Shepherding God’s Flock (26)
Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. Titus 2.6-8
Shepherds have three primary tools for tending the Lord’s sheep: the Word of God, prayer, and their own personal example. We tend to focus more on the first two of these, at least, the first one. But prayer and personal example—the piety of a shepherd’s life—must be carefully and faithfully engaged in the work of shepherd.
And this begins within, in the depths of the soul. For if we cannot nurture piety in our own soul, how will we be able to nurture it in others.
Jonathan Edwards understood this: “True piety is not a thing remaining only in the head, or consisting in any speculative knowledge or opinions, or outward morality, or forms of religion: it reaches the heart, is chiefly seated there, and burns there. There is a holy ardour in every thing that belongs to true grace: true faith is an ardent thing, and so is true repentance; there is a holy power ardour in true spiritual comfort and joy; yea, even in true Christian humility, submission, and meekness” (The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister).
How do we preach to the hearts of people? We tend to focus on the minds of our hearers, wanting them to know the truth and to consider how it applies to their lives. But if we cannot stimulate and excite them to love the truth they are coming to know, what’s the good in knowing it? True piety—which preaching seeks to nurture—grows from the heart, and we only preach to the heart when we address the kinds of affections which are appropriate for the life of faith.
Preach to the mind, yes, we must; but preach to the heart as well. And preach by your way of life as much as your words.
Resources for Shepherds
You’ll find some new postings at the Resources for Shepherds page at our website. How cultures change. What preaching is all about. Why Dostoesvky’s protagonist in The Idiot was labeled with that epithet. How to make our resources go further. Food for thought and resources to explore. Check it out.
Men, we invite you to join one of our two book groups, which begin in February. The Lewis Group will be reading Screwtape Letters, while our second group will read Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. Charlie Hammett and I will lead the Lewis Group and David Timbie and I will share the leadership of the Willard group. Click here to register for either group. We meet by Zoom on Fridays (every other) at 3:00 pm Eastern.
From the Celtic Revival
St. Patrick. Everyone knows something about him, but most of what people know is legend or blarney. In our current Crosfigell series on Patrick, we’re letting the saint speak for himself:
Calpornius, my father, son of the late
Potitus, was a deacon. His estate
was near to Banna Venta Berniae,
where, as a priest, his father served to say
the liturgy and guard the flock of God.
When I was sixteen years of age, the rod
of judgment fell on me, as I deserved,
and I was carried off and made to serve
in Ireland, as were many others. We
had turned our backs on God impiously,
and scorned His Law, refusing to obey
our bishops who proclaimed to us the way
of God’s salvation and exhorted us
to put aside our sinful ways and trust
the Lord. Yet we refused to know our good
and loving Savior, as we clearly should…
- Patrick Confession
Not a very auspicious beginning. But it gets better. Join us each Tuesday and Thursday as we listen to Patrick recount his ministry and consider the implications of his life and work in our twice-weekly teaching letter, Crosfigell. You can add Crosfigell to your subscriptions by clicking here.
Check out the prayer by Columbanus, skillfully set by our master webmaster, Travis McSherley, by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.