Month: March 2007

Charcoal Fires

My good friend Ross Strader has moved his blog Charcoal Fires. Check it out. It will be worth your time. Gonna wanna bookmark his…

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Tim Keller Is Making Art To The Glory Of God

Tim Keller and Charlie Peacock among other writers, art historians, actors, musicians, poets, and artists have contributed to It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. This book seeks to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a creative individual who is a follower of the creative God?” through a series of essays which offer theoretical and practical insights into artmaking from a Christian perspective. It Was Good runs over 300 pages and features full color artwork throughout by over fifty artists as diverse as Michelangelo, Edward Knippers {I love this guy!!!! Knippers was very influential in my early years of painting as I struggled with nudity in Christian art and I caused some mayhem at the conservative Southern Baptist college I was attending over my graphic senior art exhibit} , Howard Finster, Tim Hawkinson, Dayton Castleman, Rembrandt, Karen Mulder, Mary McCleary, Matthew Clark and Peter Mollenkof.

This should be my next purchase!

Prayer and Preaching

I am notorious for reading 15,000,00 books at one time. My list to the right, however, does not reflect what I am reading now. I have not updated it for many months now {as pointed out by Mike at The Missional Position} . See his comments here. But, I am finishing Richard Baxter’s “The Reformed Pastor” which is my “Puritan of the Month Read” for March, and was struck by these words:

“Our whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of our own insufficiency, and of our entire dependence on Christ. We must go for light, and life, and strength to him who sends us on the work. And when we feel our own faith weak, and our hearts dull, and unsuitable to so great a work as we have to do, we must have recourse to him, and say, ‘Lord, wilt thou send me with such an unbelieving heart to persuade others to believe? Must I daily plead with sinners about everlasting life and everlasting death, and have no more belief or feeling of these weighty things myself? O, send me not naked and unprovided to the work; but, as thou commandest me to do it, furnish me with a spirit suitable thereto.’ Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching: he preacheth not heartily to his people, that prayeth not earnestly for them. If we prevail not with God to give them faith and repentance, we shall never prevail with them to believe and repent. When our own hearts are so far out of order, and theirs so far out of order, if we prevail not with God to mend and help them, we are like to make but unsuccessful work.”

Words that need heeding…

Click here for more info or to join the “Puritan of the Month Club”…our April book looks promising!

Pastoral Burnout

Mark Driscoll has blogged at The Resurgence about how his body is wearing down from pastoring and preaching at one of the fastest growing churches in America, Mars Hill. Obviously the Lord has/is blessing Mark’s ministry, but I must admit that I question his rationale for keeping up this hectic speaking schedule {he preaches at least 4 times a Sunday}.

Now, before you throw stones, let me tell you that I love this guy. I listen to his sermons, have read his books, and I think very highly of him. You can say that I’m a fan. I think he’s great. But here’s my problem with some megachurches. And before you throw stones, let me say that I see nothing wrong with them. The more people we can reach with the Gospel, the better. And video services I have no problem with either. Use technology, go for it. Extend the kingdom.

Here’s my issue. As a preacher, I know it is physically demanding to preach when you put your soul into it. I have heard it said that preaching for one hour is equivalent to 8 hours of hard manual labor. I can’t prove it, but I would agree. It takes a toll on you. My problem, or rather, question to those pastors who preach extensively in one day/weekend often enough that its causing physical issues is: why not bring on another pastor who is an equally qualified, gifted teacher who can help carry the load? Surely there are gifted teaching pastors out there looking for a ministry position? Might you alternate?

This is just me wondering about my fellow brothers out there who are over-extending themsleves. Mark, if you happen to read this, and I doubt you will, keep up the good work. I’m praying for you. I hope you multiply abundantly and reach even more of Seattle with the Gospel. I pray that you plant more churches. I hope that God opens more opportunities for you to write books, speak at conferences, raise up elders, etc because we need you. I only hope that you and the other gifted brothers who have a large platform will find a way to do it, but not have to do it all yourself.

For Those of You Who Preach

Couldn’t resist copying this from Justin Taylor’s blog…file it under GOLD.

This is Charles Spurgeon’s recipe for church growth:

My good ministering brother, have you got an empty church? Do you want to fill it? I will give you a good recipe, and if you will follow it, you will, in all probability, have your chapel full to the doors.

Burn all your manuscripts, that is No. 1. Give up your notes, that is No. 2. Read your Bible and preach it as you find it in the simplicity of its language. And give up all your Latinized English. Begin to tell the people what you have felt in your own heart, and beseech the Holy Spirit to make your heart as hot as a furnace for zeal. Then go out and talk to the people. Speak to them like their brother. Be a man amongst men. Tell them what you have felt and what you know, and tell it heartily with a good, bold face; and, my dear friend, I do not care who you are, you will get a congregation.

But if you say, “Now, to get a congregation, I must buy an organ.”

That will not serve you a bit.

“But we must have a good choir.”

I would not care to have a congregation that comes through a good choir.

“No,” says another, “but really I must a little alter my style of preaching.”

My dear friend, it is not the style of preaching, it is the style of feeling. People sometimes begin to mimic other preachers, because they are successful. Why, the worst preachers are those who mimic others, whom they look upon as standards preach naturally. Preach out of your hearts just what you feel to be true, and the old soul-stirring words of the gospel will soon draw a congregation. “Where the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”

But if it ended there, what would be the good of it? If the congregation came and listened to the sound, and then went away unsaved, of what use would it be? But in the next place, Christ acts as a net to draw men unto him. The gospel ministry is, in God’s Word, compared to a fishery; God’s ministers are the fishermen, they go to catch souls, as fishermen go to catch fish.

How shall souls be caught? They shall be caught by preaching Christ. Just preach a sermon that is full of Christ, and throw it unto your congregation, as you throw a net into the sea; —you need not look where they are, nor try to fit your sermon to different cases; but, throw it in, and as sure as God’s Word is what it is, it shall not return to him void; it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and prosper in the thing whereto he hath sent it.

The gospel never was unsuccessful yet, when it was preached with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. It is not fine orations upon the death of princes, or the movements of politics which will save souls. If we wish to have sinners saved and to have our churches increased; if we desire the spread of God’s kingdom, the only thing whereby we can hope to accomplish the end, is the lifting up of Christ; for, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.”

Read the whole sermon, Christ Lifted Up (preached July 5, 1857).