Sermon Exhaustion

I think I’m suffering from a case of sermon exhaustion. Either that or I’m simply not fed that way anymore. After 30+ years of accumulated a lot of head knowledge, I’m wondering if sermons are the best way to transform lives. Too many folks leave their weekly gathering questioning “what you get out of a sermon?” which I actually shouldn’t complain too much about since just as many times the sermons are forgotten once folks are in the parking lot yelling at the jerks who just cut them off.

It’s not like pastors slough this off as an insignificant part of their job. For some it’s a point of pride as great teachers want to be heard. But sometimes church becomes a sermon show and we shop around for the best speakers, reducing the pastor’s role to ear tickler and there’s more to pastoring than giving a sermon. Not to mention the fact that it can also lead to pastor worship, or congregational pride, a sort of intellectual idolatry. The kind of church body this can form is one of a whole lot of head puffery and too little praxis, or to quote my friend, Rob Pallikan, “It’s like going to college and never actually getting a job.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put in my time. I started thinking back trying to add up the number of sermons I’ve listened to over the years. I’m just going back to the age where I was cognizant of church for my own self:

Fourth and fifth grade – 104 (Sunday mornings only)

Junior high and high school – 936 (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and a midweek service)

College years (before I dropped out of church) – 624 (Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and a midweek service)

1996-2000 – 1040 two Sunday mornings services, a Sunday night, and a midweek.

2001 – 2004 – 416 a Sunday morning and a mid-week service

2005 – present – 260 a Sunday morning gathering

This is all “approximate”. It doesn’t count the occasional absence or conferences I attended. It doesn’t include class work or any classes I took either. And I’ve been blessed with great teachers over the years. But sermons simply aren’t a big part of the worship experience for me anymore. Spiritual formation is important. Walking in community is important. Developing a rhythm of life is important. How they may express themselves might not always look like a traditional service.

My friend, Aaron Story, said “measure a believer by how worn their knees from praying, how dirty their hands from serving, how marked their Bibles from studying, and how empty their wallet from giving.” Serving, doing, is the only thing that makes sense of my faith. That being said, discipleship and life transformation are tied up in relationship. People who can speak truth into your life. This is just where I’m at now. Often times, sermons are reminders and reminders are good. And at any rate, God uses all of these things. Truth be told, I’m still stuck at Jesus’ boiling down things to “Love God and love each other” and seem to be spending my lifetime trying to figure that out and how to practice it better.

“That’s My King!”

Something to stir your heart first thing in the morning. The late Dr. S. M. Lockeridge, a pastor from San Diego, California said these words in a sermon in Detroit in 1976 (which can be heard via, of course, youtube):

My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.

I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever. . . And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then . . .Amen!

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