In this series of blogs, we have been entertaining the different aspects of what it means to be in a position where you are “hired” to be holy. The first post was more introductory about the position. The second post dealt with authority and its abuse despite the appearances of being “holy.” This third in the series goes at the opposite end of spectrum by just giving people what they want. Not nearly what they need but what they want.
Most have probably heard a variation of the story about the fellow who was walking down the street and saw a sign in the window of a shop that said “Fresh Bread.” When he saw the sign, his mouth began to water as he thought about the fresh baked bread. So despite time constraints, he went in the door of the shop and told the proprietor that he would like some of the fresh bread. The proprietor laughed heartily and told the man, “Sorry, we don’t make bread, we paint signs.” It really wasn’t false advertising because it was indeed a sign company instead of a bakery. However, if a sign out front clearly states that we are a church shouldn’t there be something righteous and holy being offered on the inside?
What a diluted time that we live in! But when the pastor is under the pressure to perform with preaching a deadly path can be taken. No matter what we preachers do, we have to understand that the Gospel is confrontational. It is confrontational in that its premise is that man is a sinner and if he does not experience the new birth and is converted, he is lost and will end up in hell. There is no way to soft-soap that message unless you forget it and instead try to use a mental massage to relieve the stresses and pressures of the daily life and the reality is that you can. You can learn to use gimmicks and scatter a few Scriptures here and there and turn the message into a cream puff of inspiration that does not create any hunger for God or His Word or the Spirit either. When that takes place, it will not be too long before the church has turned into a crowd of unconverted people. But the pastor is still living up to his expectations of everyone because of his public trappings of holiness.
But just as deadly as pastor who is an authoritative dictator so is the man who cannot open his mouth and preach to a generation of people who are experiencing a spiritual famine in the land. Sermons that are “feel-good” sermons or those that are constructed to meet the “felt-needs” of the people are superficially shallow and will be forgotten before the people clear out from the restaurants. The temptation toward the superficial is one of the oldest tricks the devil resorts to among men who are told to proclaim the Word. Jeremiah and Ezekiel both preached vehemently against those shepherds who did not lead. They were compared to dogs that could not bark and to shepherds who used the flock to the meet their own needs.
I am pleading with you men who preach to get on your knees somewhere and determine to become a man that is willing to preach with conviction. There will never be any passionate, convicting preaching unless a preacher has poured his soul somewhere in a place of private prayer. He cannot be a preacher of conviction unless he has also given himself to constant study of the Word. Tear the sign off of the door that says office and replace it with a sign that says STUDY. More times than I have ever deserved, God has used my mouth to get the Word through to a people who live in a land of idolatry that is constantly working to entice them. That is what a land of idolatry calls for, a Word from God.
Where were you on September 11, 2001? Most of us will never forget where we were on the fateful Tuesday morning when the terrorist attacks begin. I had just finished a CT biopsy and was rolling a patient to the recovery area when one of the guys I worked with told me what had happened. I just happened to be checking a patient in when I saw the first tower collapse in New York City. A kaleidoscope of emotions were felt by all of us on that day—anger, sadness, fear, deep grief, and a fear of the unknown. On that night, our church was opened for prayer and despite it being an off night it was pretty packed with people. There were even strangers we did not know who came in for prayer.
But let’s play a what-if scenario. What if on September 9, 2001 you would have had a dream that would have shown to you everything that was going to happen on 9/11? What if you were an employee at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon? What would you have said to those people on September 10? Chances are no matter what you would have said you would have been dismissed as a crackpot. You could have warned that planes would be used as weapons to destroy the building and that three-thousand would die and others would have multiple injuries. But because it was not what people would have wanted to hear, I feel sure that most of them would have dismissed it.
That is the exact same scenario that every preacher/pastor/teacher faces every week in America. We have so much to enjoy and take part with here. We have so many perks and freedoms that we often forget that there is a great day coming when we will have to give an accounting for our deeds, words, choices, and actions. There are planes that are about to hit the building. . . the worst thing that those who are hired to be holy is not tell the people what information they need to help them. . . . .
Until next time. . .