Joe Thorn

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers

ValleyOfVision_pbk_frontIf you read my twitter feed, you’ll notice by now that I almost daily share a quote from The Valley of Vision. All these tweets are given the hashtag: #ValleyofVision.

The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers arranged by Arthur Bennett. Many are written by Bennett himself. Others are adapted from Puritan writings.

This is my second time reading through The Valley of Vision. Honestly, I wish I would have started regularly reading through this prayer-book in seminary when Professor John Hannah shared with our historical theology class about this pocket-book of prayers. I’ve benefited so much theologically and spiritually in these two reads that I wonder what benefit I will have a decade from now. This prospect in itself is encouraging.

Don’t just take my word for the value of The Valley of Vision. Check out what Don Carson says about this book of prayer:

‘The prayers in The Valley of Vision are steeped in Scripture, yet never succumb to mere formula. They are theologically fresh and vibrant, yet they are rooted in confessionalism. They range over a huge sweep of Christian experience and devotion, but they are never merely esoteric or cute. They brim with deep emotion and transparent passion, but they carefully avoid mere sentimentalism. This is a book that teaches readers to pray by example.’ — D. A. Carson

I echo everything Carson says. Not only does this book brim with deep emotion and transparent passion along with robust confessional theology, but it will in turn move you in similar ways. I’ve found my own prayer life to be transformed because of the many truths I’ve embraced and learned from this book of prayer.

Just today I read this:

Help me, O Lord, to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee, for better, for worse, without comfort, and all but hopeless. Give me peace of soul, confidence, and enlargement of mind, morning joy that comes after night heaviness; water my soul richly with divine blessings; grant that I may welcome thy humbling in private so that I might enjoy thee in public; give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.

These words were heartwarming for me to read, hear, and repeat back to my savior.

The prayers in The Valley of Vision each have a candid balance between confessing sin and embracing expiation. The prayers resonate with thoughts of overwhelming unworthiness because of offenses against God that are turned to shouts of exultation in being made worthy through Christ our mediator and intercessor. This is welcomed, especially in a culture that is growing numb to guilt, disobedience, and sin. No one wants to be known as reprobate, carnal, or a sinner. Yet, apart from Christ, that is who we are.

For all those who believe on Christ, he mediates on our behalf and stands as our advocate. His constant communion with his Father intercedes on our behalf. His prayers make up for the difference of our weak prayers.

Thomas Watson reminds us in the Body of Divinity: “It is a great comfort to a believer, when his prayer is weak, and he can hardly pray for himself, that Christ’s prayer in heaven is might and powerful” (181).

If you’re at all interested in picking up a copy of The Valley of Vision, you can get it here at Banner of Truth’s website. I recommend the Leather-bound copy. That is the one I keep by my bedside. I also have the ebook, which is what I normally read from.

My pastor, Joe Thorn, has also created a helpful reading guide for The Valley of Vision. You can download it for free here at his blog.

Experiencing the Trinity by Joe Thorn

Experiencing the TrinityThis review first appeared at Lifeway’s Pastors Today web blog.

Bibliography

Joe Thorn. Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God. Wheaton: Crossway, 2015. 144 pp. $10.99.

Category

Spiritual Growth

Summary

“No book written by man has so warmed my heart during the last decade as has this one,” is what I said in reference to the last book I read by Joe Thorn, Note to Self. A few years have passed, and I stand by that word.

You see, Note to Self played a seminal role in me seeking Pastor Joe Thorn as a mentor and coach. I’m proud to call him my pastor and friend, and am thankful for the time he has poured into my life.

When Joe shared with me that he was working on a second book, Experiencing the Trinity, I eagerly prayed for him as he wrote and looked earnestly towards the day that I might read this new work.

Experiencing the Trinity is a devotional and experiential meditation on the many attributes of the triune God. Thorn looks at each person of the Trinity in turn: fifteen devotions on the Father, twenty on the Son, and fifteen on the Spirit. Each of these sermonettes to the self draw out shortcomings — how we forget, are tempted, self-deceived, or misunderstand these attributes of God. Then, with the same gentleness and  conviction, truths are affirmed and reinforced in our lives.

