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”)
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.”
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.
“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 #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.”
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.