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Tia at DesiringGod has posted a very practical article, “10 Ways to Help Kids Love Missions“.

Yes, it’s ultimately God’s gracious work which instills in the hearts of our children a passion for missions, whether at home or abroad, but as parents w can certainly encourage them in this direction..

There are things we can do to help our kids love the nations and the cause of Christ, even though a heart and calling for the Great Commission is ultimately something only God can grant.

This brief article shares 10 great ways we can encourage a missions mindset in our children. I commend it to you.

Michael Horton has hit the nail on the head with this excellent article entitled “All Crossed Up” on Touchstone.

Consider this rather pointed assessment…

Never mind Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to submit to elders and pastors as official ambassadors of Christ. These days, even in more confessional denominations, it seems that instead of being the Lord’s servant, ambassador, and minister of reconciliation, a pastor is supposed to be the community’s quarterback, class president, or the one voted “most likely to succeed.”

It used to be that the pastor had an office and worked in his study, but today the pastor has a job and works in his office. Whereas Peter organized the diaconal office so that the apostles could devote themselves to the Word and to prayer, ideal ministers seem increasingly to be managers, therapists, entertainers, and entrepreneurial businesspeople.

Open up the average issue of Christianity Today to advertisements for pastoral positions and you’ll find descriptions like “team builder,” “warm and personal style,” “outgoing,” “contagious personality,” and “effective communicator.”…

I think they’re looking for a Director of Sales and Marketing, whom they may (or may not) call “Pastor.” I’m not against directors of sales and marketing; I just don’t think that this is what we should be looking for in the way of shepherds.

I commend Horton’s article to you for thoughtful, prayerful consideration. You can read the entire article here.

Those who read FlockTalk from time to time will recognize a recurrent theme…”how do we properly prepare for worship ?”

Pastor John Samson, who contributes to Reformation Theology, makes a very pertinent observation…

It is common for us as pastors to be telling the congregation what they ought to be doing. It is oftentimes less common for an explanation to be given as to HOW to do these things. One such area is the arena of prayer. We all know we should be people of prayer, but what causes many to stumble is a lack of knowledge as to how exactly to go about the task.

Rev. Samson, adapting a prayer by Tim Challies, offers a sample prayer for Saturday evening in preparation for worship on the Lord’s Day.

A SAMPLE DAILY PRAYER IN PREPARATION FOR SUNDAY

Our gracious God and Father. I approach Your throne today, knowing that it is only through the name of Jesus that I can stand before You. I thank and praise You for Your goodness in allowing me to do so. I recognize very well that I am unworthy of this honor, this privilege, apart from Your unmerited favor and grace. I come before You to seek Your blessing on the service on Sunday.

Grant that the Word will come to us with power and with great freedom. Be near to our Pastor and his family. Keep the family close as they serve You together. Protect them from dangers both seen and unseen. May our pastor know great wisdom as he plans his day and his week around the priorities You lay before him. May his schedule allow him much time to study Your word and to pray. May he know that he is serving You and all of us very well as he makes these a high priority. May our pastor’s family time also be protected. Grant that he would be free from all unnecessary busy-ness in ministry. Also grant our pastor sufficient rest and sleep….

You can read this prayer in its entirety here.

Andrew Webb has an excellent blog called Building Old School Churches. I commend it to your reading. What you’ll find there will either be refreshing to your spirit or, if you’ve been drinking at the well of Emergent re-definition ( i.e “let’s do church our way”), somewhat puzzling or even tough to swallow. I resonate with what I read over at Building Old School Churches.

In any event, Andrew commissioned Dr. Nick Willborn of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary to write an article on the education and preparation of men called into ministry. Here’s something to whet your appetitite…

Everyone knows you can’t put into a man what God has left out. (I know; a gargantuan assumption in a day of low churchism.) Namely, I mean, ministerial gifts and supernatural calling can’t be put into a man. That seems to be a lost concept today—that God calls and gifts the men of his choosing to be his mouthpieces, his shepherds, his rulers, in his church….Spurgeon, Thornwell, Peck, and a host of others would advise young men this way: “If there is anything else in life you can do and be happy doing it, do it. Pursue the office of word and sacrament only if God has issued you a specific call, confirmed it through the crucible of the church, and closed all other doors to vocation.” Ah, that’s another lost word that corresponds to my topic—vocation. The gospel ministry is a vocation or calling, not a job!…Seminary is not a graduate school or a school of religion. Seminary is not university, a place where diversity of thoughts are praised, protected, and promoted. Rather it is a place where the Holy Scriptures and the theology derived from the Scriptures, as summarized in the confessional standards of a particular church, are studied, learned, and taught. Men in these institutions should be given the “academic” tools for “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

I encourage you to take a moment and read Dr. Willborn’s article over at Building Old School Churches. You can access the article in its entirety here.

