Morning Mashup 04/05

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love | Gloria Furman


The Pastor’s Family: Shepherding Your Family through the Challenges of Pastoral Ministry | Brian & Cara Croft


The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity | Barnabas Piper



The Reformation of FBC Durham | SBTS Equip

North Carolina pastor Andy Davis revitalized his church through verse-by-verse expository preaching.

Thank You, Big Blue Nation | The Player’s Tribune

Malik MonkI haven’t found out yet who the best possible version of myself is — and to be honest, as far as that goes, I think I’m still just scratching the surface. But I’ve found out what the best possible version of myself does: He plays in the NBA.

Does Dating Prepare Us For Marriage–Or Divorce? | Desiring God

Marshall SegalThe common trends in dating today are more likely to prepare you to get divorced than to enjoy and persevere in marriage.

Augustine Today: Why He’s Still Relevant | Christianity Today

Ed StetzerIn this edition of Theology for Life, Ed, Lynn, and Greg Lee discuss why St. Augustine is important to theology today, especially as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

For the Christian Perfectionist | Reformed Margins

Faith ChangWe may be struggling, weak, ashamed, and afraid. But our Father’s love can free us from our perfectionism that we may obey him freely and joyfully in his perfect peace.

Parents, Be Quick to Listen | Forward Progress

Michael Kelley: Today, parents, you and I will all come upon a situation with our kids that needs to be dealt with in some way. Here is where we bring God’s Word to bear – that we fight the pride of assumption and approach that situation with open ears instead.




Morning Mashup 09/29

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Prophet, Priest, and King: The Roles of Christ in the Bible and Our Roles Today | Robert Belcher | $14.62


Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family | Paul Tripp | $16.30



9 Debatable Thoughts About Contemporary Evangelism | Chuck Lawless

Anyone interested in reaching people for Jesus has to face the reality that culture is changing dramatically – and we have to respond by considering our methods and approaches to evangelism. I understand that reality, but some of the current thoughts about evangelism are worthy of debate. Let me know your thoughts about these positions…

4 Ways to Discuss the 2016 Election with Your Kids | Russell Moore

For families with children, this election year brings unique challenges, since the campaign often feels like a reality show. How do we talk to our kids about what they are seeing and hearing all around them? Here are a few things we do…

The Supreme Court and the Convoluted Case for Trump | Thomas Kidd

The question for white evangelicals, then, is whether we are willing to get behind a non-conservative candidate like Trump, who is so boorish, divisive, and uninformed, because he might appoint judges who can get confirmed and then actually turn out to be good judges? That’s a lot to ask, and a lot of “ifs.” I remain convinced that no major party has offered us a candidate worthy of evangelicals’ support in 2016.

The Price of Trying to Be God | Timothy Paul Jones

To sin is to use a gift that God wove into his creation to point to his glory in a way that the Creator never intended. That’s how God’s good gift of relaxation degenerates into vacations that end in frustration because they fall short of our self-centered expectations.

Singing Man: The Story Behind the Viral Video | Russ Ramsey

The story behind the moving video of students singing to their dying teacher. You’ll find the video in the “Videos” section below.

Crossway Statement on the ESV Bible Text | Lane Dennis

I was a little shocked by Crossway’s recent decision to release a final, unchanging edition of the ESV text. According to this new statement from CEO Lane Dennis, “We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake.”

5 Benefits of Regular Family Worship | Tom Ascol

Regular family worship is valuable and brings many blessings to parents and children alike. Here are five benefits that I have observed.

Pastors Are Not Quitting in Droves | Mark Dance

Each time a pastor prematurely exits the ministry race, I grieve. I also grieve each time I hear the awful pastor retention stats which are unsubstantiated and sometimes exaggerated.


Morning Mashup 08/25

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Shaped by the Gospel: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Center Church) | Tim Keller | $3.99


Relationships: A Mess Worth Making | Tim Lane | $2.99



Purity Culture | Samuel James

 It is often difficult for me to read a blog post that excoriates evangelical purity culture, and discern where the criticism of legalism ends and the criticism of the Bible’s teachings on sex begin. 

