Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Much Needed Reminder from the Doctor

The greatest preacher in Europe during the 20th century was David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Though dead he still speaks. In pg 284, volume 2 of his biography we read this, "Two columns in a LA newspaper headed, 'British Cleric Pleads for Stress on Preaching.' The paper reported him as saying, 'Too little preaching and too much music, ritual and entertainment are leading to too much Christian superficiality.'" Talk about prophetic.

"Evangelism, he told them, has to be church-centered adn the churches need no special technique or advertising. They are built up by sound preaching, preaching the Word of God in a Christ-centered way, with conviction, and looking to the Holy Spirit to apply it...When the local church has a spirit of evangelism, members tell others about Christ, and through personal contact among friends, acquaintances and business associates bring many into the church." Talk about relevant.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pastoral Lessons from MLJ

Many years ago i read the first volume of two on the late great David Martyn Lloyd-Jones written by premier Christian biographer Iain H Murray. This month I decided to try and finish volume two (volume two is 831 pages). The second volume of this bio is aptly titled "the Fight of Faith."

If you want to know what makes MLJ's ministry so enduring check out this series of exceptional articles written by Dr. Steve Lawson (TMS Journal- 22/1 Spring 2011)

Over the past ten years Christian biographies have been some of the best disciplers and ministry mentors I have had. Many pastoral lessons can been gleaned from great Christian biographies. For example, I was somewhat shocked to read about the internal opposition MLJ faced when transitioning into the lead pastor position at Westminster Chapel. MLJ had left his ministry in Wales to be an Assistant/Co-Pastor with the famed G Campbell Morgan in the heart of London. Campbell had served as the lead pastor of Westminster Chapel for 39 years (1904-1943). A church member could not ask for a much better successor (Campbell Morgan to Lloyd-Jones). It's sort of like going from Joe Montana to Steve Young (one Hall of Fame QB to another). Yet despite this reality MLJ was not without internal critics.

Iain Murray writes, "There were influential members of the congregation from pre-War years, including men in the leadership of the diaconate, who were by no means enamoured with the prospect of hearing nothing but Dr Lloyd-Jones. Hitherto they had tended to suffer the new preaching while expressing their undisguised preference for Dr. Morgan. Some members even choose to attend only when the older man was preaching, and one of these, mistaking the arrangements for a particular Sunday, was overheard at Sunday lunch to say with indignation, 'I went to Westminster to hear Dr. Morgan but it was that Calvinist.' The same attitude was strongly represented in the diaconate itself.... Murray went on to explain how upon receiving Dr Morgan's resignation letter the deacons met alone (one of those secret meetings). After the meeting the board asked MLJ what his intentions were (knowing all along that the plan was for D MLJ to transition into the Sr Pastor position once Dr Morgan retired).

Later in Chapter 6 Murray writes, "Yet unsupportive men remained on the diaconate for some years to come and by the time that they were finally gone the custom of paying MLJ a comparatively poor salary had become so habitual that it was never properly adjusted."

It was beneficial for me to be reminded of these realities. Godly ministers who attempt to be fully biblical are rarely ever received with unanimous approval. Even if/when they are such unanimity rarely lasts (Luke 6:26). If you do not believe me just wait until you preach your first series of sermons on Mark 10 or John 6 or implement biblical Church discipline on someone who is connected to half the church via blood relations.

If Martyn Lloyd-Jones and John MacArthur experienced internal opposition during the beginning years of their well known pastorates should we experience a ministry of roses? Let us not forget that the way of the Master is the way of the cross (2 Tim 3:12, Luke 9:23). The way of the cross is the path marked by righteous suffering (1 Peter, 2 Corinthians 11-12).

God sends his ministers to all kinds of churches. Some of us are sent by the Holy Spirit to pastor congregations that are more like the congregation at Corinth then the flock at Philippi. No two ministries are exactly the same (note Revelation 2-3 or compare the N.T. Epistles). Every faithful Christian will suffer. Some will obviously suffer more then others. None of us however will suffer more than the only perfect Pastor.

Some Pastors outlive and outlast their ministry critics. Some men have even witnessed the Holy Spirit transform ministry thorns into gospel allies. Many pastors go on to enjoy sweeter days of ministry fruitfulness and peace after early years of turmoil and unrest. Others are eventually driven out (the Apostle Paul was almost 'voted out' at Corinth- note 2 Corinthians 1:23f). Wherever God has you let us remember that ministry success is determined by faithfulness.

1 Corinthians 3:6-11, I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Reading report (Updated 10/5/11)

Books I’ve somewhat recently completed:

The Pastor As Scholar & the Scholar as Pastor by Carson and Piper
Jesus Loves the Church and So Should You by Earl Blackburn
Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland
The Mighty Weakness of John Knox by Douglas Bond
Reformation: yesterday, today, and tomorrow by Carl Trueman
Wesley and Men Who Followed by Iain H Murray
The Exemplary Husband by Stuart Scott
Expository Listening by Ken Ramey
Ancient Word, Changing Worlds by Stephen J. Nichols
The Unquenchable Flame:Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves
The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards by Steven J Lawson
The Evangelicals by Christopher Catherwood
The Short Life of Jonathan Edwards by George Mardsen
Various commentaries on the Book of Colossians
Various commentaries on the Book of Revelation
In Paul’s Shadow by D. Edmond Hiebert
Blame it on the Brain by Edward T Welch
The Master’s Plan For the Church by John MacArthur
When Good Kids Make Bad Choices by Elyse Fitzpatrick
12 Ordinary Men by John MacArthur
Elders in Congregational Life by Phil Newton
The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness by John MacArthur
Loving the Church by John Crotts
TMS Journal Spring 2011
Exemplary Spiritual Leadership by Jerry Wragg
Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns
John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock by Iain Murray

UPDATED 10.5.11

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trip to Carmel, IN

Jude learned some new tricks during our recent trip to Carmel, Indiana.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

R. Kent Hughes on Preaching

Commenting on Colossians 1:25-29, “This charge has preaching as its main function, and specifically Biblical exposition. The phrase ‘to present to you the word of God’ literally reads, ‘that i might complete the Word of God.' The idea is to lay out the Word of God fully. People cannot know Christ better without knowing the Word of God fully. Preaching (exposition) was the heart of God’s call to Paul.

Preaching must open the Word of God. Paul affirms here such preaching is primary to an authentic ministry. There is no shortcut-it takes work. Joseph Parker put it this way: If i had talked all the week, I could not have preached on Sunday. That is all. Mystery there is none. I have made my preaching work my delight, the very festival of my soul. That is all. Young brother, go thou and do likewise, and God bless thee."