Every woman a theologian: Aimee Byrd calls on women to think theologically (Amy Steward)

Posted by on Sep 18, 2014 in Magazine-George Whitefield at 300 | No Comments
Every woman a theologian: Aimee Byrd calls on women to think theologically (Amy Steward)

Aimee Byrd’s Housewife Theologian is a collection of theological reflections from a modern Christian housewife— former coffee shop owner, now wife, mom, and current writer and blogger.  Even though the title is Housewife Theologian, this isn’t a book about homemaking or even about being a housewife.  This book was written to challenge women to embrace the calling that all Christian women have to be theologians.

9781596386655-1mIn the introduction to her book, Byrd states that a theologian is often thought of in terms of “a specialized field of study,” but (quoting John Gerstner) Byrd argues that every Christian is “called to be a theologian.”  A true theologian is one who “has a true knowledge of God which he understands in nontechnical, nonprofessional, nonacademic terms.”  We can never exhaust our learning of God, and if you truly love someone, you will want to learn all that you can about them.  It is with this conviction that the author makes an emphatic call to set a new standard of atypical living for the modern Christian housewife.  This book seeks to answer the all important question: “How does one’s knowledge and beliefs about God affect our everyday, ordinary lives?”

Byrd’s book is wide-ranging and covers a variety of topics that are relevant to all Christian women, married or single.  A repeated theme is on how the gospel should affect all of life, or as she puts it “how the gospel interrupts the ordinary.”  She also discusses questions like:

  1. How does my knowledge of God relate to my role as a woman; my thoughts on beauty, identity, hospitality, and sin; and my influence on others?
  2. How is a Christian’s thinking different from an unbeliever’s?
  3. What is the relationship of the church to the broader culture?

Byrd stresses that the way women view themselves and their roles should be understood in light of who they are in Christ and not according to the world’s standards or ideas.  Women need to be counter-cultural in their thinking, and Byrd shares many stories from her own life that illustrate the journey that she herself has been through in her own thinking. As life-long learners, Byrd also encourages women to be teachers who influence others in the spheres in which God has placed them.

The book has many positive features that will make it a helpful springboard for further reflection or group discussion.  The end of each chapter includes journaling questions that could be used for either personal reflection or in a small group setting.  The chapters are not overly-heavy and contain numerous thought-provoking quotations from writers such as Charles Spurgeon, D. A. Carson, and Tim Challies, to name a few.  Each chapter is full of stories, personal anecdotes, and reflections, and is written in a punchy, colorful way, with a self-deprecating sense of humor.

While the author’s choice of subject material touches numerous topics, perhaps a better choice would have been to have gone deeper on just a few main points and also address the heart-issues behind so much unbiblical theology in Christian culture today.  (For further reading on heart-related issues, I highly recommend Lies Women Believe, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Calm My Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow.)  This aside, The Housewife Theologian does deserve to be widely read and discussed by Christian women in today’s culture.  Aimee Byrd’s call to women to become theologians is one that every housewife needs to embrace.

Amy Steward, Louisville, KY

This review is from the new issue of Credo Magazine. Read others like it today!


To view the Magazine as a PDF {Click Here}

We live in a day when those in the church want to have their ears tickled. We do not want a sermon, but a “talk.” “Don’t get preachy, preacher!” is the mantra of many church goers today. What is preferred is a casual, comfortable, and laid back chat with a cup of coffee and a couple of Bible verses to throw into the mix to make sure things get spiritual. One wonders whether Timothy would have been fired as a pastor today for heeding Paul’s advice: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul gives such a command to Timothy because he knew what was to come. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Has that day come? Are churches filled with “itching ears,” demanding “teachers to suit their own passions”? Have we turned “away from listening to the truth”?

In a day when ears itch and truth is shown the back door, what could be more needed than men who actually preach the Word? George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of those men. He was a preacher who preached in plain language, so that even the most common man could understand God’s Word. Yet, his sermons were incredibly powerful, often leading men and women to tears as the Holy Spirit convicted their souls. Whitefield not only preached the truth, but he pleaded with his listeners to submit themselves body and soul to the truth. He preached God’s Word with passion because he understood that his listener stood between Heaven and Hell. His robust Calvinism, in other words, led to a zealous evangelism.

