Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to Preach and How Not to Preach

Justin Taylor has an excellent post featuring Matt Chandler on how to wisely approach preaching about key topics as a pastor. Check out the video clip.

HT: Justin Taylor

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meet My Friend, Cotton Mather

I finished Richard Lovelace's book on Cotton Mather. I found Cotton Mather very intriguing and very inviting. In the end I found much to relate to and admire even though he lived in a very different time and culture.

Lovelace has many helpful thoughts in the interpretation of Mather in the Epilogue. Here are a few quotes:

"Mather's work 'unknowingly was fanning the spark in New England that eight yearrs later would burst into flames in Jonathan Edwards' Northampton church.' "

"The vitality of the Evangelical movement ebbed during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as its center declined into Fundamentalism, relinquishing the ecumenical and social initiatives cherished by Mather and Franck, and magnifying their tendencies toward confessionalism and legalism."

"Most of his reputed inconsistencies are the result of either the uncritical attempts by later critics to fuse together the testimonies of his friends and his enemies, or of the attempt to judge him without a thorough acquaintance with Puritan spirituality in the context of the history of the Christian experience."
Here are a few lessons I learned from my friend, Cotton Mather:

1. Cotton Mather was way better than portrayed in popular thought.
2. Cotton Mather was a vibrant example of a wholistic life lived in light of the gospel or grace and glory.
3. Cotton Mather was a charismatic.
4. Cotton Mather was an excellent pastor.
5. Cotton Mather thought too much about himself and his own spirituality and not enough about the sufficiency of Christ.
6. Cotton Mather learned from others and was very ecumenical for a 18th century Puritan.

Hope you can read this great book and learn from this Godly man!

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Amazing Appeal

Check out this eloquent appeal to change our practices of abortion. Would that our lawmakers would make such an ardent and well-informed appeal until this national tragedy is stopped.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To My Wife on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day my love! You are such a blessing and the love of my life. I am so grateful to have you as my wife, friend, counselor, lover and the mother of our children! Our relationship gets better, richer and deeper with time!
How beautiful and pleasant you are,
O loved one, with all your delights!
Song of Solomon 7:6 (ESV)

With much love, Paul

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Piper on Leadership

CJ Mahaney asked John Piper this question in his blog: What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership? This is Dr. Piper's response:
"Lead by helping people see the same truth in the Bible you do so that commonly perceived truth is the fabric that binds together. When truth is not the bond, power moves are inevitable."
Great advice for church leaders - we must lead by the authority and persuasion of God's word or we are left only with 'power moves'.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cotton Mather on Extraordinary Spiritual Gifts

I have just finished Lovelace's biography of Cotton Mather. I am still digesting it and will post a few more quotes and thoughts. For today, just a brief post on Cotton Mather's continuationist view of the Holy Spirit. Mather operated prophetically and recognized many others who did as well. Lovelace says the following on p. 184 of his book:
"Mather records in the Magnalia instances of actual prophecy (in the sense of premonitions of coming events) in the ministries of Thomas Hooker, and John Eliot; serveral instances of supernatural guidance by means of "sudden impressions" of "impulses"; and even a case of a vision given in a dream. Mather also records a number of instances in the Diary when he felt himself directly guided under the Spirit's impulse. He also had premonitions concerning the future fate of an Indian slave, the emergence of scandals in his congregation, and certain additions to his library. "1
And Mather seemed to, for the most part, keep the operation of the gift of prophecy in its proper place.
"A soul sanctified with the Love of God, and of Christ, and of our neighbor, is altogether to be preferred before all the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit."2

"It is best not being too fond of enthusiasms, that may carry you beyond the dispensation of the day."3
More to come...

1. Richard Lovelace, The American Pietism of Cotton Mather, CUP, 1979, 184
2. Richard Lovelace, The American Pietism of Cotton Mather, CUP, 1979, 185
3. Richard Lovelace, The American Pietism of Cotton Mather, CUP, 1979, 185

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Main Character in the Bible Story

Just a tid-bit from "Dear Timothy - Letters on Pastoral Ministry".

"The key that unlocks the biblical outlook is the perception that the real subject of the Holy Scripture is not man and his religion, but God and his glory; from which it follows that God is the real subject of every text, and must therefore be the real subject of every expository sermon." - JI Packer1

1. JI Packer, Shorter Writing, 3:274-5, taken from Roger Ellsworth, Preach the Word, Dear Timothy - Letters on Pastoral Ministry, Founders Press, 2004, 275-6

Thursday, February 05, 2009

"Come Over Here and Help Us"

Here is some strong motivation to relocate and church plant in New England. The Gallup Organization recently published the state-by-state answer to the question, "Is Religion an important part of your daily life?" Not too surprisingly, all 6 New England states landed in the top 10 least religious states.

Massachusetts' original seal had a picture of a Native American with this motto on it, "Come over and help us" from Acts 16:9. It would be fitting to have a new seal with someone wearing a Red Sox jersey saying the same thing today.

New England needs missionaries who will proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and lay down their live to show folks how to live by it! Come over and help us!

HT: Albert Mohler

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

God's Eagerness to Listen

A great quote by Thomas Brooks from my buddy Jeff. May it encourage you as you cry out to God in your need.
"We cannot sigh out a prayer in secret—but he sees us; we cannot lift up our eyes to him at midnight—but he observes us. The eye which God has upon his people when they are in secret, is such a special tender eye of love, as opens his ear, his heart, and his hand, for their good: 1 Pet 3:12, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers;" or, as the Greek has it, "his ears are unto their prayers. If their prayers are so faint, that they cannot reach up as high as heaven, then God will bow the heavens and come down to their prayers."

Taken from the book The Secret Key To Heaven by Thomas Brooks 1665.