0 Blog Post

As an expositor, one must assess both the culture and the congregation in order to determine whether or not to engage certain concerns that arise. Clarity in this matter is essential. How does the preacher gain clarity in his assessment? Let’s consider these nine questions, which will serve as indicators for the expositor—helping him discern the extent of the concern and whether or not it should impact his upcoming sermon: Read more

Culture Expository Preaching Preaching
0 Blog Post

I am glad that you are here with me,’ said Frodo. ‘Here at the end of all things, Sam.’”[1] I never expected to get an ecclesiology and eschatology lesson from the concluding chapters of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, but I did. The hero and his faithful companion, comprising the remnant of a fellowship that set out on a journey to destroy evil and see the return of their king, lay exhausted and helpless, surrounded by an erupting mountain of volcanic proportions with no cause for hope of rescue. Read more

SBC Southern Baptist Convention
12314386

latest podcast episodes

Podcast Episode

Episode #19: On Pastoring

This week on Preaching and Preachers, H. B. Charles Jr. joins me in a discussion on his new book titled On Pastoring. H. B. is the senior pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Listen Now ›
Podcast Episode

Episode #18: Family Worship

This week on Preaching and Preachers, Dr. Don Whitney joins me in a discussion on Family Worship.

Listen Now ›

more posts

Blog Post

How Expository Preaching Should Engage Cultural Concerns (Part I)

In John Stott’s classic Between Two Worlds, he depicted the preacher as a man positioned between two civilizations—tasked to bridge the ancient world with the modern one, and the ancient text with modern hearers. Stott argued that the preacher is a bridge, and if he is to be effective, he must be firmly grounded on both sides of the canyon. The preacher must be a careful student of both worlds; exegeting both his text and his times. Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “Who Are Southern Baptists? Toward an Intergenerational Identity” by David S. Dockery

From 2005 until now, Southern Baptists have wrestled with changes brought about by a new generation. This generation could be characterized as moving toward recovery or the reenvisioning of the denomination. Certainly there have been ongoing controversies over the last decade: Landmarkism, the doctrine of Scripture, the meaning of the gospel, rural versus urban, styles of worship and ministry an educated ministry versus the role of the bivocational pastor. Read more

Blog Post

Where Have all the Godly Men Gone?

Where have all the godly men gone? These days I ponder that question with increased frequency and concern. If the lack of godly men were only a matter of personality or ministerial preference, then little would be lost. Such is not the case, though. The church is in great need of awakening and renewal; and, in the spirit of Richard Baxter, its greatest need might well be godly men. Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “Every Kindred, Tongue, and Tribe? Ethnic Diversity in the SBC” by Daniel Akin and Walter Strickland II

From its inception the Southern Baptist Convention has been a missionary people that began to cooperate in an effort to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like many other strengths, our passionate pursuit of the Great Commission is accompanied by unintended consequences that could hinder genuine gospel partnerships from developing. Read more

Blog Post

Four Reasons to Pray for Your Pastor Daily

As a pastor, few things warmed my heart more than church members telling me they prayed for me daily. Their simple act of prayer both encouraged and reassured me. It encouraged me to know they were standing in the gap for me spiritually, and it reassured me to know they loved my family, the church, and me enough to do so. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “After That Ye Have Suffered Awhile” by C. H. Spurgeon

You have seen the arch of heaven as it spans the plain: glorious are its colours, and rare its hues. It is beautiful, but, alas, it passes away, and lo, it is not. The fair colours give way to the fleecy clouds, and the sky is no longer brilliant with the tints of heaven. It is not established. How can it be? A glorious show made up of transitory sun-beams and passing rain-drops, how can it abide? Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “The North American Mission Board in the Twenty-First Century” by Kevin Ezell

My daughter and son-in-law, Anna and David, just moved to Asia as missionaries. They are going to be teaching English to Asian students in a university setting as a platform for sharing the gospel. I am excited about God’s call on their lives, but I have mixed feelings about their living in Asia. For years I have preached about missions and have helped mobilize hundreds of people to be on mission. Now that my own daughter is the missionary, it is a whole new reality for me. Read more

Blog Post

Living in Light of Jesus’ Return

“There are two days in my calendar: this day and that day,” quipped Martin Luther in reference to Christ’s second coming. We have come a long way since Luther’s statement, with most believers erring dramatically in one of two directions. Second coming sensationalists are the most egregious, and widely lamented, offenders. They predict the timing of Jesus’ return; but, of course, they do so in vain. Jesus stated no man knows the day or hour of his return. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “And God Divided the Light From the Darkness” by C. H. Spurgeon

A believer has two principles at work within him. In his natural estate he was subject to one principle only, which was darkness; now light has entered, and the two principles disagree. Mark the apostle Paul’s words in the seventh chapter of Romans: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members.” How is this state of things occasioned? Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “The Future of the IMB and Our Collaborative Great Commission Work” by David Platt

As the IMB purposes to exalt Christ among the nations, we must subsequently work to mobilize Christians for the nations. With more than 2.8 billion people in the world who still lack access to the gospel, the IMB cannot settle for anything less than aggressive calls for all Christians to pray passionately, give sacrificially, and go intentionally for the glory of Christ among all peoples. Read more

Blog Post

Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching

Faithful preaching has three primary ingredients. Creativity and homiletical polish are helpful, but the key ingredients of faithful preaching are preset and established by God. The three ingredients touch on who is qualified to preach, why one should preach, and what one should preach. Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “By the Numbers: What SBC Demographics Tell Us About Our Past, Present, and Future” by Thom S. Rainer

Southern Baptists, perhaps more than most denominations, have touted their convictions about the importance of evangelism. We rightly call ourselves a Great Commission denomination. For certain, the International Mission Board is the major international mission agency in the world. Even with the recent financial challenges of the IMB, the mission efforts of Southern Baptists have few peers. Read more

Blog Post

Him We Proclaim: Heeding Spurgeon’s Call to Preach Jesus from the Entire Bible

On March 13, 1859, the preeminent preacher of Victorian England, Charles Spurgeon, delivered one of his most memorable sermons, “Christ Precious to Believers,” to a congregation of over 10,000. The congregation, having long since proven too large for Spurgeon’s New Park Street Church now filled London’s largest indoor auditorium, the Music Hall of the Royal Surrey Gardens. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth” by C. H. Spurgeon

Sanctification begins in regeneration. The Spirit of God infuses into man that new living principle by which he becomes “a new creature” in Christ Jesus. This work, which begins in the new birth, is carried on in two ways–mortification, whereby the lusts of the flesh are subdued and kept under; and vivification, by which the life which God has put within us is made to be a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: “Southern Baptists in the 21st Century” by Russell Moore

Novelist William Faulkner once famously told students at the University of Virginia that the southern evangelicals so prevalent in his Bible-Belt ecosystem were not religious. Surprised, the students asked, “If they’re not religious, then what are they?” Faulkner replied, “Well, they’re Southern Baptist.” What the great man of letters meant was that, in his view, to be a Southern 195 Baptist was a matter of cultural orientation, not a matter of a set of theological precepts or ethical practices or even political stances. For him Southern Baptist identity wasn’t primarily about believer’s baptism or local church congregationalism or the priesthood of all beliers or religious liberty. It wasn’t even about God or Jesus or the Bible. It was primarily about an “emotional condition” that was inseparable from the experience of life in the poor and rural American South. To be a Southern Baptist wasn’t, he argued, to identify with a particular intellectual or liturgical condition but rather to simply be a type of person born in a particular place in a particular time. Read more

Blog Post

Don’t Waste Your Vacation: Nine Ways to Optimize Time Away

Vacation, as a planned and protracted leisurely excursion, is a relatively modern invention. Middle class furloughs to the beach, weeks at theme parks, and recurring holiday getaways all would be unfamiliar to the premodern family.

Yet, seasons of rest and recreation are a pattern as old as the Bible itself, and if we are going to vacation, we might as well optimize it. To this end, over the years I have intentionally incorporated a few objectives. Admittedly, they have been more intuitive than scripted, but I deliberately vacation—especially during the summer—with these nine intentions in mind. Perhaps they will help you as well. Read more

Blog Post

Guest Post: Southern Baptists and the Quest for Theological Identity, by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Our commitment to regenerate church membership, the baptism of believers only, and our understanding of the nature of the church gives Baptists a unique voice in the face of disappearing cultural Christianity. I honestly believe that in coming years evangelicals will increasingly look to Southern Baptists due to the ecclesiological crises created by the collapse of cultural Christianity. The coming generation will urgently need the wisdom and biblical conviction of Baptists on these issues.

But Baptists will only be prepared for this challenge if we retain our theological integrity and remain faithful to our doctrinal convictions. To that end I will conclude this chapter by posing ten questions for consideration as we reflect on the future of Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist identity in the twenty-first century. Read more

Blog Post

17 Reflections on 17 Years of Marriage

This past Sunday, June 26, 2016, Karen and I celebrated 17 years of marriage. Our time together has been glorious, with God growing us together more and more with each passing year. Together, we recently reflected on God’s goodness to us and compiled this list of 17 reflections. Some are observations; others are exhortations; but all are reflections on what we’ve experienced and are learning together. Perhaps you’ll find them instructive and encouraging as well. Read more

Uncategorized

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Who Giveth Us Richly All Things” by C. H. Spurgeon

Our Lord Jesus is ever giving, and does not for a solitary instant withdraw his hand. As long as there is a vessel of grace not yet full to the brim, the oil shall not be stayed. He is a sun ever-shining; he is manna always falling round the camp; he is a rock in the desert, ever sending out streams of life from his smitten side; the rain of his grace is always dropping; the river of his bounty is ever-flowing, and the well-spring of his love is constantly overflowing. Read more

Uncategorized

SBC Theological Education and the 21st Century: Ten Declarations for the Future

General Dwight Eisenhower once mused that when it comes to warfare the plan is nothing but planning is everything. That aphorism brushes up against a reality for seminaries as well: the less predictable the future of theological education is, the more we must work to predict it. Or, better yet, the more we must work to determine it. Keeping these ten determinations will help ensure a healthy future for Southern Baptist theological education. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: “God, Gender, and the Gospel”

Last week, Southern Baptist from across America met in St. Louis for our annual convention. In what turned out to be a historic convention, I was privileged to hold a panel discussion with Dr. Owen Strachan on “God, Gender, and the Gospel.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “I Am With You Always” by C. H. Spurgeon

