Seventeenth-Century English Baptists on the Incarnation

The Second London Confession of Faith was issued, in part, to set the record straight with the general public that Thomas Collier’s heterodox views on the Trinity and the eternality of Christ’s human nature did not represent the Particular Baptist community as a whole. The latter is addressed in the confession’s strong statement on the full divinity and humanity of Christ united in his one person.

The Son of God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Fathers glory, of one substance and equal with him: who made the World, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made: did when the fullness of time was come take unto him mans nature, with all the Essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin: being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, and the power of the most High overshadowing her, and so was made of a Woman, of the Tribe of Judah, of the Seed of Abraham, and David according to the Scriptures: So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, were inseparably joined together in one Person: without conversion, composition, or confusion: which Person is very God, and very Man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and Man.

Contra Collier’s position on the eternality of Christ’s human nature, the confession asserts that Christ “did when the fullness of time was come take unto him mans nature, with all the Essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, yet without sin.” The human nature was assumed at the incarnation and did not exist prior to this point in human history. At this point, the framers of the Second London Confession were following the wording found in the Westminster Confession and Savoy Declaration. Just after this section, however, the Second London adapts language from the First London Confession not included in either of these historic Protestant confessions. This wording further emphasized the full humanity assumed by the second person of the Trinity at Bethlehem. They added: “the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, and the power of the most High overshadowing her, and so was made of a Woman, of the Tribe of Judah, of the Seed of Abraham, and David according to the Scriptures.” This issue was important because these Baptists believed that the same human nature possessed by Eve, Judah, Abraham, and David was shared by the Christ. Only in this way could the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s coming be fulfilled.

How to Pray for this Election

Several weeks ago I was asked by Ryan Hoselton to provide some guiding principles that I share with our church about how to pray for this election along with a sample prayer. My response, along with responses from Pastors John Onwuchekwa and Juan Sanchez, was posted on Christianity Today’s “The Local Church” blog. Below is what I offered.

Guiding Principles:

I want to remind our congregation to pray first for the spiritual renewal of our nation in recognition that our greatest need is spiritual, not political. I want us to remember that all human kingdoms have failed and will fail. The only eternal kingdom is the kingdom of Christ. I do, however, want us to pray that American citizens will exercise their right to vote according to their conscience, informed by principles of wisdom and integrity.

I want our congregation to pray specifically for candidates from both major political parties, as well as independent or third-party candidates. I want us to pray that they’ll all be or become people of wisdom and integrity, and for their service on behalf of the American people. I want to pray for the spiritual condition of each man and woman running for the presidency, and that if they’re not trusting in Christ alone for their salvation, they turn to Christ in repentance and faith.

Finally, I want to remind our congregation that we need to pray and vote for local and state leaders as well. I encourage the use of the website pray1tim2.org as a resource to help them pray for state leaders.


Our Father, we come before you recognizing that we desperately need you to intervene in our nation and send revival to our land. We confess that we’ve rebelled against you and tried to establish ourselves as kings instead of submitting to your authority. Forgive us for trusting in our government and our leaders when we should have been trusting in you alone.

We thank you for allowing us to live in this country where we have the freedom to vote for our leaders. Please help us as a nation to vote according to consciences that are informed by principles of integrity and wisdom. Please bless and protect those of all political parties who are running for office, from the White House to the statehouse to the courthouse. Grant that those seeking office would do so for the good of others, and not their own prosperity. May they lead with wisdom and integrity. Most importantly, grant that they may know you as their king in order that they may rule as humble servants in this land and for eternity with you, along with all the saints.

In humble submission to your sovereign rule, amen.

To read the original post with the other responses, visit here.

Things Christians Post on Social Media When Their Team Loses

I’ve long been amused by the type of social media posts when a Christian’s favorite sports team loses a big game. After venting about the team, coaches, or officials, they typically become very spiritual and begin posting about how they didn’t really care about the game anyway. Below are a few examples. See if you recognize any of these.

Ex. 1, Triumphalistic: I’m glad my hope isn’t in the [insert sports team name], but in an eternal kingdom that can never lose! Amen?!?!

Ex. 2, Eschatological: I’ve read the back of the book and we win! Glad I’m on the winning side!

Ex. 3, Pietistic: I was thinking about giving up [insert name of sport] anyway and spend the time in Bible study and prayer.