This year, 2014, marks the 300th anniversary of Whitefield’s birth. These articles are meant to drive us back to Whitefield’s day, that we might eat up his theology, and drink deeply his passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contributors include: Thomas Kidd, Lee Gatiss, Michael A.G. Haykin, Thomas Nettles, Ian Hugh Clary, Mike McKinley, Mark Noll, Doug Sweeney, and many others.

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I’ve Seen Strange Things: The Funeral That Was Almost a Fist Fight (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on Sep 17, 2014 in Timothy Raymond | No Comments
I’ve Seen Strange Things: The Funeral That Was Almost a Fist Fight (Timothy Raymond)

I tell my boys that if they ever find themselves in pastoral ministry, they’ll end up seeing some pretty wild and messy stuff.  The image of the calm country parson in his clerical collar gently visiting with Lady Grantham whilst munching on cucumber sandwiches and chatting about pristine village life exists only in inane PBS dramas.  In my experience, pastoral ministry is far more like a weird combination of the TV shows, Intervention, Jeopardy, and 24.

Below is the first in what will hopefully be an occasional miniseries chronicling bizarre, raw, and sometimes depressing, sometimes exhilarating ministry experiences I’ve had over the years.  Enough time has passed and I’ll change the names and details so that nobody in my church will have a clue as to what or whom I’m describing.  And this first one is about a guy who wasn’t even a member of our church.  But it’s about a funeral that almost became a literal fistfight.  And please overlook the grammatical irregularities.  I hurriedly jotted this down as a journal entry a few hours after it happened.

fistThe Funeral That Was Almost a Fist Fight

A very strange and memorable thing happened to me today.  To set the stage, earlier this week I was asked to perform the funeral for a man we’ll call “Frank,” a 74 year old war veteran who died last Sunday from pneumonia.  Throughout the week I had been in dialog with the man’s two sons.  Let’s call them “Bruno” and “Ashton.”

These two boys could not be more different.  Though Bruno is in his 50’s, he has never worked a steady job and has always lived with his parents.  He is notably overweight, sports a mullet, dresses like a cheap mechanic, and though he does not have a beard I have never seen him clean shaven.  Furthermore, he clearly has some mental deficiencies and apparently a history of violent behavior.  The night his father died, Bruno and Ashton got into a disagreement in the hospital over the details of their father’s funeral.  During the disagreement Bruno punched Ashton in the jaw and only backed down once when Ashton threatened to call hospital security.

Ashton, on the other hand, is a polished, well-dressed, articulate husband and father who has obviously experienced some degree of financial success.  I don’t know his profession but he speaks and dresses like a Fortune 500 businessman.  He is four years Bruno’s senior.  (The whole situation vaguely resembles that old Schwarzenegger/DeVito movie Twins.)  Oddly enough, however, somehow Bruno became Frank’s power of attorney.

Anyhow, later in the week a conflict arose between Bruno and Ashton over the possibility of Ashton giving a eulogy at his father’s funeral.  Ashton desired to do so to honor his father while Bruno firmly opposed the idea.  Bruno initially appealed to me to forbid Ashton from giving a eulogy, but I could see no reason to prohibit it.  As Frank’s son, Ashton had every right to give a eulogy.  Later in the week, however, Bruno was claiming that Frank’s dying wish was that no one give eulogies at the funeral.  That sounded suspect to me, so I did not prohibit Ashton from eulogizing.  I organized a funeral service and included a slot for Ashton to say a few words.

Everything was going along smoothly until this morning around 10:50 (the funeral was to begin at 11:00).  It was at this point that the funeral director called me aside and told me about “a situation.”  He brought me back into a darkly lit room in the funeral home where he then informed me that Bruno promised to literally haul Ashton’s backside out of the funeral service if he stood up to speak.  We were discussing what to do when suddenly Bruno walked in on the conversation.

The entire thing then turned into a scene from The Godfather.  Imagine hostile middle-aged men in a dimly lit but ornate parlor wearing uncomfortable suits and having intense disagreements peppered with profanity.  Everybody was awkwardly looking at one another, unsure of what to do, and for some reason, at this point, I found unusual courage to speak up and became the default defender of Ashton’s right to eulogize.  From a human perspective, I think I was unusually bold because, first, it was clear that Bruno was acting irrational and clearly in the wrong, and second, I thought I could take Bruno in a fight, if it came to it (hate to confess I was thinking such thoughts!). I told Bruno that his brother had every right to give a eulogy at the funeral and that he should not oppose him.  At this, Bruno began using intense vulgarity and threatened his brother with violence.  Bruno reiterated the “dying wish” of his father.