Thorn shares in the introduction how many of Experiencing the Trinity’s devotions were written during and in the aftermath of an extremely anxious time for pastor Joe. It was a time where Joe sought counsel from Pastor and Professor David Murray, who recently wrote The Happy Christian. It was a time where Joe enlisted professional medical help as well — a decision difficult for him because of prior convictions about medication. But ultimately, though many factors played a role in his recovery, this is what Thorn says took preeminent place:

“And central to it all was the Word of God. It was Scripture that drew me back to the hope, peace, and safety I have in Jesus. And this is what this book is really about: how the Word of God draws us to the living God. I knowing him we find peace, joy, strength, and faith.” (17)

So each devotion begins with a Scripture, which is then applied to the heart, moving the reader along in God-exulting worship and praise.

Benefit for Pastoral Ministry

Before readers depart from the introduction, Pastor Joe gives a solemn reminder. He wrote these devotions as a Christian and only a Christian may rightfully appropriate these truths and pray them with confidence. Yet, he couches this qualification with a valuable statement that opens the door to the curious and seeker: “If you have not yet believed in Jesus Christ as the only hope of being reconciled to God, I encourage you to read the following pages as the promises God make to those who believe” (19).

Likewise, if you think that devotionals like this one are only for the truly pious, or books like this sit on a pastors shelf and are not rightly fit for the average person, you would be tragically mistaken. If anything, Thorn communicates the exact opposite. Every person needs the truths from Experiencing the Trinity. We’re all weak, vulnerable to sin, and prone to revert to old ways. Thorn articulates this in various manners throughout Experiencing the Trinity. In his chapter on God the Father’s forgiveness, he gently reminds us:

“It’s good that your sins bother you. They should. They are an offense and affront to God. But your tendency to lose hope in light of them is not of faith, because faith believes and receives the pardon of God. He forgives his people.” (45)

What a comforting reminder to your soul!

Had I mentioned how concise each of these devotions are? Some are two others are three pages in length. Yet, this doesn’t mean that one will spend a mere minute or two on these devotions. I found myself resting in the truths found within and marinading my heart in them for much longer. I recall Thorn’s chapter on the Holy Spirit being grieved. He compares the soul to a garden. He says, “Your soul is designed to be a garden of sorts, one that bears fruit for him who tends it” (136). Thorn exhorts to cultivate godliness, resist the weeds of unrepentant sin, uproot them through confession, and water your soul

I recommend Experiencing the Trinity with the same zeal I once recommended Note to Self. Purchase this book. Read it. Re-read it.

Rating

Essential Recommended Helpful Pass It By

Recommendation

Experiencing the Trinity is a grace infused prayer book that reflects on the beauty and wonder of our Triune God.

View-Worthy: 2.23

Preview

Involve Everyone in Evangelism, Killing Your Evangelism, Snapchat, Who Are You Married To?

Headliner

Ed Stetzer. 4 Ways to Involve Everyone in Evangelism. (CT)

Many people have slipped into the mindset that evangelism is a gift that some believers have and others do not. The reality is that when someone becomes reconciled to God, He sends them out to reconcile others. That’s not a gift—we all have the responsibility to take Christ to others.

Deal of the Day

Four Views on the Apostle Paul $3.79

Book Review

Joe Thorn. Experiencing the Trinity. Reviewed by David Steele.

Links

Trevin Wax. Answering “No” to One of These Questions Will Kill Your Evangelism.

Our pastor, Mike Lee, recently preached on evangelism by offering five questions that need to be answered by those who seek to be faithful in following the Great Commission. I’ve adapted these questions here and added a sixth. I commend them to you because they peel back the layers of our defensiveness toward evangelism and help us see what needs to be in place before we will be confident, joyful, and effective tellers of the good news.

Answer “no” to any of these questions and your evangelistic passion will suffer.

