G. Campbell Morgan (Great Preachers Series)

(Here’s part of a series that has already included Charles Spurgeon and Alexander MacLaren ).

He was the envy of the preachers of his day. The great F.B. Meyer once confessed as much! Morgan joins Moody and Spurgeon in never having any Bible college training. He was discovered by Moody and many feel the Lord sent him to teach the Bible to the massive amount of converts that came from the great revivals of that time period.

You might have had your doubts about him earlier on as after preaching a trial sermon to enter the ministry as an ordained Methodist preacher, he bombed out. A dejected Morgan wired his Dad to tell of his failure. His wise father wired back: “Rejected on earth–accepted in Heaven.” That was a close call to losing a mighty preacher that over time just became something hard for the Methodists to live down! He rose to fame just after Spurgeon and others of that golden age of preaching passed off the scene. Still, he was of their ilk.

Though he didn’t have formal training, he decided that to be the preacher he should be he should master the English Bible. Of course in his studies he referred to language works, but the task that lay heavy on his heart was opening up the Bible in the English language. His laser focus reaped huge dividends as he opened up God’s Word for the masses. Like the other great masters his work ethic in the Word would shock most of us who preach the Word today. He didn’t just look for a sermon to fill his given slots, he was compelled to get at what the Lord was saying. Likely, this is the exact point where his success and our failure meet.

His great strength was synthesis–how the thing before us fits the larger context of God’s Revelation to us. Frankly, he would see obvious things that everyone else would miss. I don’t mean forced points designed to make the speaker appear exceptionally intellectual and brilliant, but things that upon reading we can’t imagine why we hadn’t already noticed it.

He was a man on the go. Some have criticized him for a “nomad ministry.” Perhaps he won’t go down as one of the greatest pastors ever, but the harshest critic would be hard pressed to deny his amazing and God-blessed preaching skills.  He could literally mesmerize an audience with nothing but the Bible. Strangely, he almost never used an illustration. We don’t have to ditch illustrations like him, but that might suggest that the Bible carries more punch on its own than most think. He was at his best in the Gospels, preached less on doctrine and more on Bible stories and passages. He, like a few others, shows us the latent power of expository preaching. If only we could catch a little of what he had.

There’s a few biographies on him like the one by Harries. Jill Morgan’s “A Man of the Word” gives us the best impressions of his method. Don Wagner’s “The Expository Method of G. Campbell Morgan” teaches well as does Morgan’s own “Preaching”. He is at his best in the volumes on each Gospel, Acts, the Corinthian letters, and Jeremiah. The best of his sermons to read are in the 5 combined volumes, or 10 volume set called “The Westminister Pulpit.” Any of his books are worth having. In a word, I’d call G. Campbell Morgan spellbinding!

Meet The Skeptic–A Timely Subject

Here’s a book we’ve been needing–“Meet The Skeptic” by Bill Foster. So many of us witness by routine with a rote presentation with no regard if the person we witness to can make any sense out of a word we say. Or perhaps we use theological words, though great to us, which can no longer be understood in our Biblically illiterate world. Mr. Foster talks us through this problem, reminds us that it is people we are after, and guides to better methods and word choices.

For example, “salvation” would in no way mean to a guy with no church background what it would to those of us who have grown up in church. To ask “if you died today, would you go to Heaven” wouldn’t mean much to a lady who doesn’t believe there is a Heaven. To only quote the Bible might have little impact if that person has been indoctrinated to believe the Bible is full of errors. I believe the Bible has the answer, but how can I turn the conversation in a direction that would make Biblical truth something that the listener must reckon with?

That’s where this book comes in. Mr. Foster does a masterful job reorienting us. He introduces many insights that I honestly had never thought of before. What makes his presentation so powerful is his uncanny ability to let us know how others think, how they’ve come to think it, and how we might finally get through with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He explains the 4 main types of skepticism you may meet: spiritual skepticism, moral skepticism, scientific skepticism, and biblical skepticism (not believing the Bible is trustworthy). He describes the root idea behind the skepticism and offers probing questions to get them thinking. There’s even a quick reference chart at the end of the book designed to help you grasp what is fully brought out in text.

It’s not a gimmick; this book talks sense. I’ll keep mine handy for reference. Mr. Foster clearly admits that not everyone will turn to Christ with his approach. But wouldn’t you feel better knowing they rejected what they understood instead of what you ineptly explained?

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 . 

It’s Tough Being A Dad

I know that title sounds pitiful. I also know that 6 little people are going to say “Happy Father’s Day Daddy” to me in the morning. That little ritual never gets old and I am confident it never will.

