Gospel Links for Gospel Culture (6/28)
It was the last day of our annual “Camp Sonshine” summer camp, and he stood in front of about 100 or so of us kids in the church’s fellowship hall. As he began to speak, he picked up a big vase of clear liquid. He told us this was the condition of our hearts before sin entered the picture—pure and clear. Then he explained that in the beginning of the world, Adam and Eve rebelled and disobeyed God. As he spoke, Brother Jim squeezed a couple of drops into the water that instantly turned the clear liquid to a deep black. He explained that this blackness represented the condition of our hearts because of our sin—black and darkened to the things of God.
When we thumb through the pages of Scripture, we are welcomed into the theater of God’s glory. He comforts the discouraged, calms the anxious, teaches the confused, and offers purifying grace to sinners.
For two and a half years, in addition to my responsibilities at LifeWay and in other fields, I served my church as the primary teaching pastor. I was responsible for preparing and delivering 40 sermons a year.
A few months ago—for reasons pertaining to my family, my work, and my writing—I sensed it was time to bring this season of weekly preaching to a close, and so I stepped aside. On my last Sunday as teaching pastor, the church gave me a leather-bound book filled with handwritten letters of appreciation from members of the congregation. The most meaningful letters mentioned specific sermons that intersected with crucial life moments. Again and again, I was amazed at the power of God’s Word to give us the medicine we need at the moment we need it!
As I reflect on the great honor I had to serve as the primary preacher in our church, I keep coming back to three main sources of joy.
Would you accept more hostility toward the gospel if it meant more openness to the gospel?
A friend in Scotland recently told me that the hostility his very secular country is exhibiting toward Christianity is being countered by a flood of genuine interest in the gospel. “It’s never been so hostile here,” he said. “But never more open either.”
So there’s the question. Would you trade some comfort for some conversation? Would you swap some ease for more evangelism?
Congregational singing should leave an impression on the congregation that follows them into their week. No matter how bad your memory may be, singing songs that are creative, lyrically sound, and catchy will be left ringing in your ears. Throughout the week, singing helps us to remember the truths that we have reminded each other of during Sunday morning worship. Sing loudly. Belt out the truths that will echo all throughout the upcoming week in the ears of your brothers and sisters in Christ! When I face temptations during the week, it helps me to think of my brothers and sisters singing Scriptural truths. This is my ammo to fight against temptations to sin. The great theologian Buddy the Elf reminds us “to sing loud for all to hear.” This is why I believe that we might need to turn down the microphones on stage so that the congregational singing can be amped up. Don’t be shy when it comes to singing. In congregational worship, we sing both to the One True King and to fellow believers.