Thank God For Good Listeners!

In preparation for my upcoming trip to Bolivia I am re-reading a book that had significant impact on me and my preaching about four years ago and I was reminded of this excellent nugget of wisdom:

PreacherBanner“The preacher is only half of the Church’s activity of proclamation…. The assumption seems to be that, whereas the preachier is really doing something, the people have a passive role, like so many jugs waiting to be filled…. Anyone who has regularly preached over many years but then has been a member of a congregation for some time, would (if he had strong views on preaching) be hard put to it to decide which was the more demanding, preaching well or listening properly.” (T.H.L. Parker, Calvin’s Preaching, p. 48)

With that in mind, I am truly thankful for the good listeners that I call God’s flock under my care.

Thinking Through The “Racial Injustice” Question

Like so many, I have been troubled by all the rhetoric that is taking place in all our media regarding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York.  In the midst of the rhetoric there seem to be extremes coming out on various sides: racial extremes that pit white against black; rioting extremes where peaceful protestors have been either hijacked by self-interested groups who are not following the example of Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr., but clearly their own ends, looting and setting cars and businesses on fire; relational extremes where the new enemy is the Police force.

What is hard to find is some honest, biblical reasoning that helps the believer to navigate the issues at hand.  Here are some questions we may have:

Should people be held accountable for their actions?  If “yes” then what responsibilities should the individual be accountable for regardless of color of skin?

Is there a need to look at a disproportionate treatment of Black people in society?  If the answer is “yes” then what should we do to support an honest movement that is Christ-centered that is working toward adjusting that reality?

Sadly, to filter through the rhetoric is rather daunting and to be able to talk about the issues without allowing our flesh and emotions to rise up can be very difficult because we all have assumptions about each others motives.

Therefore, to help that navigation here are some resources that might help:

Here is an interview with Todd Friel and Thabiti Anyabwile on these issues.  it is well worth the listen from a man who has been seeking to help the church understand the issues carefully – http://www.wretchedradio.com/podcast.cfm?h=321D67AD94E3A512541240A45CFAC8FF&page=1

Here is Thabiti’s blog which has many helpful articles on the subject – http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/

Finally, I want to draw your attention to two sermons that I think are helpful in our understanding of Race in the context of the church…

John Piper at Kainos 2014 Conference…

Tony Evans at Kainos 2014 Conference…

I hope that these resources will help you to sort through your struggles in this area…

Camp Ministry in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

I want to introduce you to a man whom I love in the Lord, who has  a big heart and a big vision to take the Gospel to the people of Bolivia.  His name is Matias Mojica and he was born in the mountain region of Samaipata, adopted by Charles & Hannah Brooks, faithful missionaries under BEMA (Baptist Missionary Evangelistic Association).

IMG_0211When Matias finished his education for ministry in the United States he returned to the Samaipata region and started three churches.  Since then he and his family have moved to Santa Cruz, the main city in the south of Bolivia.  Since that move many years ago God has raised up the Bible Baptist Church and a number of other churches under the care of Pastor Matias.

Every year the fellowship of churches under his care gather for camp in the mountain town of Samaipata, a three-four hour journey up a winding and often washed out road heavy with buses, taxis, cars, motorcycles, horses, donkeys, chickens, oxen, dogs the occasional pig and vultures waiting for any kind of road-kill.  God has blessed the camp ministry in Samaipata, but God was working on the heart of Matias about the establishing of a camp in or around the main city of Santa Cruz.  A few years ago, God answered that prayer miraculously (a story of faith for another occasion) and the churches began to work on the property.

TScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.33.51 AMhis new camp is located about 40 miles Northwest of Santa Cruz along the Piray River just south of the town of La Belgica.  At present there are seven completed buildings: 2 cabins for the men, 2 Cabins for the women, 1 restroom/shower building for the men, 1 restroom/shower building for the women, a caretakers home.  There is also a kitchen/dining hall/meeting room that is 70% done needing windows & doors, a finished kitchen and furnishings.  Presently under construction are two more cabins for the ladies and the foundations for two more cabins for the men.  The two ladies cabins are 80% finished, simply needing a roof, windows and furnishings each.

Here is Matias updating our church (Gateway Bible Church) on the status of the building project at the camp.

We praise God for Matias’ vision to have a place where God’s people can retreat for ministry equipping, rejuvenation and for ministry to one another as well as a center for ministry to those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.

As Matias raises up this facility he is already thinking about a new church meeting on this property that is reaching out to this more remote community.

