Thursday, May 31, 2007

Under worship

Paul Middleton, with help from David Fitch, writes about the autonomous self and the need for Christians to put ourselves under worship.

The message matters

A common temptation for preachers is to focus on style and delivery, or even the kind of rhetorical skills that will impress the listener. But preaching isn’t about style, and the power of preaching isn’t about our ability to communicate. Power in the pulpit comes from the content of the message.

The way to access this content, of course, is through the hard work of exegesis. Regardless of how dynamic your delivery or breathtaking your rhetoric, if you don’t set forth the divinely intended meaning of God’s Word, your sermon will have no substantial or lasting affect on your listeners.

Demonic hatred of Christ

Something I hadn't thought of before: Are social assaults on white males really a hatred of Christ? At Touchstone Magazine blog S.M. Hutchens has written a far-ranging and hard-hitting essay that ties together anti-semitism, anti-white male sentiment, Christ, and a belief in demons. Here's a sample:
The same campaign is now carried on under the ideological banners of those who must [at] all costs and in every way put down the “white male,” the new ewige Jude, the victimizer behind so much human misery, and whose titles and image coincide so fully with Christ, the pre-eminent exemplar of the genus. He is the Western man who must be put in his place by multi-culturalism, the sovereign man who must be equalized by feminism, the Lord who must be brought down by egalitarianism, the king who must be commoned, the man of war who must be disarmed, the man of the harsh and stupid old Law that must be supplanted by the kindness and wisdom of the new Freedom, the elite man who must be democritized, against whom only discrimination is never unfair, the pastor whose place can be filled by a woman, the virile man who must be homosexualized, the pioneer and settler now damned as a destroyer, the begetter of new men who must be emasculated, the elect man of an elect race in a world where every man and every nation are equal, the man whose pretensions to pre-eminence must not only be done away with, but have become the new definition of evil.

Christ, the white male in his perfection, is the (as yet mostly) unnamed devil lurking behind every substantial evil that plagues the modern world, der ewige Jude, no longer the Abrahamic man through whom all the nations are blessed, but the source of the earth’s sorrows, the pale Galilean at whose breath the world turns cold, and we—we, who are too wise to believe in Satan have been trained in the name of every good thing to see the world through demonic eyes.
For some reason Dr. Hutchens's article has received a large number of comments at Mere Comments. I recommend reading the whole essay.

Update: You also might be interested in the comments section, which appears to have a clarification from Dr. Hutchens himself.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Living and dying

It's probably been making the rounds for years, but this little message about living and dying churches caught my attention.

Wisdom thoughts

Steve Mathewson shares some helpful thoughts on preaching Proverbs.

Update: Thanks to Paul Lamey for links to additional resources at Expository Thoughts.

Functional trust

Darryl Dash shares some thoughts from several sources on the need for preaching the gospel to believers:
When preaching to believers, preachers often proclaim truth from a text and offer a set of application points. This approach tends to assume that the issue is behavior. The result is moralistic preaching, which is never effective in bringing about lasting change.

Gospel-centered preaching sees the real issue as a failure to believe the gospel in some area. The listener may believe the gospel at an intellectual level, but there is a “sin beneath the sin” (an idol) that needs to be confronted with the gospel. A failure to live the reality of the gospel shows that we do not really believe the gospel at that point in our lives.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Baptized pagans"

Is your church full of them?


Jesus didn't really mean all that, did he?

Principles aren't enough

Despite our best efforts to make it one, the Bible is much, much more than a book of principles:
We swim in a vast ocean of principles: mathematical ones, biological ones, financial, relational, technological ones. We have principles for everything. Then, here come the expert Bible-handlers providing their ever-so-helpful "biblical principles." The thing is: principles don't really do much for us. That's why God gave us a Bible chock full of stories about people (like us) who encountered an untameable God who made promises to them.

I think it would have been easier, if principles are all that necessary, for God to have given us an almanac of principles. Why waste our time with stories about God talking with Abram and Sarah and Abram incessant lying about Sarah to the Egyptian kings? Why give us ghastly stories in the Book of Judges, exciting stories about David the shepherd-king, and rough and tumble stories about the prophets? Why give us four Gospels bristling with Jesus-filled stories? Why this Bible if succinct principles are the "real" need? Yet, there it is: a Bible with stories of people who lived sometimes well and sometimes horribly in response to the living God's promises.