As we’ve been studying Life in the Father’s House, I’ve had some folks lodge objections against what apparently is being seen as a demeaning view of women in the Complementarian stance taken in the book. I certainly don’t see any problem in the position taken in the book, and neither do any of the women in our Flocks group. But, the notion that motherhood is a really fulfilling ministry for a woman strikes some evidently as chauvinistic and hopelessly outdated. The question we have to come to grips with is one that requires some reflection…”What’s shaping my value system- culture ( definitely a force to reckoned with) or the Scriptures?”
With all due respect to those who are struggling with the book on this point, consider these excellent remarks by Rev. Al Baker in a weekly devotional he published this morning…

Susannah and Samuel Wesley were married in 1690 and God blessed them with nineteen children, nine of whom were stillborn or died in infancy. Of the remaining ten children, seven were girls and three were boys, the most famous of them being John and Charles Wesley, leaders in the Evangelical Great Awakening of the 18th century. One of their grown daughters suffered nine miscarriages, another had five children stillborn, another died in giving birth, and a forth was married to a drunkard. These girls learned how to suffer hardship and live gloriously due to their mother’s instruction. John, who stood only five feet, two inches tall became a powerful preacher, and Charles wrote over 9000 hymns. Susannah gloriously illustrated the promise of the Apostle Paul for women who see God in their child rearing. Paul is making a case for male leadership in the church of Christ, stating that men lead from the top down; and he then turns his attention to the value of women, saying that they lead from the bottom up, intentionally and prayerfully rearing children who can change the world. Indeed the old adage, “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world,” is very present in this text.

Women, I wish to encourage you with a vision for Biblical womanhood, something I imagine you need in light of the lies foisted upon you by our secularized world. Continue Reading »

If you want to learn about the wellspring of faith from which John Piper drew inspiration, strength and focus as a child, you need to read Piper’s most recent biography, delivered at this year’s Pastor’s Conference (in which pastors were entreated to bring their fathers and sons!)…”Evangelist Bill Piper: Fundamentalist Full of Grace and Joy“. John piper writes in eloquent, moving ways about his father Bill.

Here’s Piper’s introduction…

The title I have given this message about my father is “Evangelist Bill Piper: Fundamentalist Full of Grace and Joy.” That title is meant to carry several apparent incongruities or paradoxes or ironies. I expect you to feel tension between the word fundamentalist and the phrase “full of grace,” and between the word fundamentalist and the phrase “full of joy.” But the lead word is evangelist. Underneath being a child of God, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and justified by faith, and possessing all the riches of the glory of God in Christ—underneath that most basic identity, my father’s chief identity was “evangelist.” Independent, fundamentalist, Baptist evangelist—full of grace and joy.

Evangelist Bill Piper was clearly the inspiration for his son John’s captivation with delighting in God…

Where did I learn that delight in God is our highest duty? Before Jonathan Edwards and before C. S. Lewis and before Daniel Fuller, there was Bill Piper, unsystematically, unapologetically, and almost unwittingly saying: God’s only requirement is that you be satisfied with Christ.

Long before John Piper read C. S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory and leaned about the folly of making mud pies in the slums because one can’t imagine a holiday at the sea—long before that—he was hearing his father talkabout the cow and the barbed-wire fence by the road.

I have often seen a cow stick her head through a barbed wire fence to chew the stubby grass bordering a highway, when behind her lay a whole pasture of grass. I have always been reminded of Christians who have not learned to completely trust Christ, reaching out to the world for sensual pleasure when rivers of pleasure were at their disposal in Christ.

No, no one is denying that there are pleasures to be had in this world. . . . That is not the point. The point is that there are other pleasures to be had in this life. Pleasures so great in depth, significance, satisfaction and duration, that they far exceed the pleasures of sin. They are the pleasures to be found in the knowledge and service of Christ.

Piper closes his remarkable tribute to his father with these poignant words… Continue Reading »

Paul Lamey and Caleb Kolstad over at Expository Thoughts recently posted excellent articles regarding some trends to challenge the proposition of expository preaching.

Lamey writes in “Can We Talk?”…

“Doug Pagitt in his book Preaching Re-Imagined would have us believe that “In reality preaching as speaching [Pagitt’s code word for expository preaching] is quite new. In fact, it is the creation of Enlightenment Christianity” (pg. 60). Actual historians of preaching might disagree with Pagitt’s revisionist claims. Peruse any major work on the history of preaching (e.g., Hughes Old, E. C. Dargan, O. C. Edwards) and one will see that “progressional dialogue” is the new kid on the block without a biblical leg to stand on.”

Kolstad in “Isn’t a 45 Minute Sermon Overkill?” writes…

“Some people wonder why many churches commit almost half of the public worship service to the individual proclamation of the Word of God? ‘Shouldn’t we allow more time for the entire community to speak’ they ask? Certain Evangelicals have suggested that preaching itself is outdated and should be replaced by more modern alternatives….

As I see it, the push for a more dialogical form of preaching is a redefinition of preaching as described in the Scriptures. This shift seems to go hand-in-hand with larger cultural movements against the idea of teaching authority and the very idea of an authoritative Word. The last thing modern evangelicalism needs is the substitution of congregational “dialogue” for biblical preaching. This plays into all of our modern temptations and, in the end, threatens to remove the authoritative Word from our midst.”

These brothers are right on in their thinking and I commend their posts to your thoughtful consideration.

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