Of Heartbreaks and Holiness

He came to the office with a different look on his face, a 19-year old discipleship group leader who hasn’t been in church for months. I knew why he kept his distance. His brother told me.

“We ended our relationship last Monday,” he said, a pained smile painted on his face. “It wasn’t right, we’re just kids, I’d like to pursue God and a life of holiness. She wants that too. There was no other way. But I just feel so terrible, like I dragged her into something wrong.” Continue reading Of Heartbreaks and Holiness

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.