"Ouch!" & "Amen!"

Still working my way through Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students and enjoying it though I think his chapter on "The Choice of a Text" is maybe not the best way to go about things as a pastor, but hey, he's Charles Spurgeon.

However, his chapter on "Sermons--Their Content" is spot on.

Here are a few good words from Mr. Spurgeon,

"Sermons should have real teaching in them, and their doctrine should be solid, substantial, and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk's sake; we have instructions to convey important to the last degree, and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings. Our range of subjects is all be boundless, and we cannot, therefore, be excused if our discourses are threadbare and devoid of substance. If we speak as ambassadors for God, we need never complain of want of matter, for our message is full to overflowing."

"Brethren, if you are not theologians you are in your pastorates just nothing at all. You may be fine rhetoricians, and be rich in polished sentences; but without knowledge of the gospel, and aptness to teach it, you are but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. Verbiage is too often the fig-leaf which does duty as a covering for theological ignorance. Sounding periods are offered instead of sound doctrine, and rhetorical flourishes in the place of robust thought. Such things ought not to be."

"Remain unwaveringly the champions of a soul-winning gospel. God's truth is adapted to man, and God's grace adapts man to it. There is a key which under God, can wind up the musical box of man's nature; get it, and use it daily. Hence, I urge you to keep to the old-fashioned gospel, and to that only, for assuredly it is the power of God unto salvation. "

"Of all I wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-encompassing theme."

Ouch and Amen!


Seems Appropriate

Given our current state of somewhat of a holding pattern concerning our next place of ministry, I found this excerpt from Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students encouraging and appropriate. This is from the chapter on "The Call to the Ministry." Spurgeon lists one of the assurances that a man is called to the pastorate as God opening a door for him to actually do what heprofesses he hasbeen called to do.

Spurgeon writes,

"At any rate, whether you value the verdict of the church or not, one thing is certain, that none of you can be pastors without the loving consent of the flock; and therefore this will be to you a practical indicator if not a correct one. If your call from the Lord be a real one you will not long be silent. As surely as the man wants his hour, so surely the hour wants its man. The church of God is always urgently in need of living ministers; to her a man is always more precious than the gold of Ophir. Formal officials do lack and suffer hunger, but the anointed of the Lord need never be without a charge, for there are quick ears which will know them by their speech, and ready hearts to welcome them to their appointed place. Be fit for your work, and you will never be out of it. Do not run about inviting yourselves to preach here and there; be more concerned about your ability than your opportunity, and more earnest about your walk with God than about either. The sheep will know the God-sent shepherd; the porter of the fold will open to you, and the flock will know your voice."


Reading: The Pursuit of Humility

This was in a Monergism Books' Reader's Guide for the Christian Life:

It is a humbling thing for me to read a book. Most books take at least several hours of combined time to process, and I have to forsake other distractions in order to focus and benefit from what I am reading. Most of all, I can't talk back. I am forced to just listen, patiently follow and receive, to think another man's thoughts after him.

One of the new desires placed into the heart of every believer is the desire to think God's thoughts after Him. Let's pursue humility by receiving the thoughts of those who have led us and spoken the word of God to us in the most enduring of all earthly mediums: the book.

Pastors As Public Clocks Not Watches

I just started reading Spurgeon's Lectures To My Students. Chapter One is entitled, "The Minister's Self-Watch." Spurgeon, writes on the the need for pastors to be vigorous in their pursuit of holiness. This is so important because of the impact our holiness or lackthereof has on those we shepherd. He makes the great illustration that we are like public clocks and not watches.

It is with us and our hearers as it is with watches and the public clock; if our watch be wrong, very few will be misled by it but ourselves; but if the Horse Guards or Greenwich Observatory should go amiss, half London would lose its reckoning. So it is with the minister; he is the parish-clock, many take their time from him, and if he be incorrect, then they all go wrongly, more or less, and he is in a great measure accountable for all the sin which he occasions.

Being Forgotten In Being Remembered

I was reading the account in Matthew 26 this morning of the woman who broke the alabaster box open and poured out the perfume upon Jesus' feet. Jesus commended this woman for this act of worship while the rest of the disciples viewed it as a waste of something very precious. He then promised that this woman and her act of worship would be remembered wherever the gospel was proclaimed throughout the entire world.

Why did Jesus commend her while the disciples condemned her? It was clear through this woman's actions that she understood who Jesus was and in some sense what He was about to do. She saw the value of Jesus and in seeing the value of Jesus could sacrifice in such a way that what appeared to others as waste, was joyful worship for her. To this woman Jesus was far more important than an alabaster box full of ointment. And while Jesus promised that what she had done would be spoken of wherever the gospel was proclaimed in memory of her, it seems that once we remember her for what she did, the expectation is that we will remember why she did it. Thus, our remembering of this woman and her actions is ultimately meant to lead us to remembering the treasure that is Jesus.

