Booknote: “Discovering the Joy of a Clear Conscience” by Christopher Ash

By Charlie Wingard · January 8, 2019 · 0 Comments
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Paul took “pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man” (Acts 20:16). So should we. Christians must prize and protect a biblically informed conscience. Heed our conscience, and we shall honor God and faithfully serve our fellow man. Resist conscience, and we wreck not only our lives, but also harm others, leaving a trail of brokenness, heartache, and misery. Given the stakes, it is tragic that conscience is a word that has largely slipped from our vocabulary. That’s why I am grateful for Christopher Ash. In Discovering the Joy of a Clear Conscience he proves himself a skilled physician of the soul. Aiming straight to the heart, he asks: “If you die today and have some time…

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Booknote: “The Preacher’s Catechism” by Lewis Allen

By Charlie Wingard · January 5, 2019 · 0 Comments
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Many years ago someone pointed out to me that one of the principal values of a catechism is to teach us to ask the right questions. Since the 17th century, the Westminster Shorter Catechism has taught believers to ask the right questions about the Bible, the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, man’s duty to God, the way of salvation, and the means of grace (the preaching of the word, sacraments, and prayer). Employing the Westminster Shorter Catechism as his model, Lewis Allen’s The Preacher’s Catechism helps ministers ask the right questions about life and ministry. The book’s 43 brief chapters, each in question and answer format, are divided into four sections: The Glory of God and the Greatness of Preaching…

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Booknote: My Year in Books (2018)

By Charlie Wingard · December 31, 2018 · 3 Comments
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When I finish a book, I add it to my annual “books read” list. My 2018 list is at the end of this post. I don’t have a detailed reading plan – I select books based on interest and recommendations. I also use commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and systematic theologies as I prepare two weekly sermons and one Bible lecture. Since I seldom read these cover-to-cover, I don’t include them in the list. 2018 was spent in Romans, Exodus, 1 Timothy, and a December morning and evening series in Isaiah. What follows are some of  my 2018 reading highlights. Several of my comments come from booknotes I wrote earlier in the year. Every year, I read a few substantial volumes in…

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Tips for RTS Students: Keep Your Heart Open

By Charlie Wingard · December 6, 2018 · 0 Comments
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One sure way to cripple your ministry is to speak to your congregation harshly, either in or out of the pulpit. Don’t confuse harshness with boldness. One can speak softly and gently and still be bold. To be bold, according to Merriam-Webster, is to be “fearless before danger” – a virtue when communicating biblical truth. But the voice of the bold may be calm, the words measured, and the tone devoid of the harshness that pushes people away. William Plumer reminds us that Harshness is not fidelity. There are hardly any maxims more false or mischievous than these: “There is no good done unless opposition is aroused,” [or] ’”One’s fidelity may be tested by the enmity he awakens against himself…

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Eyeglasses, Reading, and Thanksgiving

By Charlie Wingard · November 17, 2018 · 0 Comments
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My day begins with putting on my eyeglasses; it’s the very first thing I do. Most of the time,  I do it without thinking. But occasionally, when I pick up my eyeglasses, I remember that I am holding one of God’s most precious gifts to me. Eyeglasses are a relatively recent development of the human story. David Landes writes that the invention of spectacles more than doubled the working life of skilled craftsmen, especially those who did fine jobs: scribes (crucial before the invention of printing) and readers, instrument and toolmakers, close weavers, metalworkers. The problem is biological: because the crystalline lens of the human eye hardens around the age of forty, it produces a condition similar to farsightedness (actually…

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Tips for RTS Students: How Much Time for Sermon Preparation?

By Charlie Wingard · November 12, 2018 · 0 Comments
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Students ask, “How much time do you spend preparing your sermons?” My answer, “As little as possible.” By that I mean, as little time as possible to prepare a sermon faithful to the text and structured for the edification of the hearers. I love preparing sermons. Commentaries, lexicons, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias, and atlases are close companions throughout the week. Preparing well means praying for understanding of the text and my conformity to its teaching, and for the Lord to prepare the congregation to receive the word preached. Were time limitless, I would exhaustively research every point that fascinates me as I study the text. But time is not limitless. Although preaching is my principal duty, it is not my…

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Booknote: “Local People” by John Dittmer

By Charlie Wingard · November 8, 2018 · 2 Comments
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Names like Bob Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Vernon Dahmer should be as familiar to Mississippians as those of Washington, Lee, and Grant, and Mississippi school children should be as  a acquainted with the events surrounding the assassination of Medgar Evers as those of Abraham Lincoln. History buffs should possess the knowledge to trace the strategic battles for civil rights in Mississippi with as much attention to detail as they give to the battles of the Civil War. John Dittmer recounts that conflict well in Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. Covering the pivotal years of 1946-1966, the author tells the story of the heroic efforts to end Jim Crow segregation and secure voting rights for African American citizens.…

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Dr. Sinclair Ferguson to Deliver 2018 John Reed Miller Preaching Lectures at RTS Jackson

By Charlie Wingard · October 29, 2018 · 0 Comments
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Dr. Sinclair Ferguson will deliver the 2018 John Reed Miller Lectures at Reformed Theological Seminary – Jackson, October 30-November 1. PREACHERS – LIKE PAUL? Tuesday, Oct 30 Lecture 1:  “How it all came about…”                 3:00-4:30 pm                Chapel Wednesday, Oct 31 Lecture 2: “Him we Proclaim”                            11:00 am-noon               Chapel Q&A                                                                           noon-1:00 pm   …

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Tips for RTS Students: A Checklist for Ministerial Burnout

By Charlie Wingard · October 23, 2018 · 1 Comment
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Burnout cripples ministers and their work. I hope the advice that follows will help you avoid it. Or, if you believe you’re burned out now, I want to offer you a path forward. Let’s begin with a definition. My definition of burnout is “physical or mental breakdown caused by overwork.” Some of us routinely overwork to the point that our physical and mental health are jeopardized. Overwork takes a frightening toll, but the way to meet the problem is rather simple: See a doctor. Work-induced exhaustion is a medical issue. The symptoms need to be treated and a medical cause (for example, sleep apnea) may be a contributing factor. Seek mature counsel and accountability. Identify someone who can help you establish and maintain…

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Finish Life Loving God

By Charlie Wingard · October 18, 2018 · 0 Comments
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Years spent in slavery, an indomitable determination to live free, industry, hard won manumission, sterling character, social activism, and fruitful gospel ministry are woven together in the remarkable life of Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Central to his story is his conversion to Christianity. In his autobiography, he discloses his abiding ambition: “I entered life without acknowledging Thee. Let me therefore finish it in loving Thee.” — in Richard S. Newman, Freedom’s Prophet, Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers (New York University Press, 2008), 41.

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