Ex. 4, Heavenly-Minded: I don’t know why, but the things of the world no longer hold any allure for me. Heaven’s sounding sweeter all the time.

Have you seen any of these, or even posted them yourself? Have you seen any others?

Hercules Collins’ Funeral Sermon

hercules-collins-funeral-sermonHercules Collins died on October 4, 1702. He was interred five days later at Bunhill Fields, the burial ground of dissenters. His funeral sermon was preached by John Piggott, a Seventh-Day Baptist who was renown for his funeral sermons. He preached a number of sermons around this time at the funeral services of prominent London Baptist pastors. The sermon was based on Matthew 24:44, “Therefore be ye also ready; for in such an Hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh. 

The first part of the sermon focused on the biblical text. The latter part of the sermon summarized the life of Collins. This section of the sermon is excerpted below.


In such a posture of soul was he, whose death occasions this discourse.  I doubt not but he was actually as well as habitually ready; you know I mean your late worthy pastor Mr. Hercules Collins, concerning whom I have need to say the less, because his doctrine you have heard, and his example you have seen for so many years; the former was agreeable to the sentiments of the reformed churches in all fundamental articles of faith, and the latter such as did adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour.

He began to be religious early, and continued faithful to the last. He was not shocked by the fury of persecutors, though he suffered imprisonment for the name of Christ.

He was one that had a solid acquaintance with divine things, about which he always spoke with a becoming seriousness and a due relish; and I must say, I hardly ever knew a man that did more constantly promote religious discourse (a practice almost out of fashion:) he shewed an unwearied endeavour to recover the decayed power of religion, for he lived what he preached, and it pleased God to succeed his endeavours in the gospel after a wonderful manner. Are there not here many that must call him Father, whom he hath begotten through the gospel? May it not be said of this man and that woman, they were born here?

If he had not some men’s accuracy, yet it was made up by a constant flame; for no man could preach with a more affectionate regard to the salvation of souls. And how well he discharged the other branches of his pastoral function, this church is a witness, whom he has watched over and visited above five and twenty years.

He had Luthers three qualifications for a gospel-minister; he was much given to meditation and prayer, and hardly any man was more grievously tempted of the devil than your deceased pastor: though for many years satan in a great measure was bruised under his feet, and God had so cleared up his love to his soul, that he could say, I know in whom I have believed, I know to whom I have committed my soul, I know that my Redeemer liveth; and I know that when this earthly house of my tabernacle is dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. His constant walk was in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts of the Holy Ghost. He had a full assurance of the love of God for many years; yet this did not make him careless and negligent in duty, it did not lift him up above measure, but kept him at the foot of Christ.

How exemplary was his submission under personal and relative trials; his own indispositions were frequent and great, yet in patience he possessed his soul, and was always learning from the discipline of the rod: and how well he carried it under the affliction he had with a near relation, you cannot but know. I confess I have thought him in that respect one of the best examples that ever I knew; surely no person could be more tender and sympathizing. In a word, he was faithful in every relation, a man of truth and integrity, one entirely devoted to the service of the temple, and zealously bent to promote the interest of the Lord Redeemer. But alas! this useful minister is silenced, and a few days indisposition has given him a remove from the toils of the pulpit, to the triumphs of the throne.

I confess I had not the opportunity of conversing with him in his last illness; but I am informed by those that were with him, that he retained an excellent savour of divine things to the day of his death, and did discourse but the morning before he died after a very moving manner, being greatly affected with those words, They overcame by the blood of the Lamb (This was the last text that he preached on, it being on a funeral occasion.). ‘Tis true, he is fallen in battle, but he died more than a conqueror; and having fought the good fight, and finished his course, and kept the faith, he quitted the body, that he might receive an unfading crown of glory.  But we are left behind unripe for Heaven, and God is teaching us by terrible things in righteousness.  As we shall discover great stupidity, if we do not observe how God hath broken us with breach upon breach (Mr. Dennis and Mr. Thomas Harrison both died in the compass of six days in August last; and since the preaching of this sermon Mr. William Collins is deceased.): He hath removed both younger and elder ministers.  Therefore on this occasion suffer me to speak a few words to three sorts of people, and I have done.

