Month: January 2008

The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister

I shared the ideas of this article with the staff and elders at CBC this week, so I thought I’d post it here. Don Whitney says in his excellent article, “The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister… and How to Avoid it”-

“Almost everyone knows someone who used to be in the ministry. Almost everyone knows someone who shouldn’t be in the ministry. And every minister knows another minister—if not several—he does not want to be like.

But the sad news for ministers is, regardless of your age or education or experience, it is almost inevitable that you will become the kind of minister you do not want to be. So I think it’s important to address the subject of: the almost inevitable ruin of every minister . . . and how to avoid it.

Once when a Southern Baptist denominational executive was on the Midwestern Seminary campus in the late 1990s, he asserted that statistics show that for every twenty men who enter the ministry, by the time those men reach age sixty-five, only one will still be in the ministry.

Despite all the commitment with which they began the race, despite all the investment of time and money to prepare, despite the years of spent in service, despite the cost of retooling and redirecting their lives, nearly all will leave the ministry. Some will opt out for health reasons. Some will wash out in their private lives. Some will bow out, realizing they had misread the call of God. Some will bail out because the stress is so great. Some will be forced out by their churches. Some will walk out from sheer frustration and a sense of failure. And if you haven’t given serious thought to leaving the ministry, you haven’t been in it very long.

Despite the fact that no one goes into the ministry to be a casualty, the ruin of almost every minister, it seems, is inevitable. For in addition to the high percentage of those who leave the ministry, sometimes it appears that of those who do stay in the ministry, many of them have been ruined in other ways.”

You can read the rest of the article here at Don’s website:

{HT: Gunny}


Let us remember…

My favorite part is the quotation of Isaiah 40:4-5
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you…)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love…

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thunder cloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Rain down him
So let it be
So let it be

Sleep tonight
And may your dreams
Be realized
If the thundercloud
Passes rain
So let it rain
Let it rain
Rain on him

Church Leaders

Some great wisdom from Tim Keller:

“Most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus’ costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don’t need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn’t based on their performance.”



An Opportunity To Give

I know a pastor {Tom} who is suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and will have to leave his pastorate and stop working altogether. He will require 24 hour care and the financial need/strain/bills is beyond overwhelming. Would you consider doing one of 2 things:

1} Pray for Tom and his wife- for healing and for their financial needs and bills to be met.
2} Give. I know you don’t know this man, but if the Lord so stirs your heart, you can contact me here or here.

How To Prepare For Sunday

Eric Simmons posted these great ideas on preparing for Sunday worship with a church body:

Ever seen somebody asleep during church?

You know, the older guy or college student doing the head bob. It’s fun to watch isn’t it?

I had a friend one time fall asleep in church and dream that he was jumping up for a rebound during a basketball game. He jumped about three feet off of his seat right during the message. It was an awesome sight.

Anything we do on a weekly basis can become so routine we take it for granted—like Sunday morning. The gathering of the church can easily become just something to get through in the morning so you can hang out with your friends afterward.

But God intended the gathering of the church on Sundays to be more than just a place to take a nap. God intended it to be so much more. So I want to give some thoughts about how not to waste Sunday morning. Here we go.

1. Start Saturday Night. Loving the gathering of the church and benefiting from the time with your local church and your pastor starts Saturday night. When I was in college the times I missed church or fell asleep during the message were usually the same times I stayed up till 4am on Saturday night playing basketball with my friends.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with hanging out with friends late. But you have to ask yourself the question, “What’s more important to my walk with God?” We have to make priority decisions that are going to be painful to our schedule. Prepare for the gathering of the church by prioritizing sleep Saturday night.

2. Prepare Your Heart. The gathering of the church is not just a “meeting” it is a reunion of the local church family that you are living life with. This gathering is not a place to sit and be a spectator. This is your family and you are a participant.

One way to prepare for this and wake up a little earlier and seek the Lord as to how you can serve your church with your words. Who can you encourage? Who can you talk to who is new? What do you need help with? Who do you need to confess your sin to or reconcile with? Come with expectation.

3. Pray for the pastor and people. The gathering of the church is a spiritual event. Pray that God would use you, would use your pastor, and would use your family to help one another and encourage one another in the faith. Pray that God would open the eyes of those who do not know Jesus yet. Pray for the youth and the children of the church that they would respond to the gospel.

4. Serve. Find some practical way you can serve every Sunday. I find the more involved I am with anything the more excited I am to participate. So find a need and fill it.

5. Make sure your ears are on. Here are two things to keep your ears on during the gathering of the church. First, during the time of singing pay attention at times to the other voices. Our time of corporate singing is an amazing time for us to be reminded that we are not alone in this and that we have others around us singing the same song of salvation. Corporate singing is not just about you and God and being edified by the Spirit (though it is). It is also a weekly reminder that you exist in a relationship with other believers in a local church.

