Monday, February 03, 2020

Preaching and The Conscience

I am preaching a series of messages through the life of Peter at the moment and it has been a blessing to me to dig into the early stages of his interaction with our Lord.  In the second message, I preached about the Lord changing the name of Peter and spent some time preaching about the necessity of the conscience being struck with the Word of God.  A quote that I wove into the message was from a book that Tony Mansinho sent to me a few weeks ago.  It is the biography of Master Robert Bruce—Minister in the Kirk of Edinburgh by D. C. Macnicol.  Bruce was one of the Scottish Puritans and despite some of their flaws, I have been incredibly blessed for close to thirty years by digging into their writings.  Some time was spent by Macnicol exploring the matter of the conscience of Bruce being smitten by God and the Holy Scriptures.  Here is the quote that I used: 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Shakespeare and Preaching

She was probably in her mid-thirties when I met her.  Professional and articulate would be very good descriptive terms for her.  She had come to the Radiology Department for a CT scan for some diagnostic test that has long since escaped my memory.  Prior to these kinds of tests, I would take a brief medical history and then start an IV for the contrast to be injected during the scan.  Throughout that timeframe, I would be with a patient for about 10-15 minutes or so which gave me an occasion to get to know about their background as well as their medical situation.  When I asked her about her occupation, she told me that she was an English Literature professor who taught all of the Shakespeare classes at one of our local colleges.  Although I greatly enjoy books and have for most of my lifetime, I confessed that I would have some difficulty spending so much time with Shakespeare and all of his works. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

A Lifting Up for the Downcast - William Bridge

If you are not familiar with the Banner of Truth Trust, you are missing out.  Over the years, I have found that the Banner of Truth does an excellent job with not only the content of their books but the craftsmanship as well.  Their hardbound editions are especially nice, but their paperbacks also hold up well over time.  This is especially true for what they have defined as the Puritan Paperbacks.  I believe there are around 250 separate titles in this series with the pages ranging from generally 100 to as many as 300.  I do not have all of these in my personal library but the ones I do own have always served me well especially when traveling.  Obviously, you can obtain them in digital format, but I still have to confess that I favor actual books themselves given the opportunities to mark up the pages and write in the margins. 

William Bridge has one that the Banner has published on Psalm 42:11 entitled A Lifting Up for the Downcast.  This is a compilation of thirteen sermons on that single verse.  That is one of the hallmarks of the Puritans.  Many of these men were biblical expositors in the truest sense of the word.  They drank deeply from the Scriptures and then mixed in deep meditative thinking over what they had mined out of the Word and preached to their churches.  This series of messages were preached in 1648 to those who were experiencing what we could understand as “spiritual depression.”  I am afraid that the remedy for this generation would be to reach for an anti-depressant or an anxiolytic to provide relief.  However, the Puritans obviously believed that the best remedy for those kinds of maladies was the Word. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Prayer Pouring Out of Psalm 119


I am presently preaching through the stanzas of Psalm 119 and it has been a spiritually enriching exercise.  Today, I am struck by my need to pray through this Psalm as I preach through it.  One of the greatest things about verse-by-verse preaching is its sanctifying effect on the preacher.  What follows come from the handwritten prayer in my journal as I worked through Psalm 119:17-24 (The Trials That Come our Way).  The prayer was motivated by the cross-references that I followed as the sermon notes unfolded.

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Public Reading of Scripture

Quite some time ago, I was studying some of the practices of the ancient apostolic church and ran across some of the writings of Justin Martyr.  In his Apology 1.67, he describes just a portion of what took place in ancient times:

. . . and on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Book Recommendation—Reformed Preaching by Joel Beeke

This blog is a salute to a pastor that I have yet to meet face-to-face.  Several months ago, I was contacted thru Twitter by Pastor Tony Mansinho who is serving his church, Calvary Apostolic Church, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I am unsure as to how that he found me but he has been an incredible blessing to me because at this point, he has sent me nearly 200 books.  The books that he has sent to me are not your pop Christianity sorts of books that litter the bookshelves of most chain bookstores.  Rather he has sent me some of the richest volumes from the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT) and OldTestament (NICOT), IVP commentaries, a host of books on preaching, hermeneutics, and even several specialty study Bibles.  Because I love books on preaching, I have benefited tremendously from that genre of books he has sent to me.  I thought that I should do a book review/recommendation on one of the many he has sent.  Obviously as he and I both would affirm that everything we read needs to be done so carefully and with discernment. 

This book is one written by Joel Beeke.  Joel Beeke is a familiar author with me as I have enjoyed his book on spiritual warfare, backsliding, history of the Puritans, and theology of the Puritans.  Beeke is the president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and the pastor of Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids.  The book that he has recently written is Reformed Preaching and is part historical and part instructional.  The book is so good that I even found the beginning written endorsements to be good.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

When Preaching Becomes Entertainment

If there is a priority focus in my life at this point, it would have to be preaching and teaching the Bible.  In my thoughts there is nothing that is more crucial to the life of a church than a pastor who entirely concentrates on the principle set aside in Acts 6:4—prayer and ministry of the Word.  It is a BIG deal!  There are so many voices that are vying for my ears, my mind, and ultimately my soul and I realize that others are in this same cycle of life as well.  The most important voice we can hear is the one that is rooted in Scripture.  The spiritual health of the minister and the life of the church often rise and fall with the commitment that a man has to this calling of preaching.  It requires discipline to stick with preaching through the Bible week-in and week-out, year after year.  At this point of preaching for almost 30 years, I cannot even scratch the surface of what has taken place within my soul because of the untold hours of Bible study, prayer, reading of books, listening to sermons, meditating on the text, agonizing over the lack of personal skill, and knowing the highs and the lows of sermon delivery.  When we take preaching seriously, we align ourselves with the emphasis that Paul put on preaching in 1 Corinthians 1:17-31.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Why I Read Books