Remember Their Names | James Faris

You can minister to family members of public figures by following God’s pattern: remember their names. Most are pretty happy to live in the orbit of their more luminous family member; but when you work to know a person’s name and use it, it brings them even greater joy because it shows that you care about them as an individual.

You Are Not the Bride of Christ | Ryan Higginbottom

The image in Scripture is clear: God is preparing and purifying his people for a great gathering at the end of time. The victorious Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, will meet his bride, the church, and there will be a great feast of celebration. Let’s not dilute or distract from this great biblical image. You are not the bride of Christ; we are.

Writing and the Lie of Better-Than | Barnabas Piper

When we worry about which writers are better than us we have taken the infinite game of creating and lowered it to the finite world of win or lose. When we do this we lose ourselves and our unique ability to say or create anything that matters. We become derivative and soulless – precisely the opposite of what makes the most significant writing significant. Our game is not to defeat other writers but to continually grow as writers.

Pastoral Ministry Doesn’t Have to Be Sedentary | Erik Raymond

Pastors spend a lot of time in a chair. Consider a quick list of regular tasks that a pastor attends to: sermon preparation, counseling, reading, prayer, meetings, driving to meet someone, answering emails, working on projects, and a host of other (seated) things. We know that without some degree of intentionality a pastor can slouch into a sedentary lifestyle. We also know that this type of lifestyle is not healthy. In this post I want to highlight a few practices that I have found helpful in my ministry to combat this problem. If calling them “life-hacks” makes them more compelling and inviting then so be it, but I’m content to call them suggestions.


Morning Mashup 08/17


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Mere Apologetics: How to Help Seekers and Skeptics Find Faith | Alister McGrath | $2.99


On Guard for Students: A Thinker’s Guide to the Christian Faith | William Lane Craig | $1.99


Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries | Sinclair Ferguson, Joel Beeke, and Michael Haykin | $3.99



Patience Isn’t Passive | Barnabas Piper

But my understanding of “waiting” has been sorely lacking. The description above is hollow. Waiting is an experience full of careful thought and action, at least if one is doing it well. If your waiting experience is one of sitting by until something happens then you’re doing it wrong.

How Does a Pastor Deal With Awkward Silence With Visiting Folks? | Brian Croft

This is a question that came to me by a young and introverted pastor who is struggling to know how to make conversation with elderly folks when he goes to visit them.  I wish more and more young pastors knew their weaknesses and desired to grow like this young brother.  Because I think this is a growing struggle among young pastors especially, here was my response to this brother for your consideration…

What Do You Do If the Sunday Sermon Was Bad? | Scott Slayton

The Sunday sermon is important because we understand that this is how God has ordained for his word to be taught to his people. So when the Sunday sermon falls flat and is unhelpful, what should we do?

A Playboy for President | Ross Douthat

But in the year of Donald Trump, the religious conservatives who fought many of those transformations find themselves reduced to a hapless rump. The best have retreated to rebuild; the worst have abased themselves before a sybaritic, irreligious presidential nominee.

Golden Moments in Rio | Boston Globe

More than halfway through the Summer Olympic games in Rio, over 150 gold medals have been awarded. Here are some of the winners whose performances during competition earned them the top spot on the podium.

Your First Breath After Death | Marshall Segal

Think about your first breath after death. That moment has everything to do with this one (and every moment between now and then) — that first newborn inhale in heaven. Why will that gasp of air be any better than your last breath before death?


The Shock of Sin and Grace in the Life of a Leader

pexels-photo-26691It’s always difficult to see someone you really respect fall deep into sin. Even the slightest accusation of moral failure in someone you respect changes the way you look at them forever. When we see crucial authority figures in our lives fall into sin, we struggle to trust not only that person, but that position in the future. If you catch one of your parents having an affair, you will struggle to ever trust them again. And you will also have a negative view of marriage, which likely means it will affect your own marriage if unchecked. If you hear about your pastor, teacher, or coach indulging in sin, your trust in them and their position will be shaken. It is so hard to think about people you respect sinning so deeply. It’s one thing to know we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but it’s quite another to see sin creep out of the hearts of those we most respect.

