Category: Preaching (Page 1 of 22)

First and Foremost

“First and foremost, I beg you to consider that there is nothing in this life, and especially in our own day, more easy and pleasant and acceptable to men than the office of bishop or priest or deacon, if its duties be discharged in a mechanical or sycophantic way; but nothing more worthless and deplorable and meet for chastisement in the sight of God. And, on the other hand, that there is nothing in this life, and especially in our own day, more difficult, toilsome, and hazardous than the office of bishop or priest or deacon; but nothing more blessed in the sight of God, if our service be in accordance with our Captain’s orders.”

~ Augustine to Valerius on his ordination at Hippo, 391 AD

The Night Before

It’s Saturday in Midland, Texas. But Sunday is coming. And not just any Sunday. Tomorrow is a special Sunday. A watershed Sunday. A pivotal Sunday for my preaching ministry and for Golf Course Road Church of Christ.

Tomorrow I will attempt to speak a Word from our God to several hundred people I don’t yet know. As their preacher. As the one they have ordained to speak to them, to encourage them, to challenge them, to instruct and correct them, to lead them and to love them. By God’s grace and by the mysterious work of his Holy Spirit, these people at this historically great church in West Texas have called me to join their community of faith and preach for them. Preach with them. I am honored to do so. And I’m nervous.

Tomorrow I join a long list of faithful men who’ve stood before this church and dared to preach the Word. Doug Parsons. Randy Fenter. Ronnie White. Mike Cope. Tod Brown. Many others. For a very long time, these people have been used to some of the very best preaching there is. It’s incredibly humbling to be a part of that now, to be inserted into this formidable line.

Carrie-Anne and I feel very much at peace with our move, very certain that our Lord has pushed us here and that he wants us in Midland with these people at this time for his very specific Gospel purposes. I am calm about tomorrow and prayerful that our God will speak through me the affirmation and encouragement I know he wants to give his children at GCR.

Tonight I feel very blessed by our God and incredibly honored by the church at GCR, these good people I don’t really know yet. I am confident that tomorrow is going to be a really good day and that my family and this church family are embarking on a long and fruitful partnership together.

May God bless us richly with his grace and peace. And may he bless his church at GCR. May our Lord do whatever he wants in and through us together and may we embrace it with imagination and vision and joy to his eternal glory and praise!

Peace,

Allan

 

A Preaching Event

I am so grateful to my brothers and sisters at St. John Baptist Church for the way they love me and honor me and make Carrie-Anne and me feel right at home and an important part of their fellowship. Anthony Harris, the powerful pastor at this faithful church, invited me to preach in their pulpit yesterday and it was an absolute thrill! Anthony and I have become great friends and partners in the Gospel together over the past year or so. He is a tremendous encourager and a bearer of God’s image to me. And I was so humbled and, frankly, excited, to preach in their church. I’ve never preached in an African-American church before – it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

You can watch the whole church service on St. John’s Facebook page (the service begins at the 10:30 mark, the sermon starts at the 37:25 mark). But it won’t do justice to the energy and the love and the unity we all experienced together yesterday.

Delivering a sermon in a Black church really is a “preaching event.” And, I must admit, it took me a few minutes to adjust. There’s a timing and a groove, it’s a back and forth, there’s a call and response – the sermon truly is a congregational event. Everybody participates!

First, Anthony arranged for Stephanie Michaels to sing “Because He Lives” right before the sermon (at the 31:05 mark). Goodness gracious! The mighty force of her voice, the conviction in her heart, the compelling connection she makes with every person in the room – whoa! Anthony calls himself my friend, but he cursed me by making me follow her. As I made my way to the pulpit and waited for the piano to finish playing…

…the piano didn’t stop playing. I waited. And waited. I smiled. And then I realized Isaac was not going to stop playing the piano until I started speaking. He’ll fade out once I start speaking over him. And that’s the way it was for the next 30-minutes. I needed to stop after every other sentence as the church responded to what I was saying. I had to learn on the fly how to acknowledge the church as they clapped and shouted “Hallelujah!” while I was in the middle of a thought. I quickly discovered there is no such thing as a rhetorical question during a sermon in a Black church – the church answers out loud! I also realized that if I don’t get a handle on this, it’s going to be a 90-minute sermon!

My brothers and sisters at St. John Baptist come to church expecting to hear a word from the Lord. They’re geared up for it, anticipating it. God is going to speak through this servant in front of us and we want to listen to him and be moved. It’s not just a head thing at St John Baptist, the Sunday sermon is a heart thing, too. The sermon contains facts and truth, but it’s just as full of emotion and feeling. The congregation was preaching the sermon with me, finishing my sentences when I quoted Scripture, answering my questions when I dared to ask them, speculating out loud during open-ended paragraphs, discovering with me the points I was trying to make – I waited on them a couple of times and they slowed down when they got ahead of me a couple of times – exalting in them and praising God the whole time. And it was an absolute blast!

It was thrilling! Completely thrilling! And exhausting. I loved every minute of it, but I’m not sure I could do that Sunday after Sunday, week in and week out.

I am so grateful to my godly, big-picture, Kingdom-view elders here at Central for allowing me – no, encouraging me! – to preach in other churches like this. My shepherds know that anytime our churches can put aside our denominational differences, our racial differences, our puny little insignificant differences, and come together in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to do anything, it’s a big deal. It is so important that people see this and know that it’s happening and experience it for themselves. If we believe Ephesians 2, that Christ died on the cross to destroy the barriers that separate us from God and us from each other, we’d better be all about it. What happened at St. John Baptist yesterday matters. It was a Kingdom of God moment. And I want to be in on more of those kinds of moments.

Thank you to Anthony and Tonya and Isaac and Stephanie and Jasmine and Ed and Trina and all the glorious saints at that important church on 14th Street. I thank God for your faithful witness in our community and for your sacrificial service in the Kingdom of our Lord. I spent all day yesterday relishing the sweet fellowship and Christian unity we experienced together. And I’ll spend a lifetime in gratitude to God.

Peace,

Allan

Especially in Texas

To all the preachers, all my brothers and sisters in Christ who proclaim the Gospel every Sunday and shepherd churches large and small, especially in Texas:

Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.
Do not grow weary in doing good.

God bless you. God bless us.

Allan

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