It is well there is One who is ever the same, and who is ever with us. It is well there is one stable rock amidst the billows of the sea of life. O my soul, set not thine affections upon rusting, moth-eaten, decaying treasures, but set thine heart upon him who abides forever faithful to thee. Build not thine house upon the moving quicksands of a deceitful world, but found thy hopes upon this rock, which, amid descending rain and roaring floods, shall stand immovably secure. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “We Love Him Because He First Loved Us” by C. H. Spurgeon

There is no light in the planet but that which proceedeth from the sun; and there is no true love to Jesus in the heart but that which cometh from the Lord Jesus himself. From this overflowing fountain of the infinite love of God, all our love to God must spring. This must ever be a great and certain truth, that we love him for no other reason than because he first loved us. Our love to him is the fair offspring of his love to us. Cold admiration, when studying the works of God, anyone may have, but the warmth of love can only be kindled in the heart by God’s Spirit. Read more

Blog Post

Two Prayers for the SBC: Confessional Recommitment and Cooperative Renewal

As Southern Baptists gather next week in St. Louis for our annual convention, I pray these dual strengths might once again be celebrated and renewed. Annually, we have occasion to recommit ourselves to a full-throated confessional, witness and to renew our cooperative work. As we do, we will enjoy healthier churches, an increasingly robust and global gospel witness, and a unified, well-funded and vibrant denomination. Read more

Blog Post

A Never-Changing Witness in an Ever-Changing World: The Enduring Southern Baptist Mandate

The Southern Baptist Convention boasts more than 15 million members in nearly 50,000 churches. In the Deep South, the numbers are even more impressive. In fact, one in four Alabamians identify themselves as a Southern Baptist.

Yet, all is not well within the Southern Baptist Zion. Nearly 50 years ago, Dean Kelley’s insightful, Why Conservative Churches Are Growing, documented the correlation between a denomination’s acceptance of liberal theology and the numerical decline that always followed. Kelley’s argument was clear enough—if a church does not believe in the full truthfulness of Scripture, the exclusivity of the gospel, and the eternal realities of heaven and hell, it feels no urgency to evangelize. Therefore, denominational decline always follows doctrinal compromise. Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Blessed Be God” by C. H. Spurgeon

In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them. There may be some who think their prayers worthy of acceptance–as the Pharisee did; but the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps he would desire to pray more earnestly Read more

Uncategorized

How to Balance Ministry and Family

In the mid-twentieth century—during the heyday of programmatic and event-driven ministry—churches prioritized pastoral presence. In many churches the pastor was expected to be virtually omnipresent. The dutiful parson was always roaming hospitals, making house calls to church prospects, and presiding over every church function. In addition to limiting his time for sermon preparation, it often compromised his ability to lead his family.

In other words, the pendulum needed to swing the other way, and, thankfully, in most contexts it has. Yet, at times I fear the pendulum has swung too far the other direction. We must protect our families, but we need not sequester them. Balance is hard to find, but perhaps these five principles will help. Read more

Blog Post

Pastors: Preach, Don’t Rant

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. Too often God’s people are subjected to the latter, but it is the former they truly need. This distinction struck me several years ago, while co-preaching a conference with several other pastors.

I sensed we were in for a rant when one of the speakers declined a microphone, assuring the sound-booth attendant he would be sufficiently loud without it. When his moment to preach came, he did not disappoint. I was as amazed at his volume as I was disturbed by his handling of the text.

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. What differentiates the two? Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Great Multitudes Followed Him” by C. H. Spurgeon

What a mass of hideous sickness must have thrust itself under the eye of Jesus! Yet we read not that he was disgusted, but patiently waited on every case. What a singular variety of evils must have met at his feet! What sickening ulcers and putrefying sores! Yet he was ready for every new shape of the monster evil, and was victor over it in every form. Let the arrow fly from what quarter it might, he quenched its fiery power. The heat of fever, or the cold of dropsy; the lethargy of palsy, or the rage of madness; the filth of leprosy, or the darkness of ophthalmia–all knew the power of his word, and fled at his command. In every corner of the field he was triumphant over evil, and received the homage of delivered captives. Read more

Video

Spring Commencement 2016: Finish Well

Last week, Midwestern Seminary had our 2016 commencement ceremony. For my portion of the service, I urged our graduates to “finish well.” In a time when ministry is hard, and many who enter ministry will retire doing something else, it is vital for our graduates to run the race with endurance, fight the good fight, and finish well. Read more

Blog Post

Eight Tips for Veteran Preachers

This past week, I reflected on the first sermon I ever preached and suggested eight tips for the beginning preacher. I wish someone had given me those eight tips years ago—my beginner sermons would have gone infinitely better.

That first sermon was nearly 20 years ago. Now, I find myself at a different stage of life and ministry, with a different set of concerns and observations. Today, as a more veteran preacher, I keep these eight tips in the back of my mind: Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Being Born Again” by C. H. Spurgeon

Peter most earnestly exhorted the scattered saints to love each other “with a pure heart fervently” and he wisely fetched his argument, not from the law, from nature, or from philosophy, but from that high and divine nature which God hath implanted in his people. Just as some judicious tutor of princes might labour to beget and foster in them a kingly spirit and dignified behaviour, finding arguments in their position and descent, so, looking upon God’s people as heirs of glory, princes of the blood royal, descendants of the King of kings, earth’s truest and oldest aristocracy, Peter saith to them, “See that ye love one another, because of your noble birth, being born of incorruptible seed; because of your pedigree, being descended from God, the Creator of all things; and because of your immortal destiny, for you shall never pass away, though the glory of the flesh shall fade, and even its existence shall cease.” Read more

Blog Post

Eight Tips for Beginning Preachers

In hindsight, my first sermon was an absolute train wreck. Even now, I pray it was not recorded and that it does not someday surface in my life. My feeble attempt to preach was earnest, but the finished product was no doubt laughable.

Looking back, there are a few tips I wish I had been given as a beginning preacher. Let me share eight of them with you: Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “These All Died In Faith” by C. H. Spurgeon

Behold the epitaph of all those blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent means; this one point, in which they all agree, is the most worthy of record, “they all died in faith.” In faith they lived–it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet strain in which they had so long continued. Read more

Blog Post

Seven Theological Issues Confronting the Local Church

In every era, Christians are called “to contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”[1] Some struggles recur in every generation. Battles such as the veracity of Scripture or the person and work of Christ are perennial ones. The church, again and again, has to articulate and defend these doctrines.

Yet, the church and truth enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The church is called to proclaim and practice the truth. After all, the Apostle Paul designates the church as “the pillar and support of the truth.”[2] Read more

Blog Post

Balancing Ministry and Family Time

How does a pastor most healthily balance ministerial service with family time? This tension is felt by all who serve the church, and resides just under the surface in many congregations. Sadly, many men leave the ministry due to erring one way or the other in what is often a delicate balance. Read more

Blog Post

Nine Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Seminary

This past week, we welcomed nearly 100 prospective students to Midwestern Seminary’s campus for spring Preview Day. Every semester, Preview Day encourages me as I get to interact with future students and sense who the Lord is calling to study here. This year’s spring Preview Day did not disappoint. I heard the stories, sensed the passion, and felt the conviction of another wave of students coming to Midwestern Seminary for theological education.

It was good for me to hear from them, but also for them to hear from me about what they can expect at Midwestern Seminary. One of life’s most important questions for those pursuing ministry preparation is which seminary to attend. One should not choose a seminary lightly. In fact, I would encourage anyone considering seminary not to move forward with their choice without having these questions satisfactorily answered: Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Fight the Lord’s Battles” by C. H. Spurgeon

The sacramental host of God’s elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift his sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. Read more

Blog Post

Revisiting Roman Catholicism: Roman Catholic Theology & Practice by Gregg Allison | Are We Together by R.C. Sproul

As we approach 2017 and the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, renewed attention will come to the Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism, and the issues that still divide us. Since my childhood in Mobile, Ala. (a city with a large RCC population), and my college years at a Jesuit institution, I have been intrigued by the Roman Catholic Church’s history and doctrine.

If one desires a more comprehensive understanding of Roman Catholicism, Greg Allison’s Roman Catholic Theology & Practice is the one to reach for. If one is reading, as an Evangelical, wanting to understand Protestantism and why one is not a Roman Catholic, R.C. Sproul’s Are We Together? will suffice. Read more

Blog Post

5 Keys to Cultivating Biblical Manhood in Your Church

Many churches are bereft of male leadership, and many congregations exist in a settled fog over what biblical manhood should look like. Pop evangelicalism has not offered much of a corrective. Even within the church, much of the teaching on manhood has sent us toward two different, unhelpful poles.

Where there is a lack of men—mature, godly men—the church will invariably suffer. The church in want of biblical, masculine service and leadership is an anemic church. Read more

Uncategorized

Preaching and Preachers: A New Podcast

Introducing a new podcast here on jasonkallen.com: “Preaching and Preachers. “Preaching and Preachers” is a podcast devoted to those who preach, and to the task of preaching itself. I have been having conversations with some of the worlds greatest preachers and scholars about this topic which is so important to the church. Please join me week to week as we converse about Preaching and Preachers. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “The Precious Blood of Christ” by C. H. Spurgeon

Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with him. Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it “cleanseth from all sin.” Read more

Blog Post

Review: “Thoughts for Young Men” by J.C. Ryle

Earlier this week, while speaking at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Conference in Louisville, Ky., I came across J.C. Ryle’s classic book, Thoughts for Young Men. When I saw it on the bookshelf, it was like bumping into an old friend, and it flooded my mind with memories of when I first encountered Ryle’s work nearly two decades ago. Read more

Blog Post

Recovering the Master of Divinity Degree

In the world of theological education, the Master of Divinity degree has long been the gold standard for ministry preparation, and its status is well deserved. In it, one finds the complete toolkit for ministry service: Greek and Hebrew, New Testament and Old Testament, theology, church history, preaching, pastoral care and counseling, evangelism, missions, and much, much more.

