The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation must remind Christians that proclamation of God’s Word remains necessary for advancing the gospel and nourishing the church, said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. at the Feb. 7 convocation.
“When God’s people cease to hear God’s Word they cease to be God’s people. And everything is lost, every doctrinal principle is lost, every doctrine is denied one by one.”
— R. Albert Mohler Jr.
In an address titled “God Did It By His Word … Revisited: What the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Means for Southern Seminary” on Hebrews 4:12-13, Mohler said the seminary’s own theological reformation in the 24 years of his presidency occurred solely because of fidelity and faithfulness to the living Word of God.
“Looking back to the Reformation, God did it, and he did it by his Word,” Mohler said, alluding to Martin Luther’s statement that Scripture “weakened the papacy” as opposed to human efforts. “Looking at you all today, understand me when I say, God did it, and he did it by his Word.”
During his welcoming remarks, Mohler said the ritual and regalia of opening convocation signifies the gravity of the seminary’s role in equipping future ministers with theological education. Reflecting on Southern’s “incredible inheritance” of a rich heritage of faith, Mohler said healthy teaching at the seminary means “health will go into our churches” and spread into the mission fields of the world.
AUDIO AND VIDEO of Mohler’s convocation address are available online at equip.sbts.edu/chapel.
“You can have real joy in unlikely circumstances when the motivation for your joy is not your circumstances.”
CHARLIE DATES, MARCH 7 CHAPEL
“You can’t run around like Chicken Little and declare that God is sovereign.”
KEVIN SMITH, NOV. 8 CHAPEL
“God has not redeemed us to make us happy and healthy; he redeemed to make us like Jesus.”
JONI EARECKSON TADA, STUDENT LIFE CONFERENCE
“The world’s fame, we are never going to receive, because it was never for the Christian to achieve.”
DEAN INSERRA, FEB. 16 CHAPEL
“By the time we finish preaching, the saved ought to know that they are saved and the lost need to know they’re lost.”
R. ALBERT MOHLER JR., EXPOSITORS SUMMIT
“God creates sand; he leaves it to us to create fiber-optic cables and computer chips, and in the process of doing that, we create wealth and value.”
JAY W. RICHARDS, COMMONWEAL PROJECT LUNCHEON
“Rather than wasting energy and resources fighting unwinnable political battles, we should instead work on building communities, institutions, and networks of resistance that can outwit, outlast, and eventually overcome the cultural forces sweeping Christianity away in the West.”
ROD DREHER, GHEENS LECTURE
Southern Equip offers wide range of ministry resources
The redesigned hub launched Jan. 19 as the new platform for Towers, research journals, sermons, and blogs.
The site also includes a new video series, “Honest Answers,” which features SBTS professors answering challenging questions.
“Southern Equip extends our faculty’s training and encouragement beyond our degree programs, to help ministry leaders be faithful, fruitful, and long-lasting in ministry throughout their lives,” said Steve Watters, vice president for communications. — SBTS Communications
The new site is available online at equip.sbts.edu.
The new modular Master of Theology in Theological Studies will permit distance students to complete all the requirements for a Th.M. in 30 months with only five week-long visits to campus.
The program’s faculty will provide an interdisciplinary curriculum, with each professor teaching core seminars in their areas of expertise: Jonathan T. Pennington in New Testament, Peter J. Gentry in Old Testament, Michael A.G. Haykin in church history, and Gregg R. Allison in systematic theology. The modular student will also complete a thesis in their chosen area of study during the course of their degree program.
Applicants must have earned a Master of Divinity from an accredited institution and maintained a GPA of at least 3.3. The first cohort begins in July. — Andrew J.W. Smith
More information is available online at sbts.edu/doctoral/modular-th-m.
Christian ministers should not settle for the comfortable and agreeable career of secular professionals, but courageously embrace their prophetic role, said President R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his Dec. 2 winter commencement address to 141 master’s and doctoral graduates of Southern Seminary.
“The Christian ministry is a terrible profession, but it is the greatest calling on earth,” Mohler said. “Professions are decent, respectable, recognized, esteemed, regulated, and rationalized. … The greater scandal by far are the churches, denominations, and church members who cheerfully domesticate the preacher and the preachers who are so willingly domesticated.”
“True gospel preaching leads to wheat collected into the barn, but also leads to chaff collected for the burning. This does not fit the expectation of a religious professional, but it is the glory of the true minister’s calling.” — R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Using Matthew 3:1-12 as his text, Mohler said while John the Baptist was a popular preacher, his message centered around unconditional repentance, Mohler said. But the preacher’s ministry is infinitely greater than John’s ministry, as the Christian proclaims in light of the fullness of biblical revelation.
