Sound Words, May 6, 2018

Sound Words, May 6, 2018

“I’m A Poor Preacher”

By Paul R. Blake

            A preacher took his car to the local mechanic who was also a member of the church where the evangelist ministered. The mechanic told the preacher that his car would need a valve job and would cost plenty. To which the preacher replied: “Go easy on me when you write the bill; I’m a poor preacher.” The mechanic quickly responded:  “I know, I heard you preach last Sunday.”

I never cease to be amused by this joke and tell it every opportunity I get. We all have our favorite preacher joke, just like we have favorite political jokes, favorite practical jokes, and favorite knock-knock jokes. Perhaps all of us know a preacher that we would classify as “poor” or “boring” or “just not very interesting.” There are some preachers that I would drive one hundred miles to hear in a meeting, and there are some that I do not go to hear unless I have had a few cups of strong coffee. But upon what criteria do we judge a preacher as excellent or poor? Is an excellent preacher one who, as Ezekiel writes, “as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument” (33:32)?

I know of several preachers who could with very little effort be professional entertainers. In fact, I have been very entertained by their preaching when visiting at their meetings. Yet while I left those meetings entertained, at the same time I wondered if I had been edified. I am not indicting dynamic preaching; I am criticizing showmanship for showmanship’s sake. Again, what standard do we use in judging the quality of the sermons that are preached?

Noah preached 120 years without a single convert beyond his own family. By today’s fashionable qualifications for a preacher, Noah would be classified as an abject failure. Elijah’s message was even less popular. Israel’s royal family put a contract out on his life. The apostle Paul’s preaching style was judged by the critics thusly: “his bodily presence is weak and his speech is contemptible” (2Cor. 10:10). No my friends, we judge a sermon based according to New Testament rules: 1) is it truth? And  2) is it clear and simple?

Churches are judged the same way, too. If a congregation is a fun-loving group, if it has lots of activities for the young, if they have a well-known preacher, if they have several wise old elders, if they have a nice building, if everyone gets along just swell, and if they have a large membership, THEN it must be a good church. Based on these criteria, the church at Philippi would have been a failure. They started out with only two families. The church at Corinth would have been a failure; they had several problems. The churches of Macedonia would have been failures; they were poor and probably couldn’t afford fancy buildings. Most of the New Testament churches would be failures if judged by today’s standards, but when judged by the Lord’s judgment they are faithful and sound, holding forth the banner of truth. The same is true today. The peripherals have nothing to do with what makes up a good church. If the church is composed of people who love God, love truth, love each other, and love the lost, THEN it IS a good church. “Judge not according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

A Child at Stake

            If a child attends Bible classes regularly, two out of three are converted. If a child does not attend Bible classes regularly, one out of 343 are converted. Are you gambling with the soul of your child? Start regular attendance now! (Contributed)

Moving Forward

            “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Whether or not you reach your chosen destination depends on two things: 1) moving forward; 2) keeping on the right path. You cannot stand still on the right path. Neither will it avail to be the swiftest, brightest dog on the wrong race track! The entire book of Hebrews warns that standing still leads to drifting away (Hebrews 2:1). Obviously, if you are on the broad way, it doesn’t matter how fast or efficiently you are working, you are headed toward destruction. (From Oscar C. Miles)

“…Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Matt. 13:21).

Abundant Blessings

            “I was talking with a farmer about his soybean and corn crops. Rain had been abundant, and the results were evident. However, his comment surprised me. He said, ‘My crops are especially vulnerable. Even a short drought could have a devastating effect.’ ‘Why?’ I asked. He explained, ‘Though we see the frequent rains as a benefit, during that time the plants are not required to push roots deeper in search of water. The roots remain near the surface. A drought would find the plants unprepared and quickly kill them.’” (From Neal Orchard)

Likewise, some Christians receive abundant blessings, fellowship, and teaching. However, when hardship, tribulation, or persecution enters their lives, they suddenly quit the Lord. Their roots have never pushed below the surface. Only roots that are deeply grounded in the Lord will endure in times of drought in our lives.

A Story of a President

            The story is told of President Garfield’s first Sunday in Washington after his inauguration. A member of his cabinet insisted that a cabinet meeting must be called at 10:00 a.m. the following day (Sunday) to handle a matter that threatened a national crisis. Garfield refused on the ground of another appointment. The cabinet member then insisted that the national matter was of such grave importance that the President should break his engagement.

Garfield refused. Then the cabinet member remarked, “I should be interested to know with whom you could have an appointment so important that it cannot be broken.”  Garfield replied, “I will be as frank as you are. My engagement is with the Lord to meet Him at His house and at His table at 10:30 tomorrow, and I shall be there.”

He was there. The crisis passed. The nation survived. President Garfield was faithful to his obligations. You may recall that Garfield was a member of the Lord’s church. The Lord’s statement is still true: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Do you keep your appointments with the Lord? (via 20th Century Christian)


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