June 30, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
The arrival of summer brings summer vacations. And this leads to the pastor’s dilemma: what to preach on when church is not consistently assembled.
Should the pastor continue his expositional series throughout the summer months or not? Some pastors find it profitable to postpone lengthy, momentum-building, expositional series during the summer months. I agree. From my pastoral experience I have found it wise to pause and wait until the church gathers together in the fall to resume.
And that leaves us with the summer.
These weeks can be used to benefit the church, your soul, and your pastoral team. These months provide senior pastors with a good opportunity to delegate preaching duties (whether to your pastoral team or with guest preachers). And this delegation, in turn, provides the senior pastor with the flexibility and freedom to vacation with his family, and to enjoy a personal retreat in order to care for his own soul and prepare for the fall preaching series.
And these weeks of summer provide the pastor with the opportunity to plan messages that did not fit in a particular expositional series. Here are just a few ideas for summer preaching series, ideas that may lead you to think of other series options:
Topical Series. One summer at Covenant Life we taught a series titled “Sanctifying the Ordinary.” We covered the topics of sleep, work, eating, and leisure. A more recent series, “Don’t Waste Your…,” was not preached during the summer, but it very well could have been. These two topical series on everyday life, and others like it, are suited for the summer months.
Selected Psalms. Select ten favorite Psalms and teach them individually over the summer months. The Psalms provide a natural division for a standalone sermon.
The Parables of Jesus. The synoptic Gospels contain at least 30 parables, more than enough for a pastor to select ten to assemble a summer preaching series of individual messages that work as standalones.
Selected Proverbs. The topical character of the book of Proverbs lends itself to this type of summer series. One church is currently preaching through a series on Proverbs. They divided their series into standalone messages titled “Fear God” (1:1-7), “Listen” (1:20-33), “Seek” (2:4), “Trust” (3:5), “Guard” (4:23), “Drink” (5:15), “Go” (6:6-8), “Keep” (7:1-2), “Hear” (8:1, 32), and “Choose” (9:6). Next time I’ll provide more information on how this series has been assembled and presented, including how the pastors are using the series to equip their church to interpret the Proverbs themselves.
During the summer months, attendance fluctuates. But don’t see this as discouraging; instead, capture it as a unique opportunity to serve the church—and your own soul.
June 26, 2009 by Tony Reinke
Summer officially arrived this week, and families everywhere are loading luggage and beach toys into minivans and heading out for one of the 230 million summer vacations celebrated in this country each year. But how much time has been invested in preparing the hearts of the eager travelers?
Last year, C.J. wrote a series of blog posts to address the spiritual challenges of vacationing. He encouraged fathers and husbands to begin preparing their hearts—and their schedules—to lead their families in a “God-glorifying, grace-filled, relationship-building, memory-making time together.”
The three-part series was posted here
, and here
. But the simplest way to read his series is by downloading it as a single, printable PDF file (download here
In the first half of our series, my friend David Powlison introduced us to two fictional works that each featured pastors—Cry, the Beloved Country and Gilead. In the second half, which you are about to read, David recommends six fictional works he classifies as “dark realism,” books that look honestly at the darkness of the human heart without Christ. Along the way David will explain what pastors can gain from works like these.
Like the previous half, this interview except was transcribed from an audio recording.
PART 2: DAVID POWLISON ON “DARK REALISM”
I am a real believer that pastors need a better sense of the messiness of life. You can have your nose in the Bible, you can do all your exegesis, and you can actually miss how gritty the Bible itself is. And you can certainly miss it and develop little idealistic, plastic-smile versions of the Christian life that are not reckoning with what real life is, the things you read about in a history of World War II or in Dostoyevsky. Even in a redeemed sense of things you read in these other two novels [Cry, the Beloved Country and Gilead] that have a powerfully redemptive, overtly Christian theme to them.
I mandated my class read three books. Cry, the Beloved Country and Gilead were two of them. For the third one I gave them the choice and they could pick from a list of the most despairing—but thoughtfully despairing—twentieth-century works I could think of:
• Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
• The Iceman Cometh by Eugene O'Neill
• Anton Chekhov's Short Stories
• A short story by Raymond Carver
• Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
• The Plague by Albert Camus
I called these six books "dark realism." They are all worldviews that explore the darkness of human life. What I like about them is that if there is no Christ, they are right. And I don’t think we present Christ well if we do not reckon with the alternative, and the alternative to Christ is darkness.
