And then they abandoned Jesus. They walked away. These people who had chased after him, who longed to hear him preach, who had witnessed miracles – these people who had sacrificed days of time and a lot of effort to follow Jesus: they walked away.
Why did they walk away?
Because what Jesus taught offended them. (Check out the end of John 6.)
This morning’s sermon was all about how offensive God’s Word is.
The Law declares that I am a sinner. That by nature I am dead in my transgressions and sins. That I am hostile to God. That I am not a good person. In fact, there is nothing good in me! And not only me – but that there is no difference, for all have sinned. The newborn baby? Just as sinful as me. That old grandma knitting scarves for the homeless? Just as sinful as me. And man… that is offensive.
The Gospel isn’t much better. It declares I do nothing to help. Jesus died for my sins. I didn’t help him. God declares me not guilty. I don’t help him. I didn’t choose Jesus; he chose me. And even my “good works” God himself works in me to will and do. And then, that person that hurt me so much? Jesus forgives that person too, with just as little work on their part? Shouldn’t they do something to make up for their sins before Jesus forgives? Nope! There is no difference: All are justified freely by his grace. And man… that is offensive. (more…)
Wait… usually that means me, and just me!
So. I now am supervising another pastor working for my congregation. Sort of. Kind of.
Writing, in effect, two sermons a week can really wear a guy down. Before I started the two-sermon thing, I’d been pursuing active ministry fifty to sixty hours a week. And then, adding on a second sermon added ten to fifteen hours to that. You can imagine it’s been exhausting, and frankly, not all the work I should do had been getting done. One of the things I most regretted not doing: I wasn’t getting out and making evangelism calls, pretty much at all.
One of my councilmen had a suggestion: Ask a local semi-retired pastor to come and preach once a month for me, freeing up several hours that week to focus on evangelism.
After some rather heated and appropriate discussion this morning, the council agreed to the plan: This man would be invited to preach once a month. I would be in front of the church leading the liturgy that week, and he would be expected to attend our congregation at least once a week beyond his preaching time, to give him the opportunity to get to know the congregation. This frees up at least ten hours on that week, which translates to a bunch of visits at the least attempted. (Obviously I can’t predict when I find people at home!)
I talked to said pastor today. He is very agreeable to all the conditions. For at least a few months (the council, rather appropriately, wants to reevaluate after a few months) – for these next few months, I have a pseudo-associate pastor. (more…)
For some reason, this is the first result under “Most Interesting Pastor in the World.” I have no idea.
Today a young man told me he thought I was the “most interesting pastor in the world.” My guess he doesn’t have a wide pool to draw from. I mean, me? Interesting? Take a look at what I did today.
I led traditional worship in my congregation. And you know what? It was awesome. It wasn’t awesome because of me, though. We sang songs I didn’t write. I have nothing to do with the lyrics nor the melodies. We praised God. We asked for his blessings in those songs. We thanked him. We followed a liturgy just a tad older than I am. You know, by a couple thousand years. And I reveled in pronouncing law and gospel to the congregation; I condemned sin and them, and then announced what Jesus did about their – our! – sin. I did nothing interesting the whole service. Jesus? He did the interesting stuff. He’s the one who convicted us of sin. He’s the one who saved us. You know, as true man and true God, as our Savior, he’s the interesting one. Me? I’m just a sinner he saved. (more…)
The hollow hand grips at the base of my skull and forces me to look away. Its gentle but insistent nudges caress me from concentrating on anything that is necessary. Instead, the hollow hand weighs down my eyes and my heart and locks me on the couch in my office.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to depression.
The hollow hand keeps me immobile. It does not allow me to speak to anyone. I think about the appointments I have today, and I shudder. I consider mapping out a schedule for next week. I actually gag in revulsion. The very thought of dealing with anyone cripples me.
The hollow hand lays heavy on my heart. And then a second hand appears: the dark, accusing hand of guilt.
I have so much to do. I have a list of people to visit, both members and prospects. They call out for my attention. Yes, some I can simply text or call, but even that causes me to shiver. I can’t people today. I just can’t.
But I should. They’re waiting for me. Some have requested to see me. They need someone to proclaim Christ to them. Isn’t that what I’m here to do? Isn’t that my privilege?
But the hollow hand grips me again.
I can’t. (more…)