Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 09, 2010
The 1992 movie entitled “Prelude to a Kiss” follows the traditional pattern of a romantic love affair. The characters Peter and Rita fall in love and get married. The prelude to the kiss was the giddiness of the newness of falling in love fast and furiously. This is what came before a kiss that would cause an upheaval. Julius an uninvited wedding guest approaches Rita and asks to kiss her as a means of congratulations. She agrees and when their lips meet transference takes place. Suddenly, Rita finds herself in the old man's body while his essence inhabits her form. When Peter and Rita head off on their Jamaican honeymoon, she is literally not the girl he fell in love with.
The Preacher’ Prelude
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. Jeremiah 23:21 KJ
The preacher’ prelude is as problematic as the kiss is to the plot of, “Prelude to a Kiss.” The preacher calling is a kiss from God that would cause transference from the prelude of his life. Because of this transference it is not uncommon for the most powerful preachers of our time and times passed who never wanted to be a preacher. It is an upheaval of wills. The transference transports a man’s plan for his life to God’s plan for his life.
The older preachers uses to say that there are two kinds of preachers. The preacher who “went” and the preacher who was “sent.” In the Old Testament God expressed His anger for the “went” preacher by saying, " I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." (Jer. 23:21). The New Testament makes plain that God gives a special call to those whom He sends to preach the Gospel. Romans 10:15, "And how shall they preach unless they are sent?" The great British preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones declared, "A preacher is not a Christian who decides to preach," "It is God who commands preaching, it is God who sends out preachers."
Seventeen in twenty pastors (83 percent) believe that God has clearly communicated to them a unique calling—to a life of ministry in their current job…More than a third (37 percent) of pastors say their calling became known to them through a gradual process rather than a defining moment.
If you what to have power in your preaching you must be call out, set apart, and sent by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit gives the supreme power to preach the word of God. Peter is a great example of that on the day of Pentecost in Act 2:14-41.
The Greatest Power
The Holy Spirit is the greatest power for the preaching of God’s word. God must call out the preacher in the genesis of his preaching. The preacher must depend on the Holy Spirit’s power in preparing His sermon. The preacher must depend on the Holy Spirit for the delivery of His message.
I have because a great fan of preaching without notes or with a partial outline. Dr. Kent Anderson on this website offer these homiletic insights to preaching without note.
Generally, it would be wise for the preacher to make use of as little notes as possible without losing coherence and impact…Fewer notes is probably better as long as the quality of content remains uncompromised…It should be noted that preaching without notes is not the recitation of a memorized manuscript. The preacher does not need to be on the platform trying to recall those things that have been formerly committed to memory. This can be crippling. The preacher, rather, is working out of the overflow, sharing from a heart and mind that has well assimilated the truth and stories of the sermon.
This is great insight to preaching without notes. The Holy Spirit takes the well assimilated truth and stories and add power. When I am preaching without notes or a partial outline I am amazed to see how the Holy Spirit speaks by filling in the lines. I have become so depended on the Holy Spirit’s power. There have been a few times when the Holy Spirit as I was speaking changed my sermon to His message. I do not know how He did it. I just know who was doing it. I opened my mouth and other words begin to come out. I was in on the preparation stage of my sermon. So, I am not talking about being unprepared. I begin to discern that this is not my discourse. At these few times I prayed under my breath, “Ok Lord I will follow you” and I cast myself upon the staffing wind of the Holy Spirit’s power.
I listen to the tape later to see what the Spirit said. I have learned that the Holy Spirit makes sense. Go figure that the Holy Spirit can makes sense. When I listen to the tape there was a direct divine design to His message. In other words I would not have been chasing rabbits. We have all heard those kinds of sermons. You think after thirty minutes to an hour, “Now what did he say?!?! I preach without notes or with an outline and I am excited to listen to the tape to see what the Spirit said. The Holy Spirit almost always changes some part of my sermon to His message. The Holy Spirit is the power that calls, helps you to research, and helps you to deliver His message.
The Preacher’ Prayer
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. Acts 6:4 KJ
Put power in your preaching through prayer. The call to preach is a simultaneous call to pray. It is by prayer that you depend on the Holy Spirit of God. We should pray before we prepare. We should pray before we preach. We should also pray before parting from our people. Powerful preaching begins with powerful pray. People can see a sermon better than they can hear a sermon. Therefore the preacher’ prayer should not just be a prayer to preach powerfully. It should be a prayer to live powerfully.
A. W. Tozer gives a wonderful example of this kind of prayer. His prayer although prayed about a century ago stands as a beautiful jewel of a prayer for the preacher in the New Millennial. Here is an excerpt from his prayer as a preacher seeking God's power and glory.
Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me. Anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Forbid that I should be come a religious scribe and thus lose my prophetic calling.
