Tag Archives: Preaching

What Cautions Do You Have for The New Calvinist Movement? By John Piper

The resurgence of New Calvinism has been greatly embraced by most in the evangelical world, but John Piper weighs in with some cautions about the movement. This was an edited transcript of the audio from the Desiring God site.

Would there be any cautions that you would have for the New Reformed/New Calvinist Movement you referenced earlier?


I will give you one that is from a prophetic word given to me yesterday—take it or leave it. I’m cautious when people come to me with these kinds of things. But this rung true, and you can see that it is true without making a claim to special divine authority.

My caution concerns making theology God instead of God God. Loving doing theology rather than loving God.

Sam Crabtree said to me once, “The danger of the contemporary worship awakening is that we love loving God more than we love God.” That was very profound. And you might love thinking about God more than you love God. Or arguing for God more than you love God. Or defending God more than you love God. Or writing about God more than you love God. Or preaching more than you love God. Or evangelizing more than you love God.

Reformed people tend to be thoughtful. That is, they come to the Bible and they want to use their minds to make sense of it. The best of them want to make sense of all of the Bible and do not pick and choose saying, “I don’t like that verse. That sounds like an Arminian verse, so we will set it aside.” No! Fix your brain, don’t fix the Bible.

The kind of person that is prone to systematize and fit things together, like me, is wired dangerously to begin to idolize the system. I don’t want to go here too much, because I think the whiplash starts to swing the other direction, and we minimize the system, thinking, and doctrine to the degree that we start to lose a foothold in the Bible.

But that would be a big caution. We should be intellectually and emotionally more engaged with the person of Christ, the person of God—the Trinity—than we are with thinking about him. Thinking about God and engaging with him are inextricably woven together. But the reason you are reading the Bible, and the reason you are framing thoughts about God from the Bible, is to make your way through those thoughts to the real person.

The danger on the other side is to say, “All that intellectual stuff, no, no, no. Doctrine, no. Intellect, no. Study, no. Experience, yes!” People who do this wind up worshipping a God of their own imagination. It feels so right, so free, and so humble because they are not getting involved in all those debates. But it isn’t. It is losing a grip on reality. So we are compelled to think hard about God and the Bible.

Hanging on with the danger I am speaking of is pride—a certain species of pride. There are many species of pride, and this is just one of them. You can call it intellectualism. There is also emotionalism, but that isn’t the danger we are talking about right now. Intellectualism is a species of pride, because we begin to prize our abilities to interpret the Bible over the God of the Bible or the Bible itself.

When I asked Rick Warren, “What is your doctrine of the Bible?” He said, “Inerrant and authoritative. But I don’t mean all my interpretations of it are inerrant and authoritative.” And that is of course right. We should talk that way.

So that would be my flag, the danger of intellectualism. And maybe the danger of certain aspects of it becoming so argumentative or defensive that it becomes unnecessarily narrow. That is funny for me to say because I think I am a really narrow guy, and a lot of other people think so too.

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Interview: Q & A with Pastor Leo Part 1

Pastor Leo Acosta preaching Key West Senior High

The 121 blog has been anticipating this moment for a while now, an interview with our beloved pastor, Leo Acosta. Words could not express how dear he is to both Ricky and I; he is a pastor, mentor, leader, and friend to us both and we are grateful to be a part of his ministry. He is founder and senior pastor of New Life Ministries Miami and overseer of New Life Ministries North. Pastor Leo is a gifted teacher and expositor, he holds a B.A. in Elementary Education from Trinity International University (the school I presently attend) and an M.A. in Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He also holds two ordinations (Evangelical Free Church & Christian Life Mission), is an avid blogger, and is happily married with two children. Here is part 1 of 2 of our Q & A:

Mike: Thanks for your time, Pastor Leo! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What book are you presently reading?

Pastor Leo: I start every morning with a devotional from Tozer and end with Spurgeon. My Days usually begin between 5:30am-6:30am and end 1:30pm-2:30pm. My devotional times vary from reading, worship, and prayer. My devotional time is never the same, it goes from 1hr to 4hrs even 6hrs hours a day. I don’t sleep much those days, but thats ok! My goal is not to have a time based on quantity but quality.  Here are the books I am presently reading: The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel & Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur.

Mike:  I know you have quite the busy schedule, but do you read multiple books at once? For example, do you read books for your soul, for pastoral ministry, or for personal enjoyment all at once or a book at a time?

Pastor LeoOk, funny but really true, for the first time in my 20+ years of being saved I’m reading two books at once. Honestly, last time I do it, I really like reading one book at a time. Definitely for the soul! I am not the type to read for personal enjoyment.