At this point I called on Bruno to be completely honest with us and to tell us the truth about his father’s so-called dying wish.  Bruno proceeded to invoke God to literally damn him to hell if he was lying.  I wasn’t sure where to go after this, so I took a different approach.  I reminded Bruno that he had invited me to lead the funeral.  Therefore, he should trust my judgment in designing and leading the service.  Bruno reiterated his threat to physically haul his brother out of the room in the event he got up to speak.

At this, Ashton’s strapping teenage son, who’s heading into the Marine Corp in a few weeks, stepped up and said that he’d defend his father if Bruno attempted to touch him.  Bruno could see that he was outnumbered but then promised that if Ashton told any lies about his father that Bruno would knock Ashton on his rear-end (though he used somewhat different terminology to describe this action).  By this time it was around 11:08 and there were probably 35 people waiting uncomfortably in the funeral home chapel.

As we left the room and headed toward the chapel, one of the employees at the funeral home turned and said to me, “Of all people, you’re probably most at risk of being attacked by Bruno” (since I had obviously and shamelessly contradicted Bruno).  “But if he comes at you, don’t worry; we’ll be in there on top of him.”  I don’t remember if it was that same employee or another but someone then said to me, “But you look like you could handle yourself.”  That was actually encouraging to hear.

Though trembling from anxiety and from an emotional verbal confrontation, I immediately took the lectern and began to lead the service, trying to act as if nothing was wrong.  I did not know this until later but at this same time the funeral director summoned the local police to come to the funeral home to stand by in the event something broke out.  I saw the police car out front after the service.

Thankfully, nothing happened during the funeral or after.  I led my part, Ashton gave a wonderful eulogy honoring his father, and Bruno remained in his seat.  After the funeral I was able to have a good laugh with the funeral director over the whole thing.  But for a few minutes there I felt as if I were in a war zone.

During our chat, the funeral director told me something I never would have anticipated.  Since funerals often gather family members who are at odds with one another, verbal and physical altercations are actually fairly common and the funeral employees often have to function as “bouncers.”  Who’d of known?  Pastors, be prepared!

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

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Wisdom for Ministry (Matthew Barrett)

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Audio, Matthew Barrett, Pastoral Ministry | One Comment
Wisdom for Ministry (Matthew Barrett)

On November 4th I will be giving a message at The Master’s Seminary for chapel. I will be preaching on 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and my message will be called, “Remain Faithful to the Holy and Sufficient Word of God.” I look forward to this time at TMS and welcome you to attend if you are in the area. In light of this, today I would like to highlight two videos from John MacArthur that I have benefited from. The first is a message he gave way back in 2006 at T4G on his own personal journey through seminary and into the ministry. MacArthur passes on some valuable lessons here. The second is a panel discussion on longevity in ministry where MacArthur once again has insights. MacArthur has been expositing God’s Word for decades and here is an opportunity for younger pastors or future pastors to listen as MacArthur shares what he has learned.
 

“Forty Years of Gospel Ministry” — John MacArthur (T4G 2006) from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Longevity In The Ministry (Panel 5, T4G 2012) from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at matthewmbarrett.com.

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The Need for Christian Fortitude

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Jeremy Kimble, Jonathan Edwards | No Comments
The Need for Christian Fortitude

Over the next several weeks I will be offering some quotes and thoughts from Jonathan Edwards’s Religious Affections, a work that has greatly impacted my view of conversion. In this first installment Edwards seeks to make the point that our primary battle is within. We must battle, through Christian fortitude, to counteract the false claims of the enemy, embody the affections that would mirror Christ, and seek to live from a right inner disposition. This reminds me of the process outlined by the apostle Paul, wherein we are told to put off our old sinful self, renew our minds in truth, and put on the new self, which is created in after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24). We act out of the abundance of our hearts, and so we must guard it with vigilance, and seek to make much of God in both attitude and action.

True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies… Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies and have greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.

Jeremy Kimble (PhD, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Cedarville University. He is an editor for Credo Magazine as well as the author of That His Spirit May Be Saved: Church Discipline as a Means to Repentance and Perseverance and numerous book reviews. He is married to Rachel and has two children, Hannah and Jonathan.

