Several Things On My Mind

There probably isn’t a Sunday that goes by where I don’t enter the pulpit to preach without some trepidation. Think about it: it’s not that I’m scared to speak in front of a crowd of people. It’s not that I have nothing to say. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; I do have something to say and it is from God.

No, I don’t claim ecstatic revelations and secret prophetic messages. I simply know that when I open up God’s Word and preach from it, it is God who is speaking and it is His Word that is being heard.

This means I take James 3.1 very seriously: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Join that with 2 Corinthians 5.10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” and Hebrews 13.17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account” and you’ll understand why I might experience a measure of “holy anxiety” when preparing to preach.

But I wonder if those who sit under preaching (not just mine, but any true proclamation of God’s Word) take their role as listeners as seriously? Do they enter into the sanctuary with any fear at all? Do they sense the gravity this situation calls for? How well do they prepare themselves before they come to listen to the preaching of God’s Word?

Tim Challies had a post a while back in which he listed three quotes from some good, ol’ Puritan preachers regarding how a person should listen to sermons. Here are the quotes:

Richard Baxter:
Remember that all these…sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.

Thomas Watson:
You must give an account for every sermon you hear….The judge to whom we must give an account is God…how should we observe every word preached, remembering the account! Let all this make us shake off distraction and drowsiness in hearing, and have our ears chained to the word.

David Clarkson:
At the day of judgment, an account of every sermon will be required, and of every truth in each sermon….The books will be opened, all the sermons mentioned which you have heard, and a particular account required, why you imprisoned such a truth revealed, why you committed such a sin threatened, why neglected such duties enjoined….Oh what a fearful account!

I pray you’ll come well prepared on each Lord’s Day, prayed up for your pastor and prayed up for yourself.


Yet I don’t wish that any believer would read this and think, “I can’t do it. I can’t listen like that. I’ll never be prepared enough. How can I go on?” I’m not Moses, coming down off Sinai with the tablets in my arms, ready to club you over the head with Law. There is no “no more… or else” here. Read this, from Of First Importance:

“What is the curse of the law [Gal. 3:13]? It is the or-else-ness of the law: ‘Do this, or else.’ Christ took the or-else-ness of the law onto himself at the cross, so that there is no more or-else for anyone in Christ, as God looks upon us now. Or-else is gone forever from your relationship with God.”

– Ray Ortlund “Christ is Deeper Still” blog post Jan. 13, 2010

Rejoice that God is gracious to let us hear His Word proclaimed. Then prepare yourself well to hear it and receive it.

(HT: Of First Importance)

I’m really hoping this is a perspicuous post for I’d be very disappointed to learn otherwise. And, just in case you’re wondering, this word is apposite to the situation*

And finally, here’s why I believe preaching to be up such great importance (not necessarily mine, of course; although I pray that our congregation finds the preaching absolutely necessary to their lives):

* I wonder who got a Word-A-Day calendar this year?


Did You Have a Merry Christmas?

I pray you all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas. The Sorensen family’s was just about all I could hope for: peaceful, quiet, nearly stress-free. The week was filled with lots of snow removal (this prohibited by parents from making the trek up from Iowa, but they’re coming this week, so that will be good) and preparations for services at Cornerstone.

It wasn’t certain whether our Christmas Eve service would happen, but the Lord held off snow and freezing (it just rained – about an inch and a half, which is the equivalent of roughly 13-14 inches of snow). I think the service was a blessing to all who attended. Christmas Day continued on with the “Hush” of Christmas: just the four of us until Rebecca and Devon (our new son-in-law) arrived late into the evening. Gifts were exchanged and it’s still fun, even though all our children are older now, to watch them open their gifts.

wordaday.jpgOne of my gifts I’ll enjoy all year long is a 365 New Words-a-Year calendar. Years ago, while ministering at Council Bluffs, Iowa, a dear friend and I received one of these. we would challenge each other during the course of most weeks. Each Sunday I would attempt to work in one of that week’s words into my sermons and it was Bill’s challenge to see if he caught which word I had used. I really wanted to work “brobdingnagian” into a sermon, but that word was just a bit too ostentatious and obvious. Well, this year, another in our church was given a similar calendar. I’ll leave this person anonymous for now, but kinesics is taken up during my sermons, hoping to determine when I have afflatus (and no, that’s not a bad thing!). I’ll probably try testing the powers of kenning and if they’re good enough offer guerdon of some sort.

So, any of the rest of you game to try? I’ll post a few words each week in the sidebar and give you opportunities to try them out, find them in my posts for the week and see what rewards I can motivate you with. May you purfle your vocabulary in delightful ways.