“When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” ~Psalm 138:3
The Word we preach and teach, the Gospel we proclaim and practice, the Kingdom of God we live in to and out of is mind-blowing, history-changing, earth-altering Truth. We declare the unmerited love and favor of the Almighty Creator of the Universe. We proclaim a righteous relationship with this Holy God through the selfless sacrifice of his perfect Son. We preach the unsurpassed power and authority extravagantly given to us by his Holy Spirit. It is the greatest news this world has ever heard. It impacts all who hear it. It transforms all who respond to it. And preaching and teaching it, practicing it and living it comes with a price.
Allow me to tell you: Hang in there. Don’t stop.
“I will praise your name for your love and faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your Word.” ~Psalm 138:2
The name and the Word of our Lord are highest above all other things. Exalted. In Truth, in power, in beauty, in holiness, in everlasting glory, the name and the Word of our God are above all else. Yes, we know it. Yes, we believe it. But it’s not easy. In fact, proclaiming it and living it are very difficult. Marva Dawn has much to say about this in A Royal Waste of Time:
“If we are truly passionate about the texts and the Lord of the texts when we preach, it will cost us. We are painting a vision of the Kingdom of God in opposition to the reign in this world of other powers, so it is a spiritual battle we are fighting, which will also physically exhaust us. We have to allow ourselves plenty of time to recover, a Sabbath of rest. We might also have to fight the darkness of doubts, the fiends of seeming failure in society’s terms, the monsters of personal hang-ups, the demons of misunderstanding on the part of those who hear or refuse to hear.”
Dawn is addressing preachers in that passage. But all of us — yeah, you, too! — need to pay attention to it. Most of the time, our words don’t come close to matching what’s in our hearts. Most of the time, our sermons and lessons don’t live up to the power of the Truth. Most of the time, our best efforts to live the Kingdom of God fall woefully short of the splendor of our King and the beauty of his love and majesty and reign.
Hang in there. Don’t stop.
God is doing something wonderful with you.
For all of you who teach and preach; all of you who cook and clean, plan and pray, sacrifice and serve; all of you who give of yourselves day in and day out for the glory of our God and his holy Kingdom:
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for you; your love, O Lord, endures forever — do not abandon the works of your hands.” ~Psalm 138:8
The room was packed, the energy was electric, and the anticipation was high. The Sharks concert in our worship center Saturday night had been sold out for weeks (most free concerts are) and the thousand or so in attendance (preacher’s count) were not disappointed. Johnny Weems belted out the crowd favorites while Kelly Utsinger maintained the tone of the evening with the harmonica and the corny jokes and the rest of the Sharks — a little wider and a little grayer than when they were tearing it up back in the ’80s — performed each of their musical and entertainment roles beautifully. It was a great trip down memory lane for the Sharks and their die-hard fans. But it was a wonderfully powerful night for thousands of folks in Kenya who’ve never even heard of Elvis or Buddy Holley, or the Coasters.
The Sharks were attempting to raise $10,000 at Saturday’s show to benefit Christian Relief Fund’s efforts to dig a single water well in the drought-stricken and famine-plagued area of Turkana, Kenya. The numbers are in today and the total has been announced as $19,500! With money still trickling in!
Thanks to Kelly and the Sharks, thanks to the generous hearts and open wallets of the Christ-followers at Central and all over Amarillo, thanks to our gracious God in heaven and his faithfulness to the cries of his children, CRF is going to be drilling two wells now in Turkana, not just one! Doppler Dave made the plea on behalf of CRF Saturday night. But our God is the one who moved his people to respond to his call to bring his love and goodness to those in need.
Except for the awful fish jokes, praise God for everything that happened here Saturday night and for everything he will do for the starving people in Kenya tomorrow.
My heart goes out to Beth Bobo. She and her husband, Elvin, were great encouragers of mine during our time at Legacy. Whether praying together in my office, sharing laughs over funny stories and pictures, kidding each other about sermon length and yet another story about yet another cruise, Elvin and Beth cared for me. They cared for the young people of our church, faithfully teaching and volunteering in our children’s programs. They cared about the older people in our church, tirelessly planning and coordinating more events and functions than you could imagine. They cared about the needy and the marginalized of our community, setting up and serving and tearing down and cleaning at every single Give Away Day. They cared about the lost of the world, giving and giving and giving to our local and foreign missions efforts. Elvin and Beth cared about God’s Church. And they cared about God’s Gospel preachers. And they went way out of their way to care for me.
Elvin died early this morning. And my heart goes out to his sweet wife, Beth.
There is in store today a crown of righteousness for my brother, Elvin, awarded to him by our Lord, the righteous Judge. Elvin has finished his race. And he ran it well. He ran it very well.
Grace & Peace,