Save Time and Preach Like Never Before. Try the new
If you received yesterdayís State newspaper than you saw the striking headline, ďLou: Locker room or boardroom, Holtz can fire Ďem up.Ē I suppose that headline is no surprise considering that we live in the hometown of the University of South Carolina and yesterday was the dawn of the 2001 Gamecock football season. Though the headline wasnít surprising something in the article itself startled me. As the author was talking about Lou Holtzís unique ability to motivate people he wrote this interesting observation, ďAt the end of Holtzís rambling, prototypical 20-minute talk they give him a standing ovation. What exactly did he say? A couple of listeners admit they arenít quite sure, but they liked it. A lot.Ē (The State Newspaper, September 1, 2001, No. 244, front-page article written by Bob Gillespie.)
I find that frightening Ė that people can like a speaker Ė a lot Ė without really knowing what heís saying. Perhaps that reality isnít all that big a deal when it comes to talking about fans liking a football coach Ė after all Ė the only people whose success depends on understanding what the coach says are his players. But when that truth is considered in the realm of religion it is terribly frightening. After all weíre all players in that realm, and we all want to be successful, that is, we all want to win the eternal prize of heaven. For that very purpose we call pastors to speak to us and guide us on the road to eternal, spiritual success. So it only makes sense that if we are to like a pastor Ė and like him a lot Ė it is vitally important that our admiration is built on understanding.
But what should we be listening for that would prompt us to like a pastor a lot? In the text for this morning God himself offers us guidance. God identifies two key elements that make a pastor and his sermonizing something we will like a lot. God says that a great sermon is one where the pastor I) doesnít mix up Godís Word. God also says that a great sermon is one where the pastor II) doesnít mince Godís Word. If those two, key elements are present in a sermon then God himself declares, ďGreat sermon, pastor!Ē
Unfortunately there were pastors, called prophets, in Jeremiahís day who wanted the compliments but didnít care if they were preaching Godís Word. These preachers insulted the true God imagining that he was just as powerless as all of the other national gods of the nations surrounding Judah. In the minds of these preachers the true God was no more concerned about pure teaching than any of the other gods were. Besides, they figured, if we arenít in his temple he canít hear what weíre saying anyway.
Those assumptions were reflected in their preaching. They werenít so concerned about saying what the true God said Ė they were more concerned about preaching what the people wanted to hear. They loved to substitute their own ideas and notions and pass them off as Godís Word as though God had spoken directly to them in dreams. Instead