Preach the Gospel

I've been soaking up Charles Simeon lately. Here's some encouragement for you from Simeon if you're preaching today. His thoughts are based on 1 Corinthians 9:16: "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!"

Respecting men's call to the ministerial office, it would be difficult to speak with any degree of certainty...But the obligation to discharge the office with fidelity, when once it has been undertaken, is as manifest in relation to us, as it was in reference to St. Paul himself: a dispensation having been committed to us, we may every one of us say, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel!"

Simeon says that the office of ministers is, "in one word, is to 'preach the Gospel.'" And for those "who discharge their ministry aright":

They may meet with much opposition from an ungodly world: but they are truly happy, in the hope that "they shall both save themselves and those who hear them." Sweet is the thought which a faithful minister has in looking forward to the time of meeting his people at the judgment-seat of Christ. The sight of many whom he shall then have to present to God as his spiritual children, saying, "Here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me;" and the prospect, that, to all eternity, he shall have them as "his joy and crown of rejoicing" before his God; say, is not this delightful? Will not this be a rich reward for all his labours, and for all that he had suffered in the discharge of his high office? Yes, verily, if he had died a thousand deaths for them, this would be an abundant recompence: and this blessedness assuredly awaits the laborious minister, the faithful servant of his God. (Horae Homileticae Vol. 16: 1 and 2 Corinthians)

Satan's Playbook and Precious Remedies

Thomas Brooks writes:

Beloved in our dearest Lord,

Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan's devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter...

From the power, malice and skill of Satan proceeds all the soul-killing plots, devices, stratagems and machinations, which are in the world. Several devices he has to draw souls to sin, and several plots he has to keep souls from all holy and heavenly services, and several stratagems he has to keep souls in a mourning, staggering, doubting and questioning condition.

He has several devices to destroy the great and honorable, the wise and learned, the blind and ignorant, the rich and the poor, the real and the nominal Christians.

I often marvel. Satan's playbook is very limited. I'd guess it's five pages or less. He keeps pulling out the same tired strategies, and surprisingly, they often seem to work. He's anything but original.

I had a friend once who commented that the thing to remember about Satan is that he always overplays his hand. That's always stuck with me. He's not subtle in his approach, and he always goes just a little too far.

I plan on reading Precious Remedies. Satan's playbook hasn't been updated, and I doubt Precious Remedies needs much updating either.

Why Pastors Should Consider Working Mondays

It's Monday morning. Most pastors I know are taking their day off today. I understand why: most pastors I know are pretty busy during the week, but things build as they get closer to Sunday. By Monday morning they're often tired and maybe even discouraged. They need a day to recover.

Years ago, Archibald Hart wrote of post-adrenaline depression and how it affects pastors after Sundays:

...what I was experiencing was a profound shutdown of my adrenal system, following a period of high stress or demand. It was as if my adrenal system were saying, "That's enough abuse for now; let's give it a break," and shut down so that I had no choice in the matter.

What this means is that pastors generally aren't feeling their best on Monday mornings.

It's for this reason that I find it helpful to work on Mondays. I tend to avoid the office and meetings on Mondays and do some low-intensity work. I find that there's always a pile of stuff that I really need to deal with, and that don't place heavy demands on me like many of the more intense tasks in ministry.

The reality is that I need a weekly sabbath - not a day off, and not a legalistic day, but a day of joy and refreshment. It's not a day to catch up around the house or to run errands. It's a day to completely unplug and release myself from all obligations, and to enjoy relationships and activities that bring me joy. For me, Mondays simply don't work. I can't enter into this day of delight when I'm simply trying to recover from the day before.

If you're a pastor, I don't want to tell you what to do. If Mondays work for you, I won't argue. But if you're feeling blue on Mondays, please consider making them a low-key work day, and take your weekly sabbath sometime else when you can really enjoy it.