The Preface is Over, the Introduction Begins: an Engagement Announcement

As a pastor most of my tools are books. I read in order better to understand and apply the best of all books. Most books have a “Preface,” which when I was much younger I thought was Latin for “skip me.” Over the years, however, I have come to appreciate the value of a good preface. In those few pages the author gives the back story to the book, telling how it came to be and often stating its objectives and thesis.

After the preface, a book’s “Introduction” is where the real literary work is begun. Here the story or argument is mapped out; the groundwork is laid for the chapters that follow. Though good books can sometimes suffer from bad introductions, making a good start tends to accentuate the strength of what follows.

That is true not only for literature but also for life in general. A good beginning can provide a strong foundation for a life well-lived. That is true both in parenting and in marriage.

One of my children has just finished the preface of marriage is about to start writing the introduction. Rachel, our third-born, became engaged this week to Ricky Davis, a young man who is a member of Grace. Both of our families are encouraged by the ways the Lord has guided them this far and are very hopeful about their future prospect as husband and wife.

Over a year ago Ricky came to me and expressed his desire to pursue a relationship with Rachel. They were already friends and had served in various ministries together at the church. He wanted permission to try to become something more than just a friend. He and I met together for several months and he read several resources that I recommended to him. We talked about the gospel and its implications for manhood, work, business, money, relationships, marriage and home life.

As a preacher most of my tools are books. I read in order to understand and apply more of the truth of the best of all books. Most books have a Preface, which is tempting to skip but, when done right, actually sets you up for getting into the text more usefully than if you ignored it. A Preface enlightens you about the background of the book, telling how it came to be and often stating its thesis and objectives. Over the years I have learned not to skip prefaces, but to use them to help guide me into the book.

The Introduction is another important feature of a good book.

Marriage, like a good book, should begin with a good preface. That is, there ought to be some

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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