pulpit

jennmjackson.com

It happened again. Another pastor has fallen. From Mark Driscoll, to Darrin Patrick, Bob Coy, Tullian Tchividjian, and now Perry Noble; the past few years have witnessed more pastoral disqualifications than any of us would like to see.

As a young man with eight mere years of senior pastor experience, I have been attempting to learn and re-learn a few basic-but-essential lessons from these tragedies. A few thoughts for some of us young men in positions of church leadership:

Continue Reading…

It was 1856 and things could not have been going better for Spurgeon.

spurgeonTwenty-two years old, married for about a year, already with twin boys, Spurgeon was also experiencing great blessing in ministry. He was preaching to thousands. On October 19, 1856 some say almost 14,000 gathered to hear him preach, even though only 10,000 fit in the building. They were eager to hear this young pastor who preached the Bible. But there were many jealous people.

That night during the service at around 6 o’clock some people started shouting “fire!”

A stampede broke out, and in the midst of the panic, people trampled over each other causing the death of seven people.

There was no fire.

Because Spurgeon was so distraught over the events that occurred, he was unwilling to preach the next Sunday, he even thought about quitting the ministry altogether. And it wasn’t until the Sunday after that that he was willing to return to the pulpit. Here were his first words as he got up to preach that morning,

Continue Reading…

In the sixth grade I decided I wanted to be a diplomat. I wasn’t sure what a diplomat did, but one of them had a daughter who was in my class; her name was Calin. She spoke with an exotic accent, she got to translocate to a new country every few years, and the best part, according to her, was that her family had diplomatic immunity.

“What’s immunity?” I asked. She went on to patiently explain that immunity is like when you get a shot in your arm so you can’t get the flu. Other people can catch the disease, but you can’t, because you are now immune to it. Similarly, diplomatic immunity meant that Calin’s whole family was immune from getting into trouble of any sort.

Calin jovially boasted how her dad could do anything he wanted, break any law, park where he desired, and wouldn’t get a traffic ticket nor go to jail. You can see how this job would appeal to an eleven year old. I had found my vocation. I would happily take a shot in the arm for that superpower any day!

simpson immunity

It never occurred to me that Calin didn’t quite understand the immunity issue until one day when the teacher left the class with explicit instructions to keep quiet and keep working. Upon her return she found Calin out of her chair and chatting away to a friend. As the teacher tugged her by an ear and led her out of the classroom, the last thing I heard her say was a plaintive squeal, “But I have diplomatic immunity!”

 

Representing your country as an ambassador certainly comes with privileges, but it also brings major responsibilities. Which is a concept with which all Christians should be familiar.

Continue Reading…

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:6–8 –

“Therefore” points us back to Paul’s thoughts, where he celebrated the truth that even if his earthly tent was torn down—even the constant opposition, conflict, and persecution that results from his ministry results in losing his life—he was absolutely certain that God would one day raise him from the dead in a glorified body (2 Cor 5:1–5). And he could be that certain because God Himself had given him a pledge—an earnest—the down payment of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his heart, guaranteeing that God will one day deliver all the fullness of Paul’s heavenly inheritance (2 Cor 5:5).

The Pledge of the Spirit

The consequence of that Spirit-guaranteed assurance of a resurrection body is “good courage.” Verse 6: “Therefore, being always of good courage.” And then again in verse 8: “We are of good courage, I say.” The word means to be boldly and confidently courageous. Whether the beatings and stonings and imprisonments that would come as a result of preaching the Gospel to the lost, or the distrust and the false accusations and the heartache of broken relationships that would come as a result of ministering to the church—he could face any circumstance with courage and confidence.

And as we lay our lives down in the service of Christ and His church, so can we. There is so much strength and courage to be drawn from the reality that the Holy Spirit of God Himself is dwelling in us, fighting sin in us, warring against the flesh in us, and will one day raise our mortal body from the dead into conformity with the body of Christ’s glory. As long as that Spirit dwells in you, and guides you and leads you into holiness, and empowers you for ministry, you need never despair in the midst of your labors. You can be always of good courage. One commentator said, “The good courage that animates the [believers] is as permanent and serene as the Spirit dwelling within” (Hughes, 175). The Father’s pledge of the Spirit in our hearts is cause for fearless sacrificial ministry.

Continue Reading…

Have you ever been disappointed with how small your ministry is?

Perhaps you’re a mom with little children or a small town pastor with a few dozen people, and every once in a while you get an overwhelming sensation of disappointment with how small your ministry is.

This feeling is only multiplied when you are a missionary overseas.  Recently, a team from my church was able to go on a mission trip to Rome, Italy.  With millions of people living in Rome, only 0.01% are evangelical.  This means that Rome is one of the most unreached cities in the world.

small churchOur team of nine people made up about 40% of the Sunday morning church attendance on the Sunday that we were in Rome.  The church of about 20 was missing a family of four, and any time that happens they lose 20% of their congregation.  Nonetheless, it was an incredible service.  People sang with all their hearts, they enjoyed their fellowship together, and—most of all—they loved hearing God’s word.  Perhaps I’m biased since the preacher was my father, but they got to hear an incredible sermon.  They sat under an expositional feast.  The sermon was about Christ’s humiliation out of Philippians 2.  They were fed and fed well.  The most interesting response came from our team.  We were all a little annoyed that only 14 or 15 Italians heard the message.  Thousands upon thousands were living within a square mile of the location where this was happening, but only 15 got to hear this great exposition.  The preacher had spent hours studying the Greek of this passage, hours working on crafting a message and applying a message for these people, and we couldn’t help but wonder was it a waste?

