11 Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

John Piper has written a book that I think every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. You can read my review of this book here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. … The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.”

“I defined spiritual leadership as ‘knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.’ …  So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory.”

“The Son of Man has not come seeking employees. He has come to employ Himself for our good.”

“In this fallen world, the tide is always going out. That is, the affections of our people have for God Himself (as distinct from His gifts) are continually prone to shrink. Our job is to tilt the world, by the power of the Spirit and the Word, so that the tide rolls in again.”

“A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit knows neither God nor himself.”

“Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Love is a gift of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Faith is a gift of God (1 Timothy 1:14). Wisdom is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). Joy is a gift of God (Romans 15:13). Yet as pastors we must labor to ‘save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must stir up the people to love (Hebrews 10:24). We must advance their faith (Philippians 1:25). We must impart wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7). We must work for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). We are called to labor for that which is God’s alone to give. The essence of the Christian ministry is that its success is not within our reach.”

“Are not our people really yearning to be around a man who has been around God? Is it not the lingering aroma of prayer that gives a sense of eternity to all our work?”

“Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.”

“The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory.”

“He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by being rooted in it and by saturating his sermon with God’s own revelation in the Bible. The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.”

“Our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us week after week depend in large measure on our faithful attention to personal holiness and sound teaching” [see 1 Timothy 4:16]. … Oh, how earnest we should be in attending to ourselves and the soundness and helpfulness of our teaching!”

13 Quotes From “So Send I You”

So Send I You is a series of lectures from Oswald Chambers to Christian missionaries. Check out my full review of this book by clicking here.

“Intuition is the power to sense things without reasoning, and is a better guide than what is stated explicitly; but there is something infinitely more satisfactory—the entrance of the Holy Spirit into a man at new birth enabling him to see the kingdom of God and to enter into it.”

“The realization of the call of God in a man’s life may come as with a sudden thunder-clap or by a gradual dawning, but in whatever way it comes, it comes with the undercurrent of the supernatural, almost the uncanny; it is always accompanied with a glow—something that cannot be put into words. We need to keep the atmosphere of our mind prepared by the Holy Spirit lest we forget the surprise of the touch of God on our lives.”

“We are apt to have the idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘doormat’ of other men; he is their spiritual leader, but never their superior. … I am not to come among men as a superior person, I am to come among men as the love-slave of Jesus Christ.” 

“Loose, trailing, uninspired thinking about sin will very soon trip us up. Gird up your thinking about sin, about holiness, about the eternal realities and the call of the unseen things.”

“To be a witness of Jesus means that when any duty presents itself we hear His voice just as He heard His Father’s voice, and we are ready for it with all the alertness of our love for Him.”

“Never put a thing aside because it is insignificant. If you trace it down, the insignificant thing has at the back of it the disposition of my right to myself. … Never discard a conviction; if it is important enough for the Spirit of God to have brought it to your mind, that is the thing He is detecting. You were looking for a great big thing to do, and God is telling you of some tiny thing; but at the back of the tiny thing is the central citadel of obstinacy.”

“Our Lord never called us to successful service; He calls us to present Him: ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ God saves men; we are sent out to present Jesus Christ and His Cross, and to disciple the souls He saves. The reason we do not make disciples is that we are not disciples ourselves, we are out for our own ends.”

“In order to plough a straight furrow, you must look neither at the plough nor behind you, but at the far end of the field ahead. When once the call of God comes, begin to go and never stop going, no matter how many delightful resting places there may be on the way.”

“The attitude of the Christian life is that we must be prepared now, this second; this is the time. … It is easy to talk, easy to have fine thoughts; but none of that means being a disciple. Being a disciple is to be something that is an infinite satisfaction to Jesus every minute, whether in secret or in public.”

“The method of missions is clearly stated in each of the four Gospels. St. Matthew records the farewell command which Jesus gave to His disciples, and that command is to teach, i.e., disciple all nations; not make converts to our way of thinking, but make disciples of Jesus. In St. Mark’s Gospel the method is defined as preaching the gospel to every creature, accompanied by the power to cast out devils, and to speak with new tongues. In St. Luke’s Gospel the method is described as preaching repentance and remission of sins unto all the nations, and in St. John’s Gospel the method is described by Our Lord as feeding His sheep and tending His lambs.”

“If you put the worship of God first, and get the revelation of Who God is, then, when the call comes you will be ready for it, because of the worship and preparing in the unseen life, when the strain comes you are perfectly fit to be relied on by God. Worshiping is greater than work in that it absorbs work.”

“‘I have given them the glory that You gave Me’ [John 17:22]. What was the glory that Jesus had when He was Son of Man? It was not an external glory; Jesus effaced the Godhead in Himself so effectually that man without the Spirit of God despised Him. His glory was the glory of actual holiness, and that is the glory He says He gives to the saint. The glory of the saint is the glory of actual holiness manifested in actual life here and now.”