Yet, in many seminaries, the Master of Divinity degree has fallen on hard times. In recent years, shorter and less rigorous Master of Arts degrees have syphoned off students from the Master of Divinity degree. Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Mediation: “On Him They Laid The Cross” by C. H. Spurgeon

We see in Simon’s carrying the cross a picture of the work of the Church throughout all generations; she is the cross-bearer after Jesus. Mark then, Christian, Jesus does not suffer so as to exclude your suffering. He bears a cross, not that you may escape it, but that you may endure it. Christ exempts you from sin, but not from sorrow. Remember that, and expect to suffer. Read more

Blog Post

Review: “The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them” by Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock

Next week marks the biennial Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Ky. Thousands of ministers will gather in downtown Louisville for the event, and many of those will attend the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood preconference, The Beauty of Complementarity.

Completed just in time for the CBMW preconference, Owen Strachan and Gavin Peacock recently authored, The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them. I was pleased to provide an endorsement for the book, and even more pleased to see it released. Here is why: Read more

Blog Post

Do the Work of an Evangelist

Gospel ministers, myself included, tend to identify most readily with Paul’s exhortation to “preach the Word.” The Scriptural emphasis on preaching, and the romance of God’s call to preach, prompts most pastors to conceptualize themselves fundamentally as a preacher, and their most urgent responsibility, to preach.

While not minimizing the Apostle’s exhortation to preach the Word, a different one of Paul’s charges has held my attention most recently—“do the work of an evangelist.” Doing the work of an evangelist is a charge every pastor must hold fast, and every church must expect of its ministers. This is especially true in my own denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Meditation: “With His Stripes We are Healed” by C. H. Spurgeon

Pilate delivered our Lord to the lictors to be scourged. The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture. It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone. The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten. He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman lictors was probably the most severe of his flagellations. My soul, stand here and weep over his poor stricken body. Read more

Video

A Conversation with D. A. Carson

This week, Midwestern Seminary hosted its annual Sizemore Lectures, with D. A. Carson as the guest lecturer. After the first lecture, I had the privilege to discuss a wide range of topics with Dr. Carson. Read more

Blog Post

Seven Theological Issues Confronting the Church

In every era, Christians are called “to contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”[1] Some struggles recur in every generation. Battles such as the veracity of Scripture or the person and work of Christ are perennial ones. The church, again and again, has to articulate and defend these doctrines.

In the spirit of Luther, the church—and especially those who lead it—must continually ask itself, “where is the battle raging? Which truths are under assault? Against what attacks should Christians mobilize and engage?” When considered in this light, seven theological challenges surface for the church to confront. Read more

Blog Post

Review: “Why Trust the Bible?” by Greg Gilbert

Over the past several years, Greg Gilbert, in partnership with Crossway Books and 9Marks, has released a series of short, helpful books on topics related to the church and the Christian life. These books are small introductions to big topics, sure to be helpful for everyone who reads them.

Why Trust the Bible is Gilbert’s third installment in this series, well complementing his previous two, What is the Gospel? and Who is Jesus? Why Trust the Bible?, like his previous two books in this series, is imminently readable. Gilbert managed to pen a brief, attention-holding book, which engages scholarly concerns while managing to avoid twenty-dollar words. Read more

Blog Post

Identifying an Expository Sermon

What constitutes an expository sermon? Better yet, how might the preacher know if he has preached an expository sermon, and how might the congregation know if they’ve heard one? Much preaching gets crammed under the heading “expository preaching,” though it bears little resemblance to classical exposition.

A consensus definition of expository preaching proves stubbornly elusive, but there are three essential marks that are supported by Scripture and consistent within most classical definitions of the term. Consider how Alistair Begg, Haddon Robinson, and Bryan Chappel define expository preaching. Read more

Uncategorized

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Strong In Faith” by C. H. Spurgeon

Christian, take good care of thy faith; for recollect faith is the only way whereby thou canst obtain blessings. If we want blessings from God, nothing can fetch them down but faith. Prayer cannot draw down answers from God’s throne except it be the earnest prayer of the man who believes. Faith is the angelic messenger between the soul and the Lord Jesus in glory. Let that angel be withdrawn, we can neither send up prayer, nor receive the answers. Read more

Blog Post

Bibliology: What The Bible Is and Why It Matters

Recently, I found myself in front of a group of Christians fielding questions about the nature of Scripture—what the Bible is and why it matters. I was struck by how many of members of the crowd, though they believed and appreciated the Bible, really lacked sufficient grounding in the Holy Scriptures. They did not really grasp what the Bible is and why it matters. Do you?

While most Americans grant the Bible unique status, and most churchgoers think of it—to some degree—as a book from God, confessional evangelicals believe the Bible is much more than that. We believe it is God’s Word.

Exactly how should we think of the Bible? In what way is it unique? How should Christians view the Bible? Let us look at five ways that helpfully describe the nature of Scripture. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Abide In Me” by C. H. Spurgeon

Communion with Christ is a certain cure for every ill. Whether it be the wormwood of woe, or the cloying surfeit of earthly delight, close fellowship with the Lord Jesus will take bitterness from the one, and satiety from the other. Live near to Jesus, Christian, and it is a matter of secondary importance whether thou livest on the mountain of honour or in the valley of humiliation. Read more

Blog Post

Review: “Born This Way?” by J. Alan Branch

Over the past couple of decades, no facet of American society has experienced more upheaval than issues related to human sexuality. What was inconceivable less than a generation ago is now nearly complete in its social acceptance—the redefinition of marriage, gender and sexuality. For Christians, this is quintessentially calling good evil and evil good.

For most Christians, that question is a troubling. Confusion abounds, and the mounting cultural-pressure to accept the gay lifestyle makes the topic daunting. That is precisely why I am so thankful for Alan Branch’s new book, Born this Way? Branch serves as professor of Christian Ethics here at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and as a research fellow in Christian Ethics for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Read more

Blog Post

Revisiting the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (II)

Recently, Southern Baptist Convention president, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, invited me to address a gathering of Southern Baptist leaders on the topic: “The Baptist Faith & Message 2000, A Reflective View Historically and is there anything that Needs to be Addressed in It?” After giving a brief summary of our confessional history, I landed firmly against revising the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Below is the second installment of a two-part summary of my address. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: Drummond Lectures with Timothy and Christian George

This past week, Midwestern Seminary held its annual Louis A. Drummond Lectures on Evangelism. This year, Dr. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, lectured on the lives of William Carey and Willam Tyndall. After the first lecture, I hosted a panel discussion with Dr. George and his son, Dr. Christian George, who is a professor and curator of the Spurgeon Library here at MBTS. Read more

Blog Post

Revisiting the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 (I)

*Recently, Southern Baptist Convention president, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, invited me to address a gathering of Southern Baptist leaders on the topic: “The Baptist Faith & Message 2000, A Reflective View Historically and is there anything that Needs to be Addressed in It?” After giving a brief summary of our confessional history, I landed firmly against revising the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. Below is the first installation of a two-part summary of my address Read more

Uncategorized

Lord’s Day Meditation: “I Will Never Leave Thee” by C. H. Spurgeon

No promise is of private interpretation. Whatever God has said to any one saint, he has said to all. When he opens a well for one, it is that all may drink. When he openeth a granary-door to give out food, there may be some one starving man who is the occasion of its being opened, but all hungry saints may come and feed too. Whether he gave the word to Abraham or to Moses, matters not, O believer; he has given it to thee as one of the covenanted seed. Read more

Book Reviews

Review: “Baptists and the Bible” by L. Russ Bush and Tom J. Nettles

In every generation, there are some Christian books that become classics. Their topic is urgent, author compelling, and content enriching—if not profound. These book’s reception far outstrips every expectation, and its effects ripple throughout the church.

Due to its timeliness and topic, Baptists and the Bible made a unique and needed contribution to the church—especially in the context of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Read more

Blog Post

The One Passion Every Pastor Must Have

A good friend who’d completed his Ph.D. a few years before I completed mine gave me advice that was, in hindsight, absolutely essential. He told me, “Whatever you do, pick a topic to write your dissertation on that absolutely captivates you; that will animate you day in and day out until you complete your dissertation.”

That advice is good for those entering doctoral work, but it is even better for those contemplating ministry. Unless you have a singular, overarching passion that will pull you forward in ministry, it may be best not to pursue it. That passion must be for the gospel and the Great Commission. Read more

Uncategorized

Review: Seven Summits in Church History by Jason Duesing

As I’ve previously written, biographies are a constant part of my reading diet. I find biographies, especially of Christian leaders, uniquely encouraging and well worth prioritizing.

I so enjoyed reading Jason Duesing’s new book, Seven Summits in Church History. Duesing—who serves as provost and associate professor of historical theology here at Midwestern Seminary—knows how to set the stage as a biographer and let the story tell itself. Read more

Blog Post

The One Gift Every Pastor Must Have

For pastors, preaching and teaching God’s Word has a way of stripping us all bare; it exposes us and puts our gifting on public display. You can’t finesse your way through a sermon with polished appearance, warm people skills, or seminary credentials alone. In the moment of truth, your ability—or lack thereof—to teach and preach God’s Word reveals much about your calling.

This is the way it should be because the one called to the ministry is called to a ministry of the Word. God sets him apart to teach and preach His Word. This clarifying stipulation both challenges and reassures us. Those whom God has truly called; he has truly gifted for the task. Every pastor must be gifted to teach the Word; and every qualified pastor is. Read more

Book Reviews

Review: Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change

Recently I enjoyed preaching the Speak the Truth in Love Conference, hosted by Founders Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. The speakers engaged topics on gender, sexuality, marriage, and religious liberty. The conference speakers were strong, and the sessions most helpful.

While at the conference, I enjoyed visiting with my friend Denny Burk, and talking through his recent book, Transforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change. Our conversation prompted me to read Transforming Homosexuality, and I’d encourage you to do the same. Read more

Blog Post

Learning About Prayer On a Train-Ride to Nowhere

Recently I traveled by train from Kansas City to Jefferson City, Missouri to preach at the Legislative Prayer Service, marking the opening of Missouri’s Legislative Session. For some time I had been looking forward to traveling on the locomotive, anticipating a warm throwback to yesteryear. My trip fell short of a Humphrey Bogart movie, but I did enjoy traveling by rail.

Business was slow—real slow. So slow, in fact, the attendant spent all his time at an adjoining booth. He had books and magazines stacked and papers strewed. He looked as though he was settled in for what he hoped would be an uninterrupted afternoon of travel.

