Tag Archives: text

preaching – nothing greater

I am humbled and filled – simultaneously.  Once again at the Workshop on Biblical Exposition in Philly (Simeon Trust – www.simeontrust.org).  God speaks through his Word!  I have heard it, received it, and submit to it.  I will build my life and ministry around the Word – and seek to do the work necessary to preach the Word faithfully.  I will for God’s glory, for his power, and for his people.  I will surrender all.

Tonight, I sat in a Philly Cigar bar with a friend who I count to be a hero of biblical exposition.  He took a night to sit with me.  Me.  What encouragement for a young pastor, a young preacher, a committed learning-preacher!  Encouragement sent by God in one whom the Lord has used to engage all of America with Biblical Exposition.  Thank you God for your words to me through him: “Stay the course, Jim.”  I praise your name and I long to know you through your Word.  I long for West Valley PCA to move forward by your Word exploding your people and engaging our lives and culture.  No gimmics.  Nothing flashy but the power of your people bowing to your glory as it is revealed in your Word.  Take me O God and make me O God into a servant who works hard.  Works wisely.  Works passionately.  And then leaves the WORK of transformation to you through your Word.

As I am away from my family, sitting under the text… I add this, O God.  Thank you for my family and wife who have surrendered to this call and supported me in it.  May the work in the Word translate into a transformed husband and father in body, mind and soul.

Amen.

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A kingdom of humility, contrition and trembling

“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” – Isaiah 66:2

Smack in the middle of a vision of the New Heavens and Earth – the beautiful restoration of God that includes his judgment and justice and KINGDOM – is a beautiful description of the people to whom God’s grace and righteousness will rest.  THOSE WHO HUMBLY AND CONTRITELY TREMBLE AT HIS WORD.

Here we are, on the verge of planting a church in the Lehigh Valley of PA.  The thoughts (and methodological books) pour into my head.  Be relevant.  Be faithful.  Be risky.  Be patient.  Be holy.  Be original.  Be missional.  Be Spirit-led.  Be this or that or this or that.  Many of those things I DO want!  But O God, I want  most for us to be your kingdom on earth! 

What will that be like, I wonder.  One thing is clear according to Isaiah’s kingdom vision.  The kingdom on earth WILL be a place where the Word of God revealed to man is CENTRAL to life and ethics and obedience and worship.  We are to be “West Valley Presbyterian Church that trembles contritely at the word of God.”  Nice.

Whether I am seeing this because I am on the heals of a workshop on biblical exposition, or I am resting in it because it is God’s purpose for me to discover the centrality of his Word while outside of a bunch of crazy Word-centered preachers… I am not sure – except I love the Word.  Yes, it is hard to read.  Yes, it is often uninteresting to our visual and emotive culture.  BUT, it is the living Word and revelation of the Creator of the universe and Redeemer of my soul.  Is it not a powerful gift of grace around which ALL of our church plant should center?!

One thing I humbly had to confess at the workshop was this: I generally try to discern how the text of Scripture applies to me, or the congregation to which I preach.  But the problem with such a philosophy is that I am making myself, or others the center point of relating to God.  “How does this apply to ME?”  It is egocentric (though normal in our Western culture)!  The question is rather, “How do I apply my life to the Word?”  “How do I relate to the TRUTH of the text?” rather than “How does this text relate to my perceived reality?”

All I can say is that I can’t possibly imagine being in the New Heavens/Earth of Isaiah 66 and thinking, “How does this Kingdom fit into my reality?”  No, my reality will be defined by such a kingdom!  This is the reason that the kingdom is for those who humbly and contritely tremble at the Word – because IT IS the bar.  IT IS the barometer of reality.  IT IS the density of the gravity by which things float or fall.  How does my reality square with TRUE, GOD REVEALED REALITY?  That is humbling… it induces trembling.  What a grace – that those who are humbled and contrite and trembling at God’s Word are the ones to whom he will look in his kingdom (66:2)! 

SO, it must be Word-now, because it will be Word-then!!!  The kingdom is thus here and then through the Word revealed!

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