OUTSTANDING GRADUATE AWARD
Tyler D. Clark, a Master of Divinity graduate from Fort Smith, Arkansas, earned the Josephine S. and James L. Baggott Outstanding Graduate Award. Clark has served as student life coordinator since 2015.
Edward Todd Wood died in August 2016 while serving as pastor of administration at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His wife, Tara Lawhorn Wood, was present to receive his posthumous M.A. in Leadership.
On Feb. 14, Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr. delivered the invocation for the Kentucky House of Representatives. Later in the day, Mohler and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin addressed a gathering of state legislators at the Governor’s Mansion.
“Find someone hurting,” Tada says
Life is about more than a healthy body, said Joni Eareckson Tada along with her husband, Ken, during two SBTS events Feb. 10-11. Tada, a quadriplegic, is a speaker and author who uses her testimony as a platform to highlight
During the Student Life Conference Feb. 10, Tada focused on a theology of suffering and exemplified joy in the midst of pain. While many consider tastes of heaven to be when everything goes right, Tada considers tastes of heaven as finding Jesus in the middle of a taste of hell.
Tada told her personal story and spoke with a focus on practical ministry to the disabled in local churches during Equip, Feb. 11. She encouraged believers to “go find someone hurting worse than you and help them.” — Charissa Crotts
Audio of both events will be available at equip.sbts.edu.
In an age of partisan conflict, few causes spark agreement on both sides of the aisle, or unite people of faith and secularism, like the human trafficking crisis that enslaves approximately 45.8 million people around the globe. But if you ask someone how they feel about those who are prostituted, homeless, and undocumented in their communities, their responses may be different — even hostile. That’s because, says modern-day abolitionist Raleigh Sadler, our presuppostions often blind us to the reality that many of these are victims trapped in forms of slavery, whether it be for sex or domestic servitude.
“Our assumptions enslave people,” says Sadler, a Southern Seminary M.Div. alumnus. “When we say, ‘Look at that bum!’ or ‘Oh she’s just having sex for money!’ we’re inferring upon them a narrative we’ve chosen. We take someone who could be victimized and we label them a perpetrator.”
In January 2017, Sadler launched Let My People Go, a nonprofit ministry headquartered in New York City that empowers local churches to fight human trafficking. The launch event hosted at Calvary St. George’s (the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous) received a certificate of recognition from NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and featured leading voices in the justice movement like evangelist Kevin Palau and Richard Lee of International Justice Mission.
It took losing everything for Raleigh Sadler to find his calling. In April 2012, one of his best friends and seminary roommate Davin Hendrickson died of beta cell lymphoma. Concurrently, his job at the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists was eliminated due to budget cuts. So Sadler sold everything he owned and on Oct. 7, 2012, moved to New York City as a Missions Service Corps missionary with the North American Mission Board.
“I think it’s something God probably calls every believer to, ultimately, giving up and just dying to yourself, and I had that opportunity,” said Sadler, who graduated from Southern Seminary in 2007. “It’s been the most challenging but most rewarding time of my ministry. I’ve never seen God do so much in spite of me.”
Love should identify those most vulnerable; love should empower those most vulnerable. We should protect those most vulnerable and actually include them in our congregations.
Sadler attended a Passion Conference in 2012, where he first experienced his calling to minister to vulnerable people. He remembers anti-trafficking leader Christine Cain explain how sin makes everyone complicit in the demand for human trafficking and says he recognized he needed to confront his own brokenness.
He had served since 2010 as collegiate evangelism director for the West Virginia state convention, but felt he placed too much emphasis on earning God’s favor by his success in ministry. Now his eyes were opened to the growing crisis of human trafficking and his ability to make a difference. And as his friend was dying of cancer, Sadler relied on God’s guidance on his own future.RALEIGH SADLER at the rooftop of LMPG
“As I work with vulnerable people and mobilize churches to care for vulnerable people I’m reminded of my own vulnerabilities, my own brokenness, my own need for grace, which ultimately motivates me to go even deeper with it,” Sadler said.
At the time, West Virginia was one of four states that had not adopted legislation to aid victims of human trafficking. Compelled to action, Sadler lobbied a friend in the governor’s office, and when HB 4053 was drafted, he organized local churches to rally at the capitol. The bill passed the legislature in March and was signed into law in April 2012.
“That is where God gave me a passion for mobilization,” Sadler says.
Six months later, Sadler began raising support to serve with NAMB in Manhattan. Within a weeks of his arrival, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship recruited Sadler to mobilize churches to its Price of Life Invitational, a year-long anti-trafficking program that educated NYC college students on the crisis and raised money to support victims. Let My People Go began as a panel discussion during this time informing churches on how to identify and respond to trafficking. Following the Price of Life finale, Sadler became director of justice ministries at Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.
