Posted by Unknown |

Chipped Teeth and Dirty Secrets

"Try to keep myself away from me" - Counting Crows

What a day.

Good day. God good day. I preached today.

I talked to a lot people after morning service this morning. That was good, lots of positive people about the youth ministry. People who used to be not too pleased now very enthusiastic. Great. God is answering prayers.

I had a meeting with Helen and spent most of the day getting nervous about my sermon. After my meeting I worked on my sermon and got even more nervous. Had some more meetings, got more nervous. Prayed more. Prayed lots. "Not my will but yours be done". I was hoping that perhaps lightening might strike the church and it would burn down. No more preaching.

The problem was that on Tuesday night when considering tonight's sermon, I felt like God was telling me to use a sermon illustration from my life that I really didn't want to tell. This illustration was a story I had only ever told three people. And never in full. It was stuff that I would never talk about on my blog. Stuff I was too ashamed to ever let the world know about. But now God was telling me to stand up in front of the church and tell them. What a terrible thought.

"... if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me"

I prayed all week hoping God would show me a way out. Do an Abraham/Isaac test on me. But nothing seemed to be coming.

So by the time I got to church, I wasn't feeling particularly good. I prayed for strength, and I was doing alright, until just before the sermon and I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to vomit. How I could get up in front of the church with my guts leaping out the top of my throat, I had no idea.

But I made it up. And I didn't vomit. Once I was there I was fine. God was faithful. I got in the swing of things and it wasn't too bad.

I started my sermon pretending to get drunk on a large bottle of whisky. It was quite fun. I had trouble taking large swigs of apple juice (cunningly disguised as whisky) without getting it all over me. And then in my rush to get my bottle to my mouth I managed to run the bottle into my front tooth at a breakneck speed. Lucky my tooth was in the way to protect my neck, but I chipped my tooth. Now I have a little chip out of the my left middle tooth. It feels a bit rough, like when Dr McCrosty would leave a bit of cement on my teeth after fiddling with my braces. I guess now I have a permanent reminder of why you shouldn't drink in church.

I think that perhaps tonight was the raunchiest sermon I have ever preached. It's not often I stand up in front of the congregation and tell them "I wouldn't mind a bit of sex" and "I've got a lot of love to give". But hey, what's the pulpit for if not for extolling your vices?

By the time it got to illustration time, I was feeling comfortable enough that I didn't stumble. I looked around the congregation and tried not to imagine them all judging me. God looked after me. He answered my prayer and gave me courage when I needed it. It was a story of grace not judgement.

In the end it all went alright. God worked. People responded and I didn't feel terrible afterwards, just exhausted. Praise the Lord because He is good!

Preaching is a funny thing. Each time this year I've been challenged to do something, to step out of my comfort zone, step up to the plate, be obedient. God hasn't made it easy for me. But I've grown a lot. Preaching is scary. Not because of what happens when you get up there, but because of what God does with you to get you ready to get up and preach His word with integrity. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I wouldn't mind an easy topic.

"Safe?" said Mr Beaver; "Don't you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you" The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis