Friday, 29 November 2013


I didn't ... did I?

I am unaware of any one who actually despised my youth as I engaged on these things. My guess is that some groaned inwardly or stifled a smile, but still had an encouraging word at the door anyway. In no particular order:

1) I preached when I was about 19-20 as if I was Elijah in all the fulness of his power. Well, I didn't really, but I certainly tried to. In 1980's Northern Ireland, my stream of Bible Fundamentalism tended to be the militant variety. Apostates were there to be shot at. I still have my pocket Bible where favourite verses highlighted included 1 Kings 18:27 where Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal. The sermons I enjoyed listening to most were the militant ones. I didn't always preach militant texts, but probably managed to get some militant statement into the most serene. This is one reason why I generally get turned off by gunslinging preachers. I probably shouted a bit in the those days. I was never a pulpit banger - that probably would have finished any credibility I ever had off altogether. Today I don't shout at all. 

2) I went through the apt alliteration artful aid stage where my Thersaurus was more thumbed than my Bible. I haven't actually abandoned alliteration altogether, but I hardly use it now. I remember reading through a volume of Robert Murray McCheyne's sermons and being struck with the plainness of his outlines. I cringe now at some alliteration especially when a pretty obvious word is passed over to accomodate the other 2 or 3 which begin with the letter 'R' or 'S'. The same words tend to turn up in every other sermon.

3) Perhaps due to lack of serious Bible knowledge - my zeal to develope my gift outrunning my knowledge to feed it - I sometimes went for clever sermons rather than strictly Biblical ones. In his commentaries on the gospels, Bishop JC Ryle would often comment in the notes section how a certain thought was doubtless true, before adding that it wasn't the teaching of that particular text. Scripture was borrowed rather than expounded. I remember preaching once on the "Great Open Air Meeting" from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and drawing parallels between an open air meeting and the event known as the Rapture. Some of these mightn't have even been clever. The smart idea was the predominant feature. Scripture got wrapped round it. Looking back it sounds so corny now that I positively blush. At least Sermon Audio wasn't around in those says and cassette tapes do eventually perish. (PTL) 

4) I can't think immediately of any other vices from those early days. If some come back to haunt me, I'll post them up. Confession, they say, is good for the soul... 


  1. yikes!
    yet, some of us who never preached have a few regrets too about how we went about witnessing in the early thankful I am that the Lord is patient, even long-suffering with us.


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