"We need to lay before this convention a compelling vision and give a prophetic warning that we have two choices: die a painful death, or live a painful change...What our convention chooses to do will determine what God does with this denomination...Wilderness wanderings or Canaan conquests."
How can so many of today's churches demonstrate what can only be described as an impatience with the Word of God? The biblical formula is clear -- the neglect of the Word can only lead to disaster, disobedience, and death. God rescues his church from error, preserves his church in truth, and propels his church in witness only by his Word -- not by congregational self-study.
In the end, an impatience with the Word of God can be explained only by an impatience with God. We -- both individually and congregationally -- neglect God's Word to our own ruin.
As Jesus himself declared, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
"People probably don't realize it, but I was raised a Buddhist, and I actively practiced my faith from childhood until I drifted away from it in recent years. Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught."
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
"Most Americans believe that their major problem is something that has happened to them, and that their solution is to be found within. In other words, they believe they have an alien problem that is to be resolved with an inner solution. What the gospel says, however, is that we have an inner problem that demands an alien solution--a righteousness that is not our own."
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'" (Romans 1:16-17)
The scarcity of parenting texts is deliberate, premeditated, and precise. God knows there are only two in the New Testament: this is no mistake. Why so few? The answer is so simple and probably so obvious that it is easy to miss. There are so few Scriptures because the gospel is the classroom that teaches us everything we need to know to become effective Christian parents. If we really understand the gospel, and how to apply it to our marriages and parenting, we have all the tools we need to pass the baton to our children.
1. The gospel teaches Christian parents to fear God.2. The gospel motivates parents to lead by example.3. The gospel centers families in their male servant leaders.4. The gospel teaches and motivates parents to discipline their children.5. The gospel motivates parents to teach their children.6. The gospel motivates parents to lavish their children with love and affection.7. The gospel is the solution for inadequate parents.
- Effective parents don't expect a cakewalk. They assume it will be difficult but that the end result--delightful Christ-centered adult children who are married to mates you actually like--will make it all worth the effort.
- Yes, God is sovereign. But there is a parallel truth: God uses means. God gives children parents to draw them to himself. He can use other means, but he prefers parents. The point of this book is that God normally exercises his sovereignty through parents who faithfully practice biblical parenting.
- Effective parents equip their children to overcome the world--not by changing and controlling their environment, but by going after their children's hearts. We change their hearts by teaching the gospel, modeling the gospel, and centering our homes on the gospel. The gospel, rightly understood and modeled, makes Christianity attractive. Effective parents make the gospel so attractive that the world cannot get a foothold in their children's hearts.
- New birth is known by its fruits, not by a decision. The most important fruit is hunger for God himself. Effective parents assume this, and patiently wait for sustained fruit before they render a verdict.
- In a God-centered family, everyone serves God by submitting to the authority over them. The husband focuses on pleasing God, not his wife. The wife focuses on pleasing God by submitting to her husband's authority rather than pleasing her children. The children please God by honoring and obeying their parents.
In ministry we are reading "two texts" simultaneously, the story of Scripture and the story of the person we serve. In ministry we must always have one eye on the biblical text and one eye on the individual. Or better, our gaze constantly shifts between the two. Reading the Bible without reading the person is a recipe for irrelevance in ministry. Reading the person without reading the Bible is a recipe for ministry lacking the life-changing power of the the Spirit working through His Word.When we read Scripture, we notice details that reveal the pastoral intentions of a text for its original audience ("original context"). We also expect to see how the themes of the passage relate to the rest of the Bible and, most particularly, to the climax of redemption in Christ ("expanded context"). When we read people, we are attentive to the details of their lives. We discover how these details fit into their experience as saints, sufferers, and sinners. This helps us understand the God-centered or self-centered story lines by which they live.Our ultimate goal is application, the place where these two readings come together to bear good fruit--greater love for God and for others. Application happens when people "inhabit" the worldview of the text in such a way that they gain gospel-centered clarity and direction for their situation--and act on it. This is what connecting Scripture and life is all about! The goal of reading Scripture is not merely to produce an accurate, detailed outline of the passage. Nor is it simply to gain an understanding of how a text might have impacted its original audience. Nor is it a whiz-band, jaw-dropping, creative connection of the passage to the person and work of Christ. Nor is it to generate a list of action steps to take. Similarly, the goal of reading people does not stop with understanding the particulars of their lives as saints, sufferers, and sinners. Those insights alone will not bring change. Rather, the goal of reading Scripture and reading people together is so that we can help others increasingly reflect the character and kingdom priorities of Jesus Christ. The goal of connecting Scripture with life is nothing less than changed lives, a changed community, and a changed world, as people listen to the God who speaks truth and love. This is CrossTalk in action!
