Spring has Sprung!

FlowersThat’s a saying that may or may not be grammatically correct. As a matter of fact, Spell Check on my computer took a second look at it, with a squiggly frown on its electronic face.

Many in our land have been inundated with an unusually brutal winter. Records have fallen in numerous categories, particularly total snowfall in the Northeast. But not in Texas.

Here in central Texas winter was more messy than record breaking, with many misty and chilly but not frigid days of drizzle and dreariness. At least for the moment those things have given way to sunshine and warmth, the stuff we’re accustomed to experiencing here at this time of year.

Another sign of spring in Texas is the eruption of colors in the landscape. Earlier this week I was traveling along a road that provides a multi-mile view of rolling hills and valleys. I saw beautiful shades of green, provided by newly-leafed trees awaking from their winter hibernation.

In addition, I saw some of my favorite wildflowers—bluebonnets—which seem to have appeared overnight. Some of the uninformed mistakenly call them bluebells. That’s the ice cream company. The flower is a bluebonnet. But I digress.

Along with spring comes the Festival of the Resurrection of our Lord. In many ways the things I’ve just described about spring are subtle seasonal reminders of the awakening, the eruption, the appearance of our Lord Jesus from his time in the tomb. Thankfully, his season of embalmed hibernation was brief and temporary. Unlike spring, his reappearance and reemergence are not seasonal but eternal.

Remember that reality as you walk next week with billions of Christians around the world the path of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It’s the week we Christians call Holy.

Many blessings to each of you! Spring has sprung!

Advertisements

Preaching and Praying

Pulpit 1Having attended many worship services in my lifetime, I’ve come to appreciate the challenge of planning and leading meaningful worship. Combining elements of worship in a spiritually stimulating manner, week in and week out, is not as easy as some might think. Two specific elements of worship come to mind—preaching and praying.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly sensitive to the awesome task of preaching. It’s not easy to find and to fashion a timely topic based on a biblical text that truly touches the hearts of the vastly diverse audience in most Christian congregations every Sunday.

Public prayers in worship bring to Almighty God the praises, thanksgivings, confessions, needs, thoughts, longings, hopes, doubts and fears of young and old alike. What a blessing it is for a pastor to pray for, with and on behalf of his people!

Most preachers and other people have a few pet peeves when it comes to preaching and praying. So do I. Here are a few bothersome matters and mannerisms that can be very distracting:

  • Failing to translate theological concepts and truths into practical life application.
  • Saying “Uh” and “Um” unnecessarily and habitually in sermons and prayers.
  • Repeatedly and predictably using colloquial expressions when praying and preaching.
  • Praying in a manner that sounds more like a speech than a conversation with God.

There are many more, but this short list is enough for now. Suffice it to say that the work of those who are called to preach and to pray is not only very important but also quite difficult. I have great respect for those called by God to this noble task!

To those on the pulpit side of the sanctuary I offer encouragement to continue to take seriously and endeavor faithfully to accomplish the monumental task to which you have been called.

To those on the pew side of the sanctuary I encourage praying for and supporting your pastor, freely and frequently offering positive encouragement for his most significant responsibilities.

The desired result is pastor and people working together to the glory of God in fulfilling his purpose of making known the love of Christ in our churches, communities and world!