I have appreciated all six of those books. Conrad, in Heart of Darkness, is looking about as straight as one can look into the pit of the human heart, and he sees the horror of human evil. Conrad is so profoundly pessimistic, an almost unalleviated cynicism and darkness. I think if you want to know about the nature of sin and death, it really behooves us to be aware of some of the more modern writers.
Chekhov is interesting because he has an equally pessimistic worldview, but there is a kind of common grace. Chekhov treats his characters with love, with a palpable love and respect in the way that he portrays people, even though he has no basis for it. In his worldview you die, and that's it. But there is a kind of dignity and grace of spirit.
One very admirable thing about all these guys is that they value honesty. And even if I fundamentally disagree with their vision, there is a certain way in which they have a love for what is true and a hatred for false fronts and hypocrisy.
They usually hate religion—which is what they think Christianity is. And they don’t have kind words to say about the church, but I always think it's worth hearing us at our worst, or hearing how we may be coming across, not because I don’t believe in Christianity, but because the Bible I read has an even more unsparing critique of the church's failings. But the Bible also has a Redeemer.
So these six books will give you vicarious wisdom to learn about people. But they shouldn’t rattle your faith—this is the alternative to faith!
More to come…
I appreciate David’s list of books (and just in time for summer). Over the coming days and weeks be watching for more from David.
Coming soon we will be posting a number of audio clips we recorded with David, including a narrated bibliography. I asked David to walk through several resources on biblical counseling that he has authored over the years to explain why he created them, who will benefit, and how. I think this recording will provide a useful overview to David’s most valuable tools for pastors.
We also recorded four short podcasts with him on topics including good advice versus the Good News, cravings and conflict, feelings versus reality, and the value of personal emotion. Stay tuned for more.
May our summer reading remind us of the light of the gospel that broke into our darkened souls. And may these books supply us with a sobering reality of sin’s darkness and generate a deeper love for the lost.
Recently we hosted my friend David Powlison for a week as he taught biblical counseling at the Pastors College. We were honored that he would make time in his schedule to come and teach us.
As you can imagine, for the students in the classroom and for me in my interactions with David, the week was rich and rewarding. And from that week with him I ended up with a bundle of counsel, including what has become a few blog posts and five audio interviews. Over the next couple weeks we plan to share a little of what I learned with you.
On one evening, over dinner at a favorite Gaithersburg restaurant, I asked David a number of questions on various topics. Not surprising, we began with a lengthy conversation on sports and athletics. I gained a new appreciation for David’s athletic heritage, his personal gifting, and incredible knowledge of baseball. Some of this will emerge in the audio interviews segment I’ll soon share.
But part of our dinnertime conversation included David sharing on the topic of why pastors should read literature. And by “interview” I mean that I sat back in my seat and listened to a 17-minute monologue from David on books. The time was rewarding, and I think other pastors will benefit from David’s recommendations.
He began talking about literature by recommending two novels that feature pastors—Cry, the Beloved Country and Gilead. You can read about these titles in today’s post. Next time David will introduce us to six books he calls “dark realism,” and how these books can help pastors learn about real life vicariously.
Both of these excerpts were transcribed from the audio recording. Makes me wish I could have dinner with David more frequently! Enjoy.
PART 1: DAVID POWLISON ON PASTORAL LITERATURE
Of course, we are not all wired the same, but there are an awful lot of pastors who only read objective expositional things. Human life has poetry; it has drama. Much of the Bible is much more understandable from a more literary standpoint.
In fact, two of the great novels have pastors as their hero. And both show the inner workings of real life.
Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
This is one of the books that undid apartheid in South Africa. There are characters in that book that I will not be able to talk about without tears. It’s a story of tragedy, focused on a black, rural pastor, Stephen Kumalo, who is a poor, simple man from the dirt country. His son [Absalom Kumalo] goes to the big city and commits a murder, gets caught, and gets caught up in the gears of the criminal justice system. Stephen goes to the big city to find his son.
