Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Godly Man's Picture by Thomas Watson

I love Thomas Watson and here is a book of his that I have recently been going through devotionally - The Godly Man's Picture. The subtitle to this book is "with a Scripture pencil." Meaning, Watson takes us in very short readable sections through what he would see as the "Godly man's picture" as it is drawn for us with a "scripture pencil." He lists out some 30 plus characteristics of what a man who has been affected by the grace of God looks like. I have used these short sections off and on for the last month as a tool for family devotions. I have found this particularly insightful in helping us see through gospel centered glasses of what a man of God looks like - however don't be deceived by the title - this very well could be entitled, "Every Christian's" picture. Watson is one of the more readable puritan writers and he is one who makes the gospel and its affect on one's life so very, very appealing! is a link to Westminster Books, that has books at discount prices and has some great deals on shipping as well.

Below are the comments from the publisher:

Few preachers in the Puritan era (or any other period of church history)
match Thomas Watson for his ability to combine rich spirituality, nourishing
doctrine and sane wisdom with fascinating illustrations and a pleasant style.
Watson is remembered chiefly for his posthumously published Body of Practical
Divinity (reprinted by the Trust in three volumes). But his extant sermons also
include this marvelous series on the character of the Christian. It is, as C. H.
Spurgeon said of his other work, 'a happy union of sound doctrine,
heart-searching experience and practical wisdom.'Watson is always the essence of
sanity and reliability. But in addition, this work shows how attractive the
grace of God is. Christians of all stages, reading it for the first time, will
feel as if they have entered the gallery of a great portrait painter. As his
sub-title suggests, Watson works with 'a Scripture pencil' in this priceless
sketch of the true believer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Together For The Gospel - Days 3 & 4

Hey folks, here are some reflections on the messages heard on those days, as well as some of the great interactions I had with other brothers during that time...I would encourage you just to set in your schedule some time to just listen to each one of these messages and then discuss them together. As it was last year, so it was even more so this year, a calling for pastors to trust and believe in the power of the gospel through clear gospel-centered preaching to bring about God's will in our churches. Several of these men, shared during the Q & A sessions (of which, I hope they post those) many of their own temptations towards discouragement in ministry, and so forth, which you don't oftentimes hear of the "down times," but instead only of the large numbers in attendance and how many books they have written and so forth.

As they shared their stories, I must say that there was an increased personal humility and vulnerability among the main speakers - that though was there last year - it was definitely much more noticeable this year. You could see how, these men have grown in godliness as they shared their struggles in light of the glory of Christ and His sufferings. I spoke to several men who said the exact same things and noticed that as well.

For many of us who happen to pastor much smaller congregations (as "tens" of people come from all over to hear my preaching) we all found our hearts encouraged in just being faithful to the message of the gospel, knowing that it is the gospel that changes people...and it is not by having all the programs, etc. And all who left there were encouraged by these "fathers in the faith" to just be faithful and to leave all the "results" up to God, knowing that others in church history as well as those from the biblical story (such as Isaiah - and of course, Christ Himself) did not have, quote, "successful" ministries according to the world's standards, but where successful, as they were faithful to the message.

Here is a recap, but once again, listen to the messages, maybe this will help you discern which one you want to listen to first....

Day 3:

  • John MacArthur's message on the sinner's complete inability to respond to the gospel apart from God's grace. This was outstanding! MacArthur went through several passages, especially in the book of John and just showed our complete inability to respond, and as he did so, he just opened up for us the absolute glory of the grace of Christ, and there wasn't a man left thinking anything other than "What a Savior!"

  • Mark Dever's message on trends to "improve the Gospel" - in this message he went through several trends found in the Emergent church movement that undermines the gospel as its message is expanded, and thus, through expanding the message of the Gospel, the message of substitutionary sacrifice is lost.

  • RC Sproul's message on the reality of "curse" in the atonement opening up for us more so the doctrines of propitiation and expiation. The more I hear of RC, the more I love this man. After he finished preaching everyone on the Q & A discussion panel was absolutely silent. He spoke of the necessity of understanding the doctrine of the "curse of God" to then understand the gospel more clearly and rightly. It was outstanding! Likewise what was most affective was RC's humility in the Q & A time as he shared about weaknesses that he saw in his own preaching, and what God is teaching him - as he is now a pastor - about the Cross of Christ, concerning the value of application.

Day 4

  • John Piper's message on radical Christian sacrifice was incredible as he opened up for us the message of the book of Hebrews and taught on "following Christ outside the camp" to a place of sacrifice. This was a message that was both convicting and yet, also grace filled. In the Q & A session, he really helped - pastorally fill in some gaps for us - to recognize that some men after hearing this message might be full of zeal to "go to Africa" while not full of zeal to be faithful in the seemingly "little" things that are anything but small things, like spending time with your wife and kids and discipling their hearts, etc. That being Christian sacrifice. (((OH, I hope they put the Q & A sessions out there to listen that helped all the messages, and especially this one.)))

