Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We're Moving

Friends,

Ecclesiophilist is moving to a new address. The archives will be there as well. Soon, this site will not be active any longer.

Our new address is:

www.ecclesiophilist.wordpress.com

See you there!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Evangelicalism the New Mainline?

This editorial from Christianity Today suggests that evangelicals are becoming a sort of new mainline in Protestantism. Studies show that some people who once nominally identified with Christianity are beginning to reject that label. In addition, evangelicalism is showing larger influence in traditional mainline denominations. I appreciated the closing words of the editorial:

Spreading the gospel, not seeking social or political relevance, is the heartbeat of evangelicalism. More often than not, cozying up to the culture has been a ticket to later embarrassment. To be sure, we also must remain engaged in the larger culture. We cannot afford to become consumed by our own theological distinctives and subculture. That too would be a compromise.

We are not called to identify with any culture or subculture, whether that be America or evangelicalism. Our future as a movement depends on that which is in our name, the evangel, the good news of Jesus Christ. If we keep that focus, we never have to worry about becoming the new sideline.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interesting Bible Study Method

I came across a Bible study method called "arcing" which is new to me. It is a method recommended by John Piper. I haven't had time to really interact with it yet. However, it does seem to be similar to a method I learned in seminary called block diagramming. It is a way to demonstrate the primary thrust of a biblical text and also show the supporting statements which relate to the primary clause. I am anxious to research this method further and perhaps incorporate it into my own study.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Great Commission Resurgence

Recently, I posted about Dr. Danny Akin and the twelve axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence. Well, the GCR has been published in a formal document. Many people are signing this document to voice their agreement with its principles. I encourage you to read it.

Of course, there is already opposition to the document coming out on the web and in Baptist Press articles. Certainly there are details of the GCR which will have to be hammered out in order to implement its principles. I am sure the framers understand this well. Yet, I believe there are things here which, if pursued, could catalyze needed change in the SBC.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Horton on Osteen

Michael Horton has written an insightful critique of the message of Joel Osteen. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the fundamental problem with Osteen's message and ministry. Here are a couple of samples to whet your appetite:

As community philosopher Karl Marx said of a consumer-driven culture, "All that is solid melts into the air." Religion, too, becomes a commodity—a product or therapy that we can buy and use for our personal well-being. Exemplifying the moralistic and therapeutic approach to religion, Osteen's message is also a good example of the inability of Boomers to mourn in the face of God's judgment or dance under the liberating news of God's saving mercy. In other words, all gravity is lost—both the gravity of our problem and of God's amazing grace. According to this message, we are not helpless sinners—the ungodly—who need a one-sided divine rescue. (Americans, but especially we Boomers, don't take bad news well.) Rather, we are good people who just need a little instruction and motivation.

If God matters, it is for the most trivial concerns—or at least those quite secondary to the real crisis that the gospel addresses. One could easily come away from this type of message concluding that we are not saved by Christ's objective work for us, but by our subjective "personal relationship with Jesus" through a series of works that we perform to secure his favor and blessing. God has set up all of these laws and now it's up to us to follow them so that we can be blessed. I can think of no better illustration of what sociologist Christian Smith has identified as "moralistic, therapeutic deism": the gospel of American Religion.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Rob Bell on the Gospel

This post over at Nine Marks mirrors my concerns about Rob Bell. In an interview with Christianity Today, Bell was asked how he might present the gospel on Twitter. In other words, if you had a limited number of words, how would you present the gospel. Here is Bell's answer:

I would say that history is headed somewhere. The thousands of little ways in which you are tempted to believe that hope might actually be a legitimate response to the insanity of the world actually can be trusted. And the Christian story is that a tomb is empty, and a movement has actually begun that has been present in a sense all along in creation. And all those times when your cynicism was at odds with an impulse within you that said that this little thing might be about something bigger—those tiny little slivers may in fact be connected to something really, really big.

That is the gospel? It sounds Oprahesque. Where is the cross? Where is Jesus? Where is sin? He does mention the empty tomb. I'll give him that. But seriously, Bell's answer is vague and misleading. He insists that there is reason for hope but he gives little or no ground for why our inward impulses toward hope are reliable. In typical emergi-speak Bell seems to want to talk around the gospel instead of stating clearly what Scripture says about the gospel.

