Sunday, October 14, 2007

#6 I Stopped Thinking That I Could Mine Every Truth From Every Scripture, Every Time

Hello All,

I remember this moment in my life very profoundly. It was a Friday afternoon, later in the day. I was in my small office, getting myself prepared for Sunday morning, where I was responsible to teach the Junior High group during 3rd service. I was landing in Matthew 17, a chapter that I had taught a few times before, and was a testimony chapter for me at that time of my life. (That sounds like a future post! :)) I felt pretty confident that I would just repeat my previous message and take the weekend "off" with regard to my studies.

I took a moment and opened the Bible and immediately noticed something that I had not taken into account before. It made me pause and think about the implications. Then, I noticed a few more things. Before I knew it, I had an entirely different message before me! I have to say that this moment brought both a sense of wonder and exhaustion, as I not only did not take the weekend off, but I worked twice as hard to make up the time!

I remember coming out of my office that day with a deep understanding in my soul that I will never be finished studying God's Word. There is more there than I can ever hope to mine through.

Oh, but I tried! I would exhaust anyone who would listen to me whenever I taught because I was trying to write a commentary every week! Greek words and phrases, cross references, historical background, filled every message, and well it should, but not for the extreme notion that one can cover it all in one setting!

I had some wonderful Junior High Kids who loved to study God's Word, but even they had to mock me about how little I would cover in a Sunday morning session! The joke became that we would finish Matthew somewhere after the first millenium in eternity!

Then I noticed something else: I was sounding like what I spent all my time with! I began to sound like a commentary! I was passing on information, without any inspiration. I admired men who spoke with conviction and were passionate about their passage. And all of those men that I listened to shared in the same practice of selecting what details they might share. None of them caught every single detail and their messages were great!

So from there, I studied the same, but I started to really heavily edit my information intake. Soon, I felt that I could take bite size pieces and enjoy the flavor more.

I guess I share this because at one time, the Bible became so weighty for me to consume. Every time I opened it, I knew I was in for a long fight. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. Gradually, over time, I had to ask myself what my point was as a minister of the gospel. Was it to be impressive to my hearers? Was the information I was passing on so vital? Was it challenging any of them to be better Christians or just informing them with Christian trivia?

For a while, as a Calvary boy, I felt that I was cheating them and God if my messages were not so long, and so deep. After a while, this becomes a cumbersome issue.

Thankfully, the Lord showed me that I could be faithful to His Word and His people at the same time and not have to mine every truth from the scripture that I possibly could! I began to take smaller sections and look for what God was communicating without my help. I stopped reading multiple commentaries and narrowed it down to one, maybe two at most. Then, I started to put my message through the test that truly began to refine what would eventually come out. The test was to see whether each thing that I said would be helpful to the listeners in their endeavor to live a life after the heart of God. Before I knew it, I was enjoying the process and finding that the kids and people were taking more away from the Word, and were hungry for more!

Plus, I always had some other knowledge to use in other sermons if the occassion arose. If someone had a question afterward about certain elements, at least I would have a semblance of an answer, even though I did not feel that I needed to present everything to the congregation.

In the end, to anyone who has the charge of teaching God's Word, I would tell you to study with great diligence, as though you were presenting before the Lord Himself! But remember that Jesus Himself taught more with less words, than we can ever hope to speak about with a million! The art of presenting a teaching will still require work, but there will be a lot more joy in the process when you free yourself from having to be a veritable encyclopedia each week!

And may I add that your people will thank you as well!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

4 comments:

Carrie said...

have you seen this blog??

http://www.theologica.blogspot.com/

it's really helpful and informative..

Carrie said...

wow, that post came out looking weird on my computer...anyway...that was from me, carrie :)

blythe said...

i'm kind of amazed that you find time to write such lengthy and insightful blogs on top of the working, fathering, husbanding, and commentary reading that fills your life.

keep it up phranc.
also, when do you get to speak at big church next? i'll mark my calendar.
try to be on vacation or something, you know. i'll plan to sleep in.
kiddddddding.

Frank & Lela said...

Carrie,

You are the best "blogomender" (Blythe, is that a real word? It should be!!) there is! Keep em coming!!

Blythe,

Key word being lengthy! You know, each of these last several entries have been years in the making. They are just flowing out of me and they take less time to write than they do to read due to my fantastic 3 finger typing method!

As far as speaking at "Big Church," I find that everyone is much more content when I play the drums...and even then!!

Thanks for checking in gals!

Blessings,
F.S.