One of my great passions is the Word of God. I love spending time in it, but I also love reading about it. I found this poem in a book not long ago. I thought you might enjoy it.
Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door
And I heard the anvil ring the vesper chimes;
Then looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers worn out with beating years of time.
“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he and then with twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
And So I thought, the anvil of God’s Word
For ages skeptic’s blows have beat upon,
Yet, thought the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed. the hammers are gone.
A challenging word for today.
So, just because I study the half-life of a quark, a pileated woodpecker, the consistory records of Geneva in the years after Calvin’s death, the destructive influence of Richard Simon, or a Hebrew infinitive construct does not guarantee that I love God better. In fact, it may seduce me into thinking I am more holy and more pleasing to God, when all I am doing is pleasing myself: I like to study. After all, secularists are fine technical scholars who enjoy their work and make excellent discoveries and write great tomes, without deluding themselves into thinking that they thereby prove they love God and deserve hight praise in the spiritual sphere. Nothing is quite as deceitful as an evangelical scholarly mind that thinks it is especially close to God because of its scholarship rather than because of Jesus.D.A. Carson
The Pastor as Scholar and the Scholar as Pastor
Every Pastor needs a reminder that he is not alone. In the Bible, pastors are described in the Bible as shepherds and charged with the care of the flock but they are also described as sheep, too. Sheep are subject to struggles and brokenness in their personal lives affected by the treatment at the hands of others. If one is not careful, pastors can feel isolated and alone in suffering. The book 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Endurance in Pastoral Ministry, edited by Colin Hansen and Jeff Robinson, seeks to pull back the shroud of loneliness and self-pity experienced by some pastors and encourage them to faithfulness by demonstrating the hardships and suffering endured by other pastors in history.
This book profiles twelve pastors spanning five centuries and situated across five continents. It provides historical snapshots of the Apostle Paul, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, Andrew Fuller, Charles Simeon, John Chavis, C.H. Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, Janani Luwum, and Wang Ming-Dao. It spends a little time discussing the victories of their ministries, but emphasizes some of the spiritual valleys that each of these men walked through. Each chapter is penned by a different biographer. The following paragraphs will examine a few strengths, weaknesses and express my evaluation of the book.
One of the greatest assets of this collection of biographical sketches is the variety of the men included. The pastors profiled are taken from various denominations, geographic locations, and time periods. While each man is lauded for his faithfulness, the writers are not afraid of demonstrating their failures. A second benefit of the variety of profilees is that I was introduced to faithful men I did not know about previously. The book also demonstrates a variety of sufferings. Not all suffering is perceived as the equal to the outside observer, but they are keenly felt to the one suffering, therefore, it is helpful to see what suffering looked like in the lives of those men in this book.
In spite of the strengths, the book is not without its weaknesses. By my evaluation, the book is deficient in a few areas. First of all, each chapter is composed by a different author. This makes the development and description of each pastor uneven from chapter to chapter. This leads to the second criticism. Some chapters, out of necessity, leave desired details sparse. Admittedly, this is a limitation of a work such as this. Given this characteristic, it is my opinion that the book would benefit from each individual author selecting and listing a few worthy works on their subject for further study. One could argue that such material could be gathered from the endnotes, but for those with limited time, a section at the conclusion of each chapter would be beneficial.
All in all this book is extremely helpful in watering the seeds of interest for further study of the aforementioned pastors. It will serve to encourage pastors experiencing the ups and downs of local church pastoring. It is well worth your time.
Rating: 4 Highlighters
I recently finished reading 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Courageous Endurance in Pastoral Ministry. I have a review scheduled to post on Friday. In the chapter on Charles Spurgeon, Zack Eswine penned a poem about what we should remember as we face our “accuser.” It struck me powerfully and I wanted to share it with you here.
You might be right, but Jesus!
You might be right, things are worse than I thought, but Jesus!
You might be right, all is lost, but Jesus!
You might be right, I am abandoned, but Jesus!
You might be right, I am forfeit, but Jesus!
You might be right, I should stay down, but Jesus!
You might be right, it would be too late for me, but Jesus!
You might be right, I am out of reach, but Jesus!
You might be right, I am a sinner, but Jesus
You might be right, they might be better off without me, but Jesus!
You might be right, I could deserve to die, but Jesus!
Wow! But Jesus! May this poem be a blessed reminder of our Savior’s work on our behalf.