Mike: When it comes to studying Scripture do you have a set pattern and do you have any recommendations for ways to study?

Pastor LeoYes, I love to study Scripture in a topical manner. (Salvation, Condemnation etc). I like to grab a topic and just dissect it as best as possible through Scripture and then bring that information into a form that is applicable to my life. I try to be very practical, but also never lose the deep meaning of topics as I teach.

Mike: What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?

Pastor LeoI believe that my preaching has improved mostly through my experiences. I have been preaching the Word in groups from 10-500 since I was 13 years old and really the more I do it, the more I think I need to work at it. My wife is my best critic. One thing that was told to me in a form of counsel that would never be forgotten is that “God made one Leo, so I am going to be that one Leo. He made Piper to be Piper, Jakes to be Jakes, Mahaney to be Mahaney and Leo to be Leo,” so I am going to be myself! Iam the best Leo out here, actually, the only one. So God has purpose with me.

Mike: What books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?

Pastor LeoAnything Supernatural. When God grabs us, the ultimate example of natural, and flips it inside out and the Spirt that God Deposits in our lives now is prominent and is the only thing that is visible to people!

Mike: What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?

Pastor LeoMike, not sure who is reading this, but I live to love God above all things! Simple theology, just live to LOVE God because thats all that matters to Him!

Pastor Leo, these are some great answers. Thank you again for taking out the time to answer our questions. Be back to tomorrow for part 2 of our Q & A with Pastor Leo.

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The Preacher Dare, Are You Willing?


Greg Stier, Guest Columnist for The Christian Post writes:

Are you a preacher? If you stand behind a pulpit or music stand of any kind and spout spiritual truth from God’s Word on a consistent basis then, like it or not, you are a preacher. It doesn’t even have to be adults you are delivering a sermon too for you to qualify. It could be college students, teens or, yes, even children that you are sharing God’s Word with on Sunday morning, Wednesday night or Thursday morning for you to be a true preacher.

According to Wikipedia, the definitive source for all things spiritual, a preacher is someone who delivers a sermon or a homily. While I’ve never delivered a homily, I have eaten hominy (much to my dismay.) And I have delivered in the vicinity of thousands of sermons (often to others’ dismay.)

It was at a Christian school statewide preaching competition where I delivered my first sermon. That’s right…a preaching competition (this oxymoron makes jumbo shrimp look popcorn shrimp puny!) But as I competed to win against my fellow fledgling preachers I was scared to death. I was so terrified that my sweaty, white-knuckled hands were literally shaking the pulpit. When the judges gave me my evaluation they had written, “Great job! You were so intense that you actually shook the pulpit!” What they interpreted as passion was sheer fear. From that moment on I knew that preaching was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was hooked. Oh yeah, I was only twelve years old at the time.

The act of seeking to seize an audience with a powerful hook and then prayerfully, powerfully and persuasively (three P’s, proof of my preacherly practice) seek to download God’s Word into the minds and souls of an audience was more addictive than caffeine to my twitchy, younger self.

It still is.

I have been preaching God’s Word for thirty two years now and am more addicted than ever. I love the sheer audacity of unleashing God’s truth into an auditorium full of people and watching the Spirit of God and the Word of God do what they do best…transform lives. I love Dr. Tony Evans’ definition of preaching. It goes something like this, “the proper interpretation of God’s Word delivered to the needs of the audience in the power of the Holy Spirit through the personality of the preacher.” Effective preaching delves into all four realms: Scripture, audience, Spirit and personality. The chemistry of this combination of elements can be explosive!

So what’s the preacher dare for all you preachers out there? To preach the Word! Don’t preach around the Word or about the Word, preach the Word. Sure, you can tell your funny jokes, share your stories and even drop a “homily” on the audience from time to time, but preach the Word.

Why? Because when you preach the Word you are flexing divine muscle. You are unleashing the words of God which will not return void (Isaiah 55:11) and swinging a double-edged sword which will cut conviction deep into the hearts of the hearers (Hebrews 4:12.) Cute acrostics, feel good stories and bad exegesis may tickle ears but will never transform souls. But the proper delivery of God’s Word will produce transformation or damnation depending on the response of the audience.

I dare you to go to Sermon Central and take “The Preacher’s Pledge” right now. And remember that a promise is a promise.

I dare you to take Paul’s admonition to Timothy as the Holy Spirit’s charge to you, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction” 2 Timothy 4:1,2.

I triple dog dare you!

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