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Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Sunday's Sermon | No Comments
Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Three of Credo Magazine’s main contributors include Thomas Schreiner, Fred Zaspel, and Matthew Barrett. Each of them are professors, but they are also pastors. So each Monday morning we will be highlighting their “Sunday’s Sermon” on the blog to provide you with encouragement throughout the week and an opportunity to study God’s Word.
 

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Credo’s Cache

Posted by on Sep 12, 2014 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. Jesus Did More to Save Us than DieBy Gavin Ortlund - Ortlund says: “We need a balanced focus on the broader narrative as well as the cross (or the cross and resurrection together) as the crucial turning point within that narrative. In other words, we need to explore other elements of Jesus’ saving work, but always in relation to the cross (or cross/empty tomb).”

2. An Evangelical Defense of Traditional MarriageBy Andrew Walker - Walker notes: “I eagerly await the young evangelical that finally convinces me that the Bible and human history are wrong on marriage and that justice requires that both Christianity and society bestow marriage on same-sex relationships.”

3. How To Criticize a PreacherBy David Murray - Murray says: “Well, I’m not going to tell you exactly what words to use. I’m simply going to give you ten questions to ask that I hope will produce the right words and the right way to say them should you ever have to offer criticism to a preacher.”

4. 10 Ways to Exercise Christlike HeadshipBy Owen Strachan – Strachan says: “Our culture may reject male headship; it may undermine men. None of that matters to you. None of it bogs you down. Whether trained by a godly dad from birth or newly learning about headship as a young believer, your face is set like a flint to pursue the glory of God as the Christlike head of a home. That’s your goal; that, like a distant trumpet summoning you to sacrificial leadership, is your call.”

5. 5 Thoughts on Confessing Sin to One AnotherBy Nick Batzig - Batzig says: “’Open Confession is good for the soul,’ or so the maxim goes. Perhaps it might also be said, ‘Open Confession is  good for your relationship with God and men.’ While Scripture supports both of these statements, there is something of a haze that lays across the surface of the meaning of such statements in Scripture as, ‘Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed’ (Jas. 5:16).”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.

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The Born Again Preacher: George Whitefield on the New Birth (Ian Hugh Clary)

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Magazine-George Whitefield at 300 | No Comments
The Born Again Preacher: George Whitefield on the New Birth  (Ian Hugh Clary)

In the recent issue of Credo Magazine, “George Whitefield at 300,” Ian Hugh Clary contributed an article entitled, “The Born Again Preacher: George Whitefield on the New Birth.”

New Fixed Credo July 2014 CoverIan Hugh Clary is finishing doctoral studies at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein) where he is writing on Arnold Dallimore and the search for a usable past. He is co-editor (with Steve Weaver) of The Pure Flame of Devotion: A History of Christian Spirituality. Ian and his wife Vicky have three children, Jack, Molly, and Kate, and live in Toronto where they are members of West Toronto Baptist Church.

Here is the start of the article:

George Whitefield (1714-1770) has widely been lauded as one of Christianity’s greatest evangelists and preachers. His early biographer, John Gillies (1712-1796), wrote, “I often considered him as an angel flying through the midst of heaven, with the everlasting Gospel, to preach unto them that dwell on earth.” Though he gave the title of best preacher of all time to the Welsh revivalist Daniel Rowland (1713-1790), D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) nominated Whitefield as “the greatest English preacher of all time.” Arnold Dallimore (1907-1998), author of an important twentieth-century biography of Whitefield, said that he was “the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul.” While it is hard to know how to measure any one person as the greatest preacher—what standard can be used?—there is no doubt that the impulse behind such sentiments are true. Whitefield was a remarkable preacher.

Whitefield himself estimated that over the course of his seven trips to America, and his various preaching tours in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and even the Netherlands and the Caribbean, that he preached 18,000 times to some ten million hearers. He also revolutionized many of the media forms in the early modern period including print and sound amplification. It was basically unheard of in eighteenth-century England for an Anglican clergyman to preach in fields, but Whitefield did this when he was barred from pulpits in the Church of England. In Philadelphia Whitefield’s friend Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) performed an acoustic experiment and famously paced out 30,000 in attendance who could reasonably hear him at one of his sermons. Whitefield had the insight to situate himself in natural amphitheatres in order for his voice to carry across large spaces. Recent research using computer modeling has verified the likelihood of Franklin’s conclusions.

