Monday night, I have the privilege of speaking in the chapel service of the Los Angeles Bible Training School. This training school is doing a great work, as it comes alongside local churches and assists in trains ministers and “lay people” to study, understand, and teach the word of God. One of the pastors of our church, George Hurtt, teaches a class on the Gospel of Matthew there. And two other of our pastors, Anthony Thompson and John Scroggins, attend classes there. The costs are minimum; but the rewards are great. The teachers are trained men who are committed to sound doctrine. I pray that the school will increase in influence and fruitfulness in the days to come.
I had a thirty minutes to preach, give or take. This made me very nervous. In most settings I preach in, I start when I begin and quit when I’m finished. Admittedly, I can be long-winded. But I try to be sensitive to how much the congregation can take, even though I don’t do that well at times. The problem is that the way I prepare my messages, usually by writing out a verse-by-verse exposition in a homiletical form, causes them to be a certain length. Over the past several years, my manuscripts have been getting shorter (from an average of 11 pages to an average of 7-8 pages). But I don’t think that shows in my preaching yet. Anyway, preaching in the chapel service was a good learning experience for me. When I got into the message, I have less than 30 minutes to preach. The chapel service is during a break between the classes. So they have to get out of chapel and get back into their classes. And I was never able to get into a preaching rhythm. I was consciously editing the message in my mind as I preached. And I think it made my presentation rather choppy. And my wife said that I was talking really fast and using a lot of set-up lines, rather than just saying what I wanted to say. She was probably right. All I know is that I didn’t feel as if I was at my best. I was very nervous. And afterward, I was spent. And it showed. So much so, that my kids (6 and 4, mind you) told me on the way home that they thought my sermon was good. I guess my need for some encouragement was that obvious. But, again, you never know what God will do through the preaching of his work. I trust and pray that someone was helped, challenged, and edified by the message.