Second, another crucial thing your ears should be on is the preached word. This is one of the most important parts if not the most important part of the gathering. It is not time for a nap, it’s time to wake up and listen and receive from God through the preached word. In his wisdom God has called that man preaching on a given Sunday to preach His word to you. God has chosen this man. Even if he is a guest speaker, or a new speaker, or a speaker that is not your “preference” God has called this man to this task and you’re responsible to listen to God’s word. Let’s be honest, our tendency is to tune out if we don’t really like the way the guy is preaching or the topic he is preaching on. But regardless of our preference our Father has seen to it that this is what He wants us to hear that morning. Let us put aside our personal preferences and come to the preached word hungry and expectant and ready to apply it.

6. Be hospitable afterwards. Look for that new person and bring them into your circle of friends. The church gathering is supposed to be the most hospitable place on earth. Let’s make sure it is.

Those are just a few ideas for how to get the most out of God’s gift of Sunday morning. Together, lets fight our tendency to take our weekly gatherings for granted. Lets not waste our Sundays. Our churches need active participants, not ambivalent spectators.

Prodigal Son

Okay, so this is another Piper-related post. Sorry. But I couldn’t resist sharing this great story of his son Abraham’s return to the LORD, especially since I just posted on praying for your children.

You can read Abraham’s story here {and check out John Piper’s sidebar quote about being the father of a prodigal son!}. Abraham gives some great advice on what to do if your child does not believe in Jesus.

{HT: Already and Not Yet}

Who Will You Pray For Everyday?

Since we were discussing this in Sunday school yesterday, I thought I’d share a thought from John Piper on prayer. For those of you who were in my class {or weren’t} we were discussing the need to pray for our children. I found this blog post from Piper this morning. You can read a great story about his dad and find out who made a commitment to Piper years ago to pray for him everyday for the rest of their life!

Who would you commit to pray for everyday for the rest of your life?

A Promise Kept


I am notorious for beating myself up about how selfish I am, especially as it relates to being married. My source of strength, rebuke, encouragement, and stick-to-it-tiveness comes from the Scriptures, of course. But I thought I’d share one other resource that has helped me to be a more Christ-like husband over the years. One of my dearest mentors, a wise, aged pastor tipped me off to this book years ago and it has been one source that I go to, to learn better how to love my wife as Christ loves His church.

Robertson McQuilkin’s book “A Promise Kept” will get in your face and challenge you in ways you may not expect. His example of Christ-like love to his suffering wife is a prime example of what Jesus is calling husbands to be for their wives. Consider reading this book sometime. Its very short. But don’t let the cover art fool you. It looks “girly” but I promise you that Mike Tyson-like content awaits inside.

A Return To Traditon

As my family and I were in the doctor’s office last week waiting to find out the sex of our new baby, I was looking through the magazines and was pleased to discover that Trinity Fellowship Church in Richardson, TX was featured in a great article in U.S. News and World Report called “A Return To Tradition.” We attended Trinity shortly last year while we were in between pastorates. Trinity is home to several DTS professors and does a great job of maintaining the historic elements of the Christian faith.

Christian Fasting – A Theological Approach by Kent D. Berghuis


I’m excited to see that one of my former professors from Dallas Seminary has published a book on fasting: “Christian Fasting- A Theological Approach” by Kent Berghuis. This is on my list of books to purchase and read in 2008. Dr. Berghuis is now pastoring at First Baptist Church of Lansdale, PA.

I had several theology classes with Dr. Berghuis and he taught me to love the Triune God of Christian history and appreciate the contemporary relevance of historical theology. I’m looking forward to reading this!

“This book was written as a PhD dissertation for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School of Trinity International University, Deerfield, Illinois. It is perhaps the most comprehensive study of fasting in the biblical and Christian history tradition available, with a theological integration for the contemporary relevance of fasting. The central theological thesis is that Christian fasting must ultimately be centered on Christ, reflect proper ways of engaging the human body in sanctification, and remember the corporate nature of the believer’s community. Included are two valuable appendices. One catalogs all biblical references to fasting. The other is the author’s own translation of two important Greek sermons “de jejunio,” “About Fasting” sermons 1 and 2, by the 4th century bishop, St. Basil of Caesarea, otherwise unavailable in the English language. The book includes a foreword by Scot McKnight of North Park University, and the cover includes the following endorsements from the dissertation committee professors, Robert Yarbrough and Wayne Grudem.”
Kent Berghuis


“In my research for a book on fasting I read a shelf full of books and a stacks of journal articles, and without question the finest thing I read was by Kent Berghuis, called Christian Fasting: A Theological Approach. He gets the essence of fasting right, and he is one of the very few who sees fasting as having an eschatological dimension. This may be a research book but it is written so well anyone seriously interested in thinking about fasting at a level deeper than “what should I do? how should I do it?” will find this book delightful.There is simply no book about fasting that is this biblical, and I’m grateful that it is now being offered to the public.”–from the Foreword.
Scot McKnight
Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies
North Park University
Chicago, Illinois

