As we set out to plan the Easter series, our hope was to give you online content that would encourage you and prepare you for Easter Sunday. We really cannot thank you enough for the notes of appreciation and how this series helped you. I’ve said this a number of times, but I’m very grateful for Perry’s work in recording, editing, coaching me along, and then getting things posted in a timely manner. Truly, without his skill and desire to do this, I would’ve been in the dark.
Now, we do need your help…we realize that this time in our lives is unique, but we also (at least me) have been amazed at the overwhelming response/encouragement from some many of you. So, we would like to know if doing something like the “Easter in Real Time” short videos, on a more regular basis (at least while the restrictions are still on), would serve you. Here’s what those around me thinking/wondering/considering: having me answer 1-2 questions/week, that are sent in by CLF members/attenders. Then, we can either pre-recorded a video or have me do a Facebook Live Q & A. Our question is: 1) would this be helpful to you? and 2) what questions would you be interested in hearing me address? (These could biblical, cultural, personal, or from any line of questions that you might have. Please send your questions or your thoughts about this either to Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, onto this past week’s worth of stuff:
Let’s talk Good Friday, first:
- As I’m working on getting more comfortable in front of the camera, I’ve realized a problem developing in my preaching. While the content has been faithful (more on that in a moment), my delivery has been lacking. And that was really evident in the Good Friday sermon. I didn’t do a great job of memorizing my manuscript, was unfamiliar with some parts of that, and this caused me to check my notes more often than I like. To me, it came off as impersonal. Now, to you and to others, it was fine, faithful, and seemed good. But, as I’ve told you in the past, I’m my worst critic and I hate (loathe, despise, etc.) hearing my own voice and most certainly seeing myself on camera. To tell you how serious I am about this…I actually went back and watched parts of that sermon to confirm my self-critic and saw exactly what I was concerned with.
- The other thing about the Good Friday sermon is that in this sense of being “uncomfortable”, I also got one particular fact mixed up and it needs clarification. I’ve told you before how much I love our church and one of the major areas that I love, is when our folks (especially our leaders) bring a humble and gracious correction to me after a sermon. This happened this past Saturday, from one of our leaders. Here’s what he wrote, “I come most humbly as one who has more than his share of errors. The High Priest of Israel did not enter the Holy of Holies to put the blood on the Mercy Seat on Passover but on the Day of Atonement which was a completely different day. If I misunderstood what you said, I offer my most sincere apology. My only aim is to be helpful, and if I failed in that I have failed completely. Looking forward to the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection.” So, let me say a few things about this:
- First, the tone of this is amazing and filled with grace. I thanked this man and am continually grateful for this type of input.
- Second, we as pastors, and I, in particular, have made plenty of preaching mistakes like the one this man mentions. I am grateful that you, CLF, have been so gracious towards me through the years. One of the things that John MacArthur has talked about through the years, is the joy of growing old with his congregation (more on that later) because pastor and church-goers develop lots and lots of grace for each other. CLF, I have felt your grace through the years…Thank you!
- Third, this man is correct. I have a bad tendency to try to be efficient and summarize things, and sometimes I try to do it “off-script”. I’ve gotten in trouble for this a few times through the years and t’s actually a main reason for becoming a manuscript preacher. People have told me through the years that one of the things they like about my preaching is that I take big ideas and make them understandable. But sometimes, I try too hard and I get some points mixed up in my explanation.
- That’s what happened on Friday. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), is in the Fall of year, and it’s the annual time, once/year where the high priest would offer an animal sacrifice for the sins of Israel. He would go into the Holy of Holies and pour the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat. Passover, was a completely different celebration, which happens in the spring of the year, and commemorates Israel’s exodus out of Egypt. In my notes, what I had written was a brief explanation of Passover and Israel’s sacrificial system, with a brief mention of the Day of Atonement, without naming it that. But what I actually said made it sound like that the one time of the year sacrifice happened on Passover. What I should’ve explained more fully was the difference between the two celebrations and that Jesus fulfilled both when He died on the cross for our sin. His blood poured out for us, allows God to “pass over” us and His sacrifice fulfilled was the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement…not only as our great High Priest pouring HIs blood on the Mercy Seat, but as our once-for-all sacrifice. See Hebrews 7:26-10:18 for biblical reference on this.
