Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grueling ministry

Another night of grueling ministry.
Well not exactly, I was privileged to preach last sun night at the jails. I sign up to take this least liked service because it's often open and it works better with our church.
It's least liked because it's on the primary floor which is predominately substance abuse offenders, which means often medicated (or even the so called 'insane'- rare though).
For me Sunday is the most gruelling day, I need much caffeine and much Tylenol on Sundays, because my body and mind is so exhausted (partly due to my neglect of good sleep).
For the most part, I go through this typical cycle: through the week my mind is probably chewing over what I will speak about (plus a ton of other God stuff), yet as it gets closer to the day and hour I'll be thinking 'Man, I wish I didn't sign up as much this month I'm so tired' or 'I'll even consider 'maybe I should call someone to cover me instead, I do need the rest'.
On Sunday before I go, I'll often be so exhausted that my thoughts aren't too clear and my stomach will be quite upset (I'm usually drinking Ginger Ale in the car on my way). As I'm approaching the floor I'm on, I'm crying out 'Oh God give me strength, help me to bless these men, help me to glorify you tonight'. This turmoil continues UNTIL, I begin to pray as I open the service, then I'm flooded with clarity and immense compassion as I look at such desperate eyes or a fierce attempt to awaken seemingly unconcerned faces. I am afforded two hours which actually means just over an hour and a half once everyone is seated: and before I get there I usually tell myself that I'll just keep it short this time (selfishly thinking 'more ME-time'). Yet while I'm in the midst of preaching this thought never comes back and usually when I check my watch I only have a few minutes left (although by the grace of God the guards have let me go a lot longer several times). Yet whats astounding is that the attention span of these men, some of which have their eyes FIXED the WHOLE time, I remember one man who thanked me for not rushing out as soon as possible. Despite all the opinions of others and their silly notions of how our age or time is different, I on the otherhand have an unshakably STUBBORN belief that the constraining power of the Holy Spirit is as strong today as it was in the days of Paul (and even he couldn't keep everybody awake).
AFTER!!! The minute I walk away and begin going down the elevator it's as though my body is under vicious attack by the devil himself. I have times where I feel so sick that I want to cry, and I have taken several vacation days on Mondays. Even when I've felt sick before I went there, or even had several mouth ulcers (which I've had on and off since childhood) once I'm preaching it's as though I'm superman or something, well you know what I mean.
Despite the little inconvenience of the physical aspects, my heart is filled with joy and compassion as I preach and when I'm done I just marvel that such a pitiful creature as myself could be so privileged to preach such a glorious gospel. In fact, as I leave I'm thinking 'I should have signed up for more, oh how could I have not wanted to preach today, thank you Jesus'.
My heart just sits amazed at the grace of God in such a weak and compromised vessel, who would have thought that I would be preaching His truths, that I would be a merchant of pearls, oh the grace of God in ME! As Jeff Noblit said at the True Church Conference that there are different views on Roms 7, but whatever it is, that's my present experience. I know the reality and I know NO condemnation but I AM NOT what I should be: I have yet to lay ahold of and live to HALF of what I know and YET His grace abounds in ME?! Glory be to God my Father!
There is much blessing in the gospel for the believer and he who hears little of the gospel is spiritually malnourished!


Ryan Kasza

Brother, this was very encouraging to read! I understand tht feeling before, after, and duing preaching. There is intense spiritual battle this week for me as I prepare to preach this Sunday. I am praying for you and your family as I know there has been alot of chaos going on in your life as of late. You are missed and a blessing to me. God bless you as you continue to pursue Him.

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