Here is Paul's summary of the gospel:

For I delivered to you as of first importance that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas and then to the twelve.
(1 Cor. 15:3-5)

I would point out that even Paul the Apostle did not presume to craft some fresh summary of the gospel which sounded cool to the culture. He passed on what he received. It was a matter of being faithful to the gospel which was revealed by God, a gospel built on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus to deal with the problem of human sin.

The interview in CT suggests that Bell is "reframing" the gospel he inherited for his generation. After comparing Paul's summary to Bell's summary, could you honestly say that Bell has reframed the gospel? I think it is more than reframing. It sounds more like redefining. There is no gospel in Bell's retelling.

Read the CT interview and decide for yourself.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What People Think of Southern Baptists

Over at Provocations and Pantings, Timmy Brister posted on some informal research that Dr. Thom Rainer did on the impressions people have of Southern Baptists. The results are revealing. I encourage you to check out this post. Notice the word cloud which shows the responses of people. The big words are the ones most often mentioned and the little words are least mentioned.

Granted, this is an informal survey and not a formal poll. Yet, I can't help but say "ouch" when I see that the responses. The most used words were legalism, legalistic, and tradition. Even boycott and chicken beat Jesus and gospel. One bright spot was the fact that missions made a good showing. After a long battle for the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, the word Bible didn't even make the top ten.

It seems that we (Southern Baptists since I am one) have some work to do. Perhaps the emphasis of Dr. Danny Akin and others on the Great Commission Resurgence will go a long way toward getting Southern Baptists focused on the things that we need to be known for; things like the gospel, missions, discipleship, love, church planting, etc.

Gospel Coalition

Want to listen to some preaching that will feed your heart and challenge you to gospel faithfulness? Go to the Gospel Coalition and listen to the likes of John Piper, Don Carson, Bryan Chapell, Tim Keller and others.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seven Marks of False Teachers

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) gives seven marks of false teachers.
False teachers are men-pleasers.
False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names, and credits of Christ's most faithful ambassadors.
False teachers are venters of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts.
False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things of both the law and the gospel, and stand most upon those things which are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men.
False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul-impostures with very fair speeches and plausible pretenses, with high notions and golden expressions.
False teachers strive more to win men over to their opinions than to better them in their conversations (lifestyles).
False teachers make merchandise of their followers.
Survey the landscape of evangelicalism and ask yourself if there are not some quite popular teachers who fit the profile outlined by Brooks during the Puritan era.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Being Passionate about Jesus

I had the opportunity to address a crowd of golfers at a tournament for our local Baptist Association today. I began my talk reflecting on the career of Tiger Woods. He has won 66 times on the PGA Tour and 36 times on the European Tour. He has won 14 majors. He has amassed almost 83 million dollars in winnings. Remember, he has done all of this by age 33.

Tiger is very open about his passion for golf. He has stated that he is "addicted to golf." He speaks of his desire to be "dominant." He is very open about his drive to win. He says that a good year is a year when he wins more times and wins more majors than anyone else. His workout and practice routines are legendary for their intensity. There is no doubt that Tiger Woods is passionate about golf.

When we read Paul's words in Philippians 3:7-14, we also see a man of passion. Two things stand out as indicators of Paul's passion. When we read these verses we understand that we prize what we are passionate about. Paul clearly says that there is nothing in his life which he values more than Jesus. Things he once thought important and valuable before he met Jesus are now considered rubbish. Things he once viewed as assets are now recognized as liabilities. For Paul, there was nothing in the world more valuable to him than Jesus. He considers all things loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.

Paul also demonstrates that we pursue what we are passionate about. Paul's life goals were to know Christ, to share in his sufferings, and to be conformed to his death. Though he had not achieved it or become perfect, he is pressing forward and straining toward the goal of knowing Christ. He forgets what is behind and reaches toward the goal of God's calling on his life through Christ.

