Grace For Burned Out Christians

GraceBurnedChristian2_800Last night we had a great start to our church seminar for when we face burn out or spiritual exhaustion; or get burned by a pastor, another Christian, or a church. Some of the resources we used are presented here. Here are some other Diakonos lectures from the past.

BrentHowlandOne of our main speakers, Brent Howland of International Messengers, was unable to be present last night due to his missions schedule. He will be presenting his material at a later date, Dv. We look forward to his teaching on “A Gospel Primer For Burn Out.”

Our first active session was “Withering: A Biblical Theology of Burn Out.” Exploring the word נָבֵל, navel, as well as various biblical instances of this spiritual drought, the following passages were surveyed:

Moses | Exodus 18:14 – 23

Israel | Deuteronomy 8:1 – 10

Elijah | I Kings 19:1 – 8

Solomon | Ecclesiastes 2:9 – 11

Disciples | Matthew 14:22 – 27; John 6:60 – 69

Solutions to this nabol tibol were desiring God’s Word (Ps 19:7 – 11), covenant prayer (Ps 120:1), communion with the risen Christ (Matt 11:25 – 30), evangelical obedience (Deut 8:1 – 2), and meditating on our eschatological rest (Heb 4:8 – 11).

Our second presentation was by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, professor and minister in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, via the magic of the internets. His seminal talk, “The Gospel For Those Broken By the Church,” is below. Continue reading

Resources on Church Government

Both video and audio resources for thinking biblically about ecclesiology and polity.





Marks-of-a-True-ChurchOne of the enduring decisions that continues to divide Christian denominations is polity – how the church is to be governed. Episcopal, congregational, presbyterian… each of these systems of authority and submission draws from elements of Scriptural truth, and believers have been unable to completely reconcile the various strands across denominations.

One sign of encouragement, however, seems to be recent, small trends towards agreement. Many denominations that are independent/congregational have been putting a greater emphasis on partnering together, and connectional/presbyterian denominations have displayed a willingness to think about the importance of the local congregation.

Examples of this abound in confessional, orthodox American Christianity. Denominations that were created out of the fight against modernism and biblical faithlessness – e.g., the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Presbyterian Church in America, the United Reformed Churches of North America – have all by in large been careful to regulate centralized power and emphasize local, congregational authority (no doubt partly in reaction to abuses they had witnessed prior). On the other end of the polity spectrum, independent churches are showing an increased interest in working together. Networks such as Acts 29, the Gospel Coalition, Redeemer Network, and Reformed Congregational all act as evidence for this trend. Perhaps there is an increasing desire to find strengths on both ends of the spectrum, and God willing, careful students of Scripture will find ways to biblically and confessionally articulate these truths that lead to greater unity.

But enough pontificating, and on to the actual resources! Continue reading

How to Listen to Bad Sermons

Dear Zion,
We have spent some time thinking about the importance of sermons in the regular, spiritual diet of God’s people, including how to hear a sermon, and also how to live from a sermon. But this all assumes that we are hearing good sermons to begin with. What should we do when we listen to a bad sermon?

Scripture tells us that there are some sermons so bad, we should not listen to them. When Paul soberly warned and admonished Timothy “to preach the Word” (II Timothy 4:2), the emphasis must be retained: a sermon is only a useful sermon if the content is the Word of God. Paul himself resolved to “know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where the content of many (most?) sermons do not rely on God’s Word and His power, but instead rely on the preacher’s experiences, storytelling, practical suggestions, and eloquence. The preacher may even begin with a Bible passage, but the content of the sermon that follows is not coming from sacred Scripture. If sermons today were edited down to only “Christ and Him crucified,” how much would be left?

Similarly, Paul warned Timothy that there would be a time when “people will not endure sound teaching, but they will gather around them a great number of [preachers] to say what their itching ears want to hear, to suit their own desires” (II Timothy 4:3). Continue reading