Friday, November 27, 2009

D.A. Carson on Preaching

It is terribly easy for the preacher to shape his message to fit in with the spirit of the age. What begins as a concern to be relevant and contemporary—both admirable goals—ends up with seduction and domestication. This is especially likely when the rich and the powerful are paying our bills. At every level it is easy to fool oneself into thinking that cowardice is prudence, that silence on the moral issues of the day is a small price to pay in order to have influence in the corridors of power. Get invited to the White House (or even denominational headquarters!), and you will never inveigh against its sins. Give a lecture at a prestigious academic organ, and be sure to ruffle as few feathers as possible. Become a bishop, and instead of being the next J. C. Ryle, you sell your silence. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. God will always have his Micah and his Amos. But it happens frequently enough that we ought to return often to God’s revelation, to make sure that our message is shaped by what he has said and is neither the fruit of smart-mouthed petulance nor the oily “appropriateness” of those who cleverly say only what people want to hear.

Carson, D. A.: For the Love of God : A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word. Volume 2. Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, 1998, S. 25

My prayer is that I would simply preach the Gospel according to the Scriptures. If you pray for me or any pastor, pray for that.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Are We Concerned About

Jonah 4:10-11 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

I read this text this morning and wondered if God doesn't say, "US Christians, you are concerned about politics, the economy, and other luxuries and yet there are 2 billion people on the planet that have never heard my Gospel."

Friday, November 20, 2009

On Turning Thirty-Seven

Well I turned thirty-seven this week. It is a pretty blah age really. There isn’t much to get worked up about. I probably would not have even thought much about it had my wife and children along with hundreds of Facebook friends not reminded me of it.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is a significant year in my life because of my family history, my calling, and my current family.

At the age of thirty-seven my dad had his first heart-attack. He got one in every three to four years after that and died at the age of forty-nine. My dad was not a healthy man and he lived hard. He was a truck driver, but he also was an ineffective entrepreneur, which meant he spent a lot of blood, sweat, and tears on ideas that never seemed to pan out. He was also a big smoker and overweight.

The morning after my thirty-seventh birthday I ran a 10k in fifty-three minutes at Kereiakes Park, which is not bad for a man fifteen pounds over his playing weight. I am planning on running a half-marathon in the spring. I am also going to focus on doing what I am called to care for and refuse to get stressed out, especially when I have such a loving God caring for me.

Speaking of my God, I hope to serve Him well this year. But I think I am no longer considered a young pastor. I have served Living Hope Baptist Church since I was twenty-eight years old. It is still astounding to me that God called me to serve such an amazing congregation. I love them so much. They have been so kind and gracious and patient with me. It is an honor to get to serve them and to be on this wild journey with them and Jesus.

But now that I am thirty-seven I do not think I qualify as the “young guy.” As a matter of fact I am feeling a little vulnerable. I injured my leg in August and it took two months to heal. I got a cough in mid-October and I am just now over it. I am not able to recover as I once did and my kids are making greater demands on me. My adolescent daughter and older son’s sports along with the energy of my two year-old require me to be on the go more. I've got to work harder to keep up.

But I am overjoyed with my life and my wife. It is a joy to have a best-friend and help-mate with such a strong faith and kind heart like she does. We both rejoice at the goodness of God to us.

I plan to double my dad’s age at death and so I am just over one third of my way home unless the Lord returns or decides to bring me home earlier. I covet your prayers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hell Is NOT Safe

I have been thinking about hell a lot. Just ask the members of my church. My accountability partners pointed out to me this week that I have mentioned it every Sunday for the past eight weeks. The idea of it is always present when I preach, but they explained that I have been dwelling on it. They wondered what was up.

The day after my guys talked with me one of our seasoned saints dropped in to see me. The purpose of her visit was to check on me. She and her husband had been talking about me and were concerned that I was allowing my mind to focus too much and too often on the reality of hell. Their concern was for my health. They both felt that to dwell on that subject too much could lead to a dark emotional state. I don’t disagree with them. If I did not have the hope of heaven for myself and that I can share with others, I do not know how I could live.

I honestly had not thought about it all that much, but I think they are all correct. Since my sabbatical I have spent more time thinking and talking about eternity than I ever have in my life.

There are a lot of things that could attribute to this. For one I am getting near 40 and my father died at the age of 49 so I could be considering the reality of my own mortality. It may also be that the Scripture reading I have been doing points to the eternal so often. You can’t read Spurgeon a week without having him saying something about it.

I have also been reading a lot of C.S. Lewis. I love C.S. Lewis, but the way he describes hell is, I believe, inconsistent with Scripture. He was a very sophisticated and intellectual man. I have the greatest respect for him. But I do not think he does hell justice. I believe it is going to be far worse than he describes. He makes it sound like hell is the worst of humanity. That is true, but it is also the worst of everything. There are going to be demons there. The Bible speaks of a burning fire and a never ending suffering. Hope is lost. Grace is gone. There is an awareness of God, but the thought of Him is terrifying and painful. Spiritual, emotional, and physical suffering is continuous and strenuous. Others are screaming. Demons are raging. Fear abounds.

I hope this doesn’t mess up your day, but I think it is very important that we understand that hell is not safe. Christians have the truth that can set sinners free from this deserved damnation. We must take it serious and do all we can to avoid it and to help other people avoid it.