As I reflect on my own values and pursuits, I am haunted by the question, "Am I more passionate about Jesus than Tiger is about golf?" Am I prepared to spend and be spent for the glory of Jesus like Tiger spends himself to get a green jacket? I must admit that such questions painfully penetrate my heart. How we need to have a singular passion and drive for Jesus! How we need to be able to say with Paul, "This one thing I do..."

It was this sort of singular passion for Jesus that enabled 12 men to turn their world upside down in the first century. May the Lord fire this kind of passion in our hearts and give us the grace to prize Jesus above all else and pursue Him with undistracted devotion.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Leadership We Need in the SBC

Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently delivered a message which outlines his vision for a Great Commission Resurgence in the SBC. It is an excellent message. Dr. Akin states twelve axioms which, in his view, are necessary for the SBC to experience a great commission resurgence within her ranks. I developed an appreciation for Dr. Akin when I sat in his class on the Gospel of Mark at Criswell College years ago. Since then, the Lord has seen fit to place Dr. Akin in a very strategic place as the leader of one of our seminaries. In my opinion, Dr. Akin embodies the kind of passionate, balanced, God-centered leadership so desperately needed within the SBC.

I pray that God will continue to allow voices like those of Dr. Akin to be heard across the convention.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Declining Value of Preaching in the Priorities of Pastors

Baptist Press ran a story today on the ministry priorities of pastors. I was shocked by what I found. Lifeway Research surveyed 801 pastors about their top five ministry priorities. When they compiled the results from all churches surveyed, preaching came in fourth place behind evangelism, Sunday School/Small groups, and worship/specific worship services. When they compiled the data from all ministries mentioned in the survey, preaching came in seventh place.

I certainly would not take issue with the value of the other ministries mentioned in this survey. They have an important place in the life of the church. What shocks me is the relative lack of importance placed on preaching according to these survey results. When preaching falls to fourth place in a pastors list of five priorities, it seems to me that something is amiss.

When we read the New Testament, we find a heavy emphasis on the importance of preaching in the church. In the list of priorities of the early church given to us by Luke in Acts 2:42, we find the apostles doctrine at the head of the list. When we turn to the practice of the apostles, we find that they emphasized the Word and prayer (Acts 6). In the pastoral letters where Paul is advising his young pastor friends, we find him giving strong emphasis to preaching and teaching. Consider this advice to Timothy:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate teachers to themselves according to their own desires, and will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside unto myths.

I would suggest that the declining value of preaching in many congregations is one of the contributing factors to the ministry problems these congregations face in other areas. A lack of biblical literacy and discernment leads to a multitude of moral and spiritual problems. A famine of God's Word among God's people will create an emaciated and vulnerable congregation which is ripe for the strategies of our enemy.

I am especially concerned about this as a Southern Baptist. Historically, our denomination has been known for a strong emphasis on the pulpit. Preaching has long been considered the heart and soul of congregational ministry. It appears that this long-standing priority is slipping in importance for many pastors. I am certainly not suggesting that preaching is the only context in which the Word of God may be effectively communicated in congregational life. But I am suggesting it is the primary way. If no strong preaching ministry exists, it will be difficult to build an atmosphere in which the Word of God is properly valued as the primary instrument which feeds and leads all other ministries.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Whitefield on Preaching

This comes from John Piper's talk on George Whitefield at the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors earlier this year. First is a quote from Whitefield during a sermon delivered. The second portion is Piper's comment on Whitefield's words.

“I’ll tell you a story. The Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1675 was acquainted with Mr. Butterton the [actor]. One day the Archbishop . . . said to Butterton . . . ‘pray inform me Mr. Butterton, what is the reason you actors on stage can affect your congregations with speaking of things imaginary, as if they were real, while we in church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why my Lord,’ says Butterton, ‘the reason is very plain. We actors on stage speak of things imaginary, as if they were real and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’”
“Therefore,” added Whitefield, ‘I will bawl [shout loudly], I will not be a velvet-mouthed preacher.”


This means that there are three ways to speak. First, you can speak of an unreal, imaginary world as if it were real—that is what actors do in a play. Second, you can speak about a real world as if it were unreal—that is what half-hearted pastors do when they preach about glorious things in a way that says they are not as terrifying and wonderful as they are. And third is: You can speak about a real spiritual world as if it were wonderfully, terrifyingly, magnificently real (because it is).

