When Emma met John Macarthur

A few weeks ago I was at The Master’s Seminary for an appointment to make sure I get my classes for next fall. I had Emma with me (and she was looking mighty cute, I should add) for some daddy-daughter time, and we were waiting up in the reception area. Suddenly an entourage of men busted open the doors and walked in.

I recognized a few of the men– they were pastors and elders from Grace Community Church. In the midst of the hustle, one man stopped and began to talk to Emma. He patted her on the shoulder, said she was cute, and made a joke about allowing women into the seminary. It was Dr. MacArthur.

Emma shied away and pretended to be interested in something else.

I am going to treasure that moment for a few reasons. Here they are:

1. The busiest man in the group stopped to greet a tiny child.

Jesus loved children. When disciples were concerned that too many children were coming to Jesus and tried to stop them Jesus rebuked them and called for more children to come: “Let the little children come to me.” Of course Jesus was busy, and, from a practical standpoint, one might think his time spent speaking with children could have been better used elsewhere, healing the sick perhaps. Jesus didn’t think so. The best possible use of his time at that moment was to set a child on his knee, speak tenderly to him, and extol the virtues of childlike faith.

Let us never take ourselves too seriously that we are no longer able to play games with children. And let us never be so busy that we cannot stop and coo at a small child.

2. It will be fun to tell Emma that she met one of the profoundest influences in my life.

I hope and pray that Emma will grow to love the preached Word of God and devote her life to knowing and obeying it. As she grows in her faith (Lord willing), it will be fun to tell her the exciting stories about daddy’s church history heroes. Macarthur will go down in history as one of the foremost expositors the church has seen, and as soon as Emma is able to know who he is, I will tease her about the time she gave John Macarthur the cold shoulder.

3. It gives a more human picture of the man.

It’s so easy to think of John Macarthur as a sort of well-oiled machine, pumping out expositions Sunday after Sunday.
But when he stops and chuckles with your little girl, he becomes a bit more human.

My wife always tells me she’s much not impressed with a pastor until she sees how he treats his wife and children. She’s on to something. A preacher doesn’t prove his value by his homiletics but by his home life.  There’s a vast gulf between the pulpit but and the dinner table. The way a man treats his and others’ children reveals something very important about the man and his ministry. I appreciate Macarthur’s love for the little ones, even when a dozen other responsibilities are demanding his attention.

Does Calvinism stunt evangelistic zeal?

Who did God use to pull the church out of the Satanic grip of the Roman Catholic Church?

Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. All “Calvinists”.

Who went to Scotland and set the nation on fire with his zeal for preaching God’s truth?

John Knox, a man profoundly influenced by Calvin himself.

Who is known for their evangelism to the American natives, their compendium of lasting classic Christian literature, and their zeal to serve the Lord in all of life?

The Puritans– who were all-out Calvinists.

Which American preacher was used of God to spark the first Great Awakening?

Jonathan Edwards– who perhaps was more Calvinistic than Calvin.

Which other English preacher ignited the Great Awakening?

George Whitefield, a devoted believer to the doctrines of grace.

Who did Jonathan Edwards influence to take to the fronteir and minister among the native Americans?

David Brainerd. Calvinist.

Which famous missionary read David Brainerd’s biography and was so impacted that he went to the mission field and ignited the modern missionary movement?

William Carey. Calvinist.

The list is endless– Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones; not to mention our contemporaries John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and many others.

History attests to the fact that Calvinism does not stunt evangelistic zeal, but rather it ignites it. As Steven Lawson has said, “Arminian evangelists are not playing with a full deck.” When Calvinism meets evangelism it’s like gas and fire– an explosion of power results.

Truth Matters, John Macarthur, and hope for revival

I’ve been able to attend the Truth Matters Conference this weekend, a conference put on by John Macarthur’s radio ministry Grace to You. The conference, which was originally a couple hundred dollars, was made free for any GTY listener who would register online. Don’t think that the fact that it was free made it a cheap conference. Like all of Macarthur’s ministries, when they set out to do something, they do it right. Free drinks, free meals, free snacks, free everything.

