Have you ever wondered if the pastor that stands before you week after week, preaching sermon after sermon, teaching class after class, spouting out those pious statements and those thoughts from Scripture, really believed what he was saying? Or is he just being paid to say those things? Perhaps he doubts what he is saying as much or more than you do. Maybe he is just getting a paycheck for doing a job others don't want to do. Is it really something that can be believed?
I can't answer for other preachers, but I can answer for me. Do I believe what I preach? Do I hold to those pious statements or those ways of life that I preach? The answer is a most definite - YES! I do. I have been on the side of not really believing it. I doubted the inspiration of Scripture. (At times it still boggles my mind! I can hardly fathom the work of god to inspire those writers.) There was a time when I thought that the way of life proposed by Jesus Christ wasn't really all it was cracked up to be. I would talk of a mountain with many roads (you probably have done that too. I remember sitting in Ron Tapscott's house in Decatur, drinking a little too much, smoking something I shouldn't have - though I was following Bill's lead and not inhaling, and saying that religion is like a mountain with many different roads...). Been there, done that, go the Bachelor's degree to prove it.
And then, something happened. Or should I say, Someone happened. That Someone was Jesus Himself touching my heart and life. When? I don't know. How? Through His Word, the very Word I doubted in my heart. I came to understand how amazing it truly is that God would step down out of heaven, become a man, for me, a sinner, a person who wanted nothing more than the next party or good time. He touched me not because I wanted Him to but because He had something that needed to be done - the saving of souls. He called me to be a pastor in His Church, a man who is filled with sins and doubts, a man who struggles with temptation, to take the message of hope and life to other people filled with sins and doubts, people who struggled with temptation.
I can say to you that when I get up in front of the congregation and preach the message of Jesus Christ, I believe every word I speak. I preach because the Lord placed it in my heart and the Spirit is guiding my thoughts. The Word is powerful. It is wonderful. And it is amazing.
Forgiveness is real and wonderful. The peace of Christ touches the heart in a special way in a world filled with pain and turmoil. When I am tempted, I know that if I follow myself I will be in trouble. Am I perfect? No way. Am I forgiven? You bet. Do I plan on perfection when I get up in the morning? Yes indeed. Do I attain it? No I don't. I fall to my knees (figuratively speaking because I have terrible knees and can't kneel) and ask God to forgive me and help me.
Do I believe what I preach? Yes. It is because it is not my word I am preaching. It is His Word and His Word is powerful, true and life-changing. I look at myself, the chief of sinners, and know what He does for me. And I want to tell you, He can do the same for you.
Do you wonder, come by St. Paul's, Troy sometime and we can talk. Stop in and listen to a sermon. You will be amazed - not at me. I am just the preacher. You will be amazed at the Word of God. It blows me away. I am sure it will do the same for you.