The connections he established with churches in the New York area allowed Sadler to form his nonprofit organization. For the last four years, LMPG has grown from panel discussions to a pilot project with 25 churches of different ethnic and evangelical groups, and now a national network.
“Love should identify those most vulnerable; love should empower those most vulnerable. We should protect those most vulnerable and actually include them in our congregations,” Sadler said at the Jan. 24 nationwide launch event, outlining the four components of his church strategy. “Our vision is to see a network of churches rise up and serve their community. Not the neighbor of their choosing, but the neighbor God chose for them by placing them in that community.”NYC
Put simply, Sadler says, “Human trafficking is the exploitation of vulnerabilities for commercial gain.” This basic definition means trafficking can manifest as commerical sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, or forced labor, and that outreach can place Christians in ministry opportunities with both victims and perpetrators.
“But the beauty of the gospel is that Christ died not only for the victim but the victimizer,” Sadler said, “and we should seek to love both appropriately, and ultimately know that God has put them in our path.”
According to Sadler, Let My People Go aims to equip local churches with specific, contextualized strategies for identifying people in their congregations and communities whom traffickers naturally target and then assist in building relationships with law enforcement and community leaders, working together to help free and restore victims. Churches who join the LMPG network receive practical justice resources, one-on-one training, and event discounts.
Seth Polk, lead pastor of Cross Lanes Baptist Church in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, serves as the chairman of the board of directors for LMPG. He’s known Sadler for seven years and believes Let My People Go is unique among social justice ministries because it’s “biblically focused and theologically grounded” and “mobilizes the local church, which is the greatest resource.”
“The local church is the closest to those who are most vulnerable, so they have the greatest opportunity to see the needs within their own communities and the vulnerable people that are right around them and minister to them,” Polk said in an interview. “So my hope and prayer would be that local churches would gain a clearer perspective of the possibility of what they can do in their community and that the ground force of the work would be from believers in those churches carrying out the work.”
Sadler says churches who commit to the social justice ministry will find it aligns with core gospel values, especially among congregations who strive to be multiethnic. Vulnerable people, Sadler says, are multiethnic, so welcoming them into a congregation can accomplish that kingdom vision. But according to Sadler, Christians should share Moses’ concern for the spiritual freedom of the enslaved when caring for those trapped in physical bondage.
“The name Let My People Go is definitely not original,” Sadler said. “We generally stop at those four words, but Moses goes on to say, ‘Let my people go that they may serve him’ — the physical and spiritual tied together. What we have in Christ is this greater exodus. We have this redemption being bought back from spiritual slavery. But God cares about our physical well-being as well as our spiritual well-being.”
Pastors interested in partnering with LMPG can find more information on the network’s website, lmpgnetwork.org.
S. Craig Sanders is the executive editor of Southern Seminary Magazine.
The post Who Most Influenced Your Understanding of Expository Preaching? appeared first on Southern Equip.
A pastor contacted me last week asking this question and thought there might be others asking it also. The most helpful advice I ever received about preaching at a funeral for someone I didn’t know is: “Don’t preach them into heaven. Don’t preach them into hell. Just preach the gospel for the people who are there.”
This principle captures our task regardless the kind of funeral we do. Ironically, though we focus on remembering and celebrating the life of the deceased, the funeral service is ultimately for those who attend.
The gospel must be preached clearly in the sermon. Only when we can personally have confidence in a person’s conversion should we feel comfortable to speak of the heavenly reward he/she has now received. If there is any doubt in your mind, it is best to focus on the gospel for your hearers and resist the temptation to provide a false comfort that you have little or no basis to give.
A funeral sermon should not exceed 20 minutes and should highlight these three categories, preferably expounded from a text(s) of Scripture:
- Acknowledge the need to grieve.
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11) is particularly helpful, as there seems to be a legitimate time of grieving for those present and sorrow for those who are experiencing the separation that death brings, including Jesus who wept (John 11:35). I often share about the time my father sat my wife and me down after we had miscarried our second child. He exhorted us to take time to grieve over this child and instructed us how to do so.
Don’t ever presume that people realize grief is appropriate or that they know how to work through their grief by simply talking about their deceased loved one. Actually, many do not want to talk about them because of the hurt felt in loss. Many pastors know that often, years later, people learn the value of this process, eventually working through the grief with some pastoral guidance.
- Make the hope of the gospel clearly known.
