Tuesday evening, like every other Tuesday night, was spent at the seminary in New Testament Greek with Dr. Jim Hamilton. However-this night was different. I found myself consumed by the pressures and challenges of ministry, kind of concerned about my dad who had gone to the ER earlier that day back in Corpus Christi, and then just the pressures of every day life. Additionally, I didn't like the fact that I had made a B on my Greek Exposition paper. This led to a talk with my professor after class that evening. We had an interesting discussion; it was then that the conversation gravitated toward our commitment to being commited to the exposition of God's word. He asked me, 'What are you preaching/teaching now at your church?' I replied, 'I am now in a series on building relationships'. He then asked, 'Have you ever thought about taking a book and going from verse to verse?' Now--people who know me KNOW that I always deal with the text, wording(S), etc. But something about his question pricked me--even more than I think he knew--and that I cared to admit at that time. What a terrible indictment to me personally--that I have been at this church over 2 years now--and though I have started, I have not STARTED and COMPLETED a single book in scripture at Cornerstone. I remember starting I Corinthians and our working through the 1st chapter; but when I didn't like the response, I STOPPED. Again--I began a series in Nehemiah; but when I got through the 1st or 2nd chapter, I STOPPED--I didn't like the response. Now this may mean nothing to anyone who reads this--and probably nothing at all to the average lay person. But at my previous church assigment, I preached through to entire book of Nehemiah (about 13 weeks) and then again through the book of Ephesians (about 9 weeks) and then a series on Discipleship (about 8 weeks). Both Nehemiah and Ephesians were both tremendous growth opportunities for me. Of course, I recieved such a great response with both Nehemiah and Ephesians. Then I had just concluded that the church where I presently pastor, as I have often said, 'Just doesn't get with a series of messages, verse by verse, chapter by chapter'. But at the last church where I was given the opportunity to preach every week--it NEVER even dawned on me whether or not they liked it, whether or not they came to shake my hand, whether or not they told me how good of a preacher I was--I KNEW they needed it, that the Lord led me to those books, and I had a PASSION to get it all out the way HE gave it to ME!
Herein lies my problem--and where our discussion led--that I have gotten caught in the trap of allowing the approval of men to steer my performance or determine my approach. That night I had a SERIOUS conviction of my sin--not putting what God wants....FIRST. In Houston--there is this jockeying for so many preachers to be RELEVANT and make APPLICATION. In so many ways--so many have said, in their own way, that the Word of God is just not relevant enough. Now don't get me wrong--I have always used scripture, related scriptures, etc. I just haven't committed myself wholeheartedly to being committed, consistent, and pressing through no matter what. And using the gift that God has given ME. From this day forward--I am committed to doing it GOD'S way. I have considered myself doing things His way--because I have always served Him, obeyed Him, stood on His word, studies His word, etc. But here is my issue--I can't follow HIM and keep worrying about what men will say or do at the same time. I want to follow Him COMPLETELY. Let the chips fall where they may.
Here is my commitment: I will hold myself accountable before God, I will monitor my progress, I will lay aside all of the sins/weights that have stood in the way of my hearing God more clearly, I will establish accountability partners, I will completely wean myself from being fearful or timid about what others think about me and what their response will be to what the LORD has to say THROUGH me, I will the temptation to get a response while I am preaching, duplicating just what I heard somebody else say, allowing the enemy to sidetrack me, allowing other people to sidetrack me, committing each day to devotion, bible reading, prayer, journaling, blogging, and 15 minutes a day to reading the original Hebrew &/or Greek text.
I am changing!!! I can promise you that. I have decided that I have to go myself, lose members, or have everyone to whom I preach misunderstand me...I can't quit. I want to see this thing through...