I think about popular pastors who have recently been relieved of pastoral duties due to moral or leadership failures. There was a literal shockwave that ran through my social media feeds when Darrin Patrick and Perry Noble were outed for deep, latent sin in their lives and ministries. In our celebrity pastor culture, it is easy to forget that even the most charismatic leader is not immune to sin. I have lamented the number of times I’ve seen “This doesn’t surprise me” or, “I told you so” in response to the meteoric fall of evangelical leaders like Driscoll, Tchividjian, Patrick, Noble, and others. There is no place in the church for this kind of proud posturing. The shock of sin has drastic immediate and long-term effects on a church when one of her leaders falls.

I believe the life of David is a testament to the shock of sin and grace in the life of a leader. There are many lessons to be learned from David’s fall into sin, but two that help us when leaders in our lives sin revolve around the shock and awe of sin and grace.

David was a man after God’s heart and handpicked by the Lord to lead Israel as king. God even promised that David’s kingly line would culminate in a kingdom that would never end. One day, a Davidic King would sit on his throne and never give it up. David was righteous and desired to obey the Lord. But, David surprised his own people and even us by falling into a deep spiral of sin. He fell for a woman who was not his wife, and was in fact someone else’s wife! Then, in an attempt to cover his sin, David had the woman’s (Bathsheba) husband (Uriah) killed. David gave in to temptation and brought everyone around him down with him. Failing to kill his sin led him to continue in his sin. Instead of confessing his sin and trusting God to cover it with his grace, David tried to cover his sin by killing another man.

Despite David’s shocking downward spiral into dark sin, God’s shows him tremendous mercy. When David was confronted with his sin by Nathan the prophet, he confessed his sin to God and received his compassion. David shares what this experience was like in Psalm 51. There are a couple things that do surprise us about David’s sin and God’s grace that really shouldn’t.

First, we are surprised that a man like David can sin the way he did. While we should expect to grow in Christlikeness throughout our Christian life, sin remains in our hearts until we die or Christ returns. Anyone is capable of dreadful sinful actions, because the dreaded enemy of sin has invaded the heart of every person. So, don’t be surprised when you or people you respect sin. Sin should always be unwanted, but it should never been unexpected.

It is a sign of either a healthy or deceived church when the people are shocked when a pastor falls into sin. It is healthy, in one sense, to be shocked at deep sin in the life of a pastor. Christians are on a path of righteousness. They are being conformed into the image of Christ. Day by day, sin is being rooted out of their hearts. However, sanctification isn’t an overnight process. It is a lifelong process. There are many battles–some won, others lost. But, we fight knowing the war has been won by Christ on the cross as he defeated the dominions of darkness and death. While we should expect sin to still be in the heart and life of ourselves and our leaders, our hearts should be broken and in one sense shocked by unrepentant sin in the life of leaders.

Second, we are surprised that God would show David such compassion in the midst of his deep and dark sin. But, we know the character of God. He is slow to anger and abounds in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6). We should never be surprised at God’s grace, but we should always be amazed by it. Learn from David’s sin and God’s grace that covering your own sin with more sin will never satisfy. However, trusting God’s grace in the cross of Christ to cover your sin will always satisfy.

As deep as sin goes in the human heart, the grace of God in the gospel goes even deeper. Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, and any other Christian leader who has fallen into deep sin has not exhausted the riches of God’s grace in Christ. The tank of God’s benevolence toward them isn’t on empty. It is as full as it has always been. And assuming these men are in Christ, there is a fountain of mercy and forgiveness for the mountain of sin they have allowed to grow.

The fall of leaders in our lives is devastating. It is detrimental to the influence of a local church and the Church as a whole. No one is helped when a pastor bullies his way to power, commits an affair, or launders money from the church fund. We should guard our hearts from the treacherous lure of sin, knowing that none of us are beyond a Davidic descent into a pit of sin. But we should always marvel at the grace of God, which he bestows on unworthy and fallen sinners like us. As devastating as the fall of broken leaders is, the restoration of repentant leaders by God’s grace is an incomparably sweet reality. Whenever you see a leader in your life fail morally and fall into sin, don’t point your fingers and shake your head in arrogant self-aggrandizement. Instead, bow your head in humble prayer that God would restore these men to himself and their people.

