Happy Thursday! As the weekend approaches, you might be looking for something good to read. When you’re done with my favorite reads of the year, you might want to consider Clear Winter Nights by Trevin Wax, The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon, and The Expected One by Scott James.
The work of the Creator is a gift generously given. And, like all gifts – especially those of such value and significance – it is a gift to be enjoyed. A gift that should cause me to pause, to reflect, to meditate and glorify God for his power, goodness, and love. The snowcapped peaks should startle me out of my busyness and routine to remind me of the love of my Father. A Father who would give so generously. Who would create so uniquely.
Mike wins the award for best title of the week:
Quickly applying the benefits of the gospel to yourself apart from thorough and actual repentance is about the same way. I’ll be honest, at times when I’m preaching the gospel to myself I get so excited about applying the benefits of the gospel to weary and insecure soul that I run through that part about repentance. Much like morning breath, my feelings of guilt make me aware that something needs to be done. I’m desperate to apply the remedy but I don’t actually use the right tool to see real lasting change take place.
This led me to ask myself—other Christians (preachers in particular)—do we have a mild allergy to God’s judgment? By this I mean, do we avoid the topic of God’s judgment?
Fundamentally, we must recognize that the gospel is actually quite impolite. At a basic level, the gospel forces us to come to terms with some very uncomfortable truths about ourselves – namely, that we are worse people than we would care to admit, and more powerless to do anything about it than we are comfortable to talk about. Before Christianity lifts our heads, it always cuts us at the knees, and that cutting is painful. Humiliating. Impolite.
I know my mothering days are not over because, as long as I draw breath, the call to fill the earth with image bearers will be incumbent on me. Just as my biological children needed me to train them in self-control, industriousness, and obedience, so also do young believers in the church need those who are more mature to train them in godliness. Every believing woman who grows to maturity becomes, in her time, a spiritual mother to those following behind, whether she ever becomes a mom in physical terms. She fulfills that most basic calling of motherhood: nurturing the helpless and weak to maturity and strength. She helps the young believer to nurse on the pure milk of the Word, faithfully teaching basic doctrine and modeling the fruit of the Spirit. She sacrificially makes herself available, like the mother of a newborn infant, allowing her schedule and personal needs to be inconvenienced for the sake of caring for the spiritually young and vulnerable. And she understands the work to be not a trial but a sacred duty, finding deep delight in wobbly first steps of faithfulness and stuttered first words of truth.
My role at Midwestern has allowed me to see many young seminarians receive invitations to preach as pulpit supply for pastors and local congregations in our region. It can be quite a rewarding assignment if handled well, but it can also be nerve-wracking if you don’t follow proper decorum. Through many trials and travails of my own, I have gathered for you 14 tried-and-true rules of thumb to which I try to adhere when I am called upon to be a guest preacher. What an immense stewardship you have been given! Take it seriously young proto-pastor.
A favorite from the archives:
To be proud in ministry is to jeopardize our ministry—to risk God, in his loving kindness, humiliating us if we start foolishly believing that the number of people who show up matters, how many copies of our books are sold or that we’re above being corrected (even by nobodies who apparently attend Star Trek conventions and live in their moms’ basements).