Remembering Stuart Briscoe (1930-2022)

This past Saturday, Kelly and I attended the memorial service for Stuart Briscoe at Elmbrook Church. It was a joy to reconnect with friends and former colleagues I hadn’t seen in some time and to celebrate God’s work in and through Stuart’s life. My first full-time vocational role in ministry was as the Pastor of Collegiate Ministries at Elmbrook after Stuart had already retired. Although I did see Stuart from time to time during those years at Elmbrook, I actually grew to know him more personally during my last decade or so at Eastbrook. During my first at Eastbrook, I reached out to Stuart to talk about transitions in ministry, specifically how to best follow a founding pastor. I asked him if he had any advice about how to fulfill my calling as a new Senior Pastor, and he shared his oft-repeated essential advice for pastoral ministry: preach the word, love people, and pray for the Spirit to move. Before I left, Stuart gave me a signed copy of his memoir, Flowing Streams. In recent years, I enjoyed other opportunities, both formal (see further below) and informal to connect with Stuart and Jill. Their down-to-earth manner, filled with commitment to Christ and a healthy sense of humor, encouraged me greatly. You can view Stuart’s memorial service, which was about two hours long, below.

Through all this, I was reminded of the Leadership Community gathering we hosted at Eastbrook three and a half years ago with Stuart and our Pastor Emeritus, Marc Erickson (no relation, believe it or not). Stuart began the night with a 20-minute message on three distinctly Christian aspects of the leader’s character. During the next portion of the gathering, I facilitated a Q&A with Stuart and Marc about the character of a leader. This led us to explore some important questions in our current era, as well as many interesting insights and funny stories from their own lives. I hope you enjoy this view into the lives of two pastors who have steadfastly walked with Christ over the years.

The Weekend Wanderer: 13 August 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


Joni Eareckson Tada“New Resolve After 55 Years in My Wheelchair” – Joni Eareckson Tada in The Gospel Coalition: “I sometimes wonder, Who am I, God, that you have brought me this far?Lately, I’ve been whispering that question from 1 Chronicles 17:16: ‘Then King David [said], “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”‘ Who am I to enjoy a platform on national radio for 40 years? Who am I that I should be so blessed in marriage to Ken for 40 years? And how did I ever have the strength to survive 55 years as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair? The truth is, I don’t have the strength. I still wake up every morning needing God desperately. Like David, I often confess, ‘I am poor and needy’ (Ps. 40:17). Perhaps that’s how God brought me this far. I cannot say, but I do know that ‘the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him’ (2 Chron. 16:9, NIV). God is searching high and low for weak people who love him so that he can pour into them his strength. Maybe that’s my story, but how I arrived here is not for me to say. I just keep praising my sovereign God with every milestone I pass.”


Stuart Briscoe“Died: Stuart Briscoe, Renowned British Preacher and Wisconsin Pastor” – Daniel Silliman in Christianity Today: “Stuart Briscoe preached his first sermon at 17. He didn’t know much about the topic assigned him by an elder. But he researched the church of Ephesus until he had a pile of notes and three points, as seemed proper for a sermon. Then he stood before the Brethren in a British Gospel Hall and preached. And preached. And preached. He kept going until he used up more than his allotted time just to reach the end of the first point and still kept going, until finally he looked up from his notes and made a confession. ‘I’m terribly sorry,’ he said. ‘don’t know how to stop.’ Briscoe recalled in his memoir that a man from the back shouted out, ‘Just shut up and sit down.’ That might have been the end of his preaching career. But he was invited to preach again the next week. Then he was put on a Methodist preaching circuit, riding his bike to small village churches where a few faithful evangelicals would gather to worship and encourage the fumbling young preacher with exclamations of ‘Amen’ and ‘That’s right, lad.'”


Sandra Valabregue, ‘Circle in the tree’“Our Technology Sickness—and How to Heal It” – Micah Goodman in Sources: “Such explanations are locally defined, but polarization is far from unique to Israeli society. It is a global problem. Twenty years ago, political identity did not demarcate our intellectual or social horizons. Today, however, in contrast to the Talmudic ideal of nurturing an intellectual world wider than one’s practice, our intellectual world has shrunk to fit the narrower dimensions of policy and practice. The books we read, the lectures we hear, and the videos we watch are all produced by people in our own camp. In short, we have sunk into an anti-Talmudic world. To understand why this is so, I turned to several leading thinkers, each of whom can help us understand what is going on. In his book The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again (2020), Robert D. Putnam, who teaches public policy at Harvard University, presents a fascinating study on polarization. In the 1950s, Americans were asked whether they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person of a different race. About fifty percent responded in the affirmative. They were also asked if they would be bothered by their son or daughter marrying a person who affiliated with a different political party. About ten percent answered yes. When the same questions were posed in the 2010s, fewer than ten percent said it would bother them if their son or daughter married someone of a difference race, but over fifty percent said it would bother them if their child married a person with opposing political views. In other words, Americans are growing more open to people of different races and growing more closed to those who hold different political views.”


