I am not scheduled to preach this coming Sunday. We have a guest speaker from Texas who is headed here today to teach and preach at MSMBC this weekend. Supposedly, I have been waiting for this weekend for weeks. Over the past several weeks, I have been rather overwhelmed, tired, and distracted. But I have pressed through, telling myself, “You have a Sunday off in several weeks. Just hold on until then.” And, believe it or not, that thought helps me to hang in there during those weeks when I have to drag myself to the pulpit. So here I am at that long awaited week when I can be sit under the ministry of the Word this Lord’s Day in corporate worship. And go figure, I am restless because I desperately wish I was preaching this Sunday morning. I love the God of the Word and the Word of God. I am so grateful that our heavenly Father has seen fit to call me to proclaim the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. And it is one of the great privileges of my life to have the opportunity and responsibility to minister the Word to the congregation at Mt. Sinai. And I strive to preach and teach the Word with faithfulness, clarity, authority, passion, wisdom, humility, sincerity, and excellence. It’s a blessed bondage to prepare myself each week. But now that I have been given a weekend pass, I would actually rather be bound to the preaching task. It’s the paradox of a compulsive preacher.
Last night, my family and I went “churchin.” Dr. J. Benjamin Hardwick and the Praises of Zion Church are celebrating their fiftieth church anniversary. And this week, the celebration is being kicked-off by a three-night revival. The guest speaker is Pastor Donald L. Parsons of the Logos Baptist Assembly in Chicago. I first heard Pastor Parsons when I was a boy preacher. And I thought he was one of the best preachers I had ever heard. Then I heard him again last night, close to twenty years after I first heard him, and I still think he’s one of the best preachers I have ever heard. Parsons is not what you would call an expository preacher. And his messages don’t have a tightly-organized structure. And he can get rather wordy at times. But, proving again that preaching is truth through personality, God uses Parson’s unique blend of gifts and skills in a powerful and compelling way. In fact, Donald Parsons embodies a homiletical point I read years ago but have failed to fully develop in my own preaching. The point is: “The Bible is about people; so let them live.” Parsons does this quite well. And I also appreciate his seriousness about the preaching moment. He is not flashy. And is messages are not all sizzle. He’s actually cooking something edifying, not just popping pulpit popcorn. And he cooks slowly. The sizzle seems to come naturally. It’s was so refreshing to hear him preach again last night. And the specific message he preached addressed the subject Crystal and I were talking about all the way to church. Our discussion was about putting artificial limitations on ourselves (or allowing others to do so) in terms of what God can do in and through us. And Parsons’ message really challenged us to live and minister with great expectation that God is fully in control of the circumstances of our lives. He wants to use us. And he will bring to pass all that he pleases to do in our lives, no matter what. Praise God! It was great to hear one of my “homiletical heroes” again. May the Lord continue to use him to preach the Word.
This weekend, MSMBC will have its first Missions Conference during my pastorate. Our guest speaker will be Pastor Randy Vaughn of the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in Port Arthur, Texas. He is a godly man with a humble spirit and strong convictions. I am excited about him sharing with us because he will bring a perspective about missions that is often neglected, that of a local pastor and church. Often, world missions are promoted by parachurch organizations, rather than by pastors and churches. But Pastor Vaughn and his congregation are not just sending money to agencies. They are personally and directly involved in reaching the lost and hurting around the world. Specifically, Pastor Vaughn is heavily involved in missions work in Haiti. So I trust that our congregation will be challenged by both his biblical teaching and his personal passion for missions work.
This Sunday afternoon, I am scheduled to preach at the Good Shepherd Baptist Church. I first preached there as a boy. I was in my early teens, if not still a pre-teen (I started preached at eleven-years-old). I remember standing there preaching. And they would just look at me, saying nothing. That was a new experience me. Mt. Sinai has always been a response congregation during the ministry of the Word. So I thought I was “dying,” because no one was saying anything. But when I finished, young people gave their lives to Christ, the members greatly encouraged me, and the pastor invited be back. And I ended up preacher there for a succession of years. The last time I preached at Good Shepherd was during the March meeting of the Western Baptist State Convention about six or seven years ago. I remember that I was in a series on the Model Prayer at MSMBC. And I preached first five messages of the series that week, as I was working to bring the sixth message in that series the following Sunday. It was a memorable experience. My favorite place to preach is MSMBC, of course. But my second place to preach is any place where I can have the opportunity to be a help to pastors, congregational leaders, and participating church members. So that week was rather special for me. Anyway, Good Shepherd has been going through difficulties in recent days. They lost their pastor earlier this year. And I’m not quite sure what the spiritual vitality or congregational morale is. But I am praying that the presence of Mt. Sinai Church and the ministry of the Word will be a great encouragement to this historic congregation.
By the way, I write a little monthly newsletter for our church every month. And I include a little one-page article in it each month. In the November issue, I wrote on “What is the Anointing?” It’s posted on our church website. Click here to read it. And check out the other information that available on the MSMBC website. I trust you’ll find something helpful there that will do you spiritual good.