Learning true godliness from Tom Carson…

May 29, 2008

D.A. Carson is one of my favorite Bible teachers – I’ve been greatly blessed by both his sermons and his commentaries and other books. I was excited when Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson was published at the beginning of this year… I’d heard or read Carson refer to his father several times, and each time the picture painted was a beautiful one of faithfulness, of true godliness. I just finished the book – I read it in less than a week, so wrapped up in it that I only put it down when I had to. It was a huge blessing to read! (and moved me to tears several times) I’ll share a few highlights from the book in later posts, but for now, here’s one reference Carson made to his father in another book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers , pp25-26:

“In the years that I was growing up, my father, a Baptist minister, had his study in our home. Every morning we could hear him praying in that study. My father vocalized when he prayed–loudly enough that we knew he was praying, but not loudly enough that we could hear what he was saying. Every day he prayed, usually for about forty-five minutes. Perhaps there were times when he failed to do so, but I cannot think of one. 

My father was a church planter in Quebec, in the difficult years when there was strong opposition, some of it brutal. Baptist ministers alone spent a total of eight years in jail between 1950 and 1952. Dad’s congregations were not large; they were usually at the lower end of the two-digit range. On Sunday mornings after the eleven o’clock service, Dad would often play the piano and call his three children to join him in singing, while Mum completed the preparations for dinner. But one Sunday morning in the late fifties, I recall, Dad was not at the piano, and was not to be found. I finally tracked him down. The door of his study was ajar. I pushed it open, and there he was, kneeling in front of his big chair, praying and quietly weeping. This time I could hear what he was saying. He was interceding with God on behalf of the handful of people to whom he had preached, and in particular for the conversion of a few who regularly attended but who had never trusted Christ Jesus.

In the ranks of ecclesiastical heirarchies, my father is not great man. He has never served a large church, never written a book, never discharged the duties of high denominational office… But with great graititude to God, I testify that my parents were not hypocrites. That is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance. My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance. What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scipture. And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books. That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.”   

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