I am so thankful for wonderful bible teachers that are part of my past and most formative years. However I was remembering today a visiting preacher to our congregation who said that if there were any would be minsters in the gathering he hoped that 10 years into our ministry he would be able to come into our studies and ask to see our work on Romans or 1st Corinthians or Isaiah, and we would be able to bring out some folders of our work on whatever book of the bible he mentioned. He would have a hard job finding anything in my study. My “work” has gone in the skip because of the danger of paper harbouring mould spores!
Now there is a sense in which what that man said, the challenge he presented to teachers of God’s Word was a good thing to aim at, in that teachers of the Word of God are to be workmen and that means diligence, hard graft etc. However, if what it means is that a sermon that I preached on Romans 10 years ago could just be taken out the barrel and used again today, then that is not so good. I have even heard of parish ministers who build up their stock of sermons and then have gone to way out charges so that they have time to work on their “book.” Their flock rightly expect more and become disappointed. The sheep really do deserve better. So if this catches you just before you apply for a small charge because it will give you time to do whatever other than be a diligent, hardworking pastor….. well, think again!
When I was a student, I had a sermon for my summer holidays that I would use around various churches. In a sense again there was nothing wrong with that, in that it was just as true for one church as for another. A fellow student of Morag’s passed me on the street one day and after we had talked together for a few moments he said, “Kenny it is important to give the people fresh bread.” That one remark changed my attitude to preaching and bible teaching. “One sermon fits all” had to be abandoned. Since that early day I may have used some material that I have used before but never quite as I have used it before. I may even have told you about that encounter before, but not in the way I am telling it today. There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread.
So if in exasperation you are facing some ministry opportunity, don’t think of what you have in the store and conclude, “Oh that would do for this. It went down really well last time. God blessed it.” It might be the right thing, something that God can bless again… but it might not be. Make sure the bread is fresh. There may well be something you are to add in to a tried and tested recipe to give it a new flavour.
That is not just true for ministry, it is a truth all of us need to hear. Are we carrying a living word in us that we take a bit of now and then through the day? Is my testimony up to date or do I speak about years ago with not much to share from the now?
The now word for me came today in the form of an email from somebody and a message from somebody both saying the same thing really; “He MAKES me to lie down in green pastures.” Yesterday and today have not been good days energy wise, but I tend not to lie down in green pastures voluntarily. It would be good if I learned to do that. After all these years as a believer, and certainly after a few years of not feeling so well you would have thought by now I would know when to lie down without being made to. Well, today has been a half way house. I have had to rest a bit more and so have done that semi-voluntarily.
By the way, if I learn to lie down without being made to lie down, you might not get a blog some days from now on. I will not rehash something. You deserve better, and I like the smell of fresh bread when I am baking it.
P.S – You are very welcome to enjoy these blogs and share them with anyone “without money or price!” However, if you ever feel grateful for these blogs and are able to do so, then please make a donation to Open Doors, Scotland. Their website is
In case you have not heard of them, Open Doors works to help our persecuted brothers and sisters throughout the world.