This Is Really Not Cool

What a joy it was to receive the proclamation of the Gospel from Pastor Heckert yesterday, even by way of the video. I hope that all in attendance were able to hear it well, and that they were edified by the love of Christ proclaimed through Pastor Heckert to the body of believers.

I’ll admit that I was concerned as to how well the sound would work in a room full of people. Even though I’d already spent a lot of time working with the audio stream in the video, I just didn’t feel comfortable with it. And then the unthinkable…

When I arrived at the church yesterday morning—right around 6:15 a.m.—I went into the nave and did one more test drive of the sermon in order to adjust the TV’s equalizer even if only a little more and I discovered that the video file wasn’t working as before. Somehow the file on the thumb drive that I had plugged into the Blu-ray player had become corrupted, and so the image was jittery and the audio was the same. I don’t know what happened, but it was what it was.

Needless to say, I started to sweat because while my video camera is pretty decent—recording in HD—it’s no small thing to convert the HD MTS video files it creates into MPEG-2 files we can watch on a DVD or Blu-ray player—which is the technology I was working with. Not to mention I would need to boost the audio and do some processing to remove a strange hissing sound that came out in the recording while we were at Pastor Heckert’s house. With the acoustics of our church, the hissing sound made the video almost unwatchable.

But there is a lesson to be learned in all of this.

Even as I started to worry, I knew I’d need to get in gear and start the whole process all over again. And so I prayed. It was a short prayer, one I said as I jogged back to my office. I think it went something like this: “Heavenly Father, this is really not cool. You’re gonna need to intervene here—big time—because I can only make my computer process at certain speeds and I don’t have much time. I’m in a mess. Help. Please. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

With that, I got to work on it right away, and after about an hour and a half, I had a video that, in my opinion, was far better than the first. Imagine that. In other words, what had unfolded as a nightmarish scenario, God used for good, and from it I believe a better, more easily viewed/heard sermon video was produced.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

You know, Saint Paul’s words above apply to more than just last-minute crunches like the one I described. These words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, cut to the heart of who we are in the midst of a fallen world. There’s plenty out there to cause us worry—sickness, messy finances, broken relationships, you name it—but God has given us a promise that He will hear our prayers, and He will act according to His good and gracious will, all of which leads to our salvation. That’s what Paul means here. In the midst of a cold world, God’s holy will for our eternal future will produce a peace like a super-heated fire burning in the furnace of our souls. It will warm us to the knowledge of His ever-present love—to the knowledge that He will always have a care for us. And what is that peace? It is the peace proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem—peace between God and man, peace located in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

My prayer to God for you this day is that no matter the challenges you may be facing—big or small—trust your Savior. Pray to Him. He loves you, and He love to listen to you. And whatever He does to help, just know that it will be worked for your good according to His will. That’s a peaceful thought. Actually, it’s more than a thought. It’s a powerful knowledge and reality worked by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel message. Hear it often. Receive it with joy, knowing that you mean so much to your God.

See for Yourself

The first week of summer break is upon us, and I just have to say (as I shared in a recent Facebook post) that even though I’m glad for the slower schedule, I miss the high-fives, hugs, and loving interaction with the students. It’s always a strange and alien thing to see the hallways of the school empty and then also to experience the silence of that emptiness.

Still, I’m not going to wish away the summer. Heck, even add a month to it, I say.


I’m thinking on the appointed texts for this Sunday, and as with every other sermon—for me, at least—there’s usually one particular phrase that stands out at any given moment. Right now, it’s the following sentence from the Epistle reading from 1 John 4: “We love because He first loved us” (v. 19).

That sentence is incredibly packed. And for some, it might sound (at first) as though it is describing what we do. You need to know that it isn’t. Its drive is the love of God for us. That’s the Gospel.

I’m sure that once I sit down to start tapping away at the computer, by God’s grace, the Holy Spirit will do the appropriate unpacking, especially since the whole point of that statement, again, is the Gospel of our rescue in Jesus, and also because the whole point of preaching is to make sure that you, the listener, hears the wonderful proclamation of salvation through the person and work of Jesus.

That, of course, leads to the cross, and the proclamation of the cross is in that sentence from 1 John. The Gospel proclamation always leads to the cross. In fact, I’ve heard it said to preachers that if Jesus didn’t die in your sermon, you didn’t preach the Gospel. That’s a pretty solid maxim to which I subscribe.

So, whatever happens this week in the preparations, this Sunday, listen for the death of Jesus for your sins. It’ll be there.

And now, on to the news… which I intend to keep brief.

“Sure you do, Pastor,” you say.

See for yourself.