Jaunt #1: I Love Preaching…I Hate Preaching
As I walked down from the pulpit recently, I sat down with my head in my hands. My mind and heart raced. On the one hand I love preaching. It is a wonderful thing to handle the Word of God in the presence of the people of God.
On the other hand, I hate preaching. It can be a miserable experience. And for the same reason that I love it. It is a fearful thing to handle the Word of God in the presence of the people of God.
I think it is God’s way of keeping the preacher on his knees. After all God effectively spoke to Balaam through his donkey. Sometimes I feel like a donkey when I leave the pulpit.
Consider these descriptive words which Paul used in 1 Corinthians 1 for those called to preach the gospel of the cross:
Jaunt #2: An Apostate & the Prosperity Gospel
The other day my experience of reading Facebook posts gave me great discouragement and great reason to pray.
First up was a man who worked for me in the hotel industry while pursuing a theological education. He later became a Lutheran pastor. Over the past months his posts were concerning. But the other day he identified himself as a clear apostate. He has totally abandoned Christianity. I can’t see his heart, so I pray that this is a prodigal stage from which God will call him back…and soon.
Secondly a person gave extensive quotes from a televangelist who preaches a prosperity gospel (which misses the truth of the gospel of the cross). My heart sank. This person had sat for several years under my preaching. I pray that the true gospel will become clear to them.
Jaunt #3: Haiti
I have read the derogatory comments about the people who come to America from Haiti. I could say much, but let me just say that my experiences with Haitian immigrants has been a blessing from the Lord. I live in South Florida, so I have ample opportunity to be around Haitians.
When I managed hotels in the area, Haitian employees made my life much easier. Let me tell you about Ms. Marie. For more than 19 years, she rode a train from Miami to West Palm Beach to clean rooms in our hotel. Her rooms were always the cleanest in the hotel. This woman had a hard exterior (and was a tall, stout woman). But once she trusted you, that exterior melted.
More than a year after leaving that hotel, I returned to see folks. Across the parking lot she saw me. She came running and hugged me so hard that I thought my ribs would break.
Let me tell you about a few Haitian men who sit under my Bible teaching each week. They are astute scholars of the Word. One is building an orphanage in Haiti. They are touching more lives with the love of Christ than I ever will.
Thank the Lord that these brothers and sisters are part of our church family. By the way, they are great Americans, too.
Jaunt #4: Instead of a Standing Ovation…
The pastor of a Memphis church admitted the claims of a woman of sexual abuse. Two decades ago she was an underaged teenager and he was her youth pastor in Texas. What a tragic story. The tragedy was compounded when he spoke to his church and called his abuse a “sexual incident”, and the church responded by giving him a standing ovation.
That’s not the proper response. It would have been far better and more God-honoring had the church and her leaders fallen on their faces before God.
I know a bit about this. I have stood before a church congregation to confess my sin. I received no ovations, standing or otherwise. That was over twenty years ago, and I have not been a pastor since.
Lord, grant that we would grieve over such heinous sins. We should indeed work through forgiveness and restoration to fellowship. But it begins with grieving.
Jaunt #5: Not a Fan
Note to worship leaders – the great old hymns of the church can stand on their own. Plus the folks of your churches (young and old) will probably sing them with fervor. What they do not need is to have a modern ditty attached to them. I’m just sayin’.
Jaunt #6: Divorce is to be mourned
The other day I showed up at divorce court in an attempt to try to help a couple avoid the legal end of their marriage. As I watched couple after couple being processed through the system in assembly line fashion, my heart ached within me.
I know personally the pain of divorce. I cringe every day when I think of my sinful actions. But our society now celebrates divorce with greeting cards and divorce parties. Lord, help us.
Jaunt #7: Religion or Relationship
A read through a recent Twitter tirade about Christianity not being religion but a relationship. Indeed our faith is a relationship – a covenant relationship which we do not deserve. But does that mean it isn’t religion?
I’m going to put this verse out there and just leave it:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
***Jaunt is a periodic feature that touches on a few short stories. The title comes from a newspaper headline from my high school football days, “Gantz TD jaunt lifts Chiefs.” The feature is a shameless play on a personal highlight so long ago.