Save me from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy, the curse of compromise, of imitation, of professionalism. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering.
Help me to remember that I am a prophet - not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity. Save me from bondage to things. Let me not waste my days puttering around the house.
Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.
Deliver me from overeating and late sleeping. Teach me self-discipline that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ Let me stand before the great or minister to the poor and lowly; that choice is not mine, and I would not influence it if I could.
Fill me with Thy power by the Holy Spirit, and I will go in Thy strength…
The preacher’ prayer is to be fill each day with the wisdom and strength of the one who initially called him to the task of preaching. The power to preach comes from an abiding with God. Abiding with God is more than prayer. However, you can not begin to abide with God without prayer. If we really believe that the primary job of the preacher is to pray and study as Act 6:4 says than our daily routine would look more like this as appose to the busy routines of the twenty first century.
9:00A-12:00P Prayer Time
12:00P-1:00P Fasting & Prayer
1:00P-5:00P Study The Word
Thomas Chalmers, the noted Scotch theologian, believed that most failures in the ministry are due, not to lack of study or visiting or church activities, but to lack of prayer.
James S. Stewart suggested in “Heralds of God,” “. . . whether your congregation be large or small a great part of your task on its behalf lies in the realm of intercession . . . I mean praying for every family, each separate soul, by name.” He advocated praying for about three families a day. Visualize their circumstances, think of their work, difficulties, temptations. This consumes time, but the effect on the people and the minister himself would be most helpful.
Prayer and preaching is like rowing in a boat with two paddles. As long as you are using both paddles you will be able to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform people in the image of Christ. However, you will preach in circles without the paddle of prayer. You will also pray in circles without the paddle of preaching the Word of God.
We tend to fell short in the prayer ministry. When we fall short in the prayer ministry our preaching and peoples lives are lived in circles. We have a church, ministry, and people that are analogous with the children of Israel who wonder in circles for 40 years in the wilderness for an 11-day journey.
We don’t pray and that is why we preach the same sermon on an annual or semi annual basic. We don’t pray and that is why we buy our sermon online and call it research. We don’t pray and that is why we preach identical to the latest TV preacher. We don’t pray for our people and that is why Satan is having his way with our parishioner. We don’t pray and that is why we can’t be “saved from the curse that lies dark across the modern clergy. We are cursed of compromise, of imitation, and of professionalism. We can’t be saved from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering because we do not pray! I may not pastor a mega church but through prayer and praise I serve a mega God!
Now naturally we cannot spend all our time in our prayer closet. However, we can supernaturally spent time in prayer as we begin to pray without ceasing. Pray before every meeting, every service, every meal, every trip, every letter, every member, every problem, every sermon, every devotion, and every book. We as preacher must pray for God’s power to preach, preparations, and for the people. Really powerful preaching comes from a powerful prayer and praise life before God.
The Preacher’ Praise
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. Revelation 19:5 KJ
If we are going to have power in our preaching we better realize whom the God we service. We are in the employ of the powerful God who is worthy to be praise. Any time the church gathers together it should be a time for worship and praise. The most wonderful places to preach are after praise and worship has taken place. Praise and worship is the best time for God to prepare the hearts of the people to hear the Word of God. The Word of God says that He inhabits the praise of His people in Psalm 22:3. When we are preaching to a people that God inhabits, preaching become more powerful!
Many times our preaching don’t have any power because we are preaching from a praiseless place. We our selves or our church are prasieless. Get the praise right and powerful preaching will follow! Many times in the church the preacher is so busy at work or so busy being praise him self that we forget to praise God. This is what Howard W. King had to say in an article entitled, “When The Preachers Loses God.”
“… The preacher’s self-importance seems justified by his busyness. Why is he so popular? Why are his services sought by so many? Why is so much praise lavished upon him? The inference is that he is a very important person. But the preacher’s seeming greatness may dim his vision of God and dull his sensitiveness to God’s presence. As Stewart affirmed, “Nowhere surely are pride and self-importance more incongruous and unpardonable than in the servant of the cross.”
Sundays and any other days the church gather together is not just about the sermons we preach and bible studies we teach. Our primary task is to worship and praise God. We put power in our preaching by praising the God we service. We praise him in the service before we preach. Many times the pastor is to busy at worship time. Pastors are busy leading the service during worship service. If you can, give someone else to lead the worship time. Some pastors are in their study preparing to preach during the worship time. If you have not gotten a message by the 11:00 AM it is to late! Leave your study and go praise God. You will be able to find your message during the worship service. You can always preach about how great God is!
I generally like to work up two sweat during the Sunday service. The first sweat come when I am parsing God through sing. The second sweat comes when I preach. Preacher put power in your preaching by praising God first!
Preacher, put power in your preaching by being called and depending daily on the Holy Spirit’s power. Preacher put power in your preaching by praying without ceasing. Preacher put power in your preaching by praising the God you serve.
