The pulpit is intended to be a pedestal for the cross, though, alas! even the cross itself, it is to be feared, is sometimes used as a mere pedestal for the preacher’s fame.
We may roll the thunders of eloquence, we may dart the coruscations of genius, we may scatter the flowers of poetry, we may diffuse the light of science, we may enforce the precepts of morality, from the pulpit; but if we do not make Christ the great subject of our preaching, we have forgotten our errand, and shall do no good.
Satan trembles at nothing but the cross: at this he does tremble; and if we would destroy his power, and extend that holy and benevolent kingdom, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, it must be by means of the cross.
—John Angell James, quoted in Spurgeon’s Feathers for Arrows
HT: Phil Johson
This is a blog from a brother named Denny Burk who attends our pastor’s fraternal. He is following up a blog from Tim Challies about his recent visit to Louisville and passing by the local abortion clinic.
Some good things to consider and to pray about!
Speak for the Unborn
Tim Challies has a post today about his encounter with the Louisville abortion clinic when he was in town for T4G last week. Tim says that he observed some Christians standing outside the clinic encouraging young women not to abort their unborn babies. You can read the narrative of Tim’s experience here, but I want to tell you a little bit about the people who are outside of that abortion clinic every week.
A few years ago, Dave and Stacy Hare of Immanuel Baptist Church were inspired by a sermon from their pastor to begin a ministry called “Speak for the Unborn.” The ministry was to be a kind of last line of defense for the unborn. They got together some other volunteers and went to the abortion clinic every Saturday morning to talk to young women as they approached the clinic. The message was pretty simple. They would encourage them to keep their babies, to come to the crisis pregnancy center next door, and (when there’s opportunity) to consider the gospel.
My church got involved with the ministry a couple of years ago, and I have been out there many times myself. Over the years, the volunteers of “Speak for the Unborn” have seen many women walk away from the abortion clinic and into the crisis pregnancy center. Babies have been saved as a result of this ministry, and countless mothers and fathers have heard the gospel. It’s not an easy work. The escorts from the clinic can be really hostile. But it is nevertheless a good work.
This ministry is still in need of volunteers. I have observed that the women from our church were the most effective at engaging the women who were coming in for abortions. The ministry needs more women who are bold to speak to mothers in crisis. But that doesn’t mean there is no role for men. I can’t tell you how many conversations that I had with husbands and boyfriends who accompanied young women to the clinic. Many of these women are looking for just one person to support their decision to keep their baby. So convincing these husbands and boyfriends is crucial work. Male volunteers also have opportunities to engage the clinic’s escorts, many of whom are men. Our folks did as much evangelizing the escorts as we did those visiting the clinic.
If you want more information about this ministry, I encourage you to visit the “Speak for the Unborn” website. It provides information and resources not only for those who want to get involved in Louisville, but also for those who would like to start a ministry like this in their own city.
Apologies to the great Yogi Berra who said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
We live at a time that highly prizes the instaneous. There are new commericals advertising the speed of cellular service that mock the poor guy who gets the latest news 10 second after everyone else. What a loser! We want to know and we want to know now! This mentality can effect us in spiritual things too. I have often wondered how a sermon has been received based upon the response at the door. Were people moved? Did they repent? Were they comforted? Were they changed? Did they get saved? Did these things take place during the preaching or in the time from the conclusion of the sermon till they met me at the door? If so, elation, if not, sorrow and confusion. Jesus and Paul likened the ministry of the Word to the sowing of seed. The response to the word like the growth of a plant. First the seed, then the bud, then the grain. it takes time for the seed sown to produce results.
I must realize this truth in my prayers. Too often prayer for a particular message ends when the sermon has concluded. The work of the sermon is not over when the sermon is over. It has just begun. The seed has been planted. Now come the watering and the sunshine of the Spirit of God. It ain’t over when the Amen is said.
My dear friend, Pastor Bill Hughes pointed me recently to a wonderful narrative contained in a book called, All The Blessings Of Life, by F. W. Boreham. This true story is a reminder that we never know how God has blessed the seeds which we have sown through life.
“Dr. Alexander Whyte loved to tell of a commercial traveller named Rigby who, when in Edinburgh, used to stay at the Waverley Hotel, and, on Sunday, always made his way to St. George’s. He could not preach and always found it difficult even to discuss spiritual themes with others. But before leaving the hotel for the church he always looked around for somebody whom he could invite to accompany him. One morning, on approaching a man with this invitation, he received something like a rebuff. The stranger at first refused, but finally consented, and was so moved by the service that he asked Mr. Rigby to go with him again in the evening. That night, at St. George’s, he found Christ. Next morning, in the course of his business, Mr Rigby chanced to pass the home of Dr. Alexander Whyte. Acting on a sudden impulse, he made up his mind to call and tell Dr. Whyte of his experience on Sunday. Dr. Whyte was deeply moved. “I thought,” he said, “that last night’s sermon fell very flat, and I have been feeling very depressed about it. But what did you say your name was?” Mr Rigby repeated it. “Why,” exclaimed Dr. Whyte in delight, “you are the man I’ve been looking for for years!” He then went to his study, and returned carrying a bundle of letters, from which he read such extracts as these: “I was spending a week-end in Edinburgh some weeks ago, and a fellow commercial called Rigby invited me to accompany him to St. George’s. The message of that service changed my life.” “I am a young man, and the other day I came to hear you preach, at the invitation of a man called Rigby, and in that service I decided to dedicate my life to Christ.”Dr Whyte went on to say that twelve of the letters were from young men. of whom four had already entered the ministry.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures
April 4, 2012 marks the first day of the new Major League Baseball season. In stadiums scattered throughout the land teams will meet on fields of freshly mown grass. The crowds will be there filling the various stadiums. The beer vendors and hawkers of hot dogs will have a banner day. The umpires and players and managers will don their uniforms. Now imagine with me for a moment that the national anthem has been sung and the game is about to begin. The pitcher stands on the mound and a man comes to stand in the batter’s box. It is now that something very unusual is seen—there is no bat and there is no ball. There are uniforms and gloves and caps and umpires and crowds and hot dogs and beer, but no bat and no ball. Whatever you have on display on that field of green is not baseball. It may look like baseball, but it is not. The bat and the ball are the very essence of the game. You do not need great crowds to have baseball. You do not need caps or uniforms. You do not need grandstands or hot dogs or beer. You need the bat and the ball.
The cross and the empty tomb which will be celebrated this weekend is the very essence of our faith. Without the cross and the empty tomb you do not have Christianity. Christianity is not about how many people show up, it is not in buildings and in pews and instruments and choirs and steeples. It is not in pulpits or in pews. Our faith stands or falls upon the twin realities of a crucified and risen Savior. There are many things that are good and needful and useful, but there is only one thing that is central. Whatever our churches are known for, may they above all be known for the proclamation of the heart and soul of our faith.