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Showing posts from January, 2012
John Newton (Works, 6:271): When I feel my own poverty, my heart wandering, my head confused, graces languid, gifts apparently dormant; when I thus stand up with half a loaf, or less, before a multitude, and see the bread multiply in the breaking, and that, however it may be at the time with myself, as to my own feelings, the hungry, the thirsty, the mourners in Zion, are not wholly disappointed; when I find that some, in the depth of their outward afflictions, can rejoice in me, as the messenger by whom the Lord is pleased to send them a word in season, balm for their wounds, and cordials for their cases; then indeed I magnify mine office. (HT:Tony Reinke)

Hammered

Just way too much going on right now to read chapter 4 and update.  Will resume soon...

Book: The Preacher and Preaching, Chapter 3, The Preacher and Scholarship, James Boice, pages 91-104.

The briefest of all chapters so far, Boice serves up a wonderful contribution.
The pastor must maintain his pursuit of scholarship in order to enable him to preach and teach the whole counsel of God more ably.  
The autobiographical section was especially enjoyable.  I learned things about Boice I had never known.  Learned and a graduate of Harvard and Princeton Seminary and then the University of Basel in Switzerland (Ph.D.), it makes perfect sense why he was asked to write on this subject.  He believed that a man is a faithful steward of his scholarship in the pastoral ministry God gives him, as opposed to being a teacher or professor.  This was Boice's life's calling and this brief chapter commends the same to future pastors.
Very helpful recommended guidelines are laid out for those who are training for pastoral ministry on how to pursue scholarship that will benefit the pulpit ministry of the preacher.  To those young men who are pursuing an education for full-time pasto…

Not Now. I'm Studying.

"If a pastor is to be a good pastor, there must be as much time when he is unavailable to his people as there is time when he is available to counsel them and visit in their homes."  James Boice from The Preacher and Preaching, chapter 3, The Preacher and Scholarship, page 99.

Book: The Preacher and Preaching, Chapter 2, The Preacher and Piety, Erroll Hulse, pages 61-90

I was grateful I stuck with this book and didn't toss it after reading the ridiculously poor chapter 1.  This chapter was encouraging and convicting.

As the chapter title indicates, a preacher's piety is a necessary part of the make-up of the man.

Piety, he writes, is ultimately a man's close communion with God.

The author addresses impediments to a preacher's piety.  And this section was full of real-life and historical illustrations.  He talks about how Calvin was struggling with health, the adultery of his daughter and the betrayal of friends.  He wrote to one of his friends that he would "...rather submit to death a hundred times than to that cross on which one had to perish daily a thousand times over." (page 71)  The pastorate for Calvin was extremely difficult. It was Calvin's substantive life of prayer, his commitment to reading, meditating and studying God's Word resulting in his deep walk with God that was his line of defense against all of…

A Preacher, His Priorities and Piety

"Piety always upholds the preacher in his constant need to discern priorities."  This is from chapter 2 of The Preacher and Preaching, entitled, The Preacher and Piety, (page 69) written by Erroll Hulse.  When I read this sentence I said out loud, "Wow!".
I responded audibly because I had never made the connection between a man's pursuit of godliness and the setting of priorities.  Unfortunately the author doesn't elaborate. In fact, here is the rest of the brief paragraph:
"Which tasks must be attended to first? There is always the necessity of wisdom in the fulfillment of responsibilities, as well as a gracious disposition that should characterize the execution of them."

Pastor's struggle with setting priorities.  In fact, to be able to do so would be a luxury in some cases.  I know in my experience, the needs of the members of the church push their way into my day.  I never know what a day will hold regardless of what I see on my Google cale…

Fetching the Heavenly Fire

"Content not yourselves with being in a state of grace, but be also careful that your graces are kept in vigorous and lively exercise, and that you preach to yourselves the sermons which you study, before you preach them to others. If you did this for your own sakes, it would not be lost labour, but I am speaking to you upon the public account, that you would do it for the sake of the church. When your minds are in a holy, heavenly frame, your people are likely to partake of the fruits of it.  Your prayers, and praises, and doctrine will be sweet and heavenly to them.  They will likely feel when you have been much with God: that which is most on your hearts, is like to be most in their ears.I confess I must speak it by lamentable experience, that I publish to my flock the distempers of my own soul.  When I let my heart grow cold, my preaching is cold; and when it is confused, my preaching is confused...If we feed on unwholesome food, either errors or fruitless controversies our h…

A Fire of Devotion before God

"Luther's piety may be likened to a fire, a fire of devotion before God.  If coal be our symbol of burden and responsibility, then huge loads were deposited on that fire.  One might think such loads would extinguish the fire, but in Luther's case, the opposite was true--the fire of piety only came to burn more heatedly and brightly.  A life of devotion explains his accomplishments.  We can be sure that Luther laid his preaching commitments, writings, burdens, problems, gladnesses, and griefs before God Triune during that prime time of communion."  Erroll Hulse in The Preacher and Preaching, The Preacher and Piety, page 65.

Book: The Preacher and Preaching, Chapter 1, The Minister's Call, Joel Nederhood, pages 33-61

Maybe it is because I read this chapter immediately after the introduction by J.I. Packer. Who can blame me? I usually read chapter 1 after reading the introduction in just about every book I read. So it is unfortunate the the chapter, The Minister's Call, follows J.I. Packer's excellent Introduction and doubly-so that it is the first chapter of the volume.

