Thursday, February 12, 2009

Preaching and providence

I preached on Philippians 1:19-24 at Bethel Christian Academy's chapel service this morning. I like the idea of Christian High Schools (i think, if only because in Eastern NC at least public/state schools are average at best) but they are hard places to preach. And on top of that i'm not sure i did a great job of it.

It attacked my pride as i drove home this afternoon, realising that when i'm speaking somewhere know one knows me, i want to preach as well as i possibly can, and i knew that today i felt some way off that. I don't think i prepared well enough, i don't think i knew my script well enough, i didn't pray enough, i don't think to a large extent what i wrote was finished. I'll stick it up here in the next couple of days in any case, feedback appreciated.

What bothered me more than anything else as a i drove along an empty and dusty Highway 11 was that what i said just wasn't relevant. That somehow these 14-18 year olds didn't need to hear a message about Christ being life and death being gain. That there was something better, more practical i could have spoken on. How do you convince kids that to die and be with Jesus is better than to live an easy life of accumulation? How do you get someone to wear Christian Hedonist glasses in such a short, impersonal space of time?

So i struggled to believe what i shared was relevant or helpful for their lives. I struggled to think that they needed to be persuaded to count their lives as loss for the sake of Christ, that they didn't need to be challenged about what they wore or how they spent their money. Essentially, i thought they needed to hear something other then the root of the Biblical Gospel.

But oh, then lovely providence. My close friend in dark times of the soul. I picked up 'Finally Alive' and on the second page i read was this paragraph:

That...relevance is what guides my sermons and my writings. In other words i want to say things that really are significant for your life whether you know they are or not. My way of doing that is to stay close as i can to what God says is important in His Word, not what we think is important apart from God's Word.
John Piper, Finally Alive P100

So the feeling i didn't deliver a message well does not have the final say in the matter. A few hundred bored looking teenage faces looking at me (and anywhere but!) is not the final word on whether i preached on a relevant text or not. What good news it is, how it clears the fog. Talk about whats important to God, for that is truly relevant.

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