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A Book Review on Sam Storms’ “The Hope of Glory: 100 Meditations on Colossians”

GOING DEEP IN CHRISTOCENTRICITY

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By David P. Craig

I am coming upon my last week preaching a series on the book of Colossians which has spanned 22 weeks. Of the seventeen commentaries I regularly consulted this one by scholar/pastor Samuel Storms was the most helpful for five primary reasons:

(1) It’s thoroughness. Storms organizes this book by giving 100 exegetical meditations on the entire book. No stone is left unturned. Every single phrase and word is expounded upon – in its context, in light of its theological significance, and its practical ramifications are articulated.

(2) It’s Christ-centeredness. Colossians is arguably the most blatantly Christo-centric book in the Bible. However, Storms passion for knowing Christ intimately is highlighted time and again in this book.

(3) It’s readability. This book is not really a commentary but is written for the average, educated follower of Christ.

(4) It’s meditative. Storms helps you think about the splendor of God’s majesty and deepen your satisfaction in Him through the wondrous work He has achieved for you in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(5) It’s saturated with Scripture. In particular, if you read every single meditation in this book you will have read through the entire book of Colossians 15 times. I believe that Storms has achieved his ultimate goal of writing this book as follows: “I believe that in reading these mediations on the Christ-exalting Word of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians, the Holy Spirit will awaken in your heart that Joy in Jesus that Peter can only describe as ‘inexpressible and filled with glory’ (1 Peter 1:8).”

If you were only going to have one book to guide you through understanding, meditating on, and applying the book of Colossians this is the book I would recommend you get – hands down. Thanks so much to Sam Storms for this gift to the Church and for all those who are passionately pursuing an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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FRIDAY HUMOR: Linus, Lucy, and the 9th Chapter of Genesis

SERIES: Friday Humor #42

Linus and Lucy

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour.

“Boy, look at it rain,” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if if floods the wohole world?”

“It will never do that,” Linus responds confidently. “In the ninth chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”

“You’ve taken a great load of my mind,” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that!”

SOURCE: Sam Storms. Preface to Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions. Wheaton, IL.: Crossway, 2013.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Humor

 

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SAM STORMS’ REFLECTIONS ON 40 YEARS OF MINISTRY

What I Wish I’d Known: Reflections on Nearly 40 Years of Pastoral Ministry

What follows has been adapted from a brief talk I delivered to the Oklahoma chapter of The Gospel Coalition on October 2. Here are 10 things I wish I’d known when I first started out as a pastor.

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1. I wish I’d known that people who disagree with me on doctrines I hold dearly can often love God and pursue his glory with as much, and in some cases more, fervency than I do. The sort of intellectual pride that fuels such delusions can be devastating to ministry and will invariably undermine any efforts at broader Christian unity across denominational lines.

2. I wish I’d known about the inevitable frustration that comes when you put your trust in what you think are good reasons why people should remain loyal to your ministry and present in your church. I wish I’d been prepared for the feelings of betrayal and disillusionment that came when people in whom I’d personally invested so much love, time, and energy simply walked away, often with the most insubstantial and flimsiest of excuses.

3. I wish I’d known how deeply and incessantly many (most?) people suffer. Having been raised in a truly functional family in which everyone knew Christ and loved one another, I was largely oblivious to the pain endured by most people who’ve never known that blessing. For too many years I naively assumed that if I wasn’t hurting, neither were they. I wish I’d realized the pulpit isn’t a place to hide from the problems and pain of one’s congregation; it’s a place to address, commiserate with, and apply God’s Word to them.

4. I wish I’d known the life-changing truth of Zephaniah 3:17 long before Dennis Jernigan introduced me to it. I’m honored when people thank me for writing a particular book with comments such as “This was very helpful” or “You enabled me to see this truth in a new light,” or something similar. But of only one book, The Singing God, have people said, “This changed my life.” This isn’t some vain attempt to sell more books, but a reminder that most Christians (including pastors) are convinced God is either angry or disgusted with them, or both. I wish I’d known earlier how much he enjoys singing over them (and over me).

5. I wish I’d known how much people’s response to me would affect my wife. For many years I falsely assumed her skin was as thick as mine. Regardless of a woman’s personality, only rarely will she suffer less than him from criticism directed his way.

6. I wish I’d known how vital it is to understand yourself and to be both realistic and humble regarding what you find. Don’t be afraid to be an introvert or extrovert (or some mix of the two). Be willing to take steps to compensate for your weaknesses by surrounding yourself with people unlike you, who make up for your deficiencies and challenge you in healthy ways to be honest about what you can and cannot do.

