God is the greatest Reality in the universe.
And pastors swim in that sea with ever-replenished joy.
I am the Lᴏʀᴅ, and there is no other, besides me there is no God. (Isaiah 45:5)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36)
Jesus is the greatest Savior, Master, and Friend that ever was or will be.
And pastors contemplate and commend him every day.
Greater love has no on…
Earlier this year, a grieving mother, who recently had given birth to a stillborn son, wrote to me asking for counsel and comfort. The team at Desiring God thought this letter might be helpful to some others, whether other mothers who have lost infants, parents who have lost young children, or perhaps even more broadly.
This loss and sorrow is all so fresh. I hesitate to tread into the tender place and speak. But since you ask, I pray that God would help me say something helpful.
First, please know that I know I don’t know what it is like to give birth to a lifeless body. Only a small, sad band of mothers know that. I say “lifeless body” because, as you made clear, your son is…
People continue to ask me how it feels. “You were a pastor non-stop for 33 years. Now you’re not. How does it feel?”
I have been tongue-tied too many times. So I have tried to come up with the shortest possible sound-bite answer. And the second shortest. The shortest is “Leap and Weep.” The second shortest is “Burden Lifted, Blessings Lost.” They refer to the same paradox. When a burden is lifted, you leap. When blessings are lost, you weep.
Paul said to the elders of Ephesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I have lost a lot of steady-state giving. Weekly preaching is weekly giving. Weekly staff-meetings are weekly giving. Regular elder meetings are regular giv…
For 33 years Bethlehem put bread on our table. They paid our salary. They didn’t muzzle this ox while he was treading out the grain (1 Timothy 5:18). They were the hands of God in meeting our needs. I am profoundly thankful. It was a sweet and powerful farewell last night — and included a special recommissioning from the elders for a final chapter of ministry beyond Bethlehem.
Now I’m treading out the grain at Desiring God. The muzzle is still off. I get my first DG paycheck today. My title in this new role is Founder and Teacher. My job is full time, divided over “Content Creation,” “Fundraising and Donor Relations,” “Board Leadership,” “Staff Leadership,” and “Other.”
For the first…
One moving testimony to me as I ended my ministry at Bethlehem on March 31 was that of a young woman who has battled cancer. She thanked God for my cancer. She had listened to the messages leading up to my surgery in February 2006. They were life for her.
God knows what pastors must endure to be useful to their people. It is sobering to read in 2 Corinthians 1:6, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.” That is one reason the ministry is as hard as it is. We are afflicted so that in our afflictions our people will be saved.
Charles Spurgeon suffered repeatedly from depression. But he had an unwavering belief in the sovereignty of God in all his afflictions. This was his…
I’ve been thinking about how much I love finishing things. I get great pleasure in finishing — a poem, a sermon, a book, or cutting the grass, or fixing the dripping faucet, or selling our car. It’s hard for me to walk away from something half done.
But, of course, anything that takes longer than a day, you have to walk away from unfinished. You have to sleep. So it helps me to chop things up into finishable pieces — a stanza, a section, a chapter, the mower prepared, the parts purchased, the ad placed. But still there is no pleasure quite like the pleasure of finishing.
But the pleasure of finishing some things is mingled with pain. It certainly was for Jesus. “It is finished” was probabl…
In running the race of life we are to look to the exaltation of Jesus at the end of his race. But Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look not only to his exaltation, but to his motivation.
Jesus was carried in the agonies of the last lap of his race by the hope of joy. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame” (verse 2). Jesus kept his eyes on the same place we should — his own future exaltation at the Father’s right hand, with the completion of our salvation crowning his head. This was his joy.
There were mammoth obstacles in Jesus’s way. Two are mentioned. The cross and the shame. The cross, no doubt, stands for all the pain and abandonment and spiritual dar…
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
Hebrews 12:1–2 tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Part of our motivation is that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These are the runners from chapter 11 who finished the race of life before us. They have come around to line the way and cheer us on bec…
Word pictures have power to put familiar wonders back where they belong — in the heart of worship. Isaiah pictured the Messiah as so tender he would not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick (Isaiah 42:3). Yet he will be so mighty that he will bring justice to victory over all the evil of the world (Isaiah 42:1, 3).
Some years ago God wakened a word picture in my mind for Holy Week. Then and now the effect was to put the familiar wonder of the tender mercy and terrible might of Jesus back where they belong—in my worshipping heart. I pray it will have a similar effect on you.
A little lamb was born all wooly-white with skinny legs and a wet nose, pretty much like all the other …
A few years ago, I was asked on camera what I would say to the Pope if I had two minutes with him. I said I would ask him what he believed about justification. The video ended with me putting the question to the Pope and then responding as follows:
“Do you teach that we should rely entirely on the righteousness of Christ imputed to us by faith alone as the ground of God being 100% for us, after which necessary sanctification comes? Do you teach that?”
And if he said, “No, we don’t,” then I’d say, “I think that right at the core of Roman Catholic theology is a heresy,” or something like that.
“Heresy” is a strong word. The problem with it is that its meaning and implications are not clear.…