We deviate from Scriptural precept and historical example, however, when a pastor’s role as “leader” displaces his primary role as a teacher—a shepherd who feeds God’s people with the truth of his Word. The relentless call to pastors in the New Testament is to the ministry of the Word, from the apostles’ retirement from mercy ministry (Acts 6:1–4) to Paul’s dying words to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2).
I doubt anyone reading this would reject the content of the previous paragraph. My concern is rather with a false dichotomy that I fear is all too common: a dichotomy in the pastor’s mind between “teaching” and “leadership.” In the pulpit or behind the podium, we’re “teaching;” anywhere else, we’re “leading.” My modest goal in this post is to destroy this dichotomy. There is no more powerful or fundamental expression of a pastor’s leadership than the preaching of the Word. At its core, that’s what biblical leadership is: setting forth for our people a biblical vision of God and his purposes, and then calling them to give their lives to it and live in light of it (and outside the pulpit, modeling for them what it looks like). Every time we preach, we’re making room for God to lead his people, allowing his Word to set direction, to impart encouragement, to provide comfort, and to instill faith. Much more is happening on a Sunday morning than the mere transfer of information. This is our key leadership moment.
A temptation in ministry is to think that just because we prepare for a Bible study, a sermon, or a discipleship appointment (or wrote a book like this!), we are deeply engaging with the God of the universe. But that's not necessarily true. It's easy in ministry to live more as a "pipe" than a "reservoir." That is, it's easy to live merely as a conduit to others of the transforming truths of God's Word, rather than as a changed and transformed reservoir who overflows with lived-out gospel truth. You wouldn't imagine cooking meal after meal for your family without sitting down to enjoy that nourishment yourself, would you? To paraphrase James 1:22, let's not merely be hearers or speakers or counselors of the Word but doers, first and foremost!
Our lives are controlled or directed by what we value. We functionally worship what we believe will bring us joy, happiness, peace, contentment, and the like. It's easy to say that we worship God in an ultimate sense, but our daily lives reveal the 'functional' gods we serve in the moment.
Within a matter, Spurgeon would preach his first sermon, tricked into doing so by an older friend who asked him to go to a Teversham cottage the next Sunday evening, for a young man was to preach there for the first time and would be glad to have the company. "That was a cunningly devised sentence," Spurgeon later wrote, for "a request to go and preach would have met with a decided negative, but merely to act as company to a good brother who did not like to be lonely, and perhaps might ask us to give out a hymn or to pray, was not at all a difficult matter, and the request, understood in that fashion, was cheerfully compiled with."
Our Sunday-school work was over, and tea had been taken, and we set off through Barnwell, and away along the Newmarket-road, with a gentleman some few years our senior. We talked of good things, and at last we expressed our hope that he would feel the presence of God while preaching. He seemed to start, and assured us that he had never preached in his life, and could not attempt such a thing: he was looking to his young friend, Mr. Spurgeon, for that. This was a new view of the situation, and I could only reply that I was no minister, and that even if I had been I was quite unprepared. My companion only repeated that HE, even in a more emphatic sense, was not a preacher, that he would help ME in any other part of the service, but that there would be no sermon unless I gave them one.