“At some point in your preaching career, you must make a decision: Will you preach to people, or will you preach for preachers? The latter may win you acclaim, but the former will far more likely win souls. Deep thought, plainly expressed, most clearly exposes a pastor’s heart” (Christ-Centered Preaching, p. 341).
Monday, November 18, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The OT should be preached from the perspective that it is part of the Word of God to us from an earlier stage of progressive revelation, that reveals part of the one Story of God in which he pursues his glory through his reign over his creation, a reign that will be brought about through the redemption and reconciliation that is found in Jesus alone of which we are now made aware even though OT saints were not fully aware, and which redemption and reconciliation we must preach since Jesus is the necessary and sufficient Redeemer of all mankind.
Saturday, November 02, 2013
Last Sunday, I presented the life of John G. Paton to our church here for their encouragement and for their challenge to the call of the gospel, not in the South Pacific only, but here in our own lives and community for the sake of the Lamb who [was] slain, and purchased for God with [his] blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev 5:9).
Paton went to the South Sea’s New Hebrides Islands in the middle of the 1800s to reach the cannibalistic tribes there with the gospel. He is perhaps most famous for his response to Mr. Dickson, which Paton recounts this way:
Amongst many who sought to deter me, was one dear old Christian gentleman, whose crowning argument always was, "The cannibals! you will be eaten by cannibals!" At last I replied, "Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms, I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer."
The old gentleman, raising his hands in a deprecating attitude, left the room exclaiming, "After that I have nothing more to say!"
So Paton embarked on a lifelong journey, having left a ministry in which he was offered “any reasonable price” to stay. He refused that offer, recognizing that there were many who could do what he was doing there, and none who were willing to go to the cannibals. He went, like so many in those days, with no exit plan.
Paton endured much, more than can be conceived by most of us. He endured the death of his first wife and son, largely due to the location in which he built the first mission house. He experienced repeated threats to his life and property. He ultimately fled his first mission station without seeing much fruit. He experienced the travails of traveling to raise money, and then he returned to try once again, this time in a new location.
And he did it all with faith, an unshakeable conviction that heathen needed the gospel. In reflecting on his suffering on the island of Tanna he says,
In the darkest moment I never doubted that ultimately the victory there, as elsewhere, would be on the side of Jesus, believing that the whole Earth would yet be filled with the glory of the Lord. But I sometimes sorely feared that I might never live to see or hear of that happy day! By the goodness of the Ever-merciful One I have lived to see and hear of a Gospel Church on Tanna, and to read about my dear fellow-Missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Watt, celebrating the Holy Supper to a Native Congregation of Tannese, amid the very scenes and people where the seeds of faith and hope were planted not only in tears, but tears of blood,—"in deaths oft."
In the end, he saw the victory that he longed for, both on the island of Tanna (from which he fled under threat of life), and the island of Aniwa (to which he returned and lived and worked with visible success). He was instrumental in raising funds for missions, and encouraging others to go.
The story of Paton is too long to recount anything of substance here. Suffice it to say, for now, that reading his story is a great challenge.
As I have said before, reading stories like these make you think you can do anything for Christ, and at the same time make you think you have done nothing.
I commend to you the life of John Paton for your edification and your challenge. Feel free to weep in his pain, to fear in his danger, to laugh in his humor (particularly when you read of the lady who desired to show her conversion by the clothes that she wore), to rejoice in his ending, and “having considered the result of his conduct, [feel obligated to] imitate his faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
**In preparation for this I read The Story of John G. Paton Or Thirty Years Among the South Sea Cannibals and J. Theodore Mueller’s short biography entitled John G. Paton: Missionary To The New Hebrides 1824-1907.
If you are interested in my presentation, you can hear it here.
Monday, October 21, 2013
At least twice in the gospel of Luke, Luke shows how the Word is to be preferred to a sign.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, while the rich man suffers in hell, he begs Abraham to send a risen Lazarus to warns his brothers, arguing that “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (LUke 16:30).
Father Abraham says, “Nah, they have the Old Testament. That’s enough. Signs will do no better” (Luke 16:31; my paraphrase).
Later, when Jesus encounters the two men on the road to Emmaus who are mourning the death of the one they thought (based on the OT) was to be the redeemer, Jesus could have very easily opened their eyes immediately to see him, the resurrected Savior. Surely such a sign would have been the best and most direct route to faith for these two men.
Yet Jesus instead points them to the OT (Luke 24:27), to the words that they had believed only a part of (Luke 24:25). In fact, it is not until he leaves that they understand, “That was him.”
In this day when people are desperately seeking signs as reasons to believe, we should follow the example of Abraham and Jesus. Point people to the Word.
It’s not that signs don’t work. John reports that Jesus did many signs in order to bring belief.
It’s rather that the Word does work, and it needs nothing else. We need not live in an age of miracles in order to see the gospel spread. We need not be able to call down fire from heaven, or bread or healing or any other thing from heaven.
We need to take seriously the Word given to create life and bring belief in the lives of those who hear it.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
At first this week, though the Huffington Post is generally not worth the paper is isn’t printed on, here’s a decent article on teen texting, or just texting in general. I say decent in that it makes some great points about texting, but only decent in that it doesn’t really address the problem of relationships or the problem of technology. If I find an article that addresses it better, I will text it to you. And you better respond within a few seconds.
At second, here’s a good article on evangelistic conversations with skeptics. Be wary of the temptation and tendency to desire to “show them what’s what” or to be ready with easy answers for all their questions. The goal of evangelistic conversations is evangelism, not winning. This article gives some good tips for engaging others in conversations. Be wary of confusing evangelism with talking past people.
At third, for all you word geeks out here, here are some “contronyms,” words that are their own opposites. It proves that context is everything in communication. Chances are, none of these words would confuse you if they were found in a sentence in everyday communication.
The homerun today is this interesting site, showing the progression of time on the planet through thirty years of satellite images. Some changes are pretty drastic, and others are barely noticeable. Dial up your home town and see how things have changed, and by all means, check out some of the links at the bottom of things others have found. (When you click on them, you need to manually scroll back up to the top to see it.)