In All Your Trouble Seek God
In all your trouble you should seek God. You should not set him over against your troubles, but within them. God can only relieve your troubles if in your anxiety you cling to Him. Trouble should not really be thought of as this thing or that in particular, for our whole life on earth involves trouble; and through the troubles of our earthly pilgrimage we find God.
– Augustine of Hippo (Painting by Robert Salmon, “Storm at Sea”)
Chuck Swindoll on The Huge Importance of Our Attitude
Attitude is the Most Important Thing by Chuck Swindoll
“The longer I live the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what others think, or say, or do. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Book Review on Jared C. Wilson’s “The Pastor’s Justification”
The Gospel Graced Pastor – Book Review By David P. Craig
In this much-needed corrective to the purpose driven or pragmatic oriented pastoral model of our day, Wilson gets back to the foundation of pastoral ministry – the centrality of the Gospel in all of life, including pastoral ministry. Wilson critiques modern pragmatism, the modern obsession that pastors have with success, and makes a great case for a thoroughly biblical model of pastoring based on Peter’s first letter to the churches scattered throughout Asia, and the Sola’s of the Reformation.
Jared isn’t so much concerned with success or pragmatism as much as he is with being saturated in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first half of the back the author addresses the “heart” of the Pastor from 1 Peter 5:1-11. Wilson writes six chapters explaining the context of pastoral ministry, the struggles and temptations of ministry, and how the gospel changes the pastor’s heart and mind and should be his focus for life and ministry.
After addressing the heart of the pastor in part 1 of the book Wilson addresses what he calls the Pastor’s glory. Whereas in part 1 he addresses the soul and character of the pastor; in part two he is concerned with the theological foundations that are needed for pastoral ministry: namely, the power, authority, and sufficiency of the Scriptures in preaching; being saturated by a biblical theology and intimacy with grace; an unshakable faith; being unwavering in Christ centeredness; and being totally committed to the glory of God.
Here is a sampling of the book with some of my favorite quotes from Wilson:
“I’ve concluded that God is as much, if not more, interested in doing a great work in us as he is in doing a great work through us” (Mike Ayers, in the Foreward).
“But there is something both lay elders and career elders have in common…a profound sense of insecurity for which the only antidote is the gospel.”
“In preaching (the pastor), he is broken open upon the rock of Christ that the living water of Christ might flow out freely and flood the valleys of his people.”
“The primary problem in pastoral ministry, brother pastor, is not them. It’s you.”
“We should all want our churches to be moving forward, growing and changing, conforming more with the image of Christ. But we shouldn’t let that image get in the way of loving our church where it is.”
“Pastor, do not let your vision for the church you want get in the way of God’s vision for the church you actually have!”
‘My first thoughts on Monday mornings are to my fatigue and all I must do, but I must push them into thoughts of Christ, of all he is and all he has done. There lies the vision that compels my will.”
“The minute I begin seeing God’s people as problems to be solved (or avoided) is the minute I’ve denied the heart of Christ.”
“The struggle to shepherd willingly happens every time ministry becomes difficult. So we have to see people as Jesus sees them.”
“I say to my leadership, if you give me credit for the increase, you will give me blame for the decrease, so how about we just credit God?”
“A leader who doesn’t trust other gifted and authorized leaders doesn’t trust God.”
“It will be a frustrating–and ultimately failing–endeavor, attempting to maintain forward missional momentum if you are known more for your denials than your affirmations.”
“So whatever you want to see, that you must be.”
“Pastors are not appointed to a church primarily to lead in the instruction of skills and the dissemination of information; they are appointed to a church primarily to lead in Christ-following.”
“I remind myself and my church that a message of grace may attract people, but a culture of grace will keep them.”
“Really what (the church) wants–and our heart wants is Jesus; they just expect to find him in you. And find him in you they will, if you will keep pointing them to the real Jesus and away from yourself.”
“Any worship directed to anyone or anything other than God is essentially self-worship.”
“God uses sinners so that he will get the glory and so that he will get the glory in the vivid, repeating imagery of turning ashes to beauty.”
“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the gospel, the church is dying” (Thom Rainer).
“When God calls a man to pastoral ministry, he calls him to deal exclusively in the glory of God. God’s glory is our trust, our means, our end.”
“God has promised himself to you in Christ, and he will secure you to himself in Christ. To be hidden with Christ in God is to be as secure as Christ is.”
‘Preaching is proclamation that exults in the exposing of God’s glory.”
