I took a long drag on my cigarette – Marlboro unfiltered if you must know – then tossed it to the ground. I know it’s bad habit, and with a pack of smokes running six bucks, it’s going to bankrupt me, but I figure I’m entitled to at least one vice. If you had my job you’d smoke too. I ground the cigarette into the ground with my black boot then surveyed the scene.
Aaah yes, this was nice. A good old fashioned crucifixion. I pulled out another cigarette, lit it with my black Zippo, and took a long, unhurried pull. There was no rush with a crucifixion. Those poor saps would be hanging on those wooden crosses for hours before I was required to pull the plug. I miss the days of the crucifixions. These days it’s all gunshots and stab wounds. I usually arrive on the scene and have to pull the plug before I can even catch my breath. I have to move quickly to ensure that I get the job done before the paramedics arrive on the scene. In my hurry I occasionally make mistakes. Then I have to go into the ambulance and brawl with the paramedics as they try to revive the victim. I miss the long, slow, unhurried death of crucifixion.
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Everyone who has ever preached regularly knows something about the mystery of the sermon that you thought was brilliantly constructed but fell completely flat. In God’s kindness, you may also have listened to yourself giving a really dud sermon and then led someone to become a Christian (I much prefer those days). Why does that happen? It’s because God works through preaching. We need to remember that, and we need to remember to rely on him for that. How?
Last week, on the way home from classes at TEDS, I listened in on a radio conversation on Moody Radio (90.1 FM). The host was my friend, Chris Fabry. Chris told the story of a listener who wrote in to express his appreciation for Christian radio. The man had come across Moody in a roundabout way. His car was in the shop for repair and the mechanic had not done the work in the time the customer thought appropriate. So he berated the mechanic quite forcefully.
How can one speak of finishing a ministry — a pastorate? Can one really finish? Death snatches some men away in the midst of their ministry, and they feel, “I wasn’t finished.” Others are removed against their will, and they don’t feel like it was finished. Others run away from a hard situation, and no one feels it was finished.