As I reflected on the Amtrak attendant’s pattern of service, I saw an analogy to how many Christians—myself included—often live the Christian life. Read more

Uncategorized

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Praying Always” by C. H. Spurgeon

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when he had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. Read more

Book Reviews

“A World Lit Only By Fire” by William Manchester

William Manchester stands as one of the 20th century’s most renowned authors and biographers. His enduring biographies on Winston Churchill, Douglas MacArthur, and John F. Kennedy are moving reads, and absolutely captivating from start to finish. But it is one of Manchester’s lesser-known works, A World Lit Only By Fire, that might be his most fascinating. Read more

Blog Post

Correcting an Overcorrection? On Balancing Ministry and Family Time

How does a pastor most healthily balance ministerial service with family time? This tension is felt by all who serve the church, and resides just under the surface in many congregations. Sadly, many men leave the ministry due to erring one way or the other in what is often a delicate balance.

We must protect our families, but we need not sequester them. Balance is hard to find, but perhaps these five principles will help. Read more

Book Reviews

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century by Christopher Catherwood

Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the greatest preachers of the twentieth century. He pastored the Westminster Chapel in the heart of London for nearly three decades. His pulpit radiated the truth around the world, making him one of the most influential ministers on the planet by the end of his ministry.

Iain Murray’s two-volume biography of Lloyd-Jones remains the gold-standard work on the Doctor. At nearly 1,300 pages, it is a massive treatise, meticulously documenting the great man’s life and ministry.

I worked through Murray’s two-volume biography years ago, but understand why some find it a bit intimidating. That is why I was glad to see Lloyd-Jones’ grandson, Christopher Catherwood, complement Murray’s biography with his new Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Reflection for the 21st Century. Read more

Blog Post

Brother Pastors: Let’s Preach, Not Rant

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. Too often God’s people are subjected to the latter, but it is the former they truly need. This distinction struck me several years ago, while co-preaching a conference with several other pastors.

I sensed we were in for a rant when one of the speakers declined a microphone, assuring the sound-booth attendant he would be sufficiently loud without it. When his moment to preach came, he did not disappoint. I was as amazed at his volume as I was disturbed by his handling of the text.

Pastors are called to preach sermons, not deliver rants. What differentiates the two? Read more

Blog Post

Lord’s Day Meditation: “I Have Exalted One Chosen Out of the People” by C. H. Spurgeon

Why was Christ chosen out of the people? Speak, my heart, for heart-thoughts are best. Was it not that he might be able to be our brother, in the blest tie of kindred blood? Oh, what relationship there is between Christ and the believer! The believer can say, “I have a Brother in heaven; I may be poor, but I have a Brother who is rich, and is a King, and will he suffer me to want while he is on his throne? Read more

Blog Post

What I Look for When Hiring Faculty

The primary job of a seminary president is recruiting and retaining the right faculty. Who you hire will determine the institution you lead and the type of graduates it will produce. This means I am always thinking about faculty.

A glut of Ph.D. graduates coupled with a dearth of open faculty positions means potential faculty members are not in short supply. The law of supply and demand teaches us this is a buyers’ market. I know this empirically, through the never-ending stream of reports on higher education I receive. I also know this experientially, receiving faculty applications and recommendations on a weekly—if not daily—basis.

Therefore, a seminary president can afford to be selective, and I am just that. Here is what I look for in interviewing new faculty members and evaluating current ones: Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “I Will Help Thee” by C. H. Spurgeon

This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. Read more

Blog Post

Three Motivations Parents Should Avoid

My wife and I approach our family with a profound sense of stewardship and intentionality. As parents, we are practitioners, but also observers, always seeking to learn and improve in order to be most faithful.

Over the past decade, I’ve witnessed in others—and, unfortunately, in myself—three parental motivations to avoid. Like weeds that force their way through the best-cultivated garden or thickest concrete, these motivations seem stubborn, always reappearing; resilient, always resurfacing.

In fact, if I could wish away three parental motives from my heart, and from others, it would be these: ambition, fear, and pride. Read more

Uncategorized

Four Marks of Corporate Worship

What should a church do during its time of corporate worship? Or, perhaps better asked, why do churches do what they do during worship? These questions are necessary enough, but ask them in the typical church and they will elicit puzzled looks and confused answers.

What a church is to practice during corporate worship is not a new consideration. In fact, it was a pressing concern in Reformation Europe, and its answer continues to shape the 21st century church. Read more

Blog Post

The Successful Seminary Student

In the days ahead, tens of thousands of seminarians will begin a new academic year in theological institutions across America. In the Southern Baptist Convention alone, we will see close to 20,000 students enrolled in one of our six seminaries this year.

For the student, a new year brings with it cause for optimism and excitement, but just because one attends seminary does not mean he will get much out of it. The wise student will optimize his seminary experience. Here are nine disciplines for the successful seminary student to master. Read more

Blog Post

Four Reasons for Pastors to Guard Their Hearts

Discouragement is not an emotion with which I am very familiar, but over the past several weeks I have felt it acutely. My sadness has been induced by the steady drip of ministerial sex scandals and the destruction they have wrought.

In fact, I have found myself not wanting to check social media, dreading to learn about the next scandal. Most prominently, the Ashley Madison expose has shaken church after church, ministry after ministry, and family after family. And, as Russell Moore has written, it is likely just the beginning.

Aspects of all of this are truly baffling, and we find ourselves asking, “How could he…?”. Yet, upon sober reflection, we are reminded of how dangerous our sin nature truly is; and that Total Depravity is not just a theological point, but a malignancy within each one of us. Therefore, we must intentionally guard our hearts, and one way of doing that is to meditate on the catastrophic ruin that accompanies sexual sin.
Read more

Blog Post

Four Reasons to Pray for Your Pastor Daily

As a pastor, few things warmed my heart more than church members telling me they prayed for me daily. Their simple act of prayer both encouraged and reassured me. It encouraged me to know they were standing in the gap for me spiritually, and it reassured me to know they loved my family, the church, and me enough to do so.

Now that I a member of a local church, God has been impressing upon my heart the importance of praying regularly for my pastors. They are men called by God to serve his flock, and they regularly bless my family and me. The least I can do is pray for them faithfully. There are many Biblical reasons why we should pray for our pastors, but let us consider just these four. Read more

Essay

Spurgeon and the Downgrade Controversy

As Christians, we are called to share our faith, but we are also called to keep it. Like the Apostle Paul, every believer should aspire to the epitaph, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

Perhaps no one in Baptist history better kept the faith than the illustrious Charles Spurgeon—especially as seen through the prism of the Downgrade Controversy.

I own the original six-page manuscript Spurgeon wrote that day in 1887. It is fascinating to review his words, penned in his hand, with his markings, alterations and emphases. It radiates the spirit of Paul and the urgency of keeping the faith. The first paragraph especially has taken on immortality: Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Base Things of the World Hath God Chosen” by C. H. Spurgeon

Walk the streets by moonlight, if you dare, and you will see sinners then. Watch when the night is dark, and the wind is howling, and the picklock is grating in the door, and you will see sinners then. Go to yon jail, and walk through the wards, and mark the men with heavy over-hanging brows, men whom you would not like to meet at night, and there are sinners there. Go to the Reformatories, and note those who have betrayed a rampant juvenile depravity, and you will see sinners there. Read more

Blog Post

Five Reasons Why I Enjoy Reading Biographies

“The history of the world is but the biography of great men,” argued Thomas Carlyle, the proponent of what has come to be known as the “Great Man Theory of History.” This theory suggests that the broader movements and contours of history all go back to the leadership of great individuals who exerted unique influence on their times. Whether or not Carlyle’s theory proves true is debatable, but that certain individuals cast long shadows is not.

As one who is entrusted with a leadership position, I find it profitable to read of others who have led. Wherever you find me, you will likely find a good biography nearby. Over breaks—like the Christmas holidays now upon us—I especially enjoy devouring biography or two. Why is this the case? Read more

Book Reviews

“The Supremacy of God in Preaching” Turns 25

While beginning to sense God’s call to ministry, in February of 1998 I joined a car full of college-age men aspiring to the ministry, and we traveled north from Mobile, AL, on Interstate 65 to attend the Conger Lectures on Preaching at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham.

Friends described that year’s lecturer as the “John MacArthur of the North.” I would soon get to hear him in person. His name was John Piper.

While at Beeson, I grabbed a copy of Piper’s, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. I devoured it, marking up every page. I’ve reread it every few years, and now, in the 25th year since its initial publication, it deserves renewed attention. Read more

Blog Post

How Do You Know if a Sermon is Expository?

What constitutes an expository sermon? Better yet, how might the preacher know if he has preached an expository sermon, and how might the congregation know if they’ve heard one? Much preaching gets crammed under the heading “expository preaching,” though it bears little resemblance to classical exposition.

A consensus definition of expository preaching proves stubbornly elusive, but there are three essential marks that are supported by Scripture and consistent within most classical definitions of the term. Consider how Alistair Begg, Haddon Robinson, and Bryan Chappel define expository preaching.
Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Thou Art From Everlasting” by C. H. Spurgeon

Christ is Everlasting. Of him we may sing with David, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Rejoice, believer, in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus always was. The Babe born in Bethlehem was united to the Word, which was in the beginning, by whom all things were made. The title by which Christ revealed himself to John in Patmos was, “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” Read more

On Books, Old and New

"Between Two Worlds" by John Stott

One book that merits an annual reread is John Stott’s Between Two Worlds. In this classic, Stott depicts the preacher as a man positioned between two civilizations—tasked to bridge both the ancient world to the modern world and the ancient text to modern hearers. Read more

Blog Post

Considering Year-End Contributions

The Christmas season is now upon us, which means year-end solicitations are upon us as well. I know this all too well. I am on the receiving end of scores of appeals, and, as president of Midwestern Seminary, I am on the requesting end also.

With so many pressing needs and viable ministries to which you can give, how should you discern which causes are most deserving of your financial support? How should you consider year-end giving in light of biblical principles of Christian stewardship? Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Thanksgiving Day Meditation: "The Lord Hath Done Great Things for Us, Whereof We Are Glad" by C. H. Spurgeon

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. Read more

Uncategorized

The Essential Marks of a Preacher

“How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). With airtight logic, the Apostle Paul sets forth the indispensable human link in fulfilling the Great Commission—the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In so doing, he instructs us in the way of the kingdom, that in every generation God is calling out preachers to serve His church.