“With our sermons we are to deliver what we’ve received, not what we’ve created.”
“in the preaching ministry, we take ourselves lightly and the Word of God heavily.”
“What expository preaching aims to do is explicate what the text means, expound on how it applies to the lives of the hearers, and explain its connection to the gospel story line of the entire Bible.”
“The Bible speaks to all manner of good things useful to men, but the church is starving (starving!) for the glory of God.”
“When we ‘expose’ what God’s Word means, how it applies to our lives, and what it reveals about his saving purposes in Christ, we are showing his glory.”
“The pastoral imperative, then, is to get the gospel indicative into every nook and cranny of church life as we can. We want to be seeding grace in every space.”
“Jesus Christ alone is the hope, treasure, joy, and purpose of pastoral ministry.”
“Let everything be a means to this end: the treasuring of Christ and the enjoying of his glory.”
“It is Christ alone that should be the focus of our message and ministry. Trust in all else will fail, because all else fails. Trust in Christ will prevail, because Christ has prevailed.”
Wilson’s book should be a welcome addition to any leader in the church’s library. It is a book that I will definitely read more than once. I need to be reminded of the essentials and foundations for ministry: Christ, the Gospel, the Scriptures, all for the glory of God, and the good of the Church. We are great sinners, but we have a greater Savior – and Wilson’s book gives the right amount of conviction and encouragement in order for pastors and leaders to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us as Christ’s servants in His Church!
*I was given a copy of this book for review by the publisher and was not required to write a favorable review.
How Long Would It Take to Win the Whole World to Christ?
“If you were an outstandingly gifted evangelist with an international reputation, and if, under God, you could win 1,000 persons for Christ every night of every year, how long would it take you to win the whole world for Christ? Answer, ignoring the population explosion, over 10,000 years. But if you are a true disciple for Christ, and if you are able under God to win just one person to Christ each year; and if you could then train that person to win one other person for Christ each year, how long would it take to win the whole world for Christ? Answer, just 32 years!”
– David Watson – speaking of a D. James Kennedy Illustration
Friday Humor: Classic Yogi-isms From Yogi Berra
Friday Humor #16: Some of My Favorite Yogi-isms!
Lawrence Peter Berra played Major League Baseball for 19 years for the New York Yankees. He played on 10 World Series Championship teams, is a MLB Hall of Famer and has some awe-inspiring stats. His name is consistently brought up as one of the best catchers in baseball history, and he was voted to the Team of the Century in 1999.
Amazing accomplishments aside, they probably aren’t how you know Lawrence. You know him as Yogi, a nickname given to him by a friend who likened his cross-legged sitting to a yogi. Yogi is famous for his fractured English, malapropisms and sometimes nonsensical quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
“He must’ve made that picture before he died.”
“I’ve got nothing to say and I’m only going to say it once.”
“Slump? I ain’t in no slump. I just ain’t hitting.”
“If people don’t want to come out to the park, nobody’s going to stop them.”
“I don’t care what people say. That’s for them to say.”
“It’s like deja vu all over again.”
“We made too many wrong mistakes.”
“You can observe a lot just by watching.”
“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”
“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
“If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.”
“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place else.”
Responding to a question about remarks attributed to him that he did not think were his: “I really didn’t say everything I said.”
“The future ain’t what it use to be.”
“I think Little League is wonderful. It keeps the kids out of the house.”
On why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”
“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
“We have deep depth.”
“All pitchers are liars or crybabies.”
When giving directions to Joe Garagiola to his New Jersey home, which is accessible by two routes: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”
“Never answer anonymous letters.”
On being the guest of honor at an awards banquet: “Thank you for making this day necessary.”
“The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase.”
“Half the lies they tell about me aren’t true.”
As a general comment on baseball: “90% of the game is half mental.”
“I don’t know (if they were men or women running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads.”
“It gets late early out there.”
Reporter: “Yogi, have you made your mind up yet?” Berra: “Not that I know of.”
“Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?” -Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife. “Surprise me.” – Yogi
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
“If I had to do it all over again, I would do it over again.”
“It ain’t over till it’s over.”
Friday Humor: “Be Who You Are!” By Steve Brown
Series: Friday Humor #7
The first axiomatic statement is this: Almost all frustration and anxiety come from a refusal to be what one is. In other words, frustration and anxiety are the result of playing a part other than the one you have been given.
Someone tells the story of a man who was out of work. His unemployment compensation benefits had run out, and he was desperate. He went to the zoo to ask for work, and the zoo keeper told him they didn’t really have any work, but he could make a few extra dollars by taking the place of a gorilla who had died the day before.
