121 Forum…

I had a great weekend at the One21 Forum in St. Joseph Mo.  Huge thanks to the people who put it on and to Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church for making it free!  Out of the six sessions, there was something thought-provoking and challenging in each one.  I took pretty intensive notes, so I look forward to posting some of the substance of each session on here the next few days.

But now to fall asleep while chewing things over.

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 6-7

Alright.  The Spurgeon reading updates will probably be few for a bit.  My wonderful wife and I are going to St. Joseph, MO for a conference this weekend, and sort of cramming a day of vacation-ness in there as well.

This post covers chapters 6 and 7, titled “On the Choice of a Text” and “On Spiritualizing.”

Preliminary thoughts-

Chapter 6- Who am I to argue with Spurgeon, but working through consecutive texts would really eliminate much of the difficulties he discusses regarding finding a text.  That said, pastors should still carefully and prayerfully think of what messages they are bringing to a text.  I’ve been working as a youth pastor, and I’ve developed the habit (can 2 years be considered a habit?) of laying out a semester’s worth of messages for our Wednesday night lessons ahead of time.  This saves me so much time (no Wednesday afternoon panic sessions-What to talk about tonight!!!), and I think it provides some perspective/diversity/cohesiveness.  I can balance out my lessons to cover different areas rather than hitting my pet topics, and I can lay out a series in a way that makes sense.  And should God lead me to scrap a lesson and go a different direction, nothing stops me from doing that!  I usually leave a week or two of “cushion” somewhere near the end so if a week in the middle gets changed, the entire schedule isn’t doomed.  And if they are not used, those are great weeks to fill in as the semester goes on and new needs/ideas arise.  But enough about me…

Chapter 6-

“Although all Scripture is good and profitable, yet it is not all equally appropriate for every occasion.”  -Driscoll’s illustration of the “expository-only” preacher who refused to interrupt his exposition of Genesis to talk about Easter comes to mind.  Apparently the man preached on the sin of Onan that week.

“There are persons in the ministry who, having accumulated a little stock of sermons, repeat them ad nauseum, with horrible regularity.”  -These pastors usually change churches every 3 years when their sermons run out.  Or the church suddenly has a run of children’s church volunteers who figured out the jig.  There is very little reason for ever preaching the same sermon to the same people.  Spurgeon calls these men “sluggards.”

-Recalling his grandfather’s words, who had been in ministry 50 years, and still labored over what to preach each week–“The difficulty is not because there are not enough texts, but because there are so many, that I am in a strait betwixt them.”

On young preachers not taking too many liberties in the pulpit- “A patriarch may do with propriety what a young man must scrupulously avoid.”

On NOT using the pulpit to go after specific people-“The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, and therefore you can leave the word of God to wound and kill, and need not be yourselves cutting in phrase and manner.”

On observation as key to finding illustrations-“The world is full of sermon– catch them on the wing.”

*Chapter 7- On Spiritualizing

-This section is useful mostly for the funny examples of bad allegorizing which Spurgeon gives.  Spurgeon almost cuts off his own legs trying to fence in the allegorizing of Scripture with many, many rules.  In fact, the rules alone probably would convince the average person not to even try, but to seek after the intended meaning of the passage.  Well, here’s the one quote I am putting in from this chapter for you, one that might have kept certain preachers out of controversy…

In a section warning on spending too much time on “indelicate subjects”– “Solomon’s Song had better be let alone than dragged in the mire as it often is.”

One week to 121 Forum…

FREE Conference in St. JO, MO next weekend. I’m looking forward to it.  My wife Stephanie and I are psyched to actually attend a “Grown-up” Conference on our own after countless youth retreats, camps, etc. over the past couple years.  One of my old professors from my under-grad days, Dr. Rodney Reeves will be doing a session and I am majorly looking forward to that.

You can check it out for yourself.

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 5

This chapter is titled “Sermons- Their Matter”.

Quotes:

-“…the true value of a sermon must lie, not in the fashion and manner, but in the truth in which it contains.”

-“Set no store by the quantity of words which you utter, but strive to be esteemed for the quality of your matter.”

-“Rest assured that the most fervid revivalism will wear itslef out in mere smoke, if it be not maintained by the fuel of teaching.”

-On theologically-driven sermons-“I believe the remark is too well grounded that if you attend a lecturer on astronomy or geology, during a short course you will obtain a tolerably clear view of his system; but if you listen, not only for twelve months, but for twelve years, to the common run of preachers, you will not arrive at anything like an idea of their system of theology.”

-On staying with the text- “Some brethren have done with their text as soon as they have read it.  Having paid all due honor to that particular passage by announcing it, they feel no necessity further to refer to it…Why do such men take a text at all?  Why limit their own glorious liberty?  Why make Scripture a horsing-block by which to mount upon their unbridled Pegasus?”   That last sentence there immediately reminds me of the greater descriptive abilities of a generation raised on words and not video.

-“It is due to the majesty of inspiration that when you profess to be preaching from a verse you do not thrust it out of sight to make room for your own thinkings.”

-On not keeping select teachings away from the majority of your people-“It is not true that some doctrines are only for the inititiated; there is nothing in the Bible which is ashamed of the light.”

-On keeping doctrinal balance- “A nose is an important feature in the human countenance, but to paint a man’s nose alone is not a satisfactory method of taking his likeness: a doctrine may be very important, but an exaggerated estimate of it may be fatal to an harmonious and complete ministry.”

