If preachers today are seen as filling the role of a prophet — speaking a Word from the Lord, on behalf of the Lord, to the Lord’s people — then the preacher’s message has to be counter-cultural. Every Old Testament prophet spoke against the culture of the day and called God’s people to reject the culture and embrace the Lord. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles, all of Paul’s teachings, go completely against culture. And the message is just as relevant today as it was in the first century AD or the third century BC. But can I preach that way every Sunday and still keep the job?
In the prophet Micah’s day, in Judah, God’s people were very well off. They were wealthy. Rich. And their houses and food and bank accounts and their lifestyles dominated what they thought about, talked about, and what they did. Buying more land, building bigger houses, taking longer vacations, putting more money in the bank is what drove God’s people. The next-door-neighbor didn’t matter. The needy family across the street didn’t matter. And the Lord called them on it.
When he confronts them in the opening verses of Micah 6, the people respond in v.8 with a typical, I think, 21st century response: “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?”
God’s upset. And their first conclusion was, “How can we improve our worship?” More sacrifices? More oil? Does he want my first born? Should we consider Wednesday nights?
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?”
Let me suggest to you that’s the wrong question. The right question is, how do I live in a relationship with God? How do I love people out of my love for God? God tells them very plainly that if their daily lives don’t reflect justice and mercy and humility and love and service to their fellow man, he doesn’t even want their worship!
I’m afraid we put much more emphasis on the 75-minutes we spend at church on Sunday mornings than we do on the other 6-4/5 days of the week. In fact, I know we do. We devise elaborate worship theologies and, not only bind them on each other, but on other churches. We view others categorically, we judge other people and other churches based on what they do and how they do their 75-minutes.
You can close your eyes during every prayer, you can keep your hands in your lap during every song, you can look up every scripture during the sermon, and you can read Matthew 27 quietly to yourself during communion. None of it matters if you lied to your boss on Friday and plan on lying to him again on Monday. You can clap and raise your hands to contemporary songs led by a praise team, get down literally on your knees during the prayers, and read responsive psalms, it’s not doing you or God any good if you’re cheating your customers or ignoring the poor.
OK. That’s enough. You get the point. This is what I’m preaching during our 75-minutes Sunday — the critical and unmistakable connection between our daily ethics and our worship of our God. It’s been on my mind all week. And now hopefully you’ll chew on it for a couple of days before Sunday.
I spoke with Bill Podsednik yesterday and he told me that ground will officially be broken by actual construction crews (not by elders & preachers or four-year-olds with plastic spades) either Monday or Tuesday this next week! Before we meet for Bible classes Wednesday evening there will be tractors and dirt movers and dump trucks and orange cones and mud and slop and all kinds of mess all over the west side of our building! Praise God! May we continue to seek his guidance. And may he use our efforts to grow the Kingdom in our part of his world.
Dell Herod has asked me to remind you that the Fort Worth City Band will play an “Old-Time Band Concert” here at Legacy at 7:00 next Friday night, July 27, to benefit the Legacy Medical Missionary Fund. Dell has the tickets and all the information.
There are 48 more days until football season (only nine more days until VBS, Kipi!) and the best ever #48 is Daryl Johnston. “The Moose” was the Dallas Cowboys #2 pick in 1989 as an All-America fullback out of Syracuse. And he changed the way the position was played in the NFL. Before Johnston played in Dallas, the NFL had never named a fullback to the Pro Bowl. It was kind of a throwaway position, so they just named two starting tailbacks. But Johnston’s value as Emmitt Smith’s lead blocker and Troy Aikman’s pass protector and even a receiver out of the backfield caused the league to change its policy. Johnston was the first ever fullback named to the Pro Bowl in 1993. And he represented the NFC in Hawaii the following year, too.
Johnston helped lead the Cowboys to four NFC title games in the ’90s, and those three Super Bowl titles. He scored 22 TDs in his eleven year career, caught 294 passes, and played in 149 consecutive games. Brandon “Babe” Laufenberg takes credit all the time for giving Johnston his “Moose” nickname. And I’ve never heard anybody deny it. Right now, Johnston is one of the more enjoyable color analysts on NFL TV broadcasts with Dick Stockton on Fox.
And we’ll get tomorrow’s #47 out of the way since I generally don’t blog on Saturdays. Bald Mel Blount, longtime cornerback for the Steelers, (I wanted to choose Dexter Clinkscale, but I just couldn’t justify it) also changed the way his position was played. Blount, out of Southern University in 1970, was the first big, strong, physical corner to really man up and rough up wideouts. He might be the very best bump-and-run cover corner ever. He did have to routinely guard Lynn Swann and John Stallworth in practice. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1975 (amazing as a CB), won four Super Bowls, and went to five Pro Bowls. Despite his physical play, Blount was extremely durable, playing in 200 of a possible 201 games during his career.
Go do something crazy today.
Preach on! Amen.
I’ve been reading your blog lately because of my
association with Jim Gardner, and just wanted to
thank you for your thoughtful, and though provoking,
articles. May our Lord continue to use you to His
glory, and bless your ministry.