With this in mind, it is worth examining aspects of Whitefield’s preaching. For our purposes, we will look at how Scripture shaped Whitefield’s preaching ministry, his emphasis on the new birth, how he applied that emphasis to his hearers, and conclude with some brief reflections for preachers today. . . .

Read the rest of this interview today!


To view the Magazine as a PDF {Click Here}

We live in a day when those in the church want to have their ears tickled. We do not want a sermon, but a “talk.” “Don’t get preachy, preacher!” is the mantra of many church goers today. What is preferred is a casual, comfortable, and laid back chat with a cup of coffee and a couple of Bible verses to throw into the mix to make sure things get spiritual. One wonders whether Timothy would have been fired as a pastor today for heeding Paul’s advice: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul gives such a command to Timothy because he knew what was to come. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Has that day come? Are churches filled with “itching ears,” demanding “teachers to suit their own passions”? Have we turned “away from listening to the truth”?

In a day when ears itch and truth is shown the back door, what could be more needed than men who actually preach the Word? George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of those men. He was a preacher who preached in plain language, so that even the most common man could understand God’s Word. Yet, his sermons were incredibly powerful, often leading men and women to tears as the Holy Spirit convicted their souls. Whitefield not only preached the truth, but he pleaded with his listeners to submit themselves body and soul to the truth. He preached God’s Word with passion because he understood that his listener stood between Heaven and Hell. His robust Calvinism, in other words, led to a zealous evangelism.

This year, 2014, marks the 300th anniversary of Whitefield’s birth. These articles are meant to drive us back to Whitefield’s day, that we might eat up his theology, and drink deeply his passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contributors include: Thomas Kidd, Lee Gatiss, Michael A.G. Haykin, Thomas Nettles, Ian Hugh Clary, Mike McKinley, Mark Noll, Doug Sweeney, and many others.

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10 Questions with Mike McKinley

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Magazine-George Whitefield at 300 | One Comment
10 Questions with Mike McKinley

In the recent issue of Credo Magazine, “George Whitefield at 300,” pastor and author Mike McKinley answered 10 Questions on church planting in the city, assurance of salvation, technology, preaching through the book of Revelation, and much more.

New Fixed Credo July 2014 CoverMike McKinley was raised in suburban Philadelphia. In 2004, he was brought onto the pastoral staff at Capitol Hill Baptist Church as a church planter. In 2005, he brought a small group of people from CHBC to Guilford Baptist Church in order to help revitalize the church’s ministry. He served as Guilford’s pastor until 2013, when Guilford merged with Sterling Park Baptist Church, where he now serves as Senior Pastor. Mike is the author of several books, including Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things, and Am I Really a Christian?

Here is the start of the interview:

Mike, you have written a book called, Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things. If you could give advice to our readers who might be interested in planting a church one day, what would it be?  

I think it would be this: Anything you can do in your own strength and by means of your own cleverness probably isn’t worth accomplishing, but anything done in the power of the Holy Spirit by means of the Word of God will last forever. Focus on prayerfully making God’s Word known.

What is the major difference between church planting in the city versus rural areas, and in what ways should church planters approach these two differently?  

I have to confess that I’m not an expert on rural or urban church planting, but ignorance has never stopped me from having a strong opinion! I think that people in those two contexts will have some very different priorities, different assumptions about what it means to be part of a community, different paces of life, and different experiences with Christianity. What gives a church planter hope is that people in both contexts are exactly the same in all the ways that matter: dead in their sins, condemned in Adam, in rebellion against God, and in desperate need of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A church planter’s job is to try to understand the particular idols of his community and then bring the good news to bear on them.

In your experience as a pastor, what is the most challenging aspect of pastoral ministry?

Without a doubt, it’s the bites from the sheep. You expect to be attacked by wolves from time to time; it’s not easy but it comes with the territory. But when people with whom and for whom you have shed blood, sweat, and tears turn on you… it’s ten times more painful. I haven’t had nearly as much of that kind of thing as other pastors whom I know. The Lord must not think I can handle very much suffering. But to my mind it’s the worst thing about pastoral ministry by far. . . .

Read the rest of this interview today!