Three people help him. One is a fellow pastor named Theophilus Msimangu who befriends him and goes to bat for him in a thousand ways. Stephen is a country guy, he doesn’t know how the city works. And Msimangu helps him. And every time the protagonist expresses his deep appreciation for all that he has done and commends the man's Christian character, Msimangu stops him and says, "I am only a poor wicked sinful man, but God put his hand on me." And there are about three variations on this theme; this profound sense of the real scale of value and why it is that one does this. It's not that he is some great hero, he is a weak sinful man, “But God put his hand on me.”
There is another character, an elderly widow, who rents a room to this man. She is from the church and her name is Mrs. Lithebe. And every time he thanks her for all her very basic kindnesses to him—like a roof over his head, a simple meal, and little aid—this woman of no education and no standing responds along the lines of: "For what else are we born, why else do we live?" She is a woman who wears charity. It is what life is. Why else are we here? You needed help, I have a room—it's your room. Absolute simplicity of faith.
The other thing that I found profoundly moving was the spiritual dynamic. At the end Stephen tries to come to terms with what is happening to his son and he goes to a mountaintop to "vigil," in which he is in a sense composing and “ordering his soul” in their classic Christian sense of the inner discipline of Christian truth and faith—confession of sin, profession of faith, giving of thanksgiving, intercession. He is an Anglican, so in one sense he is walking through what are familiar forms of the Anglican liturgy, and yet they are not rote, they are the living and thoughtful fiber of Christian life and faith. And it is such a wonderful portrayal of faith in action that’s not plastic, not sentimental, not hyper-emotional, not overly intellectual, it's simply real life being brought to the real God.
Cry, the Beloved Country was written in 1947. I read it in high school and had read it again in college.
[Later] I taught an advanced methods course. And one of the things I was concerned about with our students is that people obviously have to get hands-on knowledge of working with people. But it's also possible to get vicarious knowledge of people through reading. So I began thinking about novels. We read three different novels and this was one I picked. I had gone back and read it a few years ago and was again struck with the richness of the portrayal of human life—the fear, anger, love, betrayal, guilt, repentance, ambivalence, the fact that real life is never tidy. Our theology can be tidy, but life is never tidy. That does not invalidate the theology, it just means that theology is knowing what direction north is in a chaotic storm. There is a storm (life) and there is north (good theology). Good theology is critical, but life doesn’t actually play in the same terms as something neat and tidy.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005. The hero is John Ames, a 76-year-old pastor who is dying. He married late in life and has a 7-year-old boy, his only child. He had another child die in childbirth 50 years before. But he is dying of heart disease and he is leaving a legacy for his son and you wonder how it even works as a book. It’s a 250-page novel that is essentially his letter to his son, a son who will be unable to read it now, but perhaps in 10 or 15 years, when his father is long in the grave. This will be his legacy for his son.
It's written by a woman, Marilynne Robinson, and she is a Calvinist. I heard her speak in the Philadelphia public library. Here you have this crowd of 400 people in the audience to see this famous Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and she gets up. I kid you not, one questioner from the audience says, "Now how on earth did you as a woman get into the mind of an aging, dying pastor, and with all this theological stuff?" Her answer was, "Well I'm a Calvinist and I think about these things all the time."
Cry, the Beloved Country, you can read straight through. Gilead, I find, you cannot read more than 10 pages, it's just too rich. It's like eating cheesecake, you cannot eat a whole pie at once, a couple bites and you need to sleep on it, and read more tomorrow. It is so provocative.
[Next time David Powlison shares six more recommended titles for pastors.]
June 19, 2009 by Tony Reinke
This weekend C.J. joined John Piper, John MacArthur, Rick Holland, and Steve Lawson at the Resolved 2009 conference in Palm Springs. About 4,000 young adults gathered for four days to hear ten messages. C.J. preached twice, and both messages are online and available to download.
Who’s Really at Work?
June 13, 2009
Resolved 2009; Palm Springs, CA
download MP3 (57.9MB)
The Troubled Soul
June 15, 2009
Resolved 2009; Palm Springs, CA
download MP3 (63.4MB)
Photo © 2009, Lukas VanDyke
June 17, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Interviews | Sports
Welcome back to the final portion of my interview with Pete Greasley, senior pastor of Christchurch in Newport, Wales. You can read part one here
and part two here
Pete, where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
I can’t imagine any man having the privilege to serve a finer group of people than the wonderful folk of Christchurch. My greatest discouragement is when I take my eyes off the grace of God and grieve over how they deserve someone better to serve them! This has been a genuine battle for me at times; but God, through many means of grace, most especially my wife and colleagues, has ‘strengthened my feeble knees’ and I’ve become aware again that His power is perfected in my weakness.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not? (Please be specific.)
