Today's Word for Pastors...
Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
Today's Preaching Insight...
Preaching Christ Crucified and Risen
In an article in the Sept-Oct 2007 issue of Preaching, British pastor David Jackman writes, "Luke tells us that when Paul arrived in Athens, "he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and devout persons, and in the market-place every day with those who happened to be there" (Acts 17:17). As contemporary pastors, we should rightly be concerned to stand firm in the only apostolic succession which has validity -- that of proclaiming the same gospel of Christ, crucified and risen.
We know that the whole counsel of God needs to be taught within our equivalent of the synagogue, the local Christian congregations, planted around the world. But it also needs to be argued in the forum and in the specialist contexts such as the Areopagus, in all the public debates of our culture. However, we have to acknowledge that most of us pastors are more skilled, experienced and comfortable in the congregation, so that the forum is rarely addressed effectively and is more often ignored, although with disastrous consequences. More than one observer has pointed out that most contemporary Christian preachers are happier in the role of the scribe than that of the prophet.
Even when we embrace the prophetic role in preaching, we tend to have stereotypical and somewhat simplistic views about the prophetic methodology. Typically, the prophet is seen as a purveyor of doom and gloom about the future, and not without some reason, since the message of impending judgment is central to much of the Old Testament prophets' ministry to Israel and Judah. But they are also great encouragers to those same people, about the covenant blessings which will accompany repentance, faith and obedience, and which a gracious, covenant Lord waits to pour out on a responsive people.
The common content to both strands of their message is that the prophets have been given divine insight into the future and so they are seeking to persuade God's people to act now, in the light of what God has declared he will do. Present behavior will condition future experience, and so whether it is by warning or incentive, the prophet's task is to persuade his hearers to act wisely here and now. But if they are going to do that, they will need to be convinced of the truth of what is prophesied and so be motivated to respond to the prophet's call."
St. Augustine, the early church father and theologian, described prayer as like a man in a hapless boat who throws a rope at a rock. The rock provides the needed security and stability and life for the helpless man. When the rock is lassoed it's not the man pulling the rock to the boat (though it may appear that way); it is the pulling of the boat to the rock. Jesus is the rock, and we throw the rope through prayer.
Prayer is the lifeline that saves the drowning soul. Prayer is the umbilical cord that provides nourishment to the starving spirit. Prayer is the channel by which God's life-giving presence flows to us. (Rick Ezell, "One-Minute Uplift" newsletter)
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