The Sermon: Aiming For Affect During or Effect After?

9 07 2008

Jonathan Edwards said he aimed for the affect during the sermon.

The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered” — quoted in Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden, pg. 282

So, taking notes during a sermon can be good… as long as we are not thinking that the truth we are hearing/writing is for later. Agreed?


Missionary Death

8 07 2008

Please pray for the family of a summer student missionary in Peru who died in a bus accident.

Personal To-Do. Want to Join In?

8 07 2008

(by: jt)

It has been too long since I’ve seen a well-recognized leader express this sort of powerful movement from God in his life through the means of other well-recognized leaders.

In response I’m making myself a to-do for Thursday of this week (so it doesn’t go into the notorious “never done” to-do’s):

Jordan’ To Do on Thursday, July 10: Read the following email 5 times and listen carefully and prayerfully to both of the sermons mentioned in it with Bible opened, pen in hand, and heart bare before God.

You’re invited to join the to-do from your own private hideout as your schedule allows.

Here’s the aforementioned email…

from Between Two Worlds by

Randy Alcorn, writing about the Monday evening session at the Resolved Conference:

It was an unforgettable evening, one of the most powerful I’ve ever been part of.

All the audio messages from the conference are available for free on the Resolved website; videos of the messages can be downloaded for $4 each. I’d especially recommend downloading CJ’s final message and John Piper’s final message. (These links are to the audio, but if you prefer the video, for the cost of a latte, buy it. Seeing CJ and John will enhance the message, I think.)

CJ and John,

I wanted to send this to the two of you in gratitude (mostly to God, secondarily to you) in particular for the final night of Resolved. I have been moved to tears and deep worship many times, but not in recent memory to the extent that I was Monday night.

Mark 15 and CJ’s “scream of the damned…for us” touched me at a profound level. The Holy Spirit spoke. And though I prayed and knew that John’s message would beautifully end the conference, I was not prepared for the way it happened.

I have never seen, orchestrated or unorchestrated (in this case orchestrated by the Holy Spirit), one single seamless message spoken by two men with nearly an hour between the end of one and the beginning of the other. I stood that night on sacred ground, as did you.

Yesterday early afternoon, in the Palm Springs airport, I opened to Mark 15 and wept again. I then did something I have done only twice before, once on the day my 85-year-old father, in a hospital bed, repented of his sin and surrendered to Christ. The other time when my best friend from childhood died next to me as I was reading to him Revelation 21-22, leaving this world precisely when I was reading 22:17: “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

What I did on those occasions was write a date in my Bible: Feb. 9, 1992 at my Father’s conversion, and October 8, 1992 at my friend Jerry’s home-going between “Come!” and “take the free gift of the water of life.” The date is still there beside the verse I was reading when he died.

Without thinking about this, yesterday at the airport I wrote next to Mark 15:34, “June 16, 2008.” Then something else happened. I wrote after the date, “The Scream of the…” And I suddenly stopped, overwhelmed, breathless, pen frozen in hand. Why? Because I suddenly realized I needed to capitalize the word “Damned.” It was physically hard for me to do it. It seemed almost blasphemous…and so it should.

The unrighteous damned have no right to ask God why He has forsaken them (the reasons are self-evident to all who understand His holiness and our sin), but God’s Son the Beloved One had the right to ask, even knowing the answer and having participated in eternity past in the damning decision. He is the Lamb damned before the foundation of the world. So while the (lower case) damned will scream forever, ultimately there is only one Scream of the (upper case) Damned. Unthinkable. Inconceivable. And yet it happened…for us.

A flood of tears came as God preached the message to me yet again. That Deity would be Damned. That the God who is called upon righteously by the saints and angels in heaven to damn people, and called upon habitually by unbelievers flippantly and unrighteously to damn people, would in fact damn his Son, would (from the Son’s willingness to drink the cup) damn himself…for us. That it could be said of the Beloved One, “God damned Him,” and that He screamed the scream of the Damned….it was too much for me. It is too much for me this moment. And in the ages to come it will continue to be too much for me.

The cup of His suffering has long seemed deep to me, but never deeper than Monday night and the two days since.

