Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why is preaching still important?

(St. Paul preaching in Athens)
I have been thinking a lot lately about preaching in the North American Church and questioning why I have such a deep passion for it. As I was driving home from visiting a new coffee house(St. Mark’s Coffee House) on Saturday night with Amy we began to talk about preaching in church, and how I was excited to hear one of my favorite professors preach at Mission Hills Church the next morning. I was excited to hear this particular professor preach since he is the main preaching professor at Denver Seminary. This got me thinking and talking with Amy about my passion for preaching and how I hope to one day be a very Godly and impactful preacher.  
I have really felt that God has been giving me more of a desire to preach throughout this last year. I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why this is or what this means for my future as a pastor, but I have definitely been interested in the idea of a preaching pastor However, while talking with Amy I realized that part of the reason I am passionate about preaching is due to the fact that I am passionate about reaching people for Christ. I want to see people live more authentic and Godly lives on a daily basis. It hit me that as a pastor one of the main areas you are allowed to speak into people’s lives is through your sermon on Sunday mornings. Sure you will get lunch with people in your congregation throughout the week, but the majority of people will not have time or seek out meetings with the pastor during the week. 
I believe that most of the people who do seek out additional time with pastors are often those who have a good relationship with the Lord. I realized that I want to preach because I want to inspire people to grow closer to the Lord. I want to challenge people to think through what they believe and be able to articulate it clearly. I want to teach people to understand the Bible clearly and to recognize the importance that the Bible still has in our lives today. And most importantly, I want to preach because I want to serve God whole heartedly with my gifts and talents, and I believe this is an area he has gifted me in and is continuously cultivating in my life.
As I look towards beginning another semester of school in the fall I am trying to be wise with my time off this summer. I am reading some books on preaching, I bought the videos from a conference on the art of preaching and I am watching some podcast of impactful preachers. My prayer is that through spending the time researching, reading and listening to preachers I will be able to cultivate the gifts God has given me. If you have any suggestions on books to read related to preaching or preachers to listen to I would welcome any and all suggestions. God bless.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Price of Neglect

     Recently I have began to read A.W. Tozer's The Price of Neglect. While I was home in Seattle my brother John gave me this book and suggested I read it. I had informed him that I have not read anything by Tozer, but have heard a great deal about him. I started reading Tozer's book last week and was immediately struck by the importance of what he is saying. I believe that right away he challenges Christians to stand up for the truth found in scripture and raises important questions that we must wrestle with as we look at the future of both Christianity and the church. The chapters are short and being that I feel it is very important, I have written out the first chapter from the book for you to read and wrestle with yourself. I would love to hear any thoughts you have on the topic or Tozer's work. 

The Price of Neglect
Plato has somewhere said that in a democratic society the price wise men pay for neglecting politics is to be ruled by unwise men.
This observation is so patently true that no one who values his reputation for clear thinking is likely to contest it.
In America, for instance, there are millions of plain men and women, decent, honest and peace loving, who take their blessings for granted and make no effort to assure the continuance of our free society. These persons are without doubt far in the majority. They constitute the main body of our population, but for all their numbers they are not going to determine the direction our country will go in the next few years. Their weakness lies in their passivity. They sit back and allow radicals and those in the minority but who shout the loudest to set the course for the future. If this continues much longer we have no assurance that we can retain that liberty which was once purchased for us at such appalling cost.
The price good and sober Christians pay for doing nothing is to be led by those highly vocal minorities whose only qualifications for leadership are an overweening ambition and a loud voice. And there have always been and always will be such persons in the congregations of the saints. They know least and talk most, while sane and godly men too often give up leadership to them rather than to resist them. Later these same docile souls may shake their heads and lament their captivity. But by that time it is too late.
Within the circles of evangelical Christianity itself there has arisen in the last few years dangerous and dismaying trends away from true Bible Christianity. A spirit has been introduced which is surely not the Spirit of Christ, methods employed which are wholly carnal, objectives adopted which have not one line of Scripture to support them, a level of conduct accepted which is practically identical with that of the world--and yet scarcely one voice has been raised in opposition. And this in spite of the fact that the Bible-honoring followers of Christ lament among themselves the dangerous, wobbly course things are taking.
So radically is the essential spirit and content of orthodox Christianity changing these days under the vigorous leadership of undiscerning religionists that, if the trend is not sopped, what is called Christianity will soon be something altogether other than the faith of our fathers. We’ll have only Bible words left. Bible religion will have perished from wounds received in the house of her friends.
The times call for a Spirit-baptized and articulate orthodoxy. They whose souls have been illuminated by the Holy Ghost must arise and under God assume leadership. There are those among us whose hearts can discern between the true and the false, whose spiritual sense of smell enables them to detect the spurious afar off, who have the blessed gift of knowing. Let such as these arise and be heard. Who knows but the Lord may return and leave a blessing behind Him?
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