Paul’s timeless question is especially relevant for the twenty-first-century church. Evangelical churches are in the midst of a massive generational transition, with vacant pastorates and empty pulpits dotting the landscape. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Thou Hast Pleaded the Causes of My Soul" by C. H. Spurgeon

Observe how positively the prophet speaks. He doth not say, “I hope, I trust, I sometimes think, that God hath pleaded the causes of my soul;” but he speaks of it as a matter of fact not to be disputed. “Thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul.” Let us, by the aid of the gracious Comforter, shake off those doubts and fears which so much mar our peace and comfort. Be this our prayer, that we may have done with the harsh croaking voice of surmise and suspicion, and may be able to speak with the clear, melodious voice of full assurance. Read more

Blog Post

Review: "God and Churchill" by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

Books on Sir Winston Churchill hit the shelf with such frequency that it is difficult to keep up with them all, even for Churchill devotees like myself. Yet, the new God & Churchill by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley caught my attention because of its title. Reading it did not disappoint.

I’ve long been intrigued by Churchill’s Christian worldview; how it shaped his leadership and the extent to which his Christianity was an experiential one. Other biographers have taken up the topic of Churchill’s Christianity as well. Read more

Blog Post

The Castle and the Wall: On Guarding Our Doctrine and Strengthening Our Cooperative Ministry

In Southern Baptist circles, this is the time of year for state convention meetings. In recent days, I have been with the Missouri, Iowa, and Texas state gatherings, and look forward to being with Alabama this week. These meetings have prompted me to reflect on our denominational efforts, and have reminded me of a memorable sermon from SBC history, which, oddly, speaks to our denominational moment. Read more

Blog Post

"Essentialism" by Greg McKeown

The word “no,” as I recently argued, may simultaneously be the most important word in the Christian’s lexicon, and the most difficult one to pronounce. Fear of man, a reluctance to disappoint, poor stewardship, or a thousand other reasons make it a word that too infrequently crosses many Christians’ lips.

To this end, I have found Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism most helpful. Though it is not written from a Christian worldview, or specifically for Christian leadership, it is eminently applicable.
Read more

Blog Post

Pronouncing the Word "No": The Most Important Lesson I Learned from Al Mohler

For me, pronouncing the word “no” did not come naturally. When pushed, I could spit it out, but I preferred to steer clear of it. I was equipped to say “no” over issues of doctrine, conviction, or morality, but I was much less capable of saying “no” over more subjective, less consequential issues—especially when asked by someone I knew and loved, like church members. Read more

Blog Post

Four Reasons Why You Should Pray for Your Pastor Daily

As a pastor, few things warmed my heart more than church members telling me they prayed for me daily. Their simple act of prayer both encouraged and reassured me. It encouraged me to know they were standing in the gap for me spiritually, and it reassured me to know they loved my family, the church, and me enough to do so.

Now that I a member of a local church, God has been impressing upon my heart the importance of praying regularly for my pastors. They are men called by God to serve his flock, and they regularly bless my family and me. The least I can do is pray for them faithfully. There are many Biblical reasons why we should pray for our pastors, but let us consider just these four. Read more

Blog Post

Did We in Our Own Strength Confide? Martin Luther and Our Everlasting Hope

For many Christians, October 31st brings with it each year something much more profound than trick-or-treat outings. We recognize the date first as Reformation Day, not Halloween, and it reminds us of the reformers, and all the gains made through the recovery of the gospel and the Word of God.

For me, the date also prompts grateful reflection on Martin Luther, and one of the most celebrated hymns of the Christian faith A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Drawing upon Psalm 46, Luther’s hymn buoys the spirit by reflecting on God’s unfailing providence, even in the midst of catastrophe and adversity. Luther’s hymn also serves as a reminder of the ongoing spiritual struggle between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of Christ. Read more

On Books, Old and New

Praying the Bible

Perhaps no spiritual discipline is more integral to Christian growth as prayer, yet no spiritual discipline may be as neglected. Prayer is oxygen for the Christian life. It is our spiritual lifeblood wherein we commune with God; but when asked, most Christians—including Christian leaders—acknowledge a shocking dearth of prayer.

In fact, many Christians admit to being adrift in their prayer lives—listing about from one dry, forced prayer time to the next, and living with the sense of guilt such prayerlessness breeds.

Don Whitney argues in Praying the Bible that a Christian’s main problem with prayer may be more methodological than spiritual. Whitney notes most Christians tend to pray about the same old things (health, ministry, job, future, crises, family, etc.) in the same old way. This is a rote formula, guaranteed to bore even the most fervent Christ follower. Read more

Blog Post

Five Words that Weaken Every Sermon

Preaching is God’s ordained method to convey his Word and build his church. As such, preaching is every pastor’s principle responsibility and every church’s primary need. Therefore, every pastor must preach, and preach well, every Lord’s day.

However, good sermons, like good meals, do not just happen. They are intentionally crafted by bringing together essential elements. In the case of preaching, one essential element is key words. Determining which words to add and which words to subtract is an indispensable component of sermon preparation. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Why Sleep Ye?" by C. H. Spurgeon

When is the Christian most liable to sleep? Is it not when his temporal circumstances are prosperous? Have you not found it so? When you had daily troubles to take to the throne of grace, were you not more wakeful than you are now? Easy roads make sleepy travellers. Another dangerous time is when all goes pleasantly in spiritual matters. Christian went not to sleep when lions were in the way, or when he was wading through the river, or when fighting with Apollyon, but when he had climbed half way up the Hill Difficulty, and came to a delightful arbour, he sat down, and forthwith fell asleep, to his great sorrow and loss. The enchanted ground is a place of balmy breezes, laden with fragrant odours and soft influences, all tending to lull pilgrims to sleep. Remember Bunyan’s description: “Then they came to an arbour, warm, and promising much refreshing to the weary pilgrims; for it was finely wrought above head, beautified with greens, and furnished with benches and settles. It had also in it a soft couch, where the weary might lean.” Read more

Blog Post

Five Words to Improve Every Sermon

Sermons are comprised of words, and every sermon rises or falls on the words that preachers choose to deploy. The words preached come with the power of life and death; thus, the preacher must carefully choose his words.

The point is not so much eloquence as it is intentionality. Over the years, as I have monitored my own preaching and observed others, I have come to realize how intentionally using a few key words will strengthen most any sermon. For example, consider these five: Read more

Blog Post

Recapping the SBC and the 21st Century Symposium

Midwestern Seminary’s symposium The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal and Recommitment has now come and gone. I have received feedback from throughout the SBC and beyond, and have been very encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Personally, I could not have been more pleased. Each presentation was memorable, and the presenters were both insightful and encouraging. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation "I Will Rejoice" by C. H. Spurgeon

How heart-cheering to the believer is the delight which God has in his saints! We cannot see any reason in ourselves why the Lord should take pleasure in us; we cannot take delight in ourselves, for we often have to groan, being burdened; conscious of our sinfulness, and deploring our unfaithfulness; and we fear that God’s people cannot take much delight in us, for they must perceive so much of our imperfections and our follies, that they may rather lament our infirmities than admire our graces. Read more

Blog Post

Keeping the Faith: Spurgeon and the Downgrade Controversy

As Christians, we are called to share our faith, but we are also called to keep it. Like the Apostle Paul, every believer should aspire to the epitaph, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

Perhaps no one in Baptist history better kept the faith than the illustrious Charles Spurgeon—especially as seen through the prism of the Downgrade Controversy.

I own the original six-page manuscript Spurgeon wrote that day in 1887. It is fascinating to review his words, penned in his hand, with his markings, alterations and emphases. It radiates the spirit of Paul and the urgency of keeping the faith. The first paragraph especially has taken on immortality: Read more

Blog Post

Lord's Day Meditation: I Sleep, but My Heart Waketh by C. H. Spurgeon

Paradoxes abound in Christian experience, and here is one–the spouse was asleep, and yet she was awake. He only can read the believer’s riddle who has ploughed with the heifer of his experience. The two points in this evening’s text are–a mournful sleepiness and a hopeful wakefulness. I sleep. Through sin that dwelleth in us we may become lax in holy duties, slothful in religious exercises, dull in spiritual joys, and altogether supine and careless. Read more

Blog Post

Video: SBC Symposium Message "Southern Baptist Theological Education in the 21st Century"

This week, Midwestern Seminary hosted what will become our triennial SBC Symposium, where leaders from across the Southern Baptist Convention come together to discuss issues facing Southern Baptists. This years theme was “Reflection, Renewal, and Recommitent.” For my portion of the symposium, I addressed “Southern Baptist Theological Education in the 21st Century.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Howl, Fir Tree, for the Cedar is Fallen" by C. H. Spurgeon

When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak, it is a sign that the woodman is abroad, and every tree in the whole company may tremble lest to-morrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for every one, whether great as the cedar, or humble as the fir, the appointed hour is stealing on apace. Read more

Audio

Interview: Bott Radio Network

Recently, I had the opportunity be interviewed by Dick Bott on the Bott Radio Network. During the course of the program, I was able to discuss topics such as the vision and mission of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and College, theological higher education, the need for churches to have prepared ministers, the secularization of American culture, and much more. You can listen to the whole interview here. Read more

Blog Post

SBC Symposium 2015

Next week Midwestern Seminary will be hosting The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal & Recommitment. This event, slated for September 28th and 29th, is the first installment of a triennial symposium series intended to engage issues vital to Southern Baptist identity, heritage, and future.

The symposium presentations will offer insights and assessments on the SBC and its future. These will be hopeful presentations of where the Southern Baptist Convention is, and where we must go. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Bring Them Unto Me" by C. H. Spurgeon

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him unto me.” Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. Read more

Blog Post

Why We Must Recover the Master of Divinity Degree

As an institution that exists for the Church, Midwestern Seminary abides under an Ephesians 4 mandate, equipping pastors, ministers and missionaries for local church service. While not every graduate will minister within a local church setting, seminary students should view their calling through the prism of serving the church.

In the world of theological education, the Master of Divinity degree has long since been the gold standard for ministry preparation, and its sole status is well deserved. In it one finds the complete toolkit for ministry service: Greek and Hebrew, New Testament and Old Testament, theology, church history, preaching, pastoral care and counseling, evangelism, missions, and much, much more.

