“How to use handouts effectively”

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 81

Do you use handouts as part of your Sunday sermons? I have seven tips for making the most of handouts. Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

On Sunday 5th November I’ll be preaching the sermon at the Sunday service of the Manchester International church of Christ.

I consider myself a lucky man to have this privilege. The Manchester church and my family go back many years. This weekend marks the 20th anniversary since we left Manchester after 5 years of highly eventful ministry! What a joy to return and see everyone!

These chairs will be full on 5th November. Will you be in one of them? If you’re in the Manchester area please come along to hear me speak and to meet these wonderful people.

Date: 5th November 2017
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Event: Manchester International church of Christ
Sponsor: Manchester International church of Christ
Location: 9 Derby Street
Manchester M8 8QE
UK
Public: Public
More Info: Click here for more information.

“How not to be a spiritual pushover”

What to do when your faith is tottering

Sometimes we feel spiritually strong. We’ll take on all-comers. On those days I read Acts and can see myself backing up Paul as he preaches to the baying crowds. I’d be happy to keep him company in a Philippian jail. Not always, though. The days are all too frequent when I feel weak. On those days I avoid Acts. What to do on the ‘weak’ days?
 

eg 683w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-200x300.jpeg 200w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-768x1152.jpeg 768w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-760x1140.jpeg 760w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-267x400.jpeg 267w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-82x123.jpeg 82w, http://www.malcolmcox.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/fullsizeoutput_1a10c-600x900.jpeg 600w" sizes="(max-width: 683px) 100vw, 683px" /> Rotten wood from our old fence

Feeble Fences

We’re replacing the left-hand fence in our garden. Our lovely neighbours have been waiting patiently for the day. The gaps are significant. The state of the fence ragged. Some of it looks like it is the original from when our home was built in the 1930’s. My wife is putting in the new posts and arris rails. I’m the destroyer. With mallet and chainsaw, I’m taking the old fence apart section by section.
 
Some of it needs the application of power. But some does not. The lightest touch snaps the rotten wood. Simply leaning on the fence is enough to topple it. The ivy cladding was holding it up.
 

Wobbly Walls

David knew this feeling. Consider what he wrote in Psalm 62:3,
‘How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down— this leaning wall, this tottering fence?’
He is not feeling strong. He is not feeling stable. Uncertainty has seeped into his soul. Fear has enfeebled his faith. Have you ever felt like that? Perhaps you do today? What to do? Let’s see what else David wrote about in this Psalm.
 

Refreshing Repetition

When feeling weak we need refreshing. David repeats himself in this Psalm.
v1 – “my soul finds rest in God;”
v5 – “my soul, find rest in God;”
 
v2 – “Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
v6 – “Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
 
Repetition of truths we know to be true but do not feel is one way to refresh our faith. Of course, vain repetition is no use (Matthew 6.7). But a meditative contemplation of God’s trustworthiness must surely refresh our faith.
 

Conclusion

David sandwiches his fears between repeated truths about God. The next time you feel weak, go to God in prayer employing David’s ‘sandwich’ technique. Tell him about your wobbly wall and your feeble fence, but top and tail with praise for his power and love. There’s no reason for you to be a pushover!
 

Question

What do you think about this ‘sandwich’ idea? Have you tried it? Does repetition work?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

Our delightful new fence

This Sunday, 29th October I’ll be hosting a panel discussion as part of our church service. The topic is “How to be confident in a chaotic world”.  The panel members will be Dr Penny Cox (GP) and Kate Edwards (Trauma Therapist and counsellor).

The theme scripture is: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28–30 MESSAGE)

An informal lunch follows the service. Everyone is welcome, and classes are provided for younger children. Plenty of car parking.

Date: 29th October 2017
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Event: "How to be confident in a chaotic world"
Topic: "How to be confident in a chaotic world"
Sponsor: Malcolm Cox
07973491021
Venue: Laurance Haines School
Location: Vicarage Road
Watford WD18 0DD
UK
Public: Public

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 80: “How to lead effective group discussions”

Tips for making the most of interactive sermon sessions

How do we lead effective discussions as part of our lessons? Tips for making the most of interactive sermon sessions.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

Tuesday Teaching Tips, Episode 79: “What to do when life gets in the way of sermon preparation”

What do we do when the unexpected happens? I offer some tips on how to cope when preaching with less than perfect preparation. What are your ideas?