Chris Martin. Student Pastors, Stop Being Afraid of Snapchat.

People use perfectly neutral tools for good and ill, and Snapchat is simply the newest case of that.

Ray Ortlund. Who Are You Married To?

Being married to Mr. Law never changed us.  But being married to Mr. Grace is changing us deep within, and it shows.

Edify

Psalm 119:35 “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.”

“Be walking Bibles.” C. H. Spurgeon

Secondary Sources and Sermon Preparation

From time to time Redeemer Fellowship receives honest questions from pastors curious about how we do things. Sometimes I have the pleasure of responding to those questions, especially when the topic falls within the wheelhouse of my skill set. Recently, a young pastor e-mailed Redeemer and asked about how Joe and the other pastors at the church use commentaries for sermon preparation. After fielding this question for this pastor, I thought that the response might also be beneficial for others to think through how they might use secondary sources and what priority they should have in sermon preparation.

Like the e-mail, this article takes special consideration of how my mentor, Pastor Joe Thorn, uses secondary sources in his sermon preparation. And no article right now that involves Joe can run without a shameless plug for Experiencing the Trinity, Joe’s newest book that releases very soon from Crossway. You’re welcome!

So without further ado, here are four thoughts about secondary sources and sermon preparation:

The Primary Source for Sermon Preparation

First, primary in study and sermon preparation is the meditative process of applying the text to your own heart. Pastor Joe always emphasizes this with those he leads and trains in preaching. He spends the majority of his preparation with his Bible and a moleskin, more or less journaling through his sermon. Key to this process is always applying the gospel to the preacher’s heart. This is truly one of the catalysts for earnestness in the pulpit. As you see your great need for the gospel, it helps you convey that need in turn to those that you are blessed to lead.

Time and Tested Secondary Sources

Second, that said, Joe and the rest of us do consult secondary sources. I’ve noticed that Joe typically orders the Banner of Truth Commentary that is a companion to the sermon series he is preaching on a book of the Bible. For instance, right now as we go through 1 John, Joe keeps this commentary from Robert Candlish nearby.

Almost always you’ll also find hints and nods to John Calvin’s commentary in the sermons. Likewise, Joe especially, and the rest of us aspire to retrieve doctrinal specifics from the Puritans. An example from this last sermon that Joe preached on 1 John 1:8-10 is his numerous references to the Sinfulness of Sin by Ralph Venning.

Present Day Reliable Secondary Sources

Third, present day commentaries should be used when you have specific questions to the text that might not be readily answered through study alone. You need expert advice. In that case, probably the best approach is to take a case by case look at each of the major commentary series and measure the trustworthiness of the commentator. Is the commentary written by someone likeminded to you theologically?

I can’t speak for Joe in this case, but for me, I find myself impressed with the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary Series, Baker Exegetical Commentaries of the New Testament, and the NIVAC sets. They are all three fairly accessible and written by trustworthy evangelical scholars. Those who are still training in the languages or have not been trained in the biblical languages will be able to use those commentaries effectively. Still, I always check the credibility of the author before I give weight to what they say. Typically, I don’t reference or quote this study in the sermon, neither does Joe, unless it is critical to do so.

Interestingly enough, after my Edwards interview series that’s running on Thursdays, I plan on doing a series that features a major commentary series, giving an overview of the series, and reviewing a recent commentary from that series.

Secondary Sources that Inform

Fourth, this is just my opinion, I don’t really know where Joe would weigh in here. Except that realistically a lead pastor probably doesn’t have as much band width to do this. I like to have the commentary from each major set and like to be able to dialogue with a spectrum of views. Though I don’t have time to read all the commentaries cover to cover, for specific sermons I like to always consult another commentary that might not be such an obvious choice, perhaps one which I might defer tradition-wise or interpretive method.For instance, when I preached through the first three chapters of Galatians last year in various contexts, I liked to see what J. Louis Martyn (Anchor), James D G Dunn (Blacks), and Scot McKnight (NIVAC) had to say, though my tendency would be to rely on Schreiner (ZECNT) and Moo (BECNT) because I agree with their view of justification. I didn’t have time to consult all of these commentaries for every sermon, but each sermon I might pick one of those others to glance through or look at how they interpreted a particular verse. That way I was at least informed in how they would handle it or how someone from a different view might handle it.

