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A Month of Puritans--Jeremiah Burroughs--Part 3--The Evil of Evils

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One of the things that give the Puritans a seemingly bad rap is that they appear too obsessed with sin, worldliness, and the coming judgment. That might be a fair statement although there is a host of their writings that deal with the so-called “positive” elements of the Christian life such as liberty, blessing, and seeking after character qualities that reflect the presence of God in our lives. But it must be taken into consideration that the Puritans were as Alexander Whyte termed them, “specialists of sin.” They had a way of describing sin in such a way that would be considered graphically repulsive to most people. One of the reasons that they had such a huge disdain for any kind of sin was because of their high view of God and Scripture. When you have those two elements at play in your heart, much spiritual progress can be made. Suddenly God is no longer the meal ticket to accomplish whatever dreams you may have for this very short and limited life down here. They believe

A Month of Puritans--Jeremiah Burroughs--Part 2--Earthly-Mindedness. . .

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A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness The next few blogs will be about the writings of Jeremiah Burroughs which have been preserved via the printed press and now very accessible through various e-formats. As with all of the Puritans, their writings primarily consist of the sermons that they preached in their churches. If you take their sermons and compare them with what passes for sermons in our days, you will immediately notice the great lack in our times. Most of the sermons that the Puritans preached were around 1 ½ to 2 hours in length. People in our generation think that 40 minutes is a long sermon and some even conclude that the less the better. Furthermore, you will discover that the Puritans loaded their sermons with Scriptural exposition and frequently they would come at their texts from many different angles. I have no doubt that much of the Puritan preaching would probably empty out our modern day churches because there would be very few who could track with their messag

A Month of Puritans--Jeremiah Burroughs--Part 1

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If you are a preacher, you have discovered that you must have an effective devotional life to continue to preach week-in and week-out. If your preaching is profitable to you and the congregation that you serve, you probably have discovered that good preaching has a price-tag on it. I am aware that the majority of readers of this blog are those who are actively involved in ministry of some sort and I am thankful for the privilege that you give me by visiting my ramblings. It is always my hope that when you are finished reading that you are more encouraged toward becoming better at what you do. A part of a preacher’s devotional life is that of reading. I heard J. T. Pugh say in a licensing seminar one time that you will never be a great preacher if you are not a great reader. I have also become very aware of what we think is heavily influenced by what we read. GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out or Good In, Good Out!) really is a principle that we need to remember. I remember stumb

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Tape Lady--Paula Thompson

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For the last couple of weeks, I wrote several blogs honoring Brother Harrell in Bridge City, Texas leading up to his and Sister Harrell’s 40th pastoral anniversary. Today, I want to go with one last blog post on that before I move on to other things. I called Paula Thompson who is responsible for what used to be the tape ministry at BCUPC but has evolved into the CD ministry there. I wanted to get some of her reflections on how much the preaching has affected her over the years. She started attending BCUPC in 1980. She relocated from Indiana because of a sister who lived in Bridge City. Prior to her arrival in Bridge City she hadn’t attended church of any kind for over twenty years. Formerly a Jehovah’s Witness, she had walked away from all trappings of religion at a relatively young age. When her sister started attending BCUPC, she told the person who was making tapes to send some of Brother Harrell’s sermons to her in Indiana. She told me that she would get ten at a time an

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Top Five--1. A Perceived Slight

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# 1. A Perceived Slight We have reached a concluding point of a two week series of this blog honoring Rev. and Mrs. J. W. Harrell who will be celebrating a 40th Pastoral Anniversary Sunday, March 20, 2011 in Bridge City, Texas. For those who have been reading these series of blogs, you owe it to yourself to at least visit the Bridge City United Pentecostal Church and if you cannot do that then call and order some of Brother Harrell’s CD’s of his preaching and you will find a great blessing. Pastor Ken Gurley has posted a tribute to Brother Harrell on his Houston Chronicle blog and is worthy of your time. Brother Gurley showcases another one of Brother Harrell’s sermons, one of which I failed to mention, “The Hidden Part of a Dream.” One other thing of note, pack a lunch before you read this one! It is very long, the longest one of all of them! I have received a number of e-mails that I am going to lightly edit and add to this blog of those who wanted to honor Brother Harr

