Archive for January, 2011

Passion

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Okay, at least the title garnered a few readers!

The kind of passion I’m talking about today is passion in preaching. Recently I read Byron Yawn’s new book Well-driven Nails: The Power of Finding Your Own Voice. This book deals entirely with the topic of sermon delivery, and it is excellent. Look for a full review in the next issue of Themelios. Yawn offers no “Gesture here” “Look solemn there” “Raise your voice at this point” kind of stuff. The book is about simplicity, clarity, and passion as the three indispensable qualities of good preaching.

Near the end of the book, Yawn (yes, that’s his real name; kind of unfortunate for a preacher!) writes about passion with passion. The following is one of the best paragraphs I’ve read in a long, long time. I just had to share it.

“Passion does not take on one form. Its manifestations are as diverse as the men called to preach. It may show up in an awkward silence, or a detailed explanation, or a laugh or a tear. Passion embodies the preacher. It’s organic, not manufactured. Sincere passion emerges from a man confronted by the text, crushed by the cross, enraged by his sin, overjoyed by grace, abandoned to the Gospel, compelled by his calling and desperate for his people It is a man simutaneously taking hold of a nail-pierced hand and a pulpit” (p. 103).

Amen! That’s not just excellent writing, that’s excellent theology.

What is Jesus doing?

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Every Christian struggles with prayer to one degree or another. In my own pursuit of God, I’ve tried to read a fairly steady stream of books on the topic. Reading doesn’t make you a good pray-er. Only praying can do that. But I have found the insights and experiences of others helpful as I struggle to lift my heart and mind to God.

Recently, I’ve been reading Graeme Goldsworthy’s Prayer and the Knowledge of God. Goldsworthy stresses the gospel basis of prayer. I found the following quotation about Christ’s intercessory work to be particularly helpful. I hope you do too.

“What then does Jesus achieve by this perpetual intercession in heaven? It is obvious from the wider context of the Bible that he is not pleading a cause before an unwilling God. Rather, he came into our world to do the will of the Father and has not failed in the doing of it. It is the Father’s gracious plan that he has fulfilled and, in so so doing, he has glorified the Father. His intercession, then, is his identification and involvement with the will of the Father. If we started with Jesus as the ultimate word of God to humankind, the Word incarnate, we now see him in his exaltation as the ultimate word of humankind to God. His resurrection has shown that he is the perfectly acceptable advocate for us sinners. His very presence  with the Father pleads our cause, but pleads it from the God who loves to give his true children what they ask. Since this role of Jesus is from start to finish on our account, it gives us confidence to ‘draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith’ (Heb. 10:22). The intercession of Christ is the perpetual guarantee that we do not speak to thin air or to the ceiling when we pray through him. We have access to the Father through him who is the true image of God. Both Paul and the author of Hebrews assure us that there can be no ceiling to stop our prayers since we are accounted as being with Christ in the very presence of the Father” (p. 35).

Two New Reviews

Friday, January 14th, 2011

I love to read. If you know me at all, that comes as no surprise. In fact, today I’m looking forward to a visit to a used book store. Great places those used book stores!

I also love to write. One way I try to combine those two loves is by writing book reviews. Recently I published two reviews in the latest edition of the journal Themelios. The first review is of Tim Witmer’s book, The Shepherd Leader. This is an excellent volume on the role of the elder. The second is of  a more technical work entitled Paul, His Letters, and Acts.

Hopefully you will find both reviews helpful. If so, then mission accomplished! Have a great day! Do some reading, especially Bible reading.

Speaking of Bible reading, you may want to check out this blog by George Guthrie.

KJV@400

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Grace Presbyterian Church in Hudson, Ohio, where I’m privileged to be the pastor, will host a conference to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. Dr. Leland Ryken, professor of English at Wheaton College, will be with us as the main speaker on Friday and Saturday. I’ll be speaking on Sunday.

The conference dates are April 1-3. I hope you can join us. Until then, here’s a video appetizer to whet your appetite!