Under Conviction

Written by cycleguy on November 14th, 2010

One of the forgotten things I use when working on words is a handy dandy book that few may even know about.  It is called The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form. No, it is not a dinosaur.  Well, I reckon to some it is since most would find it extinct.  I use it to help me in my sermon prep.  It also serves as a good synonym/antonym resource.  I looked up two words:

Convict: v. find guilty, condemn

Conviction: n. creed, persuasion (belief)

I want to add two more:

Convict: n. person found guilty

Conviction: v. under the influence of a persuasion.

Please let me explain before I lose you.  This past weekend I finished Chuck Swindoll’s book The Church Awakening. Talk about book that will put a person under conviction (v)!  When I was done reading I felt like a convict  (n)! You see, while Chuck was writing to the church in general, he was writing to pastors specifically.  As I came near the end of the book, he began talking about a famine in the churches, not for physical food, but for spiritual food.  There is no famine of churches…we can see that in every town.  It is like a veritable smorgasbord.  “Step right up folks!  Take your pick.  Sample everything if you want!”  The famine is that God’s Word has been replaced by artificial food.

I know something about artificial food.  When I am done cycling I need to eat, but often don’t have the time to fix myself something.  So I began earlier this summer to buy some of the frozen entrees that are offered by various companies.  (I prefer not to name names lest it be taken as a criticism).  The “meals” only take about 3-4 minutes to “nuke” and I can eat them and then be on my way.  They last about as long as…well, it takes me to walk out the door.  To be honest, I know I ate something but they lack substance to last very long.  I wouldn’t call them junk food but I also would not call them solid food either.  How about I call it “Lite” food?

What has me thinking (under conviction) is a haunting question: do I feed the people I pastor solid food or “lite” food?  Is what they are fed on Sunday morning substantial or is it something that leaves their spiritual system even before they leave the building?

Before you leave, please let me take a slight “turn” on this.  There are two sides to this story.  While a pastor can be guilty of preaching to salve the masses, the people who sit under him can also be guilty of expecting “preaching lite.”  Learning and growing is a two-way street.  A speaker and a listener.  When God’s Word is read (by you or someone else), God is speaking and you are the listener.  Your heart determines the type of soil that Word is being spread upon and the result of that planting.  Do you come with an eager heart and soft ears to hear the Word?

So…how was your Sunday (or day of worship)?  What would you say is one thing you learned that was a take-away for you?  My pastor friends: can you look back on your preaching and say you gave God your best and therefore your (His) people as well?  If you have a moment, I would like to hear your thoughts as we begin this new week.

WARNING & ATTENTION:  Last Thursday, for some unknown reason, AT&T shut off our internet at the office.  So we (my secretary and I) have been flying blind and will continue doing so until at least Wednesday.  It helps that I have internet at home so I am able to check my blog, etc but it also means that I can only do that when I am at home.  So, if neither your comment or my response shows up early on, please know that I will get to it as soon as I can.  I take seriously every comment and have always tried to respond quickly.  Now…if I can just get AT&T to be that responsible.  Fat chance!


30 Comments so far ↓

  1. Michael says:

    The one thing I learned this weekend was something that I knew before hand, but got a reminder that felt like a punch to the stomach. It was “trust me.” So simplistic, but it was much needed.

  2. Jim F. says:

    I can honestly say that I preached my heart out this morning. I can say with the busy week I had, my prep was less than normal but the Spirit did his work.

    When I was in college I had a professor that I had in class three days a week, he did the chapel every Monday and the Wednesday evening message. I struggled because I got nothing out of his preaching and was complaining one day to a good friend. The friend told me to pray that God would teach me something new each time he spoke. God worked and every time he spoke I was listening to hear what God wanted me to learn. Funny how much God wanted me to learn when I was really listening.

    I hear Swindoll on the radio address this issue – he was passionate to say the least. I appreciate his challenge to Pastors. I pray that God uses me each time I get up to share His word.

    Good post.

    • cycleguy says:

      I have noticed Jim that often the least prepared sermons are the ones that “work” best because we have relied less on self and our prep and more on the Spirit. That is not an excuse for laziness but sometimes circumstances dictate less prep time. Glad the Spirit was at work. Thanks for the confirmation on Swindoll’s passion about this subject. Love the illustration also. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Larry Hehn says:

    Today was awesome. Our senior pastor spoke about homosexuality – not exactly an easy or “safe” subject. I know that he has been praying about this for weeks. He did an excellent job of teaching what scripture says (and doesn’t say) about it. He also spoke about grace and love. There was no sugar coating. It was good, sound, no-punches-pulled solid Biblical teaching. And it was not from a place of judgment, condemnation or self-righteousness. It was from a place of love and genuine concern. It was very encouraging.

