Fair Is The New Good

“Great writing is the creative use of words. It comes from reading, writing, failing and repeating.

It takes time to become a good writer. Since few have the time, fair is the new good.”

This was the last two lines of an editorial I happened across in the Tulsa World newspaper.  The article was entitled, “Graduates commence to join the real world” and for the most part, at least to me, it wasn’t an article I was impressed with, until the last two lines.  For some reason, it really made me think about what passes for modern Evangelical Church today.  Have we become so busy in this world that we no longer expect “good” from the Church?  It seems to me that all we want to do is show up, spend 45 minutes having a “worship experience” and then go on about our lives, happy with the fact that we have punched our ticket for another week.

“Oh, preacher,” thinks the little old gray haired lady, “You preached too long and now I won’t be able to get that handicapped parking spot and a good seat at the restaurant because all the other church’s have already finished their services.”  “Man, I’m going to miss the opening kickoff if he doesn’t wrap this up soon,” is the thought running through that guy who used to be the college fullback!  “If this pastor doesn’t shut up soon, I’m going to miss DW’s ‘boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys,'” boogity_boogity_boogitythinks the guy who always shows up in the NASCAR hat.

I realize that some who read this might push back some, but isn’t it the truth?  For the most part, we as human beings, desire the “fair” over the “good.”  Don’t believe me, take a look at the furniture you have in your house.  How much of it came from Walmart and how much of it was crafted by true furniture maker and will be passed down to your grandchildren?  How many of us get up in the morning, turn to our Bible’s and spend an hour digging Digging Into The Wordinto the Word of God and then praying that God apply His Word to our lives instead of just getting our “fix” on Sunday?

The problem, as I see it, is that we have such low expectations of ourselves in the area of our spiritual lives, which, by the way, is the most important area of our lives, that we come to expect even our Sunday Service to be just “fair.”  That, sir or ma’am, is absolutely wrong Moral_Judgment(wow, did this guy just make an absolute moral judgement, why yes he did). We should go to Church expecting to be fed meat, and not just any meat, but the meat that has been tenderized by the study of God’s Word, marinated in days of agonizing prayer, and served up to us with the knowledge that it was God Himself that chose to allow us to hear from Him through His chosen servant.

If we end up settling for less than the best of God’s Word, then I submit that we have failed (can you believe this guy, he has committed a major faux pas by making his second absolute moral judgment).  If, as Ephesians 1:3 states, “…[He] has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” and we blow that off by settling for less, what does that say about us as Christians.

Just a little food for thought today!

The Importance of the Word of God

dusty-bible-600x345I have read two blog post recently that have really driven home the fact that the Word of God (the Bible), seems to have fallen on hard times lately.  This blog post was written almost 4 years ago and this blog post was written a week ago.  The Word of God is God’s revelation of Himself to us, and since that is the case, then we who call upon the name of the God should dig into the Word, we should cherish every word that is written in it, and should surround ourselves with people who hold to it’s supremacy.

Spurgeon Thursday

First off, let me apologize for not posting Spurgeon on a regular basis lately.  My work schedule has been extremely rough for the past month, but hopefully that is past and this feature of my blog will get back on track.  Now, on to the feature…

LACKING MOISTURE

NO. 2845

A SERMON

PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 1903.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 20, 1888.

And some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.” Luke 8:6.

spurgeon5IN this parable of the sower, there is great discrimination of character, not only between those who bring forth fruit and those who bring forth none, but also between those who bring forth fruit in different degrees—not only between the fruitful and the fruitless—but  also between various forms of fruitlessness. The reasons are given, not in bulk, but in detail—why this failed, and that failed, and the other failed. All this points to discrimination in hearing. When there is discrimination  in the preacher, as there should always be, there should be an equal discrimination  in the hearer, and each one should try to take to himself that special part of the Word which is intended for him.

The true preacher, especially our great Lord and Master, resembles a portrait  painted by a real artist which always looks at you, no matter where you are in the room—to the right, or to the left of it, its eyes seem to be fixed upon you. So does our Lord, whenever He preaches, look at us. May He look at us in that way just now and may we catch His eyes as He gazes upon us—and  may the preacher also seem to be looking straight at you, because you are on the watch for that particular part of the Truth  which especially concerns you! If there is anything hopeful and cheering in the sermon, may it come to you who are mourning and doubtful! If there is anything awakening, may it come to those of you who happen to be tinged with self-confidence!

