The first sermon I ever taught was a form of punishment; for me, and for my audience. I don’t quite remember how old I was but around the age of 11 or 12 I got in trouble for something that I should not have been doing. The nature of the crime is not really the important part, that’s another post for another day, but the punishment for the crime changed the course of my life forever.
I have spoken often about my father on this blog. He truly is one of the most Godly men I know. When I say Godly man I do not mean that he is a great preacher, seminary teacher, or Christian author. He does not lead a Church of thousands or get sought after for huge speaking engagements. My father was and is a construction worker. A hard worker, and a honest soul. So when I say that he is one of the most Godly men I know, I mean that he is quite simply a man who truly seeks after the heart of God. A true man of God. I believe that if my father lived in the times of the tellings of the stories of the Old Testament or during the writings of the time that Jesus spent his time here on earth my father would find a place in those writings. My father is a wise man.
I say all of that so that you understand what I am about to describe. When my father caught me committing this crime that I should not have been committing he had a unique, and I would later realize, wise form of punishment. He did not scream, he did not strike, he did not take away, and he did not add on. My father’s punishment for me was that I would preach a sermon in front of my home church.
My father realized that if all the time and energy I was putting into the selfishness he caught me in could be channelled into the study of God’s word, something amazing would come of it. Not because I’m amazing or because I’m such a great sermon writer, but because when you channel your heart, mind, and soul into God’s word his truth will be revealed and that is a powerful work to be a part of.
I worked hard on that sermon. It was awful. It lasted about 10 minutes, which was five minutes too long, and to this day I could not tell you what I preached about, but I do remember what my father told me the day I was set to preach it.
I was sitting in the back of the car on Sunday morning. We were waiting for my mom and my sister to come out so we could leave for church. It was cold and the windows were defrosting and I could see my breath which was coming out fast because I was pretty nervous. My father looked at me in the rearview mirror and said, “Jonathan, do you remember what Jesus told Peter to do after he had denied him three times?” Of course being the great biblical scholar I was I said, “no.” My father answered, “Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him, and all three times Peter insisted that he did, and at the end he gave him one simple command feed my sheep; Jonathan that’s what you’re going to do today, you’re going to feed his sheep.” I was still nervous, the sermon was still really bad, but it did instill in me a passion that lasts till this day, and that is the passion to feed the Lord’s sheep.
I tell that whole story to explain why I have recently began to “advertise” myself as a speaker for conferences and events. It’s not because I think I’m a great speaker. There are much better speakers than me in this world. It’s not because I think I write the best sermons. I have heard sermons that make mine sound like the ramblings of a deaf mad man. It’s not because I feel like I have some unique and different perspective on the Bible that other people do not have. I simply do it because I have a passion to feast and feed on the word of God. I have a passion to feed sheep, often time because I am the sheep in need of the most nourishment and diving into God’s word to deliver it to someone else is one way I find that nourishment.
With all of that being said I am starting to strike out into the speaking circuit for events. I’m throwing my name in the hat. If you are planning an event or know of someone who is and you would like someone to come share God’s word I would encourage you to click here to find out some more information about me and how to get in contact with me. I call what I do Gospel Centered Teaching. It’s not flashy, it’s not cutting edge, and it’s not always comfortable, but it’s the gospel. If that is something you are interested in I would love to hear from you.