David said about him: 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because, he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. Acts 2:25-27 (NIV)
On election night; I was glued to the TV screen. Four hours prior to the arrival of President-elect Obama, 250,000 people had gathered in and outside of Chicago’s Grant Park. I can remember the expression of hope that was firmly sealed on the faces of many Americans in the crowd. Most faces would remain nameless. However, there were two faces that I recognized and one in particular that I wondered about. The faces that I identified were Oprah Winfrey and Rev. Jesse Jackson. The other person that I was wondering about was Sam Perry from Menlo Park, California. Oprah used his shoulder to lean on during the events of this historical night.
However as the night progressed, I would admiringly remember the smiling tears of Rev. Jesse Jackson. He was the first black man to run for president of the United State in 1984 and 1988. During his time of service to our community, Rev. Jackson coined the phrase, “Keep Hope Alive!” Many Americans can remember this famous quote that was symbolic to Rev. Jackson’s campaign for the highest office in the land, "The Presidency."
On the night of Nov. 5 in Chicago’s Grant Park, “Hope was definitely alive!” Hope was manifested on faces of Americans from all walks of life and various backgrounds.
However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14 percent between President Barack Obama's Election and Inauguration Day. This was the largest decline ever in the stock market. The Dow Jones also made the biggest decline on Inauguration Day.
Did the Dow Jones not witness history? Did those on Wall Street not vote for change? Did not those who buy and trade stocks believe that, “Yes We Can!” I quickly learned that if I wanted hope for our present economic times then, I might need a new source. This new source is really and old source that Grand Mama used to make it through the decimation of the Jim Crow Era.
As I reflect on the many American faces that were from all walks of life, “HOPE” appeared permanently affixed upon their faces as they waited to hear from President Barak Obama. There were many faces in that crowd that would remain nameless. As I reminisce about “The Great Cloud of Witnesses” of the past, I identified with Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. I remembered one other person that I identified with, and that was Grand Mama and her generation. The shoulders of her generation were the props for Oprah, President Obama and Rev. Jesse Jackson as this historic event had come to pass.
Grand Mama did not look to man; she looked to God. Grand Mama was nameless in this “Great Cloud of Witnesses,” but God knew her intimately. Grand Mama prayed that she would live to see that historic night. Grand Mama told us that we could grow up and become president, and she believed this through the providence of God!
Providence of God
David is quoted in Acts 2:25 to give us insight to where we can find hope for a brighter tomorrow in America. We find hope in the providence of God. David says, "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Therefore, I do not need to be shaken by the banking crisis, the housing crisis, the American automobile crisis or our present moral crisis. I do not need to look for hope for a brighter tomorrow in Washington or on Wall Street. God is my stimulus package. I, like David, can get my hope from the providence of God in my life. I can also have hope in God to heal my country. God does govern in the affairs of nations.
Benjamin Franklin said, "I have lived a long time, sir, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth is that God governs in the affairs of men." The key to believing that God is my stimulus package is being able to perceive God in my nation’s affairs. God is America’s only hope. We can find hope like David and Grand Mama in the perception of God.
Perception of God
David says because of the providence of God, I can perceive Him. When I perceive God in my circumstances, I can be happy even if my circumstance has not changed. “Yet, I can shout right now!” David says, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.”
I can perceive God making His presence known; I can have hope for a brighter tomorrow in America. C.S. Lewis says, “When you come to know God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.” Can you perceive God in America? Grand Mama did! Can you perceive God in your circumstance? Grand Mama did! Can you feel God in the atmosphere? Grand Mama did!
She leaned on hope over and over again. Grand Mama believed in God when it was said that Christianity was a white man’s religion. Grand Mama believed that God was up to something great.
I feel and know that God is up to something great. This is a divine moment for the glory of God. I believe in this dark hour that, “Yes, God Can!” I will shout right now, because of the promises of God. We find hope like Grand Mama did in the promises of God.
Promises of God
Arthur W. Pink says, "The permanence of God's character guarantees the fulfillment of his promises." David says, "My body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." What a great promise from God in this text. I remember what Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Keep Hope Alive!" I remember what our President said, "Yes, We Can!" But, I will fondly remember what Grand Mama said, "Yes, God Can!"
God can provide a job in an unemployment crisis. God can provide money in a financial crisis. God can provide a home in a housing crisis. God can provide a car in an automobile crisis. God can provide a president in a government crisis.
God can provide holy men and women of God in a moral crisis to remind us that, “Yes God Can!” David and Grand Mama said, “My body also will live in hope.” God has not abandoned me to die! God will not let His holy ones decay! I have hope for a brighter tomorrow, because I put my hope in God.
Thank you, Grand Mama, for believing in God. Thank you, Grand Mama, for believing in me.