Being a Pastor

“I only care about pastoral ministry as a servant of the gospel.

As human work it stinks.

On the level of positive and negative consequences, perseverance in this behaviour cannot be explained or justified.

As a tiny part of the mystery of God’s love in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, at work in the world today, I find it irresistible.”


Dave Hansen, The Art of Pastoring, p.213

Preach the Word



What a joy it is to be a preacher!!

When the couple started crying half way through the sermon, I thought it was a) a bad joke gone wrong b) the realisation that the sermon was longer than 15 minutes or c) they had heard that we’d ran out of biscuits to go with the coffee after the service.

I never bargained for the glorious fact that the Holy Spirit was doing a deep work in their hearts.  A deep, deep work of repentance that leads to life.  They shared with me afterwards what God was doing:

After years of hardening the heart, and learning various strategies that helped them get by in church life, they were at a point in their lives where several strands of their lives came together and the walls came crashing down.  The resistance they were used to putting up was utterly futile against the tidal wave of God’s exquisite love.

What I love about their story, is that it happened to both of them as they sat there together, and that they recognised what was going on.  In her own words:  “I cried tears of repentance for the first time – and meant it, truly, for the first time.  I can’t believe how wonderful and kind God is towards me!”

Friends, if you have the honour to preach God’s Word, I urge and encourage you to press on, in season and out of season.  Not being afraid of what people may think, or doubting what God is doing, but in faith, with diligence and prayer, preach the Gospel with boldness, it is the power of God for salvation.

This couple’s story reminded me of that great Puritan prayer in Arthur Bennett’s Valley of Vision:

“Melt my heart, heal my backslidings, and open an intercourse of love.   When the fire of thy compassion warms my inward man, and the outpourings of thy Holy Spirit fill my soul, then I feelingly wonder at my own depravity, and deeply abhor myself; then thy grace is a powerful incentive to repentance, and an irresistible motive to inward holiness. 

May I never forget that thou hast my heart in thy hands.  Apply to it the merits of Christ’s atoning blood whenever I sin.   Let thy mercies draw me to thyself.  Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world, and make me ready for my departure hence animated by the humiliations of penitential love. 

My soul is a chariot without wheels, clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay; Mount it on eagle’s wings and cause it to soar upward to thyself.”

Remember:  There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents……

A Wedding does not make a Marriage



I echo 100% the magnificent view of Eugene Peterson:

“When I talk with people who come to me in preparation for marriage I often say, ‘Weddings are easy; marriages are difficult.’ The couple wants to plan a wedding; I want to plan a marriage.  They want to know where the bridesmaids will stand; I want to develop a plan for forgiveness.  They want to plan the music of the wedding; I want to talk about the emotions of the marriage.  I can do a wedding in twenty minutes with my eyes shut; a marriage takes year after year of alert, wide-eyed attention.

Weddings are important.  They are beautiful; they are impressive; they are emotional; sometimes they are expensive.  We weep at weddings and we laugh at weddings.  We take care to be at the right place at the right time and say the right words. Where people stand is important.  The way people dress is significant.  Every detail – this flower, that candle – is memorable.  All the same, weddings are easy.

But marriages are complex and beautiful.  In marriage we work out in every detail of life the promises and commitments spoken at the wedding.  In marriage the long and rich life of faithful love that the wedding announces.  The event of the wedding without the life of marriage doesn’t amount to much.  It hardly matters if the man and woman dress up in their wedding clothes and re-enact the ceremony every anniversary and say, ‘I’m married, I’m married, I’m married’ if there is no daily love shared, if there is no continuing tenderness, no attentive listening, no inventive giving, no creative blessing.

Josiah’s reform was like a wedding.  Jeremiah’s concern was with marriage.  It was a great achievement to repudiate Manasseh and establish the people in covenant with their God; but it was a lifelong career to embrace God’s love and walk in his ways.  The people celebrated Josiah’s reform; they ignored Jeremiah’s preaching.  It is Jeremiah’s lifelong achievement that the soggy religious mush of the masses never dulled his perceptions nor muted his insistent witness.”

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