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 youtube.com 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