The value of this typically doesn’t have weight during the sermon but is helpful for those after sermon, hand-shake conversations, where someone inquires about your wider knowledge of the passage. People love to talk about what McKnight or Richard Hays thinks about Galatians. Be prepared for those conversations and anticipate what the concerns or curiosities might be.

Keep Learning

If you’re a preacher or aspire to be a preacher, I hope you found this helpful. If you have any further questions, concerns, or comments, I want to hear them. I love interacting on this stuff! Be blessed as you continue to grow and develop as a preacher. Never stop learning. That’s an important element of this whole sermon preparation process.

A Word for Self-Professing Christian Leadership Goo-Roos

Over the last five years of pastoral ministry I cannot count the number of times a man with a card passed his information to me about coaching me in leadership. As a pastor who pulls his Bible out in a public place — for instance a cafe like Starbucks or Panera — I’m an instant target for those who are looking to coach others. But rarely have these people ever met the litmus test I give for Christian Leadership Goo-Roos.

It’s a five question process that I use to measure whether the person is qualified to lead not just me but also others. On more than one occasion, I’ve asked this person: how long have you been doing this? Usually, I hear that they just started. That’s a red flag, but it’s a common one.

Let me tell you, if you can’t answer these five questions for the person you wish to coach, then you probably shouldn’t coach that person. If you can’t answer these questions at all, then you might want to rethink being a self-proclaimed Christian leadership goo-roo. They really are few and far between.

Here are my five questions with explanations:

1) Have You Led Longer Than I?

Though I’ve only been a full-time pastor for five years, I’ve served in Christian Leadership for fifteen years over all. I’ve served in a number of capacities. I served as the GM of Campus Dining Services at Dallas Seminary for five years while putting myself through seminary. Meanwhile, I functioned as a ministry head of a Jr. High Youth Ministry for five years and completed a number of internships now over my career.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn. Though Christian leadership is part of my DNA, I know I’m a limping leader. So much so that I wouldn’t pretend to say that I’m a goo-roo in leadership. I look to men like Al Mohler — who served as an editorial director and now as the President of the largest seminary in the world — to mentor me in leadership. I look for people with much greater capacity to lead, like Matt Perman, who is an expert in productivity.

If that’s the case for a guy who’s been leading at some capacity for fifteen years, then I think any person who intends to create a career out of Christian leadership consultation should think long and carefully about this commitment.

Age really doesn’t have anything to do with this. Perman is much younger, maybe only a few years older than I, whereas, Mohler is much more mature than either Perman or I. What counts is how long you’ve been leading and at what capacity.

If you’ve been a Christian Leader for fewer than five years and have not led a large organization, then you might not be the leadership goo-roo you think you are.

2) Are You Educated?

If you’re coaching someone in leadership, I’d like to think you have a Master of Arts or maybe even a Doctorate of Ministry in this discipline. That seems to be a reasonable expectation. These days seminaries have leadership tracks in their graduate programs. I still don’t really know what that means, and if I ever would have studied that track in graduate level education. But these leadership tracks exist; those who think that leadership is their gig should consider pursuing these educational tracks.

Regardless of proper education, leadership goo-roos should be widely read and studied in the area of leadership. If they don’t know who Robert Clinton is, I’d be concerned. At the same time, reading John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Al Mohler, and Matt Perman does not necessarily make you a leader. I’ve read all those books, and like I said, I’m a limping leader at best. Longevity and presence in leadership is far more critical than reading a few books.

3) Are You Still Leading?

Leading longer and being more educated is big, but nothing is bigger than still leading. I’m always leary of consultants who are not presently leading. You have to be exceptional as a leader or in a unique transition to successfully make a long or short-term career as a leadership coach. If coaching is not something you are doing on the side, but it is your full-time gig, then you might be out of the leadership game. This, in my mind, makes you not qualified to coach leaders.