Coming to our text, I think it suggests to us three observations.  First,  let us note well that there is a reception of the Word of God which fails to be effectual. Secondly, we shall enquire why it fails in these cases. And, thirdly, we shall consider how this failure is to be avoided.

I. First,  THERE IS A SOWING THAT COMES TO NOTHING. There is even a reception of the Seed into the soil which disappoints the sower.

This failure was not because the Seed was bad. It was the same Seed which, in the good soil, produced thirty,  sixty, or a hundredfold. You know that, sometimes, when we do not succeed in impressing our hearers, we condemn ourselves, perhaps very justly. If men are not saved, the preacher must not put the blame upon Divine Sovereignty—he must blame himself. He must also ask himself, “Have I really preached the Truth?  Have I preached it in a right spirit? Have I preached different Truths in due proportion?  Have I given the most weight to that which is of primary importance and have I put that which is secondary in its proper position?” We poor sowers often chastise ourselves for our failures, or, if we do not, we ought to do so—otherwise  we shall never improve. God help us to preach better, to love men’s souls more and to be more earnest in seeking to bring them to Christ! I mean this wish for myself and for all of you who love the Lord.

But there was no fault to be found with the Seed that fell on the rock, although it did not result in a harvest. The Seed was good, thoroughly good. The sower got it from his Master and his Master’s granary contains no Seed which will not grow. True preachers can say with the Apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” We have preached to you the Word of God, so that whenever we put our head upon our pillow, we can truly say that we have not preached what we thought,  or what we imagined, but we have declared what we believe to be revealed in this blessed Book of God. That is the Good Seed that we sow and if it does not grow in you, it is not the fault of the Seed, it is your own fault. There is something about you that hinders it. Will you think of that, dear Hearer, if you are unconverted?

But, in the next place, the failure was not from lack of receptiveness. Those hearers who are like the Seed sown on the rock, do receive the Seed. We are expressly told that by our Lord, Himself—“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy.” We have hearers who take in all we say, perhaps too readily. They hear indiscriminately. There are some hearers who are like a sponge—they suck up all—good,  bad and indifferent. If they hear of a clever, oratorical preacher, they speedily run after him. What he preaches, or whether he preaches with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven, is not a matter about which they enquire. They have not much depth of earth, but what little earth there is takes in the Seed. There is not enough depth of earth for the Seed to really bear fruit, yet they do, in some sort of fashion, receive it. I am not going to pile up indiscriminate censure upon this receptiveness. It is a briar upon which a rose may grow but, still, it is a briar until it is properly grafted. Receptiveness may easily be carried too far and men may even ruin themselves by being too ready to receive what they hear—not  by being too ready to rightly receive the real Word of Truth, but by receiving it in the wrong fashion. Do they disbelieve what you say? No, they are not earnest enough to do that! Do they doubt what you preach? No, they have not gone so far aside as that. Do they argue against the Gospel? Oh, no—they have not fallen into that form of depravity! They take in what they hear. They do not do much with it. There is not Grace enough in their heart, after they have nominally received the Word, to cause it to grow. There is a lack somewhere—not a lack of receptiveness, but a lack in another direction.

The failure, also, was not caused through  lack of heat. There was a hard rock with a little soil upon it, just enough to take in the Seed. That rock needed to be broken up, ground to powder and made into good soil, but as it was not broken up—when the sun shone, the rock refracted and reflected all the heat and gave great warmth to the soil in which the seed was lying—so that it grew very fast, for it was in a kind of hothouse. We have many hearers who, if enthusiasm could save them, would have been saved long ago. On Sundays they are very soon warmed up, and there is so little of them that the heat of the sun soon penetrates to their rocky nature. The heat is refracted and straightway they are all in a blaze. I know them, they are very nice people to preach to. How excited they grow! They are ready enough to shout, “Hallelujah!” They speedily receive the Word, but there is no depth about them, so they do not retain it. They will do anything that we want them to do. They are not only enthusiastic, but they soon grow fanatical. I am not blaming them for this. If there were something  else to go with it, it would be a good thing.

