Archives For Josh Thiessen

June 2, 2016

Fearing the mic

by Josh Thiessen

For many the fear of public speaking is rated higher even than their fear of death. Personally, I was scared to death (no pun intended) of speaking publicly growing up. So as I began taking leadership roles in the church (teaching Sunday school, preaching, etc.), it took me a long time to get comfortable in front of people and confront my fear of man.

The more I have preached the more comfortable I get. But lately, I have realized that their should always be some level of caution or fear when preaching. Teaching is a a great responsibility and should foster a healthy level of glossophobia because teachers will face a greater judgment (James 3:1) . When I first started preaching, I could easily trace my fear to a sinful desire to please man. Now, I’m discovering a healthy fear that includes my judgment before God for the things I teach. I think examining both fears are healthy for every teacher in the church. Continue Reading…

Little_country_church_Cedar_Valley_near_Winona,_MNIn my first five years of pastoral ministry, I can look back at a lot of different situations that shock or surprise me. Some people had far more spiritual depth than I thought and others were as shallow as a shower. But one of the simple, surprising blessings in my life is the opportunity to preach the Word of God weekly and to never miss a Sunday gathering.

As a pastor of a smaller church, I don’t get to sleep in, call in sick or take a quick family vacation over the weekend. I’ve heard people say, “it’s your job” or “you get paid to do this.” I understand that, but I want to communicate to them what an awesome blessing it is to be, in a sense, “forced” to go to church week in and week out. I want to encourage other pastors and people to embrace the monotony of weekly attendance by looking at some of the grace that rubs off on us.


Each week Christians gather to worship God and celebrate the gospel the first day of the week through prayer, music, giving, the preaching of the Word, baptism and the Lord’s Table. But there are many other benefits that we get by “not forsaking the assembling” (Heb 10:25).

One of those is fellowship. We are forced to spend time with other people. In a culture saturated by social media, electronic devices and sixty-hour workweeks, church is often one of the few places of fellowship that people have throughout the week. We need other Christians to sharpen us spiritually (Prov 27:17), hold us accountable and practice the one another’s of Scripture. Just as marriage is sanctifying because of my wife’s influence on me, so the church is sanctifying for each member as they interact with one another. This can be through the positive acts of serving and helping others or through significant challenges or disagreements. Different people bring out different parts of each person, the best and the worst, and both help us grow in our relationship with Christ. Continue Reading…

Young pastors and young churches (I belong to both categories) can be short sighted and lack patience. We want results next week, or we think God isn’t working. But as I have learned and know from Scripture, God’s ways are not our ways. One encouragement to this end for me has been reading and (thanks to technology) listening to church history.800px-Grace_Community_Church_sign

I am currently preaching through Acts in the church plant that I pastor, which is roughly 7 months old. Preparing for Acts 11, I listened to a sermon by John MacArthur from May 6, 1973. There is one section in which he addresses Grace Community Church, explains where they are at spiritually and where he is praying that they will go. Here is an excerpt (it’s lengthy but worth every second):   Continue Reading…

December 12, 2012

Expositional Evangelism

by Josh Thiessen

A Christians most powerful weapon in evangelism is a persuasive personality and lifestyle characterized by good deeds. Right? If you were to look at some of the most prominent evangelical figures and “evangelists,” you might come to that conclusion.

.But if its true, I’m in trouble.  I’m not much of a salesman, and I’m sure if someone knows me long enough, my own sin will undermine the very gospel I desire to model to my neighbors. Too many Christians have fallen into this salesman trap, and they try to sell people on the “benefits” of being a Christian, but their message lacks authority and does not produce conviction. The idea is if you flash just the right smile, surely unbelievers will see how genuine and wonderful you are.


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Technology has changed the way that we live as Christians, and it continually surprises me how technology evolves, particularly how we interact with sermons. In just the past few years, it has gone from a person being able to throw tapes or CDs into their car all the way to having instant access to every sermon a pastor has ever preached on your phone.

Since high school, I have enjoyed listening to sermons while I work around the house, workout or drive. It has been a significant source of encouragement and edification, which is why I was so excited last week when Desiring God introduced their new app.

This application gives instant access to all of John Piper’s sermons and Desiring God conferences. Already this week, I have listened to Piper’s biographies of John Owen and JC Ryle. Both have encouraged me and motivated me to excellence and faithfulness in ministry.

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Programs are useful things, but they are not ministry in and of themselves. I appreciate the illustration given in the title of Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s book, The Trellis and the Vine. In it, programs are likened to a trellis that provides a structure for the growing vines (i.e. people). This helpful illustration properly places church programs as a means not an end.

As a pastor at a church that is potentially going from a high school to a permanent building soon, there have been many discussions on how to utilize the new building. For the first time we can have ministries throughout the week at a central location anytime we want. The possibilities seem endless. But we have to evaluate these potential new programs and the old ones to see if they are the best ways to accomplish ministry in our local context. Here are some criteria I am personally using: Continue Reading…

History is like a redemptive current that individuals get swept up in. In Genesis 3:15, the first glimpse of what history is moving towards is seen. God makes his first promise of a future salvation and victory over Satan by promising that an offspring of Eve will crush Satan’s head. This future person is further defined in Genesis 15 and Genesis 49. He will come from the descendants of Abraham, the nation Israel, and specifically, the tribe Judah.

Then there is a quantum leap forward in our understanding of the coming Messiah in 2 Samuel 7. The search is narrowed to a certain king named David, and God reveals that he has global plans for this local king. Continue Reading…

Theme of Philemon: forgiveness.

I remember memorizing that statement over and over again for my ordination class in seminary. Philemon is a book that demonstrates the power of Christian love and forgiveness. Yet, reading and studying it again years later, I am struck not just by the theme of forgiveness, but by Paul’s ability to shepherd and disciple both Philemon and Onesimus and now understand that this book has many pastoral insights to be mined.

The Apostle Paul handles a very difficult situation masterfully. In this short epistle, you find that Paul had met and discipled a runaway slave named Onesimus, and that during this process, it was revealed that Paul knew Onesimus’ master and in fact had discipled him, Philemon, as well.

While in prison at Rome, Paul desired to orchestrate the reconciliation between these two men. Onesimus had wronged his master by running away and by law Philemon had every right to punish him. Paul did not want this outcome. Onesimus was now a brother in Christ and useful for ministry. He desired for both men to reconcile and be an example of how Christian brothers should treat and love one another.

As Paul wrote this letter, there are a few things about the way he approaches Philemon that struck me as valuable lessons for how to approach a person when seeking to give them counsel specifically for one who has authority like a pastor:

1)   Paul opens with tender language that establishes their relationship. Continue Reading…

One of my pet peeves is to visit a church that labels the music portion of their service simply “worship.” Because before you know it, worship becomes opposed to the rest of the service. You worship then you give. You worship then you listen to a sermon. I hope the problem is apparent.

Worship should describe the entirety of a church service and one’s life. My goal is not to be the word police, but I want to provide some reasons why pastors and churches should refer to their music time as musical worship.

You worship then you give…?

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A month ago, Jesse published a couple  paragraphs that changed his life, and it got me thinking about some of the most impactful paragraphs I have listened to or read. I heard one of those paragraphs by Jonathan Edwards while listening to Steve Lawson’s sermon titled, “The Use of Your Time” from the Resolved Conference.

Later, I read Jonathan Edwards entire sermon called The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It. But there was one paragraph in particular that truly changed my life. It still rings in my ear and almost whispers over my shoulder as I sit at my desk every morning. While arguing for the preciousness of time, Edwards gives this as his second argument: Continue Reading…