacy to Leave

by Joe Pursch

 

 

The best legacy to leave is not written or spoken or counted (a balance sheet) or built (an organization or a ministry or business or building). Instead, it is lived. The best legacy to leave is a godly life. A real and growing reflection of Christ in your life that others can see and draw from… and will remember. I’ve known more than a few people who did great things but did not live great lives. Godly lives. People who wrote, or built, or taught or led or even preached… but who did not win the battles of personal holiness, either in gathered areas of their lives or in disastrous moments of sudden temptation. I don’t want to be one of those people.

I’ve known others, by contrast, who left no remarkable body of work or set of accomplishments but who did live godly, obedient, spiritual lives and are fondly remembered for that. When I have sat in quiet living rooms with their surviving children as a pastor, planning funeral songs and memorial remarks, it is the character and the sacrifice of these people that is most remembered by their children… not how long they were on the job, how big the company grew or what was left in the bank accounts.I would desire to finish like those people have.

In fact, living a life dedicated to personal achievement and satisfaction really represents very little moral achievement. It is, in the end, really nothing more than something just sensibly selfish. And if you stain that legacy with the failure of an ungodly life, that mark lives on, at least in the eyes of people with integrity. I wouldn’t want that at all. Jesus told His Father toward the end of His earthly life that He had glorified Him and thus accomplished the work that He had been given to do (John 17:4). That work was the living of a perfectly obedient and godly life that He could take to the cross, to serve as a perfect sacrifice for the eternal rescue of others. His was a life filled with sorrows, wreathed in poverty and ended in suffering… branded in the eyes of almost all who knew Him as a life and a legacy of failure. But John 17:5 tells us that Christ’s earthly legacy was celebrated in the one place where it would be valued: heaven’s throne room. May ours be commended there too.

Mar 13 17

The Prayers of the Passion Part Six

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church February 5, 2017 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.

Mar 13 17

The Prayers of the Passion Part Four

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church January 8, 2017 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.

May 13 16

Missed Opportunity

by Joe Pursch

steps in sand

“It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea.In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them.” Deuteronomy 1:2-3

It’s both ominous and illuminating that Moses began his final words to the gathered tribes of Israel on the edge of Canaan with a geography lesson. As he spoke to the new generation of Israelites who had literally watched all their parents age and then die in the forty year wilderness wanderings as a punishment from God for their unbelief, Moses reminded them of how little it had taken to get to the edge of the Promised Land but how much their parents lost when they didn’t take it. Eleven days, Moses said, was all it took to travel the distance from Horeb to Kadesh. From offer to opportunity, from promise to prosperity was just an eleven day trip. That was it. But there Moses stood, reminding them of this in the fortieth year since their parents had received the promise and reneged on entering into it. The inference of the text is that the entire generation of unbelieving Israel spent forty years wandering the same real estate it took only eleven days to cover in any other “ordinary” time. And of course they all died on the journey.

What a contrast between life lived in obedience to God and life lived under the chastisement of God. The days lived under the discipline of God are long and confusing and repetitive and fruitless and directionless and, finally, futile. And they end only when the purpose of His discipline is finally achieved and the condition that brought it all on is eliminated. In their case, the “what” that needed to be eliminated was actually a “who”… an entire generation of people characterized by one attitude, nationwide: unbelief.

An Ominous Word

An ominous warning it was, to maybe the first nation on earth ever made up entirely of adult orphans, made parentless by God because of the worthless nature of their parent’s spiritual hearts. Moses may have recited the geography as an illuminating statistic that powerfully illustrated the needless frustration and loss that happens when a people decide wholesale not to believe God. The losses could literally be measured in the sands of time and in the wind blown footprints of their long gone mothers and fathers. Sin is serious. Unbelief in the face of clear proofs of God’s faithfulness has consequences.

Generation Next?

Illuminating it was, but it really formed an ominous warning too. It was an implied warning to this next generation not to make the same mistake as they themselves now stood on the edge of the land. The consequences could have been repeated, I suppose, if they too had stood in unbelief just like their parents had done. God could have slain yet another generation in the wilderness and offered the land again forty more years later to the then grandchildren of the original generation. After all, time and history are nothing to Him.Forty more years and another few million Israelites would have been little for Him to wait through.But this generation did heed the warning, and hoisted their banners into battle. True, they faltered in faith as they went, and didn’t take the full land even though they could have as their courage failed over time and their corrupt hearts settled into compromise and corruption with a remnant of the nations they should have finished casting out. More payback for that would be forthcoming. But, in whole terms, the chastening of God upon their parents in the wilderness worked, and a wiser generation believed and progressed.

I reflect from their experience on how many journeys in my own life have been prolonged due to my unbelief. I will probably never know how many things in my spiritual life were actually harder in the long run than they needed to be because of my own quavering fear before the giants in my life. But I don’t want to multiply this lesson if I don’t have to. I’m trying to make my learning curves steeper but shorter. Wilderness wanderings too often carry a sting in the journey.

Aug 9 15

Rediscovering God: The All Powerful Lord

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church August 2, 2015 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.

Aug 9 15

The Disciple’s Way: Humble Greatness

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church July 19, 2015 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.

Jul 14 15

The Disciples Way: The Value Of The Cross

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church July 12, 2015 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.

Jul 14 15

Rediscovering God: The Ever Present Lord

by Joe Pursch

Valley Fourth Church July 5, 2015 from Valley Fourth Church on Vimeo.