In Revelation 5:8-14, there is mention of how worthy the Lamb of God is. Read along with me:
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” (Revelation 5:8–14, NKJV)
There are also a few songs that are penned with this scripture in mind, one of which is titled "Worthy is the Lamb," that I enjoy listening to and singing. But that's not really what this post is about. Please consider some thoughts with me on a very serious subject that is affecting brethren and churches around the world. I do want to iterate and reiterate that this blog is written in love and concern for souls, and more for encouragement than discouragement before you read on...
So, what is this post really about?
The title reads as it does for a reason. It is not a typo, an error, a false statement, or otherwise. It is a subject that is weighing heavily on my heart, as well as has become a bit problematic in the church as it would seem.
Paul writes a statement that is somewhat challenging outside of context: "How beautiful are the feet of those that preach" in Romans 10:15, which lends to itself being a quote from Isaiah 52:7. What I mean by being a challenge outside of context is...well, honestly, we don't regard feet of men as beautiful usually...or at least I don't. But, it is the context that we need to read more into, and not the verse itself. The feet that delivered the Gospel, and still do, are remarkable. In the time of the writing of both of these verses, keep in mind, sandals were the "Tennis Shoes" of the day. Sandals were open, allowing all of the dirt and mar of the ground in which they travelled to find itself into the cracks and crevices of their toes and layered on their feet. This statement is not used to elevate the feet, but more so the servant heart of the legs that the feet carried!
Now, on to some deeper thought and the purpose of this blog.
I was never able to hear the voices of preaching giants such as T.B. Larimore, Alexander Campbell, Gus Nichols, N.B. Hardeman, David Lipscomb, Marshall Keeble, and many other faithful and wonderful brethren before my time of knowing who these men were. But, I have heard the voices of other great preaching icons of today's time and am proud to call many of them my friends, such as Dan Winkler, B.J. Clark, Philip Sanders,Tom Holland, Melvin Otey, David Shannon, Lonnie Jones, Kyle Butt, Eric Owens, Glenn Colley, and many more. I appreciate all of these brethren more than they will ever understand and know.
When I began preaching in January 2009, by invitation of a small congregation near my home, I never imagined that last night I would be sitting and learning at the beautiful feet of Alan Highers telling the story of Mark in the Bible and how some of these great brethren from years past would share that message. Nor did I ever imagine that I would devote several days at a lectureship listening to men that are much younger than I am that have far more wisdom of the Bible than I believe I have ever had, such as Neal Pollard and Reed Swindle. I certainly never expected to meet some of the greatest and most unselfish servants of God like Roger Leonard, Tom Bowling, Jack Honeycutt, Drew Milligan, Gantt Carter, and the list goes on, that I have enjoyed getting to know, love, and learn from over the past several years.
All of this being said; however, therein lies a very big challenge, problem, and struggle that lives within the church. As of late, yet probably not new by any means, there has come to light a mentality through mediums such as social media and brotherhood publications that we might find in the attitude of the Sons of Thunder. That attitude is simply this: "Who is the greatest amongst us?"
I am sure you would agree that this is a very dangerous and slippery slope to be traveling...not to mention how discouraging it can be to young men who have learned to have a desire to preach the word of God! Again, please remember that I am not saying any of these things out of spite, hatred, envy, jealousy, or lack of love.
Brethren and friends, the words of brother Reed Swindle from a lesson titled "God doesn't need you" and a lesson on the servant attitude of Mark from brother Alan Highers have rung in my head for days now, and I hope these words will ring in yours too. We have to realize something that is crucially important. We have to take a step back and look at what we may have allowed ourselves to become. Our voices proclaim the gospel, our hearts need to proclaim it too. We have to come to terms with a simple, yet very important fact: we are nothing! Don't underestimate, or overcompensate this statement. We ARE something of importance...but it is because of the Message that we carry in trying to reach lost and dying souls, but, we are nothing in which should be elevated - at all.
We all want to be accepted and liked in the shadows of our service to God, but we must also realize that many times we can overlook the purpose that we set out to accomplish in stumbling over our own feet as we look intently to measure how beautiful they must be.
I don't mind admitting the obvious. I am not a very skilled preacher. I am not eloquent in my words. I am not "the greatest" anything really. I am just simply a man that has found a talent and a desire in proclaiming the word of God that He has given me to proclaim!
I will never get to hear most of those men that I listed at first. Until tonight, I never thought I would hear the voice of Guy N. Woods, whom I had originally listed in this preaching hall of fame last night when I began creating this blog post. But tonight, I did. He was a remarkable preacher of God's word. He was instrumental in helping a lot of souls find their way to God, and ultimately eternity with God. But...he looked like a man that I knew once. He looked like a man that used to be a janitor that I knew. He spoke with proper etiquette, yet he mispronounced a few words based on his locale and accent as compared to mine. He didn't have on a shirt that said "Be Calm, I am #1." He was wearing a suit. Much like those that I wear when I stand in the pulpit. What makes him a preaching giant, in my eyes, is that he never proclaimed to be anything more than a servant of God. Maybe like a David with a sling and some pebbles.
To paraphrase brother Highers - "Can you imagine hearing the voice of the great T. B. Larimore in person, or how about Alexander Campbell - oh how I would love to hear him preach - the things he would say - the way he would say them, but, can you imagine sitting on a hill and hearing the sweet, sweet voice of the Master Teacher culminating throughout with a commanding voice that could be heard throughout?"
Let that sink in for a few minutes. To hear the Master speak. I would be ready to empty out my entire "bucket list" for that moment. Can you hear it? Can you hear His voice?
I am nobody. I am not #1. My feet aren't that pretty (just ask my wife, she will agree). But...oh that Message! That wonderful, sweet, glorious message of Christ the Messiah and Savior. What a Message that it is, and I get to tell the world about Him!
It isn't about my voice, my words, my blogs, my posts, my outlines, my PowerPoints, or my crazy "new way" to bring the Message to others or "adjusted method" of laying out the commands of obedience in the Bible. It is about Christ. It is about salvation. It is about using our talents the absolute best ways that we can...and doing it with the right heart!
How beautiful are your feet preacher! Preach on, and preach the word!