This morning I made some progress on my Matthew Henry research. I was comparing his teaching with that of his fellow non-conformists John Owen, John Bunyan, and Richard Baxter, as well as with the leading Latitudinarian of his day, Archbishop John Tillotson.
I’m using word-count software to highlight any differences and similarities in their writing. Logos Bible Software is particularly useful in that with a few clicks you can search the first 16 volumes of John Owen, the 23 volumes of Richard Baxter, and the 3 volumes of John Bunyan. I’m relying on PDF’s for Henry and Tillotson. The advantage of Logos is that it not only gives you the count for the word you are searching but if you scroll down it also gives you the context. Can you imagine trying to do that before the days of PDF’s and Logos Bible Software?
Although word search is a basic research tool that can yield superficial and sometimes misleading results, it offers a starting point that highlights potentially significant differences in word usage, and invites a more thorough investigation as to the nature of any difference in substance.
I then spent about 30 minutes reading a student’s MA thesis and offering some corrections and direction for further work before lecturing for three hours. In the counseling lecture we started looking at the “Counselor’s Process.” We had spent the first weeks of the semester looking at counseling presuppositions, and now we are getting on to the more practical part of the course. Although I follow Paul Tripp’s “Love, Know, Speak, Do” structure, I use mainly my own material under each heading. We covered “Love” today which I defined as: Love involves graciously welcoming the counselee with a sympathetic, humble, unprejudiced, unshockable, hopeful, persevering, prayerful, and confidential spirit. The lecture exegeted each of these words.
I admitted that one of the areas I struggle most with is being hopeful in certain types of counseling. With depression, I am strangely hopeful, probably because I’ve seen so many people, who use all the means God has provided, recover and go on to live useful and fruitful lives again.
Where I tend to despair is in the more relational issues, such as marriage breakdown or parent-child breakdowns. I’ve had more disappointments than encouragements in these areas and, therefore, I do find it difficult to approach these problems with optimism. The main reason why they are so hard is that parties almost always focus on the faults of the “other” rather than themselves, rendering it almost impossible to make any progress towards one another. As one of the students “counseled” me, our only hope is to keep our hope focused on the Lord. As long as I can do that, yes, hope is sustained. It’s so important too, because people can detect if we’ve given up before we’ve even started.
The “Minister and his Ministry” lecture lecture focused on preaching. The mechanics of preaching are covered in our Homiletics course which Dr. Beeke and I will be teaching next semester. Today’s lecture was really trying to provide a theology of preaching drawn from about 25-30 pastoral biographies and pastoral theologies as well as from personal experience.
After the lectures, I picked the most urgent emails to answer, and then prepared for the chapel address I will give at Crossway, just outside Chicago, on Thursday. Shona’s coming with me as we will also be recording some videos there for our forthcoming books.
In the evening, I hope to meet someone for counseling and then attend our monthly elder’s meeting followed by our consistory meeting (elders and deacons together). I always look forward to these meetings as they are characterized by such brotherly love and spiritual unity and I almost always leave them encouraged and energized for future service.