"One does not need to be spiritual to preach, that is, to make and deliver sermons of homiletical perfection and exegetical exactitude. By a combination of memory, knowledge, ambition, personality, plus well-lined bookshelves, self-confidence, and a sense of having arrived---brother, the pulpit is yours almost anywhere these days. Preaching of the type mentioned affects men; prayer affects God.....The pulpit can be a shopwindow to display our talents; the closet speaks death to display. The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people....A sermon born in the head reaches the head; a sermon born in the heart reaches the heart....Away with this palsied, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb, and nourished in a fireless, prayerless soul."
For years these words have always echoed in the deep parts of my mind and recently have made a connection to the words of the Apostle Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
As I pair the words of Paul to the heart of L. Ravenhill I am faced with an unsettling truth. It is possible to mistake "good preaching" for God's unction, approval, and sadly enough for some, the anointing.
Paul is very clear in this passage, Power accompanies the anointing. Preaching without the anointing is powerless and ultimately lifeless. It may make us feel good and may even inspire us but it leaves us unchanged.
Are we so patterned to comfort that we have lost sight of how important God's anointing is. For the sake of "growing" a church I believe we have discovered how to have a service without truly depending on God. If we can get the right dynamic of a worship band and learn the 5 highly effective ways of making people comfortable then why do we need God? (Insert sarcasm here).
Please know that this is not the case that is happening everywhere because honestly I have been blessed to see ministries that have refused to go "forward" without God's presence and anointing. And as a result have seen God's continued blessing and true spiritual growth within their ministries.
It reminds me so much of Exodus 33:1-3. God told Moses he could lead the Children of Israel into the promise land, which they had waited for so long. God even said he would send an angel to drive out all of the enemies BUT if this is the decision that he would choose then He (God, His presence) was not going. Listen to Moses' response:
"If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here." Ex. 33:15
What was Moses saying? Ultimately that God if you don't go with us then it is better for us to stay here (in the desert, a place of hardship void of comfort) because Your Presence is here.
That is how important God's Presence is! That is how important it is that we are not comfort-seekers! In our quest for comfort we can easily loose sight of God's Presence.
All that matters is His Presence in all that we do! If God's Presence is not in it, don't do it! But if it is, then go for it with all that you are!