“Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).
Ministers considered “cool” by the world should be wary.
It’s a trap.
Let those outside the faith–i.e., friends and admirers with no appreciation for Scripture, no knowledge of the call of God, no gratitude for the blood of Jesus, or no concept of the direness of their own situation–compliment the preacher on his coolness, and it can be a form of quicksand.
“I’m not much of a church-goer, pastor, but I love watching you preach.” “You’re not like all those other preachers–fat and bald and loud. You’re handsome and slim and cool.”
Woe to the minister who eats up such a compliment.
Woe to the preacher who gets his affirmation from the approval of his members. “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:24). “Unto his master a servant stands or falls” (Romans 14:4).
This happened to me…
When the husband died, his wife of nearly 60 years was instructing me on how she wanted things done in the funeral.
She mentioned our associate pastor. “I don’t care for his funerals. He talks about himself too much.”
Okay. I had never heard his funeral sermons since he did these only when I was not available.
I said, “What do you think of mine?”
Dumb question. But I asked for it.
She didn’t hesitate to tell me.
“O you of little faith! Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
The teacher is hardest on the best pupils.
The Master Teacher requires more of the Star Pupil.
The coach is in the face of the player with the greatest potential, on his back, never letting up.
Check out these words from the Lord Jesus. “Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23).
He said those harsh, cutting words, not to the Pharisees, but to Simon Peter, His “star apostle.”
“God is Watching.” –sign over the door of Gwen Williams’ home in Picayune, Mississippi.
John Ed Mathiston told his congregation in Montgomery, Alabama a story about kindness.
“Not long ago, a man from the Middle East walked into a new car showroom and asked to speak with a particular salesperson. The receptionist called for him, the fellow walked to the front, and they greeted each other.
The foreigner said, “I’d like to buy some trucks.”
Some trucks. That caught the sales guy’s attention.
“What did you have in mind, sir?”
“I want to buy 750 heavy duty trucks and 250 pickups.”
The salesman is stunned. Surely someone is pulling a prank. This cannot be happening.
The Middle Easterner pulls out a letter of credit with a huge American bank. It is legitimate. This is the real deal.
“Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1749. Yet because of opposition from local clergymen–man should not dare ‘avert the stroke of heaven’–the lighthouse did not receive protection from God’s thunderbolts for more than two decades.” –The New York Review, May 26, 2016
Imagine the thinking of some people: We shouldn’t protect ourselves from lightning, lest we interfere with God’s judgment.
Abandoning their responsibility, criticizing those trying to help, and blaming their warped thinking on God.
“This is how God set things up.”
Interesting theology, I think we can say.
If we carried that reasoning to its natural lengths, no one should wear seat belts or repair the brakes on cars just in case the Father in Heaven had planned to kill us that morning.
God should always be given a free hand in these things.
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (I John 3:20-21).
“But I don’t feel forgiven.”
“I don’t feel saved after some of the things I’ve done.”
“I feel so bad. I know God says He has forgiven me, but my heart says otherwise.”
Every pastor gets this. People who have grown up in sound churches and call themselves Bible-believing Christians fall prey to this malady of judging their standing with the Heavenly Father by their feelings.
I suspect we’ve all done it. I surely have.
As though one’s feelings about anything are accurate, consistent, dependable.
Martin Luther had a word for all who find themselves tangled in the struggle with their feelings:
“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”. ” (Galatians 5:16)
Brothers and sisters. If you would be spiritually mature and successful in the Christian life, you must rescue your spiritual life from bondage to your emotions. –J. Sidlow Baxter, speaking to Mississippi Baptists in the mid-1970s.
The church lady said to me. “If I don’t feel like doing something, my heart would not be in it, and the Lord said we are to serve Him with all our heart. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”
I said, “So, if you don’t feel like reading your Bible or going to church or apologizing to a neighbor, you don’t do it. Right?”
She: “Right. It would be hypocritical.”
Me: “Well. May I ask you, do you ever wake up on Monday morning and not feel like going to work? Or, when you were a teen, were there early mornings when you did not feel like getting up and going to school?”
She: “That’s different.”
“Who can find a virtuous man? For his price is far above diamonds” (Not Proverbs 31:10, but it well could be.)
My father was Carl J. McKeever (1912-2007). No one who met him ever forgot.
Like two of his four sons–the two who became preachers!–Pop was a talker. He was interested in a thousand things and enjoyed good food, hearty laughter and great conversation with friends. And he loved to write.
What’s interesting about that is he had a seventh grade education. As the oldest of an even dozen children, he left school to help support the family when he was 12, and entered the coal mines to work alongside his father two years later. His formal education may have ended, but dad was always learning and thinking and paying attention.
Most of his writing was done on note pads, in a lovely script which schools taught back in the 1920s. Something called the Palmer Method. Up to his death at the age of 95, his handwriting was impressive. Those notes he wrote were legible and intelligent, and remarkable for a coal miner.
I’m leading up to sharing one of them with you. My brother Ron handed me this in Pop’s handwriting during our brief visit at the restaurant in Jasper, Alabama.
“Some of the scribes were sitting here and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’” (Mark 2:6-9).
One of the most helpful courses I took in college was logic. The ability to think clearly and rationally about complex issues is a wonderful asset for anyone.
It helps me to realize our Lord Jesus Christ was nothing if not logical. Jesus clearly loved logic. (That probably provokes a “well, duh” response from readers. The Lord Jesus not only loved truth, He claimed to be Truth itself!)
Again and again in Scripture Jesus shows Himself the Master of logic as He lays the issues before His hearers in orderly fashion and asks them to think about them rationally.