FRIDAY FAST-FORWARD (early delivery)

Before a well-deserved summer gap, here are some inspiring, challenging and uplifting links that I have come across lately:

10 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE YOUR PASTOR’S SERMON BETTER – although the title is slightly misleading, I could not agree more with these points. This is very helpful for audience and speaker alike.

HAUNTING YET REAL – Boston Globe’s photographical reminder of the tragedy in Norway. Images often speak louder than words.

WHY THE NORVEGIAN KILLER IS NOT A CHRISTIAN – This is a pretty snappy and clear article by author and theology professor, Michael Horton explaining why that certain man is not a Christ-follower.

POCELAIN UNICORN – this is a beautiful clip of a short story that uses only 6 sentences. Visual creativity at its very best…

FOR POLITICAL BUFFS ONLY – Rory Stewart is a very bright and compelling politician with an already experience. Well worth listening to.


Just a few things that were part of my message last Sunday morning that did not get ‘aired’:

It is amazing how much someone would treasure their citizenship. If only we would do the same regarding our citizenship in heaven. In his 2010 memoir, A Journey: My Political Life, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair shares the following story: A friend of mine whose parents were immigrants, Jews from Europe who came to America in search of safety, told me this story. His parents lived and worked in New York. They were not well off. His father died when he was young. His mother lived on, and in time my friend succeeded and became wealthy. He often used to offer his mother the chance to travel outside America. She never did. When eventually she died, they went back to recover the safety box where she kept her jewelry. They found there another box. There was no key. So they had to drill it open. They wondered what precious jewel must be in it. They lifted the lid. There was wrapping and more wrapping and finally an envelope. Intrigued, they opened it. In the envelope were her U.S. citizenship papers. Nothing more. That was the jewel, more precious to her than any other possession. That was what she treasured most.

Prepare your heart for your departure.
If you are wise, you will expect it every hour.’

Saint Isaac the Syrian

In order to treasure and appreciate heaven – you must be aware of  the counterfeit sources of satisfactions. Tim Keller used the following example to show how to find ultimate joy and satisfaction in Christ:

Do you remember when your mother used to say, “Don’t eat candy before meals?” Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal. The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don’t feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks your hunger for the real nutrients that you don’t have. Things like sex, power, money, and success—as well as favourable circumstances—act like spiritual sugar. Christians who have these spiritual candies may say, “Sure, I believe in God and I know I’m going to heaven,” but they’re actually basing their day-to-day joy on favourable circumstances. When the circumstances change, it drives us to God, because when the sugar disappears, when the candy gets taken away, we’re forced to pursue the feast that our souls really crave. We’ll hunger for the spiritual nutrients we really need.


SOMALIA’S FAMINE – a closer look at the developing humanitarian tragedy via Channel 4’s provocative Jon Snow:

MARRIAGE, LOVE, COMMITMENT – Three men with a combined 116 years of marriage reflect on what they’ve learned from God’s Word and others along with their experience:

GOOGLE MEMORY – why the internet can be your memory’s greatest enemy – don’t miss the irony of reading this….on the internet:

5 RULES FOR REMEMBERING NAMES – since I was mentioning memory, here is something most people might find helpful:

MAKING YOUR OWN FRAPPUCINO STYLE DRINK – if you enjoy this popular summer drink, here is a cheaper way to do it:

PREACHING 101 – Passage

In principle I would recommend preaching expositionally rather than thematically. You chose a passage and expound what it conveys rather than starting with your own theme and finding support for it through different verses. Using the later can easily give a platform for soap-boxes and even false teaching.If you are a beginner – start with passages you love, understand are are pretty familiar with rather than attempting to tackle Revelation or Ezekiel.
Read that passage 5-10 times until you are as familiar as you can be. After that read it again underlining what ‘jumps’ at you.

Then ask these questions:

  • INFORMATION – what does the passage say?
  • REVELATION – what does that mean?
  • APPLICATION – what does it mean for me/us?