Nuff said.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Edwards on Preaching

Jonathan Edwards had this to say about his aim in preaching:

I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.

What a marvelous aim! Here is the convergence of head and heart in the preacher and in his goal in preaching. Several things stand out in this statement.

1. Preachers ought to seek to raise the spiritual affections of their hearers as high as possible.
2. Preachers ought to seek to raise the spiritual affections of their hearers with the truth.
3. Preachers ought to seek to raise the spiritual affections of their hearers by establishing the
proper connection between the affections and the objects which move those affections.

It is a powerful thing indeed when the truth of Scripture is preached in the power of the Spirit. Edwards was not content with a passing form of emotionalism. He wanted to raise the affections of his listeners but only in connection with the truth. Edwards understood that affections with no connection to the truth of Scripture would quickly fade and could be easily misguided. At the same time, to hear the truth and be unmoved by it is to show disregard for the truth and for God who revealed it. Truth should impact our spiritual desires and decisions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interesting Take on Consumerism in Christianity

In the January issue of Christianity Today, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson writes about the consumerism so common among evangelicals today. Here are some excerpts I found compelling.

The problem with implicitly salesy evangelism is bad theology, not bad technique, and it requires more than a simple change in method. If you feel like a used-car salesman talking about Jesus, the solution to the perceived lack of authenticity isn't a smoother pitch—it's a renewal of the church.

Wigg-Stevenson offers four key contrasts which demonstrate that true Christianity and market-driven consumerism are not compatible.

1. I am what I buy vs. the Lordship of Christ.

This attitude inhibits the disciple's growth into living a God-centered, neighbor-focused life. Yes, the Christian life brings fulfillment beyond imagination. But such fulfillment will be strangely elusive if it is your main priority as a Christian. Indeed, it comes only when we seek God instead of ourselves. Those who come to the church expecting brand satisfaction, seeking to save their lives, will find neither.

2. Discontent vs. the sufficiency of Christ.

Consumerist habits drive us in an endless and endlessly dissatisfying quest for new and different things. But discipleship, pursued in Christian community, is about becoming satisfied with just one thing: the Lord who gives us strength.

3. Brand relativism vs. the supremacy of Christ.

Spiritual shoppers have no reason to think that Christianity is anything but one option among many. But the life of a holy church is a powerful witness to the contrary—perhaps most evidently in our celebration of the Lord's Supper, when we remember that the one we consume has already consumed us. The church reveals the supremacy of Christ in a world that denies his power when—crediting it all to God—we love the unlovable and forgive the unforgivable, reconcile seemingly intractable hatreds and rejoice even in sorrow, persevere in hardship and serve to the point of sacrifice, and baptize and teach instead of consume and discard.

4. Fragmentation vs. unity in Christ.

We must therefore be concerned about market segmentation infiltrating the church. It has resulted in two unacceptable outcomes: utterly homogenous churches representing consumer-based "clusters," and homogenous groupings within larger churches.
Both divide us along racial, socioeconomic, and age- and gender-based lines, each of which predicts consumer behavior. This is certainly a "pattern of this world" (
Rom. 12:2).

One final quote that asks a really good question for the church infatuated with marketing the gospel:

If we treat the gospel like a commodity, can we fault nonbelievers for thinking that the cross is just another logo?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Briefing

A friend recently purchased for me a subscription to a magazine called The Briefing. It is produced by Matthias Media, a reform-minded, evangelical group out of Australia. I have greatly enjoyed reading this magazine. The articles are substantive, informative, and challenging. I recommend you give it a try.

In the latest edition, Nicole Starling writes an editorial about the danger of abandoning the Bible for some inward voice in our search for the voice of God. She cites the popular book, The Shack as one example of this type of spirituality which disparages the idea of God being tied to a book. Instead, the character who represents the Holy Spirit in the book says that "you will learn to hear my thoughts in yours." She also cites John Eldridge's idea that a person should listen to a song on the headphones and then "write down what you hear God say in the depths of your heart."

