I had the opportunity to preach through the book of Ruth over the last few weeks @ Grace Bible Church. In my preparations I listened to sermons by Voddie Bachaum, David Platt, Alistair Begg, and Mark Driscoll. Much of what I shared comes form these resources as well as a commentary that I wrote many years ago based upon several commentaries as well as some of my own thoughts as I studied.
Check out Charles Spurgeon’s conversion story in his own words.
I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache.
The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man,* a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—
“LOOK UNTO ME, AND BE YE SAVED, ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.”
He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus—”My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.'”
Then the good man followed up his text in this way:—”Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!
When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” – Taken from Charles H. Spurgeon: His Faith and Works, H.L. Wayland, 1892.
God used a snowstorm to keep a pastor from making it to a service so that another preacher would be there for Spurgeon to hear the exact words that He needed in order to be saved. “Look.”
“In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.”
They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”
So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”
Moses prayed for the people.
God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”
So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.
Look my friends. LOOK upon Jesus. In Him, you will find everything. You will find salvation. You will find peace. You will find truth and light and life. Look upon Jesus and be saved!
I was sitting in Sunday School the other day as we studied Jonah and learned some cool stuff. (Thanks Kurt) Check out the similarities between the story of Jonah and Acts 10 with Peter:
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I’m always fascinated by the way God uses certain places to speak particular things.There are certain places I can go that remind me of particular things God has done in my life. For example: If I go to Meridian State Park, I’m reminded of my conversion experience and the body of believers that God used to reveal Himself to me. When I go there, I remember my foundation. I remember where I came from and I can more clearly see who I’ve become.
It seems obvious that Peter would have known the story of Jonah. He had probably studied it as a child and quite possibly even memorized it (For more info, check this post). I wonder if he recognized the similarities of his situation with Jonah’s call? When he realized that God wanted him to share the Gospel with these Gentiles, did he realize that he was in the very same Joppa where Jonah had tried to run from God for a similar call? I wonder if he remembered that Jonah had to learn the hard way, and therefore made his choice to share the Gospel more readily because of it? These are the kinds of conversations that might be fun to have with Peter and Jonah someday in heaven.
PS – here’s another post I wrote about Jonah: Whoa Jonah!
I was listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon last night where he was talking about a church’s “air attack” and “ground war.” He defined the “Air Attack” as the sermon, worship, newsletters, websites, etc – ministries that you just throw out there and hope they land on someone. Of course the “Ground War” was just the opposite. It’s the Bible Studies, service projects, discipleship times. accountability groups, etc where there is a specific target. He talked about how some churches are really good at the “Air Attack” and they have lots of people coming through the doors every Sunday, but they don’t really get discipled, while others focus on the “Ground War” and people grow spiritually and connect with each other, but never have any new people join the church. The church that is healthy of course – has both. They are reaching people with an all-out air and ground assault!
I like the image. What kind of church can fortify such an all-out assault? In the heat of battle, when you start to get tired, how do we remain faithful in taking ground for the kingdom? Where do you find these kinds of Christian soldiers? Or how do you train them? How do you find a rhythm/pace for doing both the “Air Attack” and “Ground War?”
Don’t you just love the alliteration in that title? (Sorry, it’s doesn’t take much to distract me.)
I asked Mike Mathews to be my mentor for my next series of classes and he called me last week to arrange a time to get together. We had breakfast this morning and it was a great time. He cracks me up. He’s really gotten into this whole thing. He even did some of the assignments that I have done for class just so he could understand the material. It’s so good to have someone who cares enough about me to go to those kinds of lengths. Of course it doesn’t hurt that he has many of the same dreams as I in regards to being involved in a church plant.
Anyway, today we talked about our life stories. He did the exercise and shared much of his story with me. I knew alot of it, but was able to see a larger picture of what all God has done/used to make him the man that he is.
We also talked about church planting. We dreamed about what a church body should look like? And what kind of facility would be appropriate for it? He also shared a lot with me about National Community Church and how they’re doing ministry. He also said that he thought they were associated with the Acts 29 network. Whoa! That stopped me dead in my tracks. I have always thought that some sort of association/support is vital to a church plant and once I discovered Acts 29, I thought they’d be the kind of group I’d like to be connected to. To discover that NCC is connected to them is beautiful news. That means that my gut reactions about Acts 29 are probably right. We have friends who are are part of NCC and we could certainly talk to them about the whole association thing. I also can’t help but wonder if God is up to something else here too? It’s just like Him to pull people together in the most random ways so that He can be lifted up and glorified.
One of the thoughts that came out was in regards to technology in preaching. Throughout the years it’s been important to use technology as an instrument to carry the Gospel message to the world, and today it’s more important than ever ’cause technology is so integrated into our lives that we cannot separate ourselves from it. I was explaining that I really enjoy the interactive things I’ve experienced in school. We don’t sit at desks, but at tables in little communities. We can get on-line and download the same powerpoint presentations that we’re looking at on the screen that the teacher is using. (This allows for specific notes to be recorded on the presentation itself.) I also described to him how MTV does it’s request shows with scrolling comments made on-line at the bottom of the screen and phone calls “interrupting” the videos with people’s comments. (I’m not sure the viewers see it as an interruption – it’s all a part of the program to them.) Our discussion became about imagining a new way to preach. Rather than a completely planned out prepared sermon, why couldn’t the Scriptures be “discussed/preached” by a man who also responded to comments from others? (Why do we consider the sermon so important? Is it the sermon itself or the instruction and understanding it brings to the Word? Within our culture, is the sermon the best way to communicate the importance of the Gospel message?) It would take a very disciplined person, and certainly every comment couldn’t be addressed, but the interaction itself would engage the people in ways that I’ve certainly never experienced in a service. I think the “preacher/teacher/interviewee” would need to be very grounded in his subject matter to pull this off ’cause he could get all kinds of questions thrown at him. He would also need to be disciplined as far as knowing when to get to the point and get back to the Scriptures, and how to get to the real meat of the message too. This particular style might even allow for multiple “preacher/teachers” who could all be prepared for the topic. In some ways this might even end up looking like a talk show if you weren’t careful. I guess, what I’m imagining would be a delicate balance between a talk show and preaching. I wouldn’t want to lose to authority of good preaching, but I’m looking for ways to engage people in the process a bit more. It wouldn’t take a whole lot of work to prepare a venue for this kind of interaction either – just a WiFi connection and a chat room that could be monitored by some trustworthy person who would then relay the appropriate comments/questions to the main screen that the speaker was working from.
Anyway, he challenged me to start experimenting with this sort of thing. I’m not sure we could really pull it off with the youth program, because I don’t think many of our students have laptops, but I’d probably be surprised. I may start asking questions in our group which could lead down this road soon.
What do you guys think?
If you’re one of the youth in my church, tell me what you think? Should we try to do this? Do you have a laptop or access to one that you could bring to U-TURN?