Ordinarily the man would not have done it, but he really needed money. He accepted the job, put on the gorilla suit, and made his way back to the gorilla cage. It really wasn’t a bad job. All he had to do was to eat bananas and swing from a rope, and after a while he began to like the job. But alas, all good things must come to an end. One day his rope broke and he fell over the fence into the lion’s cage. He started yelling for help, and the closer the lion came to him, the louder he yelled. Finally the lion came right up next to him, nudged him, and said, “Hey Buddy, will you shut up! We are both going to be out of a job!”
Now the difference between some Christians and the man in the gorilla outfit is that whereas he was forced into his role, we aren’t. We choose a role for which we are not suited, and in that choice is the source of much of our misery and frustration.
Have you ever seen Christians who seemed to be very pure and very spiritual—and very miserable? The problem with those Christians is that they were playing a role for which they were not suited. Jesus said, “No one is good except God” (Mark 10:18). If Jesus was right, and I have every reason to believe He was, then we pretend to be good and pure, we have just climbed into a gorilla suit.
And then there are those Christians who feel that everything they say comes as if from Sinai. They make all sorts of political and social pronouncements as if God Himself had given them a corner on truth. They are very serious—and very miserable. God says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jeremiah 17:9a). If that is true, then the person who believes and acts as if he or she had a corner on truth (when only God has that corner) has started wearing a gorilla costume.
We see countless examples of Christian men and women who play parts for which they were not created in the pride that so often is the a mark of modern Christianity, in the anger we feel when our plans are crossed, or in the way we want the world to revolve around our selfish desires. It is important that we understand that the source of much of our frustration and anxiety is our proclivity toward being something we aren’t.
*This humorous anecdote was adapted from the excellent book by Stephen Brown. If God is In Charge. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 1983. Pages 61-62.
Why Not Be Anxious? A Great Quote From Dr. James M. Boice
James Montgomery Boice on Faith NOT Seeking Understanding:
“Whether you can see it or not – and often we cannot – everything is being used of God for your good as well as the good of others…This knowledge is by faith. It is not always by sight. But it is nevertheless certain, because it is based on the character of God, who reveals himself to us as both sovereign and benevolent…We are not to be anxious about the unknown future or to fret about it. We are to live in a moment-by-moment dependence upon God.” – excerpt from notes I took from a late 1980’s sermon of Dr. Boice
About Dr. James Montgomery Boice
*Dr. James Montgomery Boice, just 8 weeks after being diagnosed with a fatal liver cancer, died in his sleep on June 15, 2000. The senior pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, he was a world-famous Bible teacher, author, and statesman for Reformed theology. He informed his congregation of 32 years of his condition on May 7, proclaiming his complete confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness.
In the past 72 years, historic Tenth Presbyterian Church had two senior pastors, Donald Grey Barnhouse and James Montgomery Boice – previous to Dr. Philip Graham Ryken (Currently the President at Wheaton College). Founded in 1828, the church itself predates their tenure by another hundred years. Tenth Presbyterian Church lies in the very heart of the city and today has about 1,200 members.
James Montgomery Boice accepted the position as senior pastor in 1968, and was the teacher of the Bible Study Hour since 1969 and the more recent God’s Word Today broadcast as well. Dr. Boice held degrees from Harvard, Princeton Theological Seminary, and the University of Basel, Switzerland. He had written or contributed to nearly 50 books, including Foundations of the Christian Faith, Living by the Book, and exegetical commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Acts, and Romans.
He was no less involved in the preserving of the fundamentals of the faith than his predecessor, Dr. Barnhouse. In 1985, Boice assumed the presidency of Evangelical Ministries, Inc., the parent organization of the Bible Study Hour, Bible Study Seminars, Bible Studies magazine, and other teaching ministries. In 1997, Evangelical Ministries merged with Christians United for Reformation and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, taking the latter as the new organization’s name, and Dr. Boice assumed the presidency. In 1997, he was a founding member of, and chaired, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
Of particular concern to Boice was the matter of the church and her relationship to and engagement of society. His recent book, Two Cities, Two Loves, maintains that Christians are citizens of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of heaven and that they have responsibilities in each. He urged Christians to “participate in secular life rather than merely shoot from the sidelines at secular people.”
