Two new WordPress plugins

quick-admin-links-frontendForgive the off-topic post, but those of you using WordPress might be interested in two new plugins I’ve written.

Quick Admin Links

Quite possibly the most simple and useful WordPress plug-in you never knew you needed! Quick Admin Links is a small widget. Put it at the top of your sidebar, and it adds some useful admin links on every page, allowing you to add new posts/pages, edit existing posts/pages, go to the admin, or log out. If your theme doesn’t already include edit buttons, and you notice a typo in your post, you have to click on “Site Admin”, then “Manage”, then “Posts”, then type in some search terms, and click “Search”, then click on the post you’re looking for. With Quick Admin Links, you can go straight from your post to the edit screen in just one click.

Style Tweaker

If you’re anything like me, you’re never quite satisfied with WordPress themes, and like to tweak the CSS. Style Tweaker allows you easily edit CSS without uploading files. You can also use it to test CSS before launching it to the world. You can add CSS to the entire website, regardless of what theme is being used, or add it to just the current theme. You can even add CSS that displays only when you are logged on – very useful when you’re playing with a new look, and it’s not quite ready for public viewing.

Reforming the church of England

All Souls, Langham PlaceI’m currently on holiday in London, and one of the great things about holidays is that it gives you an opportunity to worship with Christians that ordinarily you wouldn’t meet. On this holiday, we worshipped at All Souls Langham Place, and Grace Church, Hackney (a plant from St Helen’s, Bishopsgate).

It was particularly good to be able to worship with evangelical anglicans. Both of the churches we visited are firmly at the centre of true evangelicalism, and are fully committed to the authority of Scripture, and a biblical understanding of justification by faith alone. In both, the sermons were helpful, and (as you’d expect) expounded the Scriptures clearly. Rico Tice’s powerful preaching on the plagues in Egypt was a particular highlight – I could happily have listened for several minutes longer.

Unfortunately, however, the most significant impression left on me from the two services was the contradictions that seem inevitable within evangelical anglicanism. Welsh evangelicalism and evangelical anglicanism have not exactly seen eye to eye, particular since John Stott and Martyn Lloyd-Jones very publically disagreed on how evangelicals should respond to the liberal denominations they find themselves in (oversimplifying, Lloyd-Jones said they should get out, Stott said they should stay in). It is only recently that those barriers are beginning to come down, so I welcomed the opportunity to express that unity, albeit in a very small way.

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How I prepare a sermon

Several people have recently asked me what process I go through in sermon preparation, so I thought I’d share it here. This is a far longer post than normal, but perhaps other preachers (particularly younger men) might find it useful.

There are five steps that are important to me:

  1. Divide: Firstly, I decide how many verses should I preach on by looking for divisions at the beginning and end of the passage. I’m looking for a natural unit in the passage that has plenty to say. With compact historical literature (like 2 Kings or Chronicles) it’s usually a story. With other narrative literature (e.g. the Pentateuch, or the Gospels) it’s usually a scene. With epistles its usually a large paragraph. With prophetic books its usually a complete oracle or sermon.
  2. Dissect: Then I split up, or dissect the passage by determine the main point of the passage, and the sub-points which serve it. This is strongly related to the first step. If the ‘division’ I’ve chosen has more than one main point, it’s too long. But it must have a few sub-points that feed the main point. If it hasn’t, it’s too short.
  3. Discover: Next I try to carefully exegete each point to discover the original meaning and principles. It means understanding both the meaning to the original hearers/readers, and the timeless principles that flow from it. When dealing with the Old Testament I look at the first step (the original meaning) purely from an Old Testament perspective, but the second step (the timeless principles) through a New Testament lens. There must be an inarguable link between these two steps. Every member of the congregation must be able to see how I got from (a) What the Bible said, to (b) What the Bible means. If they can’t, there’s no power in the message – it’s man’s words, not God’s Word.
  4. Digest: Fourth, I think and pray through each principle to determine the application, to me, and try to digest the truth. If I haven’t taken this truth on board myself, I can’t preach it. This is where a lot of the prayer comes.
  5. Disseminate: Finally, all of this needs to go in a form which can be passed on. In other words, the sermon can now be written. I pass this teaching on to my congregation, they need to apply it to themselves and be able to pass it on to others. This means short points made easy to understand and apply. To maximise the impact, the application needs to be focussed, not vague, but it also must apply to the whole congregation, not just one or two. I’ll want my sermon to have an introduction, a few points, and a conclusion. Within each point I’ll want teaching, illustration and application. The whole thing must be very tightly linked to the text of the Bible – if it’s not, it’s my words not God’s Word.