  • CJ Mahaney's message was the ending of the conference and as I left that auditorium I heard several, several men say, "That message alone, was worth the price of the conference." CJ spoke on the pastor's heart challenging pastors to evaluate and have others evaluate their hearts concerning the areas of gladness, joy and gratefulness in pastoral ministry. It was really all about applying many of the great teachings we had heard throughout the conference to our own hearts - and to keep a survey of our hearts that we might make sure that our hearts are kept "happy in the gospel" - not because of good things happening in our ministries...but because of the gospel's affect on our own hearts.

In light of all of that, I will cut this post short to say in between those times, there were also many other times of rich, rich fellowship with brothers from both SGM churches, and mostly with non-SGM churches. Coffee with a pastor and his wife from Switzerland, and another with an elder from a church in Germany. Lunch with a Godly man by the name of Jon Blomker, who is moving here to KC. Late night coffee with a man who has just come back from the mission field serving in Europe, who is looking to go to the Pastor's College next year. And many other wonderful conversations with well as stacks and stacks of free books that I have been supplied with that will last me a long time to get through.

Thanks again, for jumping into this series of blogs and thanks as well for your comments, as they are always welcome. In the week's to come, I am going to be doing a series of blog entries on the Emergent church from a couple of books that were given to us at the conference itself. Take care.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Together (with my family) for the Gospel

What an incredible time! There are many ways that I am presently aware of as to how the Lord specifically ministered to my heart. I am so very, very grateful for the time spent, the books I have been introduced to, the timely messages I heard, the perspective given on very important topics that the church is presently being faced with, the new friends I have made, and the old friends I was able to reunite with and I pray this will all bear good fruit in my life, first as a husband, then father, then pastor and theologian. It was a profound time, and I will be sharing many, many of those things with you in this format and in the pulpit next week and in the weeks to come....however...

As I was "Together (with many godly men) for the Gospel" I was also "Apart (from my family) For The Gospel." So, right now...I am going to be "Apart (From this blog) and Together (with my family) for the Gospel"....and so you will have to wait for some of those reports on how I was affected, informed and helped by John MacArthur's message on "Total Depravity" and R.C. Sproul's message on the glory of substitutionary atonement as seen through propitiation....and Molher's message confronting aspects of liberal theology's attacks on the substitutionary atonement of Christ, especially from voices from the Emergent church movement...Piper's message on the personal sacrifice of the Christian, and C.J.'s message on the pastor's heart in finding delight in the task of pastoral ministry. All of that will have to wait... in the meantime log on to the "Together For The Gospel" website and start listening to some great messages!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Together For The Gospel - Day 2

Wow what a great day! I can't believe several months ago, I was debating on whether or not I should come. It has already been a wonderfully refreshing time! To tell you everything would make way too long of an entry - so here are the highlights:

1. Last night CJ gave us a wonderfully, practical message on the Church's message, task and future from Acts 15 & 16. It was so very helpful as he just encouraged us in the gospel to continue to keep preaching the gospel, build with the gospel and to seek to set people in place to minister in accordance with the gospel. We are led so very, very well!

2. This morning we heard from Jeff Purswell about the Pastor's College and the new "PC Institute" that they are developing to help assist already existing SGM pastors in our on going training and development academically - very exciting stuff! Joshua Harris spoke about the strategic role of New Attitude in helping local churches to envision and equip the next generation of leaders for faithful service in the local church and in the world. Dave Harvey spoke to us about the on going development of SGM's process and procedures in Church Planting (recruiting church planters, how to identify them and the process for their training and release into the field).

3. The first session was by Ligeon Duncon on the importance of teaching Sound Doctrine for faithful pastoral ministry. As I was listening to this, I couldn't help but think of the men of Providence in how faithfully enthusiastic you are for our INVEST classes on the teaching of Systematic Theology. You men are a joy! I don't have to convince you of the importance for a growing in sound doctrine you are pursing it! Thank you men of Providence!

4. I was able to have dinner this evening with a pastor from Switzerland, Brad Beevers who wrote that great article years ago published by CCEF, "Watch Your Language!" an article concerning the importance of using Biblical Language to define our problems. We have had dinner together at several other Leadership Conferences in the past...and when he saw me this time he just gave me a big hug and insisted that I not pay for my dinner, but that he would. He is a real delight. Likewise, as many of you may remember a story about a young woman that I read to you several years ago whose name was "Claudia" and how she came to the Lord through the faithful witness of a dear believer who just kept taking her out for a cup of coffee. Well, I got to meet her husband - who is 6 months into pastoral ministry - today and we are going to be having dinner tomorrow - (they are all from Switzerland).