True hope in grief cannot come apart from the hope of the gospel. This is why the second and third portion of a funeral sermon focuses on Christ’s person and work. Whatever text you choose to preach, make sure you focus on the clear elements of the gospel from it: God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness and deserving judgment, Christ’s perfect personhood and atoning work to save us, our essential response to repent and believe upon Christ.
- Call your hearers to respond to the gospel.
To do so appropriately and effectively, you must prepare by knowing as much as you can about your hearers and also the deceased. You should assume Christians and non-Christians are present. You should assume all have come with a preconceived understanding as to how we receive eternal life. For example, I officiated a funeral where 90 percent of those in attendance were devoted Roman Catholics, another dominated by Mormons, and another where no one in the building had ever stepped foot in a church.
In each case, I explained the gospel clearly, called my hearers to repent of their sins, believe upon Christ, and trust in him. Yet, in each of these different situations, I approached calling them to respond to the gospel differently, depending on their preconceived understanding of the “good news.”
Exhort them to grieve. Preach the gospel clearly and simply. Help them understand their need for Christ as death is before them. Call them to repent and believe. When you have done that, you have served them well.
The post 3 Elements that need to be in every funeral sermon appeared first on Southern Equip.
We have all heard the grim news: Church attendance is declining across denominations and young people are disengaging the church. In an effort to address this problem, the team at Fuller Youth Institute has released a new book: Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church (Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin).
What makes Growing Young unique is that it is based upon an in-depth study of scholars, national ministry leaders, youth ministry experts, as well as research and visits to 363 diverse congregations who have effective ministries to young people. Like their previous book Sticky Faith, this book is based on careful research and analysis ...
Almost anyone seeking to carry out a faithful pulpit ministry recognizes that preachers must now ask questions and engage issues we have not had to consider in the past. I began my chapter on preaching and postmodernism in We Cannot Be Silent with these words, “A common concern seems to emerge now wherever Christians gather: The task of truth-telling is stranger than it used to be. In this age, telling the truth is tough business and not for the faint-hearted. The times are increasingly strange.” We now live, move, and have our being in a secular age. But the only authentic Christian response to the challenge of secularization is faithful, clear, and informed expository preaching.The Impossibility of Belief
Without the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and even without certain technological advances, secularization never would have been possible. Theorists explained the modern age would necessarily and inevitably produce a secular society because modernity provided alternative answers to the most fundamental questions of life and made God irrelevant.
With great foresight in his 1965 The Secular City, Harvey Cox wrote the future of the Western world, particularly its cities, was predominantly secular. Cox further argued this coming secular city would provide a larger range of worldviews as alternatives to what had been offered before. This multiplicity of worldviews would be one of the hallmarks of the secular city. As a result, Christianity — the once ubiquitous worldview of Western society — would be displaced, giving way to a seemingly infinite number of worldview options.
The renowned sociologist Peter Berger has considered why secularization achieved dominance in some parts of Western society, but has yet to do so in others. As he notes, secularization happened just as the theorists predicted with respect to Europe, a continent with almost imperceptible levels of Christian belief and no memory of a Christian heritage.
Secularization happened at the same rate and to the same degree in American universities — which are, in many respects, isolated islands of Europe on American soil. Consider for instance the University of Tennessee, which recently ordered that gendered pronouns be replaced by gender-neutral pronouns like “ze.” While this administrative mandate was later overturned, the point remains that even in places such as Knoxville, Tennessee, major American universities are on the same trajectory of secularization as many of the most secularized parts of Europe.
While America is not characterized by the hardline secularism and open ridicule of religion in European nations, Berger argued the United States is still largely secularized. In 20th-century America, he explained, Christianity and religion in general were transformed to something non-cognitive and optional. Consequently, many of our friends and neighbors continued to profess faith in God, but that profession was ultimately devoid of any moral authority or cognitive content. From the outside looking in, America did not appear to be secularizing at the same rate as the European continent, but in reality professions of faith in God had little real theological or spiritual content.
Berger predicted that this collapse would result in adherents to religious principle quickly giving way to the secular agenda in the face of opposition, which is exactly what happened. When the cultural tide turned against our society’s empty religious commitments, people were happy to jettison their moral judgment on homosexuality to retain their social capital.
For preachers, Berger’s observations are tremendously important. We, above all others, need to realize the culture no longer shares our worldview and the very language we use may mean something entirely different in the ears of our listeners. The meaning of words like morality, personhood, marriage, or virtually any other moral term has radically shifted for many postmodern Americans, making our job as preachers that much more difficult.
Additionally, as Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor explains in The Secular Age, the way people hold to theological convictions and religious principles in the modern era is fundamentally different than how people believed in the past. Modernity has made religious belief provisional, optional, and far less urgent than it was in the premodern world.