Promises have a divine "I will" in them. God's "I will" not only points us toward the future, it takes us there. A principle, on the other hand, just lies there like a cold, raw fish fillet asking us to do something with it. Wouldn't we rather have our future energized more by God's resolute "I will" than by our faltering "I will"?
Yes, indeed. I recommend John Frye's whole post.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Moralism 2.0

Beware of charismatic moralism. As In the Clearing rightly points out, it's not the gospel.

"God-forsaken suburbs"

My soon-to-be suburban neighbor Todd Hiestand writes: "Despite its nice exterior of SUV’s and housing developments, could it be that the suburban world is as God-forsaken as any place on the globe?" (HT: Al Hsu).

In tough times

Christians, we may pray for easy lives but Jesus offers us crosses. In that light, Team Swap has posted a helpful essay for Christians on trusting God and growing where we're planted:
It takes no faith to cling to God when you are self assured, self sustaining, self reliant, and self righteous. In the tough times self wanes and God waxes. In those tough times real friends arrive while others flee. In those tough times pride falls and knees bend.
Amen. I happen to know, by the way, that the anonymous author of that essay is one of those Christians going through tough times of his own right now. He's also one who has proven himself faithful during those times.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Toward new life

"The Christian life comes neither naturally nor normally."

When contemporary is better

Don Sunukjian writes about when biblical illustrations are a bad idea. John Brand, on the other hand, shares a few contrary ideas.

Simply faith

Matt Dirks relates the story of Abraham's instructions to sacrifice Isaac and reflects on "simple faith in a confusing God":
The gods of Abraham’s Philistine neighbors would often demand sacrifices of livestock, grain, and even children to ensure continued fertility. But Abraham’s God… he’s different. Not arbitrary and impulsive like the others. He’s the one who supernaturally gave Isaac as a gift to his father. He’s the one who promised Abraham an infinite number of descendants through this kid. He wouldn’t just… just change his mind, would he?

That’s what seems to be happening. And what’s most amazing to me about this story is how Abraham responds to God’s bizarre command, acting in a way that goes completely against his character: he simply obeys!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Healthy striving, or . . .

Preacher, could you be suffering from ministry perfectionism or from the Wallenda Factor?

Impervious to grace

Dan Edelen writes on the seductiveness and danger of thinking, "At least I'm better than you":
Isn’t this “Better than you” mantra the source of many of our problems in our churches? Get to the root of any church split and “Better than you” grows like a fungus.

Certainty and humility

How do I know that I follow the right religion? How do I know that God exists? Not because I presume it - though Richard Dawkins might beg to differ. Firstly, I believe in God because I have no other explanation for the resurrection of Jesus other than divine intervention. And secondly because the God who raised Jesus from the dead is the Only God. There is no other. And he has spoken in his Son, through his word. There are no other real options to follow unless I want to worship my own imagination.

That is incredibly offensive to say. It sounds arrogant, but I say it humbly. Humility today seems to be divorced from certainty, but it shouldn't be. I laud it over no-one to confess my trust in the God the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. I'm a wretch, hauled out of my rebellion by a loving God to whom I am truly thankful. He who rescued me into a new people, a people of His word - united in Jesus Christ, raised from the dead with Him.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Worth visiting

This week's issue of Preaching Now is full of useful articles for preachers.

Big or little?

Unfortunately, more often than not, Christians make smaller concerns of life into major concerns, and turn the BIG LIFE CONCERNS into issues of less attention. There are two major, big concerns of life (1) to live in such a way that we assure God is properly and fully displayed in all his wonderful glory and character and (2) to live in such a way that our lives enjoy and find contentment and passion ultimately in God alone. Let us focus on the big concerns of life today. Everything else is of a much lesser love.
- Andrew Jackson

What kind of faith?

Alan Harstone w0nders: If we can't trust God to change our lives, how can we trust him to save our souls?
Jesus once said something that has always haunted me: "Be it done to you according to your faith!" (Matthew 9:29) The Gospels also tell us that He was able to exercise little power in His own homeland because they had so little faith (Matthew 13:58). Everywhere He went Jesus was looking for active faith in those who reached out to Him. . . .