5. Tonight's session was wonderful as well getting to hear from Thabiti Anyabwile, a pastor and author from Grand Cayman Islands (tough gig!) He spoke on issues of race and ethnicity in light of the Gospel. It was an outstanding message from Genesis chapter 10. Very, very good!

Well, it is about Midnight here...and Dr. John MacArthur will be speaking tomorrow morning at 8am so I had better go on to sleep. Take care my friends!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Together For The Gospel - Day 1

Hey folks, as I can I will try to give some updates of my time here at T4G. The "official" conference will begin tomorrow, while the Sovereign Grace Ministries' pastors are here a day early to meet tonight and tomorrow morning. I had a great flight over with some time to fellowship with Steve Burchett who is the author of the article I have posted here below, he is a great brother. Likewise, when I got off the plane I was able to speak with C.J., Bob Kauflin, and Jeff Purswell as we were walking to the baggage claim. I am so very grateful for these men, as immediately when we saw one another, they began to ask about Anna, our kids, and the church here in KC. As I attempted to encourage them and thank them, they only encouraged me more. What a blessing it is to be part of this family of churches. I am looking forward to this evening, this should be a great time of fellowship, as I am really looking forward to playing "catch -up" with some of my other pastor friends from other SGM churches. Take care... -M

Saturday, April 12, 2008

When Your Pastor Is Matthew...and not John Piper

Hey folks, here is a great article that I found very helpful and encouraging to ordinary pastors such as myself who just happens to be "a guy with a Bible." Steve is a pastor at a home church congregation up in Parkville, he is a great brother, who serves with our friend Jim Elliff. You can find this article at


When Your Preacher is Not John Piper
Steve Burchett

Many who have had the privilege of hearing John Piper1 preach in person would testify that it felt like a monumental event. His preaching is a powerful combination of truth and passion, leading to convicted and exhilarated listeners. After the sermon, certain hearers might leave wondering if they were just in the presence of a figure who will be talked about in future centuries.

Then they go back to their home church, where several things are different, including the preaching! Thankfully, the gospel is still proclaimed. In fact, the sermons are thoroughly biblical, but the ability of their regular preacher simply does not measure up to the phenomenal preaching they recently heard.

Unless you regularly attend the church of one of the celebrated preachers of our day, you most likely have faced a similar situation. Either at a conference or on the internet, you have heard exceptional preaching, but each Sunday you're back in your simple little home church that hardly anybody beyond your town knows about, with its "nobody" of a pastor who will probably never preach to thousands.

What if your gospel-preaching pastor is not as good as one of the great orators of our day? Is it time to sell the house, pack up the family, and change churches? No, I don't think so. But what should you do?

First, rejoice that your preacher is a man who proclaims the gospel. In some towns, finding a man who preaches the true gospel is as difficult as locating that precious new golf ball you sliced 100 yards into the thick woods! I once endured a 40 minute sermon that consisted mainly of the preacher telling about his family's vacation. Though that might be an extreme example of non-gospel preaching, too many preachers fail to speak of the holy God, sinful humanity, and the redeeming work of Christ. But not your preacher. He speaks honestly about sin, boldly proclaims "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2), and then lovingly invites listeners to repent and believe. That is a reason to rejoice.

Second, recognize that certain men are uniquely gifted by the Lord to have an international ministry and appeal, but this is not the norm. The typical local church should be satisfied to appoint as pastors men who are "above reproach" in their lives, who believe the gospel and are able to teach God's Word, and who have an aspiration to serve as shepherds (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Most preachers will not be strikingly smooth and polished. They may never be the keynote speaker at a big conference, but this is not a tragic shortcoming in your corner of God's kingdom. It is precisely His design.

Third, if your pastor is (honestly) dull, but he preaches the truth faithfully, a little statement I once heard might be helpful for you to remember: "The mature worshipper is easily edified." When hearing lackluster (even if biblical) preaching, immature worshippers will typically not listen to the message because they wish the messenger was more exciting. Conversely, mature worshippers eagerly receive the truth as it is proclaimed, even if it sounds like the preacher is reading a phone book.

Fourth, listen "outwardly" to the preaching. Here's what I mean: Sit with your Bible open and routinely make eye contact with the one preaching. An occasional nod of your head when he makes a point will encourage him and stir up his confidence. In my experiences of both preaching and listening to sermons, I can confirm that yawning listeners with glazed over eyes make mediocre preaching worse, while eager listeners inspire better preaching.

