Study Group for Pastors


My friend, Darryl Dash, attends a study group for pastors that I've known about for a while and is a great idea. Here's a blurb...

Every May I gather with a group of pastors from Monday to Friday. The agenda is simple: to work through a book of the Bible together as we think about preaching it. Every year we bring in a different scholar who has written a commentary on that book. We also have our former preaching professor (Haddon Robinson) help us think through how to preach that book.

We've had Bruce Waltke, George Guthrie, Douglas Moo, Daniel Block, and more. This week we've had D.A. Carson. It's hard to beat. I've been to a lot of conferences, but this by far is my favorite learning event of the year.

You should start one too.

Darryl goes on to explain how a study group can be started and run. You should check it out.

Evangelism: Prime the Pump


When I was in high school I worked in landscaping: trimming hedges, mowing lawns, planting trees, hooking up decorative fountains and surrounding it with decorative rock. It was hard work, but something I enjoyed as a young man. And it provided me with a killer tan.

The owner of the business lived on a farm that had a well. This wasn’t a bucket on a rope well; it was equipped with a pump. And if you’ve ever pumped water from a well you know that the pump never works right away. You have to “prime the pump” by cranking the lever a few times. A pump that hasn’t been used for a while is full of air from the pump down closer to water level. It takes a couple of pumps on the handle for the water to fill the tube that delivers it above ground. It’s those first couple of pumps that bring the water to ground level and to usefulness. 

As missionaries and evangelists for the supplier of living water, we have to prime the pump in our own hearts so that we are ready to tell all of our King. We need Gospel-readiness and Spirit-reliance right there at ground level. We need to battle with sin and push back against apathy. Evangelism is one of those things that takes God-confidence, courage, and risk. We need a heart that has been primed through dying to self, a reoriented life, a renewed mind, fixing our eyes on Jesus, filled with His Spirit, meditating on His Word, loving Him with all our strength. 

Too often we haven’t prayed as we should and wrestled with our fleeting emotions, doubts, and timidity. We haven’t developed a state of readiness and anticipation. We won’t dispense living water efficiently and effectively unless we prime the pump of our hearts, remembering who God is, what God has done, who we are, and what God has called us to do. We need daily motivation for Gospel-readiness.

When we drink from the stream of living water at the outset of our day, and throughout our day, we’ve already brought it to ground level and are ready to point others to it. We will not only find our thirst quenched, but we will be motivated by our own satisfaction in Jesus Christ to help others to quench their thirst. 

What do you do to prime the pump for evangelism? What resources do you use other than Scripture?

Chronic Suffering & Christian Hope

This is outstanding on "Longing for Wholeness." It's spot on for what my family is experiencing at the moment, and has been experiencing the last few years. Mark Talbot is apparently writing a book on profound suffering titled When the Stars Disappear. I look forward to buying that book, that has been his labor for years now, in light of this excellent teaching from Talbot at the Desiring God's Works of God Conference. Please watch or go listen to/download the audio. (via JT)

Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Keller's Five Questions

Bible reading

I'm not sure I've posted this before, but even if I did it's worth putting up again. David Cooke has posted Keller's Five Questions over at Cookies Days (a blog you should check out). He first posted it in 2009, I believe.

Keller said these are five questions he asks of a biblical text as he reads it for himself. Helpful.
  1. How can I praise him?
  2. How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
  3. If this is really true, what wrong behavior, what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
  4. What should I be aspiring to do on the basis of this text?
  5. Why are you telling me this today.

Joe Thorn on the ESV Journaling Bible

Esv journ

Joe has been pestering me with multiple emails, insisting I get an ESV Journaling Bible. Now he's gone public with his love for it in his new post, "How I'm Using the ESV Journaling Bible." I'm ordering this one today. Here's a few words on how he uses the lined, wide margins...

1. Summation, Connection, and Implication.

I often write out a summation of certain truths, arguments, or passages that make things clear for me. 

2. Cross references.

Some people won’t like that the ESV Journaling Bible doesn’t have cross refernces, but I like that I get to add my own. 


I’m even throwing helpful quotes from other writers/theologians when helpful to me or those I may wind up teaching.

Check out the rest of his post. And check out the ESV Journaling Bible (also in black calfskin, natural brown leather, and other editions).

