Monthly Archives: June 2011

What Andrew Johnson Teaches Pastors About Wrong Influences

Andrew Johnson served as the 17th President of the United States—although he was not elected as president but as Vice-President to Abraham Lincoln for Lincoln’s second term in office.  Lincoln’s first vice president was a man from Massachusetts named Hannibal Hamlin.  Yet, for the second term (beginning in 1865, just as the Civil War came to a close with a Union victory and the surrender of General Robert E. Lee), Lincoln chose a man from Confederate Tennessee but one who did not resign his seat in the Senate during the War.   In fact, in 1862, Johnson served as War Governor of occupied Tennessee and supported Lincoln’s policies for reconstruction in that area.  Sworn in as VP on March 4, 1865, we was sworn in six weeks later on April 15, 1865 as president the day after Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot the South’s best friend, President Lincoln. 

But back to his short time as Vice President.

In David O. Stewart’s book Impeached, he recounts early in the book that, due to a torrential downpour, Johnson was sworn into office March 4, 1865 (Inauguration Day is now on January 20).  As part of the ceremony, he gave a speech before the Senate body that was, shall we say, problematic.  You see, Johnson was a heavy drinker, religiously drinking vast amounts of whiskey.  He was set to give the biggest speech of his life, and had some acclaim in his political career as a fine speaker who usually spoke without notes.  This time, however, for whatever reason (he later claimed the pain of a recent bout with typhoid fever caused the partaking of that alcoholic beverage), he allowed other influences to mar one’s preparation and delivery of important speeches.

Or sermons.

So many influences come our way to distract us from our preparation and presentation.  Let’s tackle preparation first:

  1. Good things can distract us from the best thing.  Planning, strategizing, correspondence, visitation and the like are good things—necessary things even!  But when they predominate and take away from precious sermon preparation time when the pastor/preacher has little time to pray, meditate, and marinate himself in the things of Scripture, those are influences that need to be dealt with.
  2. Reading things about Scripture and pastoral ministry more than reading the Scripture to inform and illuminate pastoral ministry.  I have some blogs and books I love to read, and one day I will recount those blogs and books.  But woe to all of us who use these as substitutes for Scripture rather than supplements to Scripture. 

What about presentation?

  1. Remember the Charlie Parker Syndrome.  Charlie Parker was an outstanding jazz saxophonist in the 1930’s and 1940’s who changed the game of jazz from his time on.  A skilled man but tortured by his own demons and influence of illegal substances, he reportedly said, “"Master your instrument, master the music & then forget all that & just play."  His point for musicians is that you can spend so much time worrying about the musical aspects of a piece that you forget the nature of music itself!  So too pastors can spend all their time worrying about saying something grammatically correct, saying that story just right, or getting every item you want out that they forget the nature of preaching.  Just get up and preach the Word!  Prepare, yes—but then get up and just preach!
  2. Looking to the supporter or critic rather than Christ.  By nature, all men and women are people pleasers.  We love to receive affirmation from our supporters and want to keep even those who may be critical happy (or at least not unhappy).  Fear grips the heart of the pastor when that pastor begins to look to the supporter or critic more than Christ.  Paul encouraged Timothy to not have a spirit of fear as a young pastor and not to be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus (2 Timothy 1:7-12).  Preach the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word! 
  3. Don’t let your presentation distract from the person of Christ.  Andrew Johnson gave (up to that time) the biggest speech of his life—drunk!  According to Senator Zachariah Chandler, he "disgraced himself and the Senate by making a drunken foolish speech.” (source)  Our deportment influences for good or for ill what we have to say.  Body language accounts for 55% of all communication!  Make sure your presentation matches your content! 

What other influences may add or detract in regards to preparation and presentation/delivery?

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Overcoming the Apathy of the Pew Toward Preaching

45230_1554814838873_1490255389_3152421_2114971_nOur calling as preachers is to proclaim the Bible, plain and simple.  We must also deliver God’s Word in an engaging and authentic manner.  My conviction is that the Spirit of God and the Word of God come together in the heart and mind of the preacher to produce substantive and compelling sermons that transform the lives of the listeners.  A preacher’s head and heart must meet together in the Holy Spirit to produce powerful preaching that informs the mind, inflames the heart, moves the will, and transforms the life.  The Word of God is the substance of our message.  It is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12).  The Spirit of God is the fire of our message.  He ignites us as we prepare it and deliver it, and he ignites our listeners as they hear it.

