Ablaze

I’m not cranked up enough about anything to write At Home Monday this week but next week, look out… So I’ll set up the weeks bible study in Mark beginning with chapter 11.

11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ” 4 And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. 5 And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of sour father David! Hosanna in the highest!” 11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” –Mark 11:1-11

Comparisons: Matt. 21:1-9; Luke 19:29-38; John 12:12-15

As I wrote in my last entry, this passage was the text for one of my first sermons. I had been preaching all summer and I was relatively confident that I could pull it off, but I was still tense. There’s an excitement that goes along with preaching or teaching that I have never been able to shake…can’t say I’ve tried very hard.

It was a semi-rural church and someone had come up with the idea that they should have a tent revival. It was blazing hot inside and out, I can remember that and it seems that something was wrong with the air conditioning at that point so they were trying to make the best of a bad situation rather than wallowing in melancholy tradition. I was inside for a moment and I would have been hard pressed to call that one. In the hurry to get ready it had been pointed out that the church grounds were a little unkempt so the Pastor got busy and, in a tremendous display of why some are not safe in anything but the ministry of the Word, removed all the hair forward of his ears lighting a small but unsightly brush pile with gasoline. I suspect that’s not exactly the kind of fire they were hoping for to begin their revival.

I was excited to get to preach at any rate but I felt bad for the guy at the time for the loss of his hair—I think the only other thing that was scorched was his pride—but also because it seems like there should have been someone helping him out. Its as if ‘pastor’ and ‘groundskeeper’ seem to go together for some reason. I can’t figure that one out.

As I sat and wrote this out, my eyes drifted back up the page to Mark 10:42-45 [brackets mine, er, from the ESV notes anyway] to a point which fits:

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But sit shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant [Greek diakonos] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave [Greek bondservant (doulos)] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

That’s pretty simple. It occurs to me that this church’s deacon ministry was failing. In fact, if memory serves, there wasn’t much of one there, just some committee heads that served as ‘elders’ in a limited sort of a way.

I think about the many overwhelmed pastors I’ve known in the past and wonder how many of their ministries would have been prevented from ending in burnout if that body would have been functioning properly. How many times have you seen a pastor running from appointment to appointment harried and hurried and completely unable to pour himself into the one area for which he was really created—the study and preaching of the Gospel.

Now this part is aimed primarily at my SBC brethren—We have too long sought after the high seats and the best places. We have too long demanded that men who should be accorded honor in the church be ‘hired’ by personnel committee’s. As if their calling is another item on a resume and the sermon is something we must check off our Sunday to do list. In v.42 Jesus said “You know” this is how the Gentiles operate. They “Lord” it over one another when they have some power and they do. We see it everyday in every job. But he has a surprise for us in v.43 and I think we must listen, “But it shall not be so among you.” IT SHALL NOT BE SO… are we missing the emphasis on this?

I think we are and I don’t think we’re going to get very far unless these attitudes are changed.

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