However, if you’re like my pastor, who is committed to coaching young leaders, while he pastors, then you might be the right kind of coach. That’s exactly why I’m I am doing my church planting internship where I’m doing it; Joe Thorn is the right kind of leader for me.

4) Are You Asking for a Fee?

I think coaching leaders is something leaders do, and charging a fee is not the way to do it. Older pastors should just lead younger pastors. Older non-for-prof leaders should just lead younger non-for-prof leaders. Leadership training needs to be more organic and less mechanic.

If someone walked up to me tomorrow and said, “Hey you served in youth ministry for a baker’s dozen years. Would you coach me in youth ministry?” I wouldn’t hesitate to exuberantly say, “Yes!”, and to do it for free. Of course, I’ve only got time to do one or two of those, which is precisely what my pastor does himself.

Few people have the time to sit down with a leadership coach let alone write a check to one as well. Most of us can build in a little margin to read a $10 book like Leaders Who Last by Dave Craft, Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler, or What’s Best Next by Matt Perman. Not many of us have $50-100 to cough up for a half-hour coffee with someone, especially if that person spends more time just chatting it up then focusing on leadership development.

5) What Is Your Leadership Presence?

Are you known publicly for leadership. Do you have a thriving, active multi-platform social media network? Do you have a written presence? Do you blog? Do you contribute to recognized Christian print or digital media? Do you go to conferences and keep up with what is going on not just in your niche of leadership but also the wider evangelical cultural environ? If I went to conferences and talked to my friends about you, would you be a known commodity? What would people say?

These are important considerations to ascertain whether a person is a qualified Christian leadership goo-roo.

Conclusion

Quite honestly, anyone can walk into a room or sit across the table from you with sticky notes, a marker board, and help you chart out your leadership or organizational vision. Anyone who has read a book or two can do this. It doesn’t take much to be a self-proclaimed leadership goo-roo.

Obviously, these metrics that I’ve used for myself are pretty superficial. But that’s how it goes at first. A leader’s character and credibility is measured over time. Up until that time passes, I have to lean on other’s words. But I’m just warning you, very few people are truly qualified to make a career out of being a Christian leadership consultant. Anyone can print up some business cards on Vista Print and start a wordpress site, few can make it last.

In 2013, during my year of transition from youth ministry into church planting, I met Dave Jewitt. Dave is a local Christian leader and coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He met all of my criteria.

He coached me through his curriculum, Your One Degree. He’s created a network of coaches, men who volunteer to lead other men to develop biblical purpose. Jewitt, though not so much trying to help people lead, as he helps people find their one purpose, played an invaluable role in my life for a few months. I’m forever grateful for him, and his generosity to give time and interest in a young leader.

Dave is able to do what he does because he has a board of directors that fully fund his ministry. He’s been elevated to his role of leadership because he selflessly helped many men over the course of twenty years. Those men give him the freedom to shine at what he does.

Those kind of leadership coaches are rare. There is certainly a place for them in Christian culture. But for the most part, all us other limping leaders need to create margin and capacity to develop leaders as we go. That’s the best way that we’ll help the next generation of Christian leaders.

012: Cochran4Chicago Update

Cochrans4Chicago is the e-mail update from the Cochran Family. These e-mails share about the transition process for the Cochrans as they relocate to Chicago. These e-mails include prayer requests, praise reports, and updates on the support status of the Cochran family. E-mail not displaying correctly?
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1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

Dear Friends,

We have innumerable reasons to praise God right now, so I begin by giving thanks to him on behalf of our family for life, love, and the grace to minister the gospel to the heavy-hearted sinner and joy-filled Christian alike.

As we gear up for the holiday season, my prayer for you and your family is that you will rejoice in remembering the advent of our savior. If you’re looking for a devotional resource for your family this year, I recommend Scott James’s, The Expected One: Anticipating All of Jesus in the Advent.