May our lives be lived in such a way that we joyfully sacrifice for Jesus and the Good News about Him going to all the nations. And as people see and remember that sacrifice, may they see the value of Christ through us. In being remembered, may we be forgotten.


The Blessing of Criticism

"Be advised to consider what others say of you and improve it to this end, to know whether you do not live in some way of sin...And though the imputation may seem to us to be very groundless and we think that they, in charging us so, are influenced by no good spirit; yet if we act prudently, we shall take so much notice of it as to make an occassion of examining ourselves ... it is most imprudent as well as most unchristian, to take it amiss, and resent it, when we are thus told of our faults: we should rather rejoice in it, that we are shown our spots ... we should improve what our enemies say of us. If they from an ill spirit reproach and revile us to our faces, we should consider it, so far as to reflect inward upon ourselves and inquire whether it not be so, as they charge us ... they are likely to fix on real faults, they are likely to fall upon us where we are weakest and most defective."

- Jonathan Edwards, The Necessity of Self Examination.


John Calvin's 500th B-Day

Today is the birthday of John Calvin who would have been 500 today. Lots of posts today on Calvin and his importance and why we celebrate his life and in doing so we are actually giving praise to God for the way He used, an imperfect man no doubt, to influence the Church and further the Gospel and a spreading of a passion for the glory of God.

One of the best of those posts is from Kevin DeYoung here. Here's an excerpt:

Calvin’s confidence was in the Word of God, and that’s why his theology and vision of the world continues to capture the minds and hearts of people in the 21st century. That’s why five hundred years later we remember his birth. That’s why Calvin the preacher and expositor has millions more spiritual children than Erasmus the scholar and hermeneutical skeptic. Strive for relevance in your day, and you’ll may make a difference for a few years. Anchor yourself in what is eternal and you may influence the world for another five centuries.

No one will care about your GPA and SAT scores in ten years. If you win a state championship, you’ll be forgotten the next year you don’t. Your beauty will get wrinkles and trim figure plump. Write a great book and it will gather dust in a library some day. Have a big famous church, it won’t last forever. Be an important person in your field, you still be unknown to over 6 billion people in the world. Build an amazing house, it will crumble some day, if it doesn’t go into foreclosure first. All of our achievements and successes are destined to be like dead grass and faded flowers.

But...the word of our God stands forever. The word about Babylon in Isaiah 40 stood firm. and so will his word in our generation. All God’s declarations about himself and his people are true. All his promises will come to pass. Our only confidence is in the word of God. John Calvin was a man, an imperfect, sinful man, but a man that God used enormously because he put his confidence in the word of God.


Looking Back: The Multi-Campus Methodolgy from 2109

Jonathan Leeman over at 9Marks has an interesting article from the future that assesses the results of the multi-campus methodology. Here's the closing paragraph:

A century which began with several bright stars—a proliferation of good literature, biblical preachers of the first order, even what some called a Reformed Revolution—ended darkly. Indeed, some of the century's best preachers, driven by the very desire to propagate the good message in their day, helped to undermine that message for the next generation by following the strategies of the marketplace. No one expected the devil to once more usher in the corruptions of the ancient Roman church through such a peripheral matter like church polity, even though he had done it before. (He always does his best work in the places where people forget to look.) Only now he did in decades what earlier he had taken centuries to accomplish. By the middle of the twenty-first century, the devastation was…


2 Must Listen To Messages

Below is a link to what I believe to be the two best sermons from this year's Pastor's Conference of the SBC. Be especially sure to listen/watch David Platt's sermon. One former SBC President commented that it was the greatest sermon in the history of the Pastor's Conference. Dr. Alvin Reid made the comment that it may have been the most significant sermon he has ever heard.

Two challenging quotes from Francis Chan's message. Listen to the entire message to get the context and the impact.

In regards to the church and what it is to be and do: "I'm sick of being almost biblical."

"If Jesus or Paul were to plant a church in my community, I believe my church would be bigger because I know how to draw and keep a crowd better than they do."

And from David Platt's message:

"Are we going to die in our religion or are we going to die in our devotion?"
Here's the link.


DeYoung & Kluck: Love the Church, Don't Leave It

Here's a great article in the Washington Post by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck concerning the importance of the church and why we should love it and not leave it.

Perhaps Christians are leaving the church because it isn’t tolerant and open-minded. But perhaps the church-leavers have their own intolerance too—intolerant of tradition, intolerant of authority, intolerant of imperfection except their own. Are you open-minded enough to give the church a chance—a chance for the church to be the church, not a coffee shop, not a mall, not a variety show, not Chuck E.Cheese, not a U2 concert, not a nature walk, but a wonderfully ordinary, blood-bought, Spirit-driven church with pastors, sermons, budgets, hymns, bad carpet and worse coffee?

The Church, because it is Christ’s church, will outlive American Idol, the NFL, and all of our grandkids. We won’t last, but the Church will. So when it comes to church, be like Jesus: love it, don’t leave it. As Saint Calloway once prophesied to the Brothers of Blues, “Jake, you get wise, you get to church.”