So how is it that we can trust Him to raise us from the dead, but we can't trust Him to help us overcome addiction to sin, or help heal our marriages? We trust Him to raise our decayed bodies from the dead, but we don't trust Him to heal those same bodies from sickness right now. Jesus asked, "When I return will I find faith?" (Luke 18:8) He asked that question in the context of teaching His disciples to trust God in prayer. But do we? Or are many of us simply "holding to a form of godliness, but denying its power"? (2 Timothy 3:5)
Good questions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Doing it right

Looking at Malachi 2:1-9, Brian Larson is reminded that good preaching begins with good biblical interpretation.

Spiritual gifts & hermeneutics

Keith Brenton is one of my favorite writers on the web today. Keith has a way of looking at tradition with Word-focused eyes, and so he challenges all the sacred cows around him. His recent post on spiritual gifts and hermeneutics is especially insightful:
Do we really need those people in our Christian fellowship who insist that they are right about the Bible; that their interpretation is the correct and only one; that any and all deviation from what they believe and teach will put you out of fellowship with them and with the Lord?

Well ... yeah.
Keith goes on to explain why by describing how the church needs a full range of biblical interpretations.
Here are some ways that I believe people with different views of scripture can fulfill their mutual needs for each other:

1. They open each other's minds to the scripture by the Spirit working through them and through it; by calling their differences back to scripture to see what it clearly, untintedly says.

2. They can keep each other in check, encouraging each other to avoid extreme positions on any matter which scripture leaves to conscience.

3. They can appeal to God together in prayer for a clearer, less-tinted perspective on what His will for them is, expressed in His word.

4. They can maintain active (dare I say "spirited"?) dialogue, which keeps them focused on Christ - rather than on peripheral issues of little or no importance - and that focus will naturally lead them to unity in purpose: serving Him in this world, rather than arguing about Him.
Sounds good to me.

Update: The links were originally to another of Keith's posts. They're corrected now.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Away message

I'll be away from the computer for the next five days. Thanks for stopping by, and I pray you and I both make it back here Wednesday.


Vicki Gaines has a couple of good posts about where spiritual growth really happens: here and here.

Loving the wayward child

These are fine suggestions, and not all of them are obvious: Twelve ways to love your wayward child (HT: Between Two Worlds).

Amen, amen, and amen

It's good to see somebody longs for this kind of preaching:
If I could issue a plea to our pastors and priests and ministers of the Word in the world today, it would be this: Give me Christ, or else I die.

I mean that in the most specific sense—not just what Christ can do in me or to me or for me or through me (or the church or the world), but Jesus Christ himself, clearly portrayed as crucified and preached as having been raised from the dead. Not Jesus Christ as the assumption or foundation or the means for all that is preached, but as its very content and core.

So, please, preach Christ. Preach him in all of Scripture. Show him to me in all his varied aspects: the true image and likeness of God, the wisdom and word of God by whom all things were made, the second Adam who has subjected all things to himself, the seed of Abraham and seed of David, the prophet like Moses, the ruler and deliverer and righteous one, our paschal lamb and the rock that followed the Israelites, the rejected stone who is also a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, the speaker and subject of the psalms, the son of God and Spirit-anointed king, the Isaianic servant and the one like a son of man, the temple of God, the restored Israel, the Lord of the Shema, the yes to all of God’s promises, our wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption...
Amen. Thanks to Cerulean Sanctum for the link.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

According to Bart and Peter

Preachers, what do you know about the next generation gap?

Don't fool yourself

J.D. Hatfield reflects on Rom. 2:23, obedience, and hypocrisy. Paul's words to the Romans, J.D. points out, are more than simply advice to live more morally:
Now the answer is not to stop preaching against stealing, lying, hypocrisy and sin, just because we have done it or are doing it. The idea is to preach against it but also to preach Christ as the answer to it. Why do we still preach against the very things we have been guilty of? Why, because God wants us to that’s why. Because these things are wrong that’s why. Because we all need help and we need to know that we can’t make it without Christ, that’s why. Because we should be reminded that these things are not in the character of God, not in the will of God, and not what God wants for us and that we should be ridding ourselves of these things, that’s why.
It's interesting and worthwhile reading.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drowning in politics

Keith Schooley asks, "Where did the gospel go?"

