The Chair and the Desk, 9/23/15

From the chair:

12  Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; 
forget not the afflicted. 
13  Why does the wicked renounce God 
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”? 
14  But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, 
that you may take it into your hands; 
to you the helpless commits himself; 
you have been the helper of the fatherless. 
15  Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; 
call his wickedness to account till you find none. 

-Psalm 10:12-15

As I read this psalm this morning, it reminded me that behind this refugee crisis there is a war, and behind every war there is evil. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

From the desk:

If you can’t carry it into the pulpit, how will they carry it out of the pew? 

This isn’t a quote–it’s a lesson I learned in Dr. Gibson’s Intro to Preaching course at Gordon-Conwell. It’s the first lesson from my first preaching courses that I’ve been able to pass on in others’ first preaching course as a pseudo-pseudo-teacher (the TAs are the pseudo-teachers, and I’m actually auditing what they’re doing, so…it’s very derivative). 

I was initially frustrated that we weren’t allowed to preach from manuscripts (which is not a rule here at Princeton); how could I preach such complex masterpieces without a script? I eventually realized that if my sermon was too difficult for my mind to carry into the pulpit, how could I expect my hearers’ minds to carry it out of the pew? This forced me to reflect on the point of a sermon: It is not for the preacher to say something clever; it is for the listeners to hear the Word of God. Therefore, in most circumstances, it really is ideal to walk up to the pulpit with just a Bible in hand (and an understandable sermon in mind). In conversation after class, a student was relating a similar situation, and I was glad to pass on this lesson that I’d recently learned.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.

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