Go on with Preaching

Here is some more encouragement from Charles H. Sprugeon on your Thursday. For everyone who is preparing a sermon for this weekend, listen to Mr. Spurgeon’s advice.  Remember the gospel still saves souls!

“Believe in preaching the love of Christ, believe in preaching the atoning sacrifice, believe in preaching the new birth, believe in preaching the whole counsel of God.  the old hammer of the gospel will still break the rock in pieces; the ancient fir of Pentecost will still burn among the multitude.  try nothing new, but go on with preaching, and if we all preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the results of preaching will astound us.”

from The Soul Winner by Charles H. Spurgeon

Where is Jesus?

Sometimes I think I am a good Dad. I change diapers, I wash clothes, I fix bottles, I feed babies, I wrestle with my children, we play outside, I take them places, and they seem to like me when I come home from work.

Other times, I know I am a lousy Dad. I sit on the couch when my kids want to play, I look at the computer while they are trying to tell me something, I ignore them when they are crying, I leave diapers on for way to long, I don’t correct them every time I should, and teach them horrible habits. I know it isn’t ideal, but it is true.

The other night, my “good dad” switch must have been turned off, because I had to be instructed by Knox that it was time for bed. He told me that he wanted to go lay down and read the Bible. When I heard those words it wasn’t hard for me to come back to earth and do what he had asked me.

We lay down in his bed and began to read the story of Joseph. As I began to read, Knox stopped me and asked, “Where is Jesus?” Without even thinking, I answered that he was not born yet. I wasn’t fully prepared for the question, but Knox seemed somewhat satisfied with this answer and we continued to read the story.

As I began to think about his question later, it dawned on me that I had not answered him completely and accurately. The answer I gave was a right answer. It was true that Jesus was not born at the time of Joseph. He would not be born until much later. However, Jesus was there. He is on every page of Scripture. The entire Bible is about him. In the Old Testament we see Jesus Christ concealed, while in the New Testament Jesus Christ is revealed. In the Old Testament, God makes promises to his people and in the New Testament he keeps these promises through Christ. As Sally Lloyd-Jones writes in her Jesus Storybook Bible,

“It’s like an adventure story about a young Hero who came from a far country to     win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life.

You see, the best thing about this story is—it’s true.

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

In John chapter 8, Jesus tells the Jews that, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” The then Jews replied to him and said, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus responds clearly when he says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” At this, the Jews picked up stones to stone him. (John 8:48-59). Jesus was not simply saying that he was older than Abraham. He didn’t respond with, “Before Abraham was, I was.” He clearly identifies himself with the great I AM. Jesus is the eternal word who was with God in the beginning (John 1:1). He is the image of the invisible God through whom and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:15-16). In Christ all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). This is especially true of the Scripture. Christ holds all of the Scripture together. He is the centerpiece and the focus.

As Christians, we must read the Scripture with Christ in view. Otherwise, we could descend into a slippery slope of moralism. Whenever we sit down to read the Bible, we would do well to ask the question that my two-year old asked me, “Where is Jesus?”

Some helpful resources:
How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture by Michael Williams

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence

The Big Picture Story Bible
by David R. Helm

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

A Lover of Books, a Lover of God

In April, I went to a conference in Louisville focused on the power of the gospel. Besides worshiping with over 7,000 people and hearing the Word of God correctly handled and boldly preached, one of the things I was looking forward to most about the conference was the books that would be given away. Over the last several years, I have become a collector of books.

Not all of them are great books. Some of the books that I have accumulated really should have never been published. It really is a wonder sometimes to see some of the books that get published. Do people read this stuff? I guess they do because people keep writing them, and publishers keep publishing them.

I have grown to love reading. I would rather read in my spare time than do pretty much anything else. I usually read with a pen in hand so that I can comment on pages, underline things that I want to go back and record for future use, or make notes that will help me to remember what I have read. It is still taking time for me to get over my contempt for writing in books. However, thanks to Lit! by Tony Reinke, I am learning to get over it. Although, I still have a deep conviction that pages in books should never be dog eared! This one I will never get over.

I can only hope that my children will one acquire this love for books that I have grown into through the years. I have tried to surround them with books. We read together before naps and bedtime. One day I look forward to reading The Chronicles of Narnia or the Lord of the Rings trilogy with them. But until then, The Poky Little Puppy will have to do. Knox has begun to enjoy this Bible before bedtime. Reading this is always one of the highlights of my day.

I have a bad habit of leaving any book that I am reading on the coffee table in our living room. I also usually leave the pen with it. My son, Knox, is just the right height to reach the pen and the book. Recently, I have begun to notice that in all the books that I am reading, all kinds of great artwork is beginning to appear. The haphazard lines look to be drawn by tiny little hands and fingers that lack fine motor skills.

The first time this happened, I was tempted to get mad. I could not figure out why anyone would scribble such wild and insanely unintelligible things inside a good book. Then I realized that Knox was two years old. This seemed to be a satisfactory explanation. But as I began to think again on why he would do such a thing, it hit me that he was only doing what he had seen me do time and time again. I have spent countless evenings laying with him in his bed as he drifts of to sleep. A lot of these nights I grab a book and a pen. He falls asleep with the lights on, while I work my way through various texts. He watches me as I underline and make notes in the margin. All those times that I thought he was drifting off to sleep, he was watching. All those times I thought I was simply killing two birds with one stone (putting a child to sleep and getting some reading done) I was really teaching him about something that was important to me.

So, when my mom was keeping him and informed me that he was writing in my books, I could not get mad at him or scold him. I had to tell my mom that he was only doing what he had seen me do multiple times.

Children are fast learners. Early in their lives and throughout their childhood, they will learn what is important to their parents. Because of this it is crucial that parents model things for their children that are important. I am thankful that my parents did this for me. My childhood wasn’t perfect, but I learned many things from my parents that I did not even realize that I was learning. I learned that family was important. I learned that church was important. I learned that the Bible was important. They would probably tell you that they would have done many things differently in raising my brothers and me, but I am thankful that God used them to teach me about who He is.

I can only hope and pray that the Lord is as gracious to my two children as he has been to me. I pray that they would put their faith in Jesus Christ and follow after Him. I pray that their identity, their pleasure, and their hope would be found in Christ alone. I also realize that the Lord has given me the incredible task and amazing privilege to teach them about who he is.

I do not care if my children are the greatest athletes, smartest students, or talented musicians. My strongest desire for them is that they are lovers of Jesus Christ.

Parents, if you say with your mouth that loving God and being a part of a church is important, but you spend a majority of your Sundays during the year on a field or in a gymnasium somewhere, your children will learn what is important. When the field or the gymnasium is out of their lives, it’s a pretty good bet that the God you talked about and the church you occasionally attended will not be much of a priority. We cannot only try to teach with our mouths, we must also teach with our actions.

Your children are learning from you. What are you teaching them?

Some good resources:
1. “5 Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Church”

2. Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley

3. “The Duties of Parents” by JC Ryle –

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