Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Vision (12.12.13): Confidence in God's Appointed Means

It was one of those “man bites dog” news links on the Drudge Report website that I just couldn’t pass up.  It enticed with something like, “Pastor tames wild horse while preaching sermon.”  The link sent me to this video on where, in fact, you can watch Pastor Lawrence Bishop II of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio actually tame a wild horse within a ring set up in the center of the church’s sanctuary (more likely, “worship center”).  Pastor Bishop (great name) is also apparently a former rodeo professional, and the “sermon” was the seventh and climactic in his “Conquer the Beast” series.

The stunt reminded me of the time a few years back when I attended the Pastors’ Conference at the annual Southern Baptist Convention, held in Greensboro, North Carolina (back when I was still a Southern Baptist).  At that meeting one of the keynote messages was preached by a pastor from Texas who stood at center stage while daredevils jumped over him on motorcycles (I kid you not!).  At the sermon’s close we were encouraged to follow this model in order to draw a crowd and grow our churches.

Is there anything wrong with sermons where wild horses are tamed?  Or where motorcycles scream through hoops of fire over the preacher?  Is this what Paul was talking about when he said, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22)?

In fact, I would say this is not at all what Paul was talking about.  Rather than demonstrating innovation or zeal for souls, it shows a fundamental lack of confidence in the simplicity of preaching as the God-ordained “converting ordinance” (as the Puritans called it).  It is an attempt to improve on the God-called minister standing forth in the midst of the gathering of the Lord’s people with an open Bible to preach the gospel.  Paul said, “it pleased God by the foolishness of the message preached to save them that believe” and “we preach Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 1:21, 23).

OK, we might not be tempted to put up a horse ring or build a motorcycle ramp, but we may have our own subtle expressions of lack of confidence in divinely ordained means.  Before the wild horses and motorcycles there were other attempts to spice things up and hold the interest of the audience whether Christian puppet shows, ventriloquists, organs, handbell choirs, praise bands, video clips, etc.  These more recent expressions just prove how fleshly craving for entertainment must always push the envelope for the next spiritual “high.”

May the Lord keep us from this temptation and give us confidence in his appointed means for converting sinners and edifying the saints.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

1 comment:

Phil Brown said...

Great post. What is the best interpretation of 1 Corinthians 9:22? We have missionaries in North America that are trying to spice things up by going into bars and having church there to go "where the people are" so to speak. Many are using entertainment, and some are just trying to make the environment more "comfortable." I think there is freedom on some level with Church government and worship "style," but where do you draw the line? Verses like 1 Corinthians 9:22 are used to justify all kinds of tactics, including circus acts being implemented into the sermon! It's just my opinion that if you need a circus act to gain attention to your preaching, maybe you should try another profession! Some years back I was at a SBC Church that had a man come in to town to do a presentation. We met at the rodeo arena, and he implemented a similar method that you described. It was just a one time deal for us, and I thought it was a neat visual illustration and no evil came from it, but I don't expect my pastor to make it an every Sunday event!