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Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

Mortimer's First Garden

While some folks may focus in on the correct/rebuke others portion of this verse, I’m much more drawn to the idea of talking, sharing with people with “great patience.” With patience as the umbrella, even a correction would be done with utmost concern and gentleness. That makes sense.

II Timothy 4:2
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

I hate “sparring” about verses in the Bible. Face it, there are tons of people who know the scriptures a lot better than I do and they have committed themselves to memorizing hunks of useful phrases, ready to debunk (correct/rebuke) and possibly even “expose” me and my understanding or interpretation of the words. I don’t go there anymore.

But I’m thinking today that “preach the Word” may actually mean “preach Jesus” moreso than expound on scriptures. For me, that means to speak about Jesus and his life, to explain the concept of a Christ in this world, to share the impact of Jesus and His Holy Spirit within me, to give the gift of what I personally know. When I add the words from scripture to my personal story, when I share how those words helped me understand the truth of the Christ in my life, then it’s a package of love. I am not a leader/teacher/preacher. I am no Timothy. I am just a follower of that Way.

But, what is preaching? Is it part of my role at all? Is it just proclaiming, teaching, exhorting, advocating, and admonishing or can it be all of these things? When I purposefully add “patience” to any of these definitions, the tenor of the words is much softened. It’s more like explaining or story-telling to a child, spoken with patience and even love. It’s not self-edifying, it’s not deprecating or sanctimonious. It’s not screaming or challenging. It’s not clever. That other kind of preaching/teaching is incompatible with patience, or at least, in my mind, they are not easily partnered together.

Jesus is patient; has been and will be throughout time. God is patient. Love is patient.

The other day, I read a cute story to some kids at the library in which Mortimer the mouse planted a seed and was quite disgruntled the next day when there was nothing to show for it. We all know that seeds take time to sprout. Why aren’t we as loving and patient with the Word?

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I need to lighten up about the various gospel message venues that are outside my sense of propriety or taste. If St. Paul is not concerned about motive, then shouldn’t I have more confidence in the ultimate message? God doesn’t need me as a defense attorney.

Philippians 1:18
But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

I confess, I struggle with the propriety of those who promote Christ in conjunction with goofy sounding miracles like “gold dust” or body spasms or hysterical laughing. And yet, who am I to say this isn’t God too?
Maybe every miracle appears insubstantial or faked to one person or another.

But the point is that God can bring down the liars without my help. God chooses when to weed the garden, not me.

In my own church, there are people who are moved to tears and confession by the waving of flags, a procession of women in white dresses carrying gold crowns, or children carrying an array of palm branches or country flags. These symbols do not touch me but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value or power.

The conduct of worship or the method of preaching or the way of the witness will be and must be unique to the individuals who do it. The only true mistake is when others try to overlay these ideas on everyone as the best way, the only way, or the surefire way to bring people into the faith.

There is really only one surefire way: authenticity and love.

Paul was confident in his own faith and knew without a doubt that he was in the right place at the right time. God was with him and God was using him. Everything else was a by-product.

I can only know my own God arena. And all the rest is about grace.

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I do get some satisfaction knowing that Paul was flawed. And apparently, among his imperfections was his long-windedness. On this occasion, in Troas (part of modern day Turkey), the last day of his visit there, he talked and taught almost 24 hours!

Acts 20:7b, 9a, 11b
Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. … Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on…. [then] After talking until daylight, he [Paul] left.

Luke wrote that Paul talked “on and on” [NIV] indicates to me that this was a long session even for the devoted disciples.

I think it’s important to remember that Paul was not perfect. He was anointed by God and did marvelous works as a faithful apostle. He taught many. He changed the composition of the believers, opening hearts and doors to non-Jews. But he wasn’t perfect! In fact, he was on the extreme side of things. He had been a Pharisee before he accepted Christ as the Messiah. He already had a bent toward compulsiveness.

We must read Paul in this light. Besides, in a time when little was written down, how could anyone remember what Paul said in a 24 hour sermon? Unlike Jesus, Paul did not lean to parables and simplicity. He was a scholar… a theologian… an academician. Face it, to read the books and writings of scholars today can be daunting as well. It takes lots of energy and focus to capture the essence of what is written in these complex texts.

Each person brings his/her uniqueness to the kingdom story. The spirit of Jesus in me manifests differently than the spirit in you. Of course, there are common denominators, but there is that part of the story that only I can tell… that only I can live…. flaws and all.

Confession, I’m a big talker too. I think out loud and my listeners have to sort through the half-baked ideas to glom the big picture. I talk with such confidence and enthusiasm that people often miss my insecurities and fears. Sometimes I say things so fast that I manage to talk myself into trouble, putting my foot into my mouth, as they say, up to my thigh. And then, there’s the gossip factor. It’s all about talking… and talking… and talking.

And yet, in midst of the jabber, I also know there are truths. I love being a follower a Christ. I love that spiritual aspect of my life. Secret? I think I could talk about my faith, my God, and the Messiah for 24 hours too. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could guarantee to raise anyone from the dead who fell out a window.

In the end, I think I’m supposed to be quiet today. Let’s see how that goes.

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