"Loss of wonder is a sin"

I wish I saw more wonder in American Christians. I suspect that many of us are too caught up in living our best life now to wonder at the way the Wood Pewee pirouettes in space to outmaneuver a zigzagging moth. Or how the craters on the moon form patterns. Or how the brook teems with tadpoles, mayflies, and tiny fish. What are the names of those fish? Does it matter?

I think it matters. I think we’ve lost something in the last hundred years in this country. Our wonder’s fled. I think it’s one reason why so many people take psychoactive drugs. Strip away the wonder and the world turns frightening, cold, and distant. It becomes the enemy. Life takes on a winner-take-all mentality where some win and others lose, and God help us if we’re not one of the winners.

Happiness, joy, and the cross

John Mark Reynolds has written an outstanding essay on how the long-term benefits of Christian discipleship come at the cost of short-term pain:
My non-Christian friends often wonder if they will lose happiness if they adopt Christian ideas. Let’s not kid anyone: there are things Christians don’t do. Some of those things are pleasurable and nobody likes to lose pleasures!

So yes, becoming a Christian costs happiness and promises pain. We are not the religion of the Cross for nothing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Isaiah and good interpretation

Here's a good little article from Prof. Claude Mariottini touching on how to do good biblical interpretation.

Going through the motions?

Christianity is a heart religion. It isn’t “if you give Him your hands He will move your heart” it is that if you give Him your heart He will move your hands.

Christ, not ourselves

One of my favorite gospel-centered web writers, Mark Lauterbach, has done a series on the beauty of Christ and the value of avoiding excessive introspection. Here's a sample from Part 1:
I think there is more transforming power in a look at the Savior than in all the self-help efforts I could muster for a thousand years. I do not need to figure myself out -- I need to flee to Jesus.
Amen. Part 2 is also strong:
I think church history has hit the nail of the doctrine of sin on the head . . . and that sin makes us curve in on ourselves. That means I must be very careful with introspection. What starts out as a look for sinful idols quickly becomes a fascination with me. We are self-focused. As one quip in a movie notes, "Enough of my talking about me. What do you think about me?" It is of note that if we ran a special seminar in our church on the character of God we might have a decent turnout -- but if we ran a seminar on knowing our gifts, knowing ourselves, being free to be ourselves -- it would be flooded with participants (this is not a theoretical illustration, I have seen it happen). People think a sermon is good if it in some way is about them -- we call that "relevance."
Part 3 and Part 4 are also worth reading, along with a follow-up post on living in the beauty of Christ. Mark may be guilty of referencing the same small circle of Reformed writers who keep popping up on blogs, but his thoughts are solid nevertheless. And, to his credit, he does quote John Wesley.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Keeping your Greek skills

Preachers, here are a few suggestions for keeping your Greek skills honed (HT: Between Two Worlds).

Youth group as animal feeder

Tantalizing if True has hit one out of the park with an essay about my generation and the never-ending youth group. This one has so much punch, that I'm reprinting the whole thing here:
The typical American youth ministry of the baby boom generation resembled an animal feeder (or maybe an animal trap). It was attractive as long as the bait didn’t run out. It was assumed that youth wouldn’t follow God without bribery, and even then, that they wouldn’t follow God very far. In a youth-obsessed, youth-glorifying society, the youth ministry was a holding tank for large children, with the vague hope that they would grow up someday, probably, inexplicably. But not now.

The lesson of recent history, however, have shown that baby boomers do not necessarily grow up. They may become politicians or even parents, but that doesn’t mean they become disciples. After being taught to live for themselves, to give God his fair share, and to keep the rest, they continue to follow the teachings of their youth. The church has become an endless youth group.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New preaching blog

Here's a new addition to the Preaching Weblogs Group: Biblical Preaching. The blog is the work of Peter Mead and Mike Roth, both experienced preachers and doctor of ministry students at Gordon-Conwell. In a little over a week Peter and Mike have already posted two book reviews, several tips on preaching, and reflections on persuasion and manipulation. They've set up the blog with the intention of stimulating discussion among preachers. I look forward to joining the conversation.