We are not preaching to people who hear us in the same way as previous generations in Western societies. The question remains: What does preaching look like in the secular city?
Taylor notes belief is now a provisional choice, an exercise of personal autonomy. When people identify as believers in Jesus Christ they are making a far more individualistic statement than was possible in years past. Furthermore, they are doing so in the face of alternative worldview options that were simply unavailable until very recently.
Perhaps the central insight from Taylor’s book is his categorization of the premodern, modern, and postmodern time periods with respect to the worldview options available in a culture. As Taylor argues, Western history is categorized by three intellectual epochs: pre-Enlightenment impossibility of unbelief; post-Enlightenment possibility of unbelief; and late Modern impossibility of belief.
In the pre-Enlightenment era it was impossible not to believe. No other worldviews were available to members of society other than supernatural worldviews, particularly the Christian worldview in the West. While society had its heretics, there were no atheists among them. Everyone believed in some form of theism, even if it was polytheism. As Taylor simply states, it was impossible not to believe.
That all changed with the Enlightenment and the availability of alternative worldviews, which made it possible to reject the supernaturalism of Christianity for a naturalistic worldview. Taylor’s careful phraseology here, however, is also important to note. While it was certainly possible not to believe, it was also the case that it was not likely that people would reject the Christian worldview because the theistic explanations for life were simply more pervasive, binding, and persuasive than non-theistic worldviews.
The intellectual conditions in Europe and on American university campuses have now secularized such that it is impossible for those under such conditions to believe in God. In other words, we have arrived at the third intellectual epoch of Western society: impossible to believe. As Taylor observes, to be a candidate for tenure at a major American university is to inhabit a world in which it is virtually impossible to believe in God. Under the first set of Western intellectual conditions, not everyone was a Christian, but all were accountable to a Christian worldview because there was no alternative. Secularization in American culture has reversed the conditions: not everyone is a non-Christian, but all must operate under a secular worldview that denies the legitimacy of a Christian worldview. In 300 years, Western intellectual conditions have moved from an impossibility of unbelief to an impossibility of belief.
So what does this mean for us as preachers? We must recognize these intellectual conditions now prevalent in Europe and in the American universities are quickly filtering down from the elites to the general culture. The mechanisms in this process are fairly easy to trace. A number of polls reveal the greatest predictor for whether you will find yourself in an increasingly secular space comes down to whether you live near a coast, a city, or a university. Given that the future of America is increasingly defined by most of its population being coastal, urban, and university-educated, you can see that the future of America is also increasingly secular.
We are not preaching to people who hear us in the same way as previous generations in Western societies. The question remains: What does preaching look like in the secular city?Preaching: The Church’s Means of Survival
With our cultural analysis behind us, I would like to consider the role of preaching in a secular age as a survival strategy for the church.
In a secular age, preaching will be met with one of three responses. First, we will find ourselves preaching in a context of hostility. At least in the immediate future, much of this hostility will look like cultural marginalization. Those who listen to us will now do so by paying social capital, not gaining social capital — a cultural situation notably different from our grandparents or even our parents. Second, our preaching will also often be met with befuddlement. For many among the intellectual elites, Christian preachers are not an object of derision as much as they are creatures of oddity. The plausibility structures of society are so different from our own that many people simply cannot understand us. Finally, we will find that we will not only be met with hostility and befuddlement, but also indifference. Many in our society will not even care enough about our message to spend their energy attacking us.
One of the problems is that our approach to preaching in relation to other theological disciplines is wrongly skewed. For years in the theological academy, homiletics has been seen as something of a finishing school for clergy. We have imagined that the true theological heavy lifting occurs in the disciplines of theology, exegesis, or church history, while homiletics was merely the practical work for those who were moving on to the professional and less theologically involved environment of the pastorate.
The curriculum in our seminaries and theological institutions must reflect this commitment to train preaching theologians, and not just men who are entertaining.
This alienation between the classical theological disciplines and homiletics is detrimental to the life of the church. While there are benefits to specialization in academic disciplines, we should also recognize that segmenting theological study along the lines of specialization has come at a cost in the lives of many modern preachers. The preacher’s task is exegetical and theological. Homiletics cannot be divorced from theology and exegesis simply by virtue of the fact that what we proclaim in the pulpit is a biblical theology originating from the exegesis of God’s Word.
Preachers need to be competent in many arenas of life. They need managerial competence. They need organizational competence. But above everything else, the preacher needs theological and exegetical competence. The curriculum in our seminaries and theological institutions must reflect this commitment to train preaching theologians, and not just men who are entertaining.
