Words for the World: Rejoicing in God’s Global Use of Christian Literature

Desiring God 2007 Conference for Pastors

The Holiness of God

[These are notes taken during the session, not the message itself.]

Psalm 67

There is only one book. One book that is first and last.

John, alone on Patmos, saw one like the Son of Man. The Lord laid his hand on him and said two things: fear not and write. Writing is important to God.

Toward the end of Paul's life, books are what he asked to have sent to him. Books were important to Paul. Are they important to you?

Some observations:

Multitudes are passing into eternity and have never heard about Jesus. Do you know how it is with the souls of your people?

Christianity is increasingly misunderstood, or worse, decried. Some will say Jesus is top of the class. But Jesus is not top of the class. He is in a class by himself.

The church has been drifting. Drifting is an easy and gentle thing. We are drifted so far that some "evangelicals" can call penal substitution divine child abuse. And that is from a Christian Publisher.

3 kinds of churches:

  • Entertainment (I'm all for "Out with the glum, in with the sun," but worship is not a performance.)
  • Clinic (Yes, God heals the sick, but worship is not about navel-gazing.)
  • Lecture Hall (Yes, we should learn, but worship is about adoration.)

Our society is desperately searching. "I have an emptiness deep inside" -Rolling Stones. The temples of our society are the stadiums and malls. Advertisement is religious, assuming they have what can meet our deepest needs. Worse than any bird flu is affluenza. We all have it. We rake in the muck of this world.

Put this verse on your TV: "Turn thou away my sight and eyes from viewing vanity."

If you and your people spend 15 minutes a day reading good books, you will read 20 good books a year, 1,000 in your lifetime.

How Christian literature has been used in the past and now.

You'll have to go to the audio for this section. He told several stories on the importance and influence of books.

Books for the preacher

Are your people fed by you or fed up with you? You are not a CEO, administrator, or entertainer. Give attention to prayer and ministry of the Word. You must read. You must study.

(But do not let your sermons become a lecture. 3 differences between sermon and lecture: Personal Passionate Plea.)

What you read must take root in your heart. Resolve with David to meditate on the word. Tell your congregation when they ask what you do that you meditate.

Read secular books too. Be informed by the culture, but not influenced by it.

Churches should see to it that the minister's study is supplied with books.

Books for the congregation

If people can't read, teach them.

If people say they don't have time, they're wrong. Lead them.

If they say they can't afford it, ask them if they've bought a hamburger. Encourage people to purchase and read books that underscore preaching.

Books for children

Lamentations 2:19

Arise, cry out in the night,
at the beginning of the night watches!
Pour out your heart like water
before the presence of the Lord!
Lift your hands to him
for the lives of your children,
who faint for hunger
at the head of every street.

Children are not the church of tomorrow; they are the church now.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

If the lamb doesn't get its mother's milk in the first few hours, it will never be a good lamb. Feed the lambs.

Joel 1:3

Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation.

Some will say kids can't take it in. That's nonsense. Catechize.

Psalm 78:5-7

He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;