Surprise

That’s not creepy at all.

eclectic-playlist-01-august-2014-by-cecilia-bonnet

Eclectic!

So I’m giving a guy a ride to church. He’s showing off a speaker he got that he can hook up to his phone via wifi. He’s scrolling through the music on his phone. There’s some MercyMe. Here’s some country dude. Rob Zombie. OK, so this guy’s pretty eclectic.

But then he turns on a track that’s not musical; it’s some radio preacher, sounds like. He’s got that classic pacing. Solid voice, even if the recording isn’t the best. He starts out, “I want you to remember this principle: Jesus plus nothing equals everything. Jesus is enough, all the time. We don’t need anything else. So often we get that wrong. We think that to be fulfilled, we need Jesus plus something else. We won’t be fulfilled unless we have Jesus plus… a relationship.” And he goes on for a little longer. Good application of Law and Gospel.

The guy next to me in the car is grinning like an idiot. And then it hits me:

That was my voice coming from the speaker.

Look, yeah, I’m used to hearing my voice in church. I use a mic every week. We record my sermons and put them up on Youtube. At this point the sound of my voice doesn’t make me cringe. I’m still not a huge fan of it, but I’ve gotten used to it. But I’m really not used to the sound of my voice coming from a speaker in a car when I’m not speaking.

And I’m really not used to thinking of my pacing and delivery as some sort of classic radio preacher. I was admiring myself without realizing it was me. Is that narcissism? I don’t know.

But then it hit me: This guy had recorded me and seen fit to keep something I’d said on his phone, right next to his favorite music, as something in his regular mix. Granted, the phrasing is stolen shamelessly from Tullian Tchividjian, but if you’re going to steal, steal from someone worth it, you know? Jesus+Nothing=Everything is a solid book, one I heartily recommend.

But still… this guy was recording me. I don’t know if he edited it from a larger sound file (I suspect he did) or he just happened to hit record right at the start of a little snippet. And I don’t know what I think of that. It’s a little scary.

I’m just some guy. I am not worth remembering. I told a Bible study a month or so back that I hope that whenever I leave, they don’t remember me, but they remember Jesus.

I’m not important. Jesus is.

This is a struggle I’ve had for a long time. People love their pastors, and this is right. It is good to recognize and value the one who brings you the proclamations of God, who delivers Law and Gospel, who both points out the splinter in your eye and carries the comfort of forgiven sins.

But if anyone should love me… I want it to be on account of Christ, not on account of me.

Because of that, I always get uncomfortable when someone in the congregation speaks of their love of me. There are a few exceptions; one shut-in in particular tells me, “I love you, pastor,” and I always answer back, “I love you.” This man is amazing and constantly encourages me in Christ. I know that his love is there because of his connection with Jesus and my connection with Jesus. But he’s the exception. Maybe I can just see it more clearly with him, but most of the time when someone expresses gratitude or love or adoration or whatever… I’m just not comfortable.

And then there’s this guy. He’s going through membership classes with me right now, one-on-one. He rejoices in the Gospel. And he’s recorded me and put me on his phone.

Eek.

Does he have the right motivation? Did God use me to convey the Gospel in a way that hit him in just the right way? Is he simply trying to curry favor by making it look like he idolizes me?

I don’t know. I have no clue.

And point of fact, on my end, it doesn’t matter his motivation. I’m still all sorts of weirded out.

So… something new for me this week. I wonder if it’s going to be some sort of normal? I hope not. I’d rather have my members carrying around sound files of Bible passages, but at least this way I know they’re less likely to get false theology!

We’ll see what happens as he continues to grow in Christ!

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They don’t count.

Our new Sunday evening discussion-based worship service has been blessed. After just a few months, we average upper teens in attendance. This last Sunday we had eighteen people, ten of them not members but regularly attending and regularly hearing the Gospel. If it is our mission to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not heard it and those who have heard it and rejoice… our new service is a success.

“They don’t count.”

Saturday morning. I’m talking with a member who attends Sunday morning worship, our traditional worship service. And for the last month, attendance has been… low. Dismally low. Depressingly low. The church looks empty.

He tells me he’s getting tired. That maybe it’s time to give up.

I point out that while Sunday morning isn’t being attended well, our new Sunday service is reaching new people for Jesus.

“They don’t count.”

That’s what he tells me. (more…)

“If you want to do something about it… stand up now.”

We planned it out. It was time to convince the congregation to get their hands dirty. We had a meeting today. A meeting after Bible study, running into the lunch hour. We’d arranged for lunch – my Bride made her fantastic chicken bacon teriyaki ranch sandwiches – but even with food… how many people will turn a morning at church into an at least three-and-a-half-hour marathon?

How many people will come, knowing that this was going to be a presentation asking them to get involved… in sharing Jesus with other people?

Before church, one of my members and I talked. “Well, if anyone shows…” he said. He was pessimistic.

Me? I was sure I could count on a few people. You know, the usual suspects – the ones who show up for everything. But would they actually be willing to not just sit at a meeting, but even get their hands dirty in outreach?

And then… after church, I hear a group of the usual suspects talking: “Yeah, we’ll meet you at the park. Right after church?”

So… we’re not even getting the usual suspects, huh? Maybe that pessimistic member was right. (more…)

The Shock of Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8 16   When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

 

The shock of resurrection

  1. Our human minds can’t comprehend it.
  2. God promises and acts anyway!

(more…)