Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Open Letter to Nathan White

Nathan,

(I was going to just message you through Facebook, but was inspired by centuri0n's recent open letters on Pyromaniacs to encourage you publicly.) This past weekend, I finally listened to your sermon on Psalm 1. [Anyone may listen to the sermon HERE.] (Since going on Christmas break, I finally had time to listen to and focus on the entire presentation.)

I was certainly blessed by your sermon, and plan to listen to it again. This is not meant to slight previous sermons I've heard from you, but I've heard definite improvement in your preaching, especially in terms of the confidence of your delivery. It is obvious that you meditated on this text and on the gospel, and so you are able to describe the details and implications of Psalm 1 in a natural manner and using such straightforward eloquence as one might employ in describing a beloved family member.

I suppose that anyone who does any amount of preaching at all has the experience of hearing sermons from others-- even very well-preached sermons-- and thinking about how the sermon could be preached somewhat differently: how various points could be better emphasized or illustrated, how different connections with other Scriptures could be explored, etc.

Your teaching on Psalm 1 was one of those rare sermons in which my only thought regarding your preaching was that-- if I could be as skillful in preaching as I could want-- I would want to preach the text in the exact same way. This is all the more remarkable since I am so familiar with this Psalm that I was tempted to think that little edification could come from a sermon on it.  I certainly learned facts from your sermon-- because your exegesis of the terms in the Psalm was excellent-- but I was also encouraged in the gospel by your sermon. It is rather obvious to make an application of this Psalm to Christ, as He is the only righteous Man, but even acknowledging this, it would be easy to tack on a discussion of Christ to the end of a sermon as if it were an appendix. But when you speak of Christ in this sermon, it does not seem an imposition on the text; rather, you show how a consideration of our Lord Jesus organically flows from a consideration of the text.

Anyway, I thank you for your gospel-work for the kingdom and hope this is truly an encouragement to you.

Your friend,
-Andrew

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1 Comments:

Blogger Nathan White said...

Andrew-

Wow - when I saw the title my heart sank a bit, ha! I guess I have read more negative open letters than positive ones.

Your post is very kind - and a real, real encouragement to me. I don't preach that often, and I must be honest in admitting that sometimes I wonder if the long hours of preparation are worth it. It is a joy to hear that God has blessed the preaching of His word, particularly since, like you said, we are so familiar with this passage.

Truth be known - I preached this passage last year to a different congregation, so I had some practice. But I felt like I missed a few things in my original sermon, and I wanted to take another crack at it. My personal experiences in 2011 really gave me different perception of the text, and I felt like, in some small way, the second time through helped me get the point of the passage. So this sermon came out much different, and was a real expression of what in the text gripped my heart. This was helped by the fact that I memorized Psalm 1 in the Psalter and would frequently sing it while exercising, putting my children to bed, etc. Singing the text was probably the greatest factor in my learning it; it helped it go down deep.

But above all, how beautiful is Christ portrayed in the Psalms?! Oh it takes a good bit of intentionally study, but He is there, everywhere. The first book that opened this up to me was 'War Psalms of the Prince of Peace', and excellent place to start in considering whether or not we're reading into the text by identifying Him there. Honestly, not many things have 'changed my life' (an over-used cliche), but I think I can honestly say that reading the Psalms through the lens of Christ has (alongside learning to sing the Psalms). There we truly see Him 'identifying with our weaknesses', praying through many tears, and of course triumphing as the Second Adam and our federal head.

Thank you, friend, for the Christian encouragement. I can't wait to see you again and have our faith mutually strengthened.

6:47 PM  

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