By preaching the church expands and by preaching the church remains faithful in a hostile culture. In a secular age, we can no longer rely on the luxury of having other cultural voices do the work of instilling our people with a Christian worldview. The plausibility structures of the culture now work at crosscurrents to the message we preach on Sunday mornings. No longer does the culture indicate one “ought” to listen to preaching or one “ought” to give credence to the Christian moral tradition. Those days are behind us.
Fundamentally, the survival of the church in the secular city comes down to a promise and a command given us in Scripture. Jesus promised, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). The church’s only recourse in a secular city is to do as we have been commissioned: “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2). We need to remember both of these words from Scripture in order to serve faithfully in the secular city. Jesus has given his church a strategy for survival in the face of cultural hostility. That strategy, it turns out, is the apostolic call to preach.
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is the ninth president of Southern Seminary and the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Systematic Theology.
FROM THE CHILL 6 A.M. AIR outside Cracker Barrel to the quiet warmth of a college basketball game with his closest family, Hershael W. York’s day is busy, but punctuated with co ee, family, and yes — Kentucky basketball. Photographer Emil Handke followed the Victor and Louise Lester Professor
of Christian Preaching and pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church for an entire workday, providing a unique viewpoint for the SBTS preacher/professor.
EARLY MORNING – JAN. 31, 2017 – FRANKFORT, KENTUCKYCRACKER BARREL | 6:16 a.m. | York leads a “Bible and Biscuits” men’s group at Cracker Barrel. HOME OFFICE (Left) | 8:35 a.m. | A few minutes of quiet give York time to drink co ee and answer a few emails.
DRIVING (Right) | 9:38 a.m. | York makes the 45-minute drive from Frank- fort to Louisville every Tuesday and Thursday for his 11:30 a.m. Christian Preaching class.
MIDDAY – JAN. 31, 2017 – SOUTHERN SEMINARYNORTON 012 | 11:32 a.m. | No preaching during Christian Preaching class today — it’s the first day of classes. York introduces himself and gets to know the students. SCHOOL OFFICE (Left) | 10:25 a.m. | York meets with students one-on-one in his o ce.
AT COMPUTER (Right) | 12:45 p.m. | Email is an ongoing project for most pastors. York nds pockets of time to answer his hundreds of unread messages. SOUTHERN PRODUCTIONS | 1:08 p.m. | York records his “Honest Answers” video with Southern’s video production team.
AFTERNOON – JAN. 31, 2017 – BUCK RUNBUILDING TOUR (Left) | 4:41 pm | Buck Run Baptist Church’s new building opened in November, and York checks in on the ongoing work (today, painting).
STAFF MEETING (Top Right), PT. 2 | 3:37 p.m. | Pastoral staff settles by a replace in the church lobby.
COFFEE AND EMAIL (Bottom Right)| 5:21 pm | Afternoon espresso. “Oh, that’s good, man that’s good. Just hits the spot.” STAFF MEETING | 3:07 p.m. | Afternoon means driving back to Frankfort for church work. Today means a series of meetings, first with the whole staff.
EVENING – JAN. 31, 2017 – FRANKFORTDINNER WITH GRANDKIDS (Top Left) | 6:01 p.m. | York’s son, Seth, brings three of his grandkids over, and everyone goes out for pizza.
SKYPE WITH GRAMMY (Bottom Right)| 8:16 p.m. | York’s wife, Tanya (or “Grammy” to certain diminutive company) is out of town, so Skype will have to do for one night. UK GAME | 9:16 p.m. | York settles down with his son, daughter-in-law, and three grandkids to watch the hometown Kentucky Wildcats play Georgia (UK won in overtime, 91-80).
Since losing his beloved wife to cancer, Shelley Caulder has enriched the classrooms at Southern Seminary with generosity, kindness, and encouragement. Caulder’s time as a Southern student has been during a season of great grief in his life. Soon to be 87, he faithfully learns more about the God he loves, comforts students in their own times of loss, and carries his late wife’s legacy.
Jonathan Kiel met Caulder when he was the teaching assistant for an Old Testament class. Kiel noticed when Caulder comforted a couple who had suffered a miscarriage. Caulder cried with them, shared his own story, and encouraged them.
“He was always interested in other folks in the class and how they were doing and he was very willing to take time to talk with folks,” Kiel said.
As their relationship grew in the classroom, Kiel and his wife, Corrie, admired the deep love Caulder had for his late wife, Charlotte.
“He talked about his wife in ways that were very real, and kind. I don’t think I’ve ever known a man who has loved his wife more than Dr. Caulder loved Charlotte,” said Kiel. “She was certainly his best friend and the person he most admired on earth.”