One way to overcome the apathy of the pew toward preaching is for preachers to return to the days of Jeremiah, when the Word of God was so powerfully shut up in his bones like fire that he couldn’t hold it in (Jer. 20:9)!  Come to the pulpit so full of the Word of God and so full of the Spirit of God—unable to hold it in—and you will find that your people cannot wait to take it in!  Moody said, “Catch on fire for Jesus, and the world will come to watch you burn.”

— Greg Heisler, Spirit-Led Preaching (Broadman & Holman, 2007), p. 9-10. 

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Music Friday: “Are You From Dixie?” by Scotty Anderson

Being a pianist, this many not mean too much—but Scotty Anderson is one of the most amazing guitarists I’ve heard.  From what a friend of mine told me, he just walks into a studio and just asks for fresh strings and snaps these kid of arrangements off without a warm-up. 

If you want an idea of how the original goes, I’ve included two other renditions on a previous blog post (one by Grandpa Jones from 1957; the other with Jerry Reed, Tom Jones, and Glen Campbell from what looks to be the mid-1970’s).  By watching those, you’ll appreciate what Scotty Anderson does.

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Music Friday: Chick Corea Plays Armando’s Rhumba

I was introduced to Chick Corea’s music while in college.  I don’t remember which CD was first.  It could have been when a friend gave me a CD called “Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown” featuring a number of great jazz artists celebrating Peanuts’ 40th anniversary.  Corea and his Elecktric Band with John Pattituci on bass and Dave Weckl on drums played an incredible rendition of Vince Guaraldi’s “The Great Pumpkin Waltz.”

It could have been the GRP Christmas Collection, Vol. 1 when he played such an electric rendition of “God, Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” 

It could have been his Compact Jazz collection of his early 1970’s music in his jazz band “Return to Forever” which featured his original hit “Spain.” 

As a pianist, I always admired his creativity.  In concert, he never played an arrangement of his songs the same way twice.  He oozes artistry and creativity.  Though he does credit L. Ron Hubbard of Dianetics lore for his creative artistry, we know that God blessed Corea with a passionate musicianship that has continued for decades. 

Enjoy!

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A Theology of Vacation?

I will be away from the computer (Internet/e-mail) for the next five or six days while my family and I are on vacation.  It’s interesting how the subject of vacation for ministers has been approached over the years.  In Charles Bridges’ classic work on ministry matters, he rejects the notion that ministers should ever have any sort of recreation, even taking a day off during the week.  Spurgeon was another workaholic, having started and headed up over 60 organizations during his ministry at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. 

Now, we look at how important vacation, recreation, and even days off are for the minister.  Ministers are casualties in the landscape of evangelicalism—1500 ministers are leaving the ministry every month!  The reasons are myriad: burn out, hurt from parishioners, moral failure, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  Wayne Cordeiro and others have written books on how ministers are prone to divorces, depression, anger, fear, and numerous other maladies that affect their psyche and their close relationships.  Cordeiro’s book Leading on Empty tracks his personal trek through these severe valleys and the systems he put in place for accountability and recreation so he’s running on full potential and energy as needed.

I’ve posted before that ministers living in a perpetual state of guilt—at least every minister goes through that season.  He spends time in ministry with sermon preparation, visitation to the sick and homebound and those in the hospital—but that means time away from your family than most ‘normal’ families have (whatever ‘normal’ means).  But then he spends time with your family (day at the park, weekend in the mountains, week with grandparents), he finds himself having a hard time pulling away from church matters.  He emails, calls periodically, texts a parishioner or a member of your staff to stay on top of things.  He’s had one major event happen while he were gone on vacation or a missions trip—he just can’t handle another. 

So can a minister of a church, where a love for his members accompanied with the anxieties that compile daily (2 Corinthians 11:28) truly have a vacation?  That’s something I am going to pray about and explore without Internet or e-mail, both of which help but also significantly hinder productivity and, yes, even critical thinking.