The gardener or florist likes a good bottom heat to make his plants grow rapidly, but if it is all heat—if it is a dry heat and nothing else, very soon they are scorched to death. The little moisture that was in them at first, makes them grow rapidly, but when that is exhausted, they are soon withered. I do not deny that it is quite a pleasure to meet with a warm-hearted man. We have plenty of people about who are either cold or only lukewarm. If they give you their hand, you feel as if you had laid hold of a fish, it is so cold. We like to meet with hearers who respond to our appeals with kindly friendliness and who, when the Word is brought  before them, display a warmth of feeling towards it. These are very hopeful people. I cannot say more about them. Their name is Hopeful, but they do not always grow into Faithful.  They give us great encouragement,  but, alas, they often cause us great discouragement.

Then, again, this failure was not caused through  lack of joy, for we are told by our Savior that they received the Word with joy. Oh, they are so happy! They feel that they are saved and they are full of joy! And the main reason why they believe that they are saved is that they are so happy. Well, there is something in being joyful. I do not like to see people who seem to have a religion that disagrees with them. True religion does, indeed, make us glad. But then, my dear Friends, if your only evidence of the possession of Grace is that you are so happy, you may be unhappy tomorrow—and what will be your state then? Our human nature is so constructed and our body has so much influence upon our mind and soul, that we can soon become very low in spirit and scarcely know why we are in such a condition! That joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I cheerfully acknowledge, but there are many joys that are not fruits of the Spirit at all, for they are earth-born and carnal. And there is often a so-called religious joy which is the fruit of carnal excitement and supposed conversion—not the result of a real saving knowledge of God.

Perhaps if these people had received the Word with sorrow—if  they had received it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit—if  they had received it tremblingly, in the very depth of their souls. If they had gone home to cry to God in secret prayer instead of rejoicing in open exultation, there might have been evidences in them of a deeper, surer, truer  and more abiding work. These people had joy and plenty of it. I am not saying anything against their joy—it was not the point in which they failed. They failed somewhere else, as I shall try to show you presently.

And, once more, they did not fail from lack of eagerness and speed in receiving the Truth.  They received it at once and the Seed sprang up at once. Just because they had no depth of earth, it sprang up all the faster. The Seed that fell upon the shallow soil covering the rock grew quickly—it sprang up because of the very absence of the element that was necessary to bring it to perfection! I believe in instantaneous  conversion. I believe that the new birth must be instantaneous, that there is a moment in which a man is dead and another moment in which he is alive and that, just as there is a certain instant in which a child is born, so there is an instant in which we become the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. But there is also a supposed conversion which is undone as quickly as it is done. There are to be found, in some churches, men who have grown wonderfully fast. They were drunks a fortnight ago and they are taking the lead among experienced Christians today! Well, it may rightly be so. God acts according to His own Sovereign will and He can work such wonders of Grace and miracles of mercy. But it may turn out that a thing that grows very fast does so because it will not stand fast and will not last long. We have to deal with so many who are always procrastinating  and putting off and, therefore, it seems a good fault when men are hasty about these things—it  is a blessed fault, if a fault at all! Yet it did so happen that while these people were excellent in that direction, they failed in another, and failed in a fatal way, of which I have now to speak.

II. That brings me to ENQUIRE WHY THESE PEOPLE MADE SUCH A SAD FAILURE?

The seed that fell on the trodden  path,  while they were lost to the farmer, did feed the birds, at any rate. But these on the rock did not. They quickly sprang up, and were soon withered and good for nothing. They promised much, but it came to nothing at all. And, in this way, some of those who appear to be the most hopeful, may cause us most grief by being our greatest disappointments.

Now why was this? Luke tells us, and no other Evangelist tells us, that it was because they “lacked moisture.”

Does not this mean, first of all, that they lacked the influences of the Divine Spirit? When we speak of spiritual dew, we refer to the operation of the Holy Spirit. When we talk of the river of the Water of Life, we mean those sacred things which come streaming down to us from the Throne of God through the working  of the Spirit of God. These people lacked that moisture. They were converted, so far as they were converted at all, through  the eloquence of the preacher— and a man who is converted by eloquence, can be unconverted by eloquence! Or they were converted by the zeal and earnestness of Christian  people. But if you were converted by one man, another  man can unconvert you. All that is of man is sure to be unraveled as all the spinning and the weaving of earthly machinery can be pulled to pieces. But the work of God’s Grace endures forever. Have you, my dear Hearer, felt the power of the Holy Spirit first withering you up? “The grass withers, the flower fades because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it.” Has He ever dried up, in you, all that was of yourself and turned the verdant meadow into a barren wilderness? It must be so with you at first—there  is no sure work which does not begin with emptying and pulling down. Was the Spirit of God ever so worked in you as a spirit of bondage, shutting you up in prison under the Law, fixing your hands in handcuffs and your feet in fetters, putting  you in the stocks and leaving you there? If you have never known anything about that experience, I am afraid you have, up to now, “lacked moisture.”