She concludes her editorial with these penetrating words:

When we decide that we are going to go looking for God inside the self, we should not be surprised if we end up finding a reassuringly self-shaped god. But when we go searching in Scripture for the true God, the God we find (or rather, the God we are found by) come to us in a revelation infinitely more gracious and glorious.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bunyan on Conversion

In his book The Excellency of a Wounded Heart, John Bunyan gives this insight on the issue of conversion:

Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think . . . . It is wounding work, of course, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving. . . . Where there is grafting there is a cutting, the scion {detached portion of the plant to be grafted in} must be let in with a wound; to stick it on to the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back, or there will be no sap from root to branch, and this I say, must be done by a wound.

This was certainly Bunyan's own experience. He wrestled and agonized over his own sin. No wonder the main character in Pilgrim's Progress is introduced to us carrying a heaven burden on his back as he flees the City of Destruction. How many there seem to be in our day who seek to "tie on" or "stick on the outside" of their lives a form of Christianity. Bunyan saw clearly that the Spirit must first bring the wound of conviction before the new life of Christ can be grafted in.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Sola Scriptura versus Sola Experientia

I've been reading about Luther lately in preparation for some biographical sketches I'm presenting on Sunday evenings. One of the things that highlights Luther's deep commitment to Scripture was his disagreement with Thomas Muntzer. Muntzer believed in a direct experience of revelation from the Spirit apart from the written Word. Muntzer commented, “The man who has not received the living witness of God really knows nothing about God though he may have swallowed 100,000 Bibles.” He also said in a letter to Phillip Melancthon, "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God; note that it proceeds from the mouth of God and not from books"

In response to this kind of thinking, Luther stated that he wouldn't believe Muntzer “if he swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all.” Luther had no tolerance for a theology of revelation that minimized Scripture. In 1545 Luther said, "Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture." Roland Bainton writes in Here I Stand,

The Scriptures assumed for Luther an overwhelming importance, not primarily as a source book for antipapal polemic, but as the one ground of certainty. He had rejected the authority of popes and councils and could not make a beginning from within as did the prophets of the inward word. The core of his quarrel with them was that in moments of despondency he could find nothing within but utter blackness. He was completely lost unless he could find something without on which to lay hold. And this he found in the Scriptures.

The formal principle of the Reformation was sola scriptura. Contemporary evangelicals would do well to remember this heritage. It is the objective word of Scripture which defines doctrine and guides behavior. It is the objective word of Scripture which protects the body of Christ from drifting into error. Examples abound in recent history of the doctrinal deviance and moral scandals of groups which have replaced the sure word of Scripture with experience. Can anyone forget the Todd Bentley episode in Florida?

It is also the Word of God which equips the church for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17). It is the instrument, by the power of the Spirit, which both saves and sanctifies the people of God. Without the Word, the life of the church becomes a free-for-all. The church becomes vulnerable to the latest fads or the next person who "has a word from the Lord." Scripture nourishes, guides, reproves, inspires, and instructs the people of God. From Luther's perspective, "The Word of God is the greatest, most necessary, and most important thing in Christendom."

Amen, Brother Martin, Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kelly's Heroes: Tyndale

Over the next seven weeks, I am leading a class on Sunday evenings entitled "Kelly's Heroes." It is part of a series of electives we are offering to our congregation. This class will provide brief biographical sketches of some of my heroes from church history along with some theological analysis and life lessons. The focus for this Sunday night is William Tyndale. Here are a couple of quotes from the English reformer and famous translator of the Scriptures.

Tyndale on the Bible

Let God’s word try every man’s doctrine and whomsoever God’s word proveth unclean let him be taken for a leper. One scripture will help to declare another. And the circumstances, that is to say, the places that go before and after, will give light unto the middle text. And the open and manifest scriptures will ever improve the false and wrong exposition of the darker sentences. (from The Obedience of a Christian Man)

Tyndale on the Gospel

A Christian man hath nought to rejoice in, as concerning his deeds. His rejoicing is that Christ died for him, and the he is washed in Christ’s blood. Of his deeds rejoiceth he not, neither counteth he he merits, neither giveth pardons of them, neither seeketh an higher place in heaven of them, neither maketh himself a savior of other men through his good works; but giveth all honor to God; and in his greatest deeds of mercy knowledgeth himself a sinner unfeignedly, and is abundantly content with that place that is prepared for him of Christ; and his good deeds are to him a sign only that Christ’s Spirit is in him, and he in Christ, and through Christ, elect to eternal life. (from The Parable of the Wicked Mammon)

Friday, January 23, 2009

The American Dream?