We’ll see what God shows us during this time.  I’m looking forward to it immensely. 

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When Laboring in Preaching Seems To Do No Good

Are you in a situation where it seems that preaching does little good?  Are you finding yourself being tempted to back off and try other methods in order to gain some semblance of results and fruits to placate (face it) your own ego and put others at ease when going through a thin season of growth?  Or, as Jeremiah Burroughs put it:  “And when it comes to the preaching of that sermon, perhaps the minister finds that they are not at all stirred one whit. ‘Why, Lord, what shall I do then? I cannot think ever to speak things that are more powerful than those that I have spoken, and those have done no good. Therefore I am afraid I shall never do good.'”

Hear his conclusion: 

“Therefore, let ministers go on and sow their seed and preach still. That which they have spoken (perhaps they have been delivering arguments that they thought would have moved the heart of a devil) has been opening the miserable condition of men and opening the riches of Jesus Christ. Well, there must be no discouragement; go on and sow your seed in the morning, and in the evening withhold not your hand. Go on and preach again and again, and let the Word of God be presented before the hearts of the people. Though it has not wrought at one time, yet it may work at another time. Yea, though you should grow weaker and weaker, yet for all that the Lord may do good to you, even when you are at your weakest. In 2 Timothy 2:25 the apostle says to Timothy, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure will give them repentance.” Peradventure this day a truth may be handed from God to a soul – peradventure this text, peradventure that text, and so the soul may be brought in.”

from Jeremiah Burrough’s “Gospel Fear” , pages 80-81.  Read the entire article here.

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Called to be Expositional Listeners

You’ve heard of expositional preaching, which is taking the main point of a passage of Scripture and making it the main point of a sermon.

But did you know there is such a thing as “expositional listening”? Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in his book, What is a Healthy Church Member? says, “Just as the pastor’s preaching agenda should be determined by the meaning of Scripture, so too should the Christian’s listening agenda be driven by the meaning of Scripture” (19).

Have you ever thought about this being one of your roles in worship? Why is this so crucial for us to tune in to the Word? Anyabwile continues:

  1. This benefits us by cultivating a hunger for God’s Word (Psalm 119:103-104).
  2. This helps us focus on God’s will and to follow Him (John 10:27).
  3. This protects the gospel and our lives from corruption (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
  4. This encourages faithful pastors (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 5:17).
  5. This benefits the gathered congregation as they strive toward unity.

How do we cultivate this habit?

  1. Meditate on the sermon passage during your quiet time the week before.
  2. Invest in a good set of commentaries.
  3. Talk and pray with friends about the sermon after church.
  4. Listen to and act on the sermon throughout the week.
  5. Develop the habit of addressing any questions about the text itself.
  6. Cultivate humility.

Romans 10:17 says that “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Won’t you develop this very helpful habit as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)?

Categories: church, church growth, Church Life, preaching | Tags: | 1 Comment

Why Do You Marvel? : That Which is Worth More Than Silver or Gold (Acts 3)

I went to college in a very affluent city in West Palm Beach. Palm Beach Atlantic University rested less than ½ mile from the Atlantic Ocean, but right up against what is called an intercoastal waterway. So you have the ocean, a strip of land, the waterway, then the mainland. We could sit on a bench at the front of the college, look across the intercoastal waterway and see some homes the likes of which few have seen. One person told me that ¼ of the world’s wealth was found on that strip of land between the intercoastal and the Atlantic. Stunning!

When my parents and I went to enroll and go through orientation, we noticed something very strange to us, but is very common in larger cities. On one side of that Intercoastal was ¼ of the world’s wealth. But on the other side toward downtown, beggars and homeless were found all over the place. Of course they would be seen quite a bit around our Christian college, laying guilt trips and taking advantage of young ministry students who were out to help make the world a better place. But no matter how many we gave money to or fed, there were so many one barely made a dent.

