Monday, July 7, 2014

The Weekly Miracle

Have you ever been in church on a Sunday morning and somewhere in the midst of listening to a sermon, you felt God speaking to you in the deepest recesses of your soul?  Have you ever listened to a message and wondered how the preacher knew exactly what you needed to hear, without even knowing anything about your particular situation?  Have you ever felt moved to change some aspect of your life just because of the words that were spoken?  Have you ever walked out of church on a Sunday morning and you felt that the world was a different place, that you were a different person?  Have you ever walked into church with a deep sense of discouragement, and an hour later you left with a limitless horizon of potential and possibility?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you have experienced...

The Weekly Miracle

Yes, preaching, when it moves us deeply is...a miracle.

I just took a preaching class for my Doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary with Dr. Will Willemon. One of the most valuable concepts that I have learned is that the spoken word (the spoken Word), is one of God's most powerful ways to impact our lives.  God brought the universe into creation through words themselves; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John :1).  The very speaking of words in the book of Genesis is how the earth was formed, how how animals were made, how humans came into being; "And God SAID, 'Let there be light, and there was light", "And God SAID, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky…", "Then God SAID, 'Let us make man in our man in our image."  The Words of God created all that we know.

Not to go too far down the road of comparative religions, but many other faith systems believe that the creation of the world occurred through other means than words.  Zoroastrians, for example, believe that  "In the Beginning", there was an eternal battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil started all of creation.

In the New Testament, Jesus heals people mostly through the power of Words.  "A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.'  Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man, 'I am willing,' he SAID.  'Be clean!'  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured" (Mark 1:40-41)  Jesus spoke simple words and by words, there was healing.

When Jesus was not healing people, he was spent most of his time teaching and preaching.  Teaching and preaching, when you think about it, is simply the formation of words in a certain way, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, changes reality. The most famous teaching of Jesus' ministry was the Sermon on the Mount; "Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down.  His disciples came to him, and he began to TEACH them, SAYING…Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:1-3).  The mere words of Jesus changed the universe.

Let me fill you in a preaching secret.  No preaching class, or amount of skill, or the "gifts" of a preacher has the ability to change hearts.  No preacher, by his or her rhetorical power, has the ability to transform lives simply through the creative use of words.  Human words fall short.  They do in our personal lives, and they do in our ministerial lives.

For most of my life, I have worked on perfecting words that were spoken in public settings.  When other kids were at football practice, or Future Farmers of America, I was working on public speaking. Every single weekend of my high school career, I competed in speech tournaments (literally the competition of how words are put together).  I won the National Oratory Championship.  Enough people thought that the way I put words together in a speech were compelling enough, that I won the country's highest speaking award.  And then in college I competed in more speech tournaments.  I won countless awards in public speech.  I have been preaching for 15 years.  But the ability to put words together in a creative way is not….

The Weekly Miracle

The Weekly Miracle is:  The power of the Holy Spirit, combined with the openness of an individual to hear a message, combined with a preachers' human WORDS.  Holy Spirit Words change lives.

Not too long ago, a person approached me after a sermon and said, "I like what you said today.  I like the WORDS you said from the Bible.  I just wish that God would be more active in the world today.  I just wish that God were here doing more of the things He did in the New Testament.  I wish God did more miracles today!"  Then, I SAID to them, "Well, have you heard a good sermon lately?  Have you been moved through a message given by a pastor from the front of a church, or on the radio, or on a webcast?"  If so, you have experienced:

The Weekly Miracle

Expect a Miracle This Coming Weekend...Through Words Spoken by a Preacher in Church!

All For Now,

1 comment:

  1. Not sure how to get in touch with you. Read about your mission to So.Cal. I would like to connect. praying for you.