“Endurance for the Pastor’s Heart”

Over on Dan Dumas’ blog, I’ve written on “Endurance for the Pastor’s Heart.”

An excerpt:

The pastor will have to wage war against his acts of flesh, just as he exhorts his hearers to walk in the Spirit and in the light. He must endure this battle, in season and out of season. He must not justify his sinful failings but repent of them. The pastor should lead the way in obedience, setting an example for the flock (1 Pet. 5:3). He should hold to the gospel more firmly, take holiness more seriously, love God’s word more deeply, and intercede in prayer more fervently—all for the glory of God and the good of his family and church.

This post was the last installment of a three-part series. Parts 1 and 2 can be found here:

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“Prayer and the Pastor’s Heart”

Today on Dan Dumas’ blog, I had the privilege of contributing a post on “Prayer for the Pastor’s Heart.”

The beginning:

Listening to sermons each Lord’s Day, while important and necessary, comes with a danger that must be faced and overcome by God’s grace. We already know that pews fill up with some people who may not respond to the sermon in a way that honors God, people who may be hearers only, and not doers, of the preached word (see James 1:22-24). But the pastor must keep in mind his own temptation during the sermon time. Because he is a herald of God’s word, he is also a hearer of it, yet he may leave the service a hearer only. Pastors face the weekly danger of not sitting under their own sermons.

16 Books on Preaching and Pastoral Ministry

This last weekend marked 16 years since I’ve been preaching, and I’ve been encouraged by many helpful resources along the way. Here’s a list of 16 books on preaching and pastoral ministry. I commend them to you, in no particular order:

(1) Preaching and Preachers, by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

(2) The Trellis and the Vine, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne

(3) Lectures to My Students, by Charles Spurgeon

(4) Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

(5) Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, by Eugene Peterson

(6) Spirit-Led Preaching, by Greg Heisler

(7) Why Johnny Can’t Preach, by T. David Gordon

(8) Christ-Centered Preaching, by Bryan Chappell

(9) Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, by Thabiti Anyabwile

(10) The Pastor’s Ministry, by Brian Croft

(11) Why We Love the Church, by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

(12) The Surprising Offense of God’s Love, by Jonathan Leeman

(13) The Supremacy of God in Preaching, by John Piper

(14) Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, by John Piper

(15) Dangerous Calling, by Paul Tripp

(16) The Shepherd Leader, by Timothy Witmer

10 Questions for a Child Who Wants to be Baptized

Over the years I’ve had the great blessing of sitting down with children who want to be baptized. During such a meeting, there are specific questions I want to explore, though they are not all of equal merit. Depending on the age of the child, some questions may require more elaboration than others so that the child can understand what I’m asking.

Though we will invariably discuss more than what follows below, these 10 questions (and sub-questions) set the tone and direction of our meeting, and the quality of the child’s responses serves as a helpful guide for whether I’ll be moving to the stage of baptism or whether further time and training is needed first. While the main questions should be presented, certain sub-questions may exceed the understanding of some children at the time.

(1) Why do you want to be baptized?
-Where did you hear about baptism?
-How long have you wanted to be baptized?

(2) What do you think baptism means?
-Do you think baptism makes you a Christian?
-Why should Christians be baptized?
-Why should we be baptized under water then lifted out? 

(3) What do you believe the Bible teaches about Jesus?
-Where did he come from?
-Did he ever do anything wrong?
-Why did he die?
-What happened on the third day after he died?
-How was/is Jesus different from other people?

(4) What is sin?
-Who sins? 
-Do you believe you’ve sinned?
-Whom do we sin against?

(5) What is the consequence of sin?
-What kinds of consequences do people face in this world when they sin?
-What is the ultimate consequence of sin after death?

(6) What does it mean to trust in Jesus?
-What does it mean to worship something?
-What makes you want to trust someone?
-Should we believe what Jesus claims about Himself?
-What does it mean to confess Jesus as “Lord”?

(7) What does it mean to repent (turn from) sin?
-Why should we turn from sin?
-Since Jesus forgives our sins, is it okay to love sin now?
-How should a Christian learn to think about his/her sin?

(8) What happens to people who do not trust in Jesus as their Savior?
-Why does hell exist?
-Is God mean because people will be in hell?

-How long does hell last?
-Can anyone be rescued out of hell?

(9) What are ways people can learn about Jesus?
-Do you own a Bible? Do you read it? 
-Do you attend church? 
-Do your parents talk to you about Jesus?

(10) How can you learn to obey Jesus at your age?
-How can you obey Jesus at school?
-How can you obey Jesus at church?
-How can you obey Jesus at home?

 

Weekly Lord’s Supper at Kosmosdale Baptist Church

Kosmosdale Baptist Church now takes the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. We were doing it the first Sunday of each month, but there are biblical and theological reasons for increasing the frequency.

  1. The early church had the Lord’s Supper with their meal together, and they gathered each week to do so (cf. Acts 20:7; 2:42, 46; 1 Cor 10:16; 11:20, 23-24).
  2. Paul said we proclaim the Lord’s death whenever we partake of this ordinance, so wouldn’t we want a weekly proclamation? (1 Cor 11:26).
  3. It is a visual aid for the Gospel. The bread represents Christ’s body, and the cup represents his blood. Body broken, blood shed–that’s Gospel content.
  4. It maintains the distinctiveness of God’s people. The Lord’s Supper isn’t for unbelievers, so the weekly partaking of that ordinance serves as a reminder of God’s people being set apart through their faith in the Savior.

Usually pushback comes in a couple ways:

  1. Won’t a weekly Lord’s Supper make the service longer? I don’t think this is a good objection. After all, omitting an offering, excluding a public reading of Scripture, dropping some of the worship songs, and cutting the sermon in half would all make for a shorter service, but is that really what we’re after? No, of course not. The Lord’s Supper might add a few minutes to the service length, but if you start on time and do announcements efficiently, you might not be able to tell at all. In the end, don’t you think we should seek to conform the content of our worship to the practice of the early church as much as we can discern it?
  2. Won’t a weekly Lord’s Supper become void of meaning? This objection doesn’t stand either. The content of a worship service shouldn’t be defined by what we find maximum meaning in each week. That measuring stick is too relative. Not everyone finds the sermon as compelling each week. Not everyone is equally moved by the songs chosen for worship. Probably not everyone will give rapt and total attention to the public Scripture reading. Nevertheless, churches do weekly things in a worship service that may not always be exciting to every person every time. Our subjective enjoyment in an element of worship does not determine whether it should or shouldn’t become a corporate and frequent practice. Rather, I think we should consider the pattern of the early church and seek to follow their lead. And if it is correct that the early church took the Lord’s Supper each week, then they apparently didn’t believe the frequency nullified the meaning of the ordinance.

See the excellent reflections on this topic by Jim HamiltonRay Van Neste, Mike Willis.