Winter has approached in Chicago. Most days from here on out will not likely see 40 degrees. The flu/cold just passed through our home. It started with Adalie and I making an unexpected visit to urgent care on Chloe’s birthday to restock on albuterol for her nebulizer. From there each of our kids caved to congestion. Both Kendall and I on different days of the last two weeks spent a couple days in bed while the other took care of the kiddos. Fortunately, we’re just nursing coughs at this point and praying that illness will not visit our home again this season.

This will be the first year in countless years that we will not be traveling to see friends and family during the Christmas season. We’re looking forward to spending the time not busying about but enjoying the holiday cheer with our new friends in Chicagoland. Yet, we miss you all very much and regret not getting to pass through Tulsa or spend time with family and friends in the DFW.

Below are important updates on ministry, work, and partnership.

MINISTRY UPDATE

Pray that the Lord would continue to train and equip our family for gospel ministry and give us plentiful gospel conversations to build his Church here in the Fox Valley area. Likewise, please pray for us as we plan to plant a church.

Lord willing, I am preparing for the residency stage of church planting. Please pray that I am accepted as a resident for 2015 with the North American Mission Board.

Since our last update, Kendall, I, and the kids had the privilege of joining in fellowship with Mercy Hill Church in West Chicago. Mercy Hill is a church plant less than a year old in the neighboring village of West Chicago. West Chicago is adjacent to the East of Batavia, Geneva, and St. Charles in the West Suburbs. It’s nowhere near the city of Chicago. We had a great morning of worship with the folks there as we saw a blossoming church plant in action.

I’ve been in the process of setting up a number of meetings with pastors and individuals in the Libertyville area. I’m doing this partly to learn about the history and culture of the city and to discern the need for a new church plant there. In the process I stumbled across comforting quotes from Timothy Keller in Center Church.

Keller says:

“You see, church planting is not only for frontier regions or pagan societies that we are trying to help become Christian. Churched societies will have to maintain vigorous, extensive church planting simply to stay Christian…New church planting is the best way to increase the number of believers in a city, and one of the best ways to renew the whole body of Christ. The evidence for this statement is strong — biblically, sociologically, and historically. Nothing else has the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting” (362, 365).

These words have helped reaffirm my desire to see a new church planted in Libertyville for the glory of God and the spread of the gospel.

WORK UPDATE

Praise God for his provision of part-time employment.

This past month Kendall and I secured part-time employment. Kendall has returned to Chickfila for the third time in our marriage. She’s really excited to use her gifts in hospitality and service yet again for Chickfila. At the same time, she misses being with me and the kiddos in the evening.

I, likewise, am working at Starbucks. My experience managing a licensed Starbucks for Dallas Seminary for five years, made this a sensible part-time role for me. I’m already in the rhythm of making 1/2 Decaf Tall Triple Soy Upside-down Caramel Machiatos.

Though the two of us working these two jobs only supplies about 1/4 of our need to provide for a family of five, we found this necessary during this season. Until the Lord confirms our mission to plant, this is what we must do to provide for our family.

PARTNERING UPDATE

Pray that the Lord will provide partners with both churches and individuals, so we may continue forward with Church Planting.

The Lord continues to graciously provide abundantly for us, and he has provided only exactly what we need. We’re thankful for this because it demonstrates his faithfulness.

Right now we have funding through November. Kendall and I hope that our part-time work for the months of November and December will meet our needs for this year. Yet, we ask that you might remember us as you consider your year-end giving.

If you would like to make a one-time gift or join in partnering us, please let us know. We need ministry partners now more than ever.

At this time, we’d like to thank the following people for faithfully giving and supplying the ministry that we are doing in Chicago. 

Bryan and Judy Lapo
Heath and Shea Casey
Jeff and Monica Puckett
Curtis and Cheryl Nelson

Your gifts have eternal value!

Here’s a brief outline of our need:

1. We will need to raise $4,000 for the month of December.

2. If accepted as a Resident with NAMB for 2015, then we will receive $3000/month from NAMB. For 2015 we only need to enlist $2000/month in partnerships. Right now if all our current partners give through 2015, then we are already at 20%.

