Category Archives: Tribute

In Honor of Mickey Schneider

Note: Here is my speech at the Retirement of my mentor, Mickey Schnider.

I am extremely honored to speak this evening. I am even more privileged to address you all on this occasion. I have the spent the majority of this week listening and reading everything concerning Rev. Mickey Schneider.  I listened to his series on Southern Presbyterian history, on the Solas of the Reformation, as well as sermons from the early 80’s. Mickey stated in a lecture in the year 2000 that like Forrest Gump “he knows very little, but has managed to be always at the right place and at the right time.”[1]

Mickey, of course, is mistaken. It is true that only Mickey can claim to have watched  the Martin Luther King speech next to Cornelius Van Til, and it is true that he was able to meet some of the greatest theological icons of the 20th century, that he played a key leadership role in the genesis of what is now known as the Presbyterian Church in America, that he was able to sing and harmonize next to N.T Wright, the most influential Christian Scholar since C.S. Lewis, and to show Dr. Timothy George, one of the premier ecumenicist of the last 40 years how to sing “Come Again, Ye Lion-Hearted.” These and many other facts are true. But it is false that Mickey knows very little.

The reality is that though Mickey has been in many places and met many significant figures, Mickey is also a fount of wisdom.  And this is why we are here. We are here because we have imbibed of the wisdom of a true prophet; one who has sought God with a fervent passion, who has obeyed the Pauline exhortation to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and to edify the body of Christ. He is a pastor’s pastor. George Grant said of Mickey Schnider:

Mickey Schneider has been…a leader of leaders throughout his entire ministry. When I was wrestling with my own calling, it was Mickey who reminded me that the pastorate was something to be not something to do.  He showed me the way and then modeled for me just how to walk in that way.  I will be forever grateful.

This is the fruit of someone who has drunk deeply of God’s wisdom throughout his pastoral ministry.

I first read the name Mickey Schneider when reading through a dedication on Greg Bahnsen’s book No Other Standard. This was in 2001. I was then entering into the dangerous world of Reformed Theology. In the next few years I would then hear Mickey’s name in passing, and I always wondered who this man was. After seven years in the PCA, I decided to consider a position at Providence Church (CREC), and unbeknownst to me, Providence was under the care of Trinity Presbyterian, pastored by Mickey Schneider. Once I became the pastor of Providence I began to make my monthly pilgrimages to Valparaiso to meet with Mickey. Mickey has become the mentor and the fatherly figure I wish every seminarian had before coming to the pastorate.

Mickey has not only—to quote David Wells—the courage to be Protestant, but also the heart of a pastor who lives out his Protestant faith. Mickey believes in the beauty of redemption. He echoes with Benjamin Palmer that “The passage of even one redeemed saint from the deep pit and miry clay of sin to a throne with Christ in his glory, unfolds a history which might command a listening senate of Angels.” Pastor Schneider’s Protestant commitment to a gospel of abundant grace is his legacy. His proclamation of the sovereign grace of Christ for sinners is his living testimony.

His stories have taught me to love the Reformation. His boldness has shown me that to be a Calvinist is more than mere theological precision or a badge of honor, but a way of life. His love for Judy has taught me that the love of Jesus for His Bride is ever growing. His passion for truth has compelled me to seek after it and never grow weary. His ability to turn any proposition into a story has convinced me that life is narratival. His reading of the Holy Scriptures in public has persuaded me that God not only speaks in the still small voice, but that He roars his word into our hearts. His love for memorizing the psalms has committed me to reading it each day.

When Mickey read the Scriptures in my ordination service, one of my parishioners observed:  “After hearing Mickey Schneider I now see why ordination is so important.”

Another member of Providence told me that when he saw Mickey Schneider baptize an infant his credobaptist days began to crumble.

When a man possesses the God-given ability to speak and symbolize the gospel, that man is highly favored. He is a tool used by God to capture the whole man. Mickey Schneider has done that in his pastoral ministry in these last four decades, and Mickey will continue to do so throughout his life.