    I’m so glad that he is willing to stick his neck out and say things that not everyone wants to hear, but needs to hear because it’s the truth. I’m blessed to have him as a pastor and a friend.

    • cycleguy says:

      Larry: great testimony about your pastor. Love the fact that truth was spoken with love and grace. You are blessed and I suspect he feels that way about you. Thanks for coming by.

  4. Bill,

    Funny, that. I have often wondered that it is the job of the “pastor”, (a verb, not a title), to equip me to go out and preach The Good News.

    Also, I think you nailed somehting that many “church-life” Christians do not wish to admit:
    The Bride is nothing more than cafeteria-styled theologies all served up to us on silver platters of man’s error. I mean, I live in a small town and we have something along the lines of 7 churches. 7. Why is this? Because we need to divide up Jesus and only believe in the stuff He said that makes us happy. Yikes.

    God save The Bride. Truly.

    And no, I fully and openly confess (admit) that I do not attend or “belong to” or am a “member” of any local church in my small town. I love and am loved by Jesus. But The Bride…well, that is a different story. Remember, “church life” is not “Kingdom life”.

    Always a pleasure to read your thoughts, Bill. You and Tom Raines are two of my go-to blogs on a daily basis. Thanks for reading!

    Donald in Bethel, CT

    • cycleguy says:

      Hey Donald! Thanks for compliment! Tom’s blog is a good one to read. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on mine. I certainly agree with your assessment of current church life. Just out of curiosity: if you get a chance would you mind telling what you do for spiritual nourishment? That is not judgmental but curiosity. I know there are many who take the same approach you do about “church life” (of which I agree that church life is not kingdom life). It will help me understand this generation a little better (since I am of the older variety i.e. 58). Thanks. I look forward to hearing from you. Again, thanks for the compliment. I pray it will always be a challenge and something worth reading. 🙂

      • Bill,

        No fear of me believing you to be attacking me or judging me. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can discern an honest inquiry when I see it. You, Bill, are to me an honest fella.

        For nourishment, (excellent way to phrase that, by the way), I read The Scriptures and spend copious amounts of time fellowshiping with The Holy Spirit. I do have a small number of brothers in Christ that I sharpen iron with, and I am under the authority of Jim McNally, a man who is like a spiritual father to me.

        I have attended church, of course, once or twice in my 21 year walk with Jesus, but as of about 3 years ago or so, I simply became disgusted with it. (There’s a long story there, and I’ve no intention of hogging up your bandwidth going into details.)

        I do believe in the fellowship of the saints, the importance of accountability, the power and wonder of worship and prayer, and the reality of walking this side of Heaven as a New Covenant slave who also happens to be a son of God.

        But I digress.

        I will admit that I also get my nourishment from blogs like yours, in the sense that you are speaking spiritual talk that challenges and feeds my spirit. Blogs like yours are not a replacement to being joined with a local body of brothers, but it’s what I have right now.

        Thanks for the question, Bill. However, I am 42, so I do not accurately represent a younger crowd. I’m a husband and father, twice over. I detest the “new church” and the “emergent movement” and pretty much all the “flavor of the month” churches out there. What we need to do is re-read The Book of Acts and stop playing at being church, (what with our divisions and man-made expectations), and simply BE The Church.

        My two cents.
        Thank you for your patience in reading this tirade!

        • cycleguy says:

          As the old commercial used to say: “you’ve said a mouthful.” Thanks for taking the time to get back to me. I have to admit that I too reject the “emergent movement.” Not sure what you mean by “flavor of the month” church unless, of course, you mean those that are the biggies right now and everyone flocks to them to see what they are doing so they can copy. I have to admit doing that myself but now I tire of that. I care less and less of what others are doing and find myself saying, “god, what works here? What are doing here and want to do?” Thanks for your honesty of words. I am glad that you have a band of brothers to whom you can go and be accountable. Thanks again for your time.

  5. Glynn says:

    It’s a good post, Bill. Yesterday our pastor spoke on love from Romans 12, and immediately put me in mind of the gratitude I have for all of the people who poured into me over the years.

