This weekend I was installed as the new teaching pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. For my installation service, I asked Michael Easley to preach, because he has pastored this church faithfully for over a decade, before he left for Moody (he now pastors in Tennessee).
The night before my installation service, I met with Michael. He and his wife prayed for me and my wife, and Michael gave me a plaque with two quotes he said have shaped his preaching ministry. The first is simple: “The man IS the message.”
The second quote is one that I had heard bits and pieces of before, but had never seen it all in one place. It is from Bruce Thielemann, and appeared in the Wittenburg Door in April of 1977. This quote, in its context, presents a charge and a challenge for preachers, and it is worth repeating:
Preaching is the most public of ministries and therefore, the most conspicuous in its failure and the most subjective to the temptation of hypocrisy. It is imperative only that those who undertake it are appropriately gifted by the Holy Spirit. Such ‘gifting’ includes prophecy, evangelism, the consciousness of an unavoidable call, providential endowments, and outward confirmation as evidenced by the Holy Spirit’s making the preaching effort into a new Bethlehem.
There is no special honor in being so gifted–there is only special pain. The pulpit calls them to it as the sea calls its sailors, and, like the sea, it batters and bruises and does not rest, but always there is the lure of its ‘better and incomparable’ society.
To preach, to really preach, is to die naked a little at a time, and to know each time you do it that you must do it again. Only one certainty sustains the preacher: That God never denies a man peace except to give him glory.”