-On Cross-centered preaching- “Brethren, first and above all things, keep to plain evangelical doctrines; whatever else you do or do not preach, be sure incessantly to bring forth the soul-saving truth of Christ and him crucified.”

“Of all I would wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore.  He is the whole gospel.  His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme.”

-On a focused sermon- “Do not overload a sermon with too much matter.  All truth is not be comprised in one discourse.” “One thought fixed on the mind will be better than fifty thoughts made to flit across the ear.”

-On clarity- “Your doctrinal teaching should be clear and unmistakable.  To be so, it must first of all be clear to yourself.  Some men think in smoke and preach in a cloud.”

-On heretical writings…(pastors take note!)-“For my part, I believe that the chief readers of heterodox books are ministers, and that if they would not notice them they [the books] would fall still-born from the press. Let a minister keep clear of mystifying himself, and then he is on the road to becoming intelligible to his people.”

-On “prophetic” speculation and End-times drama-“Blessed are they who read and hear the words of the prophecy of the Revelation, but the like blessing has evidently not fallen on those who pretend to expound it, for generation after generation of them have been proved to be in error by the mere lapse of time, and the present race will follow to the same inglorious sepulchre.  I would sooner pluck one single brand from the burning than explain all mysteries.”

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students”-Part 4

Some quotes and thoughts from the 4th chapter of “Lectures to My Students” called “Our Public Prayer”:

-First, I think the entire chapter was interesting if for the only reason to see how much prayer has been “de-emphasized” in church gatherings today.  Spurgeon spends much of the chapter encouraging his students to avoid repetition, “cliche phrases”, poor/inaccurate uses of Scripture in prayer, passing prayer off as a “courtesy” to someone else in the church, and lengthy prayers.  Most people who have been in church for more than a year will have a good laugh or two at some of the prayer follies Spurgeon points out that still exist today. (Like the pray-er who begins to close only to launch into 3 more subjects of prayer or who say “Dear Lord” as filler).  Spurgeon spends a great deal of time discussing the length of public prayers and concludes they should be no more than 10-15 minutes!  Wow!  I can’t imagine pulling off a 4 minute prayer in church without being publicly chastised and perhaps burned in oil.  I wonder how much of our shortness of prayer is related NOT to attention spans (Come on-people still read huge books and watch 3 hour movies) but rather to a lack of belief that prayer actually does anything.

Quotes:

-On preaching as continuation of “worship”-“Reverently hearing the word exercises our humility, instructs our faith, irradiates us with joy, inflames us with love, inspires us with zeal, and lifts us up towards heaven.”

-On boldness and against “demanding of God”-“We are taught to say, “Our Father,” but still it is, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”  Familiarity there may be, but holy familiarity; boldness, but the boldness which springs from grace and is the work of the Spirit; not the boldness of the rebel who carries a brazen front in the presence of his offended king, but the boldness of a child who fears because he loves, and loves because he fears.”

-“Pray as one who has tried and proved his God, and therefore comes with undoubting confidence to renew his pleadings.”

-On the need for passionate prayer-“If ever your whole manhood was engaged in anything, let it be in drawing near unto God in public.”

-On length of public prayer-“Long prayers either consist of repetitions, or else of unnecessary explanations which God does not require; or else they degenerate into downright preachings…It is not necessary in prayer to rehearse the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism.”

-On variety of service order- “Let us have anythign so that our people do not come to regard any form of service as being appointed, and so relapse into the superstition from which they have escaped.”

-On purposeful prayer as cure for monotony- “‘I never am tired of praying,” said one man, “because I always have a definite errand when I pray.'”

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students”-Part 3

Ok-by part 3 I mean chapter 3 (maybe I’ll post the first two chapters a different time!).  But I’ve started reading through this work from the ever quotable Charles and I’ll just share snippets or thoughts based on that each post.

Some Quotes:

quoting Bernard- “It would be wholly monstrous for a man to be highest in office and lowest in soul.” (regarding a pastor’s heart condition)

“All of our libraries and studies are mere emptiness compared with our closets.  We grow, We wax mighty, we prevail in private prayer.”-Note that Spurgeon had a HUGE library!  He’s not discounting the importance of preparation and study.  Just relatively compared to knowing God.

“Texts will often refuse to reveal their treasures till you open them with the key of prayer.”  (a good night’s sleep has similar effects on good exegesis, I think.)

“A certain Puritan divine at a debate was observed frequently to write upon the paper before him: upon others’ curiously seeking to read his notes, they found nothing upon the page but the words, ‘More light, Lord,’ ‘More light, Lord,’ repeated scores of times: a most suitable prayer for the student of the Word when preparing his discourse.”

“None are so able to plead with men as those who have been wrestling with God on their behalf.”

“Most preachers who depend upon God’s Spirit will tell you that their freshest and best thoughts are not those which were premeditated.”-He’s not arguing for an unprepared message.  Rather, that prayerful diligent study often yields insights even in the moment of speaking.

“If we cannot prevail with men for God, we will, at least, endeavour to prevail with God for men.”

quoting Theodorus about Luther: “With what life and spirit did he pray! It was with much reverence, as if he were speaking to God, yet with so much confidence as if he were speaking to his friend.”

The next chapter is on public prayer and I’m really curious to read it!  I wonder if he advises replacing “um…” with “Father”…

New Day, New Blog

I’m going to attempt to start writing again.  It’s sad but with summer ending and no school to start next week, I have WAAAAAY too much spare time on my hands.  So I’m attempting to revive my writing.  No one will read this, as no one knows this blog even exists yet, I guess.  But we’ll work on that.

Ok, peace out.