Posts Tagged ‘preaching’

Growing More Confident Day by Day

Not long ago, I preached on Hebrews 4:16 where believers are implored to “come boldly unto the throne of grace.” I entitled the message “A Time to Get B.I.G.,” referencing the basketball adage of playing inside the paint by getting big but also establishing an acronym of Bold In Grace. It was in the early stages of COVID-19 so the sermon was via Zoom, but I was truly transparent that the sermon was more for me than any of the listeners.

Confidence comes with consistency and confirmation. I have struggled with the confidence to venture into a full faith plunge with some aspects of my ministry, especially on the multimedia side. COVID-19 brought me face to face with the reality that now was the time for me to get B.I.G., Bold In Grace.

God-Given Confidence by Grace

To be Bold In Grace simply means to step forward with a newfound boldness due you being covered by God’s grace. If I fall flat on my face in failure, I know that God will allow me to recover and learn the lesson because I was obedient and faithful. If I succeed, I count that as a blessing and continue to learn what works and what doesn’t work, what fits and what does not fit at all.

Being Bold In Grace, gave me a new sense of confidence.

Confirmation in Different Forms

Oftentimes, folks want to hear a confirming word from the pulpit that resonates and sets the pews on fire with inspiring anecdotes ad stirring words of pragmatic ways to be more of an empowered believer in Christ. They want that biblical confirmation from on high with the organist leaning on the chords as the preacher kicks up his leg and tunes and swoons the church into a frenzy to close our the Sunday sermon.

That did not happen for me.

I received a letter from an inmate that was somewhere around the end or the beginning of the year. I was coming out of the cloud of confusion with my mother passing on Christmas Eve and I was still unsettled on all of that was transpiring in my world. Like a friend told me, as much as you want to, you never fully recover from the loss but just learn to live with it to a degree.

The letter quote Psalm 16:11 and confirmed so much to me that my response probably took the recipient by surprise. You see, when you seek to bless somebody, don’t be surprised when God actually blesses them through your shared words or gestures and in turn they share with you how much it blessed them. That’s what I did, sharing how much the letter had confirmed the path that I was on and seeking to transition with a tiny tinge about I just didn’t know how it would emerge or evolve.

And the second piece of confirmation came not long after that as I had just preached in the brig for one of the last times prior to COVID-19. I struggled with my feelings regarding the infrequency of preaching as an itinerant preacher, helping a church without a pastor, preaching at the brig once per month, and posting random blog messages online.

Then one day I see a familiar face in the gym as I am awaiting to play the next game of five-on-five full court. He came my way, and I wondered how I knew and recognized him. I was stumped. When you’ve done a grip of bad things to all kinds of folks across decades on earth, that’s not a good feeling and your guard is up just in case.

He called me “Rev” and that put me at ease a bit then he mentioned having been located at the brig and hearing me preach every so often. He shared the simplest confirmation for me that set me on fire.

“They let you out to figure it out on your own,” he said. “They don’t tell you how to adjust to this life out here. You either figure it out or go back in again.”

That statement clarified how I needed to extend my purpose and plan to include both multimedia and mobile ministry focuses as well as training for individuals and institutions to develop the capacity to live changed lives, especially for re-entry and recovery.

Continuing to Go Forward in Faith

I don’t recall how long it had been since those two encounters of confirmation, but I began to work on some things on the side differently, putting my skills to use with blogging, creating infographics and visuals, and putting together presentations for training and professional development opportunities. I was gaining knowledge into a lot new areas such as SEO keywords and social media marketing.

Then COVID-19 hit. It was a gamechanger.

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Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. – Amos 3:7 (NIV)

Israel was in a bad spot.

God had been speaking to them through the prophets.  He was sending messengers their way.  He sent them with His words of warning.  He sent them ahead of sending the people into captivity.

They did not listen.

It actually sounds familiar.

So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. – Exodus 6:9 (NKJV)

I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed – Jeremiah 36:31 (NKJV)

Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.- Matthew 13:58 (NKJV)

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. – Mark 16:14 (NKJV)

I guess one way to look at it is that hard heads make for hard times.

You cannot hear from God’s message if you will not listen to His messenger.  It just will not work.  In order to get the message and grasp it, you first need to hear from the messenger.

After all, God has revealed it to the messenger first so that he can carry it to the people.

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We often find God’s Word speaking to the real-life situations of the lives of God’s people. Prophets said ‘Thus saith the Lord’ over and over again over the years. This was done in order to redirect the direction of the people and its leadership. God rebuked them to humble them and restored them after their deliverance, all usually tghrough the words of the manof God as His mouthpiece.
We tend to no longer offer a listening ear to prophetic preaching and teaching. If it’s not from a pastoral pulpit, some just won’t hear of it. Would they have harkened to the voice in the wilderness in the form of John the Baptist? Would Jeremiah have been able to get a word in among these preachers? I wonder if we’ve just closed our eyes and ears to God’s way of reaching us. Yet, it’s been proven time and time again that God will make it known when God has finally had enough. No matter what people may do to shut out God’s way, He will reveal through His confrontative and confirmed Word. He’ll reach us with the wor that He needs to speak into our lives, time after time.

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Recently, news of the passing of Oral Roberts at 91 hit the press. Personally, I was struck by the impact and influence of Roberts in the area of evangelism, the good ol’ spreading of the gospel. I was also saddened to recollect reading numerous accounts of his life and wondered if many really understood what Roberts contributed to the arena of Christendom that we see today. Roberts was a visionary, not just a man with a healing ministry. Roberts developed a university to establish Christians in nearly every field imaginable. Oral Roberts listened to God and did as He said, so he lived long and made a lasting imapact on countless lives. Blessings to those who mourn our dear brother who is now out of our sight but never out of our hearts. Amen.

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