When The Pastor Sits In The Pew

Last night I looked over my sermon notes. Not the notes I will be sharing this Sunday but the notes I gleaned from the message that was given last Sunday! That's right, I wasn't preaching.

Each year Spanish River Church participates in the Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit. It is two days of drinking from the leadership fire hydrant. Desiring to "dial in" to the teaching and to be fully present with our church family who attended, I asked Jared Davis to preach in my place. 

Jared is a church planter in Orlando, Florida. He is husband to Jocelyn and father of Hudson and Lucy. I've known Jared since 2008. Not only is he doing a great work for the Lord in Orlando, he brought a great word for our church (click here for the message).

Jared's message was outstanding. I scribbled down so many notes I ran out of space to record them. On this day it was better for me to receive than to give. I had preached Ephesians 6:10-13 the week before, so I asked Jared to pick up verses 14-20. Let me give you the passage, share five things the Lord taught me through Jared, and then make a few observations from the pew.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:14-20 ESV

I could give you many highlights from Jared's message, but I'll limit my sermon nuggets to five:

  1. There is a community aspect to the armor of God.
  2. We have a tendency to view the armor of God through our individualistic eyes. "I" must put on the armor of God. We forget that Paul was telling the entire church to "suit up." We fight the battle against the evil one together. We need to develop the mindset that says, "We're family. An attack on you is an attack on me."
  3. We stand in truth, not emotion.
  4. God says "Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth." We live in a culture that tells us to "follow your heart." That is a mistake. The emotions of my heart are real, but they are not always true. "If it feels right, don't think twice," might be a catchy lyric for a song, but it can be a lie that ends in catastrophe in real life. I must fasten on the truth of God's Word, not be driven by the changing fashions of my emotions. Husbands and fathers need to be the champions of God's truth in their families.
  5. We stand in faith.
  6. God says, "take up the shield of faith." Satan will try to make us question God's sovereignty and God's goodness. "How could a good God let this happen to you?!" he will chide. Faith rests in a good God who is in control. In hardships, I must ask, "God, how are you being kind to me in this?"
  7. We stand in prayer.
  8. The Lord says, "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication." Jared's mentor reminded him, "The land of the Spirit is a hostile land. We do battle through prayer." John Owen said, "If we do not abide in prayer, we will abide in temptation."
  9. "If the church wants a better pastor it needs to pray for the one it has."
  10. Jared told me he almost pulled back on sharing that quote. I'm so glad he didn't pull back. What a great truth!

It was refreshing to get out of the pulpit and into the pew. I gleaned so much. Here are a few of my thoughts for making the most of your time "in the pew" this Sunday:

  • Pray for your pastor.
  • I prayed for Jared before he preached. I prayed for him early Sunday morning and I prayed for him right before the service. Amen to point #5 above. If the church wants a better pastor it needs to pray for the one it has.
  • Take notes.
  • We live in the land of information overload. At times it seems our entire society is ADD. Taking notes brings focus, increases retention, and provides a spiritual reservoir to which you can return. There is NO WAY I could have shared some of the sermon nuggets I did apart from taking notes. There's no way you can get all that God has for you apart from jotting down some lessons you've learned.
  • Reflect on what God taught you.
  • We are not marking time on Sundays, we are gathering to worship God and glean from his Word. The Lord gave me a four-course meal on Sunday, how sad if I didn't box up the leftovers and enjoy them during the week.
  • Share what God has taught you.
  • Sharing what you have learned is recycling at its best. God gives us things so we can grow and so we can help others as well.

Want to start a holy revolution? This Sunday, pull out your pen and paper or your tablet or your smart phone. Pray, take notes, reflect, and share. God has a word for you.