These days I am preaching on psalm 73 at Wangsung English Ministry . This is a very deep wisdom psalm and it has a ‘pivotal’ role in the editing of the Psalter (it appears in the middle of the Psalter, the first of Book III).
To prepare for my sermon I try to read a few good commentaries (the best must be the one by Allen P. Ross) and to listen to a few good sermons (usually from the Gospel Coalition site). Of course – one of the best on this must be Martyn-Lloyd Jones (see his book Faith on Trial).
This week I decided to also take a look at the Jewish perspective, and I found in my library the book A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, by Jonathan Magonet. It has some good insights, but I am not sure (from reading only the section on psalm 73), that it is worth the buy.
In any case, I find this quote from Levi Yitschak of Berditchev useful in connection with Psalm 73 (p. 188):
“I do not beg You to reveal to me the secret of Your ways – I could not bear it. But show me one thing; show it to me more clearly and more deeply; show me what this, which is happening at this very moment, means to me, what it demands of me, what You, Eternal One of the world, are telling me by way of it. Ah, it is not why I suffer, that I wish to know, but only whether I suffer for Your sake.”
Tatsuya Shindo was a gangster in Japan. More precisely he was a Yakuza.
He converted to Christianity in one of his prison stints and is now a pastor/preacher in a converted bar. You can read more about him here.
What really inspired me, and should encourage every church planter, was his commitment to preaching. After he became a Christian in prison, he felt called to be a pastor and to preach the gospel. According to his testimony at the TTGU Chapel, he preached for 6 months only to a dog. That was his only audience, but he persevered because he believed that God called him to preach the Gospel.
How many of us have displayed and will display that kind of commitment and perseverence?
Now he has been blessed by the Lord. His church is full and he has been used by God for a revival in some of Japan’s toughest jails.
Praise the Lord and let’s keep our brother Tatsuya Shindo and Japan in our prayers. Maybe revival in Japan will start from the prison!?
I am back from India and from a short vacation.
I feel that I need some solid teaching from people who are wiser than me (and there are many of those).
Therefore, I decided to watch live the conference on manhood from John Piper’s pastoral conference.
Doug Wilson has has started with “Father Hunger” in Leading the Home. It looks good with solid biblical teaching. I highly recommend it.
If you are interested, you can find the link here: http://www.desiringgod.org/live. ENJOY!
I am still in Seoul. And it is cold (-5C). But thank God for my warm office (thanks to my portable heater) and so much more!
While I am still preaching through Isaiah 9:6 (I should preach on Sunday on “Prince of Peace”) I find it easier to borrow from someone else than to write my own Christmas thoughts (I may have more to say on Saturday evening, but that is kind of late :)).
Great points and hard to argue with the man!
Here are some of my favorite lines:
“I think we have it all backwards. We have it sunk deep into our collective cultural consciousness that Christmas is for the happy people. You know, those with idyllic family situations enjoyed around stocking-strewn hearth dreams. Christmas is for healthy people who laugh easily and at all the right times, right? The successful and the beautiful, who live in suburban bliss, can easily enjoy the holidays…Jesus came for those who look in the mirror and see ugliness. Jesus came for daughters whose fathers never told them they were beautiful. Christmas is for those who go to “wing night” alone…Christmas is for prostitutes, adulterers, and porn stars who long for love in every wrong place…Christmas is really about the gospel of grace for sinners. Because of all that Christ has done on the cross, the manger becomes the most hopeful place in a universe darkened with hopelessness. In the irony of all ironies, Christmas is for those who will find it the hardest to enjoy. It really is for those who hate it most.”
Even though I was raised in a Romanian Baptist family without any access to the church fathers or the reformers (it was under communism when Christian literature was very scarce), I was attracted toward them from the very beginning. While many of the church fathers are usually associated with the Orthodox Church which was understood as being (mostly) dead in Romania when I grew up as a Baptist, there is no doubt in my mind that many of the writings of the church fathers are still very useful for the church. After all, the Holy Spirit has a history, and to read the Bible with the church fathers, the Reformers, and the Puritans is like having a bible study across the centuries.
HAPPY RESURRECTION SUNDAY to all!
I recently read a story about a group of about eleven women who were asked if they were faithful to their husbands. Only one answered in the affirmative. Another one of them was also faithful, but was too ashamed to raise her hand to acknowledge that.
This is the kind of culture in which we live, a culture in which people are ashamed of fidelity. Al Mohler, the president of Southern Seminary is correct when he says that “we are an adulterous generation.” And this is confirmed by a spokesman of Generation X: “We are the first generation in which adultery is now not an issue. We have so little expectation of monogamy or of faithfulness, adultery is just no big deal.” Gladly, that is not true of his entire generation, but it does seem increasingly true of the culture at large.
However, in this context of unfaithfulness, when society considers adultery the modern/sophisticated (even mature) way to live, the Bible is again countercultural by insisting that the mature is the one who lives in obedience to God. And God’s word on this issue is very clear and direct: You shall not commit adultery! In an “adulterous generation” we are called to faithfulness in marriage.
Here is a great interview of Bono from The Poached Egg.
This is a heavily edited interview with Bhatti in Seoul, Korea. The editing was done mostly by a student from TTGST. For the interview I had about 5 written questions, but I also asked him some random questions when I did not forget what I wanted to ask! 🙂
I just started another website to post some material related to this. You can find the new website here Preaching the Ten Commandments.
When I heard about the intention of the senior pastor I was not very excited. I never preached from the ten commandments and I was planning to continue my preaching through Genesis (the Isaac story), and later from Ecclesiastes. However, since pastor Steve Chang started preaching through the ten commandments while I was in the hospital (he preached through the first four), I had to continue when I came out, especially since he left for his sabbatical.
As I started preparing for my sermons I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in preaching through the ten commandments, as they reflect the character of God and as the law functions as a mirror that should lead us to God and the cross. (Of course – the law has other functions: map/guide, muzzle/restrain etc).
So far – I find these books the most useful for my preparation (my time is limited, partly because of my knee injury):
Keeping the Ten Commandments by J. I Packer – this is a good and brief introduction to the commandments from a great contemporary theologian.
Written in Stone: The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Ryken – this is the best resource for teaching/preaching I have found so far. It is very insightful and informed!!! He gives very good guidelines for understanding OT law and has a very good grasp of the Reformed catechisms (Heidelberg and Westminster) and of today’s culture.
Words from the Fire by Albert Mohler – this is also very insightful, but I find Ryken better.
You can get all of these 3 books on KINDLE (as I did), and that makes it much easier to take notes. If you can only afford two (or have limited time), go for the first two.
Two more books look useful, but I have not been able to access one of them in time though I wish I had it (it is not available in Kindle):
How Jesus Transforms the Ten Commandments by Edmund Clowney. I do not have access to this, but knowing Clowney’s theology and preaching I am sure it would be very useful. See the first review on Amazon for a good idea about this book.
The Ten Commandments in History: Mosaic Paradigms for a Well-Ordered Society also looks good (and I found it in my library), but I have not had very much time to look at this and I haven’t used it (almost) at all in my preparation. However, it seems worth looking at especially for its chapter on Jonathan Edwards etc.
My sermons (from the 5th commandment on) can be found here. They are from the early (10 a.m.) service because the second one is not recorded anymore. However, starting in March we will have only one service at 11:30 am.
Again – some material/notes for preaching the ten commandments should be poster here: Preaching the Ten Commandments.