“If we try to get ‘head first’ into what Our Lord teaches, we shall exhibit the same stupidity as the disciples did, until we have received the Holy Spirit and learned to rely on Him, and to interpret the words of Jesus as He brings them to our mind.”

You can read some of the longer passages from this book that I share in my weekly “Thursdays With Oswald” feature.

11 Quotes For Pastors From “Interpretation Of The Scriptures”

You don’t have to be a pastor to benefit from reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures by A.W. Pink, rather I think all students of the Bible will benefit from reading this classic book. However, the Apostle James did warn that “not many of you should presume to be teachers” because “we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). In that light, A.W. Pink directs several of this comments in this book exclusively to those who teach/preach from the Bible. Here are a few of those quotes.

“The preacher’s task is both the most honorable and the most solemn of any calling, the most privileged and at the same time the most responsible one.”

“The ministry is no place for trifiers and idlers, but for those who are prepared to spend and be spent in the cause of Christ. The preacher ought to work harder than the miner, and to spend more hours per week in his study than does the man of business in his office.”

“Particularly does the minister need to attend unto this injunction ‘take heed unto thyself’ in his study of the Scriptures, reading them devotionally ere he does so professionally; that is, seeking their application and blessing to his own soul before searching for sermonic materials.”

“To ‘open’ the Scriptures helpfully to the saints requires something more than a few months’ training in a Bible institute, or a year or two in a seminary. None but those who have been personally taught of God in the hard school of experience are qualified so to ‘open’ the Word that Divine light is cast upon the spiritual problems of the believer, for while Scripture interprets experience, experience is often the best interpreter of Scripture.”

“The preacher should be with his time as the miser is with his gold—saving it with care, and spending it with caution.”

“Great care needs ever to be taken that we do not expound our own minds instead of God’s.”

“The preacher should be, above everything else, a man of the Book, thoroughly versed in the contents of God’s Word, one who is able to bring forth out of his treasure ‘things new and old’ (Matthew 13:52). The Bible is to be his sole text-book, and from its living waters he is to drink deeply and daily.”

“Commentaries we consult only after we have made a first-hand and exhaustive study of a passage.”

“It is at the feet of God that the preacher must take his place, learning from Him the meaning of His Word, waiting upon Him to open its mysteries, looking to Him for his message.” 

“To discourse upon the chemical properties of food will not feed a starving man, neither will tracing out the roots of the Hebrew and Greek words (necessary though that be in its proper place) the better enable Christ’s followers to fight the good fight of faith.”

“Scripture must be allowed to speak for itself, and it does so only so far as the preacher sets forth its genuine import. Not only is he to explain its terms, but also the nature of the ideas they express, otherwise he is apt to make use of scriptural terms and yet give them an unscriptural sense.”

To read the other quotes I shared from Interpretation Of The Scriptures, click here. You may also check out my full book review by clicking here.

13 Introspective Questions From “Longing For A Changed World”

As Ralph Lehman made his case for Christian to (re)establish a prayer focus for revival in his book Longing For A Changed World, he asked several penetrating questions. Here are a few of them for you to consider.

“[Josiah’s revival] was one revival that began with the leaders of government. Are we praying for our leaders?”

“Our government has entered many areas that were once considered to be the Church’s sphere of ministry. How can we lead our churches back into these areas?”

“Have you considered that you are grieving the Spirit when you deprive Him of conversing with God by choosing not to pray?”

“As men of prayer, should we not strive to be like the great prayer warriors of the Bible?”

“Tertullian, a church father who lived in the Roman Empire around 200 A.D., stated that the Roman emperor and his armies benefited greatly from the prayers of the Christians who interceded on their behalf. Can we present the same argument to our political leaders today?”

“What would we be willing to leave or to set aside for the sake of more time in prayer, seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God?”

“Do we seek the Lord of revival, or merely desire His blessings?”

“If we do not enjoy God’s presence, through His Word and prayer, we are missing the true blessing God intends for us—the blessing of Himself. If we will not seek the presence of God day by day, how can we expect Him to go with us in our daily lives?”

“If God was willing to take the Israelites into the Promised Land without His presence [Exodus 33:3-4], what does this say to the proponents of the ‘health and wealth’ gospel?”

“Even though we have been blessed immeasurably by living here in the United States, do our hearts long for God’s rule to be acknowledged in our land? Do we yearn to abide in His presence? Or are we idle in our contentment with the milk and honey?”

“Sometimes, our areas of giftedness become spheres where we fail to ask God for strength. Have you considered your strengths may be the very areas that satan exploits?”

“Are we praying for revival, are we also praying that we would conduct ourselves in such a way that the world would take notice, even if this meant for us to suffer?”

