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.

New Ministry Opportunity: State Minister for Kentucky State Capitol Community

2015-10-16 15.12.10

I am happy to announce today that through a partnership between Capitol Commission and the Kentucky Baptist Convention I have begun a new ministry serving the Kentucky State Capitol community as a State Minister. For the past fifteen years I have served as a pastor focusing on the ministry of teaching God’s Word verse-by-verse and shepherding God’s flock. For the last 7 and a half years I have served at Farmdale Baptist Church of Frankfort, Kentucky, where I will continue to serve. The opportunity to serve as State Minister allows me to extend that same pastoral ministry to the capitol community (a community that includes elected officials from all three branches of our commonwealth’s government and an extensive staff).

kbc-color4The belief that undergirds this ministry is that the Word of God alone has the power to change people’s lives. The Scriptures are the means that God uses both to save the lost and sanctify believers. Therefore, this ministry will provide weekly Bible studies at the capitol and offer biblical counsel to those who desire this type of ministry.

Additionally, this ministry will seek to provide prayer support for those involved in government. The Scriptures command all believers to pray for those in leadership (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Therefore, I commit to pray for and with the members of the capitol community and to encourage the Christian community of Kentucky to do the same. Please consider your own act of obedience to pray for our state and nation’s leaders by using the Capitol Commission prayer tool Pray1Tim2.org and subscribing to receive a daily email reminder.

For more information about the ministry I will be doing with Capitol Commission, see here. If you would like to partner with us to provide biblical and evangelistic resources to the capitol community, you can make a tax-exempt donation here. Above all, please be in prayer for me and this ministry opportunity.

13 Key Events of Church History

I noticed yesterday that my friend, Dr. Michael Haykin, posted a list of 18 key events in church history on his blog at the website of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. It is a great list, but it reminded me that I recently compiled a similar list. My list is more weighted toward Baptists. Haykin’s list is more ecumenical and reflective of world events that impacted Christianity. There is some overlap between the two with both lists containing the schism of 1054, the Protestant Reformation, and the beginning of the modern missionary movement. It is an interesting exercise for sure. If you had to list 10-15 key events in the history of Christianity, what would they be?
Here’s my list:
  1. Destruction of Temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.
  2. Early Persecution (2nd-3rd centuries)
  3. Early Heresies (2nd-3rd centuries)
  4. Council of Nicaea/Constantinople (325,381)
  5. Council of Chalcedon (451)
  6. Charlemagne becomes first emperor of Holy Roman Empire (800)
  7. Schism of East and West Churches (1054)
  8. Protestant Reformation (1517)
  9. Rise of English Baptists (1609/1641)
  10. Modern Missionary Movement (1792)
  11. Formation of Triennial (1814) and Southern Baptist (1845) Conventions
  12. Charles Spurgeon and Downgrade Controversy (1880s)
  13. Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention (1979-2000)

Feel free to give your list in the comment section.