Thanks very much for your prayers for our national foreign missions conference. About 350 attended and many of them made definite commitments to World Missions. An interdenominational missionary organisation, Global Impact, was publicly inaugurated at this close of this Conference. Though I was up till the early hours of the morning on each of the three days, preparing my messages, I believe the Lord gave me freedom as I taught. I am also grateful for three new missions messages that will surely make the rounds all over the world!!
What made me happiest was to see the way the conference was run mostly by younger leaders. It was great to see people from diverse organisational and denominational backgrounds working together. This was a wonderful experience that I too had when I was their age! YFC leaders Mayukha Perera, Robert Silva and Jegaraj Fernando and former staff worker Denver Fernandopulle were very active in the organising of the conference. Mayukha will serve as Treasurer of Global Impact.
EXPOSITORY PREACHING AND DEATH
In the meantime I struggle to find time to get ready for my class at our seminary on Preaching from Deuteronomy. I teach four hours a week on Wednesdays. What I do is to personally prepare a study on a passage and then in class go through with the steps of preparing a Sermon or a Bible discussion on the passage. Sometimes they will break into groups and develop a message or Discussion guide. I have about 70 in my class, and I am grateful for the privilege of sharing the passion for expository preaching with such a large group of students all of whom are ministering in the Sinhala language.
My problem is finding time to prepare! Each class requires about 30-40 hours of preparation. There can be no short cuts in Bible study. Often after careful study I find that my first impressions of the meaning of a text are incorrect. If this is God's holy Word and if I am to be a faithful workman (2 Tim. 2:15), then I must labour to handle the word aright by finding the correct meaning of the text. I should fear lest I misrepresent the Word of our God to his people. This is why there is no substitute to hours spent with the Word in a preacher's life. I began preparation for this course around September, and I am able to go prepared to class on only by missing proper sleep for several nights in the week. Though YFC is not making too many demands on me, the three other ministries with which I am involved have had some special challenges. These plus the usual load of counselling pastoral care are taking a lot of time.
Yet I feel that this is a necessary struggle for me as a Christian leader in Sri Lanka. Here's why: If I am to teach preachers how to preach biblically, then I must first go through the struggle they will go through in preparing their messages.
I am convinced that the main reason that expository preaching has gone out of fashion today is that preachers are unwilling to spend the time studying the Word and developing relevant and attractive messages from the texts studied. Ours is such a fast moving culture--where do we have the time needed to prepare expository sermons?
I think this is the cross of the faithful preacher in this age. In the first few centuries (and even today in some places) many Christian leaders died owing to persecution. In the modern missionary era beginning about three centuries ago many missionaries came to our nations and died because of sickness. Is God calling us today to die in order that we can preach expository messages in a fast moving era when giving time for preparation seems impossible? Death or the cross of course is a prerequisite to discipleship. If we are faithful disciples we should be dying daily. If we are not suffering for our faith we are probably living in disobedience. What a blessing it would be if the thing that kills us is spending time with the Word! I can think of few things that are more enriching and exhilarating that studying the Word which is living and active and sharper than a two edged sword.
Let's have more preaching today that comes out of careful study of the Word. Let's have more people who are willing to die so that they can preach expositorily!
And please say a prayer for me. My course ends in end-March. I am somehow trying to get enough sleep and exercise. I hope to take a sabbatical in the latter part of this year in order to write a Preaching Commentary on... guess, what? Surprise, surprise: Deuteronomy! This is in the "Preaching the Word" series edited by Kent Hughes and published by Crossway Books.
Please excuse language errors. This was written in haste. /bigger>