Friday, December 8, 2023

Harry Reeder's Epigrams

It has been said of Isaac Watts, the hymn writer and successor to John Owen at London’s Mark Lane Chapel, that his native tongue was iambic pentameter. From earliest childhood to aged maturity, he naturally spoke in rhymes and verse. It may likewise be said of Harry Reeder that his native tongue was the alliterative adage. Memorable maxims, engaging epigrams, and apt aphorisms peppered his discourses effortlessly. He naturally spoke in witticisms, saws, and apothegms.


A host of his iconic sayings remain indelibly etched in the hearts and minds of the tens of thousands who benefited from his ministry over the years: 


Never take counsel from your fears.

Salvation is free but discipleship costs.

The Promise Maker gets it done through His Son, the Promise Keeper.

The world is not your measuring stick, it’s your mission field.

If I didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, or can’t control it, stop worrying about it.

Occasionally, the best action is no action.

Satan’s three schemes are Infiltration, Imitation, and Intimidation.

Leadership revolves around Character, Competency, and then Content.

Under the radar is a beautiful place to be.

We are called to be the light of the world, not the light of the church.

The Gospel is the Foundation, the Formation, and the Motivation of the Christian life.

We want a Great Commission church with a Great Commandment culture.

Motivation and mission eventually determine the message.

The Gospel must be the priority, the parameter, and the preeminent point of our ministry.

The Gospel of salvation by grace is the foundation, formation, and motivation for a first love church.


These were not merely clever oratorical quips; they were the embodiment of Dr. Reeder’s indefatigable vision for pastoral care and communication; they were anchors for his theological convictions; they were arrows to send true for his exhortations. As well as anyone since perhaps the time of Charles Simeon, Thomas Chalmers, and C.H. Spurgeon he matched rhetorical means with ministerial ends.


But of all his maxims, there was one that he repeated and reiterated time and again, one that succinctly captured his life purpose:


On Mission; On Message; In Ministry.


In a very real sense, this epigrammatic declaration defined him—and he would argue, it ought to define every believer, every family, and every church. All of the abiding principles that he taught—Biblical preaching, church vitality, shepherding the flock, replicating leaders, and personal and family spiritual formation—emanated from this.

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