“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” ~1 Thessalonians 1:8
We spent a few moments yesterday in our monthly meeting of the Waco Alliance continuing a weeks-long discussion of how, as preachers, we should strive to be transparent to our congregations. It’s a position I’ve taken since I entered the ministry.
No holding back. Hiding nothing. Sharing with my church family all my best and worst. My greatest moments and my most awful. My great faith and my serious doubts. The things I know and the things about which I know nothing. What you see is what you get. Warts and all.
When friends of mine who were on the preacher search committee here or any one of our elders have mentioned to me that’s one of the reasons they hired me—“You’re so open!”— I always counter with, “And it’ll wind up being one of the reasons you fire me.”
Paul’s words to the congregation in Thessalonica reveal his love for the brothers and sisters. Yes, he shared the Gospel of Salvation with them. But he had grown to love them so much he shared with them his very life. No holding back. He gave them everything he had. All of it.
Yes, we get disappointed with our churches. Sometimes the only appropriate response to the things our people do and say is, “What a knucklehead!”
But, like family, he’s my knucklehead. And I love them and I defend them and I protect them with everything I have. Like with my little sisters. I can tease them and get frustrated with them at times. But don’t you dare come in here talking bad about them or treating them improperly.
Paul’s words in this short verse reveal a lot about him. He was commited to that congregation and to those families. He didn’t preach to them because they had a nice building or he enjoyed the town or the pay was right. He wasn’t looking elsewhere. He loved them. They were his family. And he shared with them his very life.
I’ve added a new link to the Resource page of this blog. It’s part of the one year anniversary celebration of The Kingdom, The Kids, & The Cowboys. (Next year there’s going to be a huge mattress sale at one of the shops on Davis.) This link gets you to the page on the Legacy Church website that stores the streaming audio from our ten latest sermons. The Habakkuk series is still all there. And both of the first installments from the current Servant Songs series are there. You might also notice a couple of new links to the right hand side of this blog’s home page that take you to the blogs of Jim Martin at Crestview in Waco, Terry Rush up at Memorial in Tulsa, and William Willimon.
Terry Rush’s post from yesterday’s Morning Rush is about the progression of praise during their corporate worship at Memorial. He writes about their congregation learning to really praise God. When they assemble now on Sundays, according to Terry, they “robustly cut loose and get lost in his wonder. We do stand in awe! We do mean it when we say ‘Thank You, Lord!'”
Terry writes, “we have shifted from worshiping and wondering who is upset with ‘over that move’ to wondering if God is loving our gifts of vocal / mindful worship of him.”
He closes his post with this:
“We enter his presence…really. Was it not being done before? I can’t answer that for anyone but myself. For me? It wasn’t being done. I was too focused on who did or didn’t like what was sung, prayed, or preached. I was too interrupted by singing a song and hearing comments regarding observing this note and that chorus. It seems to me the more the church learns to voice the praises of God, whether through song or testimony, the more God unleashes his grand grace upon our gatherings.”
I was listening to Jerry Wayne and Terrell Owens announce the receiver’s new four-year contract during a 35-minute press conference driving home from Waco yesterday afternoon. Toward the end of the session, a reporter asked Owens about new Cowboys cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. Owens said Jones needs to turn his life around, he knows he needs to turn his life around, he understands he needs to turn his life around, and he WILL turn his life around because he’s being cared for and mentored by………..
And I just assumed Terrell was going to say Calvin Hill.
If not Calvin Hill, maybe somebody else on the Cowboys staff who helps troubled players. Maybe the team chaplain. Maybe even Drew Pearson or Everson Walls.
And as far as I could tell from listening to the live audio, nobody in that crowded room of team officials and reporters gasped or recoiled in shock and horror or fell down laughing.