Thank you, brothers, for being cleansed vessels, usable for eternal purposes. It was not only 3300 students whose hearts were marked for eternity Monday night. It was mine. You are not celebrities to me, but you are my mentors, in more ways that I can express. Thank you.

And thank you, Lord, for these two men, who you used as one on Monday night—guard their hearts and empower them to finish well, bowing their knees to you moment by moment, day by day.

And thanks forever to the One who screamed the scream of the Damned…and whose praises we will sing for all eternity.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Grateful to be eternally undamned by the Damned,

Randy Alcorn

How Do You Hear?

7 07 2008

(by: jt)

A great observation from the ‘parable of the soils’ by John Piper:

“When you hear preaching or read your Bible take hold of it like a miser taking hold of gold and silver. Take hold of it like a pearl of great price and a treasure in a field. Take hold of it like a drowning man seizes a float. Fight off every word-destroying demonic bird and burning affliction and deceitful desire. Then you will “have” and “more will be given.” You will bear fruit with patience.”

Read the whole thing

Two Resources: Firefox & Google Reader

5 07 2008

Most of you know about and use these already. But, I’m surprised how many folks I talk with who don’t know about (or haven’t taken time to figure out how to use) these great resources:

  1. The New Firefox (Downloading is simple)
  2. Google Reader
  • Google Reader is an excellent tool for keeping track of blogs, in addition to being a MEGA time-saver. Customizing it up is simple. I’ve been using it for a long time now. You’ll never have to check to see if a blog has been updated again. Reader brings updates to you.

Pastoral Devotion – #2

5 07 2008

Another great quote from Spurgeon via Bryan’s staff devo this week:

“Oh! my brethren, there is nothing that can so advantage you, nothing can so prosper you, so assist you, so make you walk towards heaven rapidly, so keep you head upwards towards the sky, and your eyes radiant with glory, like the imitation of Jesus Christ.”

Summer of Spreading: The Importance of Knowing God

3 07 2008

(by: Rick C.)

* Rick is a member of Grace who has walked with the Lord longer than Grace’s pastors have been alive ;-).

Jordan: Rick, from your perspective, would you give us your thoughts on how the Nature of God is central to being enabled to live the Christian life?

Rick: Our God is immutable, He says “I change not“, but it is God’s nature to change us. In 2 Cor. 3:18, Paul says ‘as we behold the glory of the LORD we are being transformed into the same image’.

Jordan: If the Nature of God is so central to being transformed into Christ’s likeness, would you suggest ways that anyone reading this could start using the Bible to learn more about beholding God in the fullness of His Nature?

Rick: It is his nature to use obedient, submissive, redeemed men to preserve His name and to proclaim it to a new generation. At Grace, for example, we have seen…

It is our God’s nature to declare with authority who He is. This he does through His preached and read Word. It would be helpful to carefully consider each of these passages.

Jordan: Since those are examples of how you have seen God’s Nature through worshiping Him with Grace Church, is there anything that makes you certain that focusing on God’s nature with the congregation has been nourishing for you?

Rick: The corporate prayer, singing, pastoral prayer, scripture reading, sermon, and offering are all God-centered. So there is always a banquet table set before us like in Song of Solomon 2:4. No pot lucks here. Every service we feast on the Bread sent from heaven. A central aspect of God’s Nature is to feed His children.

Jordan: What is the most important thing that comes to your mind as you contemplate the Nature of God?

Rick: Our God is a jealous God, Ex. 34:14, and he is jealous for His Name.

Jordan: What would you say to the popular suggestion that everyone “connects” with God in his or her own way?

Rick: Well, it’s the One True God’s Nature that only after one’s regeneration does He allow us to respond to his attributes as we should.

Jordan: So, why do you love God?

Rick: I love our Triune God because He has made me glad that He changes not, and that He changes me.

Jordan: Thank you Rick for stirring us up with these thoughts!

* If this interaction rouses your interest, or seems unfamiliar to you, it would be our joy to dialogue with you more about how lasting joy can be found in your life as you live with all your might to glorify God by treasuring Jesus Christ and spreading His eternal joy!