As we come to Acts 3, we come face-to-face with a beggar. This beggar was, as Dr. Luke tells us, “lame from birth.” He had to be carried to the Temple and was a daily fixture there (3:2). The only way he could make any income at all was to sit at a very strategic place at a very strategic time and beg for alms (which is money or other items given to the poor). Getting him to this place was no easy task. The Temple rested on a hill, and to get this beggar to this position required going up a number of steep steps.

But there was only so far he could go. He could not go into the Inner Court where his Jewish brothers were. According to OT law, if one had an infirmity like this man, he could not enter in to worship but had to stay in the Outer Court where the Gentiles were. This was his lot in life. He had never known how to walk, run, jump, nor had he ever known the thrill and joy of worshiping! He sat at the entrance.

And what an entrance—the gate called Beautiful! This Temple was built by Herod and was considered one of the great wonders of the ancient world. But this gate, the Beautiful Gate at the eastern part of the Temple, was overlaid with silver and gold! Little did they realize that silver and gold would pale in comparison to the beautiful act that would happen there soon.

There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy

Some of you are familiar with that memorable MasterCard® commercial with the tagline, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard®.” While that commercial dealt with buying things we want (tickets to a ball game, concerts, movies, etc.), this beggar was looking for money just to survive. He wasn’t wanting a all-inclusive stay at the Sandals resort in Jamaica—he just wanted his next meal.

He had become such a fixture that most ignored him. We understand that—the majority of people both inside and outside the church ignore. So any response from anyone filled this man with eager anticipation.

Enter Peter and John! Peter, the Word says, “directed hi gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us!” The beggar looked back. No, they didn’t have silver or gold. But they had one, as the chorus said, “More precious than silver… more costly than gold.” They didn’t given him silver or gold—they gave him Jesus. “All hail the power of Jesus’ name”—and in His power, this man stood up and walked!

Notice one phrase in verse 8: “And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” This was no staged ‘miracle.’ Some folks are sour on such things.

My father told me of a time when he was on business in Houston, Texas, when someone invited him to go see Ernest Angley, the faith healer. He went, and noticed a man at the base of the steps by the stage crawling to the stage with his crutch for healing. And Angley healed him. My father, a non-believer at the time, was impressed—until he went to Portland and saw the same Angley and the same man with the same issue asking for the same type of healing.

This is not the same issue at all. This was a man who was lame from birth and who was a daily presence in the Temple. Everyone knew this man—and everyone knew that this was an amazing thing which had happened.

There Are Some Things That Should Not Surprise

[11] While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. [12] And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? [13] The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. [14] But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. [16] And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:11-16 ESV)

In verse 12, Peter again addresses for the second time the “men of Israel.” And then asks, “Why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” What a penetrating question! They had over 3,000 years of accumulated history to see the power demonstrated by the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our Fathers.” He makes this connection in their minds that the God they worshiped is the God who accomplished this.

One aspect of the Jewish mind that one must understand is how they arranged the furniture in their mind. Their history and the canon of the Old Testament centered around three events that stood as pillars to them and the world: creation, the Passover/Exodus, and the Exile. Each of these demonstrated God’s power, His holiness, and even his justice against sin—not to mention His grace toward His people.

In creation, God merely spoke and it came into being—and it was good. He spoke as to the freedom and the boundaries they had in their relationship to Him—and the consequences were meted out when those boundaries were ignored and they distrusted His protection and wisdom and Word.

At the Passover/Exodus, they were strangers in a foreign land enslaved to a tyrant who believed that he had the power of their life and death in his hands. But through the Passover, God showed who held that power—and how he protected these strangers in a foreign land by delivering them from death by the blood of the Lamb. He delivered them across dry ground, and crushed the Egyptian army by the very waters that he held back for His people.

In the exile 800 years later, the people of Israel had so turned their back on the things of God (from the leaders on down) that when Jeremiah came to preach, no one repented. Hearts were so hardened and their faith so cold that Jeremiah had no conversions in his ministry—and the people of Israel were taken away by the Babylonians out of Egypt, their Temple destroyed, their walls trampled. But God kept them a people and would eventually soften the heart of King Darius and allow them to return to rebuild the Temple and, under Artaxerxes, rebuild the wall!