This chapter is not good.

It is really bad. I am having a difficult time finding something helpful, encouraging or even somewhat harmless and vanilla. Right now I would warn pastors, or especially those considering their call to the pastorate from reading this chapter.

Maybe I need to understand the chapter in the context of the entire book.  Maybe I need to know a bit more about the author in order to understand why he would write what he wrote.  Maybe I need to check my biases and expectations at the door, as much as that is possible, before I read this chapter.
I don't know.

Here we go, proceeding with the autho…

Confident or Faltering and Pitiable

"A minister who is sure of his call is among the most poised, confident, joy-filled, and effective of human beings; a minister who is not is among the most faltering and pitiable."
Joel Nederhood in The Preacher and Preaching, The Minister's Call, page 34.

Book: The Preacher and Preaching: Introduction: Why Preach, J.I. Packer, pages 1-29

"How to communicate the reality of the God of Scripture across the temporal and cultural gap that separates our world from the world of the Bible has exercised many contemporary minds.  It is not always noticed that God provides much of the answer to this perplexity in the person of the preacher, who is called to be a living advertisement for the relevance and power of what he proclaims." Packer, page 17



The weight of that quote, to the degree that there is truth in it, is an argument on the side of why one should NOT ascend the pulpit to preach.  Maybe the answer to the question Packer is asked; 'Why preach?' should be answered with, 'why preach indeed!'

To think that God uses the 'person of the preacher' as one means to bridge the temporal and cultural gap that separates our world from the world of the Bible is remarkable.  Think of it, God uses the man he has called to preach to communicate, or to somehow hold before the people the relevance and po…

Get Lost Baldy. I Ain't Buying What You're Selling

"The preacher's personality cannot be eliminated from the preaching situation, and what he appears to be is a part of what he communicates--necessarily, inescapably, willy-nilly, and for better or for worse.  So the preacher must speak as one who himself stands under the authority of his message and knows the reality and power of which he speaks; otherwise the impact of his personality will reduce the credibility of his proclamation, just as a man's baldness would reduce the credibility of any sales pitch he might make as a purveyor of hair restorer.  The committed personality is in this sense integral to God's message, for God uses it to communicate his own reality as his messenger speaks. But for fullest awareness of the messenger's committedness we need to have him confront os in a 'live' preaching situation; 'canned' preaching on a tape, and 'stage' preaching on TV, and 'embalmed' preaching in the form of printed sermons are all…

The Pulpit, Preaching and People

The whole reason I started this 'blog' was to have a public place to record my thoughts as I read books.  Why not just keep a journal or something more private? I don't know.  I like the idea of having access to this where I am.  The public nature of it makes me think there is a heightened accountability to keep it up, even if no one reads it.  And maybe the guy who will eventually come and take my place at GCPC will want to see what I have read and how I thought about preaching. That is why, for 2012, I want to devote my reading to the task of preaching.  My plan, God willing, is to read the following books, in this order:

The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century; Sam Logan, ed.
The Imperative of Preaching: Theology of Sacred Rhetoric; John Carrick
Speaking God's Words: A Practical Theology Of Preaching; Peter Adam
The Priority of Preaching; Christopher Ash
Positive Preaching and the Modern Mind; P.T. Forsyth
Preaching with Confidence; A Theolo…

God With us: Divine Condescension and the Attributes of God

An absolutely amazing book that will enlighten (and challenge) your thinking on the Trinity, most especially God the Son.  The only reason I have given this book 2 highlighters as opposed to 3 is because it is a difficult book to get through. It is philosophically technical in parts.  But the author does a wonderful job explaining the jargon and bringing up to speed the reader who may be new to the terms.

ORGANIZATION
Introduction:  This lengthy introduction is necessary as it sets the table for the discussion.  To skip the introduction is to begin the journey through this book already lost.
Chapter 1: The reader will begin to come to grips with God's aseity.
Chapter 2: This is where the early slogging begins to pay-off.  The Eimi/Eikon distinction is the key to the rest of the book.
Chapter 3: Worth the price of the book!
Chapter 4: How do we make sense of God a se and also being slow to anger?  Spend time in this chapter.
Chapter 5: The most difficult of the book for me.  I read it twi…

What Is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission

The minute I finished this book I logged onto Amazon.com and ordered one for each of our ruling elders and I did so at my own expense.  It is that good.  I want them to read this book and I want the book to inform their ministry at Grace Community Presbyterian Church and the ministry of Grace Community Presbyterian Church.

ORGANIZATION
Part 1: Understanding our Mission
A wonderful introduction and definition of terms.

Part 2: Understanding our Categories
Careful and deeply exegetical.  Chapters 6 and 7 are worth the price of the book.

Part 3: Understanding What We Do and Why We Do It
Bringing balance to potential misunderstandings.

THOUGHTS
This is not the first book I have read from either of these guys (DeYoung's Just Do Something and Why We Love the Church, co-authored with Ted Kluck and Gilbert's What is the Gospel), and their writing doesn't disappoint.  They are both very engaging writers.  It is not a slog to get through this book.

These men root all they have to say in …