7. I wish I’d known it’s possible to be a thoroughly biblical complementarian and to include women in virtually every area of ministry in the local church. In my early years in ministry, I was largely governed by the fear that to permit women into any form of ministry was to cross an imaginary biblical boundary—even though the Bible never imposes any such restriction on their involvement. I tended to make unwarranted applications by extrapolating from explicit principles something either absent or unneccesary. Aside from senior governmental authority in the local church (the role of elder) and the primary responsibility to expound and apply Scripture, is there anything the Bible clearly says is off-limits to females? Trust me, men, we need them far more than we know.

8. I wish I’d known it was okay to talk about money. Don’t be afraid to talk about money. Just be sure you’re humble and biblical and don’t do it with a view to a salary increase for yourself (unless you genuinely and desperately need one). For far too many years I allowed my disdain for prosperity gospel advocates to silence my voice on the importance of financial stewardship in Christian growth and maturity. I didn’t formulate a strategy for calling people to lifelong financial generosity without sounding self-serving.

9. I wish I’d known about the delusion of so-called confidentiality. Pity the man who puts his confidence in confidentiality. You can and must control the information that comes to you, but you can never control the information that comes from you. Once information is out and in the hands of others, never assume it will remain there, notwithstanding their most vigorous promises of silence. Be cautious and discerning about to whom you promise confidentiality, under which conditions (it’s rarely if ever unconditional), and in regard to what issues and/or individuals. “Sam, you don’t appear to have much trust in human nature, do you?” It’s not that I don’t trust human nature. I’m actually quite terrified of it! What I trust is Scripture’s teaching about human nature.

10. I wish I’d known about the destructive effects of insecurity in a pastor. This is less because I’ve struggled with it and more due to its effect I’ve seen in others. Why is insecurity so damaging?

• Insecurity makes it difficult to acknowledge and appreciate the accomplishments of others on staff (or in the congregation). In other words, the personally insecure pastor is often incapable of offering genuine encouragement to others. Their success becomes a threat to him, his authority, and his status in the eyes of the people. Thus if you’re insecure you likely won’t pray for others to flourish.

• Insecurity will lead a pastor to encourage and support and praise another pastor only insofar as the latter serves the former’s agenda and doesn’t detract from his image.

• An insecure pastor will likely resent the praise or affirmation other staff members receive from the people at large.

• For the insecure pastor, constructive criticism is not received well, but is perceived as a threat or outright rejection.

• Because the insecure pastor is incapable of acknowledging personal failure or lack of knowledge, he’s often unteachable. He will resist those who genuinely seek to help him or bring him information or insights he lacks. His spiritual growth is therefore stunted.

• The insecure pastor is typically heavy-handed in his dealings with others.

• The insecure pastor is often controlling and given to micromanagement.

• The insecure pastor rarely empowers or authorizes others to undertake tasks for which they’re especially qualified and gifted. He won’t release others but rather restrict them.

• The insecure pastor is often given to outbursts of anger.

• At its core, insecurity is the fruit of pride.

In summary, and at its core, insecurity results from not believing the gospel. The antidote to feelings of insecurity, then, is the rock-solid realization that one’s value and worth are in the hands of God, not others, and that our identity expresses who we are in Christ. Only as we deepen our grasp of his sacrificial love for us will we find the liberating confidence to affirm and support others without fearing their successes or threats.

Sam Storms is lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

SOURCE: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/01/03/what-i-wish-id-known-reflections-on-nearly-40-years-of-pastoral-ministry/

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Pastoral Resources

 

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Book Review on Sam Storms: “The Beginner’s Guide to Spiritual Gifts”

An Exploration of Nine Extraordinary Gifts: Review by David P. Craig

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As someone who was brought up in Cessationist churches and schools I was always taught that the miraculous gifts in the Book of Acts and 1 Corinthians had ceased and were no longer in use today. In 1999 I went on a missions trip to India and witnessed several healing miracles, heard several prophecies, and personally experienced the power and presence of the Holy Spirit like I never had before. These experiences didn’t jive with what I had been taught about the ceasing of miraculous gifts. Since that time I have participated in several churches that are “open but cautious” and “Charismatic” about miraculous gifts and their usage today.

My experience has taught me that the miraculous gifts do indeed exist today. However, what about abuses, and what about sound exegesis and what are the applications today of the relevant biblical texts on miraculous gifts? Is there a theologically sound basis for the usage of the miraculous gifts today, or have these miraculous gifts ceased?

Enter in Sam Storms. Following on the heels of another Dallas Theological Seminary grad – Jack Deere – Storms was skeptical of miraculous gifts today. However, Storms’, like Deere, was unconvinced of the exegesis of Cessationists and that coupled with his experience of the miraculous gifts through him, and around him changed his course of belief and practice of the miraculous gifting of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. Storms defines Spiritual gifts in this manner: “Spiritual gifts are not God bestowing to his people something external to himself. They are not some tangible ‘stuff’ or substance separable from God. Spiritual gits are nothing less than God himself in us, energizing our souls, imparting revelation to our minds, infusing power in our wills, and working his sovereign and gracious purposes through us…[in summary] Spiritual gifts are God present in, with, and through human thoughts, human deeds, human words, human love.” The rest of the book is an expansion and exposition of the miraculous gifts based on this definition of the Spiritual gifts addressed in 1 Corinthians 12-14.

