Jump Start # 2353
Acts 14:27 “And when they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”
Well, I finally made it. I’ve looked forward to this day. I’ve been on the road. In the past eight weeks I have preached meetings in five different states. Lots of preaching. Lots of conversations. Lots of travel. It’s been the most intense and concentrated season that I have had in a long time. And, now I get to stay home for a while. I need to because I’m tired. There are some wonderful things that I witnessed in this period of preaching that I want to share with you.
Our verse today comes from the end of Paul’s first preaching trip. What I did was nothing compared to what he went through. He traveled in rough conditions and preached in places where there were no brethren. He was chased, persecuted and endured much. I hang my head in shame when I look at what this good man went through. He loved the Lord and this was how the kingdom grew.
And, today we continue to preach. Modern churches have outgrown preaching. They like putting on dramatic plays, using comedy and film clips rather than the word of God and it shows. They stand for nothing and believe anything. But those who are truly interested in the ways of God realize that preaching still works. And, this is what I found in my season of preaching:
First, people still love preaching. They come to hear God’s word taught. They bring Bibles, notebooks and pens to learn. They enter with smiles and stick around and engaged in great conversations. Don’t give up on preaching. Some have said the days of meetings are over, and in some regards that may be true, but adjustments and proper topics are so important. We need to preach where the people are at in their lives. What’s keeping folks up at night? Do you know? They are not worried about some heretical doctrine from five hundred years ago. They worry about their kids. They worry about jobs, money, aging parents. They deal with fear, guilt and busy lifestyles. That’s main street America and that’s what we need to preach on, showing how to be righteous in this unrighteous age we live in. People still love preaching.
Second, brethren are kind to the core. They are. I’ve been in dozens of homes this season. I’ve had so many conversations. God’s people are good, kind and generous. They are interested in how the kingdom is doing in other places. These folks are busy spiritually. They are doing remarkable things. Encouraging. Thoughtful. Kind. You’ll just find this everywhere you go among the people of God. It’s this way because these folks are following Jesus. The nature of Jesus has rubbed off on their hearts.
Third, many are wanting to do better. I have had so many serious conversations with leaders, preachers and those who want to raise the bar spiritually in their congregations. I’ve talked to so many elderships that are serious about wanting to be true shepherds. I’ve shared ideas. We talked about looking at things through the eyes of a visitor. We have had conversations about social media and ways to get God’s word out. Many places have asked me to send them more material so they could look deeper into these ideas. More than one place is talking about sending some people to come and observe where I am so they could learn and get ideas. Some places have asked me to come back with the specific plans of talking to them about planning, vision and legacy. The same o’ same o’ is certainly not taking places in these places. These folks are open to listening to suggestions and ideas. They realize that things could be better and they want them to be better. It is thrilling to come to a place and not just preach sermons, but to know that the outlook, attitude and future is all changing towards the better. Good things are happening all over the country. These folks are not satisfied with the way things are. They want to do the best that they can.
Fourth, it is touching to realize how many people pray for you. Every place, without exception, earnest prayers for my wellbeing, my family, my safe travels were offered. When someone lifts your name to the God of Heaven and Earth, it ought to move you. It certainly does me. Imagine someone in the President’s administration, taking the President aside and whispering your name in a positive way to the President. Our God is so much more than the President. Our God is amazing. Now this doesn’t just happen to us traveling preachers. It’s happens everyday as moms and dads are praying for their children; shepherds are praying for their flocks; parents are praying for their prodigals; we pray for the sick. What an incredible experience to not only grab the attention of God, but to know that He not only listens, but He cares and He can do something. My name has been in several books. But that is nothing like having your name in Heaven. Prayer. It’s powerful.
Finally, preaching in all of these places puts you around some dear friends that mean so much to you as well as introducing you to new people. These are the faces of God’s people. Often, it’s like a reunion. Sunday night as I was preaching my last sermon in this season of being on the road, there sat in the audience three men who at one time were all elders at another place I had preached at more than a decade ago. It was a joy to see them and what memories it brought back. I’ve run into dear friends, fellow preachers, and all kinds of wonderful people. In two places, I’ve had young boys, around ten to twelve years old, with tears in their eyes, come up and hug me good bye. They made me cry. And, we think, none of this stuff does any good anymore? Really?
Some may have to think about the length of meetings, the topics and what the target is all about. But don’t give up on the goodness that happens when the people of God get to be with each other. The honest and good heart when intersected with God’s word, will produce wonderful things for the Lord.
And, to my surprise, I have run into dozens and dozens of our Jump Start readers. I’ve been to places that I’ve never been before, but some there have been reading these Jump Starts for years. And, the expressions of joy, and thankfulness that they received from these simple writings touches my heart. All of this is amazing to me.
This season of preaching has been good. I’m tired to the bone and I’m ready to be home for more than a few days. And, I’m feeling blessed and thankful that the Lord can use me. I will long remember these faces that mean so much to me. These are God’s people, the greatest people on the face of the earth!