Petrusich-WendellBerry-2“In Distrust of Movements” – Wendell Berry in Orion Magazine: “I have had with my friend Wes Jackson a number of useful conversations about the necessity of getting out of movements—even movements that have seemed necessary and dear to us—when they have lapsed into self-righteousness and self-betrayal, as movements seem almost invariably to do. People in movements too readily learn to deny to others the rights and privileges they demand for themselves. They too easily become unable to mean their own language, as when a ‘peace movement’ becomes violent. They often become too specialized, as if finally they cannot help taking refuge in the pinhole vision of the institutional intellectuals. They almost always fail to be radical enough, dealing finally in effects rather than causes. Or they deal with single issues or single solutions, as if to assure themselves that they will not be radical enough. And so I must declare my dissatisfaction with movements to promote soil conservation or clean water or clean air or wilderness preservation or sustainable agriculture or community health or the welfare of children. Worthy as these and other goals may be, they cannot be achieved alone. They cannot be responsibly advocated alone. I am dissatisfied with such efforts because they are too specialized, they are not comprehensive enough, they are not radical enough, they virtually predict their own failure by implying that we can remedy or control effects while leaving causes in place. Ultimately, I think, they are insincere; they propose that the trouble is caused by otherpeople; they would like to change policy but not behavior.”


Askonas-Puzzle-Piece-Part-2-B-300x300-1“Reality Is Just a Game Now” – Jon Askonas in The New Atlantis: “On the recent twentieth anniversary of 9/11, I reflected on how I would tell my children about that day when they are older. The fact of the attacks, the motivations of the hijackers, how the United States responded, what it felt like: all of these seemed explicable. What I realized I had no idea how to convey was how important television was to the whole experience. Everyone talks about television when remembering that day. For most Americans, ‘where you were on 9/11’ is mostly the story of how one came to find oneself watching it all unfold on TV. News anchors Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw, broadcasting without ad breaks, held the nation in their thrall for days, probably for the last time. It is not uncommon for survivors of the attacks to mention in interviews or recollections that they did not know what was going on because they did not view it on TV. If you ask Americans when was the last time they recall feeling truly united as a country, people over the age of thirty will almost certainly point to the aftermath of 9/11. However briefly, everyone was united in grief and anger, and a palpable sense of social solidarity pervaded our communities. Today, just about the only thing everyone agrees on is how divided we are.”


liturgy a la carte“Why We Shouldn’t Practice Liturgy ‘A La Carte'” – Benjamin Vincent in Christianity Today: “If you told an evangelical pastor in 2005 that the Book of Common Prayer might soon be trendier than church-lobby coffee shops, he would almost certainly have laughed. It was not so long ago that countless evangelical churches abandoned the use of prayer books and traded their hymnals for high-resolution projectors. The use of the historical church calendar to order services became a rarity as most churches began to develop thematic sermon series or preach through the Bible one book at a time. Liturgical prayer and call-and-response confession fell by the wayside, and even the names of churches changed in ways that distanced congregations from their denominational roots—as many a Hometown Baptist Church became a Wellspring Christian Community. In short, the rhythms, readings, patterns, and prayers of historical liturgies fell decidedly out of style. Over the past several years, however, a new trend has begun to emerge. Anyone who spends time among Christians in their 20s or early 30s has likely noticed a major uptick in the use of the word liturgy, which has become commonplace in both corporate worship and private spiritual practice.”


Music:Vampire Weekend, Sunflower,” (feat Steve Lacy) from Father of the Bride

The Weekend Wanderer: 19 December 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


CT book awards“Christianity Today’s 2021 Book Awards” – I always enjoy looking at end-of-the-year book lists, regardless of the source. Christianity Today‘s annual book awards are always worth reading and this year Matt Reynolds, the books editor, offers some commentary on the distinct challenge of staying focused for this year’s selections: “I was determined to preserve a degree of principled detachment from the rush of daily headlines. Our books coverage will always stay attentive to the news cycle—after all, we’re called Christianity Today, not Christianity in General. But even in moments of crisis, we won’t allow a myopic sense of What’s Happening Now to govern our priorities, as though books not speaking directly to the danger at hand are luxuries worth indulging in only after the danger has passed.” You may also enjoy browsing through LitHub’s “https://lithub.com/the-award-winning-novels-of-2020/Award-Winning Novels of 2020.”