  1. To Surviving Ministers. I confess I am the unworthiest of your number; and considering my age, and before whom I stand, my words ought to be few.  Yet the sense I have upon my own soul concerning the methods of God’s providence towards us, inclines me to address my self to you, my Fathers, that were in Christ before me, and preached him before I knew him.  Suffer a son to put you in mind of doing the utmost you can for Christ while here; for you must shortly go, and what then shall we do to stem the tide of profaneness, and answer the cavils of sceptics against our holy religion?    O pity, pity the rising generation of young ministers; Pray for them, advise them, and do all you can to help them in their work, before you leave them: Be an example to them, that when you are gathered to your fathers, we may stand up and plead for your God and Ours.  And you, my brethren, that are younger, let me intreat you to apply your selves to close study and constant prayer, that you may shew yourselves workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
  1. To you, my Brethren of this Church, that have lost an excellent pastor. In the midst of your tears look up to Heaven, and pray to the Lord of the Harvest that he would send forth labourers into this harvest (Mat. 9.38).  Remember the God you pray to can dispense the Spirit in what measures he pleases, and qualify whom he will for the ministration of the gospel.  But let not that make you defective on your part: You must not expect that preachers will drop down from Heaven, or spring out of Earth; but due care must be taken fore the incouragement of humble men that have real gifts, and let such be trained up in useful learning, that they may be able to defend the truths they preach.  Your pastor’s mouth is stopped, and cannot speak to you; but this I am sure was the sense of his mind.  To close this head, labour to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace: And tho your Elder is dead, remember your relation to the Church is not dissolved, but you are bound to keep your places, and to do your utmost to promote the happiness of this congregation.  The Church is in a state of widowhood; and I hope you will not forget to sympathize with your Pastor’s distressed widow, to defend her right, and support her to the last.

Be as speedy as you can in filling up the place in the church of him that is gone: and may you have a pastor after God’s own heart.

  1. To you that were the constant auditors of the deceased minister. ‘Tis to be feared that many of you have not improved so much as you ought to have done: You are witnesses with what zeal and fervour, with what constancy and seriousness he used to warn and persuade you.  Tho you have been deaf to his former preaching, yet listen to the voice of this providence, lest you continue in your slumber till you sleep the sleep of death.

You cannot but see, unless you will close your eyes, that this world and the fashion of it is passing away.  O what a change will a few months or years make in this numerous assembly!  Yea, what a sad change has little more than a fortnight made in this congregation!  He that was so lately preaching in this pulpit, is now wrapped in his shroud, and confined to his coffin; and the lips that so often dispersed knowledge amongst you, are sealed up till the resurrection.  Here’s the body of your late minister; but his soul is entered into the joy of his Lord.  O that those of you that would not be persuaded by him living, might be wrought upon by his death!  For tho he is dead, he yet speaketh; and what doth he say; bot to ministers and people, but Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh?

John Piggott, Eleven Sermons, 235-40. To read the sermon in its entirety and/or download the book, click here.

Religious Liberty for Muslims: A Baptist Tradition

Baptists have historically argued for the religious liberty of all people. As a group that was persecuted in their early days, Baptists have consistently argued for four hundred years that the civil government does not have authority over the consciences of citizens. Baptists have recognized that we either have religious liberty for all or not at all. If the government can take someone else’s freedom today, they can take yours tomorrow. Below is a list of quotes evidencing Baptists’ historic commitment to religious liberty. These could be multiplied many times over. The unique thing about the quotations below is not their advocacy of religious liberty for all, but that they specifically identify Muslims as deserving freedom to practice their religion freely. (Note: “Turks” and “Turkish” was used as an identifier of Muslims.)

“For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. This is made evident to our lord the king by the scriptures.” Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1612)

“It is the will and command of God that, since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus, a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries.” Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (1644)

Roger Williams also cited in a positive fashion that Oliver Cromwell once maintained in a public discussion “with much Christian zeal and affection for his own conscience that he had rather that Mahumetanism [i.e. Mohammedanism or Islam] were permitted amongst us, than that one of God’s Children should be persecuted.”

“The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” John Leland, “The Virginia Chronicle” (1790)

To add contemporary Baptist voices, I could add these excellent pieces by my friends Russell Moore and Bart Barber. These men and their arguments are right in step with the larger Baptist tradition of defending religious liberty for all.



