6 Quotes From “Voice Of A Prophet”

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A.W. Tozer pulls no punches in the way he confronts modern-day preachers (those he calls “sons of the prophets”). He challenges pastors to return to the Scriptures, hit their knees in prayer, and do some serious soul searching on where they may be falling short of the standard set by the biblical prophets. You can read my full book review of Voice Of A Prophet by clicking here. 

“It is not the messenger, it is the message that needs to be proclaimed. If you study the Old and New Testaments you will discover that no prophet can ever be a celebrity. The most significant thing about the prophet is the message he conveys, and that message had better by rooted in the heart of God.” 

“The responsibility of the prophet is not to come up with his own message, but to faithfully deliver the message—the warning—that is coming from God.” 

“The song of the prophet is, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Any other song will never do for God’s man to be God’s voice to his generation.” 

“God takes so much delight in us that He will go to any length to bring us back to that delight.” 

“Jesus said that our problem is a spiritual danger, not a physical danger, and our visible enemies are rarely our real enemies. The man who comes at you with a gun is not your real enemy, though his intention may be to kill you. Your real enemy is that enemy within you that makes you vulnerable to him. Esau was Jacob’s enemy because of what Jacob had done to him, but Esau was not Jacob’s real enemy. Jacob was Jacob’s enemy. The crookedness in Jacob’s heart was against Jacob, and when God straightened that out, Esau was not his enemy anymore.” 

“Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live. … Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds.” 

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Voice Of A Prophet (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

I’ve always appreciated A.W. Tozer’s prophetic voice. By that I mean, his unabashed call for Christians to live up to the Christlike standard given to us in the Scriptures. But in Voice Of A Prophet, Tozer hits a little closer to home for me (and for all of us who are in ministry positions) as he specifically calls on pastors to live up to the prophetic standard given to us in the Bible. 

Sometimes people misunderstand the title “prophet” to be one who foretells future events. At times, that is the function of a prophet, but primarily the prophet is more of a forthteller than a foreteller. The prophet is called upon to boldly proclaim God’s truth and tell forth where godly people are falling short. Prophets are God’s messengers to God’s people, usually sent to reawaken His people to truths that they have forgotten or strayed from. 

Tozer calls modern-day pastors and preachers—those he calls “the sons of the prophets”—to look to the prophetic fathers of the Scripture. He calls us to live up to the God-fearing standard of the prophets like Elijah, Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Jesus. He forthtells how too many have succumbed to the voice of culture instead of adhering to the voice of their Lord, and how they have traded “Thus saith the Lord” for “Thus saith me.” 

The opening chapter of Voice Of A Prophet reprints a prayer that Tozer wrote out when he was ordained in 1920. Part of that prayer for himself should remain a prayer for all who are called by God to be pastors today: “Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could. I am Thy servant to do Thy will, and that will is sweeter to me than position or riches or fame and I choose it above all things on earth or in heaven.”

Voice Of A Prophet is an important read for those in pastoral ministry. FAIR WARNING: You will be challenged and convicted by Tozer’s timeless words! But if you will heed those words, God will be pleased to bless your efforts. I would also recommend this book to anyone who would like to know how they can better support and pray for their pastor, as I think they will find valuable insights in this book. 

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Standing In The Gap

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Pastors and other Christian leaders, this is from the Maxwell Leadership Bible and it’s well worth your time to contemplate. 

“God contrasts the poor leader with the godly leader in Ezekiel 22. The poor leader oppresses and destroys his or her followers, while the godly leader ‘stands in the gap’ on behalf of the land and the people. These leaders represent God to the people, and represent the people to God. They serve as ‘middle-men,’ serving God and serving the needs of the people. This text describes ten traits of the leader God affirms:

    1. Consecration: They set themselves apart and remain committed to their call.
    2. Discipline: They do what is right even when it is difficult.
    3. Servanthood: They model a selfless life, lived for the benefit of others.
    4. Vision: They see what God sees and live off the power of potential.
    5. Compassion: Love for their cause and their people moves them to action.
    6. Trustworthiness: They keep their word regardless of what others do.
    7. Decisiveness: They make good decisions in a timely manner.
    8. Wisdom: They think like God thinks and avoid impetuous moves.
    9. Courage: They take risks for what is right.
    10. Passion: They demonstrate enthusiasm for their divine calling.” —John Maxwell

Check out what God Himself says:

“Your princes plot conspiracies just as lions stalk their prey. They devour innocent people, seizing treasures and extorting wealth. They make many widows in the land. Your priests have violated My instructions and defiled My holy things. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. And they do not teach My people the difference between what is ceremonially clean and unclean. They disregard My Sabbath days so that I am dishonored among them. Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money! And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord,’ when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice. I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:25-30 NLT)

Pastor, will you be that righteous one who will stand in the gap? Will you stand strong against the onslaught of sin and a compromising culture? Will you be a leader that God can use?