Biblical Preaching is off to a fine start, and I recommend you give them a visit. Also, preachers, please take advantage of the many excellent posts each day on the Preaching Weblogs Group page.

Friday, May 11, 2007

You were right!

This cartoon may be irreverent, but it hits hard (Thanks for pointing me to it, Jeff).


We, leaders and pastors, think and act like we have to have our grubby little fingers all over people's growth in God. We analyze growth, systematize growth, facilitate growth, calculate growth, evaluate growth, ad nauseum. Because of our entrenched pragmatism and the itch for quick results, we stupidly try to hasten growth. We transfer the concept--"automatically"--to our frenzied methods hoping that the right "steps" and "fill-in-the-blanks" will promote transformation. We forfeit the restful contentment that God is doing what we could never do.

On loving freely

Do these words ring true with any other bloggers?
I quit trying to be great. Once I had aspirations of making a name for myself, becoming a famous person. Now I just want to learn to be a person. I dreamed of speaking before thousands of people frozen under the spell of my voice. I was going to change the world. Now I realize: I cannot even change myself.
I can certainly relate. By the way, those are the words of my very own blogfather, Doug Floyd.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New adventure

Well, after searching four months, I've agreed to preach for the North Penn Church of Christ near Philadelphia. My family will be moving to Pennsylvania at the end of June, and I'm scheduled to begin on staff July 1. We give thanks to God for the opportunity. Thanks also to all of you who have been praying for me and my family during these months "between churches."

Open heart, freedom, hospitality

At The Christian Century blog, Walter Brueggemann offers weekly thoughts on upcoming lectionary texts. This week's is on Acts 16:9-15.

"A more complete view of the gospel"

. . .if we preach a gospel that is entirely focused on “getting right with God” but which does not include in that presentation that God’s intent is to form a community (the Church) in which restored persons live out this Christ-shaped and Spirit-directed spirituality, then we can expect to hear lots of pulpit rhetoric exhorting us that the Church matters. And, if we discover on Sunday morning that everyone in our church is the same ethnically and economically, we can be sure that we are preaching something that is attracting only those kinds of people. And if we are hesitant to admit the implication of this ethnic, economic reality, then we need to be more honest with ourselves. We get what we preach. And we perform what we preach. How we live reveals the gospel we responded to and the gospel we believe.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Good advice for beginners

Theologically opposed, but . . .

Thank you, Richard Hall, for pointing me to this post at Rebranded about a small interdenominational group the writer and his wife are a part of:
One of the people there is a Pentecostal fundamentalist. Theologically, I am opposed to everything she stands for, and I cringe when she starts talking about her latest revelation. She is into prosperity; health and wealth; those odd end-times prophecies about Israel; delivering people from spirits of chocolate, and asking God to direct her choice of socks in the morning. Everything that I have spent the last ten years ridiculing, she is.

But… she cares. She really cares. She cares about you, she cares about people in general. She loves God with a passion. And I feel lifted up when she comes into the room, and look forward to speaking to her. She’s become a friend. Her commitment has challenged me, and God has often spoken to me through her words.
I can't say I agree with all the conclusions later in the essay, but Rebranded is indeed on to something. Twenty-five years ago, in the days when I was struggling to find the truth, it wasn't great theological arguments, expert Bible exposition or correct doctrine that led me to the church. It was Christians who cared about my soul.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pitfalls of PowerPoint

According to researchers in New South Wales, PowerPoint can be bad for the brain (HT: Unashamed Workman). Steve Mathewson also has some thoughts.

A new way of thinking and being

Larry Chouinard is back with another installment in his writings on 1 Corinthians. Here's a sample and a warning for the church:
When our way of life and communal gatherings become a mirror of the broader culture and its values, our alternative witness and critique of evil is first compromised and then ultimately silenced.
You think maybe that's true not only for the first-century Corinthians but for the church today?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Attending to the form

Steve Mathewson has a few observations and a strong book recommendation for sermon forms.

