Image

Beyond the Pulpit

April 2021

Greetings and may the grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord be with you all.

I have a friend who shared with me the story of his time in seminary when he was asked, what verse from the Bible was his personal theme verse and why?  He chose Exodus 4:13, But he said, “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.

His rationale was p, he had come to seminary because he felt God had called him to it, it was not his choice, he would rather have not left his old life behind.

I admit, I am jealous of his wit, and hugely impressed with the wisdom of his choice.  I mean really, wouldn’t we all rather God send someone else when God calls us to meet difficult challenges?

I went to a different seminary, and so I was not asked the same question, but I began to wonder, what might I have chosen and why?  I am still working on it, but here are a few of the leading candidates thus far.  Please feel free to lend me your wisdom…

At first, I thought of James 4: 13-15, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

After all, who is in charge? Me or God?  There is an old saying, if you want to make God laugh, try telling Him your plans.  I suppose I prefer another saying, “All the best ministry occurs in the interruptions.”  So perhaps we should live for the interruptions; it is a wholly (perhaps holy) different way of living in expectation of the Lord.

Then another verse came to mind.  “… And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”   (Matthew 28: 20b)

This has allowed me to be open to wherever the Lord might call me to go in ministry.  Besides, it occurred to me, people are always seeking sacred spaces; trying to find them or trying to create them.  But what is a sacred space?  Is it not simply the recognition of a place where God has done something miraculous?  If we genuinely believe Jesus’ words, wherever we are, He is there… is this not a miracle?  So, I thought, stop looking, and understand, wherever you are, when you walk with Christ, you are in a sacred place.  This, by the way, was my excuse for not wearing shoes any ore than necessary, particularly in class.

Then I thought of Luke 12: 11b-12, Jesus said, “do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

These are crucial words to remember for all of us, especially preachers late on a Saturday night.  Of course, it also crossed my mind to consider, “remember Mitch, that voice in your head may be God speaking to you… or not”

But I will always cling to Numbers 12:6, And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.

I have a sleep disorder, and I have been known to dose off at just about any time.  My wife contends that I had to become a preacher as it is the only way I can stay awake in church.  But I find comfort in the thought that when we begin to feel the desire to sleep, we ought to consider the possibility that God is leading us to a place where He can speak to us.  So, don’t begrudge the one who dozes off in church, or class, or anywhere else, it may just be that God is calling on them to prophesy.

What about you?  What verses from Scripture might be your person favorite verses and why?  It is a good exercise and a good way to become more familiar with the wisdom and variety of the Bible and what it means to you.  I look forward to hearing your verses and why they are important to you.

May the peace and blessings of God, the joy of Jesus Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit be with you all,

Mitch