Regarding my Christian life, whether I speak in front of people publicly, when at work, at the coffee shop, or wherever, the story below, by a good mentor of mine from ages past, seems to sum up my feelings. For me, it applies to the truth in all things, relating to those who have no ability to speak – the destitute, the orphan, the widows – the selling of humans, political schemes, and especially as it relates to the Gospel of our Lord, King and Savior. Although Whitefield’s response was geared towards why he preached with such passion, I find that even more specifically in my life, it is a convicting challenge to apply this deeply and most personally, examining to see if this this is a reality longed for in my soul. After reading the story, consider some of the passages that follow.
“I’ll tell you a story. The Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1675 was acquainted with Mr. Butterton the actor. One day the Archbishop . . . said to Butterton . . . ‘pray, inform me Mr. Butterton, what is the reason you actors on stage can affect your congregations with speaking of things imaginary, as if they were real, while we in church speak of things real, which our congregations only receive as if they were imaginary?’ ‘Why my Lord,’ says Butterton, ‘the reason is very plain. We actors on stage speak of things imaginary, as if they were real and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.’“
“THEREFORE,” SAYS WHITEFIELD, “I WILL BAWL, I WILL NOT BE A VELVET-MOUTHED PREACHER.”
George Whitefield’s ministry, along with other godly men who I have personally come to know, both present and past, have greatly encouraged me to take the Christian life seriously. This is no game; this is a war for the souls of men, my soul and a sincere and devoted walk with the Lord. Play time is over; it’s time for us men to become men of prayer, men who will authentically lead their families, being taught by the Scriptures, convicted by the Spirit, and unashamedly be a voice in the wilderness. Foolishness and cleverness of speech, and all it’s relevant methods, needs a crucifying cessation. We need the power of God in the conversion of souls, for teaching, preaching, in becoming true witnesses and living a lifestyle of humility, holiness and meekness; however, without the power of God, we are powerless in changing goats into sheep, blind to our wretched condition, and quite possibly deceived as to our eternal welfare. May we not be cowards, nor be unbalanced by lack of love – may our mouth meet equal with our style of life, privately and publicly.
If the ‘pots and pans’ (Zach. 14:20) are even used for God’s glory, then we should not seek to divide and separate the physical from the spiritual, but we ought to use our flesh, the physical things given us, and the cultural and environmental life surrounding us, for His glory, bringing and submitting all of these things unto His will, purposes and obedience as we have been given ability, providence and authority. For we cannot claim to be God’s children one moment and live as demons the next; nor can we only speak “spiritual truths” regarding the church, while staying silent in the world. We must be a voice for those who have none (Prov. 31:8-9), learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause (Is. 1:17[16-17]), practicing a true, powerful and self-denying religion (Jam. 1:27). “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’ The voice of the watchmen – they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion.” (Is. 52:7-8) “Depart, depart, go out from there; touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” (Is. 52:11)
Help me this day, O’ Lord, to never, never, never let me be a “velvet-mouthed preacher.” But, O’ Lord, let me go forward this day in love, humility and with a contrite heart that eagerly desires to do Your will in every place; that my feet walk, my voice may defend, help and proclaim, and my head lays to rest in the power of Your dear Son, and my Eldest Brother.
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