Still incarnate

Have you ever stopped to think about Jesus' continuing incarnation? Gerrit Scott Dawson has, and Justin Buzzard has interviewed him. Here's a sample:
. . . I think most Christians were like I was—we figure Jesus slipped out of his skin suit just as soon as he could. He didn’t hang on to our humanity. After his work was done, we figure he got back to being the Son of God without the drag of our human nature. It boggles our minds to consider that he is still in skin, still bearing our humanity. . . .

The gospel has always created the scandal of particularity. It offends our sense of autonomy and spiritual quest and even American egalitarianism to recognize that in this one particular man, Jesus, the eternal Son of God stood among us. Thus, God is like Jesus, and not another way. Jesus is Lord of all and I am not lord of my own life anymore.

Now if you want to get away from the claiming, demanding pressure of that truth, you’ve got to get rid of the particularity of Jesus. You need to spiritualize the resurrection and the ascension. Let resurrection be about a principle of new life, the continuing influence of Jesus, but not something as scandalous as one dead man who got up.

The ascension takes the scandal even further. Jesus held onto our humanity. He has taken it into heaven. The future of our humanity is bound up in what he has done with us. Where he goes is where we are meant to go. What he becomes is what we will become. All my soul quests, all my spirituality, all my wanting a god on my own terms gets blown away by the God-Man who is in heaven, still in my skin, still insisting that he is the one with whom we all have to deal.
Wow. Great stuff. The ascension does matter, and Dr. Dawson shows us why (HT: Eucatastrophe).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Grace and faith

Yes, it really is that simple.

Yet more on stealing sermons

In a recent issue of The Christian Century, Thomas G. Long considers sermon plagiarism:
Pulpit plagiarism may not be new, but there is plenty of evidence that the practice is spreading and that the kerosene on the fire is the Internet. Not only are thousands of sermons available for the snatching on church Web pages, but scores of commercial sites hawk complete sermons, illustrations, outlines, images and PowerPoint accompaniments for a fee. . . .
Others have written on this topic as well, and I've linked to some of those at this blog (here, here, here, here, and here). Dr. Long's essay in particular is noteworthy in its erudition and nuance. Thanks to Oversight of Souls for the link.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ministering to ourselves

Preacher, are you practicing self-care?
Self-care is incredibly important for men and women living in this twenty-first century. Self-care is to recognize that the creator God has given me my physical, emotional, intellectual, and relational self and has called me to care for his creation. I do so as a part of my stewardship before him. Self-care is not selfishness. Rather, it is to recognize that caring for the self is actually a blessing to others.
That's from Jim Martin at A Place for the God-Hungry. As usual, Jim offers biblically sound, practical advice. He knows what he's talking about.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A royal priesthood

In his series of posts on the non-levitical priesthood, Claude Mariottini has written on the Christian priesthood described in 1 Peter 2:9.

The problem with apologetics

What's the problem with apologetics? Here's David Fitch in The Great Giveaway (via Caught in the Middle):
In the earliest stages of a person's evangelism, evidentiary apologetics endorses the authority of science. The logic goes like this: if I can prove it scientifically, then Scripture must be true. In the earliest moments of one's conversion, science and historiography are set up as final arbiters of truth, not the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, or the church.... Evidentiary apologetics shapes the new believer to forever look over one's shoulder at science as the authenticating truth test rather than Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit working in his people

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


What's better than preaching biblical characters as examples? Preaching them as signposts.

A little perspective

The original source notwithstanding, here's a valid question:
"Why is there no respect for motherhood? Why does the West not value its women?"
During buildup to the first Persian Gulf War I read a newspaper article mentioning several children at a U.S. Army post whose mother and father were both being sent to Kuwait. What may have been worse than what was happening to these particular children was the way these situations were treated in the newspaper, and by the wider public. The fact that children were having both parents sent off to war was mentioned merely in passing, as information of interest, but not as an indication that something at a much higher level was dreadfully wrong.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Idolatry today

The Christian Mind has a trenchant quote from A.W. Tozer on the mental side of idolatry.

Preaching during adversity

Has your preaching thrived during your own personal adversity? Steve Mathewson's has:
Like fly-fishing, preaching may be the most productive under adverse conditions. As I reflect on twenty years of pastoral ministry, I realize that some of my most productive times of preaching have coincided with the most difficult seasons in my life.
That's not a very comforting thought, but I think he may be on to something.