Pray for Matias Mojica, this vision and for God’s will to be done…

Simeon Trust in Bolivia

For the third year in a row Gateway Bible Church (my home church) has sponsored a conference for Pastors and church leaders in both the city of Santa Cruz and the mountain town of Samaipata, Bolivia. IMG_0101This opportunity has come about at the request of Pastor Matias Mojicas Sr. who serves as the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Santa Cruz, a church that he started many years ago. Over the years, Pastor Matias has seen churches start in many places around the Santa Cruz area and now serves to oversee and care for the pastors serving in those churches.

Two years ago, on our first trip, we sought to understand what kind of training would be most helpful to the pastors.

After ministering in their churches, hosting a conference on Preaching and spending a few hours in discussion with the pastors in that area we settled on hosting Practical Preaching Workshops following the pattern of the Charles Simeon Trust training workshops.

These training sessions involve three activities:

  1. Instruction – 6-9 sessions on principles of exegesis and understanding and applying the text. During these sessions we want to teach the attendees to be like detectives in seeking to understand the structure, emphasis, central theme and aim of the text.
  2. Model Preaching – 2-3 sermons are preached by the instructors and/or host pastors as examples of expository preaching followed by purposeful and extensive questions and answers regarding structure, emphasis and ideas. It is not often that pastors can help one another by discussing and evaluating their sermons. Here is Pastor Matias faithfully preaching from 2 Timothy 4:1-8.
  3. Workshops – 4-5 small group sessions where those in attendance work together on an assigned passage of Scripture under the guidance of a group leader.IMG_5086

    The participants work through six questions about the text that will result gaining the structure, emphasis and central theme of the text as well as seeing how the text connects to the gospel. This information is the skeleton necessary for developing a faithful expositional sermon.

Both Pastor Matias Mojica Sr. and his son, Matias Jr. were an integral part of the conferences by sharing in the translation as well as in helping guide the attendees in the small groups.IMG_5236

Without their passion and love for these pastors this ministry would not be so effective. They are the backbone for the future of faithful expository ministry in the Santa Cruz region of Bolivia. Please pray for them.IMG_5572

We were thankful to have over 35 attendees attend the Santa Cruz conference held at Bible Baptist Church and over 15 in the mountain town of Samaipata.

 

 

 

An Amazing Jump Shot Story

This video is an interview with the man who invented the “Jump Shot”.  He is humble, and speaks worlds of wisdom.

Be refreshed!!!

 

Sound Advice from C.S. Lewis for the New Year

Here is some advice on Writing and the use of the English language that C.S. Lewis gave a child in America on June 26, 1956.  I wish I had been given this advice when I was a Bairn.  It is good advice for me still today…and may we all take it to heart..

What really matters is:

Image1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean, and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long vague one.  Don’t “implement” promises, but “keep” them.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do.  If you mean “more people died,” don’t say “mortality rose.”

4. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing.  I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified.  Don’t say it was “delightful,” make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description.  You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only saying to your readers “please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject.  Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”

C. S. Lewis, quoted in John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), p. 235.

Which of these pieces of advice do you struggle with the most?

I must admit that I tend to struggle with points 1 & 4.  From my experience of being “misunderstood” I think that I may not be in the habit of making sure that my sentences are clear and can only mean what I want them to say. I also tend be terrible at using adjectives that tell people how I feel rather than describing the situation so that people are terrified.  It is an infinitely horrifying thing!

 

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – A Great Example to me…

There are some preachers from more recent church history that have had a great impact on my life. One of them, whom I will quote often, is D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, once a leading British physician turned preacher during the late 1920’s. He was born in Cardiff, Wales, and his family attended a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church (Now, if you can figure out how those words all go together without some conflict, please help me out).

His first church was in Aberavon, Wales, where he took a dying and very pragmatic church, reintroduced the systematic preaching of the Word, bringing revival to the church and then the town. After ten years he accepted the call to co-pastor with G. Campbell Morgan, an American pastor, at Westminster Chapel in London.

Ian Murray’s two volume biography of the life of Loyd-Jones is a rare treasure and excellent reading. I find that he faced many of the same issues that I face as a pastor in 2008. Certainly the garments of the issues are a little different, but in essence they are the same. Lloyd-Jones was a consistent reader and was instrumental in the beginning of printing quality books for Christian growth establishing the Banner of Truth and was instrumental in the birthing of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship.

As you can see, he was a very serious man and took his Bible study and preaching very seriously.

I am very thankful for the Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recording Trust (www.mlj.org.uk) for providing this video and for the numerous recording available today.

I praise the Lord for counselors like Lloyd-Jones who keep my nose in the Word of God rather than the latest fad that is blowing through Christian culture.

It is uncanny, but when I think about these men working together for the Gospel I can’t help but think about some of my other friends that I grew up with…

Here is a newer interview Joan Blackwell that shows how crisp, clear, bold and refreshing Dr. Lloyd-Jones was.  He is an example to us all – especially me.

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