Then, when the Spirit of God comes to a soul that is thus broken down, He reveals Christ as a Savior for that sinner, a full Savior for the empty sinner! And oh, how sweetly does the soul rejoice as it perceives the suitability,  fullness and freeness of Christ—and looks to Jesus and trusts Him! Have you ever felt that sacred moisture which softens the heart so that it sweetly yields to Christ, that moisture which refreshes the heart and makes it bloom again with a holy hopefulness and delight in Christ? O my dear Hearers, what we say about the Holy Spirit is no mere talk—it is a matter of fact! “You must be born-again,”  born from above! You must be partakers of the Spirit of God, or else all your religion, however beautiful it may appear to be, will wither when the sun has risen with burning heat.

Now, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you find that everything goes ill with you when you lack moisture. One of our Brothers  sometimes says to me, after a service, “Oh, Sir, there will be good done today, for there was dew about!” I know what he means and hope you also do. You have a little flower at home which you keep in the window, a geranium, or perhaps a fuchsia. You set great store by it because of its associations. But perhaps you have been out for a week and when you come back it looks so drooping that it seems as if it must die—and you soon discovered the reason why. It was quite dry—“it  lacked moisture.” You gave it some water and it soon began to revive. These plants are kept alive by moisture. But when they lack moisture, the more the sun shines upon them, or the warmer the room is, the worse it is for them. They need moisture and so do we, poor plants that we are. We need the Holy Spirit and if the Lord does not water us daily from the living springs on the hilltops of Glory, we shall certainly die! So take heed, Brothers and Sisters, that you do not lack the moisture of the Holy Spirit’s gracious influence.

Why did these people lack it? There was moisture in the air. It is evident that the other Seed which brought forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold,  had moisture. Yet this, which was in the same air as the other,  “lacked moisture.”  There were morning dews and there were mists and rains, yet these Seeds on the rock “lacked moisture.”  The reason was that there was a lack of power to retain the moisture in the soil. When it came down, it ran off again, or speedily evaporated because there was a rock and only a very little earth on the top of it to hold the moisture, and all that came there soon disappeared.  There are many persons who seem to be like this rocky soil—they  have no receptiveness for the Divine Spirit—they seem to manage to do without Him.

Now let me warn you of certain things that indicate a lack of moisture. The first is Doctrine without  feeling. You believe the Bible Doctrine concerning Christ. I am glad that you do, but dry Doctrine, without the bedewing influence of the Spirit of God, is just a granite rock out of which you will get nothing whatever. You say that you believe the Doctrine of Human Depravity, but have you ever really felt it and mourned over it? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Redemption,  but have you ever proved the power of the precious blood of Jesus? Have you ever been melted at the sight of the Cross? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Effectual Calling, but have you been effectually called by Grace? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Regeneration,  but have you been born-again?  If not, you lack moisture. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been so “sound” that they have been nothing but sound. “Sixteen ounces to the pound,” they said they were. I thought that they were 17 ounces to the pound and that the last bad ounce spoilt the other sixteen! You may be wonderfully orthodox  and yet be lost! That hard pan of rock must be broken up and ground to powder, that the moisture may get to the Seed. Of what use is Doctrine without  feeling?

It is equally worthless where there is experience without  humiliation.  I mean that some talk about having felt this, and having felt that—and  they boast of it. Some of them have even thought that they have become perfect—and  they glory in it. Well, they lack moisture! As soon as you get side by side with them, you feel a need of something, you do not quite know what it is. It is dry experience. Perhaps it is boiling hot, but it is very dry. There is no bowing before the Lord in a humble confession of unworthiness. There is no understanding  of what it is to feel the sentence of death in our- selves, that we should loathe ourselves, as condemned criminals ought to do. I pray the Lord to save us from an experience, however perfect it seems, which is not moist, which has not a living tenderness worked into it by the power of the Spirit of God. Avoid, then, experience without  humiliation.