Why Jesus Taught In Parables, Part 3


D.A. Carson in The Expositor's Bible Commentary on Matthew, Vol 2 says this in a point concerning Matthew 13:13 (pp 309-310)...

This sheds much light on the parables. It is naive to say Jesus spoke them so that everyone might more easily grasp the truth, and it is simplistic to say that the sole function of parables to outsiders was to condemn them. If Jesus simply wished to hide the truth from outsiders, he need never have spoken to them. His concern for mission (9:35-38; 10:1-10; 28:16-20) excludes that idea. So he must preach without casting his pearls before pigs (7:6). He does so in parables: i.e., in such a way as to harden and reject those who are hard of heart and to enlighten--often with further explanation--his disciples. His disciples, it must be remembered, are not just the Twelve but those who were following him and who, it is hoped, go on to do the will of the Father (12:50) and do not end up blaspheming the Spirit (12:30-32) or being ensnared by evil more thoroughly than before (12:43-45). Thus the parables spoken to the crowds do not simply convey information, nor mask it, but challenge the hearers. They do not convey esoteric content only the initiated can fathom but present the claims of the inaugurated kingdom and the prospects of its apocalyptic culmination in such a way that its implications are spelled out for those in the audience with eyes to see.

Why Jesus Taught In Parables, Part 2


Robert Stein in Jesus the Messiah gives some explanation of Jesus' use of parables (pgs 124-125)... 

Parables are "extended metaphors, which tend to teach a basic point. At times, however, the details of a parable may bear allegorical significance (Mt 13:24-30, 36-43; 22:2-10; Mk 12:1-12)."

"The parables were particularly useful for Jesus as a teaching device. Parables tend to disarm the listeners, for the meaning of a parable is often driven home before they can resist the point being made." (2 Sam 12:1-4, 7; Luke 15:1-32)

"Parables were also an effective way for Jesus to introduce potentially dangerous teachings. To talk about the arrival of the Kingdom of God naturally raised concerns on the part of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Yet the statements that the Kingdom of God is 'like a mustard seed' (Lk 13:18-19) or 'like yeast' (vv 20-21) wer sufficiently enigmatic that the political authorities judged them harmless. Through his use of parables Jesus could speak about politically sensitive issues. As a result, thouse outside his circle of followers could 'listen, but never understand...look, but never perceive' (Mt 13:14). but to those within the believing commjunity such teaching were explained."

Why Jesus Taught In Parables


Robert Stein, in An Introduction to the Parables of Jesus give three reasons (read, p 33ff)...

1. To conceal his teachings from those outside (Mark 4:10-12)

"Time and time again Jeuss found in his audience those who were hostile toward him. The Sadducees saw in him a threat to their sacerdotal system. His attitudes toward their doctrine (Mk 12:18-27) and above all to the abuse in their role of administering the Temple of God (Mk 11:15-19, cf 14:58) were a direct threat to their civil and religious authority (Mk 11:27-33). ...Many of the Pharisees likewise saw in Jesus a threat to their own self-righteousness (Lk 18:9-14) and their religious leadership..."

"By his use of parables Jesus made it more difficult for those who sought to find fault with him and accuse him of sedition....The parables therefore concealed his message to those outside, but privately, after they were explained by Jesus to his followers, they became revealers of his message."

"Yet we must be honest and admit Mark 4:10-12...seems to say that Jesus withheld his message from those outside not only in order that they would fail to understand but in order that they would be unable to repent and be forgiven."

2. To reveal and illustrate his message to both followers and "those outside" (Mark 12:12

"For the original lawyer as well as every reader since, the parable of the good Samaritan illustrates in an unforgettable way what it means to be a loving neighbor, and if one sought an example to illustrate the gracious love of God for sinners, where could one find a better one than in the parable of the prodigal son?"

"At times even those 'outside' did not and could not miss the point Jesus was seeking to illustrate in the parable.

And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away. Mark 12:12

3. To disarm his listeners (Luke 7:36-50)

"At times Jesus sought to penetrate the hostility and hardness of heart of his listeners by means of a parable."

OT example - 2 Samuel 12:14, "a perfect Old Testament example of this"

NT examples - Luke 7:36-50, "Here, in order to pierce through Simons hardness of heart and prejudice, Jesus spoke in a parable and hoped to reach Simon."

Luke 15 parables in response to Luke 15:1-2...

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." 3 So he told them this parable...