Finally, I am reminded this evening of the perseverance of Mickey Schneider. When a man becomes a pastor he is what the Puritans describe as a “physician of the soul.” A minister of the gospel heals wounds with words of comfort, encourages the broken-hearted with gospel joy, he re-builds, renovates, and restores. He disciplines. And when necessary, he excommunicates. He declares absolution. He presides over a table of joy each Lord’s Day calling the people of God to see Jesus, to eat and taste of His goodness. A true minister perseveres through trials, through his own sinfulness, through a culture that despises the holy, catholic, and apostolic church, Mickey Schneider knows that his calling is more than preaching, or other liturgical duties, his calling is to reflect the gospel with his life, and that this is most clearly seen when he acts as a man of God calling God’s people to find refuge in our Mighty Fortress.

To quote Peter Leithart:

…There is no place in the church’s leadership for the domineering benefactor, the manipulative wheeler dealer…the agenda-monger. There is room only for those willing to become servants to all, those willing to lay down their lives for sheep, for those willing to bear the slave yoke of Christ with humility, grace, and gladness. Only such leaders will bring genuine reformation, because only such leaders labor in faith, confessing that the future of Mother Kirk is in the Lord’s hands and not their own.[2]

Mickey is such a leader. The story of our dear brother is a story of faithfulness; a story I and other young ministers hope to imitate in the years to come.

Mickey, may this next stage of your life continue to be a source of even greater satisfaction as you share and teach us that to serve Christ and His Church is the most noble calling for a pastor and for God’s people. Amen.


[1] Lectures on the Decline of Southern Presbyterianism at Greenville Seminary, 2000.

[2] Leithart, Foreword, Mother Kirk., 11.

R.I.P. Christine Murray, A Prayer

I was honored to open in prayer a service of remembrance for the mother of my dear friend, Richard Murray. Richard has been attending our early Friday study sponsored by Micah 6:8. He has been a dear brother, and it has been a sobering time to see how our communities are truly built upon the weeping and rejoicing of fellow saints. Here is my opening prayer this morning at Hickory Hammock Baptist Church:

‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord. ‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’

Most Holy God, Father, Son, and Spirit, we give you thanks for the life of Christine Murray; for her loyalty to you in life and for her continuing love for you even now as she adores your only beloved Son Jesus Christ face to face. We rejoice that the voice of evil was not louder than the voice of triumph. Your voice of victory on that cruel tree was embraced by our dear sister in life. We delight that your story is brought to greater light in the seed of the woman, who crushed the seed of the serpent, and who opened the door of redemption to all who would place their trust in Messiah.

Cause us on this day to remember the unnatural nature of death, and cause us to look forward to the complete abolishment of death, when the world will be made right and your kingdom shall be known in all the earth. Though we weep, we do so with the hope given by a Resurrected Lord, knowing that death is not the end of existence, but a portal to the presence of our Lord; the beginning of eternal life.

The Psalmist declares that precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Though our sister’s body has fallen asleep, her soul is very alive in your presence. Teach, us, O Lord, to number our days that you might be to us our greatest joy in life and in death.

We remember, O God of all consolation, that your Son Jesus Christ was moved to tears at the grave of Lazarus his friend. So, we pray, that you will look with compassion on your children in their loss; and that you would give to troubled hearts the light of hope and strengthen in us the gift of faith, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Death of Professor Francis Nigel Lee

The news came out today that F.N. Lee has passed away. According to Dr. Lee’s resource page, “in September 2011, Dr. Lee was diagnosed with incurable Motor Neurone Disease, alias Amytropic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. At 7.50 am Friday 23rd December, 2011, Nigel Lee was taken peacefully to his Lord.”

Dr. Lee was one of those rare scholars. Some have said that he is the most under-appreciated scholar of the 21st century. A committed  Calvinist and Post-Millennialist, Dr. Lee was responsible for opening the theonomic doors–together with R.J. Rushdoony– for me in the year 2000. In 2006 I wrote Dr. Lee the following:

Many of my theological discoveries in that field came due to your lectures on Post-Millenialialism. I am deeply grateful to your ministry. Recently, I have come across your articles on the website and have begun reading one of them a week.

He responded with great delight. I attempted to book him for a Trinity Talk episode. His response was short:

You seem to be in the USA. I am in Australia, and somewhat deaf!   So I don’t think a radio interview would be suitable.    07/01-09

Lee earned a remarkable number of degrees. A quick perusal will shock most readers. He kept up with a work ethic that I have not seen, except in Gary North and Peter Leithart.