Fifth, verbally encourage the preacher(s) in your church. Every preacher who is not extraordinarily gifted has heard remarkable preaching and moaned, "After listening to that, why do I even try?!" This is a strange phenomenon, but great preaching from the renowned teachers of our day makes many "ordinary" pastors discouraged. Here's a simple way you can buoy your pastor: After a sermon, instead of just saying "Nice sermon!" as you head out the door, take a few moments to tell him what was especially helpful and/or convicting from the sermon. In the first church I served as a pastor, a particular young couple would stay after the service, about once a month, conversing with me about what they learned. These helpful conversations sometimes lasted for over an hour. Even today, I am heartened when I recall their zeal for what was taught.

We should praise the Lord for giving us outstanding, well-known preachers, but let us not forget Paul's command to Timothy, who was entrenched in a local church with pastors whose names none of us know: "The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching" (1 Tim. 5:17).


1 John Piper is the main teaching pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a regular preacher at conferences all around the world.
Copyright © 2008 Steve Burchett
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission

Tim Hawkins On Laziness & Side Effects Of Prescription Drugs

Hey folks, here is another video from Tim Hawkins, sorry, but this guy is really funny! Enjoy! -MH

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tim Hawkins On The Church...

Hey is one for the "random" category...enjoy a good laugh... -M

Friday, April 4, 2008

"Empty" Hoffman, The Question of Blogging & Great Leaders

As it is with many new projects or tasks in our lives - like a blog, for instance - there comes those questions... "Should I continue this? Is this helpful? Etc." Take this blog for instance, which is built around some of my random thoughts, interests and musings. It doesn't represent all of my interests, but some of them. And there are times when I have thought...should I continue this?

I mean think about this for a moment...blogs in general - I mean the really great ones are written by really intelligent people who have a lot of original thoughts that might help propel us into thinking new ways about life in general, or certain specific aspects of life. You know those types of people who are really smart...the ones that help the rest of us out. And to be perfectly honest (and to state the obvious), I don't know that I have ever, ever, ever had an "original thought" in my life...meaning...something of where I am not - in some fashion - standing on someone else's shoulders. And the exact time that I think I have an original thought...I remember it was something my son or daughter probably said to me.

Think out loud with me for a moment...think of all the really "smart" guys...think of all the really great theologians and pastors of our time...As I have thought about them...I think I have found something that is really common among many of them...they all have initials either after their last name or their first name is made up of initials...think about this with me for a moment... "J.I. Packer," "B.B. Warfield," "R.C. Sproul," "C.J. Mahaney," just to name a few.

.......But....God in His infinite kindness, and He Himself knowing full well the depth of my arrogance and pride, that I feel that I am only seeing just the surface of most of the time...he gave me parents who would give me a name that if you used my first two initials and just said it out loud it sounds like the word "Empty." My first name is Matthew and my middle name is Todd. When you put the letters, "M" and "T" together what do you have? "Empty." Now, I don't know about you...but personally I think that is very funny and very true when it comes to what can happen between my ears most of the time as I can go about my day. There are times when my beautiful wife will come up to me and see me staring off into space and will ask, "What are you thinking?" And then in that moment as I wipe the drool off my chin and thinking about it, many times the response is, "well...nothing really..."

SSSoooo this leads me to my original question about this I continue this or no? As I tried to fill my head that is "empty" with original thoughts, I came across this article written by Abraham Piper, "6 Reasons Why Pastors Should Blog" And it was his 3rd reason that I thought, "Yes, that I can do!" His third reason for blogging was to be a tool to "recommend" to others great resources to aid in other's development and growth.

And so, in my hopes of one day being counted a "good leader" I want to point you in the direction of some "great ones"...ones that I rely on to help fill my "empty" head. So in this endeavor to be a "good leader" here are two very great you might have heard of and, another you more than likely have not...(and they are both great, even though they don't use initials for their name)...the first Dr. Dave Harvey, who serves on the Leadership Team of Sovereign Grace Ministries. The other - the one that you more than likely have never heard of, is Arie Mangrum.
Dr. Harvey - in the attached link tells a story of true biblical greatness concerning a man Arie Mangrum, who though his church now no longer exists, he exemplifies true "biblical success." So from one pastor who desires to be a "good one" listen and learn from these two "great ones."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Casting Our Cares Upon God - Taking Care Of Our Souls

Dear folks, I wanted to forward this link to you from an interview with
Joshua Harris, C.J. Mahaney and Jeff Purswell. This particular interview is centered around the topic, "The Pastor and His Soul." Now, you might say, "But I am not a is this to benefit me?" I would say that if you lead in any capacity...or if you ever find yourself "running thin" will find your own soul refreshed by their very practical encouragement through the gospel. Listen and then cast your soul upon God...and then don't forget to ask me, "How is it with your soul?" Thank you friends.