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SermonBrowser beta now available

This is an old post. Please refer to the dedicated Sermon Browser page for the most up to date information.

Several weeks ago I mentioned that I was developing a plug-in to allow you to upload sermons into your WordPress blog. I’m delighted to say that the beta version of this plugin is now available for you to download.

As with all beta software, the normal caveats apply. The software isn’t fully tested, and may cause you problems. In particular, the database format may change between now and the release version, which could mean that any sermons you enter into the database would have to be re-entered later.

If you want to see what the plug-in would look like on your site, you can view it here on this test site. (The site has not yet been launched, and is still in beta itself!)

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Articles in this series:

  1. WordPress sermon plug-in announced
  2. SermonBrowser beta now available <-- This article

WordPress sermon plug-in announced

I’m currently in the process of developing a WordPress sermon plug-in. I’m trying to make it so that churches with WordPress enabled blogs can simply upload sermons to their website, where they can be searched, listened to, and downloaded. There is already one plugin that can do this (WpSermons), but that doesn’t have all the functionality I need, so I’m working with a coder to have one written from scratch.

My question is: what sort of functionality would you like from a WordPress sermon plug-in? I can’t promise to include any suggestion you make, but it might well be possible if you make a suggestion this early in the coding process.

Articles in this series:

  1. WordPress sermon plug-in announced <-- This article
  2. SermonBrowser beta now available

In Brief

Let me highlight some things I’ve been reading and listening to over the last few weeks, which I’ve been blessed by:

  • Mission: Home or Away? (MP3 file) A wonderful sermon preached yesterday morning by Liam Goligher at Duke Street Baptist Church. He answers the question “Am I called?”, and gives a wonderful survey of all that is being done for gospel around the world – and all that still needs to be done.
  • The New Testament on Divorce: A interesting insight into current debate sparked by David Instone-Brewer’s article in Christianity Today. John Piper then responded, followed by this response and follow-up by Andreas Kostenberger. Very roughly speaking, Instone-Brewer considers the NT to encourage grace after a necessary divorce, John Piper believes re-marriage is never right, and Kostenberger takes the middle-ground. Instone-Brewer follows up the debate with some clarification here.
  • Thinking about Covenants: This post from Ben Witherington may stretch you, but is well worth chewing over.
  • My King: I listened again to S M Lockridge’s “That’s My King” recently, which is still incredibly moving. A few years ago I made a video from his words for a couple of hundred people at a youth conference. This afternoon I found myself wondering how many times it had been watched or downloaded after I posted it on the web. I counted 48,623 from this website, 178,400 on YouTube, 75,451 on Google Video, and 13,620 on GodTube. That’s a total of 316,094 since I put the video up in January 2006, or 465 downloads every single day! If you’ve not yet had a listen, do so now.

Hearing God’s Voice Today

[display_podcast]A recent interview (well, OK three weeks ago) with Greg Haslam raised again the issue of how God speaks. And given the current interest in the Christian blogosphere in discernment (mainly thanks to Tim), the interview is worth exploring again. I’ve held off commenting earlier, because I wanted to be able to provide a counterpoint example, and until now hadn’t found one. Then, this morning, came the latest Tyndale Bulletin, together with a link to Peter Williams’ interview by Justin Taylor back in August, that provided just what I was looking for.

Both men (Peter and Greg) were describing their change of direction in ministry, and how they had been guided. See if you can spot the difference:

God gave me over fifty personal prophecies that made it clear I would be going there, mostly from men who knew nothing about what was afoot… the Lord had told me that this was ‘For the sake of my wider kingdom purposes in London and beyond.’… I remain officially outside of that movement [New Frontiers], in line with all God told me to do five years ago.

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