Thursday, August 14, 2014

Exposition of Exaltation

The title of this blog post says a lot about my thinking lately. John Piper once said that every sermon a pastor preaches should become an "exposition of exaltation." He said it many years ago yet it is one those statements that I have never forgotten. Before I moved to Lawrenceville, GA in August of 2013, I had been a pastor for six years. Five years I spent at a small church in Selmer, TN and about a year and a half at a small church in Grand Junction, CO. Those were difficult years, but they were also precious years. Most every Sunday and Wednesday throughout those years I was either preaching or teaching something from the text of Scripture. When I read John Piper's statement above I felt compelled to always make that my aim. Most anyone who has some degree of speaking ability and knows something basic about the Gospel can preach a sermon. But not just any one can exalt Christ in the process. When John Piper said a sermon should be an exposition of exaltation, God used it to remind me that I am not just preaching to feed the sheep or to teach others something about God. I am preaching as an offering of worship to Him. As I preached, I needed to be worshipping. I needed to love the One I spoke of so much that every ounce of me wanted to tell the truth about Him to others, to exalt in Him as I spoke about Him.

This past year I have hardly done any preaching or teaching at all. And I do admit that was by design. In December of 2011 Lori and I went through a very difficult circumstance in our lives where I was fired from my church for preaching and teaching what I felt was biblical and true. After that I did not know what to do. I was hurt and very discouraged because I had given five years of my life there and planned on giving the rest of it. Over time I met with another pastor of a Reformed church who needed help in Grand Junction, CO.  So I moved my family out there. The church was a mighty blessing to us after the hardship of the last one. They loved us and served us. And eventually they voted me in as their second teaching elder. What a joy it all was to pastor along side a like-minded man, who believed in the same doctrines and preached with the same passion for truth that drove me.

I thought I could spend the rest of my life there. But after about a year of that I noticed that although my wife put on a good smile everyday, she was sad inside. She was still broken over the tragedy of the last church. She was hurting and I was not caring for her very well. In an effort to quickly get back into "ministry" I forgot to care for my wife. 

The church in Colorado allowed us to live in the church building rent free, but other than that they could not afford to pay me. So I worked two other jobs just to pay our bills, and buy groceries. On top of preaching and teaching I realized I was doing too much.

God opened up an opportunity for me to work in Atlanta, GA for enough of a salary that I would only need one job.  Lori needed some time away from full-time ministry. She needed to live in a home that was only ours. 

I was preaching and teaching, which I love almost more than anything, but my sermons were no longer expositions of exaltation because I was tired and weary and even sad myself. And at the same time I was not caring for my wife the way that Christ commands husbands to in Ephesians 5. 

So in August of 2013 we moved to Lawrenceville, GA, started attending a Bible believing reformed church, which I am extremely thankful for (thank you Brother Robert & Christ Reformed) and I took a break from full time ministry...I took a break from preaching and teaching.

I never intended for this to be a permanent break. Both Lori and I agree on that but after almost a year now, it has been a good break. A needed break. We moved into our own home for the first time in a year and half and we have just enjoyed being a family. I have come home every night, attended our church on Wednesdays and Sundays and spent time in the Word together and with no other expectation on me.

So, now to the point of this blog post. Just because I have stopped preaching and teaching and do not know when I will start again on any kind of regular basis, doesn't mean that the desire to preach and teach is no longer there. The desire never once left me. I hear something or I read something in the Bible and immediately I start wanting to tell others about it and to teach on it. I am just built that way. 

I am not ready yet to return to the pulpit, so instead I am going to start using this blog again as my outlet for truth, my outlet to teach and preach. My prayer above all else is that every post will become for me an "exposition of exaltation."

I look forward to sharing with you soon. But I would write this blog whether any one read it or not.