Gone For Now – John Stott

For many, the name John Stott, is just one of thousands of names listed in the recent obituaries. For some, of which I include myself, the name carries great honor and respect. While I have never met the man, his writings and life have left a significant impact upon me.

In 1993, while at seminary, I was introduced to John’s writings. Starting with Basic Christianity and then the Bible Speaks Today – Commentaries, I was struck by his ability to cut through the complexities and give a clear word. John Piper speaks of Stott’s writings providing windows into the Bible. I agree. Let me provide an example…one of my favorites:

Our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, not the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice, and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgment and so put them away.

It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness, and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. There they are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed…

                                –from The Cross of Christ

John Stott died July 27th while listening the Handell’s Messiah. For a fuller picture of John Stott, I refer  you to The Telegraph.  However let me share this…to quote one of John’s many research assistants… Tyler Wigg-Stevenson

In the coming days there will be a new tombstone in a tiny churchyard in Dale, a stone’s throw from the Hookses, and it will read April 27, 1921–July 27, 2011. But John Stott did not die today. He died more than a half century ago, when he accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on his behalf. And as Paul declares in 2 Corinthians, Uncle John bore that death every day since, until his last, as he sought to reveal with word and deed the life that was no longer his, which was hidden in Christ. I have never known a man who so conformed to the image of his savior. And so, though he is taken from us and I miss him dearly, he is even closer at hand tonight than he was this morning, wholly consumed, at last, in the life and likeness of the Lord he loves.

Welcome home John. I await the day to meet you and say thank you!

What or who is a pastor?

In my wanderings and readings I was recently challenged by Ernest Goodman @ Missions Misunderstood, as he struggled with what or who is a pastor. Specifically in light of the big name pastors/preachers/teachers/speakers/authors we listen to through conferences, podcasts, webinars, dvds and books.

Here is his understanding of a pastor, what do you think?

A pastor knows you well enough to preach the gospel into your community of faith. He holds you accountable for your missteps and encourages you through the rough patches. As described in 2 Timothy 4, a pastor is more than just a presenter of gospel teaching, he’s a shepherd who supervises your spiritual formation. The conference stage, book, (and, in many cases, the megachurch pulpit) serve as two-way mirrors; allowing us to be taught without being seen, to be preached to without being cared for.

We need thinkers, teachers, authors, and speakers. On the corporate level, leaders like Ed Stetzer are the people who drive the conversation and inspire with new ideas. They teach, equip, and challenge us publicly. They speak on our behalf. But believers need more than just sound instruction. Every Christian everywhere needs a pastor who knows them and speaks into their lives personally.

The Exchanged Life

Today, I was reading “They Found the Secret” by V. Raymond Edman and was confronted with the term exchanged life. What is the exchanged life? According to Edman, the exchange life is…

“not something, it is some One. It is the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ made real and rewarding by the Holy Spirit.”

If Jesus came to that we might have abundant life then the exchanged life replaces our discouragement and defeat with victory; our weakness and weariness with strength; and, our ineffectiveness and apparent uselessness with efficiency and significance.

As we come to a crisis of utter heart surrender to Jesus, we will find that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. And we live out Paul’s words in Galatians…

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.   (Galatians 2: 20 NLT)

New life exchanged for old. While the path of crisis is different for each of us, the reality and power of the Spirit-filled life is unanimous. Thanks Dr. Edman for this timely reminder!