Archives For Josh Thiessen

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…