Yet, in many seminaries the Master of Divinity degree has fallen on hard times. In recent years, shorter and less rigorous Master of Arts degrees have syphoned off students from the Master of Divinity degree. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "God is Jealous" by C. H. Spurgeon

Your Lord is very jealous of your love, O believer. Did he choose you? He cannot bear that you should choose another. Did he buy you with his own blood? He cannot endure that you should think that you are your own, or that you belong to this world. He loved you with such a love that he would not stop in heaven without you; he would sooner die than you should perish, and he cannot endure that anything should stand between your heart’s love and himself. Read more

Blog Post

Pastors, Four Reasons We Must Guard our Hearts

Discouragement is not an emotion with which I am very familiar, but over the past several weeks I have felt it acutely. My sadness has been induced by the steady drip of ministerial sex scandals and the destruction they have wrought.

In fact, I have found myself not wanting to check social media, dreading to learn about the next scandal. Most prominently, the Ashley Madison expose has shaken church after church, ministry after ministry, and family after family. And, as Russell Moore has written, it is likely just the beginning.

Aspects of all of this are truly baffling, and we find ourselves asking, “How could he…?”. Yet, upon sober reflection, we are reminded of how dangerous our sin nature truly is; and that Total Depravity is not just a theological point, but a malignancy within each one of us. Therefore, we must intentionally guard our hearts, and one way of doing that is to meditate on the catastrophic ruin that accompanies sexual sin. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Except Ye See Signs and Wonders, Ye Will Not Believe" by C. H. Spurgeon

A craving after marvels was a symptom of the sickly state of men’s minds in our Lord’s day; they refused solid nourishment, and pined after mere wonder. The gospel which they so greatly needed they would not have; the miracles which Jesus did not always choose to give they eagerly demanded. Many nowadays must see signs and wonders, or they will not believe. Some have said in their heart, “I must feel deep horror of soul, or I never will believe in Jesus.” But what if you never should feel it, as probably you never may? Read more

Video

For the Church 2015 | Truth and the Church

It was a conversation unlike almost any other conversation I had ever had. The more we talked the more I felt my blood pressure going up. IN fact, in hindsight, I am quite sure the hair on the back of my neck was standing up straight. It was myself and a few of my colleagues here, and we were visiting with a leading historian in one of the nation’s most prestigious divinity schools. The conversation began generic and innocent enough, but it began to drift toward the topic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This professor was kind enough, and he attested to believing in the resurrection of Christ, but he was baffled over the fact that myself and my colleagues thought one had to believe in a literal, bodily resurrection to be saved. The more we talked, the more agitated I became and the more confused he seemed to be, but we kept pressing the conversation in a more and more pointed way until it became clear what the fundamental distinction was between what we were supposing and what he was arguing. The question before us was, “What is Christianity after all?” Is it a sentiment or a feeling? Is it a set of songs and religious artifacts? Is it a series of meaningful moments or is it something more substantial than that? Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The People Were Amazed" by C. H. Spurgeon

How great the difference between Moses and Jesus! When the prophet of Horeb had been forty days upon the mountain, he underwent a kind of transfiguration, so that his countenance shone with exceeding brightness, and he put a veil over his face, for the people could not endure to look upon his glory. Not so our Saviour. He had been transfigured with a greater glory than that of Moses, and yet, it is not written that the people were blinded by the blaze of his countenance, but rather they were amazed, and running to him they saluted him. Read more

Blog Post

Nine Disciplines of a Successful Seminary Student

In the days ahead, tens of thousands of seminarians will begin a new academic year in theological institutions across America. In the Southern Baptist Convention alone, we will see close to 20,000 students enrolled in one of our six seminaries this year.

For the student, a new year brings with it cause for optimism and excitement, but just because one attends seminary does not mean he will get much out of it. The wise student will optimize his seminary experience. Here are 10 disciplines for the successful seminary student to master. Read more

Blog Post

Four Biblical Marks of Corporate Worship

While on vacation a number of years ago, I visited a church for Sunday worship but left questioning whether I had worshipped at all. I took in the full complement of announcements, shook hands with several greeters, viewed a skit, and enjoyed something of a concert. Though a rote prayer was offered, there was no congregational singing, Scripture reading, or sermon. I left puzzled, frustrated, and with a sense of loss. I felt like I had visited a restaurant but was not served a meal.

What should a church do during its time of corporate worship? Or, perhaps better asked, why do churches do what they do during worship? These questions are necessary enough, but ask them in the typical church and they will elicit puzzled looks and confused answers.
Read more

Blog Post

Where Are The Godly Men?

Where have all the godly men gone? These days I ponder that question with increased frequency and concern. If the lack of godly men were only a matter of personality or ministerial preference, then little would be lost. Such is not the case, though. The church is in great need of awakening and renewal; and, in the spirit of Richard Baxter, its greatest need might well be godly men.

Not that long ago, “man of God” was a common and honored descriptor in the church. The phrase ranked alongside “great preacher,” “brilliant theologian,” or “gifted writer” in frequency and surpassed them in value. Now, it seems as though the designation “man of God” has gone the way of the bus ministry and the youth choir—a largely passé referent to a bygone era of church life. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The People Who Know God Shall Be Strong" by C. H. Spurgeon

Every believer understands that to know God is the highest and best form of knowledge; and this spiritual knowledge is a source of strength to the Christian. It strengthens his faith. Believers are constantly spoken of in the Scriptures as being persons who are enlightened and taught of the Lord; they are said to “have an unction from the Holy One,” and it is the Spirit’s peculiar office to lead them into all truth, and all this for the increase and the fostering of their faith. Read more

Blog Post

Sprinkling Infants, Baptizing Children, and Recovering Regenerate Church Membership

Associated Baptist Press recently reported that Rodney Kennedy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, sprinkled an infant. The event was newsworthy because, by definition, a Baptist church does not baptize infants. To practice the latter is to forfeit being the former. Or at least it used to.

But one need not look to a CBF Baptist church to find believer’s baptism being renegotiated. At least a few conservative Baptist churches have adopted—or have flirted with adopting—some form of dual baptism.

While I have been blessed by the writings of many who practice pedobaptism, as one who is wholeheartedly Baptist, sprinkling infants—especially in erstwhile Baptist congregations—concerns me. Read more

Blog Post

Lord's Day Meditation: "I In Them" by C. H. Spurgeon

If such be the union which subsists between our souls and the person of our Lord, how deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This is no narrow pipe through which a thread-like stream may wind its way, it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, along whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter. Read more

Blog Post

The God On A Mountain: When I First Confronted Religious Pluralism

Theological conversations often occur in unlikely settings. In the fall of 1994, as a 17-year-old aspiring college athlete on a recruiting visit to a college I was considering, I found myself thrust into a theological conversation that I did not anticipate and for which I was not equipped.

There I was, seated on a stool in a dark, mildew-encrusted locker room receiving theological instruction from another stool-seated gentleman many, many years my senior. This elderly gentleman was a recruiter for the college’s basketball team. He supposed I might be reluctant to sign with his college since I was a Southern Baptist, especially since the college was theologically far to the left.

Though I was ill equipped at the time for a theological conversation, I was confronted that day with religious pluralism—the idea that there are many ways to God. Read more

Blog Post

Three Motivations for Parents to Avoid

Over the past decade, I’ve witnessed in others—and, unfortunately, in myself—three parental motivations to avoid. Like weeds that force their way through the best-cultivated garden or thickest concrete, these motivations seem stubborn, always reappearing; resilient, always resurfacing.

In fact, if I could wish away three parental motives from my heart, and from others, it would be these: ambition, fear, and pride. Read more

Blog Post

Recovering the Exclusivity of the Gospel (II)

“Does it matter what you believe as long as you are sincere?” I still remember, as a boy, posing that question to my mother. It may well have been my first theological inquiry, and it was prompted by an awareness that our neighbors went to a different church.

That question I first pondered as a child reverberates through churches, homes and lecture halls today. And, as demonstrated in “No Other Name: Recovering the Exclusivity of the Gospel (I),” many evangelical church members answer that question with a resounding “no.”

In an age of doctrinal minimization, one can point to any number of theological challenges facing the church. Yet, neglecting the exclusivity of the gospel comes with tragic ramifications. Read more

Blog Post

Recovering the Exclusivity of the Gospel (I)

It hollows out the gospel message, undercuts the Great Commission, and undermines the entire logic of collaborative missions and ministry. The malignancy to which I am referring is the slow, subtle rejection of the exclusivity of the gospel. Read more

Blog Post

Pickles Have Souls: Balancing Confessional Integrity & Academic Freedom

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Conservative Resurgence produced more than a few controversial lines, perhaps none more so than Adrian Rogers’ “pickles have souls.” In 1987, while serving as SBC president, Rogers quipped, “If Southern Baptists believe that pickles have souls, then the Southern Baptist seminary professors must teach that.” What Rogers meant as hyperbole, moderates took as an offense, and a firestorm of criticism ensued.

Rogers’ argument was straightforward—Southern Baptists founded, funded, and governed their seminaries, thus they have the right to determine what is taught in their institutions. Yet, his statement brushed up against an ever-present tension in Christian higher education, especially theological education: balancing confessional integrity with academic freedom. Read more

Blog Post

Rediscovering Charles Spurgeon

Why so much buzz about Spurgeon, and why is Midwestern Seminary happy to be ground zero for it? Because, as Carl F. H. Henry observed, C. H. Spurgeon is “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals,” and we look to him as a ministry model as we perpetuate his legacy. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Tell Ye Your Children of It" by C. H. Spurgeon

In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land–the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "That Those Things Which Cannot Be Shaken May Remain" by C. H. Spurgeon

We have many things in our possession at the present moment which can be shaken, and it ill becomes a Christian man to set much store by them, for there is nothing stable beneath these rolling skies; change is written upon all things. Yet, we have certain “things which cannot be shaken,” and I invite you this evening to think of them, that if the things which can be shaken should all be taken away, you may derive real comfort from the things that cannot be shaken, which will remain. Whatever your losses have been, or may be, you enjoy present salvation Read more

Blog Post

Why I Was Encouraged by This Year's SBC Meeting

For many of us, the SBC annual meeting is the one week of the year when everything seems right in the world. We gather with several thousand fellow believers who share similar biblical and world-view convictions. It is an oasis of biblical and gospel conviction in a world that is a secular desert.

