Wednesday night, in our introduction to the book of 2 Timothy, we thought about the need for endurance; the call to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, in the ministry that God has given each of us to do. And we said that one of the resources for such endurance is the power of godly examples. “You followed my … perseverance” Paul said to Timothy (3:10) – now keep following it (3:14)! And so we talked about finding examples of godly endurance which we might follow; and I mentioned, fairly briefly, that one source of such godly examples of endurance is to read the stories of the saints of old. With that suggestion in mind, then, here are a few such good reads (the first three of which are available on the PRBC Resource Rack ):
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson, D.A. Carson. Here is one of the most heartening books I have ever read. It’s the re-telling, as the title indicates, of the life of an ordinary pastor – a Canadian man whose ministry was never great or glamorous, who actually faced a good bit of disappointment, who eventually had to become bi-vocational, but who just kept preaching and teaching, discipling and evangelizing, visiting and praying, year after year after year. And in the end (and indeed, beyond his own life) the fruit proved marvelous. Not least is that his son, who wrote the book (sprinkled throughout with his father’s own journal entries), is perhaps the foremost New Testament scholar of our time.
Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, John Piper. This is the story of three men – William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton who (like Paul in 2 Timothy) suffered greatly in order to disseminate the gospel among those in darkness. But they kept going! And Piper tells their stories, briefly and marvelously, in this little book! It make for a good three-Lord’s-Day’s afternoon readings. (Piper’s bios of these men can also be read or listened to online at desiringgod.org).
Captain Allen Gardiner of Patagonia, Jesse Page. Here’s the story of a man who was not a preacher (but a ship captain!), but who labored, and labored, and labored for the gospel in spite of much difficulty. His death will sadden you, but his perseverance will inspire you. And the fruit of it was tremendous!
Singing in the Fire, Faith Cook. Cook employs her excellent writing skills to tell 14 brief stories of men and women (and one little girl) who suffered in various ways, but who kept going with and for Christ, “singing in the fire.” These brief re-tellings would work wonderfully for two weeks of nightly reading!
God Took Me By the Hand, Jerry Bridges. I just came across this title in an excellent review, by Geoff Thomas, in The Banner of Truth Magazine. It is now on my reading list! In it, the late Jerry Bridges, one of the excellent soul-physicians of our time, tells the story of his hardscrabble beginnings, growing up with health issues and exceedingly poor … and how God ‘took him by the hand,’ called him to Himself, and blessed his work of Bible teaching over many long years of ministry. What made me want to read the book, though, is Bridges’ statement that, over the course of his ministry, he experienced 25 years of definite blessing, 15 years of pain, and 16 years that “were neither particularly painful nor blessed.” That intrigues me! I want to know how he kept going through the painful years … and, especially, how he kept putting one foot in front of the other through 16 years of the mundane! I suspect you’d be helped by finding out, too!
So then … Paul instructed Timothy to continue in “perseverance” … “knowing from whom [he had] learned” it (2 Tim 3:10-14). And now you know a few more people from whom you can learn it, too.