Advent #2 Peace

This talk was given by Sean Alan Page at Alliance Bible Church on Isaiah 9:2-7. Fantastic talk and another great preacher, apparently he works with incarcerated youth as a prison chaplain. I wanted to share three things that stood out to me:

  1. Prepare with Prayer…stresses and pressures come, and in many cases we know when they are due. When the meeting is, when the deadline approaches, when you are sitting down with the person you dislike for a difficult conversation. In the talk Sean encouraged us to prepare for those situations ‘like a Christian’, in prayer, by turning to the ‘Prince of Peace’.

This mirrored something else I read in James this week. James 5:13 – “If anyone is in trouble, let him pray”. My work is pretty stressful at the moment, and it’s due to be that way for a few months. As we cycle through the various annual deadlines, reports, committees and reviews. There is a lot expected of me, and little room for ‘peace’.

A secular point of view would be to ‘get some perspective’, ‘delegate’, ‘practice mindfulness’, ‘make a to-do list’ etc etc, all good things. But as a Christian I have a hidden weapon: Prayer.

2) There is one religion with a ‘Prince of Peace’. Surely, He is the One we need.

3) I was encouraged and challenged by the life work of the Pastor who spoke. He goes into these prison and speaks of hope, peace and future for young guys who have made the biggest blunders and been caught. This week, I also heard of a UK Christian organisation called The Message, that does a similar thing. This is something I want to be looking more into. Especially if God has brought it into my awareness twice, from two different sources, in a week.

Mike Pilavachi: Preaching to Young People

Mike Pilavachi

These are sermon notes taken from Mike Pilavachi’s sermon: Preaching to Young People. Given at Westminster Chapel on the 25th May 2015. I have listened to this sermon and these are my notes, I am not claiming right over the source from which they were taken. Nor do I claim that the phrases used were exactly put that way by Mike Pilavachi. In the process of taking these notes, I may have misinterpreted what he said. (Please don’t sue me!). Also there were a lot of examples that Pilavachi used which were really funny, and demonstrated his points, I have not included them. 


  • What do we mean by “youth”? We must understand that there are a lot of sub-cultures within that term.
  • This applies to regular preaching to adults.


Content vs Engagement

Both are very important, however content remains the same regardless whilst presentation will sometimes have to change. Therefore we need to look at both, and get both right. If we have amazing content – good doctrine ect – yet no engagement they won’t understand it (it will be useless information). On the other hand if we have great presentation – engaging using all different forms of media etc – but the gospel isn’t there they won’t have enough information to make a decision (the cross won’t be communicated).

How do we present the amazing truths of the gospel in a way that the younger generation can understand and respond to?


  1. We have to preach in the context of relationship.

We must genuinely love them, because they can detect this when it is there and when it is missing. Pray that God will enable us to see them how He sees them.

How do we express our love and vulnerability to young people?

  • Authentically
  • Personal
  • 2 Cor “you have 10,000 teachers, but no fathers”. Let us ask God to give us a Father heart for the young people. Around father’s children grow. God has to give us this heart.


  1. Planned Spontaneity

Young people want to feel that “this isn’t scripted in advance this is personal to me” and “this is something we can get involved in”. What does this look like?

  • To plan and prepare what you will say so thoroughly that you are comfortable with spontaneity/audience participation.
  • We are not trying to change the outcome of the teaching, teach whatever they want.
  • Learning how to go on a tangent, where you are not in control, and then bringing it back. This is a skill which we will need to develop.
  • g: pointing out that someone is late…playing off the response (playfully); noticing if people are talking (playfully)…it may backfire but be comfortable.


  1. Up to a point tell your story, as it relates to His story

It needs to be how it relates to His story and the Bible’s story. Be vulnerable and weak. The danger is we end up pointing more at ourselves rather than Him. Let us not get in the way.

  • Tell your story, or others’ story…this earths the Bible in real life.
  • It also builds relationship


  1. Model your journey of discovering scripture in the way you teach*

So many young people are scared of the Bible, and intimidated by it. We are not just teaching the Bible, but teaching how to read the Bible.

  • How do you handle footnotes?
  • Where do you get answers from your questions from?
  • What questions do you have as you read scripture? Is it okay to have questions? Is it okay not to understand everything?


  1. Speak their language

Understand their culture. Our model for this is Jesus Christ, who came and spoke in Aramaic the language of the people (rather than Hebrew the language of the elite). He used parables that were relevant to their culture.

Saying this, it is more important that we are authentic rather than relevant. There will be elements of their culture that you don’t understand.

But as our hearts grow towards them, we will want to learn more about them. We can bridge the gap.


  1. Practical Outworking/Response

How will they respond? We don’t always need to do BIG altar calls, sometimes more specific less broad, will have a greater impact. Do we call for practical responses, or super spiritual ones?

Where else in the secular world do we see similar models to preaching? (i.e 40 minutes non-stop speaking)

  • Politician – stirring people up to x,y,z…
  • College lecturer – teach people
  • Stand up comedian – holds an audience with humour

Which category do we fall into? Are we willing to lean into other styles? Consider the advantages of each. There needs to be an element of all three, not always in equal measure. The most important thing is that we are

  • Real (authentic)
  • Passionate
  • Loving

*Styles of Teaching

  • One verse

Just one line at a time, how easy it is to understand the Bible, how much you can get out of one verse.