If the Lord is stirring you to partner with us, you may do so through the North American Mission Board.

All funding may be securely given through the North American Mission Board. Gifts may be given through Electronic Funds Transfer, or AutoPay with your Debit or Credit Card. To set up automatic giving on-line go to our NAMB Webpage, http://msc.kintera.org/cochranfamily2005.

If you wish to mail in an Electronic Funds Transfer request, you may do so. Fill out the form below and mail it to the address for NAMB below. When you fill out the form indicate my name JOEY COCHRAN and Account 10138 on the form.
EFT Request Form.

Here is a helpful document about giving online with the North American Mission Board.
Q&A Sheet for Partnering with NAMB Missionaries.

If you wish to send a monthly check, you may still do so. Please be sure to memo JOEY COCHRAN ACCT 10138 on your check.

Mail your check to:

NAMB
Attention: Accounting – MSC                       
PO Box 116543
Atlanta, Georgia 30368-6543

Sincerely,

The Cochran Family
cochranfamily2005@gmail.com

Joey Cochran
e: jc@redeemerfellowship.org
t: @joeycochran
w: www.jtcochran.com

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Copyright © 2014 Cochrans4Chicago, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Joey and Kendall Cochran
3163 Riverbirch Dr #107
Aurora IL 60502

Being a Non-Conventional Intern (GCD Guest Contribution)

I had the pleasure of contributing to Gospel Centered Discipleship this past Friday. The article is about my internship experience with Joe Thorn at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles. I’m not your normal intern. A new trend indicates that there will be more men like me who have pastoral experience, sense a call to plant a church, and are expected to complete an internship and a residence before doing so. Many men probably feel hesitant about doing so, not wanting to “take a step back” in their ministry. This article gives reasons to go ahead and do this anyway, what to expect, and how to handle this transition.

Most guys who finish seminary either intern or land their first ministry position in pastoral ministry; that or they continue cleaning pools, painting, or selling insurance. Either way there is this natural progression forward in pastoral ministry: seminary graduate, intern, youth pastor, associate pastor, then senior pastor. Sure enough, some people fill multiple roles at the same time—like seminary student and pastor. But for the most part this is the progression.

Not for me. I’m a non-conventional intern. I graduated with my Th.M. from Dallas Seminary in 2009, then entered my first pastorate in Tulsa as a High School Pastor. After four years, I departed as an associate pastor and have been a church planting intern with Joe Thorn at Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois for the past year.

I remember one of the first times I shared this story with another pastor. They asked: “Aren’t you taking a step back?” Well, yes, and at the same time, no.

I’m kind of a trendsetter—a trend that no doubt others will adopt as well and already are adopting. Still, I imagine many probably wonder what’s wrong with me. Could you not get another position in pastoral ministry? Actually, I did. I had a number of churches asking me to candidate, some of them pretty notable too. I almost accepted an offer from one to be an associate pastor, but God drew us to Chicago, and we’re still discerning exactly why.

Many pastors will discover that if they wish to get involved in church planting then they will likely step back and serve in an internship and/or a residency first. It’s becoming a normal expectation for guys, wishing to church plant. This is wise, as I’m discovering, because it helps assess fit for this unique ministry.

Why should an experienced pastor be willing to intern? What should an experienced pastor expect from an internship? And how does an experienced pastor handle this transition? Let’s take these questions head on.

You may read the full article over at Gospel Centered Discipleship…

View-Worthy: 8.12.14

Preview

Lifeway Pulls Driscoll, Character is King, John Own & Prayer, The Lord’s Supper.

Headliner

Ruth Moon. Lifeway Stops Selling Mark Driscoll’s Books at 180 Christian Stores. (CT)

[Updated with past Tyndale defense of Driscoll and Publishers Weekly report]

LifeWay Christian Resources, which bills itself as “one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services,” has pulled Mark Driscoll’s books from its website and more than 180 stores nationwide.