You see, God has shown his power in creation, over kings of the earth, and even stayed faithful when His people were the acme of unfaithfulness! So God healing a man in the Temple should not have marveled the onlookers!

How do we react when we see God move? Do we attribute it to the preachers or leaders? Do we find some earthly explanation for it? We must not. Because as we will see, all of us who have been on the receiving on of the gospel of grace are walking miracles, to be sure. We are sitting in a better position than even those Jews were, because now we have about 5,000 years of history (OT, NT, church history) to draw from in seeing God’s sustaining power.

There are Some Things Where Ignorance is Not Bliss

[17] “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. [18] But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. [19] Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, [20] that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, [21] whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. [22] Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. [23] And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ [24] And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. [25] You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ [26] God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:17-26 ESV)

Ignorance! Few things get the dander up of people like being called ignorant. But let’s amp this up a bit. The word here in the Greek is the word agnoia which is where we get the word ‘agnostic.’ It’s someone who in the first century and beyond understood this to be ignorant. In what regard? The word, when taken a part means not (a) – knowing (gnosko). It really means to say that there is not enough evidence to make a determination. But up until recently, an ‘agnostic’ was a derogatory term—because the majority saw plenty of evidence for the existence of God.

Peter said the same thing here: “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.” They had the entirety of their Scriptures (the OT) to draw from. God left His Word. He even brings in Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 and What is the response? The only appropriate response there is: “Repent … and turn.” You see, this beggar in the temple was a miracle that demonstrated the power of God to heal spiritually! This beggar’s heart was turned from mourning into gladness! How much are do we who have been converted by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to ‘repent’?

If men will not receive the Truth of God till they understand it, there are many things which they will never receive. Yes, there are many facts, common facts in Nature, which nobody would deny but a fool—which yet must be denied if we will not believe them till we understand them! There is a fish fresh taken from the sea—you take it to the cook to serve it on the table. You eat salt with it, do you? What for? You will have it dried and salted, but what for? Did not it always live in the salt sea? Why then is it not salt? It is as fresh as though it had lived in the purling brooks of the upland country—not a particle of salt about it—yet it has lived wholly in the salt sea! Do you understand that? No, you cannot. But there it is, a fresh fish in a salt sea!

And yonder are an ox and a sheep, and they are eating in the same meadow, feeding precisely on the same food. But the grass in one case turns to beef, in the other case to mutton—and on one animal there is hair and on the other wool. How is that? Do you understand it? So there may be two great Truths in Scripture, which are both Truths of God and yet all the wise men in the world might be confused to bring those two Truths together. I do not understand, I must confess, why Moses was told to cut down a tree and put it in the bitter waters of Marah. I cannot see any connection between a tree and the water, so that the tree should make it sweet, but yet I do believe that when Moses put the tree into the water the bitterness of Marah departed and the stream was sweet. I do not know why it is that Elisha, when he went to Jericho, and found the water the bitterness of Marah departed and the stream was sweet.

I do not know why it is that Elisha, when he went to Jericho, and found the water nauseous, said, “Bring me a cruse of salt.” I do not know why his putting the salt into the stream should make it sweet—it looks to me as if it would operate the other way—but I believe the miracle, namely, that the salt was put in and that it was sweetened. So I do not understand how it is that my bidding impenitent sinners to repent should in any way be likely to make them do so, but I know it does—I see it every day. I do not know why a poor weak creature saying to his fellow men, “Believe,” should lead them to believe, but it does so—and the Holy Spirit blesses it—and they do believe and are saved! And if we cannot see how, if we see the fact, we will be content and bless God for it!

Let me ask you this morning: do you have to understand every bit of it to believe it? Does your belief hinge on an earthly, sophisticated explanation before you will take that step? What was Peter doing? He was saying, “You denied him, delievered him, and asked for his death. And that did not stop Him! You tried to kill the Author of life, and yet God raised him from the dead.”

Consider that if God will forgive those who kill His Son, the Author of life, do we not understand that He will forgive the sins of all who would believe?  Now that’s something at which to marvel!

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So You Have to Understand It Before You Will Believe It? Are You Sure?

