I am sitting in a hotel in Philadelphia, ruminating on the calling of God to be a preacher. Annually, I attend the Workshop on Biblical Exposition, put on by the Charles Simeon Trust.
This is a come-and-wrestle-and-do-the-hard-work-of-text-preparation workshop more than it is a come-and-see conference. There is nothing like it… for my soul, for my sanity, for my sense of purpose. To declare the immeasurable riches of God from his Word – what does THAT necessitate in my prayer life, in my preparations, in my pastoring a growing churchplant?
I delight to know that God is working through his Word at West Valley PCA, more than through our creativity, our ministries, our vision. His Word, clearly given, communally received. And yet, OOOHHH to be a more faithful, more intentional handler of the Word of God!
O, to be a man who “stands in the council of the Lord to see and hear his word, who has paid attention to his word and LISTENED”(Jeremiah 23.18).
Simon Manchester, the primary speaker of the workshop and senior pastor of St. Thomas’Anglican Church in North Sydney Australia – has met me in my spiritual exhaustion and struggle. Thank you God. His handling and humble care of the hard task of preaching has encouraged and exhorted me in a much needed way. I have simply been too busy. Too spent. Too scattered. And today, I saw the beauty of the Word again. The joy of plumbings its depths and pondering its questions, and prying its parts. I pass on to you some notes scribbled in my journal:
A dissatisfied preacher (wrestling and churning and grappling with questions and textual understanding) makes for satisfied people. A satisfied preacher (that was simple and easy and I know what to say) makes for dissatisfied people.
I beg you: SHUT UP and LISTEN to the Word. An expository sermon is a “listening sermon” – which is quite different from a non-listening sermon (the preacher has not stopped, struggled and listened before speaking).
I must not be confused at WHAT I am to be doing. I am preaching the kingdom!
An expository preacher and an equipped congregation “spiral upward” together in a glorious, healthy way. In other words, the preacher studies hard and delivers a healthy feast from the Word… thus the people of God are equipped to live and sacrifice and to BE the church of God for the glory of God… so they protect and ask their preacher to continue to work hard and study and deliver healthy feasts from the Word (as opposed to pulling him in every direction)… so he does, and they are fed and fulfill the ministry… and so he prepares and preaches all the more… and so they are more equipped and expanding their ministry, through the Word… and so it SPIRALS UPWARD!
Thank you Simon Manchester. Thank you God for this respite. Thank you West Valley for caring with me about expository preaching. May we spiral upward together.