Storms does a remarkable job of providing scholarly exegesis and practical insight of the nine miraculous gifts mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14: (1-2) Words of Wisdom and Knowledge; (3-4) Faith and Healing; (5-6) Prophecy and Distinguishing Spirits; (7) Miracles; and (8-9) Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues.

I highly recommend this book to all evangelicals from the spectrum of Pentecostalism to Presbyterianism. I think Storms gives much needed food for thought to Cessationists, those who hold to an “Open but Cautious” view, Charismatics, “Third Wave,” and Pentecostals – as well as needed correction to those who practice “counterfeit” and spiritual gifts in an unbiblical manner. Though this is a controversial topic, Storms writes with much love and patience with those who disagree with his views. I found the book to be convincing in many respects, packed with wisdom, and especially helpful in understanding spiritual gifts that I have never personally experienced, but have been the beneficiary of from other believers – especially the gifts of prophecy, faith and healing. Storms has written an easy to read, yet theologically articulate guide to help Christians understand the miraculous gifts; their function in private and in corporate worship, and guidance for their development and application in the light of the Scriptures.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Book Reviews, David P. Craig

 

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Book Review: Continuity and Discontinuity edited by John S. Feinberg

Great Discussion of the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments

This book contains various perspectives from leading theologians on issues related to that which continues and discontinues from the Old Testament into the New Testament.

Half of the contributors in this book would consider themselves “Covenant Theologians” – including contributions from O. Palmer Robertson, Willem VanGemeren, Knox Chamblin, Bruce K. Waltke, Fred H. Klooster,  Martin H. Woudstra, and Sam Storms. The other half would lean dispensational or in the discontinuity camp – including essays from John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg, Robert L. Saucy, Walter C. Kaiser, Allen P. Ross, and Douglas J. Moo.

The book is a tribute to S. Lewis Johnson– long time Bible teacher at Dallas Theological Seminary and Teaching pastor at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas, Texas (he went to be with the Lord on January 28, 2004). The beginning of the book and ending of the book contain some well written tributes from Sam Storms and John Sproule to Johnson and expound upon his outstanding attributes as a scholar, exegete of God’s Word, pastor, mentor, friend, and southern gentlemen – he was born in Birmingham, Alabama.

After a wonderful historical essay on the debate of continuity and discontinuity by Rodney Peterson the format of the book addresses issues related to six key areas: 1) Theological Systems and the Testaments; 2) Hermeneutics and the Testaments; 3) Salvation and the Testaments; 4) The Law and the Testaments; 5) The People of God and the Testaments; and 6) Kingdom Promises and the Testaments. Each of these six topics contains an essay from a continuity perspective followed by an essay from a discontinuity perspective.

Here are some of the issues addressed in the book:

Are Christians to see ethical dilemmas such as capital punishment and abortion enforced today?

Are Israel and the Church one or distinct today?

How do believers relate to the Old Testament law in practice today?

One of the points that became increasingly clear to me as I read this book was that the more one moves in the discontinuity direction, the more dispensational he is likely to become, and the more one moves in the direction of continuity, the more covenantal he will become.

This book is simply outstanding. It’s not an easy read – but well worth the effort. In my experience most people from both sides of the continuity/discontinuity continuum have a lot to learn from one another and this book helps people in either camp come closer to the center in balancing how to effectively understand and interpret the two Testaments of the Scriptures. I highly recommend this book to help you become a more effective interpreter of the Scriptures and lover of Jesus Christ at the center of it all.

 

 

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Book Review: The Hope of Glory: 100 Daily Meditations on Colossians By Sam Storms

I chose the book of Colossians as the first book to preach through in the church where I am the pastor of preaching. A large part of the reason I chose to preach through the book of Colossians is because I read Storms’ book on Colossians and benefited from it so much, that I felt like I wanted my flock to benefit from the great truths to be mined from the book of Colossians.

Colossians’ bottom line is all about Christ being our sufficiency period. As a pastor there is no truth that I want to convey more in my preaching, counseling, coaching, discipleship, and any teaching situation I find myself in. I find that the older I get and the more I experience and see people struggle – that our greatest need is always more of Jesus. It’s not a cliché – it’s just true.

I find that this book is useful as both a commentary and a devotional. Dr. Storms is a gifted scholar, but he is also a pastor and wonderfully balances mining the depths of Christ to be found in the book of Colossians with profound wisdom always leading to personal encouragement and application.

I am reading this book for the second time, and if the return of Christ lingers, I believe this will be a book I return to again and again to be encouraged in the infinite treasures that are to be found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. I highly recommend this book as one you will come to again and again to be encouraged in your walk with Jesus.

 

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