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Things That Diminish Pastoral Ministry

Horatius Bonar pulls no punches when he talks to pastors! Words To Winners Of Souls is a compilation of sermons Bonar preached to fellow pastors. 

These are a list of things that Bonar said would diminish a pastor’s ministry: 

“Seldom in secret prayer with God, except to fit for public performance; and even that much neglected, or gone about very superficially. 

“Glad to find excuses for the neglect of duties. 

“Neglecting the reading of Scriptures in secret, for edifying ourselves as Christians; only reading them in so far as may fit us for our duty as ministers, and oft-times neglecting that. 

“Not given to reflect upon our own ways, nor allowing conviction to have a thorough work upon us. …

“Not guarding nor wrestling against seen and known evils, especially our predominants. … 

“Not praying for men of a contrary judgment, but using reservedness and distance from them; being more ready to speak of them than to them or to God for them. …  

“The matter we bring forth is not seriously recommended to God by prayer, to be quickened to His people. 

“Neglect of prayer after the Word is preached, that it may receive the first and latter rain; and that the Lord would put in the hearts of his people what we speak to them in his name. … 

“Choosing texts whereon we have something to say, rather than those suited to the conditions of souls and times, and frequent preaching of the same things, that we may not be put to the pains of new study. … 

“Not making all the counsel of God known to His people. … 

“Continual employment in the most solemn duties of our office, such as dealing with souls in private about their immortal welfare, or guiding the meditations and devotions of God’s assembled people, or handling the sacramental symbols—this, gone about often with so little prayer and mixed with so little faith, has tended grievously to divest us of that profound reverence and godly fear which ever ought to possess and pervade us.” —Horatius Bonar 

To my fellow pastors, may we especially heed Bonar’s fourth warning and ask the Holy Spirit to help us “reflect upon our own ways” and if necessary to allow Him to bring a “conviction to have a thorough work upon us.” 

11 Ways To Be A Good Minister

© Lori Oxford Photography

Here are 11 ways to “be a good minister of Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 4:6)—

  1. Know the Scripture well enough to point out false doctrines (vv. 1-6a)
  2. Be a good teacher (v. 6b)
  3. Train myself to be godly (v. 7)
  4. Take care of my physical health (v. 8)
  5. Put my hope solidly in God (vv. 9, 10)
  6. Set an example worth following (vv. 11, 12)
  7. Use the Scriptures in everything I preach (v. 13)
  8. Turn my God-given gifts into strengths (v. 14)
  9. Have a good work ethic (v. 15a)
  10. Be consistently growing (v. 15b)
  11. Carefully and prayerfully evaluate my doctrine (v. 16)

8 Ways Pastors Can Minister Like The Apostle Paul

PreachingThe Apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians of how he ministered among them (“You know…” [1 Thessalonians 2:1]). This gives all of us pastors now an example of how to minister.

(1) “With the help of God we dared to tell you His gospel” (v. 2). I cannot minister out of my own strength; everything must flow from God’s strength.

(2) The message “does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you” (v. 3). I must constantly allow the Holy Spirit to check my motives and check my theology.

(3) “We speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel”( v. 4a). I am merely a vessel that God chooses to use to share His gospel. This must keep me humble.

(4) “We are not trying to please men but God, Who tests our hearts” (v. 4b). I minister only for God’s approval, only for the applause of Nail-Scarred hands. “We were not looking for praise from men” (v. 6).

(5) “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children … We dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God” (vv. 7, 11, 12).

(6) “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (v. 8). Paul didn’t just show up to preach, but he was in day-to-day interaction with the saints.

(7) “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (v. 9). My salary should not be too much of a burden for my congregation.

(8) “Holy, righteous and blameless we were among you” (v. 10). My life of integrity adds weight to the message that I preach (v. 5).

May all of us who are pastors live and minister like this!

Praying For Your Congregation

I heart my churchPastors often ask for their congregation to pray for them. This is a good thing! But the Apostle Paul gives pastors a model for praying for their congregation.