God pursues us in his grace like a relentless mother searching for her lost son at the mall. He will not rest until his children are found! And for those of us in Christ, he will bring to completion the work he began in us (Phil. 1:6).

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 07/25


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? | Kevin DeYoung | $4.99


C. S. Lewis Remembered: Collected Reflections of Students, Friends and Colleagues | Harry Lee Poe | $0.99



All the Bad Things | Doctrine & Devotion

My favorite installment from my new favorite podcast. Joe Thorn and Jimmy Fowler bring the gauntlet down on a recent condemnation of alcohol from Paige Patterson. In this podcast, they discuss all the bad things–alcohol, cigars, and tattoos–from a healthy biblical perspective. The church, and the church in the South particularly, needs to learn how to deal honestly and biblically with these issues.

The Dark Knight | David Brooks

Trump has replaced biblical commitments with a gladiator ethos. Everything is oriented around conquest, success, supremacy and domination. This was the Lock Her Up convention. A law-and-order campaign doesn’t ask voters to like Trump and the Republicans any more than they liked Richard Nixon in 1968.

Voting in the Age of Clinton and Trump | Justin Taylor

It’s not my place to tell you how to vote. But I do agree with the counsel of Ted Cruz, who told the Republican National Convention (to a chorus of boos) to “vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who[m] you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution.”

How Much Should You Pay a Guest Preacher? | Art Rainer

Most of us want to show the guest preacher our appreciation through an honorarium. We desire for him to feel valued and loved but still be good stewards of the church budget. It is a tension many church administrators feel. Here are four guidelines I suggest  for navigating this tension…

God Thinks More of Your Obedience Than You Do | Mark Jones

Good people go to heaven — not self-wrought goodness, but true goodness, produced by the Spirit of God. Those who have the Spirit have the fruit of the Spirit, which includes goodness (Galatians 5:22; see Romans 8:9). If you aren’t good, you will not go to heaven (Galatians 5:21).

Pastoral Burnout | Ecclesiam

The causes and cure for burnout in the ministry.

22 Problems With Multi-Site Churches | Jonathan Leeman

Found this article from 2014 to be a helpful expression of disagreement with the multi-site model.


Saddest part of this election is the reality that Trump supporters like this exist. Since when was the United States of America long past something as simple as having two decent candidates running for the highest office in the land?


Michael Jordan vs. Shaq

Morning Mashup 06/09


A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.



Pastoral Ministry is About Souls, Not Stats | Jared Wilson

The way we are typically programmed to measure the success of our ministries sets us up for hollow victory and desperate failure. But this is not to say we should never do any measuring. It is only to say that what we measure and how we measure shows where our confidence lies.

Parents, Tell Your Kids They Are Sinners | Mike McGarry

As we talked about his sin, I reminded him of the gospel. God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross so we could be forgiven of our sin. Because we’re forgiven, we should live differently—not for his acceptance, but from his acceptance. We say no to ourselves and yes to God because he loves us and is making us more like himself. And when we look like Christ, the world sees a glimpse of the greatness of God. If I refuse to tell my kids they’re sinners, I’m forfeiting a chance to communicate gospel grace.

Is Religious Freedom for Non-Christians Too? | Russell Moore

Religious liberty is never an excuse for violence and crime, nor has religious liberty been so construed in American history. The United States government should fight, and fight hard, against radical Islamic jihadism. But the government should not penalize law-abiding people, especially those who are American citizens, simply for holding their religious convictions, however consistent or inconsistent, true or false, those convictions are.

About Those “20 Minutes of Action” | Ann Voskamp

Rape is not “20 minutes of action” — it’s a violent act with lifetime consequences and it’s time for parents to take far less than 20 minutes of action and stand up right now and say hard things to our sons right now before it’s too late.