His wife, Linda, and three daughters survive Dr. Boice. Characteristic of his ministry was his pushing Christians to commit themselves to staying in one place. He lived what he preached, committing to the church and his downtown neighborhood for 30 years. A gifted pastor and leader, he turned down many attractive opportunities in order to build a sense of permanence and belonging. And he urged his parishioners to do the same.
How C.H. Spurgeon Would Have Ended Up In A Lunatic Asylum!
The following excerpt is from “Men Bewitched,” a sermon preached at some indeterminate time in the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.
hen I was about fifteen or sixteen years of age, I wanted a Savior, and I heard the gospel preached by a poor man, who said in the name of Jesus—”Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” It was very plain English, and I understood it, and obeyed it and found rest.
I owe all my happiness since then to the same plain doctrine.
Now, suppose that I were to say, “I have read a great many books, and there are a great many people willing to hear me. I really could not preach such a commonplace gospel as I did at the first. I must put it in a sophisticated way, so that none but the elite can understand me.”
I should be—what should I be? I should be a fool, writ large.
I should be worse than that, I should be a traitor to my God; for if I was saved by a simple gospel, then I am bound to preach that same simple gospel till I die, so that others too may be saved by it.
When I cease to preach salvation by faith in Jesus put me into a lunatic asylum, for you may be sure that my mind is gone.
About Charles Haddon Spurgeon – one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and undoubtedly the most celebrated preacher of the 19th century, began his ministry as a country-boy with only a year of formal education. But even without much training, his brilliant mind and depth of spiritual insight quickly became legendary throughout the world. During his lifetime Spurgeon is estimated to have preached, in person, to over ten million people. He published over 3,500 sermons, totaling between 20 and 25 million words and more than 38,000 pages. Today, over a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike. It is no wonder that this country-boy became known as the “Prince of Preachers.”
Born on June 19, 1834 in Kelvedon, England, Spurgeon wouldn’t become a Christian until the age of fifteen. It happened one Sunday morning when a snowstorm kept him from reaching the church he usually attended. He ducked down a side street and stumbled across a small building with a sign that read, “Artillery Street Primitive Methodist Chapel.” Regardless of his own misgivings, he entered the small church and while listening to a Methodist layman comment on Isaiah 45:22, he “Saw at once the way of salvation!” Spurgeon immediately committed his life to Christ and became a zealous servant of God.
Desiring to share his new faith, Spurgeon began preaching. He preached his first sermon in 1851, at the age of sixteen, to a group of farmers and wives gathered in the village of Teversham. His text was 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” Audiences were held spellbound by the young Spurgeon’s speaking power, and he was offered his first pastorate at the Baptist Chapel in Waterbeach when he was only seventeen. The church, which had about ten members when he arrived, was soon bursting at its doors with over four hundred in the congregation. His inspiring style had caught the interest of many, and soon after his twentieth birthday, the country-preacher was called to be the new pastor of the prominent New Park Street Baptist Church in London. New Park Street was a church that had formerly been pastored by such spiritual giants as Benjamin Keach, John Gill, and John Rippon.
In a day when preaching was considered not only a source of spiritual nourishment, but also of entertainment and political commentary, Spurgeon’s powerful and stimulating sermons drew enormous crowds. On a single night in London, preaching at the Crystal Palace, he preached to a congregation of 23, 654 without the use of a microphone! His sermons were published weekly in the “Penny Pulpit,” from 1855 until 1917, twenty-four years after his death. He published many religious books, including Lectures to My Students and Treasury of David, a seven-volume devotional-commentary on the Psalms. He also founded and served as president of the Pastor’s College in London, established the Stockwell Orphanages for boys and girls, and oversaw dozens of evangelistic and charitable enterprises. Spurgeon preached his final sermon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in June of 1891.
Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson in January of 1856 and late in the following year they had twin sons, Thomas and Charles. Unlike Spurgeon’s mother who had seventeen children, nine of whom died in childbirth, Charles and Susannah had only the two boys.
Charles Spurgeon died at the relatively young age of 57, in January of 1892. His funeral service was held a week later, on February ninth, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Over 60,000 people waited in line to file past his casket.
Dr. D.A. Carson on How To Destroy A Church
Some Intense Prophetic Words From D.A. Carson
“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it—admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism—all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” – D.A. Carson in The Cross and Christian Ministry
About the Author: D. A. Carson (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 books, including The Cross and Christian Ministry from which the quote above is derived; the Gold Medallion Award-winning book The Gagging of God and An Introduction to the New Testament, and is general editor of Telling the Truth: Evangelizing Postmoderns and Worship by the Book. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.