The action by the publishing arm of America’s largest Protestant denomination, the nearly 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), comes one day after Matt Chandler’s Acts 29 church planting network removed membership from Mars Hill churches and their popular pastor. Driscoll has authored 15 books and amassed a following of 13,000 weekly worshipers at 15 locations in five states.

Deal of the Day

The Finished Work of Christ: The Truth of Romans 1-8 by Francis Schaeffer $1.99

Book Review

Jonathan Dodson. Raised?: Finding Jesus By Doubting the Resurrection. Reviewed by David Young. (TGC)

Links

Tim Challies. Character Is King.

Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled over the weekend as people have discussed the latest news in the ongoing saga of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church: both he and his church have been removed from Acts 29, the church-planting network he helped establish. This is only the latest incident in a long, steep, and very public decline. The news has been reported in Christian outlets, all over the local Seattle media, and as far afield as Huffington PostTIME, and theWashington Post.

Brian Hedges. John Owen on the Work of the Spirit in Prayer. (Servants of Grace)

In the double interests of going deeper in some of my favorite theologians and trying to strengthen my own prayer life, I’ve recently been reading John Owen’s The Work of the Holy Spirit in Prayer. This 116 page treatise is actually the seventh out of nine “books” in Owen’s magnum opus Pneumatologia: A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit. 

Because it is situated within the larger framework of Owen’s pneumatology, it has a fairly narrow focus as far as prayer is concerned. 

Joe Thorn. The Lord’s Supper: For Sinners.

This week I’ll be posting some thoughts on the Lord’s Supper as an encouragement ourRedeemer Fellowship family and anyone else wanting to think with us through the issues.

The Lord’s Supper, or communion, is a sacred tradition given to us by Jesus Christ. During the Passover meal with his disciples he blessed us with an ordinance that, through the elements of bread and wine, the gospel is preached, our faith is encouraged, and and the church is united as brothers and sisters.

Edify

2 Thessalonians 3:1 “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you.”

“Pure prayers have pure blessings.” Thomas Goodwin

10 Marks of What Pastors Do

IMG_2312You might be wondering if you are called to ministry. You might be wondering if the pastor at your church is called to ministry. You might be wondering how do I find a church that has a qualified pastor. Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum, you’ll find this article helpful.

As I drafted this article, I couldn’t help but think of the Sr. Pastor at Redeemer Fellowship St. Charles, Joe Thorn. He fits this criteria really well. I have the pleasure of calling him my friend, mentor for pastoral ministry, and coach for church planting. But above all those things, he’s my pastor. I say this keeping in mind that Joe is also an elder among elders; these marks are all found in the other elders of Redeemer Fellowship as well: Pat, Brian, Jeff, and our elder candidate, Rob.

Now as you look over these 10 marks, I don’t want you to think, “Well, he didn’t put holiness, humility, or integrity down.” You’re right, I didn’t put those characteristics down and there are still others unsaid that should be conveyed. There will be a post to come where I talk about those things. These marks are not about who a pastor is but what a pastor does. In other words, these are the actions that mark a pastor. This is how a shepherd acts as he cares for the flock God has given him.

If you read and enjoy this article, then I encourage you to share it. If your pastor fits the bill for this description, then tell him. Share this article with him. Say, “Hey pastor, this is you! Thank you for how you do what you do.”

And if you’re a pastor, you might see these marks as daunting. More than anyone, you will feel unworthy of these marks. I’ve pastored for 5 years now, and I know that is the case for me. I feel like I have a ways to go. Yet, day by day, I see the Lord faithfully shaping me into the pastor I am to be.

1. He loves.

1 Timothy 1:5 “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

2. He prays.

Acts 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

3. He learns.

2 Timothy 3:14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

4. He preaches.

Acts 6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:  2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

5. He counsels.

1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”

6. He disciples.

2 Timothy 2:2 “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

7. He leads.

1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.”

8. He cares for the suffering.

James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

9. He confronts sin.

1 Timothy 5:20As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”

10. He confronts false doctrine.

Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”