If men will not receive the Truth of God till they understand it, there are many things which they will never receive.  Yes, there are many facts, common facts in Nature, which nobody would deny but a fool—which yet must be denied if we will not believe them till we understand them! There is a fish fresh taken from the sea—you take it to the cook to serve it on the table. You eat salt with it, do you? What for? You will have it dried and salted, but what for? Did not it always live in the salt sea? Why then is it not salt? It is as fresh as though it had lived in the purling brooks of the upland country—not a particle of salt about it—yet it has lived wholly in the salt sea! Do you understand that? No, you cannot. But there it is, a fresh fish in a salt sea!

And yonder are an ox and a sheep, and they are eating in the same meadow, feeding precisely on the same food. But the grass in one case turns to beef, in the other case to mutton—and on one animal there is hair and on the other wool. How is that? Do you understand it? So there may be two great Truths in Scripture, which are both Truths of God and yet all the wise men in the world might be confused to bring those two Truths together. I do not understand, I must confess, why Moses was told to cut down a tree and put it in the bitter waters of Marah. I cannot see any  connection between a tree and the water, so that the tree should make it sweet, but yet I do believe that when Moses put the tree into the water the bitterness of Marah departed and the stream was sweet. I do not know why it is that Elisha, when he went to Jericho, and found the water the bitterness of Marah departed and the stream was sweet.

I do not know why it is that Elisha, when he went to Jericho, and found the water nauseous, said, “Bring me a cruse of salt.” I do not know why his putting the salt into the stream should make it sweet—it looks to me as if it would operate the other way—but I believe the miracle, namely, that the salt was put in and that it was sweetened. So I do not understand how it is that my bidding impenitent sinners to repent should in any way be likely to make them do so, but I know it does—I see it every day. I do not know why a poor weak creature saying to his fellow men, “Believe,” should lead them to believe, but it does so—and the Holy Spirit blesses it—and they do believe and are saved! And if we cannot see how, if we see the fact, we will be content and bless God for it!

— Charles H. Spurgeon, Apostolic Exhortation #804, delivered April 5, 1868 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London.

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Links to Help Your Grip (6.11.2011)

On the Folly of Preaching Too Long by Charles Spurgeon

Length is the enemy of strength. The delivery of a discourse is like the boiling of an egg; it is remarkably easy to overdo it, and so to spoil it. You may physic a man till you make him ill, and preach to him till you make him wicked. From satisfaction to satiety there is but a single step; a wise preacher never wishes his hearer to pass it. Enough is as good as a feast, and better than too much.  Having learned by long experience that we exactly fill the 12 pages which our publishers allow for a penny sermon, when we speak for 40 or 45 minutes, we have come to adopt that period as our stint, and we usually find it neither too short nor too long.

Ron Paul Steals the Show at the Faith Coalition by Doug Wead (HT: Aaron Yates)

Ron Paul surprised delegates at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference last week by quoting long portions of the Bible to buttress his political views. Romney, Bachman, Pawlenty and most of the other GOP presidential hopefuls showed up at the event. The Faith and Freedom Coalition is organized by Ralph Reed and is referred to by some as the new Christian Coalition. But while some of the speakers stumbled uncomfortably over Christian buzzwords, likely supplied by their handlers, and other speakers ignored the special character of their audience altogether, Ron Paul launched into a scriptural defense of his views.

Be Welcoming, Get a Good Website by Kevin De Young

I have never been one to encourage churches to chase the latest trends. The secret to successful ministry is that there is no secret. The most faithful and fruitful churches are those that plod in mission, persevere in godliness, and preach the word.

But increasingly, if your church does not have a decent website you’re uninviting a lot of people who might otherwise have plodded, persevered, and sat under good preaching with you.

New Evidence: The Gospels Were Based on Eyewitness Accounts by Dr. Peter Williams (YouTube—53 minutes)

SBC Discussion:  Not Your Daddy’s Church by Calvin Wittman

As a father of three children, all in their 20s, and a pastor who has reared these children in what I consider to be a “normal” Southern Baptist church, I’ve recently been forced to come to terms with a startling reality: My children don’t want to go to a church like the one in which they were reared.

Caricatures of True Preaching by Alistair Begg

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