To view the Magazine as a PDF {Click Here}

We live in a day when those in the church want to have their ears tickled. We do not want a sermon, but a “talk.” “Don’t get preachy, preacher!” is the mantra of many church goers today. What is preferred is a casual, comfortable, and laid back chat with a cup of coffee and a couple of Bible verses to throw into the mix to make sure things get spiritual. One wonders whether Timothy would have been fired as a pastor today for heeding Paul’s advice: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul gives such a command to Timothy because he knew what was to come. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Has that day come? Are churches filled with “itching ears,” demanding “teachers to suit their own passions”? Have we turned “away from listening to the truth”?

In a day when ears itch and truth is shown the back door, what could be more needed than men who actually preach the Word? George Whitefield (1714-1770) was one of those men. He was a preacher who preached in plain language, so that even the most common man could understand God’s Word. Yet, his sermons were incredibly powerful, often leading men and women to tears as the Holy Spirit convicted their souls. Whitefield not only preached the truth, but he pleaded with his listeners to submit themselves body and soul to the truth. He preached God’s Word with passion because he understood that his listener stood between Heaven and Hell. His robust Calvinism, in other words, led to a zealous evangelism.

This year, 2014, marks the 300th anniversary of Whitefield’s birth. These articles are meant to drive us back to Whitefield’s day, that we might eat up his theology, and drink deeply his passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Contributors include: Thomas Kidd, Lee Gatiss, Michael A.G. Haykin, Thomas Nettles, Ian Hugh Clary, Mike McKinley, Mark Noll, Doug Sweeney, and many others.

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Pastor, do you feel like quitting? (Matthew Barrett)

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Matthew Barrett, Pastoral Ministry | One Comment
Pastor, do you feel like quitting? (Matthew Barrett)

Are you a pastor? If so, do you feel like quitting? Are you discouraged and depressed? Do you feel tired and worn-out? Does your preaching and teaching seem to bear little fruit? Are there days when you wonder why God has you there?

If that is you, read this journal entry from John Piper, dated November 6, 1986, just six years into his ministry. He writes in 2010, reflecting back on this entry, “Beware of giving up too soon. Our emotions are not reliable guides.”

Here is what he wrote:

9_27_Pastors_John_Piper__s_Journey_from_Preaching_to_Poetry_462730658Am I under attack by Satan to abandon my post at Bethlehem? Or is this the stirring of God to cause me to consider another ministry? Or is this God’s way of answering so many prayers recently that we must go a different way at BBC than building? I simply loathe the thought of leading the church through a building program. For two years I have met for hundreds of hours on committees. I have never written a poem about it. It is deadening to my soul. I am a thinker. A writer. A preacher. A poet and songwriter. At least these are the avenues of love and service where my heart flourishes. . . .

Can I be the pastor of a church moving through a building program? Yes, by dint of massive will power and some clear indications from God that this is the path of greatest joy in him long term. But now I feel very much without those indications. The last two years (the long range planning committee was started in August 1984) have left me feeling very empty.

The church is looking for a vision for the future—and I do not have it. The one vision that the staff zeroed in on during our retreat Monday and Tuesday of this week (namely, building a sanctuary) is so unattractive to me today that I do not see how I could provide the leadership and inspiration for it.

Does this mean that my time at BBC is over? Does it mean that there is a radical alternative unforeseen? Does it mean that I am simply in the pits today and unable to feel the beauty and power and joy and fruitfulness of an expanded facility and ministry?

O Lord, have mercy on me. I am so discouraged. I am so blank. I feel like there are opponents on every hand, even when I know that most of my people are for me. I am so blind to the future of the church. O Father, am I blind because it is not my future? Perhaps I shall not even live out the year, and you are sparing the church the added burden of a future I had made and could not complete? I do not doubt for a moment your goodness of power or omnipotence in my life or in the life of the church. I confess that the problem is mine. The weakness is in me. The blindness is in my eyes. The sin—O reveal to me my hidden faults!—is mine and mine the blame. Have mercy, Father. Have mercy on me. I must preach on Sunday, and I can scarcely lift my head.

Pastor, do not give up. Be faithful. Press on. You have an audience of one.

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at matthewmbarrett.com.

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Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Sunday's Sermon | No Comments
Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Three of Credo Magazine’s main contributors include Thomas Schreiner, Fred Zaspel, and Matthew Barrett. Each of them are professors, but they are also pastors. So each Monday morning we will be highlighting their “Sunday’s Sermon” on the blog to provide you with encouragement throughout the week and an opportunity to study God’s Word.
 

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