Thursday, February 17, 2011

Put Down the Stick and Start Building

I've found Tim Chester's comments about well-intentioned idealism below extremely helpful. Having been an assistant pastor for over a decade, I can relate and I'm ready to put down the stick and get busy building.
I love idealists. The gospel calls us to be holy, gospel-centred, loving, missional people and to be holy, gospel-centred, loving, missional communities. Given the choice, I’ll always take an idealist over a pragmatist.

But ideals can be misused. People can use ideals as a means to criticize other people. They become a stick to beat people up.

Too often people use talk of ideals to hide a critical spirit or even to portray a critical spirit as a godly attitude of uncompromised integrity.

Here’s a man who sees himself as a man with ideals. He has a clear vision of how church should be. But he does not nothing about it except stand on the sidelines and criticize what others are doing. He feels good about himself because he’s uncompromised, but the reason he’s uncompromised is because he never does anything.

Here’s a man who is an assistant pastor. Among his peers he rolls his eyes as he talks about his traditional, backward church. He’s quick to express his frustration with the way things are. This critical spirit enables him to position himself as an idealist without having the courage to start something new. He portrays himself as a victim of other people’s compromises.

Here’s a man who once did some innovative gospel ministry. Now he’s a consultant or in a parachurch ministry. He goes around teaching a set of ideals and critiquing other people. This critical spirit enables him perpetually to look cool and edgy.

Ideals are not a stick to criticize others. Instead, we should use our ideals to define our direction of travel. We are sinners living in a sinful world so we know we will never completely arrive. We live by grace. But our ideals keep us pointing in the right direction. There will be compromises and failures, but we know what we’re aiming for.

And ideals should make us bold as we work for Christ. If you want to keep your ideals pristine and unsullied by real life then do nothing. That way nothing is ever tarnished because nothing is ever risked. But a true idealist pushes forward towards their ideals even if along the way there are failures and disappointments.
From: The misuse of ideals

Posted: 13 Feb 2011 07:11 AM PST

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Do Find You Beautiful

Valentine's Day is Monday (heads up to all the husbands!). Seventeen years ago, Heather and I were married. Little did we realize what was in store for us. She describes our marriage as the most broken and beautiful thing she has ever known. She's right on both accounts. We are both learning day by day how to love as we've been loved--facing the truth, extending grace.

On our wedding day (December 18, 1993), when the 'Bridal March' began to play, the music suddenly stopped and Heather's recorded voice came through the PA system. It was one of those 'you could have heard a pin drop' moments--a gravitas moment--and no one felt the weight of her words more than me.
I come to you today, down this aisle, dressed in white hoping you will find me beautiful. My brother is beside me, ready to give me away. Derrick has been the most important man in my life, until I met you. In the few minutes it takes for us to march down the aisle, you will hold my hand in yours as you look upon me--my face misted with the veil which you will take away. I hope you will find me beautiful. I am bringing you my greatest treasure, myself, my life, my love, my future. I put them all in your hands. I will be one with you for all life's days and I ask that you never take lightly what I have to give as I will never take lightly what you are giving me, for from today my life, my being, my name is gone and I am yours. I hope you find me beautiful. You have told me your dreams, your hopes, your deepest desires. You have told me that you have found in me all your heart's devotion. May you truly find me beautiful. And today when you lift my veil and see me plainly and then through all the countless days and years when hidden veils will be revealed and you will truly know me, may you find me beautiful.

Heather, I do find you beautiful.

Starving Under Expository Preaching?

Written by Terry Rayburn
Thursday, 03 February 2011 00:00

I am a big fan of expository preaching and teaching. To preach the Word of God verse by verse and "give the meaning" is one of the highest forms of honor to God's Word, and the most fulfilling food to the sheep...unless…

…it is devoid of Christ and His Grace. "The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17).

Jesus is the true Bread of Life. Even the most accurate and well-delivered exposition will leave malnourished sheep hobbling along the path with their ribs sticking out, if that Bread is not a part of every meal.

Preachers and teachers, please don't let a sermon or lesson leave your lips, without our precious Savior and Lord, and His wonderful Grace, being an integral part of it.

Perhaps Mr. Spurgeon's little story will help make this point clear:

A young man had been preaching in the presence of a venerable divine, and after he had done he went to the old minister, and said, “What do you think of my sermon?”

“A very poor sermon indeed,” said he.

“A poor sermon?” said the young man, “it took me a long time to study it.”

“Ay, no doubt of it.”

“Why, did you not think my explanation of the text a very good one?”

“Oh, yes,” said the old preacher, “very good indeed.”

“Well, then, why do you say it is a poor sermon? Didn’t you think the metaphors were appropriate and the arguments conclusive?”

“Yes, they were very good as far as that goes, but still it was a very poor sermon.”

“Will you tell me why you think it a poor sermon?”

“Because,” said he, “there was no Christ in it.”

“Well,” said the young man, “Christ was not in the text; we are not to be preaching Christ always, we must preach what is in the text.”

So the old man said, “Don’t you know young man that from every town, and every village, and every little hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London?”

“Yes,” said the young man.

“Ah!” said the old divine “and so from every text in Scripture, there is a road to the metropolis of the Scriptures, that is Christ.

And my dear brother, your business is when you get to a text, to say, ‘Now what is the road to Christ?’ and then preach a sermon, running along the road towards the great metropolis—Christ.

And,” said he, “I have never yet found a text that had not got a road to Christ in it, and if I ever do find one that has not a road to Christ in it, I will make one; I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savour of Christ in it.”

(From "Christ Precious To Believers", preached March 13th, 1859)

Terry Rayburn is the owner of the Security Firm in Clarksville, TN and attends Community Bible Church in Nashville. He blogs regularly at where his article first appeared: it is used with his appearance.