“Is the God of today’s church big enough to surprise us?”

You can check out some other quotes from Longing For A Changed World by clicking here, and my full book review is available here.

If (book review)

Amy Carmichael was a committed follower of Jesus Christ! She served as a missionary in India, where she operated an orphanage, for 55 years. During all that time, she never took a furlough, but remained at her post, faithfully loving Indian children with God’s love. She wrote a number of books, but perhaps the most hard-hitting is a little book simply called If.

This isn’t a book for everyone. In fact, Amy herself wrote, “It is clear, I think, that such a booklet as this is not meant for everyone, but only for those who are called to be undershepherds.” By ‘undershepherds,’ Amy is referring to those who feel God has called them into full-time vocational ministry.

(A little side-note. I feel the Bible is clear that all followers of Christ are to be involved in ministry [see Ephesians 4:11-16], but God has appointed some to positions where their ministry is also their vocation. These ‘undershepherds’ [see 1 Peter 5:2-3] will have to give account to God for the handling of their vocational ministry [Hebrews 13:17]. It is to these folks that Amy writes.)

Amy set the bar high for herself. She expected to be continually growing in her level of commitment to Christ, and she expected that her outward life would continually show greater devotion to her Savior. If comes out of Amy’s personal introspection in the Holy Spirit’s presence on how she was progressing in her faith-walk with God.

If is written as a series of challenges that all follow the same format: “If I don’t measure up to God’s standard in this area … then I know nothing of Calvary love.” I realize this sounds challenging. In fact, this book smacked me right between the eyes! This is why If is only for a small segment of people.

What Does The Bible Say About Church Leaders?

God’s plan has always been for His leaders to organize and oversee His ministry.

The important thing for us to distinguish is “His.” It’s not a man or woman saying, “I will be a leader,” or even a God-appointed leader saying, “I am going to build up my ministry.”

The New Testament gives us a fourfold purpose for the Body of Christ:

  1. Mobilizing for evangelism
  2. Organizing for more meaningful ministry
  3. Making disciple-makers
  4. Caring for one another

We see God’s leaders involved in all of these aspects—

Mobilizing for evangelism—Peter pointed out the need for an apostle to be appointed to replace Judas, thus returning their ranks to the 12 apostles just as Jesus had originally said (Acts 1:15-22).

Organizing for more meaningful ministry—Everywhere Paul founded a church, he also appointed leaders to oversee and shepherd that church.

Making disciple-makers—Paul tells us that God appointed five offices of leaders in the church who had the specific task of preparing church members to do the ministry of building maturity in the church (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Caring for one another—The First Church set the pace for providing care for all who were in need, including organizing leaders to oversee specific care ministries (Acts 6:1-5).

What about a church congregation’s responsibility to their leaders? I see five areas:

  1. Hold them accountable to the Word (Acts 17:11). The Bible has to be THE standard to which leaders are held.
  2. Give them your confidence and submission after they have shown accountability to their biblical mandate (Hebrews 13:17).
  3. Pray for them (Ephesians 6:19).
  4. Pay them (1 Timothy 5:17).
  5. Be very careful about accusing them (1 Timothy 5:19).

A church and its leaders following this biblical pattern is a church that can effectively fulfill the Great Commission which Jesus gave us.

Thursdays With Oswald—Ready For God … No Matter What

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Ready For God—No Matter What

     The greatest need of the missionary is to be ready to face Jesus Christ at any and every turn…. The great battle all along is not so much against sin, as against being so absorbed in work that we are not ready to face Jesus Christ. … This attitude of being ready to face Him means more and more disentanglement from so-called religious work, and more and more intense spiritual reality in so-called secular work. The whole meaning of the Christian life from Our Lord’s standpoint is to be ready for Him. … 

     Jesus appears in the most illogical connections, where we least expect Him…. When we are rightly related to God, life is full of spontaneous joyful uncertainty and expectancy—we do not know what God is going to do next; and He packs our life with surprises all the time. …  

     Readiness implies a right relationship to God and a knowledge of where we are at present. We are so busy telling God where we should like to go. Most of us are waiting for some great opportunity, something that is sensational, then we cry—“Here am I; send me.” … But readiness for God and for His work means that we are ready to do the tiniest thing or the great big thing, it makes no difference. … 

     Remember there is no such thing as prominent service and obscure service; it is all the same with God. 

From So Send I You (emphasis mine)

I fear that many Christians have the idea that “missionary work” or “ministry work” is a separate calling from their “real work.” But according to both the biblical examples and these thoughts from Oswald Chambers, ALL work can be spiritual / missionary / ministry work if we are simply ready for God to use us.

What about you? Are you ready to be surprised by God? Are you ready to be His ministry whenever and wherever He wants to use you?

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