10 Foolish Obstacles to the Foolishness of Preaching

by David Murray

“God chose the foolishness of Gospel preaching to save them that believe (1 Cor. 1:21). The Gospel message is foolishness to the world. But so is the Gospel medium – preaching. Who in their right mind would choose a regular 30-45 minute monologue from one sinful man to many sinful hearers to communicate the most important message in the world?

God would and did.

And he did it knowing that this method of communication would upset many people and cause them to find many foolish reasons for not listening. Some of the foolish obstacles I’ve come across (in myself and others) are:

1. Patchy grammar: Thankfully most people’s English education was as bad as mine and don’t notice too many of my grammatical faux pas, but there are always a few Grammar Girls (and boys) in every congregation. One misplaced preposition and down come the shutters.

2. Boring voice: Drone, groan, mumble, stumble, yawn. Is he trying to send us to sleep? Yet even the most attractive and varied voices eventually sound “meh” to regular hearers. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a different voice every week?

3. Pastoral mistakes: Sometimes we can make a blunder in a personal relationship, an email communication, or at a social occasion which prejudices a hearer’s mind against us for a long time or even forever. We could be preaching the best truth in the best way but we’re still the worst preacher they’ve ever heard because we stood on their toes somewhere along the line.

4. Text choices: Why does the preacher never pick my favorite texts? Why does he never preach from my favorite book? Why does he always preach from such simple texts? Why does he always preach from such difficult texts? I’m not going to listen until he preaches on…

5. Preaching style: There are probably hundreds of preaching styles: fast, slow, loud, quiet, teachy, preachy, passionate, reasonable, sad, happy, smooth, jerky, etc. We all have our peculiar preferences and rarely do we find such a peculiar preacher.

6. Pulpit mannerisms: Why does he keep fiddling with his glasses? Does he think spinning his wedding ring will help spin this terrible sermon? Why doesn’t he look at us? Why does he keep staring at us? Has he only got one arm? Hands in his pockets again! Why does he grip the pulpit – is he about to faint or something? I wish he’d quit sniffing/coughing/frowning/grinning…

7. Verbal ticks: How many times did he say “in other words” today? Or “as I was saying” or “literally” or  ”finally.”

8. Christian Cliches: Can he not find another way of saying that? Does he have to use the same phraseology as every other time he preached on this? He says that in every sermon. Where’s his imagination?

9. Too young/old: Yes, before the preacher even opens his mouth, the old people might close him down because he’s so young, or the young people might tune him out because he’s too old.

10. Personality clash: I just don’t like him. He rubs me up the wrong way. He’s too cocky. He’s too defensive. He’s too apologetic. He’s too aggressive, etc.

It’s amazing what obstacles preachers have to overcome.  One slip-up in any of these areas and some people won’t give a minute of attention to the sermon that took you 10-15 hours to prepare. Although we pray every time we preach, that God would prevent anything we say or do getting in the way of the message, yet it will inevitably happen. It’s amazing anyone at all gets saved.

Why did God choose this method? Why not send a perfect angel with a perfect message delivered in a perfect manner? Wouldn’t that have been wiser? More effective?

God chose this method to demonstrate that the Gospel, not the preacher or his preaching, is the power of God unto salvation. He chose one of the most foolish methods and some of the most foolish creatures to reach multitudes of foolish sinners with a “foolish” message. And he did it this way in order to magnify His wisdom and power (1 Cor. 1:22-31).

We get grace. He gets glory.”

-David Murray, http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/02/12/10-foolish-obstacles-to-the-foolishness-of-preaching/

Post-Prayer Satanic Whispers

Here’s an awesome post from David Murray which I found very encouraging. Too often, I think my struggles are unique to me. What joy comes knowing that my spiritual state is in God’s hands and that doubts are common to all believers.

““…and forgive my sins. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Within seconds the wicked whispers start.

“Too short.”

“Too shallow.”

“Too distracted…again.”

“Missed out her, and him, and them…”

“Yawn. Nothing new to say?”

“You call that a prayer?”

“Not enough faith…not enough passion…not enough anything.”

“You don’t actually believe that made a difference, do you?”

“You’ll probably not even think about prayer for the rest of the day”

And on, and on, and on it goes.

Relentless, cruel, malicious Satanic whispers that begin the second I end my morning prayer with, “Amen.”

Anyone else get that? It’s so discouraging, isn’t it. I mean, why pray if all you get at the end of it is an even heavier feeling of guilt and failure? Prayer should be a delight not a dread.

I’d really welcome your own input on this, but here’s how I try to fight back, silence the whispers, and turn prayer into a soul-refreshing delight again.

  1. God has forgiven me all my sins – even my sinful prayers.
  2. Jesus is perfecting my prayers and presenting them absolutely flawless to my Heavenly Father.
  3. My salvation does not depend on my prayers but on Jesus’ prayers.
  4. My Heavenly Father listens even to the raven’s ugly grating squawks (Ps. 147:9) and gives it food; how much more will he hear and answer the ugly grating squawks of one of His children?
  5. God delights in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy (Ps 147:9).
  6. God knows I’m a limited creature who cannot possibly pray for everyone everyday.
  7. Surely the Devil would simply leave me alone if my prayers were really so pathetic and useless.
  8. Just because my children don’t (can’t) tell me everything about their lives doesn’t make me love them less, nor does it reflect a lack of love on their part.
  9. But maybe best of all, “You, Satan, are going to be crushed under my feet shortly” (Rom. 16:2o).

Anyone got any more armor or weapons to fight this battle with? Any effective rebuttals or even prebuttals?”

Complements of: http://headhearthand.org/blog/2012/01/27/post-prayer-satanic-whispers/