Archive for the ‘Discipleship Lab’ Category

Praying for the next generation of pastors

I found the following excerpt from a longer prayer of Spurgeon’s called “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.” Note: the “College” he refers to was the in-house pastor’s training school which was also the focus of his well-known Lectures to My Students.

“Bless the dear sons of this church, trained at our own side, who go forth to preach the gospel: whether they be in the College, or whether they are preaching outside of it, let the blessing of the Lord be with every one of them.”

C. H. Spurgeon, The Pastor in Prayer (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth), 134-35.

Three New Books for Men

Father’s Day is fast approaching so I’m always looking for books that rise above the surface of the typical fare. Here are three that grabbed my attention:

Men of the Word: Insights for Life from Men Who Walked with God edited by Nathan Busenitz. I was really excited to receive this book from the publisher. Many character studies of biblical men are often nothing more than launching pads for all types of moral eisegesis but this is not the case with Men of the Word. Each chapter focuses on a key individual from Scripture with God-centered exhortations focused on the theme of “real men” (e.g., Real Men Find Satisfaction in God: Lessons from the Life of Solomon by Rick Holland). Every chapter is written by a different pastor from the staff of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA with a forward by John MacArthur who is the long-time preaching pastor at GCC. There is also two helpful appendices. The first by Bill Shannon is entitled “Real Men Pursue Purity” which is a succinct and helpful guide to helping men fight the battle of sexual purity. I am already using this appendix as a hand-out for men in my church. The second appendix is an excellent study guide useful for personal study or small groups. It is this resource that makes this book ideal as a discipling tool for men in the local church. There is also a biblical reference guide at the end which could be used as a Scripture memory aid for personal or group studies. I highly recommend this book to any pastor, teacher, or man who wants to be challenged to grow as a man of God and be useful in the Lord’s mission.

A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson and Dan Dumas. This is a short, pithy, yet powerful little book. I received it yesterday but was able to read it in an evening, which may be good news for men in your congregation that are not motivated readers or who struggle with large tomes (109 half-cut pages). A Guide is presented in a style similar to that of the old “survival manuals” (see here) which visually caught my attention with clever illustrations and arrangement of section materials. There are three main categories addressed by Dumas and Stinson: a godly husband, a godly father, and a godly leader. The material is brief yet theologically sound and immensely practical.  This is a great little resource to put into the hands of your church’s men or “future men.” Highly recommended.

Pujols: More Than A Game** by Scott Lamb and Tim Ellsworth. The best player in the game of baseball is not wearing Yankee pinstripes nor, as it pains this life-long Braves fan to admit, is he playing in Atlanta. Albert Pujols is by any objective standard the best player in the game today. It’s also apparent that a case can be made for his being the greatest player ever. He has in some ways quietly achieved things that Ruth, Aaron, and Williams never accomplished (let’s not even mention a certain player recently on trial in the Bay Area). In an age where sports are riddled with cheating, doping, sexual misconduct, and giant egos . . . in walks a man who says, “I don’t play for people. I don’t live for people. I live to represent Jesus Christ” (pg. 228). The authors do an excellent job at getting beneath the surface of this towering figure and the result is that Pujols is the real deal. They ask the hard questions about steroids, scandals, and the demanding home life of a modern baseball player. Baseball fan or not, any sports fan will enjoy this well-researched and insightful biography. Well done and highly recommended.

[**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”]

In defense of “celebrity bible teachers” (some of them anyways)

One of the common targets conservative bloggers and pastors like to take aim at are those quote on quote, “celebrity bible teachers”.  I’ve always argued that “celebrity” is probably not the best word to use when describing these giants of the faith (men like Piper, Mohler, MacArthur, Sproul, Carson, etc).  If you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles or New York City you know how “real” celebrities are worshiped and followed.  Have you ever watched a movie premier before?  The last time I checked out the magazine rack at the grocery store the tabloids had zero interest in following around R.C. Sproul or John Piper.  The only time a pastor finds himself in a large magazine is when he does a Ted Haggard or if he makes the masses feel good about themselves like Joel Osteen does.