 Why Are So Many Christians Bored With the Bible? | Marshall Segal

Unfortunately, many Christians love the idea of the Bible, but not really the Bible itself. We love having a Bible close by, even within reach, but don’t make time to open it on an average day. We talk about Bible reading like we talk about cutting calories or cleaning our house. We’re grateful for the results, but we don’t wake up dying to do it again. It sounds like a fine thing to do, until we have to choose what we won’t do in order to make time for it.


Morning Mashup 06/01


A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


God Took Me by the Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence | Jerry Bridges | $1.99

God Took Me by the Hand


10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids | Gavin Ortlund

“After my walk with Christ, nothing should take a higher priority in my life than cultivating intimacy and friendship with my wife—not even being a dad. In fact, I know I can’t be the dad God calls me to be unless my marriage is strong. Here are some strategies we’ve reflected on that might be helpful to other young parents in a similar season of life.”

4 Things I Learned About Work from a Peewee Soccer Team | Barnabas Piper

“Over the course of the season, though, I began to notice a few things that consistently occurred that turned the outcome of every game. Each of them is directly applicable to your work and mine.”

Seven Ways to Improve Your Preaching | Kevin DeYoung

“Below are seven practical ways we can improve our preaching. And please note: I deliberately use the words “we” and “our,” because I’m thinking of my sermons as much as anyone’s. These suggestions are things I continue to work on as a preacher, sometimes with success and often with less progress than I would like.”

The Unbusy Pastor | Eugene Peterson

“The word busy is a symptom not of commitment but of betrayal.”

What If Your Kids’ Sports Teams Interfere With the Church Schedule? | Interview with David Prince

Russell Moore: “In this episode of Signposts I talk with my friend, pastor David Prince, about what Christian families can do to maintain healthy priorities when it comes to church and sports.”

What Does it Mean to Take the Lord’s Name in Vain? | Iain Campbell

“By naming Himself, God not only discloses who He is, but He does so in such a way that we might know Him personally. To live by the terms of the third commandment is to recognize and confess that God deserves the highest honor; that He has singled us out by putting His name on us; that we would be entirely lost were it not that for the sake of His name He keeps and protects us; and that He calls us to live after the example of Jesus, glorifying God on earth. We are the bearers of the name of God; may all our conduct show it.”

Know When to Walk Away | Tony Reinke

“How do we push back against the urge to tap the social media icon on our phones and jump into the slot machine of digital randomness, all served up fresh and sugary, moment by moment, to the eyes? Here are twelve steps.”


Dads Should Be Exhausted | Matt Chandler (HT: Communicate Jesus)

Review: The New Pastor’s Handbook

51+0hi1iWeLJason Helopoulos. The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry (Grand Rapids: Baker Books), 208 pp. $14.99.

The early years of ministry are, for most pastors, a rush. For better or worse, those early years in the ministry are filled with hard and fast learning. Young pastors like myself can easily feel confused, lost, overwhelmed, and inadequate. Young pastors leave seminary or Bible College ready to change the world and solve problems the church has experienced for years only to discover the dark side of ministry. Sadly, young pastors are unable to bear the weight of their unrealistic expectations. Before actually stepping into pastoral ministry, it is an easy to make it into an idol.

Young seminarians like myself have a tendency to look to their mentors or favorite pastors as the standard or litmus test for their own ministries. Holding such unrealistic standards is a major factor in early burnout and a true identity crisis in the life of a young pastor. Ministry is hard. And while some young pastors have terrific mentors, most do not. This means there are a host of young pastors and seminarians who are or will be thrown to the wolves.

If there are two things pastors in those green years of ministry need, it is help and encouragement. In his latest book, The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry, Jason Helopoulos sets out to offer both help and encouragement to new ministers. Helopoulos knows a lot about the pastorate. He has served three different churches, currently as Associate Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.

