Philipp Jakob Spener, (1635-1705), was a German theologian, author, and a leading figure in German Pietism, a movement among 17th- and 18th-century Protestants. He stressed personal improvement and upright conduct as the most important manifestations of Christian faith.
Spener’s major work was Pia Desideria (1675; “Pious Desires”). That work outlined Pietism’s basic program and earned Spener a reputation throughout Germany as the spokesman for the movement.
The third section comprises the six proposals for correcting conditions within the church. These six, in abbreviated form, are:
That “thought should be given to a more extensive use of the word of God among us.”
That there be “the establishment and diligent exercise of the spiritual priesthood.”
That “the people must have impressed upon them and must accustom themselves to believing that it is by no means enough to have knowledge of the Christian faith, for Christianity consists rather of practice.”
That “we must beware how we conduct ourselves in religious controversies with unbelievers and heretics …. We must remind ourselves of our duty to the erring.
That both integrity of life and sound education which includes spiritual development be considered necessary when calling persons to be pastors.
That sermons be so prepared by all that their purpose (faith and its fruits) may be achieved in the hearers to the greatest possible degree.”
Whatever one’s denominational background, these principles are vital for church renewal. Baptist scholar, Alvin Reid, gives a summary of relevant lessons in this video.
Encyclopaedia Britannica pietisten.org/iii/3/spener.html Christianity Today, “Philipp Jakob Spener” (Apr 26, 2019). Malcom McDow and Alvin Reid, Firefall 2.0: How God has Shaped History Through Revivals
Author and church planting pastor, Jeff Barbieri, gives an overview of the biblical principles of evangelism and discipleship. The PowerPoint used is especially for church leaders, but the practical implications are relevant for all disciplers. Grace Fellowship International, Jan. 19, 2022. Jeff’s equipping site is see www.GraceEnrichment.org
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God. They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane’s designer knew how to take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles. What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way …If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations.
Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead. They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and begin to complain. And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising. It is that simple — and it works.
Lord, I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down. Amen.
Tozer on Christian Leadership: A 366-Day Devotional, Complied by Ron Eggert, Christian Publications, Inc., 2001; December 9
In his book, They Found the Secret (Zondervan), former Chancellor of Wheaton College, Dr. V. Raymond Edmond, noticed a pattern in the lives of 20 Christian leaders. After their wholehearted commitment to God (Romans 12:1,2), their came a season of weariness– an awareness of their inability to live victoriously. Then there was a grace awakening related to their union with Christ that gave them increased peace, joy, and fruitfulness.
Dr. John Best, had a similar breakthrough while teaching New Testament Greek at Dallas Seminary. He recounts his spiritual journey in this video. His testimony and others are in the book, Exchanged Lives! (available on Amazon Kindle as an ebook).
The Risk of Ministry Burnout: How to Survive and Thrive by God’s Grace…
was the topic of a recent webinar hosted by Grace Fellowship International.
Pastor Bob Galasso testified of how he and his wife, Joan, experienced burnout, but also went through a process of rest, discovery, renewal. This opened the door for a new season of encouraging others through Alive in Christ Ministries. Bob is the author of ‘Stones Of Remembrance’, and ‘A Leap of Faith’ (available on Amazon.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
America the Beautiful, we have much for which to be thankful. Truly “God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!” Therefore, let your thanksgiving include all we are and have as a nation, by virtue of God’s abundant mercy and grace. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:8-9).
But the greatest thanksgiving this Thanksgiving Day should be “For the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:14–15). The greatest occasion to give thanks is for the grace that God has bestowed upon us all through Jesus Christ. God’s grace is freely available to all mankind because of Christ’s death upon the cross. Grace is the activity of God on our behalf, as mediated by Jesus Christ. It is the gift of God! Grace is a reality to be experienced with thanksgiving! God’s grace is so far beyond the grasp of our finite minds that it truly defies description. While most people may be at a loss for words when it comes to grace, there is one thing that everybody can say, “Thank You, God!” So, this Thanksgiving, as well as every day, remember to thank God for the indescribably amazing grace that is now yours in Christ…
“Does Christianity ever seem like a burden to you? Why is something that came so naturally to Jesus so difficult for us? We have complicated and over-programmed the simple way that Jesus showed us to love God and others.
Jesus’ life on earth revolved around three relationships. First, He walked in an intimate love relationship with the Father. Second, He lived His life in fellowship with His disciples—doing life with others was the outflow of His relationship with the Father. And third, He lived His life engaging and cultivating relationships with people who didn’t know God at all.
These relationships define the essence of the life of a Jesus follower. And when we follow Jesus’ model of relationship, we will sink into the freedom He offers. We will stop working so hard, bound by the exhausting and burdensome rules of religion. Instead, we will allow His life to take over our own.”
The Life of a Jesus Follower Bible Study book by pastor Vance Pitman includes printed content for eight small group sessions, personal study between meetings, applicable Scripture, “How to Use This Study,” tips for leading a group, and a leader guide. Published as a book and church resource package by Lifeway.com
Listen to the interview of this author on Ed Stetzer’s radio program as reported here.
What constitutes a “good preacher/pastor?” When Jesus was called a “good teacher,” He explained that “no one is good apart from God” (Lk. 18:18). A good pastor-teacher is one who knows God, not just theology about God, but has a genuine personal and intimate knowing- relationship with God through the indwelling presence and union with the Spirit of Christ, and allows his life and ministry to be empowered by the dynamic of the Holy Spirit.
The objective of a pastor/ preacher is to preach the living Jesus he personally knows. “We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord” (ll Cor. 4:5). “We preach Christ crucified” (I Cor. 1:23]. If the preacher’s message does not assist the congregation to understand how the risen and living Lord Jesus relates to their daily lives, then it is not Christian preaching. The purpose of preaching is not merely the recitation of historical details of scripture, nor is it theological explanations of factual data. I recall hearing a sermon that did not mention the name of Jesus even once until the obligatory closing prayer ended, “in Jesus name.”
Preachers, pastors, ministers must be humble enough to recognize that they are just human beings like everyone else. They are not celebrities to be revered. Though expected to be models of spiritual maturity, and sometimes occupying an elevated pulpit that looks down on the “laity,” the preacher must be honest and transparent. Admission of personal faults, failures and weaknesses, allows the people to identify with their shepherd. Warned not to “lord it over” the flock (1 Pet. 5:3), pastors must avoid “pastoral authority” and attempts to dictate, intimidate or manipulate. The objective is simply to share JESUS in one’s proclamation and life.
Jim Fowler, Focusing ion Jesus: Daily Christ-centered Thoughts (CIY Publishing). Copyrighted, 2019; used with permission. www.Christinyou.net
The audio podcast “Ed Stetzer Live “helps you live out the truth of the gospel in a rapidly changing world.” His January 4, 2020 broadcast featured an interview about personal and church renewal based on the Abiding Life. “As believers, we try hard to live the Christian life, doing good works, sharing the gospel and maintaining a moral code. But sometimes the list of do’s and don’ts can feel exhausting and overwhelming. In examining Jesus’ life in the gospels, Las Vegas Pastor Vance Pitman says he’s found some spiritual truths that have set him free from some of his burdens… and helped him rediscover the joy of the love relationship that Jesus provides.”
A recurring theme in the interview is our Lord’s invitation for grace-based salvation and discipleship: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt 11:28-30).