Full Circle

I had blogged on June 21 about a lesson that I was learning. It came full circle this week, as the man I had written about has trusted Christ as his Savior. We've had good discussions about the Gospel, justification by faith compared to his previous catholic checklist system, and other biblical themes. He's been devouring Romans (with some help from Douglas Moo's excellent Encountering the Book of Romans . I actually shared with him yesterday what God had taught me about trusting in Him through the last month in regard to this issue.

I had a great time preaching through Romans 9 last week. It is a hard chapter, and the fact that we are an independent (non-denominational) church means that we have no "party line" in the area of Reformed theology. Some agree, some disagree, hopefully all found themselves appreciative of God's immeasurable goodness to us in Christ.

I had linked to a couple of sites a few months ago that provided good quality, free pictures for use in Powerpoint. Here's another one that I found. I thought it was pretty impressive and seems to have a good store of photos.

I finished what I felt was a helpful series on The Da Vinci code challenges. While the impact of the movie was overhyped, I was glad for the opportunity to discuss some theology and church history with our adults.

Among the many superb giveaways at the Together for the Gospel conference was a DVD by John Piper on William Tyndale. Available for $7, this 80 minute lecture was superb. We showed it over two weeks to our adults in Sunday School to a good response. In the last 9 months I've tried to expose our people to some significant areas of church history (a series on the Reformation themes, etc.) and as one older saint told me, "We've never heard some of this before." That is both tragic and encouraging! I'd highly recommend the DVD. The printed copy of the lecture (apparently abridged in some ways) is available free.

A Minister's Preaching

From The Valley of Vision, Banner of Truth, page 191:

A Minister’s Preaching

My Master God,
I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertaining to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached.
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.

I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

A Minister's Prayer

I read this yesterday in The Valley of Vision, published by the Banner of Truth Trust. I hope it will encourage you.

A Minister’s Prayer

O my Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word.
that seed sown in weakness may be raised in power;
Cause me and those that hear me
to behold thee here in the light of special faith,
and hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;
Make every sermon a means of grace to myself,
and help me to experience the power of thy dying love,
for thy blood is balm,
thy presence bliss,
thy smile heaven,
thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragement of my ministry
and keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my man sins, omissions, infirmities,
as a man, as a minister;
Command thy blessing on my weak, unworthy labors,
and on the message of salvation given;
Stay with thy people,
and may thy presence be their portion and mine.
When I preach to others, let not my words be merely elegant and
my reasoning polished and refined,
my performance powerless and tasteless,
but may I exalt thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
all hearts are in thy hands, all events at thy disposal,
set the seal of thy almighty will upon my ministry.