  • Stories from Bible

They can act it out, make it funny e.g. have arsenal supporters as pigs in the prodigal son, or having a girl as the father and boy as the lost son “hugged and kissed his son”. They will remember it.

  • Explain the study

Point out the footnotes (when useful)…Explain how the internet can be a great tool for Bible reading. That you don’t have to understand everything, not even Greek and Hebrew to get something out of the Bible. Model how you deal with questions (asking people, checking online)

  • Big Verses/Passages
  • Theme/Topic

Final Thoughts:

  • When we talk about tough issues such as the topic of homosexuality/celibacy/marriage etc, let’s major on the positive of God’s plan – the positive of God’s way.
  • Preaching and worship: How does the worship song/time hammer in the truths of sermons. These are the things they will sing.

A note on “sermon notes”

In my spare time, I like listening to sermons (because I’m a bit of a nerdy-Christian like that). Usually I make notes in my journal but recently, along with the ongoing attempt to digitize my journals, I have started typing up these sermons. I’m pretty sure legally I am allow to type up notes, provided their not word for word and I give full credit to the preacher, and publish them on the blog. I will attach links to where I found the sermon.

I will stress that these notes only represent my interpretation of the speakers message, and in order to properly understand their meaning I encourage readers to watch the original. I may have misinterpreted. So please don’t sue me!

There are a handful of speakers/preachers who I listen to on a regular basis. These include John Piper, Louie Giglio, Francis Chan and Mike Pilavachi. However, I hope as this blog develops I will discover new and other brilliant preachers.

My ultimate intention is to provide encouragement to other Christians who otherwise wouldn’t listen to the messages because of lack of time and busyness. I also believe that by listening, and paying close attention, to other gifted communicators I will develop my own gift.

Francis Chan: Unstained by the World


franchanThese are sermon notes taken from: Francis Chan’s Sermon: Unstained by the World. Given at the Navigators National Staff Conference, 2015. I have listened to this sermon and these are my notes, I am not claiming right over the source from which they were taken. Nor do I claim that the phrases used were exactly put that way by Francis Chan. In the process of taking these notes, I may have misinterpreted what he said. (Please don’t sue me!) The original can be found at this address

Here goes:

The Bible talks about how one day we will give an account for our actions, the things we do on earth we will have to give an account for. In light of this, it’s good to finish strong. In our culture we tend to do radical things for Jesus when we are young, but as we got old we tend to tame down and live more comfortably. Let’s change this!

2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

In this passage Paul is not talking about the world, he is saying these things are going to creep into the church. This is why 1 Cor 5:11, Paul urges Christians to avoid those who call themselves ‘followers of Jesus’, yet live this double life.

One issue is that within this list we don’t consider a lot of these things sins anymore:

Lovers of themselves, Whitney Houston once said the “greatest love of all is learning to love yourself”. This has crept into the Church. When we quote Jesus that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. We focus on the last part. Loving ourselves. Actually this is what Christ can save us from: loving ourselves, He can help us to love Him and others. The lie is: Love yourself

Lover of money, Jesus gave everything he had for others, this is considered “extreme” by most Christians when it comes to applying this. We try to grab as much as possible. But Jesus, Phil 2, is our example, who humbled and surrendered Himself. The lie is: Grab all you can

Lovers of pleasure, False teaching of promises of “wealth, health”, this is how some churches lure people in. Appealing to the desire of pleasure. We talk about following our heart, following our desires, rather than the commands. The lie is: Follow your heart

The Bible says, “deny yourself, grab a cross, follow me!”.

Discipleship – Prayer

Is it more important that we have larger youth groups where people aren’t disciple in depth, or smaller ones where young people are discipled and taught how to disciple others. This sometimes means more than just one hour a week, we are family, are we willing to open ourselves up to him.

He gives a story of inviting an ex-convict and his family to live with him, despite the possible risks. [Life-on-life discipleship] He explain that now this once-prisoner, spends his time discipling other prisoners.

As we make disciples, they take on our weaknesses, (just like kids learn bad things from their parents). Therefore we need to be all about loving Jesus. We often talk about organisations, speakers, books…but let’s become a people who talk about Jesus! We are able to go up the mountain and talk with God.

Let us pray the prayer of Eph 3:14-19, lets pray on our knees for other believers. Prayer is so important to the work of discipleship.

“according to the glories of Your riches”: God is so much more able to help people grasp. Let us ask Him to. We are not able to raise the dead, with clever programs, we need God. This isn’t about behaviour modification, it is about internal change, actions follow from this.

“rooted and grounded in love”: this is a work of the Holy Spirit, not accountability partners.

“filled with the fullness of God”: What are you known for? Is it being filled with the fullness of God, or is it being a great leader, pastor, speaker, having a great youth group. I want to be known as someone who loves God.

There are enough “how to” books in the Church, we need to get on our knees and pray.