In his letter to the Church at Philippi, Paul says, “And this is my prayer…” (Philippians 1:9).

First, notice the motivation for Paul’s prayer: thankfulness. He’s not skeptical nor cynical. He doesn’t browbeat them for any shortcomings. He doesn’t think, “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for these people.” No! He was full of thanks that bubbled up in joyful prayer for these precious people (vv. 3, 4).

Paul also had an attitude of confidence for this congregation. He believed they could carry out ministry responsibilities, and that in the process they could continue to mature in Christ (vv. 5, 6).

Paul had affection for this church: he really liked these people! It’s one thing to love someone (after all, Jesus commanded us to do that), but something entirely different when we like being around people. The King James Version says Paul greatly longed after these folks. The Greek is even better—it says he doted on them (v. 8).

With this in mind, look how Paul prayed for these precious folks on whom he doted. He prayed that…

  • …their love might abound
  • …they would increase in knowledge and insight
  • …their level of spiritual discernment would help them always see the best
  • …their purity and blamelessness would remain intact all the days of their life
  • …they would be filled with God’s righteousness
  • …they would bring glory to God

Pastor, this is a great prayer to pray over the precious people on whom you dote!

Preach Like John

John the BaptistThis is a post for my fellow preachers (but the rest of you are free to listen in as well).

When Jesus says someone is the greatest preacher in history, it gets my full attention. Think about what John didn’t have…

  • No church building
  • No platform or pulpit
  • No worship team
  • No sound system
  • No Logos software
  • No library or study
  • No commentaries
  • No PowerPoint or handouts

He only had the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

His sermons were thoroughly grounded in Scripture (Luke 3:4-6).

His sermons were anointed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:66).

His message was simple: “Repent from your sins, and produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:3, 8).

His messages prompted people to ask, “What should we do?” and he gave them Spirit-anointed answers (Luke 3:10-14).

His messages “exhorted the people” and brought “the good news to them” (Luke 3:18).

His sermons unashamedly called out sin (Luke 3:19).

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

Fellow preachers, may we be of the same spirit in our preaching!

7 Quotes For Preachers

PreachingI love getting counsel from been-there-done-that people, because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve. I was reading these quotes for myself, but I thought my fellow pastors might enjoy them as well.

“A sermon is not like a Chinese firecracker to be fired off for the noise which it makes. It is the hunter’s gun, and at every discharge he should look to see his game fall.” ―Henry Ward Beecher

“That is not the best sermon which makes the hearers go away talking to one another, and praising the speaker, but which makes them go away thoughtful and serious, and hastening to be alone.” ―Gilbert Burnet

“Great sermons lead the people to praise the preacher. Good preaching leads to people to praise the Savior.” ―Charles G. Finney

“The priests have so disfigured the simple religion of Jesus that no one who reads the sophistications they have engrafted on it, with the jargon of Plato, or Aristotle, and other mystics, would conceive these could have been fathered on the sublime Preacher of the Sermon on the Mount.” ―Thomas Jefferson

“The sermon edifies, the example destroys. Practice what you preach.” ―Abbé de Villiers

“Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.” ―John Wesley, in his journal

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” ―George Whitefield

The Fearful Privilege Of Being A Pastor

PreachingI was studying the life of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, and I jotted down some thoughts in my journal of what God was speaking to me. But I also felt like this was a message for my fellow pastors as well. So here are my unedited thoughts, just as I penned them in my journal. 

The Lord said to me, “Son of man, look carefully, listen closely and give attention to everything I tell you….” (Ezekiel 44:5).

I have to take personal responsibility for this. This is not something I can pass off to anyone else―“instead of carrying out your duty in regard to My holy things, you put others in charge of My sanctuary” (44:8). No, never!

I have been given the privilege and heavy responsibility for souls in this community. I must, therefore, hear what God has to tell me about this city and these people. He knows, and He wants to share with me. He calls me to look carefully, listen carefully, and give careful attention to what He’s saying. He is desirous that everyone in this community will see His radiant glory (43:2), and―wonders of wonders!―He has asked me to deliver His message of life to my community.

Who am I that You would choose me? But you have, and I am grateful. I am also filled with holy dread that I carry out my duties in a way that pleases and glorifies You, my King. I need Your help. I need to hear Your voice. I need Your Spirit to stamp the image of Christ ever more clearly in me.

May I only live to bring You praise!

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