Tag Archives: preaching

Those Special Moments of Ministry

Dear God,

Thank you for allowing me to be your child.

Thank you that there is now no condemnation for me, because I am in Christ.

Thank you that you for allowing me to gather with others and teach your Word, for entrusting me with the soul-stirring honor of preaching the liberating truth that can lead others to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And, thank you, for the power of story, and for the privilege of being a writer.

In Jesus name, Amen.

Friends, it is impossible for me to adequately describe the awe I feel when I stand to preach the Word of God. It is one of those “moments” that stands out as unique in my human existence. It embraces my mind, strength, and soul…leaving me exhausted but fulfilled.

Sometimes, during those moments right before I’m going to stand up and begin preaching, I’m so focused on how I intend to start the message that I simply don’t know much else. One time, a lady had called all the children to the front of the sanctuary for a little children’s lesson. That usually happened at some point in the order of service before the sermon. Well, while she was talking to the kids, my mind wandered to the opening few sentences I wanted to use to start my message when she was done. In other words, I zoned out of what she was saying and zoned in on the introduction to the message I’d prepared and would momentarily be preaching.

Then I heard her say, “And now, kids, we’ll have Pastor Larry lead us in the Lord’s Prayer.”

Folks, my mind went completely blank. Trust me, I reallydo know the Lord’s Prayer. I can usually say it in a couple different versions. But not at that moment. I couldn’t remember how it started to save my life! I mean, for Pete’s sake, that wasn’t what I was going to be preaching!

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was rummaging through my mind in a panicked rush and all I was coming up with were things like, “Eeny, Meni, Miny, Mo” or “Who built the Ark? Noah, Noah,” or “Would you like fries with that?” And, until that moment, I hadn’t noticed how incredibly warm it was in the church! I mean, come on people, let’s crack open a few windows!”

I mean the words to the Lord’s Prayer may be printed in red in most people’s Bibles, but they were written with invisible ink in my mind that day.

Finally some dear merciful saint started the Lord’s Prayer and I was able to join in.

Yep, I can get zoned in and lose track of other things going on around me. I can do it when I’m teaching, preaching, and even when I’m writing. The moment of communication (spoken or written) grabs my attention and I’m captivated by the power of words…the stewardship of story.

And more than anything, I desperately want it to matter. I want people to hear what I have to say and read what I have to write because it can help them on the path to or with God. I believe that with all my heart.

Fellow communicators, what you are doing matters. So do it with all your might. Give of your best to the Master!

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Filed under books, Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, Larry W. Timm, reading, Uncategorized, Writing

“Getting the Max from your Ax”

I stared into the kind eyes of my Youth Minister and waited. He cleared his throat and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his desk. “I’m thrilled you believe God wants you to preach His Word. But,” he said as he leaned back in his chair, “while I admire your passion to go from town to town and preach on street corners and places like that, it’s probably not the best strategy.”

“What do you mean?”

“Let me put it to you this way,” he said. “there’s an old saying, you can cut down more trees with a sharp ax than with a dull one. Do you understand what I mean?”

“Kind of, I guess.” Actually I wasn’t sure.

“It means that you need to take time to prepare…to stand over the stone and grind a sharp edge on your ax so you can be ready to chop away. Additionally, you need to learn how to handle an ax from people who’ve used one effectively and often. What I’m saying is that you need time to mature as a believer. You need to learn the Bible so you can handle it accurately.”

He was right, of course. And that conversation, thirty-one years ago, led me to Bible College to “sharpen my ax.” The grinding process was a combination of education and experience. I leaned theology. I learned preaching and teaching. I learned discipline that strengthened my devotion. And I had plenty of opportunities to preach while doing it.

The same lessons applies to writing. Passion, while important, isn’t enough. I have to work at writing, study writing, and live writing–while keeping the flame of passion from being smothered by discouragement or frustration. Another wise person (a writer for whom I have the highest respect) reminded me recently that patience is important. In other words, take time to sharpen the ax. Go to conferences. Join a writers group. Enter contests. And keep writing and submitting your work, my friend. Keep swinging the ax, just remmeber…you’ll cut down more trees with a sharp ax than with a dull one.

So I’ll see you around the grindstone.

 

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Larry W. Timm, Writing

Quality Never Goes Out Of Style

Great stories are timeless.

It doesn’t depend on genre, trends, or anything else. Great writing is great writing. Period. Quality doesn’t have a “use by” date. It continues to be used by God to reach new readers, years after its original publication date.

Isn’t that what we strive for as writers? Don’t we really want our stories to have long-lasting relevance? The potential for “timelessness” is one of the things that keeps me in love with writing.

As a preacher, I thrive on the preaching moment when I stand before a congregation and proclaim the Word of God. Preaching is a happening…an event. But the uniqueness of that experience is mostly a one-time thing. Recordings of sermons are great tools, but the dynamic isn’t the same. And I’ll repeat–so as NOT to allow room for anyone to suggest that I’m discounting preaching: I LOVE PREACHING. There’s an “aliveness” that surges through my soul when I’m preaching. I feel the same thrill about teaching. The church where I am privileged to serve means everything to me. I look forward to being with them each Sunday.

But there’s something different about writing. When I sit to write a story, I’m humbled anew at the vast potential that surrounds the words–potential to reach a vast number of readers, in various parts of the world, in different languages, even if they’re separated by years as well as other distinctions. And the digital revolution may just be making the potential even greater!

It’s the great “what if?” of possibility. And I can’t control much–if any–of it.

But I can have a direct influence on one thing: quality. I can refuse to settle for good writing and push myself for the best I can do, no matter where I’m at on the journey of writing. I can…I will…I must pursue excellence. That means I never stop learning the craft, because I respect it.

Because maybe, just maybe, my writing will change someone’s life. Even if it’s just mine.

 

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Filed under Christian Fiction, Christian Growth, Christian Life, editing, Larry W. Timm, reading, Writing