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Archive for November, 2009

Thomas Watson wrote,

A man has no time for which he is not accountable to God. If his very diversions are not governed by reason and religion he will one day suffer for the time he has spent in them.

The apostle Paul, in Ephesians 5:15-16 wrote,

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Because we are accountable before God for our time, we must “redeem the time” (which is another way of translating “making the most of our time”) and use it wisely.

I know I don’t speak for everyone, but time management is something I struggle with from time to time. I’m certain that nearly all of us will look back with some regret on the time we have wasted or not used to the fullest. Thankfully, however, through Christ, God is very forgiving.

As we live “Coram Deo,” may we remember that.

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The learning curve for pastors, especially new ones, can be pretty steep. Good, practical advice from other men in the ministry is like a cup of cold water on a scorching day. Here are five books that have meant a lot to me as a shepherd of God’s people.

  1. Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper. A series of articles Piper wrote for his denominational publication focusing on pastors and pastoral ministry. Excellent.
  2. Liberating Ministry form the Success Syndrome by R. Kent Hughes. It can be hard to minister without subtly (or not so subtly) adapting the world’s definition of success. Hughes provides a good counterbalance.
  3. On Being A Servant of God by Warren Wiersbe. Pastors are first and foremost servants. Thank you for the reminder, Warren!
  4. Called to Ministry by Edmund Clowney. Professor Clowney outlines the biblical basis and support for God’s call to ministry.
  5. The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. I had to have at least one Puritan on the list! More than anything, Baxter’s love and concern for his congregation comes through.

Of course there are more good, and even excellent, books on the subject of pastoral ministry, but these five are a good place to start. Even if you’re not a pastor, these books would be good for you to read – you just might understand your pastor and his vocation a little better!

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A Doxological Greeting

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him all creatures here below;

Praise Him above ye heavenly host!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.

Don’t forget to take some time today and thank the One who created you, gave you everything you have, and sustains you with blessings too numerous to count.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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(This is the fourth in an occasional series.)

#4 – Have pencil and paper ready.

This tip has two benefits.

First, we can more easily remember what we’ve read if we take the time to write some things down. I don’t know how many times I’ve finished reading something and have almost no idea of what I’d read. Taking notes, writing down important thoughts, and asking questions will help us learn and remember the content of God’s Word.

As you read, write down verses that mean something to you or that you’d like to memorize. If you have any thoughts about the passage, write them out. Outline the section you’re reading and try to find the main idea. If you’re engaged with the Scriptures, there will be all kinds of things that will capture your attention.

Second, writing down your questions about what you’ve read will help you learn and grow (of course, that includes your attempts to answer those questions!). When we read, we’ll have questions. We shouldn’t run away from them, but rather seek to find answers for them. When you have a question, write it down, but don’t stop reading. Come back to it later and try to find an answer to it. Write your answer down, too, by the way. If you’re reading through the gospel of Matthew, for instance, write down all the questions you have and work on answering them when you’ve finished reading the entire book. Believe me, it will be worth your while.

One reason for waiting to answer questions is that it can bog us down and derail our reading. It would be possible for us to spend weeks trying to answer a single question while our reading schedule comes to a screeching halt. Another reason is that the question may be answered in the book you’re reading.

What’s the difference between reading and study? A pencil and paper.

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