“Be thou humble, preacher.” (Stated and repeated and reinforced one way or the other in a hundred scriptures such as Isaiah 57:15, Micah 6:8, and I Peter 5:7.)
It’s a personality type, I suppose. If Mr. Hotshot were not a preacher, but were a bus driver or school principal, a politician or insurance agent, he would still be full of himself and cocky. But as unpleasant as that trait is in any profession, it’s ugliest and deadliest in one who claims to be a man of God.
You’re in churc listening to him preach. He’s not five minutes into the message before you realize Mr. Hotshot is on full display before you in the flesh. His words and mannerisms give him away. Listen to him:
— “I told my…I want my…My convictions are…I believe…I insist that my staff….”
All church employees are “my staff,” the new program is “something God told me to do,” and this sermon is “My strong conviction.”
It’s all about him.
I do always do the things that are pleasing to Him. –John 8:29
“Well, I know there’s a lot of big preachers that know a lot more than I do, but it could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin’ too.” –Tom T. Hall, “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died”
Yogi Berra watched as the batter approached the plate. The Yankee catcher had seen it all, and this guy was like so many: eager to get a hit, but needing all the help he could find. The batter stood at the plate and made the sign of the cross, then pointed toward the skies, both symbols of prayer as he summoned the Almighty to his aid.
“Hey buddy,” said Yogi from behind his mask, “Why don’t we just let the Lord enjoy the game?”
I’m with Yogi.
That begs the question of course. We wonder if the Lord enjoys a baseball game occasionally.
“(The devil) was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
If I were the devil, I would do everything in my power to keep you from the Word of God. I would say anything I could think of, anything I thought you would believe, anything that works, to get you to read other things.
As Paul said, “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We know how he works. And here are some of the lies we have noticed pouring out of his factory, all geared toward destroying confidence in God’s Word.
One. “You already know it, so don’t read it.”
He’s lying to you. You do not know it. I’ve studied the Bible all my life and in no way could I say I “know” it. I know a great deal about it, but there is so much more. For the typical church member to shun the Bible because “I’ve been there and done that” is laughable.
Two: “No one can understand it, so don’t read it.”
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Facebook friend had written something about Scripture and people were leaving comments. One person in particular was giving her a hard time.
I suppose the critic was her friend, because after his unkind and cutting remarks, she patiently responded with kindness and reason.
But nothing worked. This guy was determined to be mean-spirited.
When one is determined not to believe, no amount of truth or reason or logic can penetrate the protective armor of alibis, arguments, excuses, and slander in which he clothes himself.
He had found a contradiction in Scripture, he said, that convinced him the whole business of Christianity was nothing but a con.
What was his “contradiction”?
On the final page of a popular magazine–which shall go unnamed–a celebrity is interviewed in each issue. I thought I’d give it a try and answer the questions myself. (At the end, I added a few more.) Here goes….
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Being in the place God put me, doing the work He gave me. It doesn’t get any better than this. Likewise, the best definition of hell on earth is to be out of His will.
What is your greatest fear?
Just that very thing: being out of his will. I fear nothing so much as disappointing Him. That could happen to any of us. None of us is immune to temptation. That keeps me on my knees every day.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).
If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.
Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.
Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.
What fun they have with the story of Jesus.
“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
I don’t know what you think about when lying awake at night unable to sleep, but recently my mind has dwelt on the wonders of there being a planet Earth in the first place, and all that this means for the children of God.
The Psalmist said “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). I read that and think, “If you only knew, King David. You spoke those words three thousand years ago. What if you knew what we know now! The human body is truly the marvel of the ages.”
And yet, the earth is also just as fearfully and wonderfully made. Just as awe-inspiring, with as much the signature of the Divine on it as any human carries.
Consider this one thing: HOW MANY FACTORS ARE REQUIRED FOR EARTH TO SUSTAIN LIFE?
Any one of the following not being in place could kill the whole deal. And yet, they’re all there, in place, doing their job, while I sit here at a laptop in my dining room, with a cup of Dunkin Donut coffee to my right and earth all around me, requiring absolutely nothing from me. I am completely in awe of this.
Good title, right?
Now a confession. I was never afraid to stand in front of a group and speak. In fact, quite the opposite.
In our little West Virginia schoolhouse, teacher Margaret Meadows would invite her fourth-graders to share a story they had read recently. I recall Violet Garten (love that name!) was so good at it. But when she called on me–I’m the kid frantically waving my hand–and I walked to the front of the class, I broke the rules.
I did not tell a story I had read somewhere.
(I wrote this a few years back, so it’s dated. Nevertheless, I’m going to leave it as it was. Pastor David Crosby and Pastor Jay Wolf have both retired from their churches, although they’re still around. David is interim pastor at FBC Gatesville, TX and I’m sure Jay is preaching around Montgomery, AL somewhere. Okay…..)
Not long ago, on a Sunday when I wasn’t preaching anywhere, I dropped in on a church service not far from my house. A luxury of being retired from pastoring and denominational service is that–with the okay of my pastor–sometimes I visit churches led by friends of mine.
That day, I saw something that struck me as precious and extremely rare.