Brad Walker

About Brad Walker

Brad's Blog
Brad serves as the Lead Pastor of Redeemer Church, a recent church plant in downtown Jeffersonville, Indiana. He and his wife, Starla, raise their five children on a small urban farm in the middle of the city. He has occasionally contributed to Practical Shepherding and the Send Network blog.



Let Your Words Be Few

The book of Ecclesiastes is hardly regarded as a liturgical guide for corporate worship in the local church, but the Holy Spirit has given us this book to teach, correct, and exhort God’s people. I encourage you to read these verses slowly and feel the weight they seek to instill.

[1] Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. [2]  Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. [3] For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. (ESV)

Ecclesiastes 5:1–3

The concern of the “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes is that we have a proper view of who God is, and that this truth would directly affect the ways in which we endeavor to worship Him.  

Let Your Words Be Few

Reverence in Worship

The overwhelming theme of these verses, and the book of Ecclesiastes, is to have an appropriate fear of God. This doesn’t mean that we cower in the corner, trembling at the thought of God when we gather with other followers of Jesus. What it does mean is that we are to have an appropriate understanding of who we are in light of who God is – and this is to inform how we approach worship.

In verse two, the foundation for this comes from the simple phrase “for God is in heaven and you are on earth.” This phrase is nestled in the cautious approach we are to have before God and this is the stated reason. What does this mean?

This means that God is holy. Not only is God pure and perfect in righteousness – as we often view holiness – but he is also transcendent or other-worldly. There may be no other passage of Scripture that paints us a more terrifyingly beautiful picture of this than Isaiah 6:

[1] In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. [2] Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

[4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (ESV)

Isaiah 6:1-5

As the angels worship before the throne of God, they aren’t singing hit songs – regardless of how beautifully they are written or how skillfully they can be performed. They are focused on the character of God. As Isaiah watches all of this unfold, the glory of the Lord is so overwhelming that he is brought to tears and confession. Ecclesiastes and Isaiah point our worship, not to the aesthetics around us or the emotions within us, but to the God who is above us.

 

Joy in Worship

Maybe this seems too puritanical and outdated for some. Understandably so. Focusing on the holiness and righteousness of God doesn’t often draw huge crowds. It doesn’t jive with our constant desire to feel good about ourselves and always be happy. I would argue that the two ideas – joy and fear – are not mutually exclusive, though.

As Psalm 24 asks us the question “Who can ascend the hill of the Lord, and who can stand in His holy place?” We all know the answer to the question. No one can. Not a single person in the 6+ billion population of this earth could stand before God on his/her own merit. However, because of Jesus, we are now qualified.

There should be great joy because we are made participants and heirs of the Kingdom of this holy God. Does that not bring you joy?! We should have a rightful fear of the holiness of God but joy to approach Him with confidence and assurance because Christ has suffered on our behalf, risen victoriously from death, and breathes new life into all who call on his name.

Why does all of this matter? I grow concerned when I learn of local churches opening their times together with performances (I chose that word carefully) of “Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman. Does this fit the scope of “hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs?” I’ll let you decide that for yourself. But I also ask that you consider the words of Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, commenting on Ecclesiastes 5:1-3:

“Instead of awe, church leaders turn to gimmick and entertainment to gain new consumers.”

Are people leaving the local worship gathering in awe of the performance and musical ability of those on the platform? Is the invitation to next week’s gathering centered around “We can’t wait to see what they’ll do next!” Brothers and sisters, may we be a people whose words are few, who guard our steps, and acknowledge that God is in heaven and we are not.

My prayer is that people would leave the local church gathering in awe of God’s holiness and mercy, not our skills or the beauty of our buildings. Our task is not to fill the seats with as many people as possible, but to reflect the glory of God so that the nations might believe and worship Him. By God’s grace may we strive to be faithful, not flashy.

By | 2018-06-05T08:57:34+00:00 June 10th, 2018|

Your Kids Aren’t Impressed

Whether you are in seminary, a ministry position, or managing to do both, there is a real temptation to offer our families less of ourselves than we give to the work we are committed to.  

Many pastors and seminary students will effectively sacrifice their family on the altar of ministry, or the pursuit thereof. Almost 3 years into our church plant, I’ve been doing some reflection that has caused me to reevaluate some of my personal priorities. During this time I’ve discovered things that my kids do and don’t care about.

