This past Lord’s Day I pushed the pause button on the Psalms and took a look into the life of a seeming lunatic boy in the gospels, recorded in Mark’s gospel, chapter 9. This was primarily due to my struggling to finish my study of Psalm 14. The message of that Psalm is too important to deliver before it is properly prepared to be served to our people. Psalm, Mark 9 it was! The prodigal in me wanted to title the sermon one thing (“Get the Hell Out”); but my judgment took a much more practical and safe approach for a title (“Lessons From a Lunatic”). If I may be candid and honest…I felt I struggled through the message. It was not a shouting sermon…as not every sermon should be, especially for the pastor who preaches expositionally from one week to the next. It was quiet. Thankfully, a little growth plus being in preaching ministry since 1994, I could appreciate the quietness; but could also discern that they were listening. Towards the end of our invitation, one of our members came down and shared how the sermon was for her; and how it helped her. In my own mind, I was saying “thank you Lord. Atleast one got it. Please help me to work through Psalm 14 this week.” But a strange thing happened. Throughout the week, I have recieved calls and texts throughout the week, from members who have shared how they were helped by the message; and if it was recorded. I hope I am not vain enough to somehow feel the need to have everyone gawk over every word that comes out of my mouth during a sermon. I personally cringe (just being honest) when I hear preachers declare they “slay” the church or “kill” the house every time they stand. Really? That’s cool! I am really just in a season of my life where I am trying to get a handle of clearly explaining the meaning of the text before me; and prayerfully have celebration along the way. If I can somehow muster to construct a “stick” or a “stallion” of a sermon (without plagiarisisms) that can live in any pulpit, be published in writted form and stick to my memory…I am happy. This has been my goal during 2015; and I hope to continue this next year. My point of sharing this is simply to encourage those who grind in study and are diligent in sermon preparation; and who, like me, may lead smaller congregations – to keep going. Continue to remain faithful to the sound, systematic, God-breathed and Holy Spirit-empowering approach to biblical exposition; and just leave the results to Him.
Here’s my outline…
Title: Lessons From a Lunatic
Text: Mark 9:14-29
C.I.T.: Christ begins to transform life’s dark realities when we have reached the end of ourselves.
I. Connect With Someone Who Knows Where You Are
II. Christ Can Begin Where We End
III. Christ Confronts the Source, Not Just the Symptoms
IV. Choosing Faith & Changing Your Language (Prayer) Will Change Your Outcome
I shared your blog with a fellow minister-colleague during breakfast, because we were discussing how we grabbed a previously written & preached message due to our incompleteness of the series that we were sharing. He is sharing a “Kingdom of God” series, and I am surveying the church through the “Testimony of Mark”. My own reason for not preaching from Mark, this past week, was because The Lord was “trying out the message on me”, before I could deliver it thoroughly as a faithful witness. (Whew! Thanks for sharing, that gave me a chance to say that.). Also, I appreciate your “openness” about the sermon-delivery mode. Often, I had negatively judged the whole message based on whether or not, the finish was strong (shouting) or weak. However, over the pst year, I have began to be satisfied with nuggets-of-celebration (or small parties) throughout the sermon… rather than a climatic conclusion. It just seemed to releave me of the emotional pressure. In return, many folks have responded (via testimony, salvation, or joining)…because of the gist of the message rather than the excitement. Again, thanks for being open.
Sounds like a powerful and helpful Word was delivered. God knows what His people need and when they need it. And you are truly on point in your observations of the situation; you cannot judge the effectiveness of the preached word by the reaction or non-reaction of the crowd. No! Not at all. But, as usual, Jesus is our prime example. He did not ‘slay’ the crowds and ‘rock’ the house all of the time. For the most part we see Him simply sitting the people down and teaching them and using every day things to shed light on the Word. Preach on Son, preach on! You are in a good place and season to know what I know that you have always known: ‘it’s not about us’, it’s all about Jesus! And rest assured, Psalm 14 is going to be a powerhouse too.