After over 16 years in ministry, I have determined that the best of devices of preaching for me is the Holy Spirit of God as He wrings me through the meat grinder of my own depravity and pours me into the cup of His grace. It is from there that I am a nothing of a man crying out to a people who should tremble at the holy hand of God and repent and believe for the salvation of their souls and the joy of their existence.
As I reflect over the last four years of preaching and teaching and praying and studying for the glory of God, it’s very evident to me that the longer I remain a shepherd of the flock, the harder it will become to look and gaze at the emptiness in so many hearts who are always hearing but never hearing. It amazes me that so many for so long can be so idle and never shaken by the Word of God into a stable lover of Christ resulting in a foundation of extreme joy. So how does a pastor cry for the sheep? How does he mourn over the souls of misery who cannot smile due to the life that has choked joy from their hearts? How does the pastor cry out for the sheep to God without being broken beyond use never leaving the floor of petition? How can one who declares “thus says the Lord” every stop crying out to God for mercy on those who sit under the word and never flinch except in hardness of heart.
These never-ending questions are the silent current of my soul leading me to the exposure of these cries that terminates in the pulpit of the church. Standing in front of souls, who except by God’s grace will perish before the sermon is done, and begging and pleading for all to hear and believe and see the glorious beauty of God’s eternal grace and glory in the face of Jesus Christ, His holy Son… this labor is without a doubt one that no man can hold an empathetic ear lest he has stood in those shoes with a call from God.
How does a pastor cry? He cries for himself, he cries for his sin, he cries for his soul and he cries in worship. These cries move to the pages of scripture and through the pen of his journal, they move through his lips by the power of grace to the ears of people who are in the hands of God. How does a pastor cry? He cries in the power of Grace with no other hope, no other message, no other means except to prepare his heart to lean wholly on the power of the Almighty and trust that those who sit before him each week will, in the timing of God, come to faith.
Let us be thankful for the grace that keeps the pastor’s tears from consuming his soul. Let us be thankful for the grace of God who uses ordinary men to proclaim the truth of repentance and mercy. Let us be thankful for the cries in the closet and the cries of the preacher who never holds back but shows his affection through generous emotion and eternal faith in a righteous and loving God.
I am thankful for being called by God to pastor His people and to be used up, in all ways, for His glory.
Staying Stupid – James
“It does not answer the aim which God had in this institution, merely for men to have good commentaries and expositions on the Scripture, and other good books of divinity; because, although these may tend, as well as preaching, to give a good doctrinal or speculative understanding of the word of God, yet they have not an equal tendency to impress them on men’s hearts and affections. God hath appointed a particular and lively application of his word, in the preaching of it, as a fit means to affect sinners with the importance of religion, their own misery, the necessity of a remedy, and the glory and sufficiency of a remedy provided; to stir up the pure minds of the saints, quicken their affections by often bringing the great things of religion in their remembrance, and setting them in their proper colours, though they know them, and have been fully instructed in them already. ” — Jonathan Edwards