Musing on a Friday Morning
Downloaded the complete works of E.M. Bounds on prayer to my Kindle last week. Started reading Power Through Prayer two days ago. Nearly wrecked on every sentence. Conviction. Sorrow. Grief. But also hope, wisdom, and joy in the knowledge that God is not finished working out the life of Christ in me. There is so much in these words from over a century ago that cuts (and helps) the spirit to the core.
I think of the line from Rich Mullins “Hold Me Jesus“ song, “I swear there must be blisters on my heart.” How often this fits me and I hate it. I don’t want a blistered heart. I want a soft and supple heart, sensitive and responsive to a God who loves me despite the idiocies and corruptions of my heart. Pastors and professors and church planting mentors (and I guess I am all three) can get so wrapped up in the activity and work of the ministry that we mistake it (activity and work) for relationship with the living God.
Bounds book cuts through the dross and reminds the preacher to not lose Jesus in the midst of our books, in the midst of our duties, in the midst of our ambitions. Here’s just a few of E. M. Bounds sharp knives for the soul of a preacher.
“The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill.”
“Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much—death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Crucified preaching only can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.”
“We shut ourselves to our study, we become students, bookworms, Bible worms, sermon makers, noted for literature, thought, and sermons; but the people and God, where are they? Out of heart, out of mind. Preachers who are great thinkers, great students must be the greatest of prayers, or else they will be the greatest of backsliders, heartless professionals, rationalistic, less than the least of preachers in God’s estimate.”
“Oh God, save me from such a life. Save all preachers of your word from such vanity. Make me and the men I mentor mighty in prayer. Make us utterly dependent on your Spirit. For the glory of Christ, Amen.”
How are you monitoring and refreshing your soul?
Engage your elders and staff in whatever process you use. It will help both you and them.
Love and Hate in the Ministry