I have a few health issues that make it difficult for me to follow an exercise routine that even borders on the strenuous! However, Jen and I walk some when we can and I get in the odd round of golf, so long as it’s on the flat!
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
As said, I like to play the odd round of golf; but I’m completely useless! Fortunately, the men with whom I play golf are even worse than I! It’s a pathetic sight.
As for watching sport: truth is, I hate it! I can’t believe the amount of time my normally intelligent and hard working friends give to watching, and then tediously discussing, the football! I do find myself thinking “so what?” They tell me I’ve a vital neuron missing and will continue to pray for revelation to open up to me, but I’m not convinced. I think it’s a serious time-waster.
Sport watched in the past 12 months:
Ryder Cup highlights: 1 hour 20 minutes
Ireland v Wales Rugby: 40 minutes (only one half, and that was because I’d made a rash vow concerning carrying Bob Mc Cann through the church on my shoulders if Ireland won the Grand Slam. They did…I didn’t!)
Total sport watched = 2 hours/annum. And I’ll attempt to half that in the next 12 months.
What do you do for leisure?
Prior to the children leaving home, we would spend many hours in the music room singing and playing instruments (all our kids are musicians). I still play for pleasure, but miss ‘the band’!
Jenny and I are very blessed to have a small 300-year-old cottage on the coast in West Wales. We frequently head down there together after the Sunday gathering and spend our day off on Monday rummaging around old antique shops and, in the summer, sailing the bay in my beautiful (albeit rather dangerous) fishing boat.
I also have a bit of a passion for horology. I buy broken old 19th century pocket watches and endeavor to restore them to their former glory. It’s a wonderful thing to see an old watch that hasn’t ticked for, what could be over a century, start to live again. The contrary is also true; I’ve killed a few watches that have been ticking away for centuries until they met me; I am the Newport watch-murderer.
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
Prior to taking up a full-time pastoral position 24 years ago, I was involved in starting up a small company that trained folk in computing and the setting up of new computer hardware systems in many companies.
If I were not in ministry I may have continued with this; computers have certainly become popular in the last quarter of a century!
I’d say so! … My friend, thank you for taking time to answer these questions!
June 16, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Interviews | Preaching
Welcome back to my interview with Pete Greasley, senior pastor of Christchurch in Newport, Wales. You can read part one here
Pete, if you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those men in Scripture) who would it be and why?
Hmm; probably Calvin because of his extensive grasp of seemingly everything in a way it hadn’t been understood since the apostles!
Also, although he’s not really a hard line theologian, I would have loved the opportunity to hang at the Bird and Baby in Oxford with Lewis and the rest of the Inklings, just to hear how they processed and thought through the tough questions. (I’ve spent some time there with my friend Jeff Purswell and we tried to recreate the scene…but unfortunately there was only one great mind in the room; and it wasn’t mine!)
What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?
My wife Jenny: ‘When you’ve said what you need to say, shut up!’
Also three quotes from Mr. Spurgeon:
“It is better to fail attempting the right subject, than to succeed in the wrong; and the right subject is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. To even attempt that subject is a noble thing in itself.”
“I am content to live and die as a mere repeater of scriptural teaching, as a person who has thought out nothing and invented nothing, as one who never thought invention to be any part of his calling, but who concluded that he was simply to be a mouth for God to the people, mourning that anything of his own should come between.”
“I always feel that I have not done my duty as a preacher of the gospel if I go out of this pulpit without having clearly set before sinners the gospel. I sometimes think that you have so often and so long heard me tell this story, that you will get weary of it; but I cannot help it if you do—I had better weary you than be false to my charge.”
What books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
by Bryan Chapell
The Sacred Anointing: The Preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
by Tony Sargent
Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching
edited by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson
I like to listen to our friend Mike Bullmore
every week online. I’m trying to learn substance with brevity; he’s a great example that I want to imitate.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?
When I started work at 16, my father, knowing me to be the laziest boy he’d ever come across, bought me a wall plaque to take with me into work. It just said in bold letters “DO IT NOW!” It’s been helpful advice, though not always heeded!
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?