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Top Five--2. Oh Consistency, Thou Art a Jewel

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# 2. Oh Consistency, Thou Art A Jewel We are winding down toward Number One leading up to the 40th Pastoral Anniversary of Brother and Sister Harrell in Bridge City, Texas on Sunday, March 20, 2011. Before going any further, I have had a number of e-mails asking about sites that have MP3’s of Brother Harrell’s preaching. To my knowledge there are none out there. However, I am going to give you a person who can send along most of the messages that have been featured on the Barnabas Blog in the last two weeks and you can order them on CD. None of Brother Harrell’s preaching would have made it out of Bridge City as we have come to know and appreciate if it weren’t for the assistance he has of some very good audio support folks. I think Tom (sorry I don’t know a last name) is responsible for the sound; another man is responsible for Powerpoint and Paula Thompson has been doing the tape/CD ministry for a long time. I am not sure when she started but I do know that she was taking

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Top Five--3. Four O'clock In the Morning Courage

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# 3. Four O’clock In the Morning Courage The third sermon of the top five in my opinion that Brother Harrell has preached was entitled “Four O’clock in the Morning Courage.” I have mentioned several times in the last few blogs how important it is to listen to sermons and how that the state of mind and of the soul all influence how we hear the sermon. Some time back I wrote a series of blogs about how we should listen to sermons ( Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 , Part 4 ) and there is a prominent responsibility that must take place with the hearer. As a listener, we need to go beyond just hearing what a preacher is saying. Before I get into a brief summary of this sermon, I would encourage all of you who listen to Brother Harrell to go with me on a bit of a trip with those sermons. Don’t just hear them! Mull them over and consider what is beyond he is preaching and for that matter any preacher is preaching. I have noticed over the years the sermons that Brother Harrell preaches ha

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Top Five--4. You Don't Choose Your Own Cross

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# 4. You Don’t Choose Your Own Cross In trying to pin down the best sermons that I gained the most from that Brother Harrell preached has been difficult. I also realize that when a man preaches those in the congregation are listening with various difficulties of life that they are facing. While one may say that it was the most encouraging sermon he has ever heard, another hearer may not even be stirred by it. Much of the way that we listen to sermons is what we are struggling with at the time. This message came to me during a time of personal disappointment for the cross that I was having to shoulder at the time. Doors were not opening as quickly as I wanted and the doors that were open to me were not the ones I wanted to walk through at the time. I look back now from a vantage point of seventeen years and see that God could not have worked it out any better. It will happen with you too but you don't choose your own cross. Over the years, Brother Harrell has routinely

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--The Top Five Sermons

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# 5. Getting Used to the Dark Today and through the rest of the week, I am going to pull out the top five sermons that Brother Harrell preached that personally caught me at the right time. I could easily do many more that have helped but for the leading up to the fortieth anniversary in Bridge City this coming Sunday, I limit them to five. The greatest power that a sermon has is when it makes those who hear want to do something, make some sort of adjustment and give themselves to a noble cause. This one did exactly that for me. It made me want to be holy and to rise and preach holy. Brother Harrell preached “Getting Used to the Dark” on January 8, 1984. I was a senior in high school and at the time had no idea that I would be where I am today, much less the pastor of a church. America was somewhat in her height of being a super-power with Ronald Reagan in the White House and the economy had significantly turned around from the previous Carter era. The United Pentecostal

A Life of Preaching--Rev. John Harrell--Part 4--Helping Preachers

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I appreciate all the e-mails and comments that have come my way during this time that I am honoring Brother Harrell from Bridge City, Texas. One week from this coming Sunday (March 20), Brother and Sister Harrell along with the church will be celebrating their 40th pastoral anniversary. Along with the consistency and stability that Brother Harrell has modeled for the last forty years, there is another outstanding quality that he has that goes along with his preaching. He is very willing to help preachers. Whether it is with a sermon they may be working on, a church problem they are attempting to work out, or personal problems that are deep-seated and challenging, he does his best to help them out. This is not something that has just started but has been going on for years. In the neighborhood of thirty years ago, a young preacher from Texas lost his wife and son in a tragic motor vehicle accident. At the time, in addition to being a pastor, he was also the Texas District You