The SBC annual meeting is now behind us, and I left the meeting even more encouraged than I arrived. For the past several years this has been the case, but this year especially so. Here is why: Read more

Blog Post

MBTS President’s Report – SBC June 16, 2015

It is a joy to present my third Midwestern Seminary president’s report to the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention. As I do, I am mindful I am not alone. As witnessed this morning, I serve in concert with your six seminaries. Jointly, we have much to celebrate.

For Midwestern Seminary, this past year has been one of unprecedented institutional accomplishment. In fact, this past year has been a record one, with virtually every institutional metric showing robust growth and seminary health.

I am absolutely convinced—and our best assessments show—Midwestern Seminary’s enrollment growth can be attributed to three words: For the Church. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The Lord Hath Done Great Things For Us" by C. H. Spurgeon

Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has vouchsafed them. But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. Read more

Blog Post

What to Look For at This Year’s SBC Annual Meeting

In a matter of days, Southern Baptists will descend on Columbus, Ohio for our annual meeting. We will convene together for two days of ministry updates, convention business, and denominational fellowship.

With nearly 16,000,000 members in over 45,000 churches, the SBC is America’s largest Protestant denomination. Yet, we manage to feel more like a small family. In fact, for many of us, the annual SBC meeting is akin to a family reunion. It is an encouraging time to reconnect with old ministry friends, make new ones, and draw inspiration from all God is doing through our collective work.

Every year I look forward to the SBC, but this year I am especially anticipating it. Here’s what I’ll be looking for. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Mediation: "He Humbled Himself" by C. H. Spurgeon

Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need daily to learn of him. See the Master taking a towel and washing his disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, wilt thou not humble thyself? See him as the Servant of servants, and surely thou canst not be proud! Is not this sentence the compendium of his biography, “He humbled himself”? Was he not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honour and then another, till, naked, he was fastened to the cross, and there did he not empty out his inmost self, pouring out his life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud? Read more

Blog Post

Whither Christian Higher Education?

In his award-winning biography of Franklin Roosevelt, Arthur Schlesinger famously described the economic and political malaise preceding Roosevelt’s first term as “the crisis of the old order.” Another crisis of the old order is upon us, and it pertains to the established world of Christian higher education.

The challenges are numerous and interconnected, and they are wreaking havoc on Christian institutions across America. A shrinking college-age demographic, nagging questions about the value of advanced degrees, the online revolution, persistent economic sluggishness, and escalating costs coalesce to present daunting operational challenges to even the best-funded institutions. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Forsake Me Not, O Lord" by C. H. Spurgeon

Frequently we pray that God would not forsake us in the hour of trial and temptation, but we too much forget that we have need to use this prayer at all times. There is no moment of our life, however holy, in which we can do without his constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation, we alike need the prayer, “Forsake me not, O Lord.” Read more

Blog Post

On Partnering with State Conventions and Incorporating the Millennial Generation

Recently I had the privilege of meeting with the executive directors of the Midwest Region State Conventions. I presented on how, together, we might best serve the churches in our region. After my presentation we enjoyed a robust dialog about how we might best accomplish these shared goals.

As I prepared for our time together, I was reminded of how similar our ministries are, and how many of our challenges and opportunities are common to us both. I was also reminded of how our constituency is one and the same—Southern Baptist churches.

Thus, I spoke not about what they should do, but what we should do, and how, together, we can best serve in the years ahead and most effectively incorporate the millennial generation. Here are the high points of what I shared. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Afterwards" by C. H. Spurgeon

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Only Be Thou Strong and Very Courageous" by C. H. Spurgeon

Our God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Read more

Blog Post

Video: “We Cannot Stop Speaking” Spring 2015 Commencement Sermon

I hear the sound, the rustling, and the chatter of many babes, toddlers, and young children. That is a sweet sound. They are welcome here. That noise is not an interruption to our gathering; it is a contribution to it. Moms, don’t feel the need to run out. They are welcome to be a part. Perhaps some of them, even as babes, are astounded to see their father or mother actually graduating. We would hate to deprive them of the memory today holds.

This morning, I want to bring you a somewhat brief, but direct sermon,from Acts Chapter 4, verses 1-22. If you have a Bible in proximity to you or on your phone, I encourage you to follow along. The title of the sermon, taken from this passage, is simply “We Cannot Stop Speaking.” I bring it as a charge to our graduates today, a sermonic charge that I pray will be instructive for a lifetime of faithful ministry to our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was reading this passage, I was thinking about today and reflecting upon what it means to stop speaking or to not stop speaking. Read more

Blog Post

The Promise and Peril of Online Theological Education

No single factor has changed higher education more over the past two decades than the advent of the Internet. The online revolution has affected most every form of higher learning, including theological education.

Some educational purists lament the disruption that online education has brought, as well as the transition of theological education from solely residential to online and modular formats. Nevertheless, the genie is out of the bottle, and online education brings both promise and potential peril to 21st century seminarians. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Shall a Man Make Gods Unto Himself?" by C. H. Spurgeon

One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly. Remphan’s star shines no longer, and the women weep no more for Tammuz, but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf, and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. Self in various forms struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion, and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. Favourite children are often the cause of much sin in believers; the Lord is grieved when he sees us doting upon them above measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us as Absalom was to David, or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. Read more

On Books, Old and New

The Prodigal Church

When, in late 2014, I received an endorsement request for Jared Wilson’s The Prodigal Church, my initial reaction was to wince. But after I got to know the manuscript—and the author—my visceral concern was displaced by appreciation for the author and his message.

At first, the title led me to think this book was just another screed against the 21st century church. I winced,not because the 21st century church doesn’t have much worth criticizing; I winced because the church has too many professional critics. Any cynic can criticize the church, and too many cynics do. Read more

Blog Post

On Sprinkling Infants, Baptizing Children, and Recovering Regenerate Church Membership

Associated Baptist Press recently reported that Rodney Kennedy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, sprinkled an infant. The event was newsworthy because, by definition, a Baptist church does not baptize infants. To practice the latter is to forfeit being the former. Or at least it used to.

While I have been blessed by the writings of many who practice pedobaptism, as one who is wholeheartedly Baptist, sprinkling infants—especially in erstwhile Baptist congregations—concerns me. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Thou Art My Hope in the Day of Evil" by C. H. Spurgeon

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. Read more

Blog Post

Life Together

Seventy years ago this month, on April 9th, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced the gallows. As an anti-Nazi dissident, the Gestapo had arrested him the prior year for his outspoken criticism of Hitler, and penultimately for his complicity in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer died a martyr, one put to death for his Christian testimony.

Seventy years later, Bonhoeffer’s most lasting work is The Cost of Discipleship. But his lesser known, Life Together, remains a classic on Christian community. Whether it is a family, church, seminary, or other Christian entity, Life Together instructs us how to fashion and live together as Christians in community. Read more

Blog Post

Preacher: Ask Yourself These 7 Questions Before Preaching Your Next Sermon

Checklists can be helpful for most every area of life. For example, before traveling I always review a mental list to make sure I’ve appropriately packed and have my logistical bases covered.

Over the years, I’ve also developed a mental checklist that I typically ask of every sermon before I preach it. Like traveling, this checklist is important because in the rush of getting out the door, I can overlook an essential element to the preaching process if I don’t intentionally pause and reflect upon the task at hand. These seven questions help me do just that.
Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "That Through Death He Might Destroy Him That Had the Power of Death"
 by C. H. Spurgeon

O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer’s death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. Read more

Blog Post

When I First Confronted Religious Pluralism

There I was, seated on a stool in a dark, mildew-encrusted locker room receiving theological instruction from another stool-seated gentleman many, many years my senior. This elderly gentleman was a recruiter for the college’s basketball team. He supposed I might be reluctant to sign with his college since I was a Southern Baptist, especially since the college was theologically far to the left. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Thy Gentleness Hath Made Me Great" by C. H. Spurgeon

The words are capable of being translated, “thy goodness hath made me great.” David gratefully ascribed all his greatness not to his own goodness, but the goodness of God. “Thy providence,” is another reading; and providence is nothing more than goodness in action. Goodness is the bud of which providence is the flower, or goodness is the seed of which providence is the harvest. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (III)

Preaching is an art and a science. One’s personality, gifting, training, ministry context, and countless other variables comprise the art of homiletics. The science of preaching is far more objective, theological, and certain. While the art of preaching can vary widely, the science of preaching is far more fixed, and should be far more settled. And, as I have argued, it should be settled in a commitment to preach the Word, a commitment to expository preaching. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The Place Which is Called Calvary" by C. H. Spurgeon

The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is founded upon the riven rock–riven by the spear which pierced his side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy. Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace hath dug a fountain which ever gusheth with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. Read more

Video

Preach the Word: Four Marks of Faithful Preaching

This morning I am going to read II Timothy chapter three, verses one through five. Paul writes, beginning in verse one:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

“Preach The Word.” This exhortation is situated front and center in these five verses and front and center in this book. It comes with added momentum since we’ve looked at chapter three. There is a contrast of the difficult times which will come and which are upon us; times of the culture and the world, but most especially these difficult times will trickle into the church as well. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (II)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the longtime pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London, England, described preaching as “The highest, the greatest, and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”[1] While Lloyd-Jones’ assessment resonates broadly with evangelical preachers, precisely how one is to preach lacks such consensus. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The Power of His Resurrection" by C. H. Spurgeon

The doctrine of a risen Saviour is exceedingly precious. The resurrection is the corner-stone of the entire building of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation. It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but to know that he has risen, and to have fellowship with him as such–communing with the risen Saviour by possessing a risen life–seeing him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: God, the Gospel, and Getting Things Done

Last Friday we were pleased to host a preview day for our prospective college and seminary students here at Midwestern Seminary. That evening I was a part of a panel discussion entitled God, the Gospel, and Getting Things Done with Charles Smith, Midwestern Seminary’s Vice President for Institutional Relations, and Matt Perman, author of Whats Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. I want to invite you to watch our discussion about how Christians can be more productive for the Kingdom of God. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (I)

Evangelical Christians are in general agreement that preaching is God’s divinely appointed means to proclaim the gospel and to convey his truth to his people. Yet, within evangelical Christianity, precisely how one is to preach the Bible remains a contested topic—and with huge ramifications.