Also shun practice without heart-love. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been most exact and precise in all their conduct. I have thought  that they scarcely ever sinned and I have not wondered that they did not because there did not seem to be enough juice in them to sin. They did not appear to have any human nature in them. They were just like dry pieces of leather—never  excited, never getting  into a bad temper—they have not seemed to have any temper, either bad or good. They never say a word too hastily. They always measure things out very exactly, yet a lack of love is a fatal lack. I knew one whom I greatly esteemed as a minister of the Word for many years. I esteemed him for his regularity of conduct. I believe that he got up to the tick of the clock, that he had family prayer to the tick of the clock and that he did everything in the same methodical manner. I remarked to him once, “There are many people, round about your Chapel, who are living in the depths of sin. Do you ever get any of them into your place of worship?” “No,” he replied, “I do not want to get them in.” I asked, “Why?” “Well,” he answered, “they are mostly harlots and thieves. What could I do with such people?”

Then I saw that it was possible to be regular, precise and good up to a certain point, and yet to have no moisture. And as the moisture was not there, of course no thief or harlot would go to hear him—he was too dry for them. It is an awful thing to have a Pharisaic practice—perfect when looked at by the casual eye, yet without  the life and light of love—and, therefore, lacking moisture.

Beware, dear Friends, of a belief that never had any repentance connected with it, for that is another way in which the lack of moisture is manifested. There are some people who are willing to believe a great deal, but you never hear of them groaning  because of sin, or confessing it with a broken heart in true humility before God. To trust in repentance without faith would be ruinous to the soul—but to have a kind of faith without repentance, would also be ruinous. If faith never has tears in its eyes, it is a dead faith. He who has never wept because of his sin, has never really had his sin washed away. If your heart has never been broken on account of sin, I will not believe that it was ever broken from sin. And if your heart is not broken from your sin, you are still at a distance from your God and you will never see His face with acceptance.

Beware, also, of a confidence that is never associated with self-diffidence. Yes, my dear Sir, speak as boldly as you will, be as brave as you may for your Master, but, at the same time, be very lowly in spirit.  Let your own weakness be seen, as well as your Master’s strength. While you glory in Christ’s merits, confess your own sinfulness and admit that in yourself, you are nothing.  We can never have too much confidence in God, but, unless it is associated with deep self- distrust, it will lack moisture and it will never produce any real harvest unto God.

Beware, also, of action without spirituality.  We have many people of that kind. They are very active in serving God in one way and another. Would that all were—if it were in a right spirit! They are busy from morning to night, but there is no prayer and no dependence upon God mingled with their efforts—that will not do. That is all wasted activity. However busy we may be, we shall effect nothing  unless we receive from the Holy Spirit  all the power with which we work and are dependent upon Him for the success of every word  we say. Beware of having  so much to do that you really do nothing at all because you do not wait upon God for the power to do it right.

Then there is another dry thing, namely, zeal without communion with God. Zeal for extending the Kingdom of Christ, zeal for spreading the denomination, zeal for the advance of a particular  sect, zeal that is intolerant,  probably, but, all the while, no careful walking according to God’s Word, no observing what God would have us to be zealous about, no humbling of ourselves in the Presence of the great Lord of all, and no bathing of ourselves in the river of the Water of Life by fellowship with God.

Thus I might keep on showing you various ways in which people may have a great deal that is very good, yet it will all come to nothing  because they lack moisture. But the seed cannot assimilate the dry earth until it is mixed with water and held in solution, and spiritual life can only be fed by Truth held in solution by the Holy Spirit. When He softens and prepares us, then our roots and rootlets  take up the true nutriment  and we grow.

In the case of the seed upon the rocky ground,  there was, also, a deficiency of sensitive vitality. The seed grew for a time, and then became dry—and  are there not multitudes of people, in our Churches now, who are just like that? They are as dry as old hay, they have withered away. We cannot turn them out, but, oh, that we could turn life into them! Oh, that the Water of Life might flow all about them, so that they might live and bring forth fruit unto God!

I have said enough, if God shall bless it, to set many people searching their hearts to see whether  this sacred moisture is there.

III. Now, to close, we are to CONSIDER HOW THE EVIL IS TO BE AVOIDED.

Well, first, let us one and all cry to God to break up the rock. Rock, rock, rock, will you never break? We may scat- ter the Seed upon you, but nothing  will come of it till that rock is broken. The great steam-plow needs to be driven right through  men’s hearts till they are torn in sunder and the old rock of nature is ground to powder, made soft and turned into good soil. Dear Friend, do pray to God to make sure work of you. As far as you are concerned, the one thing you have to do is to believe in Christ Jesus, that you may be saved. But a part of the process of your salvation is the taking out of you the heart of stone and the giving to you of a heart of flesh. There is no true growing unless this takes place.

