- There is no substitute for study and meditation on the Word of God. Preachers have so many shortcuts they can take. Funny stories galore, purchasing a sermon online and preaching it as one’s own, reliance on commentaries and commentaries alone, and the list goes on. Yet, there is absolutely no substitute for study and meditating on the Word of God. 2 Tim. 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV). Ezra 7:10 shows the model Ezra gave before the people: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” No substitute for study!
- There is no substitute for the sharpening of friends in the ministry. The names Ben, Roberto, Kevin, Steve, Don, and Mark may not mean much to you, but they have meant the world to me over the past few years in ministry. One thing about it: ministry leaves me in a perpetual state of guilt. Trying to balance family, church, and school is like spinning plates on the end of a stick. You get one rolling well, then the others start to wobble. Rarely do we find ourselves doing all three “well.” And few outside the ministry understand that. But these men do — and we offer encouragement to one another. That has been priceless to me.
- There is no substitute for leadership. It’s one thing to preach. No substitute for this (look at #4). But we have to model what we preach. We have to proclaim, then implement. We have to motivate, then give those who are motivated an outlet for ministry. In preparing for my project, I found out that those in our 40509 area code are about to have an explosion growth. Over the next 5 years, the population in the 40509 zip code will increase by 13.8%. They will comprise of 20 year olds with graduate degrees. If we do not actively find ways to be missional to our growing community, then shame on us. Pray that God would give me his vision to lead.
- There is no substitute for preaching. God spoke the Word, the universe was born. Ezra brought out the Book, revival took place (Nehemiah 8:1-8). Jonah spoke the Word, evil Nineveh repented (Jonah 3:1-5). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we had life eternal (John 1:14, John 3:16). Peter preached the Word, and revival broke out at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-45). Each Sunday, I feel the pleasure and the weight of this responsibility God has given to me. May God continually prod me if I start to go to cruise control in this area. I honestly do not care if I flame out in every other area — if I take for granted the preaching of God’s Word, then I am a fraud.
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