Meet Jerry Bridges.
Jerry Bridges is 79 years old and has served faithfully on staff at The Navigators for over 50 years. And he continues to serve there within the Collegiate Mission where he is involved primarily in staff development, and speaks at various student events. Mr. Bridges also teaches on the gospel around the country.
Mr. Bridges is the author of numerous excellent cross-centered books like:
- The Discipline of Grace
- The Gospel for Real Life
- The Pursuit of Holiness
- Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate
- The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness
- The Bookends of the Christian Life (March 2009)
But you probably know all this already.
So who is Jerry Bridges? What is he presently reading? How does he structure his devotional time? What is his favorite book on the gospel? Let’s find out.
Thanks for your time, Mr. Bridges! 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?
On a normal day, I get up at 5:00 a.m.
I spend from 5:30 – 7:00 a.m. reading and meditating on Scripture and spending time in prayer. I begin with what I have tried to teach others to do, which is to preach the Gospel to myself. My usual practice is to read through the Bible simply starting with Genesis and going through Revelation.
I am currently in the book of Numbers. For my prayer time, I start with thanksgiving and move to petition. I always start with the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Over a six-day period (Monday-Saturday), I pray for the progress of the Gospel around the world. I pray for my family, my organization and their leaders, and my own personal growth. I have about eight ongoing special prayer requests for friends who have acute needs.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
(a) The Existence and Attributes of God by the Puritan, Stephen Charnock. I’m actually not reading the entire two-volume set but am focusing on two chapters, “The Holiness of God” and “The Goodness of God.”
(b) For my ministry (not pastoral but The Navigators) I have just finished reading Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck because I need to keep up with all the “bad stuff” that students are apt to read.
(c) For personal enjoyment, I have been reading John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. I have to confess when I’m really mentally tired I read a murder mystery by Agatha Christie.
Apart from Scripture, what book do you most frequently re-read and why?
The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement by George Smeaton because it is the best book on the Gospel that I have ever read.
When you finish a book, what system have you developed in order to remember and reference that book in the future?
I don’t have a very good system but I note page numbers on the inside cover of the book with the key thought I want to go back to.
If you could study under any theologian in church history (excluding those men in Scripture), who would it be and why?
John Calvin, hands down, because he not only was a brilliant theologian but had a heart of devotion for God.
What single piece of counsel (or constructive criticism) has most improved your preaching?
Years ago I took the Dale Carnegie public speaking course. In it I learned three things that I try to practice: 1) Know your subject thoroughly. 2) Be convinced your audience needs to hear your message. 3) Have a strong passion to deliver the message. Though these principles were applied in the context of secular speeches, I found them very helpful for my message preparation and delivery.
What books on preaching, or examples of it, have you found most influential in your own preaching?
Christ-Centered Preaching by Bryan Chapell, particularly chapters 10 and 11, and John Stott’s Between Two Worlds.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your effective use of time?
Arrange your “do list” in order of priority and work progressively through, starting with number one. You can’t get them all done but this way you get the most important things done. I have modified this advice by realizing that the morning hours from breakfast to noon are my most effective, creative hours, and as much as possible I dedicate those hours to study, writing and message preparation.
What single bit of counsel has made the most significant difference in your leadership?
This question is not applicable to me since I have not been leading or managing anyone for about 15 years.
Where in ministry are you most regularly tempted to discouragement?
Too often, after preaching a message, I feel like I have not done a good job.
Do you exercise? If so, what do you do? If not, why not?
My main exercise is walking either outdoors or on the treadmill. I had a practice of minor weight lifting (no more than 25 lbs) but that practice got dropped in the busyness of life and I am trying to re-start it.
Currently, what sport do you like to play and/or watch?
I don’t play any sport at my age and seldom watch any on television. However, my main sport of interest is football and my favorite teams in order are: University of Oklahoma (I’m an alumnus), the Air Force Academy and the Denver Broncos.
What do you do for leisure?
Read something that is outside of my ministry. I like history, biographies and older (19th or early 20th century) novels.
If you were not in ministry, what occupational path would you have chosen?
Thank you, Mr. Bridges, for taking the time to answer my questions!
Related: Last November, C.J. interviewed Mr. Bridges in the Sovereign Grace recording studio on the topic of cross-centered living (with some sports talk at the end). The interview can be found here.