Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's Thursday?!?

Well, it's Thursday and not a word of the sermon is written yet. I'm not a last minute procrastinator. In fact, I started studying Monday of this week, but the Lord speaks his word when he is ready and not when I am. There's no magic button for the Spirit to start speaking. So I will wait. And read the text. And wait. And read the text. And wait. And read the text.

My sermon's title this week is "It's Sunday and Friday's Finished," which plays off the title of Tony Campolo's sermon "It's Friday, But Sunday's Coming." But right now, it's Thursday and Sunday's coming and I have no sermon. My prayer is that the hard work of sitting with the text will bring a flood of insight this afternoon.

So here I wait. In an office in Abilene, Texas waiting for a sermon that I will preach in Dallas. I have no doubt that the message will come, but here I wait. Father, I wait in eager expectation for what you will bring. I do not worry for you alone are my God and you are the one who has authored the story I will tell Sunday.

Speak, O Lord.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Power of Preaching?

Well, the sermon seems to have gone well by the response. I get so hyped up when it comes time to preach! Each morning before I preach, the excitement is so great that I can't imagine doing anything else. (Well, I could imagine playing in the US Open on Father's Day and maintaining a schedule on the PGA Tour if I was good enough, but that's beside the point.) But as I thought more about what I plan to do (preach), I began to wonder how much of a difference will I make?

I had prepared my sermon on Wednesday of last week and I was excited about the coming Sunday. After all, it is a pretty big deal to preach at Southern Hills. But when I entered the haircut store that afternoon I began to question myself. As sat down in the chair the conversation went well until I mentioned where I am working this summer. Then, it turned to silence. That put my Sunday experience in perspective. How small a thing it is to preach each week! That's not going to make a difference for the lady cutting my hair and at times I wonder if it makes a difference for the people at church. Do sermons form people in any significant way? Or is it just a bunch of language put together to entertain? My prayer each week is that God will pour through me the gift of preaching so that Christ might be formed in the hearts of those present, but does it make a difference?

My theory of language says that it does. I believe the word itself makes an impact on the hearer - that language is in some way performative at times. But is that all just theory or are our sermons making a difference? Surely the pastoral parts of ministry make a difference in lives, but does the sermon itself form people. I'd like to think so. Let me know about your experience.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I have started a new internship at the Southern Hills Church of Christ in Abilene, TX. It has been two full years since I have been in the middle of full-time ministry. During my summers in undergrad, I spent every one of them doing preaching internships. It was through those internships that I received my call to the ministry of preaching. I love school so much, but there is something about getting my hands dirty in day-in-day-out ministry that revives my spirit.

Two out of the past three weeks I have been in classes and I still have papers to write for those classes, but this internship will allow me to leave the academy in order to let God remind me what all of my schooling is really about.

The next three weeks I will preaching. The first two I will preach at Southern Hills and the third I will preach at my home congregation, Highland Oaks. I am more than excited about these opportunities. I will be preaching on Simon of Cyrene and Peter's healing of Dorcas. I can't wait to meet God in the text in the powerful ways he always meets me when I spend time in study and sermon preparation. It has been over a year since I last wrote a sermon so I am a bit anxious to see if the gift is still there, but God is faithful and he will show up if I open myself to his word.

For three weeks, I get to do exactly what God has gifted me to do. What more can a person ask than to delight in what God has gifted him or her to do. This is what life is all about and I am excited to depart on the journey. This morning I enter the text. Who knows how it will shape me in the coming weeks? God, I'm ready for the journey. Guide me as I help others enter the text in ways they might have never considered it before.