Your Kids Aren't Impressed

Your kids aren’t impressed with:

      • Your seminary GPA – Sure, your family will proudly cheer for you and take pictures to remember your seminary graduation – and rightfully so. You’ve worked hard and long for that recognition and piece of paper. But if you’ve sacrificed night after night with your kids to get an “A” on your most recent Theology III paper, they will not be impressed. Add all of the initials at the end of your name that you wish, but your kids will not (should not) call you “Daddy mDiv.”
      • Your ministry “success” – In the three years since our church has launched, we have seen God do some amazing things. We have seen our church grow from a core team of 6 adults to an average attendance of 70 with conversions, baptisms, and believers encouraged and built up in their faith. I’ve participated in panel discussions and wrote an article that was published by a seminary, a pastoral equipping ministry, and a church planting network. But when I come home at the end of they day… my kids don’t care if there are 10 or 100 or 1000 people in our church or how many people have read anything I’ve written. At the end of the day, regardless of what has transpired on Sunday, they still want to wrestle and cuddle on the couch.
      • Your theological prowess – My children are all named after some pastor/theologian/author who has had an impact on either myself or my wife. They don’t realize that and, honestly, they don’t care. I’ve never had one of my kids ask me to run through T.U.L.I.P. with them, debate the biblical arguments for/against paedobaptism, or explore the eschatological positions presented in a 4 Views book. I’d even wager that your children don’t care which systematic theology you prefer or how many times you’ve read Calvin’s Institutes.

The fact that your kids don’t care about these things doesn’t make them unimportant – but it does mean that we should prioritize them in relation to those whom we are first responsible for. Some have, in the pursuit of the above (and other good things) disqualified themselves from the very work they aspire to or currently hold (1 Timothy 3:4-5).

On the contrary, as I grow as a father to my 5 children and as a pastor to our young urban church plant, I’ve learned several other things.

 

Your kids are impressed with:

      • Your presence – This has been a difficult one to come to grips with. I often felt that if I was just in the room, my kids should be thrilled that I’m “spending time” with them. However, through their prodding, I learned that being on my phone, my computer, or hiding behind a book offered no real connection with my kids. They need my interaction and engagement on an individual level. Ask about their day. Find out what they’re learning and ask them to show off for you. Wrestle with them. You won’t regret it.
      • Your affection – This doesn’t come easy to many men, but its important for you to know that your children – and your wife – desire to receive affection from you. They need to be told you are proud of them, you love them, and to show that with hugs and kisses. It thrills my kids to no end when I’m able to genuinely tell them “I’m proud of you and the things are you learning.” Encourage your wife, listen to her, and show her affection. Do this all privately and publicly in front of your children. Your children need to know that you love their mother more than your work, and to see it lived out in front of them. Kiss your children and kiss your wife in front of your children. It matters.
      • Your faithfulness to teach them about Jesus – This matters to my kids more than my faithfulness in the pulpit. I could faithfully exposit the text and apply it every Sunday morning and they won’t bat an eye. But if I don’t read to them from the Bible at bed time, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. When it all comes down, if you are not faithful to teach your children the gospel, your preaching from the pulpit is effectively undercut. Your family is your first and foremost responsibility, not the church.

Regardless of where you are in your pursuit of pastoral ministry – experienced pastor or first semester student – remember that no homework assignment, no amount of notoriety (church stats, blogs, books, conferences, etc), no amount of knowledge, is worth sacrificing your family for. We think that if we focus on good things at the expense of our family, we will have more fruitful ministries. I would argue the fruit of your ministry begins with your wife and children.

Be present, be affectionate, and be faithful to point your wife and kids to Jesus. It honors God, pleases Jesus, and displays a healthy model for your church to follow for generations to come. When we are faithful in the small things, the God of all things is honored and glorified (Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23-24).

By | 2018-04-20T10:37:09+00:00 April 20th, 2018|

Oops!

Hi, thanks for dropping by! Looks like you caught us changing … our site design. Please excuse our mess! If you find any bugs or have an suggestions, email us at info@topchristianbooks.online. We’ll definitely reply.

Hey, before you go!
Grab a FREE Copy of the Institutes
SNAG IT!

 FREE DOWNLOAD 
John Calvin's Institutes 

close-link

Pin It on Pinterest