It’s been amazing to see the fruitfulness of this ministry– thousands of people from around the country (every state in America is represented) and even some people from around the globe gathered to attend. It was announced tonight that a lady from Australia was there. Today, I had meals with a couple from Maryland, a woman from Chicago, and a young lady from Massachusetts– each of them with a story about how GTY changed their lives.

It seems, as in the days of the Judges, God raises up leaders that provide guidance for a generation. For the last four decades, John Macarthur’s exposition of the Word of God has been used mightily to ignite a resurgence of gospel-centeredness, Bible exposition, and God-centered ecclesiology– not to mention a love for the doctrines of grace and reformed theology.

You don’t see this kind of worldwide fruitfulness very often. Throughout history, the list of men and women who have had such a long-standing global ministry are few. My prayer is that God would raise up more men who stand firmly on the rock-solid foundation of God’s Word, to preach it boldly, in season and out of season; who trust deeply in its supernatural ability to awaken life in a dead soul.

I pray that he would raise up “. . .certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ [revival].  And what manner of men will they be?  Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace.  They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labour and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat.  They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

* * *

The quote above is from Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield (London, 1970), I:16.

Shepherd’s Conference: Day One

Right now I’m at Grace Community Church for the Shepherd’s Conference. There are close to 4,000 men here with me, many of them coming from out of state to be here. This is a unique time for me– I’ve never been a major conference, and in the next month-and-a-half I’ll have gone to Shepherd’s Conference, The Gospel Coalition Conference, and the Regional Desiring God Conference, so hopefully I’ll be able to offer a nice compare and contrast at the end. Here are some of my initial impressions:

1. They do it right. Maybe this is normal for a big-time conference like this, but here at Shepherd’s you get what you paid for and more. There is an endless supply of food, snacks, sodas, and waters, constantly circulating the premises. Fresh fruit, water bottles, and candy stands. There’s a smoothie machine, four shoe-shiners ready to clean you up, and a barber for those who need a trim. For lunch we were given Stonefire Grill– steak, bbq chicken, rolls, and garlic mashed potatoes. We get several books tomorrow and a gift card for $50 at the bookstore.

2. Love & Truth. I attended a break-out session called Radical? The Mystique of the Modern Day Monk, by Jonathan Rourke. Apparently the title of the message struck a chord because the room was packed. Grown men were sitting on the floor against the wall. The message was a critique of David Platt’s massively popular clarion call to radical Christian sacrifice, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
The thinking behind such a break-out session is that such a popular book that has sold  thousands (millions?) needs to be examined and critiqued, especially because its made its way into almost every church.

Anyway, the seminar was a great blend of love and truth. Rourke has a special ability to teach serious things with a sense of humor. It was very clear that Rourke was not trying to pick a fight– he made very clear from the get-go that he and Platt are on the same team, that Platt’s message is a necessary one for the American church, and that the main disagreements were ones of imbalance. He delicately pointed out the points of contention and then provided biblical teaching that allowed us to weigh them against Scripture. I walked away appreciating Rourke’s caution, appreciating Platt’s passion, and a better understanding of how to help people think through this groundswell of books promoting radical Christianity.

These kinds of plenary sessions make it apparent that the major concern at this conference is precision. Handling truth with accuracy. I appreciate that.

More tomorrow. Maybe.

Why Do People Listen to John Macarthur?

Here’s a post of Hugh Oliphant Old analyzes Dr. Macarthur’s preaching style, and why it’s effective.

Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens.

HT: Justin Taylor

Proletariat vs. Pundit: A Level Playing Field

Dr. John MacArthur writes about the impact of the web on our culture, and it’s sobering:

Meanwhile, the ease, immediacy, and affordability of Internet publishing has leveled the playing field between pundits and the proletariat. Anyone can start a blog, for free. Anyone with a computer (or cell phone) and an Internet connection can instantly broadcast his every opinion worldwide. Novices and scholarly authorities alike can employ the same media. Those who are most adept at gathering an audience are the ones who are being heard, not necessarily those most qualified to speak.

For the whole article, go here.