I am currently in Mexico on a trip to work with the board of Seminario Teologico Bautista del Sur and to visit missionaries Robb and Vicky Hazen from Country Acres Baptist Church. Robb and Vicky are planting a church in Tumbiscatio, Michoacan where there is no evangelical work. It has been a wonderful trip.

When I am out of the country, I see many things that make me glad to be a citizen of the USA. There are, in fact, many people from this country who are currently in the USA because of all the opportunities she offers. However, I am appalled today to read about President Obama's action of lifting the ban on funding for organizations world-wide which provide abortions. I suppose America is a great place to live unless you are an unborn child with a mother who doesn't want you.

I am afraid that many Americans are more concerned about the economic recession than they are about the fact that unborn babies have no legal protection in this country. Indeed, we are sending money from our country to other countries who want to allow pregnant women to kill their unborn children. Pocket books and political power now outweigh (and they have for a long time) the moral conscience of our nation.

I realize that there are many sophisticated arguments used by pro-life advocates in waging the war against abortion. I am grateful for their scholarship and their passion. Such evidences and arguments are necessary and useful. But it seems to me that on the face of it, without having to dig into philosophical and medical details, a nation which devalues life in the womb is a savage place. For some the USA still holds the American dream. Perhaps one day it will be so for the unborn as well.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

How to Pray for Your Pastor

Ligon Duncan provides some wonderful insights on praying for your pastor. As a pastor, I know how desperately I need the prayers of my congregation.

Praying for Your Pastor
by lduncan

Because I have a congregation that loves me more than I deserve, I am often asked by them: "how can I pray for you?" I've tried to put some thought into how I answer that question. So, maybe these ideas will help you pray for your pastor, or tell others how they can pray for you.
Pray -

1. That [your pastor] would know and love the living God, would have a saving interest in Christ, being purchased by His blood, and thus would be bound to the Lord by the indissoluble bond of the Holy Spirit.

2. That [your pastor] would know, embrace and ever more deeply understand the Gospel and be shaped by it in life and ministry.

3. That [your pastor] would be useful servant of the Lord, that he would know and love God's word, God's people, and God's kingdom; that he would be used to build it up and so that it prevails even against Hell's gates.

4. That [your pastor] would study, practice and teach the Word of the Lord, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

5. That [your pastor] would love to pray, because he loves to commune with his God, and that he would be a man of prayer, characteristically.

6. That [your pastor] would be ever dependent upon and filled with the Spirit; and that he would possess true Spiritual wisdom.

7. That [your pastor] would be holy unto the Lord. That his tongue and heart would be wholly God's.

8. That [your pastor] would be kept from pride, and especially spiritual pride. That the Lord himself would be gracious to slay pride in him, and that your pastor would endeavor to always be putting pride to death, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

9. That God would give [your pastor] guidance as to where to focus his efforts in ministry.

10. That He would protect [your pastor] from himself, from the enemy of his soul, and from all earthly enemies.

11. That no decision which [your pastor] ever makes or desire that [your pastor] ever pursues would restrict his ability to pour his whole soul into the Gospel ministry.

12.That many would be converted and many built up under [your pastor]'s ministry, to God's glory alone.

13. That the Lord would bless [your pastor]'s wife, [. . . ], with holiness and happiness, Gospel assurance and Gospel rest.

14. That God would make [your pastor] a decent husband and father.

15. That [your pastor] would be a good friend to his wife, and love her self-sacrificially,

16. That [your pastor] would be a good daddy to his children. That they would love God, their parents and the church.

17. That [your pastor] would be a testimony in the home so that his wife might be able to respect him when he is in the pulpit, and so that [your pastor] will be able to feed her soul, along with the rest of the congregation.