No single piece of counsel comes to mind, but I think a message that you, C.J., brought a number of years ago from 1 Corinthians 1 on Paul’s confidence in the grace of God towards the Corinthians [“Grace and the Adventure of Leadership
”], probably impacted me and has remained with me more than anything else of which I’m aware in terms of leadership. If Paul can give thanks for them and have confidence in God’s grace towards them, then I can do the same.
Join me next time for the third and final part of my interview with my friend, Pete Greasley.
June 12, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Interviews | Reading
Meet Pete Greasley.
My friend Pete is a jolly Englishman, an erstwhile rock musician, and a would-be sailor, who serves Sovereign Grace Ministries by traveling to Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia preaching the gospel and serving churches for the glory of God. And today you get to meet him.
Peter is based out of Christchurch
in Newport, Wales, where he has served as senior pastor for 14 years. He and his wife Jenny have been married for 26 years and have been blessed with three children.
So how does Peter order his devotional time? What does he do for fun? Why the distain for watching sports on television? Why does he collect old, broken watches? Let’s find out.
Pete, please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
I wake at different times, all dependent upon what time I get to bed! I’ve never required a lot of sleep; if I get to bed at midnight then I’m normally wide awake around 5:00 am. Sometimes I’ll get up right away, but if it’s been a late night, I’ll lie there for a little while so as not to disturb my long-suffering wife who needs more sleep than I!
My mornings have been going through a change recently. In the past, I was regularly spending around 30 to 40 minutes in my devotions and then spending much longer on emails before heading to the office. This wasn’t working; I was arriving at the office more aware of my workload than the Savior, so I determined to not switch on my computer for the first two hours after I woke (bit of an Edwards’ like ‘resolution’). This has proved fruitful for me. Rather than ‘getting through my devotions’ in order to ‘get on with business’, I have far longer to read, think, pray and ponder. The emails still get done; but they no longer take the priority of time. God has been kind to me in this.
My devotional reading consists of three things:
Reading scripture. I’ll just spend some time reading through a book. I try to alternate between Old and New Testaments.
Reading books that will help my soul. At present I’m reading Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross
edited by Nancy Guthrie; Whiter than Snow
by Paul Tripp and re-reading The Bruised Reed
by Richard Sibbes; The Great Exchange
by Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington.
I always spend time in the scripture from which I’m preaching the following Sunday. This helps me to meditate upon it and live in it prior to preparing the message or going to any commentaries, which I do on Friday and Saturday.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, (c) or for personal enjoyment?
Books for my soul are the ones mentioned above. Together with these I spend most time with my dear friend Mr. Spurgeon. How I love him!
I’ve four books on the go at the moment: The Great Work of the Gospel
by John Ensor; The Future of Justification
by John Piper; Simple Church
by Rainer and Geiger; and Minority Report
by Carl Trueman.
I like to read histories and biographies. I’m on volume 3 of Simon Shama’s History of Britain
; The Calvinistic Methodist Fathers of Wales
by John Morgan Jones and William Morgan (a gift from C.J.); Somme Mud
by E.P.F. Lynch on the experiences of an infantryman in WWI France; and The Ascent of Money
by Niall Ferguson.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
No one book in particular, but I always have Mr. Spurgeon to hand. Why? Because his love for the Savior at the cross together with his passion for the lost keep me on track.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
Every now and then I will scan in a quote to my computer, but apart from scribbling all over my books, the truth is I’ve no decent system for reference and remembering. OK, I’m convicted…thanks for the question!
Join me next time for the second part of my interview with my friend, Pete Greasley.
June 10, 2009 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Adoption | Parenting
Among other roles, Dr. Russell Moore
is the preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church and serves as Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Moore has written and contributed to a small stack of books, including his latest—Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches
C.J. was deeply honored to pen the foreword, which follows.
I was adopted when I was eighteen years old. I wasn’t an orphan, the way most people think of that term. I wasn’t an abandoned child. But I was in a condition far more serious: I was a stranger to the family of God, a slave to sin, and an object of the justified wrath of God.
And I didn’t even realize it until my friend Bob began to share with me the good news that Christ died for my sins. As I listened, God opened my heart to understand and believe the gospel. I turned from my sin and trusted in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death for my sins. In that moment, I was adopted into a new family. God the righteous Judge became my merciful Father.