Thank you for watching this video. You can find more teaching tips on the teaching tips playlist.

The audio can be found here:

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

“How to be real about fear without being controlled by it”, Psalm 27

Quiet Time Coaching, Episode 10

Life reveals an unsettling truth. Fear is part of our everyday existence. There’s no running away from fear. It stalks you even in private. What to do? Self-medicate? Not satisfying, successful nor healthy.
 
 

Eye-opening Bravery

My father had an operation on his eye on Thursday. He had the option of a local or a general anaesthetic. He opted for local. Eye open, fully conscious, lying on an operating table for 90 minutes while the surgeon operated on his right eye. He’s a braver man than me. I’d go ‘general’ every time. As a result of his courageous choice he was out of the hospital more quickly and is enjoying a faster recovery. He felt the fear but was not controlled by it.
 

Fear Appears

How do we best handle fear when it appears? David was a man who knew fear. Bears, lions, spear-throwing kings (1 Samuel 17.34-37; 1 Samuel 19.9-10). They all had a go at him. Let’s have a look at David’s thinking in Psalm 27 and see what we can learn.
 

Confident Declaration

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
(Psalm 27:1 NIV11)
 
David is in trouble. Later in the Psalm he mentions enemies, the wicked, foes, war, trouble, oppressors and false witnesses. In other Psalms he opens with his challenges. But here he starts with a confident declaration of faith. David is not pretending. He is afraid. But he knows his feelings, real as they are, do not objectively describe reality. God is in the picture and is involved.
 

Faith and Feelings

There is no ‘right’ way to bring our fears to God. David shows us one way in this Psalm. He begins with what he knows to be true about God. He may not feel it, but he states it in faith. Look again at David’s statement: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”. It makes sense to be afraid of darkness (Isaiah 59.9-11, Matthew 6.23) and lostness (Jude 6, Luke 16.24). However, by faith we find that God provides light and salvation (Psalm 119:105, John 8.12, 9.5). Therefore we can be confident of his concern, presence and support even when it’s dark and we feel ‘lost’. David describes God as his “stronghold”. What does this mean? A ‘stronghold’ is a place of safety (Psalm 9.9), a refuge. In the Hebrew it can mean a fortification behind a wall above the enemies at a safe distance from their attacks. 

Conclusion

David’s confidence is not in Jerusalem’s physical defences. It is not in his skills (formidable as they are). His confidence is in God. Making that the first statement of this Psalm reveals how determined he was to set his mind and heart on God. Our fears need putting into perspective. Even in our fear, we can have the confidence that God will supply all the strength we need (Ephesians 3.16-17). The next time you feel the fear, don’t begin your prayer with it. Instead, why not tell God how much confidence you have in him? And then talk about your problems?
 

Question

What difference does it make when you tell God what you know to be true about him, before mentioning your fears? Are there other ways to bring our worries to God? What works for you?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm

How to be supplied with spiritual strength from the Psalms

Using the Psalms as God intended

Worship is Work

I lead musical worship in Church congregations. It is a privilege, a joy, and hard work! I need spiritual strength to lead worship. Where is the supply coming from?
 

God’s Songbook

Two weeks ago I chatted about this with my friend Dave Eastman. Check him out on lifechangingworship.com. He shared his conviction with me that a worship leader needs to be constantly in the book of Psalms. It is God’s songbook. A hymnal with 150 songs ready for any and all occasions in the Christian life.
 

Regular Devotion

I love the Psalms. I turn to them from time to time. But I’ve not been devoting myself to them regularly. I wonder how many of us use the Psalms in moments of great joy, or deep crisis, but neglect their day-to-day use.
 
What a shame to relegate this amazing resource to special occasions. They are available to supply us with spiritual strength whenever we need it.
 

A Psalmic Pile

Thanks to Dave, I’ve reflected on my use of the Psalms. So far I’ve made two decisions.
 