- Because of the preparation, planning, and thoughts put into the “Easter in Real Time” series, I was bursting at the seams to preach on Sunday. The only thing missing…was you! After preaching on Sunday, knowing I used my “baseball” voice on occasion, I’m now wondering if I would’ve hurt some eardrums, if a congregation were sitting in the pews. I was pretty excited.
- One thing that I left out of Sunday’s message was the soldiers guarding the tome. Whatever happened to those guys? Well, Matthew actually tells us why: “While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.”
- Now, let’s talk about that birthday celebration (I guess that what we should call it):
- Dave Ruble is one of the most sincere, genuine men, I have ever had the privilege of knowing. And, he’s one of the most genuine pastors I know. So, when he speaks about pastoral ministry…I stand to attention and listen. I was so honored and humbled by what he said.
- The other thing I know about Dave is that sometimes he’ll miss a couple of words, here and there (just like all of us, as seen in my point above), and it sounds like something he never meant to say. For instance, I know that he knows I’ve not hit “the century mark” yet. I realize he meant “1/2 century mark” . I’ve told people that I hope Dave was just being prophetic!
- And then there was the birthday song by Perry…talk about awkward…I really didn’t know what to do or say. I tried to help him, but he was already strumming the wrong tune…I thank God that Julie Cherry was on stage and she could help all of us. As Dave Quilla wrote in our staff text “Perry, we gave you one simple thing to do….🤦♂️”. Perry’s reply was that this won’t go away anytime soon…so, this is my attempt to make that true:).
- Now, those of you know me well, know that all of this is “tongue-in-cheek.” While is was awkward and the song was botched, I really do appreciate the thought. I’m very grateful to those “behind the scenes” getting the word out that I turned 50 this Monday. And thanks for those of you who have written to me. But let me add something to this:
- I am currently in my 17th year as the pastor at CLF and I have found Dr. MacArthur’s comments to be very true. It is really cool to grow old (and older) with a congregation that loves Jesus, loves me, loves my family, and loves one another. The level of grace you’ve given me through the years, has allowed me to be myself, not be pretentious or put on airs. I have the freedom to be transparent with you about my weaknesses and my sin. And I have the joy of preaching to you the entire Bible, because that’s what you long for. I could not be more thankful for our church and what God is doing in our midst.
- So, while 50 is old to many of and young to some of you, I want you to know that on my birthday, I am incredibly grateful to you. It is truly an honor to be your pastor.
From the Cheap Seats:
- So, most of you would be shocked (not really) to find out that for my birthday and Christmas, my family gets me baseball stuff. This year was no different, but I thought I’d share a unique shirt that my brother-in-law/sister-in-law got me. If you’re interested click on this link: https://www.super70ssportsstore.com/products/wonderboy-tee. For those of you who understand…rejoice with me! Those of you who don’t…well, ask a friend…
- Imagine what this whole deal would be like without internet or cell phones?? Thank God that we at least can communicate to one another. And out longing to be together reveals that God made us for community in person & when we lose that, it’s hard on us…
- This past football season, my son, Caleb said, “Dad, the best Cowboys teams I’ve seen are with Tony Romo as the quarterback.” Wow, I felt my failure as a dad. So, I have saved lots of full Cowboy games from the 70’s and 90’s to show to my sons. This past Saturday, we watched the 1992 NFC Championship Game, which was the 1st Cowboys trip to the Super Bowl in the 90’s era. I needed to introduce them to a real football team. It’s almost been 30 years. Unreal.
- Finally, you may not have heard, but the OSAA has canceled the spring high school seasons. This means that my team won’t have the opportunity to defend their state title and it’s the end of their high school careers for 7 of my seniors: KC Pettibone, CJ Gale, Isaac Guastaferro, Isaiah Heard, Jaymen Bendele, Spencer Adams, and Ethan Winters. These young guys are really special to me and our program. They have not had a losing season and they were on pace to have to be in the top 3 for victories by a senior class in a 4-year span. If you go to our church, you’ll probably recognize that 5 of these guys go to our church. Please know that these guys are grieving and so are their families. It’s a huge loss for them and I really feel bad for them. And…I miss baseball and I miss my guys.
Have a great week…