The next thing is, look well to spirituality. This moisture was a very subtle thing. Men might easily overlook that dampness in the atmosphere and in the soil which was all-essential. Who can tell you what unction is? Yet a sermon with- out unction is a poor, worthless thing. There is a certain secret something which distinguishes a true Christian from a worldling or a mere professor—see that you have it. Do not be content with the Creed, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or anything  else that is visible, but say, “Lord,  give me the moisture that I need. Give me that secret something without which I shall be lacking the very thing which I most need.” You cannot see your soul. You cannot  fully tell what it is. Yet you know that it is a something that keeps your body alive and when that something is gone, the body becomes dead—so is all religion dead until it receives the life which comes from the moisture that so many lack.

That leads me further to say, look to the Holy Spirit. Be very tender towards the Holy Spirit. We preach Christ to you, as we are commanded to do, but we do not want you ever to forget the blessed Spirit, without whom nothing saving can ever be worked in you! You cannot make yourself to be born-again. Even the faith that saves is the work of the Spirit of God, if it is the faith of God’s elect. Be zealous and tender, therefore, and walk carefully in reference to the Spirit of God lest you grieve Him.

Then I would say, next, try to avoid all dry heat. Do not work yourself up into a frenzy and think that there is any- thing saving in it. The heat of excitement may be necessary, just as dust flies from the wheels of a chariot when it moves swiftly, but, as the dust does not help the chariot, but is a nuisance to those who are riding in it, so is it with excitement. It does not help the true movement and it is a nuisance to those who are living near to God.

Lastly,  be constantly looking for that Divine mystery of secret vitality  which is called in the text, “moisture.” I commend to you this prayer, “Lord,  give me this blessed moisture. Saturate  me through  and through  with the heavenly dew, the Divine rain, that I may grow and bring forth fruit to the Glory of Your holy name.” God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Spurgeon Thursday

 THE SOWER

NO. 2842

A SERMON

INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD’S-DAY, AUGUST 2, 1903.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON,

ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 6, 1888.

Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” Matthew 13:3.

spurgeon5THIS was a very important  event. I do not say that it was important  if you took the individual case, alone—but  if you took the multitudes  of cases in which it was also true, it was overwhelmingly important in the aggregate—“A sower went forth to sow.” Yes, Christ thinks it worthwhile to mention that a single sower went forth to sow, that a Christian man went out to address a meeting on a village green, or to conduct a Bible class, or to speak anywhere for the Lord! But when you think of the hundreds of preachers of the Gospel who go out to sow every Lord’s-Day and the myriads of teachers who go to instruct the children in our Sunday schools, it is, surely, in the aggregate, the most important event under Heaven! You may omit, O recording angel, the fact that a warrior went forth to fight—it  is far more important that you should record that “a sower went forth to sow.” You may even forget that  a man of science went into his laboratory and made a discovery, for no discovery can equal in importance the usual processes of farming. Do you hear the song of the harvest home? Do you see the loaded wagons follow one another  in a long line to the farmer’s barn? If so, remember that there would be no harvest home if the sower went not forth to sow! As the flail is falling upon the wheat, or the threshing machine is making the grain to leap from among the chaff and the miller’s wheels are grinding merrily, and the women are kneading the dough, and the bread is set upon the table and parents and children are fed to the full, do not forget that all this could never happen unless “a sower went forth to sow.” On this action hinges the very life of man! Bread, which is the staff of his life, would be broken and taken from him—and his life could not continue did not a sower still go forth to sow! This seems to me to prove that the event recorded in our text is of prime importance  and deserves to be chronicled there.

And, dear Friends, the spiritual sowing stands in the same relation to the spiritual world that the natural sowing occupies in the natural  world! It is a most important thing that we should continually go forth to preach the Gospel. It may seem to some people a small matter that I should occupy this pulpit and I shall not lay any undue importance upon that fact—yet eternity may not exhaust all that shall result from the preaching of the Gospel here—there may be souls, plucked like brands from the burning, saved with an everlasting salvation, lamps lit by the Holy Spirit that shall shine like stars in the firmament of God forever and ever! Who knows, O Teacher, when you labor even among the infants, what the result of your teaching may be? Good corn may grow in very small fields. God may bless your simple words to the babes that listen to them. How know you, Continue reading

Pastors & The Church

I ran across the attached infographic today and decided to share it with a couple of my own thoughts.  The one thing that really stands out to me is the statistic that 72% of Pastors admit that they only study the Bible when preparing their sermons.  Seriously?  Well, that is a serious charge to make, but one I think bears up in the rest of the statistics on the chart.  Matter of fact, I had a Pastor at a church I used to attend admit to me that for quite some time in his pastorate, the only time he opened the Bible was when he was preparing a sermon.  He also did his Sunday evening sermon prep on Sunday afternoon.  I would imagine that he is not alone in this, as the infographic states.

