Power and Full Conviction

“We need the Spirit of God, then, all through the sermon to keep our hearts and minds in proper condition, for if we have not the right spirit we shall lose the tone which persuades and prevails, and our people will discover that Samson’s strength has departed from him…To avoid errors of manners and tone, we must be led of the Holy Spirt, who alone teaches…” Charles Hadden Spurgeon

Where is the power?

What is the modern preacher communicating? Consider my ramblings. Those who preach have to look good.(Count out Spurgeon or Edwards in our day) The people communicating have to have the right hair, clothes, weight and age. The atmosphere must be conducive to modern tastes. Children must enjoy what takes place. By no means can little Johnny or Mary be bored. They have never known boredom so we cannot let church slow down long enough for him to possibly associate boredom with God. High energy activity and cutting edge technology must get their attention. Preaching, excuse me “talks,” must be shared in such a way as to not offend the modern emotional state. Sin is offensive, wait a minute that is a true statement. Let me clarify, sin is offensive to God. Reminding a modern that they have sinned against a Holy God is offensive to them. They need practical application. Tell them how to succeed, how to raise athletic and bright children, how have a passionate and enviable marriage(after they finish running their bright athletic children all over town). Tell them how to know God in 5 easy steps. Just give them the ABC’s of asking Jesus into their heart. They really are not that bad but adding Jesus can’t hurt–in fact in will likely help. Tell them how to make lots of money and by all means never tell them to give because that is a private issue that offends and keeps people from coming to church.

Ok, I will stop rambling and tell you what got me started on these thoughts today. I am studying 1 Thessalonians in my personal Quiet Time and preparing to preach Mark 1:1-8 on the ministry of John the Baptist. What if John were alive today? He would need an extreme makeover, a personality coach, and to attend a church growth seminar to get a grasp on how to communicate with our modern world. Now, he might be a hit with the green crowd. Anyone up for some locust for lunch? Mark 1:3 refers to him as a “voice crying in the wilderness.” Can’t you see poor John out in the wilderness preaching his poor heart out and no one coming. But wait, v. 5 says “all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.” Now consider 1 Thess. 1:5 “for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction…”

I am burdened each time I hear a “preacher” who uses just words. I hear a lot of clear words and concise words, spoken through whitened and glistening teeth, with perfected smiles soothing and reassuring the hearer. Then, there are those who stand before a congregation mumbling their way through unprepared and meaningless dribble. How about the educated man or woman for that matter with high and lofty words that few understand but many are impressed with? Let us not forget the red-faced hollering brother who wants an amen for what he said 10 minutes ago, last week, and every week for the past several years. Loud yes, but the question remains… In all of this, where is the power? Where is full conviction? Where is the Holy Spirit? Does anyone care???

As a preacher, I listen to preaching. I do not have time to listen to bad preaching. I.e. preaching with no power, conviction, no Holy Spirit. I listen most often to John Piper. He is a man with deep conviction. Having sat under his preaching which is different than listening to a podcast, I can attest to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. His influence is huge and at the same time dangerous. I fear that too many young men try to imitate his power and conviction without first praying for and seeking those things. I fear that because I have done it.

Preaching and the preparation of the preacher go hand in hand. I can attest to the mind numbing and strength sapping success driven model on the one hand and the parson model on the other. One keeps the pastor’s eyes on growth, the other on keeping the people happy. I am not advocating that we preachers become monks that appear once in a while to preach I am saying that if we do not spend adequate time in prayer and saturating, meditative preparation, we cannot preach with power and conviction. Let me offer that there are times that in spite of me and the time that I have had in prayer and the Word, the Holy Spirit has shown up in power. Those times are an exception. I do not long for and look for those days that are an exception. I long for the exceptional. I want that which can only be explained as a work of God. I want to offer preaching that is marked with power, full conviction and the work of the Holy Spirit. I long for that power, I pray for that power, I look for that power, I expect that power.

The power is the Gospel! It is enough and I stake my life and my ministry on that power alone!

Blogging

The word blog has a guttural sound that does not exactly bring an image to mind that is pleasing. It reminds me of a movie that I saw when I was a kid called “The Blob.” The Blob was a gooey mass that swallowed up everything in its path. Blogs in many ways do the same thing. Nothing is now outside the realm of being swallowed up by a blog. The world of cyberspace allows most anyone to say most anything about whatever they wish. As a result, I want to lay down some ground rules for myself as I launch into the world of blogging.

I will not use this blog to personally confront someone over something that I should have confronted them personally. Further, I will not drag personal confrontation into the world of cyberspace for everyone to read.

I will not use this blog as a place of complaining and griping. I commit to be direct with the application of Scripture as I am in my preaching. However, I will not sit down each time to write trying to think of something that I need to critique or complain about.

I will seek to use this blog to present the implications and application of the Word of God in a clear and careful manner.

I will seek to use this blog to to teach and share about things on my heart beyond what I have the time to handle from the pulpit on Sundays and Wednesdays.

I will seek to use this blog to answer questions that I get asked by believers and non-believers about the faith.

I will seek to use words in a careful and concise manner.

I will seek to be conscious of the potential implications of anything that I write or say.

I will seek to edify and encourage believers.

I will seek to glorify the Lord God.

Further, I will seek to be a good steward of my time. I am a Husband, Father, and Pastor. I am not a blogger. In other words, I will likely only blog once a week or less. I want to have something to say that births from reflection, study, and prayer. As a result, I pray that those who read the words found on this blog will be encouraged to live and think in a Christlike manner.