I have been away for some time, but have several things waiting to post.
Let me start this year with a quote about the heart of ministry. My good friend Ron Sloan, who runs Refiner’s Fire bookshop in Louisville, gave me an old book on pastoral ministry over Christmas. The book is titled Ad Clerum: Advices to Young Preachers, and it is by Joseph Parker. The book does not contain any introductory matter, but it appears to be a collection of advice from different sources. The first chapter is excellent. This quote is one to keep before us:
“…I deeply feel that without a spirit of reverent and contrite humiliation before God, and a constancy of loving and trustful desire towards the Saviour, no man is fit to have part or lot in the Christian ministry; when, therefore, I avail myself of satire or raillery, it will relate to the weakness or eccentricity of human usages, and never to the vital and solemn realities of the Divine vocation. Our place, as aspirants to the highest ministry, is at the Cross, where alone the oppression of our unworthiness is relieved by the completeness of Jesus Christ’s grace and truth. All this must be assumed; if we are wrong here, we shall be wrong everywhere; - the gift of prophecy and tongues, and the understanding of all mysteries, will be only temptations and snares, and our ministry will be as a plague in the church.” (1-2)
The book has been reprinted and is available at Amazon.com (an excerpt of chapter one can also be viewed from this Amazon listing).