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True Light and Heat in a Shepherd

Gotta have both.

Shepherding God’s Flock (27)

But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness… 2 Peter 2:12, 13

According to the OED, an ignis faturus is a will-o’-the-wisp, which, also according to the OED, is “a phosphorescent light seen hovering or floating at night on marshy ground from the combustion of natural gases.” It’s light, but it’s gaseous, fleeting, inconstant, unreliable, and derives from a stinky source.

In The True Excellency of a Gospel Minister Edwards wrote, “When there is light in a minister, consisting in human learning, great speculative knowledge, and the wisdom of this world, without a spiritual warmth and ardour in his heart, and a holy zeal in his ministrations, his light is like the light of an ignis faturus, and some kinds of putrifying carcasses that shine in the dark, though they are of a stinking savour.”

This is the kind of preaching and teaching that parades erudition and technical excellence to impress, but offers no true grace to transform hearers into the image of Jesus Christ.

Edwards continued, “And if on the other hand a minister has warmth and zeal, without light, his heat has nothing excellent in it, but is rather to be abhorred; being like the heat of the bottomless pit; where, though the fire be great, yet there is no light.”

This is the kind of preaching and teaching that merely entertains. People love it because it tickles their itching ears, but it provides nothing substantial for their souls.

True light and heat in a minister, Edwards is saying, issues from a godly lifestyle and combines Gospel learning with a pious ardor that reaches out to renew and refresh the souls of saints. We must have both: truth and piety, light of mind and heat of heart. Leave one or the other out and our ministries will suffer.

Edwards leaves no doubt about how important he believes both light and heat to be in the shepherds of God’s flock. But these must come from the right source—a humble and pious life—and aim at achieving God-honoring ends—growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord.

Anything other than this is ignis faturus.

Resources for Shepherds
Men, I invite you to join me for the first of our new Kingdom Conversations. We’ll gather at 8:30 pm (note the time change) via Zoom on January 25—and every fourth Thursday after that. Our topic of discussion for January is “Grace: What is it? What’s it for? How does it work? How do we receive it?” We only have room for 18 men, so if you would like to join us, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll lead off the discussion with a summary of my book, Grace for Your Time of Need, which you can order by clicking either the PDF or the book (not required). When you register, by sending me an email, I’ll send you some questions to consider as we come together to discuss this foundational Kingdom reality. And for all who attend, we’ll provide a free leader’s guide to lead others through a discussion of Grace for Your Time of Need.

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
We shouldn’t have to be as desperate as Patrick was to pray as he did. For six years, as a slave in Ireland, he

would pray a hundred times each day, and by
the light of moon and stars, as often, too.
I found through prayer a pleasant means to do
my work without complaint or fear, and would
remain out on the mountain and in the woods
through snow or frost or rain. I rose to pray
before the morning light appeared each day,
and suffered no adversity, nor was
I sluggish in my work. It was because
the Spirit of the living God was in
me stirring, freeing me from fear and sin.

 - Patrick Confession

Men, we invite you to join us each week as we come together from all over the country to seek the Lord for revival. We join via Zoom at 10:00 Eastern each Tuesday morning and, using a psalm to guide us, pray for revival, renewal, and awakening. If you’d like to join this group, or if you would like to learn about other revival prayer groups, send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Check out the prayer by Columbanus, skillfully set by our master webmaster, Travis McSherley, by clicking here. And don’t forget to download your free copy of Columbanus: A Devotional History, by clicking here.

T. M. Moore

Support for Pastor to Pastor comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390..

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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