“‘Cornucorpia’ may seem out of place in describing a book on fasting, but that’s what this volume is. It combines biblical interpretation, historical analysis, and theological reasoning to furnish a full and challenging account of an ancient Christian practice. Just as important, the author provides a framework for truly Christian fasting today. In an age of obesity and self-indulgence–from which many long for deliverance– this is a study worthy of diligent attention and wide circulation.”
Robert W. Yarbrough
Associate Professor and New Testament Department Chair
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Deerfield, IL

“Here is an academically grounded, theologically insightful, Christ-centered study of fasting that carefully moves through all the relevant passages in both Old and New Testaments, then surveys various periods of church history, and then draws balanced, well-supported conclusions with special reference to the doctrines of sanctification and longing for Christ’s return. This is a significant, ground-breaking study on a much-neglected topic.”
Wayne Grudem, Ph.D.
Research Professor of Bible and Theology
Phoenix Seminary, Phoenix, AZ

Day 2 Gleanings of Bible Reading Plan

Here are some gleanings from day 2 of my 2008 Bible reading plan. Reading large portions of Scripture affords you the opportunity to observe more in the text. I’ve jotted down some prayers, subjects of further inquiry and study, and interesting observations from Genesis 1-26:

The phrase “Called on the name of the LORD…” in some form, occurs several times in Genesis. See Genesis 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25

Interesting cultural tidbit: The custom of putting a hand under the thigh of someone and swearing on oath {Genesis 24:2-3, 9}

PRAYER: “May I live with integrity of heart and innocence of hands.”- Genesis 20:5

God’s sovereignty over man’s actions; God says that He kept Abimelech from sinning against Him- Genesis 20:6

Isaac meditates in the evening- Genesis 24:63 {How do we spend our evenings? T.V.? Internet?}

PRAYER: “May I obey God’s voice and keep His charge, His commandments, His statutes and His laws like Abraham.” Genesis 26:5

2008 Bible Reading Plan

The English Standard Bible {ESV} has Bible reading plans for 2008. You can find them here. There are several plans listed, certainly one will work for you. Perhaps 2008 will be the year that you read all the way through God’s Word {Leviticus is full of gold, don’t give up! Let God’s holiness astound you as you come upon this book}. I am going to attempt {2nd Thessalonians 1:11} by God’s power to read 11 pages a day in my ESV Classic Thinline TruTone Bible so that I finish reading the Bible in 3 months {4x this year}.

Some Great Resources On Prayer

9Marks has just released their latest eJournal. You can find a pdf version here or at the 9marks website. This volume pertains to prayer, specifically corporate prayer. We’re trying to become a praying church at CBC where I pastor, and I hope that your church body will too. This 9Marks eJournal will help to that end. There’s some gold here:

On the Use and Importance of Corporate Prayer- An Interview with Mark Dever
A Biblical Theology of Corporate Prayer
Recommendations for Improving Public Prayer
Corporate Aspects of the Lord’s Prayer
Thirty Two Principles for Public Prayer
Sample Corporate Prayers from December 2, 2007
Sample Corporate Prayers from December 9, 2007
Sample Sunday School Class — On Corporate Prayer From the Capitol Hill Baptist “Living as a Church” series

John Piper has some great sermons on prayer:

Prayer Changes People’s Wills

Pray Like This: Hallowed Be Your Name

Prayer: The Work of Missions

This is a great book- “Prayer” by Ole Hallesby

See also D.A. Carson’s “A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers

Bill Mounce ponders prayer here.

Also, each week at CBC we have a community prayer that is listed in our Sunday morning worship bulletin. Our desire is that each week we would collectively be praying this prayer for one another, the missionaries/ministries that we support, the youth and children at CBC, the other churches in Kaufman, etc.

Here are a few examples of our weekly community prayer:

Sometimes we take a prayer explicitly from a prayer of Scripture. For instance, 2nd Thessalonians 2:16-17 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”

Other weeks I adapt a prayer from a particular passage. Since we are beginning a study in the book of Colossians this coming Sunday, our community prayer will be adapted from Colossians 1:1-8

“May others hear of our faith in Christ Jesus and the love that we have for one another because of the hope laid up in Heaven for us. May the gospel continue to bear fruit and grow among us and around the world. And may we be faithful servants of others and continue to love one another in the Spirit.”

Many churches have done away with prayer meetings, and we are striving at CBC to truly be a church who prays. We have 3 prayer meetings so far. One on Monday mornings at 6:00 A.M., Wednesday evenings at 6:00 P.M. and we have dedicated one of our Sunday school classes to prayer at 9:30 A.M. Hopefully we’ll add more in the future for those who can’t attend these.

As the rapping theologian MC Hammer said, “We’ve got to pray just to make it today!”