I once asked him if Australia would be a good place to pursue a doctorate. His response again short and to the point:

No. Rather go to Germany. 09/27/06

Dr. Lee was remarkably interested in the role of the law in society. Concerning the Ten Commandments he once wrote:

Every one  of them is vital, in all ages. For only by observing them can man live a full life each week; maintain a happy marriage; and function well in his home, his  job, and even in the world internationally.

His artistic skills, his exegetical skills, and his comprehensive view of the world through the lens of God’s special revelation are part of the legacy of  Dr. Francis Nigel Lee. His e-mail signature most clearly summarized his view of the world: “God Triune, at the start, created the tri-universe (cf. Genesis 1:1-3).”

May your body rest in peace until the great resurrection.


The Death of John Stott

It is now 1:09 PM central time and I see the twitter news about the death of John Stott. Author of 52 books, Stott was a giant figure in the evangelical world. David Brooks referred to him in 2004 as the pope of evangelicalism. John Stott once said, “One of the major reasons people reject the Gospel today is not because they perceive it to be false but because they perceive it to be trivial.” Strong defender of the Gospel, Stott never ceased to make the gospel known in his books and lectures. I am and will continue to be thankful for his faithful labor. Here is a biography of Stott.

Roger Nicole Resources

I have collected a few links for those interested in the life and theology of Roger Nicole. He died on December 11th at the age of 95.

Articles:

R.C. Sproul reflects on the death of Roger Nicole

Short Bio from Reformed Theological Seminary

Do you know Roger Nicole?

“Open Theism” is incompatible with Inerrancy

New Testament Use of the Old Testament

John Calvin’s View of Limited Atonement

An Open Letter to Dr. William Estep

Review of the book: The Openness of God

The Canon of the New Testament

A Letter to Justice Harry A. Blackmun

Books:

Speaking the Truth in Love: Life and Legacy of Roger Nicole (J.I. Packer’s introduction here)

Standing Forth: Collected Writings of Roger Nicole

Our Sovereign Savior

For Publication and Other References

Roger Nicole Remembered…

I remember standing at the floor of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2003 and wondering who this man was. He was Roger Nicole, in his older age standing up to the false prophets of Open Theists. Later, I would meet him at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando and only grew to admire his boldness and courage even more.

The Internet Monk Michael Spencer dies…

A few words on the death of Michael Spencer. I came across his blog page and podcast in my seminary days. He quickly became a sober voice in my own life. My RTS professor Steve Brown spoke highly of him and interviewed him several times in his nationally syndicated radio program. Michael was a Baptist, but a Baptist who cared about tradition. His openness to gaining insights from different theological traditions was refreshing. At one time I intended to have him join us on Trinity Talk to discuss his now famous article on the death and decline of evangelicalism. Unfortunately I never had the chance to interview him. Michael will be missed; though I have never met him, it feels like he has been a part of my theological and spiritual training. May your body rest in peace until it is resurrected anew in the New Heavens and New Earth.

Ralph Winter dies at 84…

Justin Taylor writes:

Missiologist Dr. Ralph D. Winter, founder of the US Center for World Mission and William Carey International University, has gone to be with the Lord. It is to think of people more influential and strategic in the task of reaching unreached peoples for Christ.

At RTS/Orlando, one of the most illuminating times was our missiology class with Dr. Steve Childers. One of our advantages was to have Dr. Winter’s grandson in our class. We read through David Jacobus Bosch’s Missio Dei and discussed many articles by Dr. Ralph Winter.  Winter’s lasting commitment to the evangelization of the world is to be highly esteemed.

Dr. Ralph Winter, may your body rest in peace.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8KBHqjId5k&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

{HT: Justin Taylor and John Piper}

Death of a Friend

This morning, while working on Sunday’s sermon lesson, I received a call from an old friend in Altoona, PA. He informed me that his father, Peter Brooks, has died at the age of 85. Pete was one of the first American missionaries to the northeastern part of Brazil. It was through his gospel witness that many in my large family came to know Messiah.

Pete was instrumental in helping me return to the US in the late 90’s. Consequently, my return to the US led me to where I am today in the gospel ministry. I will miss Pete’s smile, his love for people and his undying commitment to Christ.

Pete, may your body rest in peace!