Category: Gospel-centered discipleship

3 Gems for Elder/Pastors

Whether you are flourishing or struggling as an elder or pastor in your church, you need a dose of these vitamins from Jared Wilson’s The Pastors Justification. And even if you aren’t a pastor, these quotes carry wisdom for everyday Christian character.

If you are a loudmouth boaster, your church will gradually become known for boasting. If you are a graceless idiot, your church will eventually become known for graceless idiocy. The leadership will set the tone of the church’s discipleship culture, setting the example for the body’s “personality.” (47)

Marital faithfulness often means others forsakenness.You are not one flesh with your church, but with your wife…Wife and family first, church second. This means pastors are first charged with pastoring their family. Indeed, one cannot even be allowed to pastor a church if he cannot or will not pastor his family. (51)

The pastor is to practice self-control at all times, including (if not especially) in his solitude. Can he have a drink without needing a drink? Can he surf the web without feeling the tractor beam of porn? Can he prepare his sermon or research a writing project online without surfing the web at all? Can he spent long unhalting periods of time reading a book or listening to sermon audio? Can he read a critical letter without becoming sinfully self-defensive and self-justifying? Can he hear the success of others and not covet or begrudge? (52)

Reading the Whole Bible with Jesus

Reading the Bible can be confusing, intimidating, and difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. I remember the first time I took a hermeneutics (interpretation) course. I was blown away. It was staggering to discover how poorly I had been reading the Bible, but my shock slowly turned to joy as I learned how to truly understand the Bible. I discovered deep truths that the world is built on, better understood who God is, and began to absorb his grace like a sponge. Then, as I worked on interpreting well, I began to see how the whole story of the Bible fits together, redemptive threads runing here and there, to tie everything together in Christ. Worship! Reading the Bible can actually be very exciting. That’s what the students are discovering in our course: Christ-centered Interpretation: Reading the Whole Bible with Jesus.

For those interested, we have posted our first two lectures in audio format.

Books I’m Currently Using in Ministry

Here are a few books I am using in ministry this Fall. They are all good books but the * indicates an exceptional book:

Hermeneutics Class

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

How to Read the Bible for All it’s Worth

How to Read the Bible as Literature


Imagining the Kingdom*

Readers Greek New Testament**



Elder Training

The Ministry of the Spirit-filled Church

The Pastors Justification

Gospel Eldership


Overcoming Sin & Temptation*


4 Ways to Listen in the Age of Speed

In the age of speed, everything is fast including our listening. One psychologist has described us as having “an inner psychology of speed.” Fast internet, fast food, fast living, but more often than not, we are slow to hear and quick to speak. So while our speed is picking up, so is our relational foolishness. Hurried to get on to the next task, event, or tweet, we ride right over people. If we could reverse this malady, conflict would be less frequent and easier. More importantly, deeper relationships of understanding, love, and trust would emerge. Here are four ways to apply the biblical adage “Be quick to hear, slow to speak.”

1. Make time for relationships and space for questions. When was the last time you had unhurried, open-ended time with someone? A friend of mine recently spent a few open-ended hours downtown with another friend. No agenda other than food and good conversation. When he told me about the evening, it was like he stumbled onto a new drug. Superlatives spilled out of his mouth. When I asked why it was so amazing, he struggled to put his finger on it. We discovered it was mutual question asking and space to just be, unhurried, together. Tolkien often remarked that there’s nothing like good conversation, a pipe, and male company.

2. Look through the problem to hear and understand the person. We often speak too quickly. A lot of speech is reactionary, to a problem, shared interest, or criticism. We speak without thinking, whether we agree or disagree. The tongue can set fires and shower blessings. But when it moves too fast, the sparks of conflict fly. Most conflict arises because people focus on the problem not the person. Either party seeks to defend their rights, refusing to hear or understand one another. Only when we look through the problem and see the person, a real living soul, made in the image of God, with genuine feelings, will we be slow to speak and quick to listen.

3. Let stinging words and bad theology flow past you. I listen to people a lot. When I sit down with people I listen, ask questions, and try to understand, to see and feel what they see and feel. I’m not always good at it, but if Im doing a good job, it means I’ll let a lot of sin and bad theology flow right past me in order to understand what they are going through. When Job’s friend jumped on his wife for her bad counsel, he replied “They are like words to the wind.” When people are hurting, they often say things they don’t really believe. They just need space to get them out. Sure, they believe them for a moment but “Curse God and die” is not really in their catalog of beliefs. If we’ll listen, let words go to the wind, and understand what someone is trying to say, we’ll know what words to keep, to come back to, and which ones to let go.

4. Recognize you do not possess the power to change the person. Truth people are quick to speak because they think that if they “apply the right word” the person will change. But people are more complex than that. People need understanding and truth. Listen well, and you will understand, understand and you will know how to speak. It may turn out that the greatest power you possess is understanding, empathy. After all only Spirit can change us. Walter Chantry applied this to pastors:

“Sometimes ministers of the Word, even in the highest ecclesiastical positions, are nonetheless powerless to put an end to injustice. However, a sympathetic hearing, words of advice, and an assurance of God’s assistance are like cool water poured on the burning sands of persecution.”