The title is apropos. Through forty-eight short, yet significant chapters, Helopoulos takes the pastor through every step of the beginnings of ministry, and the many situations the pastor will face not only in the early years, but also throughout his ministry. He sates the purpose of the book in the first pages when he writes,

“I ask you to consider this book as an outstretched helping hand from a pastor a little further along in the journey than you—a pastor who experienced his first years of ministry just a decade ago. Those memories and challenges are still fresh in my mind. I hope this freshness, along with some seasoning through experience as the years have passed, will provide ready wisdom and aid to those just beginning this journey. Much of this book draws on advice mentors have given me over the years, but some of it is what I wish I had known and unfortunately only learned by experience.” (20)

This paragraph nicely summarizes exactly what this book is. It is the wise advice of an older brother pastor passed on to younger brother pastors. It is the author’s way of looking in the rear view mirror of his journey along the road of ministry and offering warning signs for those just beginning the ride.

Structurally, The New Pastor’s Handbook functions quite well as handbook or manual. The short, yet numerous chapters allow the reader to jump around from topic to topic as he sees fit. The breadth of topics addressed means this book can be used again and again throughout the early years of ministry and beyond as new situations are faced.

Helopoulos begins by addressing the beginnings of pastoral ministry, where he discusses matters including a pastor’s calling and candidacy. Next, he moves to offer advice for how to “start strong” in whatever ministry role the pastor is in. Helopoulos quite tactfully speaks to senior pastors, assistant pastors, and youth pastors and offers advice for how to properly serve in these roles. What is most commendable about The New Pastor’s Handbook is the fact that the advice given is rooted primarily in Scripture and focuses on the nature of the pastorate—servant-leadership. Pastors are shepherds, and as such should function as servant-leaders. The pastorate is unlike any other work in the world. It is not a climb up a ministerial corporate ladder. Instead, it is constant building up and pointing to the sufficiency of Christ.

Helopoulos excels in properly setting a young pastor’s sights on what is important. In his discussion of starting out strong in the various ministry positions, Helopoulos strikes an important balance between encouragement and warning. He neither discourages young pastors from serving in any pastorate position, but appropriately flashes warning signs to guard the young pastor.

The remainder of the book deals with various highly practical ministry issues, contexts, and situations. There is a section for encouragement, pitfalls, and the joys of ministry. Helopoulos speaks to both the discouraged, lost, and confused pastor who has no clue what his next move will be. Yet, he also speaks to the cocky, brash, and shortsighted pastor who thinks he knows far more than he does.

Bottom line: if you are in pastoral ministry, especially in those early years, you need a copy of The New Pastor’s Handbook. In it the pastor will find a reservoir of help and encouragement for the rocky, joyful journey that is pastoral ministry.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

15 Benefits of Preaching Verse-by-Verse Through Books of the Bible


At The Church at Trace Crossing, we are journeying through the book of Exodus each Sunday morning. With the exception of Palm Sunday and Easter, we have trekked through Exodus verse by verse and chapter by chapter. Since the end of January, we have made it through seventeen chapters. This past Sunday, our Lead Pastor opened his Bible and asked our congregation to turn in our Bibles to Exodus 18. If there was ever a chapter in Exodus to skip over, it would be Exodus 18. The reason is because it is sandwiched between two incredibly interesting and important chapters. Exodus 18 almost feels like it is in the way. But despite these personal feelings, we walked through Exodus 18 as a faith family verse by verse. And next week, you can bet that at Trace Crossing we will be asked to open our Bibles to Exodus 19. Why? Because the best way to preach the word of God as he revealed it is to preach through books of the Bible verse by verse.

Lectio Continua is the technical name for this method of preaching. Historically, this method of preaching was made famous by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry, among others. While many church members and pastors cringe at the prospect of a sermon series lasting 6-12 months going through just one book of the Bible, there are many benefits of preaching through books of the Bible. Dr. Brian Payne once offered fifteen benefits in a class he taught on preaching at Boyce College. The following list consists of Payne’s points, which are bolded, followed by further commentary of my onw. Consider each of these benefits. Feel free to add your own in the comment section below.

1. The preacher grows personally in knowledge and obedience by his disciplined exposure to God’s Word.

Preaching verse by verse and chapter by chapter means the preacher will inevitably approach doctrines, truths, and passages that push and challenge their own theology and heart. As the pastor prepares to preach this way each week, he will study topics and passages he may never have otherwise.