The conservative Christian community may take a larger interest in what certain well-known and well-respected bible teachers have to say but that is often because they’re uniquely gifted communicators and are top notch students of the Word.  For example, when Al Mohler writes a commentary piece on his blog it normally expresses my own personal convictions on the topic, only he says it in a much more memorable way.  Praise God for the way He’s chosen to gift various persons in His church.  I am grateful God has determined to bless certain men of God with larger platforms that they might preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified to even more people.  If it is ultimately about making mature disciples and advancing the kingdom of God shouldn’t we all rejoice in such developments?

Something tells me during the days of the early church that children raised in Christian homes looked up to their own heroes of the faith (Abraham, Moses, David, Hebrews 11); and I imagine Titus and Timothy viewed the apostle Paul the same way I view my spiritual mentors in the faith.  Any Christian who is worthy of the name “hero of the faith” possesses the same heart attitude as Paul in Philippians 3:17, Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. 1 Corinthians 11:1, Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Obviously some people divide themselves into divisive Christian cliques (“I’m of Paul, I’m of Peter, I’m of Barnabas”) but that is not the fault of those godly men.  Still others stop attending church altogether because they sit at home on Sundays and listen to their own “personal pastor”.  Those persons are immature and are outside of the will of God.   I’ve heard all the celebrity pastors mentioned above say just that.  “We’re not your pastor!  God’s will for your life is that you plug into a local church and that you submit yourself under the leadership of those godly men.  We too are men of clay, sinners saved by grace, worship Christ alone, etc, etc.”

Some people attack celebrity bible teachers because they assume that to be popular by default indicates compromise.  Others believe that to be popular is to be proud and I could go on and on.  The fact that Pastor Steve Lawson is willing to come to a little town in Illinois to minister to my congregation says the exact opposite thing.  The fact that John Piper recently spent time ministering to a group of prisoners in Africa says the exact opposite thing.  Need I provide more examples?  As far as we know these humble servants of the Lord are working out their salvation with fear and trembling.  We love these “jars of clay” because they help us understand the truth better.  We imitate their examples because they themselves are running hard after Christ.

Discipleship Lab (Winter Olympic Version)

Part of our constant grooming as pastors is to develop the gene of the “generalist.” Reading and observing widely is a skill set we all need to hone. The Discipleship Lab series will be devoted to the crumbs that fell to the floor while scouring essays, resources, lectures, and conversations. Enjoy!

  • A day in the life of a jihadist, what do they eat for breakfast? (here)
  • Vincent Van Gogh wasn’t that crazy (here)
  • King Jong “license to” il is nuttier than you originally thought (here)
  • Zinsser addresses “What is Good Writing?” (here)
  • Frontline reports that we are a digital nation. Like duh IMO! (here)
  • That “Chernyshevsky of individualism,” Ayn Rand, continues to be deconstructed (here)
  • Are too many students going to college? (here)
  • Pop Mechanics shows how to fall 35,000 feet….and survive! (here)
  • Walter Frederick Morrison died at 90, if you ever caught a Frisbee behind your back, you can thank him (here)
  • Guess who said, “I’d buy a Mac, if I didn’t work at MS”? (here)
  • Learn how to tie a bow tie (here)

Discipleship Lab (hazy shade of winter version)

Part of our constant grooming as pastors is to develop the gene of the “generalist.” Reading and observing widely is a skill set we all need to hone. The Discipleship Lab series will be devoted to the crumbs that fell to the floor while scouring essays, resources, lectures, and conversations. Enjoy!

  • Harvard Business Review shows that having talent is not the same as being an expert (here)
  • Is the God of the Missional Gospel Too Small? (here)
  • What Makes a Great Teacher? (here)
  • Garry Kasparov on “The Chess Master and the Computer” (here)
  • Foreign Policy Mag thinks Haiti is the “unluckiest” country in the world (here)
  • “Daddy, what were local bookstores like?” (here)
  • Is Avatar propaganda for pantheism? (here)
  • Christopher Hitchens remembers J. D. Salinger (here)
  • Why Salinger probably has 15 unpublished novels and why the world will probably never see them (here)
  • It’s not just Eddie Rabbit who loves a rainy night (here).

Discipleship Lab (the never ending version)

Part of our constant grooming as pastors is to develop the gene of the “generalist.” Reading and observing widely is a skill set we all need to hone. The Discipleship Lab series will be devoted to the crumbs that fell to the floor while scouring essays, resources, lectures, and conversations. Enjoy!

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