There is a periodic thought that rolls through my mind that I think at times is stimulated by something nostalgic.  Nostalgia is often a feeling that comes to us when we think about the distant past.  That thought has to do with my affinity to books.  I am incredibly thankful that I grew up in a home where reading and books were highly promoted by my parents.  My brother and I were latch-key kids in a time when culture did not seem to be nearly as confused and violent as it is now.  Around the time I got in the seventh grade, our parents let us stay home during the summer and sort of keep up with ourselves.  I am certain that there were those occasional times of sibling rivalry and bickering that naturally goes on between brothers but it is hard to remember any instances of that at this point in my life.  What I do remember are the Saturday visits to the church for visitation and door knocking which was followed by a trip to the local library which in turn was followed by a trip to grocery store.  The time frame was the mid to late 70’s where life seemed to be much slower and certainly more innocent.  Obviously, there was no internet, smart phones, twenty-four-hour stores and all of the other things that put us on the fast track now.  One of the greatest blessings of my life was growing up without a television in our home because of religious reasons.  I know that can seem like a shocking thing in our times but our church expressed a need for a clear-cut separation from the world and that was one of the things that my parents practiced.  So, I grew up without all of the popular sitcoms of the 70’s and 80’s that now seem so benign compared to what is piped into homes today.  Because of that “lack” (blessing!), we read books. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Interview on Expository Preaching

The following is an interview that was requested by Greg Stone who is one of the editors of the Indiana Bible College Perspectives magazine.  I thought it might be helpful on the Barnabas Blog.

1.    Briefly tell us about yourself and your ministry.

The apostolic Pentecostal church is all that I have ever known.  I grew up in a home missions’ settings and was kept very involved by my parents (who were not in the pastorate but just very good saints) as the years went by.  I am now the pastor of the church that I grew up in.  I have been married for almost 33 years and have three children, two sons who are married and are ministers, and a daughter who is involved in ministry as well.  I was bivocational much of my early years in ministry and worked as an RN in various areas such as critical care and cath labs and I have to admit that some of my approach to both preaching and teaching was influenced by all of the years of working with physicians and other health care workers. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology" Part 3

In this last post on the matter of “fake news” and its comparison to “fake theology” (Part 1, Part 2), I would like for us to consider what impact that “fake theology” ultimately has on a church.  When Murray takes an interlude in one of his chapters about truth, he wrote that truth has a tendency to create trouble.  The trouble the comes with biblical truth is that it demands something of every person—a demand to yield desires and their desired identity to what God is calling for.  In fact, John captured the words of Jesus when he said, “everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).  “Fake theology” will never make such a vigilant, sobering call because it CAN’T!!!!  “Fake theology” is literally the opposite of what God has spoken and even demanded of this fallen world of mankind.  The curse of sin is death and yet “fake theology” wouldn’t dare to tell anyone that even if they were to ask the question as to what the penalty of death really was.  “Fake theology” leaves a lot of casualties and spiritual fatalities in its wake.  What I have been keenly aware of is the fact that for the most part, the results of “fake theology” flies under the radar for several years before its effects are seen in the veering away from biblical truth and standards that have been forsaken.  The Emerging Church (Part 2) seems so far removed from us at this point and some may not even remember the foothold it gained in a group of pastors not too much younger than I am more than a decade ago.  I had some acquaintances who bought into it completely and their lives and ministries are either entirely shipwrecked or they have become enemies of the cross as Paul described them.  But the real problem is the “fake theology” that the EC managed to weave into the church that has now become very dominant in the thoughts of far too many Millennials.  The all-inclusiveness they were pushing in areas of doctrine, questioning the authority/inerrancy of Scripture, “lifestyle” differences, and social action has created so much chaos in the minds of people that biblical truth bounces off of their hardened hearts as they cry out for their particular social or political cause. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

"Fake News" & "Fake Theology" Part 2

In the last post, I recommended a book by Abdu Murray Saving Truth:  Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-TruthWorld, that Pastor Tony Mansinho had sent to me.  Murray’s first chapter really struck me in the fact that just as “fake news” has played a major role in shifting a lot of public thinking even though it isn’t true, “fake theology” has enormous eternal consequences due to its lack of truth as well.  There was another matter brought up in Murray’s chapter “Confusion and the Church:  Seductions of a Post-Truth Mindset” when he described that almost immediately after the US Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage another article got widespread dissemination throughout social media.  The article claimed a lawsuit was pending that would outlaw the Bible as hate-speech in the US.  Murray said that when he started reading and digging into the story, he described that it only took about three minutes to get to the root of the details and discover that this was an error that was being passed around as the truth.  The short of it was the case had been immediately dismissed because it had no basis in the law.  Murray put it in the category of an “alarmist” untrue story that had kernels of truth which it went far and wide on social media.  It is doubtful that very few really got to the truth of the matter.  He noted that this kind of thing makes Christianity look bad especially when we know that Jesus is the very core of all truth (John 14:6) and yet we who should be following him aren’t very careful and discerning about what we teach, preach, speak, or share with others.  Murray wrote that this creates a culture of confusion in the church. 

Preaching and The Conscience

I am preaching a series of messages through the life of Peter at the moment and it has been a blessing to me to dig into the early stage...