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“Fire in My Bones”
Hillcrest Church Office
November 6, 2003

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“Fire in My Bones”
by Tom Goodman

Several years ago, a cartoon in one of my church leadership journals hit me between the eyes.  The cartoon pictured a man sitting on the side of his bed with two days of beard-growth, bags under his eyes, unkempt hair: in short, he was obviously despondent.  He had a phone to his ear and he said, “Pastor, my wife left me, my kids are on drugs, my job is depressing.  So, pastor, I’ve got to know: is the second coming of Christ pre-, post-, or amillennial?”

A person with these kinds of needs doesn’t ask these kinds of questions.  But, as Harry Emerson Fosdick said, some preachers “assume that everyone still comes to church just dying to know whatever happened to the Hittites.”  In other words, some preachers answer questions no one’s asking.

I don’t want to be one of those kinds of preachers.  Instead, I want show you how God’s Word addresses life’s needs.  Jesus preached this way and I figure I can’t go wrong by imitating him.  A good example of what Jesus chose to preach about can be found in his “Sermon on the Mount,” Matthew 5-7.  There he covered topics like lust, unforgiveness, divorce, prayer, stewardship, and other practical subjects of ordinary life.

Some people think this approach is simply “introductory” preaching, meant for people who are new to attending church.  Not so.  Anger management . . . prayer principles . . . marital faithfulness . . . self-control . . .  You let me know when you’ve matured enough in the faith to no longer need sermons on theses subjects.  Of course, if you ever tell me this, I’ll have to bring a sermon on pride.

The point is:  I believe that we can be a church that challenges both the mature believer and the unchurched people that mature believers bring with them.  Practical preaching is not “entry-level” preaching!  As you’ve come to discover, my favorite answer when given an unacceptable option is “yes.”  If someone were to ask me, “Whom do you aim to reach with your sermons: believers or seekers?” then my answer would be “yes.”

Every week my excitement builds as Sunday approaches.  As I study God’s word and reflect on our human needs, a conviction begins to grow in me.  By Sunday I can hardly wait to share what I’ve learned from God with you and with those you bring!  As Jeremiah learned, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9, NIV).

As my “leadership partners,” I covet your prayers as I work on God-ordained lessons for you and those you bring!

Behind the Sacred Desk,