An Amen For A "But"

SanJacintoMonument“People embraced, laughed and wept and prayed, all in one breath. As the moon rose over the vast flower-decked prairie, the soft southern wind carried peace to tired hearts and grateful slumber. As battles go, San Jacinto was but a skirmish; but with what mighty consequences! The lives and liberty of a few hundred pioneers at stake and an empire won! Look to it, you Texans of today, with happy homes, mid fields of smiling plenty, that the blood of the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto sealed forever. Texas, one and indivisible!                                   ~Kate Scurry Terrell

April 21, 1836. The actual battle lasted less than 20 minutes. Sam Houston and his ragged band of 910 pioneers routed General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, President and Dictator of Mexico and self-styled “Napoleon of the West,” and his proud army.

Happy San Jacinto Day!

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So, I’m preaching Habakkuk 3 yesterday, flying along with the great and wonderful news that we are assured of God’s deliverance in the future because of his mighty acts of deliverance in the past. I’m explaining some of the details of Habakkuk’s hymn, showing how he’s actually recounting all of God’s salvation acts in Israel’s history, from the forming of the community at Sinai to the Promised Land to the period of the judges and on into this impending period of Babylonian captivity. Habakkuk is able to face whatever comes his way with great confidence in his Lord because he has experienced and he remembers how God has saved him in the past.

And I’m trying to connect Habakkuk’s story of God’s acts in the past with our own stories of God’s saving acts in our own pasts. I’m trying to get our congregation to think about their own individual stories of salvation. How were you saved? What were you saved from? How did God save you? Who did he use? What circumstances did he use? What happened when God saved you?

I wanted our brothers and sisters at Legacy to understand we all have our salvation stories. And it would do us a lot of good to tell and re-tell those stories. Because those stories build fath. And they give us assurance of God’s salvation acts in the future.

So I go straight to 1 Corinthians 6:9. “…neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.”

And then I paused and read the next line.

“But…”

And then I said, “Can I get an ‘Amen’ for a ‘but’?”

And I immediately wished I hadn’t said it.

The “but” there is the crux of the passage and the central point of the sermon. I had planned to pause there to let it sink in. But I hadn’t planned to ask for an ‘amen’. And I certainly hadn’t planned to ask for an ‘amen’ for a ‘but.” I immediately wished I’d said, “Can I get an ‘amen’ for a ‘conjunction’?” But there it was. It was already out there. And while I got several “amens,” I also got plenty of smirks and snickers. Yes, all the teenagers sit right down front. But it wasn’t just them.

But you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God!”

The ‘but” is huge right there. (Cut it out) It’s everything. I just wish it had come out a little differently.

Then I go directly to Ephesians 2. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

But…”

I paused again this time. Didn’t ask for the ‘amen’. But I got it.

And at that point I relaxed. It IS appropriate to ‘amen’ that ‘but.’

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved!”

Fill in the blank: I was once________.

I used to be __________.

But—praise God!—I’m not ________ anymore!

I’m thankful for my gracious church family at Legacy. They are so kind and so patient with me as I continue learning how to preach. Thank you, brothers and sisters!

And thank you for all those text messages at 3:19 and 3:20 this afternoon!

3:18,

Allan

3 Comments

  1. Jenn

    Grace was one of those giggling….She kept wondering why Mr. Allan could say “But” so much and she can’t say it at all….

  2. Caleb

    That is awesome and hilarious! That is almost as good/bad/funny as the preacher on youtube with the “pitched their tents” Lot and Abraham mess up

    People always love someone who can laugh at themselves…thanks for preaching parts of the Bible that many of us have never heard preached in our lives.

  3. Kipi

    LOL…this makes me (almost) wish I had been in second service…almost. Why don’t you do fun stuff like that for us early risers? 😉

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