As Caulder and Kiel became friends, Corrie became pregnant with their youngest daughter. Caulder joined the Kiels at the hospital to meet the newest member of their family. While Caulder held their baby girl, the Kiels revealed her name.
“They said, ‘Our prayer is that our Charlotte would grow up to be a godly woman like your Charlotte. And we’re going to name our little girl Charlotte,’” Caulder said.
Kiel described the decision to name their daughter Charlotte was connected to hearing about the Christian example she lived to her children, grandchildren, church, and community, but most specifically to Caulder.
“We wanted to honor Dr. Caulder’s wife, but we also want to encourage our own daughter when she gets older and learns how she was named and who she was named after. We want to encourage her in the type of mom and the type of faithful servant of Christ that Shelley’s wife was,” Kiel said.
Charlotte Caulder’s diagnosis came unexpectedly on Christmas Eve 2010: Stage IV liver cancer. Southern President R. Albert Mohler Jr. and his wife, Mary, were among the first to hear the news because they led the Caulders’ Sunday School class at Highview Baptist Church.
“This is one of those friendships that goes back to church, where so many of our most important friendships originate and are nurtured,” Mohler said. “We came to know them and to love them. They became very, very close friends. Shelley and Charlotte were absolutely inseparable, and just two of the sweetest Christian people we’ve ever had the opportunity to know.”
He is a demonstration about how comprehensive giving really is. We often think of giving things, mate- rial goods, and that’s important, but giving joy, that’s a unique gift.
Due to the cancer’s progression, Charlotte opted out of radiation and chemo, and Caulder was able to be Charlotte’s primary caregiver. During her 10-month battle Mohler said it was a gift to see the Caulders’ love for one another. He said Charlotte presented “a beautiful Christian confidence in the face of death.”
Throughout Charlotte’s journey, Caulder said, the Mohlers were like family. They visited often to pray with the Caulders. The day Charlotte passed, she had been in a coma for about 30 hours. The family gathered knowing she did not have long. Mary Mohler reached out to Caulder to check on Charlotte’s progress, and hearing her time was short, the Mohlers visited the Caulders’ house, as they had done often, to pray with the family.
“So we gathered around when they came about 12:30 or 1 p.m.,” Caulder said. “Dr. Mohler led a beautiful prayer as he does. And at the moment that he said amen, her head dropped. It was her last breath. So she heard it all. … The Mohlers have been, are, and always will be dear family to me because of that experience.”
Following Charlotte’s death, Caulder was encouraged that his mission on earth was not yet completed, and after talking with Mohler, Caulder began auditing classes at the seminary.
In his nine semesters attending Southern Seminary, Caulder has only missed one chapel service. Caulder stands out among the students with his white hair and bright smile. He said he enjoys the challenges of learning, seeing how relationships develop with other Southern students, and witnessing the Lord using them to further his kingdom purposes.
Many students may think Caulder has always been at Southern, but in fact he began building relationships with students at the University of Louisville after returning from military service. Caulder worked as an oral surgeon until 1970 when he retired from the military and returned to Louisville and his alma mater. There Caulder taught as a faculty member until 1992. This is when Caulder first interacted with Southern Seminary.
“Back in the olden days when Louisville had an old dental school … we used the chapel at Southern for graduation because we didn’t have an auditorium,” Caulder said.
Caulder’s love for Southern, for Charlotte, and for students gave birth to a scholarship fund in Charlotte’s name. He says a 2012 lecture in a Hermeneutics course on Ecclesiastes and enjoying the Lord’s blessings inspired him to help Southern Students with tuition costs. All glory goes to God, he would say, but his faithfulness to carry out God’s mission does not go unnoticed.
Caulder gives to the seminary because of how the seminary has given him a renewed purpose, but his impact goes beyond financial assistance. He gives of his whole self, including time, attention, affection, finances, and joy, Mohler said.
“He is a demonstration about how comprehensive giving really is,” Mohler said. “We often think of giving things, material goods, and that’s important, but giving joy, that’s a really unique gift.”
Caulder’s dedication to studying is an example of his faithfulness in allowing God to use him in any stage of life. In the midst of living with grief and the loss of his beloved wife, Caulder has not given up hope.
“I try to tell him as often as I can that ‘Charlotte would be so proud of you because this is how she would have wanted you to carry on.’ He’s not quitting,” said Mary Mohler. “He’s pressing on with all the strength the Lord gives him for any given day. And he’s going to finish well. Not only will the Lord welcome him gladly, but Charlotte will just be so glad he lived his life to the fullest.”
Donations can be made to the scholarship fund by writing “Charlotte Caulder Scholarship Fund” in the memo line of a gift.
