Eugene Peterson on Busy Pastors

From Peterson’s book The Contemplative Pastor:

The word busy is a symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront.

I (and most pastors, I believe) become busy for two reasons; both are ignoble. Continue reading Eugene Peterson on Busy Pastors

Preaching and Teaching

RC Sproul:

The concept that the primary task of the minister is to teach is all but lost in the church today. When we call ministers to our churches we often look for these men to be adept administrators, skilled fundraisers, and good organizers. Sure, we want them to know some theology and the Bible, but we don’t make it a priority that these people be equipped to teach the congregation the things of God. Administrative tasks are seen as more important.

The Ministry of Small Talk

Eugene Peterson at ChristianityToday:

If we bully people into talking on our terms, if we manipulate them into responding to our agenda, we do not take them seriously where they are: in the ordinary and the everyday.

Nor are we likely to become aware of the tiny shoots of green grace that the Lord is allowing to grow in the back yards of their lives. If we avoid small talk, we abandon the very field in which we have been assigned to work. Most of people’s lives is not spent in crisis, not lived at the cutting edge of crucial issues. Most of us, most of the time, are engaged in simple, routine tasks, and small talk is the natural language. If pastors belittle it, we belittle what most people are doing most of the time, and the gospel is misrepresented.

Preparation Time Is Not Wasted Time

James Montgomery Boice on Paul in Acts 13:

Paul had been in the background for a long time. He seems to have faded from sight, at least to the eyes of the people in Jerusalem. Most had forgotten about him. Paul had spent three obscure years in Arabia, had been perhaps seven years in Asia Minor at Tarsus, and now had spent two more years at Antioch. Twelve years! Paul was getting on into middle age at this point, and he had not been used much—certainly not in any great pioneer work among Gentiles, which God had told him he would do.

But now the call came, and from this point on Paul leads the enterprise to which God had earlier set him apart. Continue reading Preparation Time Is Not Wasted Time

How Do Preachers Do It?

David Murray on How Sermons Work:

Some people seem to think that pastors ‘receive’ their messages direct from God. They imagine some mysterious process by which the pastor just ‘gets’ a sermon. That is too high a view of preaching. It views preachers more like angels than ordinary mortals. I want to show you that, just like any other work, there is a reasonable and logical method and system to follow.

Others think that a pastor just spends the week relaxing, gets up on a Sunday, and says the first thing that comes into his mind with little or no forethought or planning. That is too low a view of preaching. Anyone with a bit of verbal fluency could do it. Behind the thirty to forty-five minutes you see and hear on a Sunday morning are many hours of mental, spiritual, and practical labour. Like all pastoral labour, it involves head, heart, and hand.

Advice to Young Pastors

Sam Storms:

My counsel to young pastors is to make every effort and read every book that will facilitate and deepen their “delight in the Lord” (Ps. 37:4) and enable them to communicate this truth. The only way long-term to empower people to say “No” to the passing pleasures of sin is by cultivating satisfaction in the superior pleasures of knowing and delighting in Christ. Make “Christian hedonism” the focus of your study! Don’t relegate joy to the periphery of your Christian life or reduce it the “icing on the cake of Christian obedience.” Make your joy in Christ the central pursuit of all pastoral study and ministry. You and your people will conquer the lesser pleasures of the world, flesh, and the Devil only by immersing yourselves in the surpassing and altogether satisfying pleasure of savoring all that God is for you in Jesus.

The Terrifying Holiness of God

Starting September 7, Victory Tacloban will start a three-week series on the holiness of God (Victory Metro Manila and other Victory centers start this weekend, August 31). The importance of this topic could not be overstated. We live in a time when people generally think of God as their pal, someone they could have drinks with. We no longer think of God as terrifyingly holy. This series is an attempt to address that. Drew Dyck, in his book Yawning at Tigers, describes the holiness of God in striking details. Quoting from Isaiah 6, he writes:

Continue reading The Terrifying Holiness of God

Lordship, Anyone?

One important point that was brought home to  my heart while preparing for my preaching on the Lordship of Christ from Colossians 1:15-20 last week:

We have no problem with a powerful God who can create universes and thrones and big stuff but we have a problem with a God who demands obedience and encroaches on our personal space. We like the idea that God is good and big and powerful because it benefits us in some ways. What we don’t like is when that God starts demanding obedience from us. Human tendency is to try to get the benefits of God without having to commit to obedience.

Stick Around

Southern Seminary’s Hershael York on the local church ministry:

If you want a church to be saturated with truth, then stay there and walk through life with them. It takes time to lay the foundation, and more time to build the superstructure. Plant your life. Show them what a gospel-centered marriage and family looks like. Preach the Word — both testaments, law and gospel, all genres, creation, fall, longing, fulfillment, consummation. They won’t get that strategic grasp of the scriptures from six consecutive pastors, but they might from one who stays and lives life in community with them.

CT: Five Errors to Drop from Your Easter Sermon

Christianity Today posted these five errors preachers need to stop saying in their Easter sermon:

1. Don’t say Jesus died when he was 33 years old.

2. Don’t explain the apparent absence of a lamb at the Last Supper by only saying Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb.

3. Don’t say the same crowds worshiped Jesus on Palm Sunday and then cried out for his crucifixion on Good Friday.

4. Don’t bypass the role of the women as witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

5. Don’t focus on the suffering of Jesus to the extent that you neglect the glory of the Cross in and through the Resurrection.

You can read the whole thing here. 

Repeating the Gospel

On sermon preparation:

“But if you pursue that train of thought, you will end up preaching just the gospel. Don’t you think it’s too much of a repetition? What about those who already accepted Christ? I believe they need a little more than the basics.”

I stood there dumbfounded. That was exactly what I was saying. Unfortunately, that was also exactly what he was trying to avoid.