This year I’m really pondering this Dad thing. I’m reading a great and challenging book (which I will review later) and have been re-evaluating with my wife where we are with our children. My oldest daughter, Briley, will be 13 soon while the next two, Caleb and Isaiah, will be 11 and 9. These are the pivotable years. They are right now forming views that will define who they are and who they will be through life. The other three, Audrey, Macey, and Elisha, are still in that more innocent and simple time, but those older three are thinking some pretty grown-up thoughts.

So, I said, it’s tough being a Dad. Why does the Lord address so many things to we fathers? Why does he single us out to not “provoke” them? That’s spooky. We are given a unique authority in our home, not because we deserve it, but because the Lord chose it. At first glance that sounded like a lot of fun, but once you read the fine print of what we are to do with that authority that gets a little hairy too. Since the Lord gave us a role that reflects His role as Father, we are the key to our children’s viewpoint of God. That means my children’s view of God is shaped by me more than anyone else on Earth! Of course the grace of God is sufficient for those with no father or a bad one, but still here I am and this the Lord expects of me. That is somewhere between sobering and terrifying. On reflection, it’s a little closer to terrifying!

To make it worse, our culture misplaced the blueprint God gave us. No one even knows what a man is good for anymore. The feminist movement has been far more effective in its indoctrination than people realize. It’s not that men and women are equal (because before the Lord of course they are), but that men are unneeded, incompetent, and perhaps, pointless. Add our culture’s disdain for a man doing what he ought to do with the Lord’s high expectations, and WOW, it’s a mess! The Lord convicts me on one hand and the world tells me I’m not even needed on the other. I told you it’s tough being a Dad.

I know what you’re thinking, and you are right. Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”) is as good for Dads as any other Christian. Tough or not, it must be done even if I’m riding Christ’s strength all the way. Men don’t like to admit their lack of strength, but it’s more true than you will ever know.

So I must spend time with my children. That’s as far as most fathering advise goes these days, but it’s true. My Dad, Gerald Reagan, invested so much time in me that to this day he is both my Dad and one of my dearest friends on Earth.

Then, I must mold, teach, and train. I must prepare them for life with its brutal twists. I must convince them that Christ is the Rock in all things. Most of all, I must love. Love will always cover a multitude of sins!

As I said, my children will say happy Father’s Day to me no matter what tomorrow. If it had to have Christ’s approval before it could be said of me, would I get His vote of confidence? Lord, help me to be what you ask me to be and what I want to be. Even if it’s tough.

Happy Father’s Day!

Think…On What?

What role does thinking play in your life? Is it fair to say that in many ways you are what you think? I don’t think that fact could be overrated. Haven’t you had your thoughts take you to a far different place than you were just moments before? Your thoughts and your mastery of them have a direct impact on all of your life, even the spiritual side.

That’s why Philippians 4:8 is so special: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Here we are told what to think. The word “think” here means “meditate” and so refers to that deep thinking we do.

The verse begins: “Finally”. After being told to rejoice, to not worry, to pray and have faith, and receive the peace of God which is beyond understanding in the process, we are given one warning. The wrong thoughts may derail the whole thing.

So, as some have said, the battle is in the mind. I must put my mind on the right things or suffer tremendously. That doesn’t mean I never have a negative thought. That’s where the “power of positive thinking” folks have it wrong. There are truly negative things that must be faced in life.

When I face something negative, then, the plan is not to stick my head in the sand as if weren’t true. Such an approach is only a form of dishonest thinking. What I must do is keep my thinking true, honest, just, praiseworthy, and even pure. For example, if the doctor gives me some gut-wrenching news, I don’t block it out as if it weren’t true. No, I’ll think nobly about it. I’ll think–how can I handle this appropriately? If I face some disappointment or injustice, I’ll think–how can I honor the Lord in this? I’ll also think true and honest all the way through. I’ll think the Lord is in control and He loves me. That’s the truest thought we could ever think!

The next verse speaks of the things “learned, and received”, and surely refers to bringing God’s Word into my thinking. This is the only place we can get good thoughts when blasted with bad news.

I’ll confess that my wife Alicia is the one who made this a special verse in the life of our family. When she was first stricken with paralysis, I would think much to myself–what is she thinking? After a point she was doing so much better than I thought possible, I asked her how she did it. This verse, she said, was the secret. At dreary moments, she has even quoted this verse to me! I forget it at times, but it works when I use it.

What are you thinking on today? Whatever it is, good or bad, defines the day. Over a life, it will define me.