With the globalization of everything in today’s society, the concept that the whole world is my “neighbor” to love (i.e. help) is a valid mindset. I can see images of impoverished children on my phone; I can visit communities with economic challenges on the other side of the globe through international travel. Organizations such as ONE (whose celebrity advocate Bono rallies millions of his fans to sign its petitions and give money at U2 concerts) and Compassion International (which enlists millions of church-goers to sponsor a child in need by allowing a donor to see pictures of the children and pick the child based on looks and/or the desired country the person is drawn to) have rallied countless Christians and non-Christians alike to eliminate poverty in our lifetime. All of these streams of conscious-searing “voices” call me to get involved to help the less fortunate, which I can do, they say, “with minimal effort” on my part: simply give a few dollars a month, about the same amount I spend on coffee each week. So how can I resist this simple call to help? ...
Country music artist Kenny Chesney sums up the current cultural milieu facing the Christian preacher in his new song “Noise,” as he laments the chaotic world of countless competing “voices” vying for our allegiance:
Twenty-four hour television, gets so loud that no one listens
Sex and money and politicians talk, talk, talk
But there really ain’t no conversation
Ain’t nothing left to the imagination
Trapped in our phones and we can’t make it stop, stop
So, in our noisy world, how is a preacher to be heard? What hope do we have that our words won’t fall on deaf ears? How can we be confident that our sermons will cut through the noise?What the Bible Is
If the preacher is going to be heard in our day, then his words must be of a qualitatively different nature than all of the other words offered today. The preacher’s words must be more powerful, more beautiful, more winsome, and more compelling than the world’s words. And these we have in the Bible.
When the preacher declares what the Bible says, he is proclaiming the very words of God. And God’s words have power. … God’s Word has a creative power to make something from nothing.
Indeed, because of what the Bible is, the preacher must make it central to his sermon if he would be heard in all this noise.
I love to remind my students that in addition to the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Scripture is the most important doctrine for the preacher. What we believe about the Bible authorizes our sermons and assures us that things of eternal significance are happening when we expound a given text of Scripture. Take, for example, one aspect of our doctrine of Scripture: its inspiration. When we say the Scripture is “inspired,” we mean it is “God-breathed” — that is, a product of God’s Spirit. This is what the Apostle Paul teaches when he says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).
The word translated “breathed out by God” is theopneustos. This word is formed from two words theos (God) and pneo (to blow, breathe on). Therefore, what we have in the Scriptures is “God’s breath” in written form.
The Apostle Peter likewise identifies the words of Scripture with God’s words when he explains the supernatural origin of the Bible: “For no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:20-21). In these verses Peter captures the breathtaking reality of God’s activity of breathing the Scriptures and the human activity of writing. Indeed, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The author of Hebrews, in discussing the divine nature of Scripture, makes this astonishing claim: “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).
The Bible, as God’s Word, is qualitatively different than any other word in the world.What the Bible Does
If the preacher is going to be heard in our day, then his words must have the power to hold and move people Godward.
When the preacher declares what the Bible says, he is proclaiming the very words of God. And God’s words have power. In the opening pages of the Bible we read, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen 1:3). When God speaks, things like light come into being — and oceans and mountains and skies and plants and animals. God’s Word has a creative power to make something from nothing.
Even more astounding is what God’s Word does in salvation. Consider how the Apostle Paul compares God’s power in creation to his creative power in awakening sinners: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). Indeed, a Christian is one who has been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23). We must keep the Bible central in preaching because we know that the Bible alone has the power to create faith: “Faith comes through hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:14).
But we would be woefully shortsighted if we stopped here. For God not only uses his Word to convert sinners, but to sanctify saints as well. Jesus made it clear when he gave his Great Commission that God’s people will grow in discipleship as they are taught the Scriptures: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’”
We will labor to keep the Bible central in preaching because God’s people are built up in the faith by teaching them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).God’s Word Alone
We must keep the Bible central in our preaching. Every preacher worthy of the name loves the response of Peter to the question Jesus asked him as the crowds were leaving in droves: “Do you want to go as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68).
Our world is a chaotic concert of noise. The countless siren songs of the world are powerful and dangerously alluring. The noise of our day has made millions of people deaf to the truth of God. Knowing this, preachers are desperate to cut through the noise. The temptation to part from the Bible and adopt other means of reaching people is real. But to do so would be a tragic mistake, for God’s Word alone has the power to overwhelm the world’s noise.
Michael Pohlman is assistant professor and department chair of Christian preaching at Southern Seminary.
... Understanding the Jewish background of the first century helps us to understand the biblical story with a greater depth and appreciation. For example, most modern Christians mistakenly assume that the early followers of Jesus expected Jesus to resurrect from the dead. But that is far from the truth ...