Michael Haykin’s Seven, nay Eleven!, Books for Summer Reading

Over on his Facebook page, Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been posting pictures of the covers of books that he is reading this summer. The list is as fascinating as it is eclectic. Below is the list that he has posted. The links are to the Amazon book pages and the comments are Dr. Haykin’s own from his original Facebook posts. I don’t think the list is meant to be taken in order of importance, so you probably should read them all.

  1. 'The Noise of Time' Julian Barnes.jpg
    The Noise of Time: A Novel by Julian Barnes.
    Summer reading #1: read a review of this in the WSJ and it sounded fabulous. Just bought it at my fav bookstore in Hamilton: Bryan Prince.
  2. 'The Lives of Muhammad' Kegia Ali.jpg
    The Lives of Muhammad
    by Kecia Ali.
    Summer reading #2: as a believer in the Triunity of God and the deity of the Lord Jesus and his atoning death, I believe Islam to be wrong…but I am deeply interested in Islam as a religion and desire to learn all I about it. Hence this new book.
  3. 'Brown' Kamal Al-Solaylee.jpg
    Brown: What Being Brown in the World Today Means (To Everyone) by Kamal Al-Solaylee.
    Summer reading #3: this is by a Canadian author and I was drawn to it by the title and then the contents drew me in.
  4. 'Reformations' Carlos Eire.jpg
    Reformations: The Early Modern World, 1450-1650
    by Carlos M. N. Eire.
    Summer reading #4: this is a tremendous overview of the Refm by Carlos Eire.
  5. 'John Calvin's Institutes' Bruce Gordon.jpg
    John Calvin’s ‘Institutes of the Christian Religion: A Biography
    by Bruce Gordon.
    Summer reading #5: I loved Gordon’s Calvin bio and this looks equally good.
  6. '2 Timothy' by Craig Smith.jpg
    2 Timothy
    by Craig A. Smith.
    Summer reading #6: along with Hebrews, 2 Timothy is my fav NT book and I am very impressed with this commentary by Craig Smith.
  7. 'Being Protestant in Reformation Britain' Alec Ryrie.jpg
    Being Protestant in Reformation Britain
    by Alec Ryrie.
    Summer reading #7: this is a fabulous study of Protestant piety–very deep and scholarly. Not for the novice!
  8. 8 'Chacer's Tale'.jpg
    Chaucer’s Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury
    by Paul Strohm.
    Summer reading #8: Geoffrey Chaucer is very important for the English language: without his work we might all be speaking French. I know little about him and looking forward to having my ignorance illuminated.
  9. 9 'Not God's Type'.jpg
    Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms
    by Holly Ordway.
    Summer reading #9: I love memoirs and biographies and I look forward to this recent account of Holly Ordway’s rejection of atheism for Roman Catholicism.
  10. 10 'Praying Together'.jpg
    Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer: In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches
    by Megan Hill.
    Summer reading #10: I need this for my soul: for praying is the hardest part of my Christian life.
  11. 11 'John Owen Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity'.jpg
    John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity by Tim Cooper.
    Summer reading #11: in preparation for our Fuller Conference this fall on Baxter, Owen, and Kiffen, I have this splendid work by Tim Cooper (whom I am very much looking forward to meeting at the September conference).

Tolle lege!

A Poem on Bunhill Fields

Bunhill Fields was a burial ground for dissenters/non-conformists in London who died in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Here lie John Bunyan, Hercules Collins, John Gill, Thomas Goodwin, Joseph Hart, William Kiffin, Hanserd Knollys, John Owen, Susanna Wesley, and many more. The following poem weaves together some of the names and lines of the saints whose bodies lie here awaiting the resurrection.

2016-05-21 12.59.57Tread softly! sure the foot’s on hallowed ground,
For many a saint of God is resting here;
The busy hum of City life’s outside—
Within the railings lies the dust that’s dear.

Some that were mourned by loved ones who were left;
Some for whom countless tears were often shed;
For they live on in many hearts to-day—
In prose, in poem, whether sung or read.

We see the wondrous Bard of Bedford’s tomb;
Here rests the precious dust of Joseph Hart;
Dear Isaac Watts, not very far to seek—
Quite close, within the sound of busy mart.

John Owen lies within these sacred, walls;
And Gill is here, and many more the same;
Old Andrew Gifford, Rosewell, Goodwin, too,
All spoke the truths the Bible teaches plain.

Macgowan’s lines will surely reach the heart,
A hidden chord be touched as on we read;
For “sinner saved by grace” is here the strain—
Such minds, so taught, are on this point agreed.

