It's not as odd as it sounds...

Prayer happens everywhere, even in the tanning bed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Shhhh, it's ok to yell....

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted. I have actually wanted to post several times over the last couple of weeks but between starting a new blog here and all the paperwork we have been doing for Elli's adoption I've sorta not felt like writing much.

But after our Wednesday night worship service I've been doing a lot of thinking. And being the lucky folks that you are, you get to read about those thoughts. Wow, isn't technology great?

I don't like to be yelled at, ever. But especially by someone behind the pulpit who is trying to share, teach, encourage, etc. me in my walk with Christ. I have some really favorite pastors, none of them are yellers. Most of them are my favorites because of something they have said at one time or another that have impressed me.

John MacArthur
Take John MacArthur for instance. He's really an amazing teacher. I will bet another pastor would be hard pressed to honestly say they spend more time in the Word than he does on any given day. I love to hear him preach, I love to read his books, I have almost all of them and I have years of CD's that line my shelves since I've been a partner with Grace To You (MacArthur's audio ministry) for almost 20 years. What is it that makes me love him besides his preaching/teaching style? It's the fact that he is willing to admit that he can't always explain what he studies and concludes from God's word and yet it's undeniably there. He's not all about saying what HE THINKS, he's all about teaching what CHRIST SAYS. I respect that about him.

John Piper
I also love John Piper. I don't always agree with him as often as I do with MacArthur. He's a very different kind of man. He and MacArthur are friends but very different personalities. If I was a man, a pastor/teacher, I'd be John MacArthur. Piper is very emotional and yet, I've never heard him actually raise his voice, actually YELL at those he's speaking to. I hopped on the Piper bandwagon the day I heard him talk about "invitations". I am not an invitation person. I don't like them (MacArthur doesn't give them). I do, however, understand the logic behind them. One day I heard a message Piper gave and at the end he gave an invitation but he told his congregation that they are NOT to close their eyes and bow their heads. He told them that there is no shame and embarrassment in walking forward with the encouragement and enthusiasm of those in the crowd. He put it much more eloquently than that but you have the gist of it. He sold me that day.

Francis Chan and David Platt
Then there's almost everyone's current favorites, Francis Chan and David Platt. There is too much to say and if you don't know who these guys are you are missing out on incredible teaching, amazing writing, and a renewed hope for the future of the American Church. Both of these men have put their "money where there mouth is" by sacrificing thriving ministries to help young women in the Asian sex trade, as Chan did last year, as well as putting money, time, and safety on the line by helping grow the underground churches all over the world as Platt does with his Secret Church Seminars. They are young, honest, and Biblical. There is no "Christianity Lite" coming from their taps. I've listen and watched and have yet to be yelled at by either of them. And still they manage to enable me to dig deep into my soul and ask myself the hard questions.

My list for God
But Wednesday a man whom is known and beloved by many came to church and yelled at me. His name is Johnny Hunt. He is no stranger to Southern Baptists and may even be easily recognized and beloved by Georgia Christians especially in the Atlanta, GA area not far from where his church in Woodstock, GA is located. He, too, is a wildly passionate man, much like Piper is. He puts his whole being into his preaching and as far as I can tell walks every word of his talk. He gets his audience fired up and leaves them wanting more. That's an awesome thing for a motivational speaker but I don't want one of those, I want a Bible teacher. He did share scripture and his thoughts on many, many verses, after all, he knows his Bible. But instead of just sitting back and enjoying the evening (which is not always a bad thing to do, I'd just rather be LEARNING something if I'm sitting in the sanctuary) I was abruptly taken aback when he asked us if we made lists. LISTS???? What was he talking about? He was talking about the way we make lists of things that sound good, look good, and even feel like they are nudges from the Holy Spirit. We write them down on paper, and we pray: "Dear Lord, here is my future, here is what I want to do for you, here is what I want to do for my family, here is where I want to live, who I want to marry, what I want to devote my life to. Please bless it. Amen"  Most of us just looked around with inquisitive stares all along knowing that he was about to yell at us again. The veins were beginning to protrude from his neck.

God's list for me.

This was the list he wanted us to make. He wanted us to sit down in a quiet place. He wanted us to just be still and listen. He wanted us to take a blank sheet of paper and at the bottom, sign our name. Then he wanted us to pray this: "Dear Lord, Here is my life, it is yours, make YOUR list for me, do with it as you please. I am here to glorify you in any and every way you choose. I love you. Amen."

...and the place erupted. I hated that #2 son wasn't there to hear from someone other than his father and I that it's OK to just "let go and let God" (tired old saying but more true the older I get). I snapped my head to the right to see if son #3 was paying attention. He's just beginning to dream big dreams and I wanted him to understand to make sure to leave those dreams loose enough to let go of them if those weren't the dreams that God was dreaming for him. Then I looked deep within my soul, and sighed. I thought about all the stuff I'd "written down" for God to bless. Never once spending the time to really ASK Him if they were things He wanted from the life He created to do His will and bring Him glory.

I still don't like to be yelled at. Thinking back to Wednesday night though, I wonder if he could have really spoken to our guts the way he did without raising his voice, without most of us worrying that he was going to have a coronary right there on our stage. I am pretty sure he had the attention of everyone over the age of 5 in that room. With what he had to say, maybe yelling was the best way to do it. So, in spite of his loud bursts of enthusiasm that regularly come from Pastor Johnny Hunt, I think that just for those thoughts he goes on my favorites list.

Still, I am thankful for the guy that I see regularly on our stage each Sunday. He tells it like it is, he steps on
toes and makes us squirm. He reaches for the souls of everyone sitting in front of him and desires that each of us know Christ intimately and fully. He challenges me every week and I am sure sometimes he wonders what I am thinking if he glances my way. Most of the time my wheels are turning, grinding, screeching, as I ponder just how my life compares to the life that Christ wants for me and died for. He does it all and I don't remember him ever yelling. It'd be ok if he did but I just don't think that's the way he rolls.
Jimmy Meek
Senior Pastor Colonial Heights Baptist Church
Johnny Hunt said something else Wednesday night that has me thinking. He said that if we spend more on anything in any given month than we've spent on the church we need to question it. THAT my friends is a whole other blog post.