Most mornings at 3:30 AM I get out of bed so that I can spend time reading the Bible and studying God’s Word for myself before I head off to work.  Since I have an hour commute to work and a hour return trip, I typically spend that time listening to a sermon (This morning it was Brian Borgman teaching out of Hebrews on Jesus, The Firstborn) or some other teaching podcast like The Reformed Forum Podcast.  Then, in the evenings, after my children go bed I typically read or study something from one of the many theological books that I have purchased.  I am not a pastor and ministry is not currently my calling, but I typically spend 18 – 20 hours a week in personal study of the Word, plus prayer time. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is that it is very frustrating to me to see an infographic like the one I’ve shared.  But then again, when you look at the state of the current evangelical church, is it any wonder that the average church attendance is roughly 18%?  Over the years I’ve found that if a leader is weak, those he leads will be weak.  If a leader is strong, he will inspire strength in those he leads.  This was extremely evident to me when I served as a Religious Program Specialist with several Marine Battalions.  Officers and Enlisted NCO’s in the Marine Corp were typically weeded out if they didn’t cut the mustard and show strong leadership.  And while the Church cannot be run like a military organization, shared leadership between the Pastor and Elders must exist and it must be strong and focused in a church setting and context.  I would submit from what I am sharing today that this not the case in most church’s.  Just sayin’.

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Daily Roundup

The Heritage of Atheism – Without belief in God we not only have a crisis of morality, we have a crisis of meaning.

Revisiting Inerrancy – Al Mohler and friends sit down to talk about the inerrancy of the Word of God.

God’s Plan Before the Ages Began – An Excerpt from John Pipers message, Why Did God Create the World.

Degrees of Sin – It is not uncommon to hear Christians suggesting that every sin is equal in God’s sight.

Abortion and the Campaign for Immorality – John MacArthur rarely ever gets into the political arena in his sermons, but this election year is different.

How Jesus Made Disciples – Could our struggle to make quality disciples come from focusing so much on what Jesus said that we miss what Jesus did?

Quote:

This first promise must certainly be but dark to our first parents, in comparison of that great light which we enjoy. And yet, dark as it was, we may assure ourselves they built upon it their hopes of everlasting salvation and by that faith were saved. – George Whitefield

 

God’s Glory, Our Excellence

This is a re-post of an article by Paul Tripp that can be found here.

As I was reading this earlier this morning, my heart was convicted on so many levels because I am guilty of not being in “awe” of God.  Just yesterday I was having a discussion with someone and confessed that it is hard for me to even conceive of how sinful I am.  I have a knowledge that I am a sinner because the Word of God tells me I am, but having that head knowledge translate to my entire being is difficult.  This article certainly reinforced the fact that I have a long way to go.

Paul Tripp writes:

If your heart is in functional awe of the glory of God, then there will be no place in your heart for poorly prepared, badly delivered, pastoral mediocrity. We should all be shocked at the level of mediocrity we tolerate in the life and ministry of the local church. No, I’m not talking about giving people room to grow and mature so we don’t crush them with criticism. I’m talking about those places where our standards are simply too low. Mediocrity is not a time, personnel, resource, or location problem. Mediocrity is a heart problem. We have lost our commitment to the highest levels of excellence because we have lost our awe. Awe amnesia is the open door that permits mediocrity in.

Awe of God inspires, motivates, and convicts. There is no Continue reading

From Synergism to Monergism

I will admit it, I am a reformed synergist.  I’d like to claim that I just didn’t know any better, and while that is the truth to a degree, the real issue is that I just formed my belief system based on the teaching I heard from the pulpit and didn’t take the time to check it out myself.  It wasn’t until I started reading the Bible and read some of what Jesus said to His disciples on His last night as recorded in John that my views were changed.  I was reading along happily one day, living in the fantasy world of my own presuppositions and read this:

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”  (John 17:6-9 ESV)

Continue reading