But when we reach the plains above we’ll know
That Jesus Christ has everything done well;
And with dear Swain we’ll laud His wondrous love,
Who plucked us “as a burning brand from hell.”

There Samuel Stennett’s “raptured eyes shall see
The Saviour’s lovely face” he sang of here;
And Burder’s “warmer heart in brighter world”
Shall “shout that God is love” in accents clear.

But Bunhill Fields is full of wondrous tales,
And true ones, too, of favoured saints of old
Who served their Master spite of pain and loss;
Cared not for glory, but for truth were bold.

The sovereign grace of God—that sweetest sound
To man who’s taught his sinful heart to know—
Was striven for at mighty cost by those
Whose bones lie mingled with the dust below.

What wondrous sight ’twill be on that great day
When Jesus, coming down the parted skies—
The resurrection morn—to meet the saints,
Will call His blessed ones and with them rise!

Good Lady Erskine, Rippon, Cromwells, too,
And many more the pen would fail to name;
The spots are given where all of these are laid;
Go, search your quest were surely not in vain.

Descriptions some you’ll find within this book,
Entrancing stories, witching tales are here;
There’s Fleetwood’s famous name and old DeFoe’s,
And Lady Page, whose sufferings are clear.

And when you’ve read the tales that here are told—
A few culled from the page of history’s lore—
The writer will be very well repaid
If Bunhill Fields you love a little more.

M. J. L.

From Alfred W. Light, Bunhill Fields (London: C. J. Farncombe & Sons, 1913), vii-viii.

“The Advantages of a Long Pastorate”: A Century Old Reminder from a Lutheran Pastor

Lutheran Witness Header

In the February 19, 1918, edition of The Lutheran Witness, an article by Rev. Paul Schumm of North Dakota appeared that argues the advantages of a long pastorate. The article is reproduced in its entirety below. 

A recent issue of the weekly paper published in the village where the writer of these lines resides contained an announcement that the local Congregational church had decided to retain its pastor for another year. To Lutherans this sounds strange, but incidents of this kind are not at all a rarity among many of the church bodies in our country. Some of these even insist on a change of pastors every five years, some every three years, some every two years, and some every year. At the meeting of the conferences one of the chief businesses is the parceling out of charges as the offices are parceled out in the newly elected alderman’s district.

It is not our intention at present to enter upon a discussion of the sinful indifference which is thus manifested towards the divinity of the pastor’s call. We would remark, however, in passing, that they who so flagrantly sin against the ordinance of God need not expect much blessing from an office which is continually hampered in its work by their own contemptuous treatment of it. It is rather the purpose of this paper to point out some of the advantages of a long pastorate.

It is conceded that there are pastorates which should be cut short. If the shepherd continually feeds the flock with the poison of false doctrine and will not desist, his ministrations are not to be tolerated, his pastorate can scarcely be too short. If a pastor leads a scandalous life, living in gross vices and continuing therein, an end is to be made of his unprofitable labors, however brief the pastorate may have been. It is also true that there may be peculiar reasons why one, even after a short period of work in one charge, must leave it for another, either larger or more important field, or because of reasons of health must accept less strenuous work. Peculiar conditions must be judged according to circumstances and love. But after making all proper allowances for unusual conditions, we still are convinced that, as a rule, a long pastorate has great advantages over a short one.

In the first place, it will take a pastor a year in most cases to take a thorough inventory, if I may use the word, of his congregation. The mere business of becoming acquainted with his people in his parish or congregation will absorb a large part of his time the first year, and a mere acquaintance of a minister of Christ with his people is not sufficient if he is to do proper, wholesome pastoral work. A physician must be acquainted with the condition of his patients before he can supply the needed remedies. Think of a pastor speaking to one of his members in trouble, in sickness, in case of a death. Will it not be of the greatest value to him if he knows the past history of this member of his flock, if he knows something of the visitations, the battles, the trials that this person has been subjected to? Is he not to give to some of his members the milk of the Word and to others the meat? Are not some to be instructed in the first principles of the oracles of God, and others to be led to active work in responsible positions? Other things being equal, a man who is acquainted with his people. with conditions in the congregation, and with the neighborhood of his church, will do better work than one who requires much time to grope his way through darkness because he is unacquainted with all these things.