Have you ever felt that way?

This type of thinking is not only wrong and sinful, but it is dangerous, and we really need to check our hearts and learn to be satisfied with the “talents” that God has given us.  Here are a few reasons why we should find satisfaction in whatever ministry God has given to us.

Continue Reading…

Today 52% of Britons are celebrating their week old independence from the EU while their American cousins are celebrating their own independence from Britain. Well, they are celebrating having a day off. Citizenship has varying degrees of meaning to various people. But one thing we all hate is when non-citizens pretend to be citizens. Being caught out can be embarrassing and even dangerous, as was discovered by ten illegal aliens in 2010.passports

The FBI called it Operation Ghost Stories. The mission was to detect and expose the ten Russian deep cover agents who had been living in the USA since the mid 90s.

The spies snuck in unnoticed, and using forged birth certificates they assumed American identities. They bought homes in the suburbs of New Jersey, got jobs, enrolled in universities, and started assimilating into American culture, making friends with people in the government, and even having children together to cultivate the façade of innocuous soccer moms and baseball dads.

Their assignment was to channel classified information to Moscow Center. The problem was that they weren’t very good at it.

Fifteen years into the masquerade and they were still empty-handed. They never transmitted a single shred of classified information. They just seemed to be enjoying middle class suburbia while playing spy vs spy with no real effect. Their tradecraft would later be described in a report as sloppy and amateurish.

They would write messages to each other using invisible ink. You know, like kids do. They delivered information by swapping identical briefcases with other agents on the subway. Oooh sneaky. One spy filled out a form with the following fake home address: 99 Fake Street, USA. I kid you not.

And one of them, Richard Murphy aka Vladimir Guryev, had some really bad luck.

Continue Reading…

SB_1146

This post is an update to an earlier article published on The Master’s Seminary blog, An Imminent Attack on Religious Liberty.

On June 30, a piece of proposed state legislation made its way to the California State Assembly Committee on Judiciary. The bill (SB 1146) has already passed in the state senate by a vote of 26–13.

The next stop for the bill, at this point, is the Assembly Committee on Appropriations, before it goes to the floor for a vote. Because the bill is continually being amended, an analysis of the bill as it currently stands can be read here. Or, for a more readable interpretation of the bill, see here.

The goal of this post is to answer some basic questions about this proposed piece of legislation. 

Continue Reading…

Pro-abortion protesters at the Texas Capitol, opposing a law that would hold abortuaries to the medical standards of surgical centers.

Pro-abortion protesters at the Texas Capitol, opposing a law that would hold abortuaries to the medical standards of surgical centers.

This week the US Supreme Court struck down Texas’ attempts to regulate abortions by ensuring that the “surgical centers” that preformed them met the same regulations as every other surgery center in the state. The court said that this would be an “undo burden” on women, because “common sense” says that most abortion clinics fail to meet medical standards.

The ruling was shocking for a number of reasons. First, this case was completely backwards from the court’s previous abortion cases. In this case, it was the pro-life side that was advocating for women’s protections. In previous attempts to regulate abortion, the pro-abortion side of the argument made appeals to “back-alley abortions” and showed how eliminating abortion facilities would drive women to the “back alley” where they would be harmed.

Then came Kermit Gosnell, the serial killer who operated an abortion clinic as his cover. He killed not only babies in the womb, but also babies that were accidentally delivered alive, as well as a mother. Despite his “house of horrors” (the DA’s phrase), he was allowed to continue murdering people because there were no laws against having an abortuary soaked with cat urine, stained with blood, and filled with disease. In fact, while he was convicted of murder, Gosnell was actually first arrested for giving bogus prescriptions for pain killers.

Continue Reading…

A while back, I wrote an article on truths we’re keeping from our youth groups. While the response was positive, some people wrote back desiring an article directed towards parents.

Parenting is one of the most difficult things God has tasked us with in this life, but it can also be one of the most fulfilling. Parents desire much for their kids: happiness, success, friendship, marriage, and many children. Perhaps the greatest struggle parents have is to balance physical needs and spiritual needs. We all want our kids to be saved, but few want their children to be missionaries, or even worse, martyrs.

The youth leaders also have a difficult responsibility; they want to influence students while also respecting parents and their leadership. Sometimes he or she must tell the children to do things or think things that are different than what their parents believe, and this causes great stress and difficulty for the leaders. Here are some things that most youth leaders wished parents knew and believed before ever dropping their children off for youth group.

Continue Reading…

The reason we all remember where we were on 9/11 is because the events were undeniably dramatic, dastardly, and devastating. We knew we were witnessing something historic and horrifying. Brexit is not that.

A lot of people on Twitter are getting the words “historic” and “histrionics” confused.

EU Referendum

If/when you heard that Britain voted to exit the European Union on Friday, you would have been excused for greeting the news with a nonchalant, meh.Nobody died. No laws were broken. And nothing was lost (if you don’t count the $2,100,000,000,000 that evaporated from the world markets in a puff of panic). In one sense it was just the Brits being British and the world will keep turning. And yet, therein lies the rub. The Brits were being British instead of European, which is what got them on a sticky wicket. (If you’re not in the mood for obscure British idioms, you should stop reading).

If you’re anything like me or millions of other geographically estranged observers, far removed from the epicenter of the fray, you may have these two simple questions: Who cares, and why?

I’m not going to give you the bacon, eggs, Welsh rarebit and Earl Gray version; I’ll give you the pop-tart and black coffee version. For a more satisfying and mentally nourishing explanation of the implications for Western civilization, I refer you to Dr. Al Mohler.

What happened?

Continue Reading…