Preaching: From God & Before God

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“For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? For we do not market the word of God for profit like so many. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-17, CSB)

Pastor, the weekly privilege of preaching God’s word to God’s flock is no small task. Some would say it is the most significant, most valuable thing you do every week. After hours of studying the text and praying for the Holy Spirit’s discernment, wisdom and anointing, God gives you the awesome responsibility of representing him and re-presenting his word before a group of people who have gathered to meet with him and to hear from him (not with you or from you). The message of Christ is a matter of “life” and “death”, writes Paul; the gravity of the Sunday morning hour should be an occasion for sincerity and awe.

“Who is adequate for these things?” asks the apostle, rhetorically. “No one” is the appropriate response. Apart from the calling of God in Jesus Christ, not one of us is educated enough, dynamic enough, faithful enough, or eloquent enough to represent God and re-present his word every week. Apart from Christ, the preacher brings absolutely nothing to the table. There is no room for boasting or pridefulness in the pulpit. The gravity of our weekly task would completely devastate us, apart from the call of the Father, the redemption of Christ Jesus and the anointing of the Spirit.

“Profit” is a dangerous motive for preaching God’s word. If the question is “what might I gain from preaching today?” you have failed before you have begun. What is it you hope to gain from preaching? Money? Acclaim? Admiration? Experience? The preacher is only prepared to stand in the pulpit when he seeks no such earthly reward. Our only gain is found in our humbled obedience to God. In the words of Richard Baxter, 17th Century preacher, we must walk off the stage each week able to say with integrity: “I preached… as a dying man to dying men.”

In verse 17, the apostle offers a single guiding thought that may do us all good as we prepare and preach every week: “as from God and before God.” Is this message a message from God? Am I preaching it today, as if God himself is in the room watching and listening? Biblical preaching is not biblical preaching if the message is not from God and before God. Preach the word, trusting the Holy Spirit to do the work of conviction in listening hearts. Deliver every word with sincerity, knowing that the Author of your message is in the room, listening intently as you deliver his message to his people.

When Paul meditates on the gravity of his preaching task, he comes to the conclusion that on our own, none of us are “adequate for these things.” But you can stand in the pulpit every week in humbled, impassioned obedience to God when the message you have prepared is “from God” and is being delivered as “before God”.

Grace and Peace
Tony

 

Mission Haiti Details

I thought I would take a moment this morning to give a little more clarification on exactly what we will be doing in Haiti July 7-14 this year. As time has lapsed, God has definitely gotten ahold of this initiative and made it into a God-sized one. Below is a short summary of what we will be doing. May God alone be glorified!

Haiti (Tony and leaders in St. Phare)

From July 7 through July 14, 2013, a group of 20 people (Haitians and Americans) from Texas and Louisiana will be investing in the people of Haiti through a large-scale, church-oriented mission project. The team will be staying at the Walls International Guest House in Port au Prince, Haiti, but doing most of their work in the cities of Lone and Petion ville. During a preliminary trip to meet with pastors, laymen, and government leaders last January, the Spiritual needs revealed were four-fold: pastor training, church leader training, seminars on biblical manhood and womanhood, and spiritual as well as educational investment in the children. During our time in Haiti this July, these four areas are exactly what we intend to cover. Below is a more detailed description of activities planned for this 7-day trip.

Children’s Day-Camps (VBS-style) – In the cities of Lone and Petion ville, our volunteers will be teaming up with approximately 20 local Haitian volunteers to put on two children’s day camps at these two different locations. We expect around 150 children in Lone, and 300-400 in Petion ville. Over the course of 5 days, these children will be learning how to live and apply Matthew 6:33 to their everyday lives. They will learn through story-telling, organized games, crafts, and songs. At the end of the week, backpacks of school supplies will be handed out as a reward for attendance. The school supplies we give freely to each child will amount to more supplies than any of them have ever had for themselves before. 

Pastor and Church Leader Training Seminar – During the days, a team of professionals from the states including two pastors, one layman, and one denominational leader will be spending time with pastors and church leaders, training them on the specific areas of concern voiced to us during our preliminary trip last January. Pastors will be learning how to discern, preach, and apply God’s Word effectively as well as how to shepherd their people. Church leaders will also have the privilege of learning specific information and strategies to immediately apply in their own contexts. For example: Youth workers will be learning how to teach youth about their sexuality (a big problem in Haiti), and the importance of the family unit, among other things. Church finance teams will be learning about fidelity in handling God’s money, and the importance of transparency, planning, and budgeting. Deacons will spend time discussing contextual church issues and learning how to support their pastor and develop strategies for meeting the needs of the people in their churches and communities. And more. 

Kingdom Man and Kingdom Woman Seminar – In the afternoons, at the same location as the pastor and church leadership training seminars, a US Haitian pastor and wife team (Kenny and Stephanie DeJean of Agape United Tabernacle in Houston) will be teaching men and women how to live with a kingdom mindset. This seminar places importance on the family, and on devotion to God’s Word and His call on their lives. The seminar is based on and adapted from Dr. Tony Evan’s Kingdom Man material. We expect between 100 and 150 men and women to attend this seminar daily.

The trip will culminate with a large-scale certificate ceremony for those who went through the seminars, as well as an evangelistic church service to include songs of worship and preaching. When we leave Haiti on July 14, our goal is that the information, techniques, and discussions from the seminars, as well as the long hours invested in the children of Lone and Petion ville, will be a spring-board for lasting change. Our desire is to equip the people with the knowledge and resources necessary to become effective ministers themselves, to the people God has called them to love – just as is our call here in the States. 

Grace and Peace,

Tony