    I had a slight problem with AT&T – our main home phone line stopped working. The company said they would have someone there in a week. (A week!) So I started tweeting #ATTFail on Twitter, and the national AT&T people intervened. I had service restored the next day.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Glynn. Good to have you come by. Does a pastor’s heart good to hear that one of his people listened and applied. Hope you let him know. I don’t tweet so that is out. I spent 49 minutes on hold this morning and had had enough. Glad we are moving from them however, will email them when it is done. 😛

  6. Tom Raines says:

    Bill great message and sharing your heart. I think you are leading your flock when you are telling them (us) our hearts must be fertile soil. Are you coming to be entertained for an hour on Sunday as a ritual or are you coming with a soul ready and crying out for spiritual seeds and nourishment. Your heart for the heart of your flock will assure nothing “lite”.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thanks Tom for the kind words. You raise the issue that Swindoll has a deep concern over: entertainment or spiritual hunger. I am sure you are a blessing to your pastor as well.

  7. lindaM says:

    Hi Bill,
    I think that there are some serious issues in the Church today. I’m not sure what God is going to do about it. Eventually, the wheat and the tares will be separated. Judgment at the end begins with the family of God. 1 Peter 4:17

    Truth (solid food )can be offered up but if a receiving of that truth does not happen in the heart and mind of someone then it’s all moot so to speak.
    The evidence of church building gifts from God is leaving (or in many churches) has left the building. This is because there is no more receiving of these gifts by the people of God. They are relying on the arm of flesh. The inate giftings of men in their natural abilities and skills rather than the supernatural giftings of God for the church.

    This is not a God problem. It is a people of God problem. God is still offering. That may change at any time. God is longsuffering, but he also is ready to judge the quick and the dead at the appointed time, the Bible says.
    The righteous and profitable ‘fear of God’ has left the church building as well. People don’t fear God. ‘God will forgive me’, they say. ‘I don’t want alot of God, I just want enough to sneak into heaven by the skin of my teeth, that’s good enough for me’ people say.

    I think the church has a misconstrued concept of what is ahead. There is no ‘sneaking in’ with God. It’s all or it’s nothing. I believe that this situation has occured in the church partly because of the wrong emphasis placed on certain teaching in the church, and also partly because of people’s itching ears, and partly because of spiritual backsliding of christians in our culture of “I’m what matters and what’s most important”.

    It’s in tough times that our faith is tested. I think it may be in tough times that the church will be tested. Those who are in the church for improper reasons will likely leave in the difficult times. The question is, how many people will still be there?

  8. jasonS says:

    Well, I can’t always say I gave God my best, but it was such a wonderful day yesterday in His presence, so much grace. I am confident that He did what He intended to do!

    You’re so right too. Learning and growing is a two-way street. If we all do our part, there are tremendous things we’ll see accomplished. Thanks Bill.

  9. The thing I learned this weekend…prayer changes things. This weekend I interceded for a friend..this weekend a life was set free. It was like being thrust into the heat of a battle…Jesus can redeem anything, He is so good.

  10. I love it when a message points to the fact that I have no were else to turn but to Him…and that’s a great thing. Great thoughts Bill…thanks for serving the King so well!

    “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day.” – Abe Lincoln

  11. Zee says:

    I love Roget’s Thesaurus! It’s the coolest reference book ever – saved me many times during my university years when I needed a few words more to make the assignment – and it provided phrases I could use instead of one tiny word… *sheepish grin*

    There are two sides to this story. While a pastor can be guilty of preaching to salve the masses, the people who sit under him can also be guilty of expecting “preaching lite.” – true. It is easy to get used to “preaching lite” and the Truth then sounds very harsh… But the Truth is the Truth and we cannot avoid it unless we don’t care at all (and then why bother listening to lite preaching anyway?)…

    • cycleguy says:

      Zee: you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to Rogets. It has saved my bacon many times during sermon prep when I was looking for a word but could not “find” it only to go to Rogets and there it was. I totally agree with you last thought. It is easy to get used to it and for the Truth to sound harsh. Love having you back. 🙂

  12. jeff says:

    I can empathize with a Pastor. I have 2 brothers and an ex-father-in-law that are pastors or retired. It is a difficult job. I was a corp exec for 30 years selling people what they wanted. A far easier proposition than what they needed.
    All you can do is your best and what is right.

  13. Jan Frame says:

    I would have to say my Sunday was wonderful, got to listen to a great message from my dear friend & former pastor, got to eat good food with 2 wonderful, special friends & got to meet some great people as well! I took away from Sunday’s message that I need to remember that all I have is from God and I should be humble and grateful, I need to check my pride when I get too big for my own britches! That was a great message, wish we could hear the others. I sure do miss hearing your preaching on Sundays! But, we’ll take what we can get on those rare Sundays we can make it your way! Love you & Jo!!! Thanks for a terrific Sunday!

    • cycleguy says:

      Thank you Jan for the very kind words. You constantly honor me with your words that I am not sure I always deserve. Thanks to you and Michael for our lunch but the time spent with you two was worth far more to us than the meal. Love you and Michael.