You can use aids like commentaries (they will explain issues that are more complicated or technical), concordances and an atlas – but only after you have done the homework above. They are added extras rather than ‘copy and paste’ materials.

If you see the sermon as a sandwich (not sure what Spurgeon or Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones would make of that) – the content will be in the middle, The start is the context and the end is the conclusion. The context is absolutely essential. It will always ensure that you understand what is happening around your text (before and after). The context will beg questions like: ‘who, when, where, why, what, to whom’.

The conclusion must be both practical and memorable. It would be great if you can make it as applicable to mundane issues as possible. If you can create a good catch-phrase or memorable illustration – that would be  a bonus.

Enough for now. Next I will be writing about prayer.


Just a few things that were part of my message last night that did not get ‘aired’:

‘Jesus has many who love his kingdom in heaven, but few who bear his cross. He has many who desire comfort, but few who desire suffering. He finds many to share his feast, but few his fasting. All desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to suffer for his sake. Many follow Jesus to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of his passion. Many admire his miracles, but few follow him in the humiliation of the cross.’    THOMAS A KEMPIS

The Two Towers: Prior to their departure, the king’s niece, Princess Eowyn, is practicing her swordplay when our hero and future king of Rohan and Gondor, Aragorn, sneaks up to her from behind. Our Valkyrie-like princess (who secretly is in love with Aragorn) is not amused as her sword strikes his with force. At this juncture the following dialogue takes place: Aragorn: You have some skill with a blade. Eowyn: The women of this country learned long ago, those without swords can still die upon them. I fear neither death nor pain. Aragorn: What do you fear, my lady? Eowyn: A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire. Aragorn: You are a daughter of kings, a shield maiden of Rohan. I do not think that will be your fate.

And an extended interview from Ebony with former NBA player AC Green –


Sorry for the delay – but here we go:

10 Simple Things Good Pastors Say
This was best ministry-related link that I have come across this week. It is simple yet very challenging. If I am your pastor – pray for me. If you have a pastor(s) – pray for them. If you are a pastor – be inspired and prayerful about these issues.

Chandler, Horton, Keller on How to Disagree

Helpful, gracious and wise insights on a subject that is very important –  from 3 leaders that I respect greatly:

He invites suicide jumpers for a cup of tea
I was speaking on suffering last Sunday and I was going to use this moving story. (Mind you, I might use it tomorrow on my message on influence). May it fuel our passion to make a difference in a hurting and broken world.

Coffee Shop Etiquette

In a world where many of you use the coffee shop as a third place or even work-place, some worthy considerations:

3D Printer

I am not sure whether I am more impressed or freaked-out by this. Far too ‘SF becomes reality’ for my liking. (I want a real light sabre now).

PREACHING 101 – Preliminaries

101 is the introductory class in the US educational system for a subject and that sounds much better than ‘for beginners’, I think. One of my friends – who was asked to preach – has recently asked me to give him some ‘tips of the trade’ regarding preaching. Here are some of my thoughts.

I will split the post in two parts: Preliminaries and Practicalities. In Preliminaries I will deal with foundational issues and Practicalities – well the hint is in the title.

1.    Preaching is about Him – some people have a desire to preach and can’t wait to tell others about what they have burning inside their minds and hearts. Others are not as eager, and rather nervous about it. The first and most important lesson for the preacher is that you are a herald that proclaims God’s message. You are His spokesperson. That is both incredibly honouring and terrifyingly humbling. It assumes a relationship with Him. That means that you have to know Him (intimacy is essential) and understand and love His words. Common Mistake: some would rather communicate their ideas/programmes/visions.

‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of Godmay be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’   2 Timothy 3:16-17

2.    Preaching is by Him – this is a supernatural act, almost mystical. It isn’t just about a speech, a funny talk or a moving story. This is message that is from God and by God (through the Holy Spirit) for those who need to hear it. So in one sense – a human ability – isn’t necessarily a pre-requisite for preaching. Moses had a speech impediment and ended-up leading a nation – albeit Aaron coming in handy at times. Unless the Holy Spirit comes and enables the messenger and anoints the message – it can lead to just words, sentences and noise. Common Mistake: assuming that a teacher in the educational system must necessarily be good as a preacher in the Church; assuming that just because you are a funny, compelling communicator – the Word of God will be received and heard.

‘What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.’  1 Corinthians 2:12-13

3.    Preaching is for Him – your ultimate motivation is that God will be pleased and glorified and that His message will be delivered. Often preachers’ motivations can get mixed up. Preaching can easily become their source of self-confidence and affirmation or a means to impress and be loved by people. If one makes that mistake of forgetting the authentic motivation of serving (and that’s true for any area of ministry) for the audience of One – disappointments may ensue. Whether people respond, whether you feel great after delivering the message – those are simply unessential secondary blessings that God will give if and when you need them. If you chose to preach assuming that the only one you need to please is Him – you will build on healthy foundation that will save you much pain in this ministry. The common mistakes are obvious: preaching as a ‘people-pleaser’ or preaching as an ‘affirmation fix’.

‘Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.’   2 Corinthians 2:17

More on Practicalities soon.


YOU FLAT OUT WON’T MAKE IT WITHOU THESE TWO – Dave Kraft (check his book on leadership) suggests two essential characters for your leadership development:

TAMING THE BEAST – Some observations regarding the use of media in church. I’m sure Graham might have something to say about it:

FAILING ELEGANTLY – Interesting thoughts from the renowned Japanese entrepreneur Joichi Ito on risk, ventures and dealing with failure:

BEAUTY IN ASHES – Very inspiring photography by Elissa Bogos in Kabul:

TOTALLY LIKE WHATEVER YOU KNOW – I have no idea about this guys but that made me smile:

MIND THE GAP – Practicing

The chronology that I have used is essential I think. If we do not pray we often act in human impulses, motivated by human emotions and empowered by human resources. And me and you know what the outcome is likely to be…

We need a God inspired, grace driven and Spirit empowered action. Planning well – through asking right questions and seeking good opportunities can be a great help.

Start with yourself. Not with others or even the Church. Be the change you want to see in others regarding practicing what you believe. Otherwise you run the risk of waiting for a long time and becoming frustrated and cynicism-ridden.

Avoid programs and chose a lifestyle. Programs often can become hit and runs that after a while lose their novelty. A lifelong daily commitment to practice that is woven in your mundane existence will serve you better.

So how do you practice? Here awesome hints:

Passion – you know what drives you. How can God use that for His glory to serve others?

Talents – what are you gifted with? Arty? IT? DIY? Listener? How can God use it to bless others through it?

Time – learn to divide your week? Fit the essentials: work, family, fellowship, rest, errands. What is free? How are you going to use it for God and others?

Money – have a look at what God has entrusted you to steward. Set aside each month something every month extra for a ministry fund, live observantly and act generously with it (thanks to my friend Jim for the idea and example).


Today’s ‘Friday Fast-forward’ is dedicated to a visual/audio media focus. I hope that you will enjoy it. On reflection it will probably be a rollercoaster journey from beauty to raw misery and back again.

THE COFFEE CHAIR: This is a brilliant lesson on how to use a projector in a very creative way. It’s simple, surprising and very efficient.

THE POWER OF THE WAVES: A clip with ‘Ten time World Champion Surfer’ Kelly Slater. The interview is interesting enough but the HD videography is truly marvellous.

A thoughtful and poignant contrast of two (almost) identical yet so different scenarios on our planet.

DIRTY HORRIBLE JOB: This might re-focus your own reflections on how unpleasant your job might be, Consider the very desperate fate of a Dalit manual scavenger lady. A brilliant piece by the fab BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

BIRDY – SHELTER: I have listened to this so much without getting tired. Not bad for a 15 year-old. Enough said.