I’ve often said I have the heart of a musician even as I acknowledge I don’t have the skill. I am going to supplement my teaching ministry this week with a resolute commitment to blow my best on a horn. Not sure how it will go over but I think, if you read my thoughts below, you will agree with me that it will be a success.
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” KJV
” Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? ” NIV
“And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?” NLT
“And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” ESV
No matter how one translates the verse, the meaning is crystal clear: the level of response depends on the clarity of the communication. If you have ever had the misfortune of being led in corporate music by either a song-leader or musician that doesn’t know the present song, you realize how frustrating it can be to try to follow. Not only is the song mangled, so is the opportunity to express unfettered worship. It becomes an exercise in toil rather than an expression of triumph. Dare I say that it is even more imperative that one speaking for God clearly communicate the intent of the message(s)? Is a sermon simply a random assimilation of spiritual truths and words or is there to be more? Is it enough to tell the truth and assure the words spoken are scripturally factual, or must the words spoken also be directional? Motivational? Inspirational? I am reminded that if conveying “true things” were the ultimate goal of Gospel ministry then preachers would be absolutely unnecessary; at most we would only need readers instead of preachers. The reader might step forward, read aloud the words of the bible and then, when finished, all present could be dismissed from the gathering. Mission accomplished as Truth would have been told! An even further extreme might say that even readers would not be necessary – for the Bible need not be read aloud to others in order to convey truth; we could all read it ourselves silently.
What then is the preacher for? To give us all call(s)to the battle(s). His must be a very certain summons to engage in the war. Those expressing a call to proclaim the Word and, more specifically, those in pastoral ministry must purpose to get reacquainted with this particular of their calling. There is always pressure arising from the expectation of others, but what does God expect of His preachers? What does the preacher do with the vast amount of thoughts to consider which are flung in his direction each time someone gains an insight, an experience, or some “new thing from the latest conference”? Is the pastor/preacher obliged to consider it? How is it that much of this advice and insight comes from people who have never pastored and yet become capable at giving instruciton to those who have bled for their flocks? I firmly believe that God untied much of the knot for the pastor/preacher in Paul’s instruction to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-7. Some may wonder if these exhortations are still able to blessed by God today. I don’t personally wonder about it one iota. What I DO have concern about is why a new generation of preachers seem to have redefined the call away from the exposition of eternal truth and have latched onto the trend of chatting, considering, suggesting and musing. The new high ground for pastors seems to be to endeavor to attain a benign status which is neither intrusive or potentially offensive. We used to say, “God has called me to preach!” Now it is said, “God has called me to hint!” I’m not personally looking for an overhaul concerning the biblical call of a pastor. I’m not bored with God’s plan and I shrink to consider attempting to improve upon it. Perhaps it is not that the specifics of the pastor’s call have been tried and found lacking, but perhaps it has never genuinely been tried by some because it is found difficult.
The Holy Spirit has blown His own trumpet clearly to me. While the temptation is every present for me and other pastors to embrace the trends and traditions over and above the Truth, God graciously grants us a gravity of soul that keeps us tethered to our true calling. I love to use technology in ministry but I’m not called to place my focus on remaining cutting edge. May God grant me fruitfulness and souls for His glory but may I never believe that I am called to produce exponentially increased numbers. I long to remain relevant to my culture and connected with younger people as I grow older, but may I never fear acting my age and portraying a maturity and sobriety in the ministry that is age appropriate. So many temptations to deviate. In the end, I know the foundation of my calling. God blew His trumpet to me on December 21, 1994 and summoned me to the battle. He has called me to preach His word.
Now I know the sound to give from my own trumpet when I stand before the precious people whom God has called me to lead. Will there be breakthroughs, Jeff? Will there be vision imparted? Edification offered? Will what God does in your heart become contagious?
I suppose that depends on how I blow my own trumpet.