Though I sometimes wrestle with what text to preach, I never wrestle with how to preach it. I determined long ago for every sermon to be an expository one. For me, this started experiential and practical, but it quickly, and ultimately, became biblical and theological. Let me explain why.
Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "The Stones Would Cry Out" by C. H. Spurgeon

But could the stones cry out? Assuredly they could if he who opens the mouth of the dumb should bid them lift up their voice. Certainly if they were to speak, they would have much to testify in praise of him who created them by the word of his power; they could extol the wisdom and power of their Maker who called them into being. Shall not we speak well of him who made us anew, and out of stones raised up children unto Abraham? Read more

Blog Post

The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal, and Recommitment

In recent days Midwestern Seminary announced the forthcoming symposium The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal & Recommitment. This event, slated for September 28 & 29, is the first installment of a triennial symposium series hosted by Midwestern Seminary. Each triennial symposium will engage issues vital to Southern Baptist identity, heritage, and future. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Blessed are the Peacemakers" by C. H. Spurgeon

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Why are Ye Troubled?" by C. H. Spurgeon

Let the fact that, while he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe, cheer and comfort you. You are his peculiar care; his regal treasure which he guards as the apple of his eye; his vineyard over which he watches day and night. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Let the thought of his special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”God says that as much to you as to any saint of old. Read more

On Books, Old and New

America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation

This week Midwestern Seminary was privileged to host Dr. Grant Wacker, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian History at Duke University Divinity School. Dr. Wacker lectured on Billy Graham and the life of the mind: a thematic excerpt from his newly released biography on the famed evangelist, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Making of a Nation. Read more

Blog Post

As One with Authority: On Fred Craddock & Authoritative Preaching

This past week Fred Craddock, one of the world’s most influential homileticians of the past half-century, died at the age of 86. Craddock burst onto the scene in 1971 with his As One Without Authority, and his seminal book landed like “a bombshell on the playground of preachers.” In it, Craddock called for a new homiletic, for preaching to start with the hearer, not the text, and for preaching to be inductive, not deductive. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Behold, What Manner of Love" by C. H. Spurgeon

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are called “the sons of God.” What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and what love the father feels towards the son! Read more

Blog Post

Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching

Faithful preaching has three primary ingredients. Creativity and homiletical polish are helpful, but the key ingredients of faithful preaching are preset and established by God. The three ingredients touch on who is qualified to preach, why one should preach, and what one should preach. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "For as the Sufferings of Christ" by C. H. Spurgeon

There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. Hence they bring us to God, and we are happier; for nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies. Read more

Essay

Are We Enjoying the SBC’s Golden Era of Theological Education? (II)

Designations of golden eras tend to occur long in hindsight, aided by nostalgia and abetted by old souls viewing history through rose-colored glasses. This is to say, in actual terms golden eras rarely—if ever—exist. But in relative terms, the early 21st century may well be the SBC’s Golden Era of theological education. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Then Was Jesus Led up of the Spirit" by C. H. Spurgeon

In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: The State of Evangelicalism

Last week I was pleased to welcome Dr. David Dockery, president of Trinity International University, to the campus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Dockery spoke in chapel on Tuesday, delivering the State of Evangelicalism address. After chapel, I was honored to host a panel discussion with Dr. Dockery, Dr. Jason Duesing, and Dr. John Mark Yeats. I want to invite you to watch our conversation of many issues pertaining to evangelicalism. Read more

Video

MBTS Spring 2015 Convocation: Four Keys to Persevering in Ministry

This letter to Timothy is about faithfulness; faithfulness in ministry and faithfulness within the local church. It is a message that is timeless for us. If ever the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has needed pastors and ministers that would press on in faithfulness until they received their reward from the Lord Jesus Christ, it is now. Read more

Video

Video: 2014 Fall Commencement

It is imperative that we consider one last time together what faithfulness in ministry looks like. The truth of the matter is, many churches do not quite know what to look for or what to expect in a minister. Read more

Blog Post

How Shall They Hear? Recovering the Exclusivity of the Gospel (II)

But, if the gospel does not exclusively save, William Carey and Samuel Pearce were on fools’ errands. Adoniram Judson and Lottie Moon should be pitied, not revered. And Jim Elliot and Nate Saint died in vain. On the contrary, these great saints believed and ministered in light of what we must recover—an unreserved conviction of the exclusivity of the gospel. Read more

Video

The Holiness of God

Isaiah 6 is one of these great passages in all of the Scriptures. My desire over the next 45 minutes is not to dump a doctrine on you. Rather, it is to investigate this chapter with you, introduce and confront you with the holiness of God and see how it is to affect and shape our lives. In fact, I am a man on a mission tonight. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "He Shall Take of Mine, and Shall Show It unto You" by C. H. Spurgeon

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Thanksgiving Meditation: "Sing Forth the Honour of His Name, Make His Praise Glorious" by C. H. Spurgeon

Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of his love to bless his name so long as you live, and his praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless him. Read more

On Books, Old and New

On H. B. Charles, Jr.'s On Preaching

For preachers, trusting authors of books on preaching is like is trusting authors of hunting magazines. The writer adds credibility if he has some nice mounts on the wall. Similarly, H. B. Charles, Jr. is a reliable guide on good preaching because he exemplifies it. Read more

On Books, Old and New

On The Guns of August

World War I reminds Christians of the fallenness of man, the necessity of confronting evil, and our collective desire for the day when, “He will judge between nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "Behold, to Obey is Better than Sacrifice" by C. H. Spurgeon

If you are failing to keep the least of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. “To obey,” even in the slightest and smallest thing, “is better than sacrifice,” however pompous. Read more

Video

Video: Panel Discussion with Al Mohler on Expository Preaching

You spoke with great conviction today about expositional preaching, and, of course, we have talked about this countless times over the years. I think our group would find it encouraging and informative to hear your personal story how you came to appreciate and to be so convicted about what preaching is to be. Read more

Essay

On Preaching and the Public Invitation System

Each service, I preached the gospel, and called sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. My week of evangelistic preaching reminded me of a question a student recently asked me, “Should the sermon conclude with an invitation?” I responded, “Yes, a sermon certainly can conclude with an invitation, but, more importantly, the sermon must be an invitation.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord's Day Meditation: "It Is a Faithful Saying" by C. H. Spugeon

Treasure up these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of our life, our comfort, and our instruction. The apostle of the Gentiles proved them to be faithful, they are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground; they are worthy of all acceptation, let us accept them now, and prove their faithfulness. Let these four faithful sayings be written on the four corners of my house. Read more

Blog Post

Dispatches from the ERLC’S National Conference on the Gospel, Homosexuality & the Future of Marriage

Issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality are not going way. The church must be prepared to engage these issues, cognizant of the full complexities they bring us. Yet, we must not let our engagement overlook our first imperative to be gospel people, pointing persons again and again to the message of a crucified and risen Savior. Not as a cure all, or an immediate moral disinfectant—but as our only hope, gay or straight, religious or irreligious. Read more

Blog Post

Reconsidering Charles Spurgeon

Why so much buzz about Spurgeon, and why is Midwestern Seminary happy to be ground zero for it? Because, as Carl F. H. Henry observed, C. H. Spurgeon is “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals,” and we look to him as a ministry model as we perpetuate his legacy. Read more

Blog Post

We Cannot Stop Speaking: A Response to Houston Mayor Annise Parker

The irony in all of this is, Mayor Parker may have set her city back by stymieing religious liberty, while, unwittingly, moving the church forward, and positioning us more firmly in the apostolic tradition we own. We must now prove ourselves worthy of that tradition. And, whatever we do, like the besieged apostles, we must not stop speaking. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Encouraged about the Future of the SBC

In spite of statistics that show decreases in certain key denominational metrics—including baptisms—I am actually encouraged about the SBC. My encouragement is not rooted in some political calculation, nor in the assurance of a near-term reversal in trend lines. My encouragement is rooted in what God appears to be doing in at least five key areas of our convention. Read more

Essay

Ready to Preach (For the Church Conference)

There is so much a minister is to do, so much he is to undertake, and so much he is to do well. But the irreducible task of the minister of the gospel is to preach the Word. It is unsurprising that preaching the Word is coupled here with the call to readiness. Read more

Blog Post

Duke McCall at 100 & Why He Still Matters

According to McCall, the seminary’s constituency unequivocally would be Southern Baptist churches. Faculty with ears to hear had been fully apprised at McCall’s inauguration of where he intended to take the seminary. Read more

Blog Post

Radical: Reflections on David Platt & the IMB

Like every other corner of the SBC, in recent days all eyes in Kansas City have been on David Platt and the International Mission Board. When I announced in chapel Dr. Platt’s election as president of the IMB, the room filled with applause from our students, faculty, and staff.

Since the IMB’s announcement, I’ve been asked countless times how I think Platt’s leading the IMB will play out. With pun intended, I’ve said, “It will be radical—in one of two directions.” Let me explain.
Read more

Essay

For the Church: Theological Education, the SBC & the Future of Midwestern Seminary (III)

Since Southern Baptists founded their first seminary in 1859, the denomination has experienced an uneasy relationship between her seminaries and the churches that own them. Though the year 2013 finds the seminaries very much in line with the denomination’s confessional statement—the Baptist Faith & Message 2000—such has not always been the case. Moreover, a survey of the history of theological education indicates the need for churches to keep an ever-vigilant eye on the seminaries they own. Read more

Blog Post

Heaven is for Real: Why I’m Skeptical of the Afterlife Industry

In the years past, I simply shrugged my shoulders at such books, seeing them as nonsensical and unhelpful. Yet, afterlife books and resources have congealed into something of an industry — an industry of books, paraphernalia, and movies — with a consequential and costly underbelly. And this new industry is generating massive revenues for those with a compelling afterlife story. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Russell Moore about Religious Liberty*

ico2

Religious liberty is simply an application of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s,” which is saying there are some things that belong to God that do not belong to the government; they do not belong to Caesar. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Frank Page about Bi-Vocational Ministry*

ico2

Statistically, probably a majority of Southern Baptist churches are pastored by a bi-vocational pastor. In the state of Missouri, it is more than 50 percent. In most states, it is more than 50 percent. Out west and up north, high percentages of our pastors are bi-vocational. I will tell you, they are my heroes. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Danny Akin about Family, Faith, and Football

ico2

I still remember phrases I heard you say in seminary. Things like, “Gentlemen, I’d rather you get a C in my class and an A at home.” And things like, “You can have a great marriage without having a great ministry, but you cannot have a great ministry without having a great marriage.” Things like that just ring true. Read more

show more posts