Again, whenever a change of pastors takes place, some time elapses, as a rule, between the day when the former pastor ceases active work and interest in the congregation, and the day on which his successor takes up the study of his new surroundings. In the mean time the young people especially and vacillating members, who are found in every congregation, are exposed to the subtle attacks of errorists and of the world. At times vacancies may be prolonged, and thus irreparable damage may be done. There are cases of congregations that have suffered severely, and which never entirely recuperated from the ill effects of the months and years of neglect arising from frequent changes of pastors.

One argument which is at times advanced in favor of frequent changing of pastors is that it gives the people something new, and freshens their interest in church-work. But who does not know that novelty soon wears off? After hearing the new pastor once or twice, those who are gadding about for novelties will be satisfied, and will relapse into their former indifference. Even the most sensational evangelists, however freakish their manner, however strange their antics, however entertaining their few stock phrases, cannot hold the crowds longer than a few weeks. Many of the very men who have given much time and money and labor to efforts to stir up new interest by frequent changes of evangelists and pastors are the ones who are most disgusted with the results.

We are not theorizing; we are saying something which the experience of nearly two thousand years bears out. It is this: To do real successful church-work means to feed the flock of Christ, give each one his portion in due time, apply the Law and the Gospel to each case, proclaim both these elements of God’s Word publicly from the pulpit, and then defend this flock earnestly and zealously against the false prophets that go about in sheep’s clothing, but are wolves within. If this is done by one who has the ability to do it in a field of labor with which he is familiar, the fruits will not be missing. Weeds grow overnight, but the growth of a profitable harvest is a matter of diligent preparation of the soil, careful sowing, patient waiting, untiring cultivating, and prayer to the Lord of the Harvest to grant the fruit in due season. Every pastor who has done missionary work, not for a year or two, but for many years. knows that marvelous results cannot be expected in a short time. Inexperienced or impatient missionaries often leave their fields of labor because results did not come as early as they expected them. Our mission boards have often complained that it is just these frequent changes which make the proper growth and development of the work impossible.

And then this dare not be overlooked: If a congregation is to work in harmony with the pastor, it must have confidence in him; but confidence is not the growth of a few days. We do not call a man reliable when his reliability has never been put to the test. Of the circus actor we expect immediate, wonderful stunts. Of a faithful pastor we expect guidance through life. He is not merely to entertain us, he is to save them that hear him—save them from eternal damnation, save them from their own undoing, save them for heaven and everlasting life. We want a reliable guide for such important business.

God has often punished those who followed their own whims, likes and dislikes, instead of His Word and direction in managing the affairs of God’s kingdom. It has not rarely happened that a change of pastors which was expected to improve conditions had the very opposite effect. Misunderstanding the people, mistaken in the diagnosis of the ailment, erring in the selection of the remedy, the new pastor, who has tumbled head over ears into the half-settled difficulties left by his predecessors, has often brought disaster instead of relief.

Long pastorates, we are glad to say, are the rule in the Lutheran Church. It is not at all rare to find Lutheran ministers, especially in the Missouri Synod, who have been in one church for twenty and more years. In our large cities, we are confident of that, we will find many Lutheran ministers with long pastorates to their credit.

The Congregationalist has lately called attention to noble examples of pastors who faithfully served the same people for the span of many years. It mentions Joseph Adams, who preached at Newington, N. H., for nearly sixty-eight years; Israel Loring, who officiated at Sudbury, Mass., for sixty-seven years; Solomon Stoddard, who served a congregation at Northampton for sixty years; Timothy Edwards, the father of Jonathan Edwards, labored as pastor at Windsor Farms, Conn., for sixty years. It then calls attention especially to Dr. Robie, who recently died at Greenland, N. H., at the age of ninety-seven. He had served the same people for sixty-five years, and only death put an end to his activities. It writes: “Only two or three of the present inhabitants can remember when his tall and impressive form was first seen in their streets. ‘We feel that he belongs to us all,’ was the common saying.”

In his last days this pastor baptized the great-grandchild of one of those who first welcomed him. Our restless, changeable age needs to be taught the lessons of fidelity to duty, of perseverance in well-doing, of self-effacement in the interest of service; we need to flee from the circus methods of such men as Billy Sunday back to the faithful, diligent, untiring work of the husbandman in the vineyard of our Lord.

Anamoose, N. Dak.                                                      PAUL SCHUMM.

