Friday, March 11, 2016
Confirmand: "How do you write your sermons?"
Pastor: "I study, reflect, sometimes consult, pray, and work on the first half of the sermon throughout the week; and then let God work out the second half while I preach."
Confirmand: "Wow! You're a much better preacher than God!"
Pewsitter: "Our pastor's sermon in the second service is totally different from his sermon in the first service."
Seminarian: "Wow! He preaches two different sermons every week!"
Pewsitter: "No, he doesn't prepare either."
Seminarian: "Wow! How are they?"
Pewsitter: "Well, uh, uh, uh,...Do they still teach preaching in your seminary?"
Karl Barth: "It's not a matter of whether one wants to preach; but whether one can."
Church lady: "I don't like the way you pray!"
Tony: "Listen, lady, I wasn't talking to you!"
For the first several years as a pastor, I scripted my prayers on Friday for Sunday; then one day just before praying, I heard a voice (You decide the origin!): "Bob, we went over this on Friday."
Moretheless, I still have some notes to guide my public prayers.
I don't want to forget anything/anyone; but, moretheless, the prayers are...
Well, lots of requests came in for the opening prayer on 3/6.
I lost my notes.
So I went to the archives of the service on www.bnnsradio.com, recollected, and the following, I think, is a summary of the prayer.
Clearly, Father, we play by the rules as long as we get what we want; but when we don't get what we want, we resort to boorish behaviors embarrassing You and making our kinship to You appear illegitimate.
It's one of those practice-what-you-preach maxims subverted by do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do things.
Even in Your church...
No other gods...but there are many paths to the top of the mountain.
No idols...but childlike fidelity distracted by titles, furniture, fancy and expensive vestments, brass plaques, prejudices disguised as religion, and longing for the way things never were or maybe were but are no more.
Associating Your name with so much antithetical to who You are and what You have revealed about Yourself in Jesus and Holy Scripture.
Worship as long as we don't have anything better to do.
Prize parents as long as there's something in it for us.
Don't murder...unless you want to...or someone inconvenient is in your way to doing whatever the anything but heaven you want to do.
Don't mess around with anyone but your spouse...unless you're really in love...or your spouse just ain't cuttin' it anymore...and you won't get caught.
Don't lie...unless you're running for President...or can't convince anyone with the truth.
Don't steal if you're gonna get caught.
Don't covet openly.
Lord, we are Your people; so we're not like the posers who gather for a religious meeting to be told how great they are.
Nope, we are Yours by grace through faith in Jesus; and never outgrow our need for Savior Jesus. We never mature enough not to need to be saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
So while posers would say the preceding confession is negative and discouraging and not customer friendly, we know confession is the path to true worship of You as one who loves us just the way we are but too much to leave us just the way we are.
So, today, we're gonna talk about one of Your hardest truths - a truth that separates sheep from goats.
As we explore our discipleship, trying to conform ourselves more and more and more to You, we, again, joyously praise You for loving us moretheless...and realize it is not about and never will be about how good we are or can become...but how great Thou art!
We call upon Your great and unparalleled kindness for the needs of our world, country, family of faith, and the persecuted for righteousness' sake...
Immediately after I end my part of the opening prayer, a deacon or elder begins our weekly prayer for members of our extended family of faith around the world who are being persecuted by people who hate Jesus and, therefore, hate and hurt people who love Jesus.
We always end our prayers in the name of Jesus.
If I have to explain that to you...
Blessings and Love!