Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Didn't Wanna Do It

I hear tell that some denominations send out the lessons to their pastors and the pastor's job is to read the lesson, shake everyones hand and lock the doors after folks leave.

I wish!

Here in the United Pentecostal Church International we do it the old fashioned way. We talk to God. Directly and personally. I don't check with my Presbyter or my Superintendent first. I get the lesson directly from Almighty God himself.

It's a rush!

Anytime the Blessed and Only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords chooses to communicate with this imperfect and humble fellow, it's awe inspiring. And every single week (that I've been scheduled to preach) since taking over the role of Pastor at this church the Lord has given me a message for the congregation. Sometimes he gives me a couple of messages for the coming weeks, but mostly he gives me a single message and that's what I preach on the Sunday. Mid-week service is teaching of Apostolic doctrine, so while very important, it's less evangelical and more structured.

The messages have varied greatly in content and direction, while still having a discernible objective. The Lord is trying ground our congregation in the basics so that we will be positioned for growth. Shallow roots and growth do not mix well, so he's trying to get us to drive our roots deep to be ready for the heights that he wants to take us to.

It's exciting!

The messages on preparation are fun to teach. I love the encouragement messages. I love to talk of the coming growth in congregation size and that we need to prepare for an influx of new people, even with all of the work that it would involve. New believers are wonderful. We love to see them, but they are like spiritual babies. There is much to teach them and the occasional spiritual diaper change required. You just haven't lived until you've heard a new believer expressing how wonderful they feel in their new life with Christ. It takes you back to when you were new in the Church. (Of course, sometimes, being so new in the Church, they express their strength of feeling by using the kind of four letter words that would make a sailor blush ... oops ... hence the spiritual diaper changes and damage control! :-)

But then sometimes the Lord needs to apply a more serious correction to the congregation. There are times when the Lord is aware of matters that would be dangerous to the congregation if left unchecked. Guess who gets to deliver those messages? Yup. Me.

Not fun.

I had to deliver one this Sunday and I'm here to tell you it was not fun. Not even close. Of all the aspects of pastoring that I have experienced so far, the delivery of a chastening sermon is my least favorite thing to do. I besought the Lord to see if there was something else I could teach instead, but I received no license to teach an alternative. I even tried ignoring my lesson on the Thursday and Friday evenings and worked on the district newsletter instead, hoping that the Lord would have mercy on me and would give me something lighter and more "fluffy bunny" to present instead.

No dice.

Having tried everything I could think of, except saying "no" (never a good idea to say no to the Lord), I started working on the sermon.

Remember this next time you feel like the pastor just tap-danced all over your toes and you feel mad at him. Understand that there's a pretty good chance that he didn't enjoy it either.

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