sermon – a people of God; a people of the Book

He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does their part. (Ephesians 4.11-16 CEB)

And so we say without apology, with firm conviction, but with deep humility: we seek to be a “people of the Book.”

By that we mean two things.

First, the Bible is revelation from, and about, God.

Without this Book, we’d be in the dark about God. Oh, we would know something of God from creation. But, without this Book, that would be all we know of Him. This Book lights up our walk through this dark world. This Book gives us truth, and takes us into understandings of truth, that we would not have without it.

And so, we’re determined to continually open our eyes to the light this Book shines on us. We do this even though the bright light it shines on us can sometimes be glaring or painful. We are not “holy.” But we believe this Book leads us to Him who alone is Holy.

Second, this Book teaches us how to live our life with God.

This book tells us of Him who is Life. Our Life. This Book is not “our life” or our “God.” We do not worship it. But, we do worship the One who gives us life and who speaks to us through this Book. And so, we seek to belong to Him, and to Him alone. Both as individuals and as a community. This is our task in every possible way for all of our days.

In sum: He who reveals Himself to us through this Book is our Life and Light.

In a world full of uncertainties, this Book gives us certainties. Certain truth that comes from Him who alone is True.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And we are His people. This is our past, present, and future. Walking because of, with, and toward God.

In this walk, He encourages us by telling us He is with us and equips us to do His will. Our Life is beside us and inside us. Our Light, gives us ways and means to use His light.

What a tremendous blessing it is to see His Life and Light in each other! A people of God; a people of the Book!

Thanks and glory be to God!

And so we will serve Him forever!

Let the whole church say … “Amen!

every time I preach …

 

Recently, I asked a large group of preachers how they would complete this sentence: “Every time I preach I _____.” It was an attempt to let us all overhear what we’re intentional about, as well as what else is going through our head, every time we deliver a sermon.

Following are two versions of how I completed the sentence. Obviously, the “long answer” version could be greatly expanded and also assumes the content, first and foremost, of the “short answer.”

Every time I preach I …

Short answer:

  • trust God will work through me.
  • believe God will work in spite of me.
  • have faith God is working on me.

Long answer:

  • try to give to all: skeptics & believers, seekers & wanderers, friends & enemies, men and women, rich & the poor, young & old.
  • can point to and reveal only the tip of the iceberg of what the sermon preparation has done for me and to me.
  • feed on seeing people hunger for God and actively work with me in that before, during, and after the sermon.
  • find fuel in recognizing those who are giving me clear encouragement to speak God’s will as I grasp it.
  • strive to do the best I can with what I’ve been able to contribute the preceding week to this moment.
  • am sensitive to the fact that people can’t hear a word of what I’m saying unless I’m living it myself.
  • deeply grieve over those who have obviously mentally checked out of what’s happening.
  • pray God will use this moment to bless someone powerfully and all of us in some way.
  • forget some of what I planned to say and insert things I hadn’t planned on saying.
  • want to magnify God in the name of Christ through the power of his Spirit.
  • feel inadequate to the task, being simultaneously broken and built up.
  • rejoice at the sound of crying babies, for it means youth are present.
  • hope for no needless distractions or attention-breaking happenings.
  • stay keenly aware of the quality of the content and the connection.
  • thank God for this tremendous responsibility and privilege.
  • regret having said something or having said it in some way.
  • yearn for prayers to be offered up for myself and for all.
  • will unintentionally leave some things unclear to some.
  • intend to represent our Lord the best way I know how.
  • wish I could do it without having to wear a necktie.
  • don’t know everywhere the sermon will go.
  • endeavor to deliver “fresh bread.”
  • thank God it’s not about me.
  • know I will make mistakes.
  • can’t wait to do it again.
  • sweat like a race horse.
  • seek to just be myself.
  • ain’t got not spit.
  • tremble.
  • pray.