  1. I’ve opened a tab in my Bible software specially for the Psalms. That tab stays open no matter which other part of the Bible I’m studying.
  2. I’ve pulled my favourite books about the Psalms off the bookshelves and piled them up in one place. Now I see them every day and am reminded to look into them for insights. The books include: “The Psalms and the life of faith” by Walter Brueggemann (more theological). “Music of the heart”, new Psalms in the Celtic tradition by David Allen. “A long obedience in the same direction” by Eugene Peterson (focussed on the Psalms of Ascent). “Prayer, praise and promises” a daily walk through the Psalms by Warren Wiersbe (a devotional focus).

All About You

Here is a thought from Psalm 86 and some insights from Brueggemann. Read this Psalm, and you will hear a desperate David. But notice that his attitude is not one of self-pity. Instead, he is very focused on the qualities of God. This is emphasised by the use of the word, “You”.
 
Quoting selectively from the Psalm, “You are my God…For you, O Lord are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you… For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God… But you, O Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness… Because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.”
 
The force of the Hebrew doesn’t come across in an English translation. But the point does. David knows he must focus on who God is if he is to be supplied with the spiritual strength he needs.
 

Conclusion

I will finish with an old rabbinic prayer quoted in Brueggemann’s book on page 37:
 
Where I wander-You!
Where I ponder-You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You ! You! You!
When I am gladdened-You!
When I am saddened-You!
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!
Sky is You! Earth is You!
You above! You below!
In every trend, at every end,
Only You, You again, always You!
You! You! You!

Questions

What is it about the Psalms you find most helpful? Do you use them regularly? What books would you recommend to help us understand them and apply their message?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm 

Tuesday Teaching Tips Episode 78: “How to blend preaching and pastoral care”

Three tips for knowing when to prepare lessons and when to be with people

What’s the right blend of pastoral work and preaching preparation? How do we know whether we are getting it right? I share three tips to help us make wise decisions about both.

 

Quote in the video taken from: churchleaders.com

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for watching. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

How to Pray for Kings

How to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness

Have politicians and public authority figures ever been more derided? Perhaps, but not in my lifetime. We’d agree they need our prayers, but do we, in fact, pray for them? What does the Bible have to say?
 

Pleasing God

Our key passage is 1 Timothy 2.1-4.
 
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1–4 NIV11)
 
Paul wrote this. He had first-hand experience of the injustice of authorities. Yet, his perspective was pure. We could forgive him for a rant, a diatribe, a list of complaints. Take for example his illegal beating and imprisonment in Philippi (Acts 16.37). This might, in our day, have been followed by a twitter storm. But no. He acquires an apology and moves on. What is going on here?
 

Two Reasons to Pray for Authorities

Paul recognises that God wants all people to be saved. The appeal to pray is for “all people”. Paul goes on to mention “kings and all those in authority” for two reasons.
 
1. Firstly, they have more power to stand in the way of the spread of the gospel than other people. They also have the power to facilitate conditions favourable to the Gospel.
2. Second, they are often the last category of people we think to pray for. Unpopular decisions, questionable morality and insensitive pronouncements lead us to dislike them. Perhaps even hate them.
 
Jesus said this, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44 NIV11). If we are to pray for our enemies, then we can’t leave our kings and authorities out. No matter our differences.
 

Suggestions

1. Pray for those who influence your community: local councillors, your MP and the like
2. Pray for those who influence your country: parliamentarians, party leaders, kings, queens, Prime Ministers and Presidents.
3. Pray for those with global influence: world leaders, the secretary-general of the United Nations and leaders of other global organisations.
4. Pray for your enemies: the authorities you complain about
 
If we spent as much time praying for these people as grumbling about their decisions, we would see the Gospel spread more rapidly. Some of them might become followers of Jesus. We could find ourselves in a better spiritual and emotional place.
 

Conclusion

Pray for them by name. Do it personally, and do it in church gatherings. If you are a church leader, I urge you to call on members to pray in this way.
 
I believe I am called to pray for Baroness Dorothy Thornhill (Mayor of Watford), David Gauke (MP for where I live), my Queen, Theresa May, President Trump, Kim Jong-un, António Guterres – and othersPraying for them does not mean I agree with them. It simply means I acknowledge they are sons and daughters of God just as much as me.

Question

Which kings and authorities do you pray for? What motivates you to do so? What points have I missed?
 
Please leave a comment here so that we can all learn from one another. We learn best when we learn in community.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week of quality quiet times.
 
God bless, Malcolm