2016 Legislative Session Report

Dear Ministry Friends and Partners:

Over the past few months I served the Kentucky State Capitol community during my first legislative session. This year’s session was a “long session” (60 days as opposed to the 30 day “short sessions” held on alternating years). Every two years a long session is held in part due to a biennial state budget needing to be passed on even numbered years. Although I don’t have anything else to compare it with, I have heard that these sessions are much busier and more stressful than their odd-year counterparts. It was a good way to get initiated with a “baptism of fire” of sorts.

My goal during this session was to build relationships with as many lawmakers and staff as possible. I wanted to introduce myself and the ministry and let them know that I was there to serve them and pray for them. It was important to emphasize that my ministry would be non-partisan. I engage in no lobbying on legislation, no endorsing of candidates, and no obvious support of any political party. My desire is to be able to minister through the Scriptures and prayer to the spiritual needs of legislators and staff regardless of their political affiliation. I also started a weekly Bible study for legislators and staff in one of the small meeting rooms in the Capitol Annex (the office building connected by tunnel to the capitol where all the legislators’ offices are located).

I was very encouraged by the doors the Lord opened during this session for ministry. We opened the session with a free meal provided to legislators as a “Welcome Back” and introduction of the ministry to Kentucky. During the session, I was able to meet personally with 35 senators and representatives in their offices. During this time I would introduce myself and explain the purpose of the ministry. I would also try to learn a little bit about the legislator’s background and family. I would then ask how I could pray specifically for that legislator and would subsequently do so. This was a very profitable time of ministry and opened doors for many conversations later as I followed up on prayer requests or family details they had shared.

In addition to these office meetings, I also met and had substantially conversations with 63 other lawmakers in various contexts. I regularly set in the gallery of the Senate and House chambers observing and praying for the legislators. I was blessed to lead the opening prayer of the Senate on three different occasions. By the end of the session, I was on first-name basis with nearly 100 of the 138 members of the Kentucky General Assembly.

 Our Bible study met on each Tuesday and Thursday during the session. I did the same study both days to allow as many legislators as possible to attend (since they each have varying schedules based on which committees they serve on). We began with a study on “How to Study the Bible” and ended the session with an expositional study of the book of Philippians. Thanks to donations from churches and individuals, we were able to provide a light lunch at each of these studies, as well as the initial lunch for legislators at the beginning of the session. I was also able to purchase a case of ESV Pew Bibles to use for our studies. We averaged approximately 20 each week in attendance at the Bible study (combined) with some from the community attending as well. We had at least 21 different legislators or staff attend at least once, most multiple times.

I was also ministering to the staff at the capitol. I was able to build a number of relationships with staff and had several opportunities to pray for specific needs that they shared with me. The staff as a whole was very receptive to the idea of the Bible study, but they are severely limited during the legislative session due to their busyness (they are often unable to get away from their desks for lunch). My plan is to provide a weekly Bible study for the year-round staff at the capitol during the interim (May – December). I would like to begin, as I did for the legislators, with a welcoming meal. To do this, I will need the Lord to provide the resources as I ended the session slightly in the red in my ministry expense account.

Overall, I was greatly encouraged with how the session went. I was encouraged by the quality of the people who work at the capitol (both legislators and staff). I was also encouraged by the amount of work that they do. Many begin work early in the morning and work late into the evening. What happens when the General Assembly is in session is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the amount of work that is being done. In summary, I was very encouraged by what I saw up close and behind the scenes (for the most part). I was also more convinced than ever of the importance of this ministry. The legislators and staff are under a ton of pressure and need the spiritual support of the prayers of God’s people. I was honored to be used by God as an extension of His church during this session to minister to the needs of the Kentucky General Assembly.

Please continue or commit to praying for the legislators and staff, and for me as I seek to minister to them on your behalf! If you would like to partner with our ministry, please let me know. You can give directly through my Capitol Commission ministry page (capitolcom.org/Kentucky).

In Christ Alone,
Weaver Signature

I was honored to receive several endorsements for my work as state minister from both legislators and church leaders whom I respect. To read the endorsements, click here.

Top Ten Favorite Reads in 2015

During 2015 I was blessed to read a number of great books. Here are ten of my favorites. These were not all written in 2015, I just read them this year. I list these books in no particular order, just ten of my favorite reads in 2015.