Francis Collins Templeton Prize“What NIH chief Francis Collins wants religious leaders to know about the coronavirus vaccines” – “Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, is a physician-geneticist who talks openly about his Christian faith and its compatibility with science. Now he’s on a mission to talk to people of faith about the coronavirus vaccines that are expected to become widely available in 2021. Since the early days of the pandemic, Collins, who watches McLean Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia services online, has urged churches to avoid holding services indoors and done interviews with religious leaders like theologian N.T. Wright and pastor Timothy Keller on how people can protect themselves. Most recently he spoke with pastor Rick Warren and Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore about the vaccines.”


lloyd jones child“With Faith Like a Child” – From Sally Lloyd-Jones at Comment: “I have the best bosses in all the world and the best possible job. I hate to boast, but it’s true. I work for children. And my job is to write them the best stories I can. One of the perks of the job is the hugs I get from my bosses. And the other great perk? The profound truths they teach me. Here are some of them.”


Henry Osawa Tanner - The Annunciation“A canvas that brings together Heaven and Earth: Henry Ossawa Tanner’s ‘Annunciation'” – From Joynel Fernandez at Aleteia: “Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937), the first African-American painter ever to gain international acclaim, treats the classic Annunciation motif in a rather unconventional manner: he reckons the simplicity of the scene, rather than its theatrical recreation. In the intimacy of a chamber, Mary is portrayed as a dark haired Jewish peasant girl, seated at the edge of her couch in a striped crumpled attire. The orderly arrangement of the room, in contrast to her bed, suggests that Mary has suddenly been awakened in the middle of the night.”


toxic social media“Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine: The architecture of the modern web poses grave threats to humanity. It’s not too late to save ourselves” – I quit Facebook and Instagram several years ago after significant reflection, occasional stoppages from social media, and some people close to me leading me to reconsider my online life. I continue to believe that is one of the best decisions I have made in the past several years, not only because of algorithmic manipulation and information privacy, but because I came to see I was becoming someone I didn’t want to be. Here is Adrienne LaFrance at The Atlantic making a slightly similar but more forceful argument not for personal disengagement, but for a widespread awareness and recalibration about the damage caused by the megascale at any cost mindset of social media.


Stuart and Jill Briscoe“At 90, renowned Elmbrook pastor Stuart Briscoe is still living for God — while living with cancer” – Here’s a little local color from Milwaukee, where Stuart Briscoe, evangelist and Pastor Emeritus at Elmbrook Church, recently celebrated 90 years. This is a wonderful article in the Journal-Sentinel about Stuart and his wife, Jill, reflecting on their ministry over many years, with quite a bit of input from family, friends, and congregants. Eastbrook, where I serve as Senior Pastor, was the first of Elmbrook’s church plants just over forty years ago.


Music: Andrew Peterson, “Matthew’s Begats,” from Behold the Lamb of God

Bibliography for God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share the resources I used to help me study and prepare my sermons. Here is that bibliography for our recently completed series, “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets.”

Bibliography for “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets”

Elizabeth Achtemeier. Minor Prophets I. NIBC. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.

________. Preaching from the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Robert Alter. The Hebrew Bible, Volume 2: Prophets. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2019.

Joyce G. Baldwin. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. TOTC. Downers Grove, IL: 1972.

Stuart Briscoe. Taking God Seriously: Major Lessons from the Minor Prophets. For Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1986.

Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton. “Introduction to Prophetic Literature.” In A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Paul R. House. Old Testament Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2018.

Walter C. Kaiser. Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003.

James Luther Mays. Hosea. OTL. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969.

A. Schart. “Twelve, Book of the: History of Interpretation.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets. Eds. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012.

Douglas Stuart. Hosea-Jonah. WBC. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987.

M. A. Sweeney. “Twelve, Book of the.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets. Eds. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012.

Bruce K. Waltke. A Commentary on Micah. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Nicholas Wolterstorff. Justice: Rights and Wrongs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. P., 2008.

The Character of a Leader with Stuart Briscoe and Marc Erickson

It was a privilege to host Stuart Briscoe and Marc Erickson at our quarterly Leadership Community gathering this past Monday night at Eastbrook Church. I hope you enjoy this view into the lives of two pastors who have steadfastly walked with Christ over the years. Stuart began the night with a 20-minute message on three distinctly Christian aspects of character in leaders. With the next portion of the gathering, I had the chance to facilitate a Q&A with Stuart and Marc about the character of a leader. This led us to explore some important questions in our current era, as well as many interesting insights from their own lives.