Happy New Year!
I am excited about the closing of Chapter 2013, and the beginning of Chapter 2014. With heightened anticipation, I am looking forward to seeing what this new year shall bring.
This past Lord’s Day, I had the opportunity to close out the year sharing with our congregation in the preaching moment. Strongly, I sensed a need to speak internally on the subject of forgiveness.
Coupled with my prolonged urge to tackle one of my ‘Goliath’s’ called parables, I was led to a passaged tucked away in Matthew 18:21-35, commonly called ‘The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.’ As I’ve reflected over the past few weeks, in my 19 years of preaching ministry, I have never preached an entire message on a Parable. This very fact blew me away! I LOVE stories. I TELL stories. Many of my sermons, through the years, have been saturated by illustration and stories. And while I have preached and taught on many of the Bible stories and narratives, and have referenced the parables on many occasions (and teaching on them in Bible studies and groups) I can not recall an entire message or sermon dedicated to the exposition of one of Christ’s parables.
Admittedly, I have often tried. As a teenage preacher, I always wanted to deal with the story of The Prodigal Son, as it is called. However, amid the pages of notes, I never mustered the courage to do so. I suppose I just never felt adequate enough to do one of Christ’s great stories justice. Add to this, I can be quite analytical and, when reading so many thoughts, conjectures and ideologies, I would often get lost and, yes, confused on what every single item in the parable meant and every person in the story symbolized. (i.e. - does the lost coin mean the unsaved or the backslider; etc.) Hitherto, the formulation of my thoughts never moved beyond inception.
Well....I finally did it! I can say that studying the parable, for me, was rewarding, enlightening and challenging. Fortunately, the formulation of the outline, points, central idea of the story, etc. all came together. It took me two weeks to get it down to written form. Unfortunately, my manuscript was written in rough form throughout the two weeks; and I didn’t bring them all together until Saturday night. Fortunately, the entire story and lesson consumed so much of me throughout my study that the sermon on Sunday morning was relatively free of notes and enjoyable. One of my strengths is stories and, I suppose, parables will help me in freeing myself from taking the manuscript into the pulpit. This is my hope and prayer in 2014 (not my resolution!) While I need to twerk the manuscript for my files, I can say that my outline was fairly basic:
I. The Setting
II. The Story
III. The Lesson
Within those main points were sub points, but the entire message revolved on the Central Idea of the Story which, I believe is: How we forgive others is the same way God may choose to forgive us.
I am thankful for those who made decisions and came forward, as well as those who have made the decision to act accordingly to God’s Word.
I am excited to have been selected to write a chapter in an upcoming book; and am looking to submit within the next week or so. Please (if you’re reading this) pray for me.
With the passing of my grandfather over a month ago, I have spent quite a bit of time reflecting and praying about how best to make my life count; and how to calm myself down long enough to reflect and chronicle, more than ever before. I have asked myself often....how awesome it would be if I could go back and read one of my grandfathers’ words from years ago; their thoughts an various events within their life and ministry; and even their vulnerabilities, as much as could be share in lieu onlookers. Maybe one day, should the Lord suffer us to remain, my children and grandchildren can find some comfort, or perhaps direction; and, if nothing else INSIGHT into my life and thoughts.