And if you are a Christian, if you have trusted in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for your sins, you too have been adopted.
It would have been extraordinary enough for God simply to redeem us, to forgive our sins, to declare us righteous. But he does not stop there—he makes us his children (Gal. 4:4–7). Christian, if you have ever wondered whether God loves you, wonder no longer. God the Father has adopted you as his son or daughter through the person and work of Christ. Here you will find the richest proof of God’s personal, particular, and passionate love for you.
I was reminded of my own adoption many times during the twenty-seven years that I had the privilege to serve as a pastor at Covenant Life Church. Covenant Life is filled with parents who traveled to distant (and sometimes dangerous) countries to adopt a child or who adopted a child in the U.S. Meeting these newly adopted children was a unique joy for me. Each time I felt God’s presence. Each time I admired the adoptive parents’ selflessness and compassion. Each time I was reminded of the Savior’s death for my sins so that I might be adopted by God the Father. Each time I was reminded of God’s love for us, displayed in the gospel.
And I had a similar experience when I first read Russell Moore’s story of adopting two boys from Russia. A mutual friend sent me the magazine article in which Russell first shared it, and it deeply affected me. I admired Russell and Maria’s compassion and love for these children, their selfless willingness to travel such a distance to adopt these boys, their eagerness to welcome Benjamin and Timothy into their family. Even more than that, every time I read their story, I am poignantly reminded of God’s love for his adopted children.
I’ve introduced many others to the Moores’ story, and I’ve personally re-read it several times, but I’ve never read it in private or in public without tears. I don’t think you can read this book without being moved. In fact, before you turn to the first chapter, you should make sure tissues are close by (or if you’re a guy, get ready to use your shirtsleeve).
I am so grateful that my friend Russell has written the book you hold in your hands. I want many more people to read this story, to be amazed at God’s love displayed in the doctrine of adoption, and to consider the possibility of adopting children themselves. You may not agree with all of Russell’s conclusions, but his book will challenge you to carefully consider both the doctrine of adoption and its implications for your life.
So I commend to you my friend Russell Moore’s example and his book. In these pages you will not only encounter one couple’s adoption of two Russian children; you will encounter your own adoption. May we all become freshly aware of the adopting grace of God toward undeserving sinners like us.
C. J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace Ministries
June 9, 2009 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Interviews | Sports
Welcome back to my interview with author and speaker Randy Alcorn. You can read the first three portions of my interview here
, and here
Randy, do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not? (Please be specific.)
I bicycle two or three times a week, outdoors in good weather, or on a stationary bike in my office. I also play tennis two to three times a week, usually singles because it’s better exercise than doubles. In the spring I coach high school tennis so am out hitting with the guys four or five days a week. I’m an insulin-dependent diabetic and the exercise is therapy. If I go two days without exercise, I feel lousy.
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
We watch NBA and MLB when it comes to playoffs, but not regularly. We try to watch the tennis majors when we can, especially Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
The one sport we watch regularly from beginning to end is the NFL. Nanci is a major pro football fan. She has our kids and grandkids and our kids’ friends and their children over for Sunday night football every week, fixing up a great meal for the 15 or so who show up. When I’m asked to speak in NFL chapels, Nanci’s my main reason for saying “yes,” since tickets come with it and she loves to meet the players. We don’t generally follow college football, until last year when Bob and Pam Tebow invited us to go to Florida and stay with them and watch their son Timmy quarterback the Gators. Suddenly we were wearing blue and orange. We had a blast.
What do you do for leisure?
Tennis, biking, watching a good movie with Nanci. And I read and read and read. Every Monday night we go to our friends’ house where twelve of us, including two pastors and a church elder, gather to watch 24. We are praying that Jack Bauer will come to Jesus.
In December, my leisure consists of daily going to the mailbox hoping for the annual arrival of chocolates from my friend C.J. Mahaney. While I know it would be better by far for C.J. to depart and be with Christ, I pray God will keep him around for Carolyn and his family, and the Sovereign Grace churches; and also to keep those chocolates coming.
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
When I was in the eighth grade, a few years before I’d heard the gospel, I filled out a survey asking what I wanted to be. I said an astronomer, philosopher, or teacher. Now, if I couldn’t be a writer, I would just say a teacher, maybe at a Bible college or seminary.
Randy, thank you for your friendship and thanks for investing your time in answering these questions!