2. The preacher conserves time and energy used in choosing a sermon for each week.

The text sets the agenda. When Exodus 18 is preached, everyone in the church knows Exodus 19 is on deck.

3. The preacher balances his area of “expertise” and preferred topics with the breadth of God’s thoughts in the Bible.

In the words of Dr. Payne, verse by verse preaching “combats one’s tendency to choose a canon within the canon.”

4. Sensitive matters can be addressed without the appearance of pointing a finger at persons or problems in the church.

When you preach haphazardly through biblical topics, everyone’s eyebrows will be raised when you preach a sermon on sexual purity or marriage. But by preaching through books of the Bible, pastors can organically address a plethora of topics without appearing disingenuous.

5. The preacher gains accountability to not avoid skipping over what does not suit his taste or temperament on any given Sunday.

Pastors are not called to preach what they like about God’s word and ignore what they don’t like. We are called to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). We are called to preach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). All pastors have preferences, but they should all be taken captive to the word and will of God.

6. Biblical literacy is promoted in the preacher’s congregation by teaching them through example how to study their Bibles.

That is, verse by verse preaching teaches a reproducible method of Bible study. Every Sunday morning, pastors teach their congregations how to study the Bible. The hermeneutical skill of a congregation typically mirrors that of the preaching pastor.

7. The preacher is forced to address a greater number of issues than what readily springs to mind.

I once heard of a pastor whose sermon topics came from newspaper headlines. If you only make use of topics on Fox News or what you are personally concerned with, you will be incredibly limited in what you can preach. And ultimately, pastors who rely on sources other than the Bible as the basis of the content of their sermons will find themselves preaching the same kinds of sermons over and over again.

8. Much research time can be saved because each new sermon does not require a new study of the book’s or the passage’s author, background, context, and cause.

If you genuinely spend time studying the word each week, verse by verse preaching will be your best friend. On Sundays that I fill the pulpit for our preaching pastor, I’m never in a panic the week leading up to Sunday because I’ve already been studying the surrounding context. All I have to do is turn the page.

9. It is more likely that the pastor will preach the whole counsel of God over time.

Haphazardly choosing topics to preach will make a pastor feel like he is chasing his own tail. Preaching through books of the Bible will take your people on a journey throughout redemptive history and various biblical genres over time.

10. The pastor’s God-given prophetic authority in the pulpit will be increased by grounding his preaching in the divinely intended meaning of the text.

The act of preaching is heralding a message that has been entrusted to us. We did not invent the message of the gospel. As a herald of the truth and preacher of the word, preachers are literally the mouthpiece of God. Preaching through books of the Bible allows the preacher to more accurately say what God has said and no more than this.

11. The trustworthiness of the pastor’s preaching is increased in the eyes of the congregation.

It is easier to trust a man who relies solely on the intention of God in his inspiration of biblical texts than a man who relies on his own wit and intuition.

12. The pastor’s God-given blessing in the pulpit is increased by remaining faithful to the intention of the One who sent him to preach.

Preaching is a massive responsibility. It is a weight no man could bear alone. But to know that you are striving to proclaim what God himself has revealed in the way God himself has revealed it brings great comfort to a pastor. Pastors can rest in their preaching if they are faithful to the word.

13. The congregation’s trust in the inspiration, inerrancy, clarity, and sufficiency of Scripture is increased.

Preaching through books of the Bible shows your commitment to and reliance on the word for life and godliness. Your people will catch this vision and trust that the best thing for them is God’s word.

14. The congregation will be less susceptible to the deception of false teaching.

The simple antidote to false teaching is true teaching. The truth of the gospel pierces the heart of all false teaching. The more God’s people are exposed to God’s word, the less likely they will be deceived by false teachers. Faithful biblical exposition gives your congregation legs to stand on.

15. The message is communicated that we need all 1189 chapters and 31,012 verses of the Bible for our salvation.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We don’t just need the portions of Scripture that we like. We need all of Scripture. From Exodus 18 to Romans 8, God’s people need God’s word. The best way God’s people can receive God’s word is through preaching that seeks to communicate the divinely-intended meaning of each passage. Brother pastors, find yourselves faithful in the handling of God’s word.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.