Are You Hungry?

bird feeder

One of our favorite things to do, as a family, is fill up our bird feeder each spring. It hangs off of our back deck right outside our kitchen window. We love to watch various types of birds drop by for a little snack. They eat until their little hearts are content and then they fly away. In the not too distant future they return again. Our little bird feeder gives them exactly what they need.

As I watched the birds the other day I thought about how God’s Word plays this same role in our lives. Without spiritual food we die spiritually. But God’s Word offers us a place to eat…an opportunity to gain spiritual sustenance.

Jesus told Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We need physical food but, more importantly, we need spiritual food for our souls. The Psalmist says that God’s Word is more to be desired that gold and sweeter than honey from the comb (Psalm 19:10). Have you experienced the sweetness of God’s Word like that?

Will you commit to spend daily time in God’s Word, feeding your soul? Will you allow his Spirit to speak to you and apply his Word to your heart as you read? Will you live in obedience to what you read?

My prayer for you and me is that we will experience the goodness and sweetness of God’s Word in our lives. May it guide and direct our steps. May it satisfy the spiritual hunger of our souls. May it deepen our walk with Christ!

A Tragedy In The Church (Reading Notes)

“One of the greatest tragedies in the church today is the depreciation of the pastoral office. From seminaries to denominational headquarters, the prevalent mood and theme is managerial, organizational, and psychological. And we think thereby to heighten our professional self-esteem! Hundreds of teachers and leaders put the mastery of the Word first with their lips but by their curriculums, conferences, seminars, and personal example, show that it is not foremost.” (John Piper in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals)

Busyness In Ministry Will Kill Intimacy With The Father

This morning I read through Luke 5 and was immediately struck by verses 12-16, describing Jesus’ ministry:

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

Did you see that? Jesus’ fame had spread to the point that great crowds gathered to hear him and be healed by him…BUT he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

I dare say that the majority of pastors would love to have the “problem” of great crowds gathering at their church. In fact, most of us spend our entire ministries trying to get great crowds to come and hear us preach. After all, that is the American version of “success” in church life. We celebrate and come dangerously close to worshipping pastors of large churches with large buildings and large budgets. And in the deep dark corners of our souls we desperately want to be that pastor that is celebrated/worshipped.

But, Jesus left the crowds, retreated to a desolate place and prayed. In the very moments when Jesus could have capitalized on his “success” he walked away from it often to spend time with his heavenly Father. The reason is clear…intimacy with our heavenly Father is success. There is absolutely nothing more important, in the life of a pastor, than stepping away from the busyness of ministry so that we can spend intimate time with our heavenly Father.

This was a great reminder for me on this Monday morning: An empty well is of no value to people longing for a drink. We are emptied in the busyness of ministry but filled in times of intimacy with our heavenly Father. Our people need us to step away so that ministry does not kill our intimacy!

Pastors And Reading (Reading Notes)

John Piper offers this helpful advice to pastors about reading:

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean we should limit our reading to quick shots one or two time a day. But if you will use severe discipline to make regular short appointments with a given book, you can live in another great mind more than you thought you could – beyond the more extended times you set aside for study and sermon preparation.

Nor do I want to give the impression that I think there is virtue in reading many books. In fact one of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them.” God save us from the allurement of “keeping up with Pastor Jones” by superficial skimming. Forget about “keeping up.” It only feeds pride and breeds spiritual barrenness. Instead devote yourself to boring in and going deep. There is so much soul-refreshing, heart-deepening, mind-enlarging truth to be had from great books! Your people will know if you are walking with the giants (as Warren Wiersbe says) or watching television. (John Piper in Brothers, We Are Not Professionals)

The Faithfulness of God in Sanctification (Reading Notes)

“We do participate in our own sanctification. But the Scriptures make it clear that our good works are the results of God’s good work. If we ground our hopes for sanctification in our own obedience, we will rush headlong into despair because we are constantly falling back into sin, unable to obey perfectly, and we are constantly discovering new areas of our heart that need cleaning. We break covenant daily. But the covenant holds because God is faithful. Let us fear him and obey him, and let us do so grounded in the wonderful truth that he will persevere his saints. This make gospel centrality so important. The longer we take our eyes off the gospel, the more we will think our sanctification is powered by our own good efforts, and that is just a short skip and jump to self-righteousness. The gospel is the beating heart of sanctified obedience.” (Jared Wilson in Gospel Wakefulness)