Stromsburg, Polk, Benedict United Methodist Churches
405 E. 5th Street, P.O. Box 427, Stromsburg, NE 68666-0427    |    402.764.4491
Stromsburg, Polk, Benedict United Methodist Churches
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Pastor's Message

Rev. Daniel E. Spearow
"Thoughts of a Prairie Preacher"
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"THOUGHTS OF A PRAIRIE PREACHER"

Dr. Billy Graham was a phenomenon on the American scene for well over 50 years. For decades he appeared on the list of America's most respected men. His crusade in Los Angeles near the end of 2004 attracted tens of thousands of people to the Rose Bowl, and many thousands began a personal relationship with the Savior.

Billy Graham, and every missionary to foreign countries and cultures, knows the message can't get through unless it's presented in a language the hearer can understand, no matter how important the message is. If a man ran into our church next Sunday and started shouting in Russian, "The building's on fire! Everyone get out!" Probably no one would move (unless you go to a Russian church). You might say, "That man is obviously sincere. He has something important to tell us, but I have no idea what he's talking about." Because you didn't understand, you might ultimately sit and die there. The reason wouldn't be because he didn't share lifesaving information, but because he didn't translate the life-saving information into words you could understand.

Now, if the people you know who are without Christ speak English, and that's your language too, we might assume that they'll understand what Jesus did for them. At least we think that should be the case, if we present the message in English. Well, the problem is, we church people talk "church talk". Our words are often those only understood by people who have been around Christian things for a while. Pastors can make the same mistake and preach sermons nobody understands.

Needless to say, church people don't always understand what is being said either. Researcher, George Barna tells us that hearing what Jesus did in the same predictable words week after week has effectively immunized a lot of church people to their need for Christ. They know the words, so they must know the LORD. Right? No, that's wrong – dead wrong.

In Matthew 13:23, Jesus is explaining His parable about four soils that the seed of His message fell into, with each soil producing a different result. It was only the good soil that produced the real, lasting fruit. Jesus said all the seeds and the people they represent "heard the Word," and some even "received" it.

But the fourth soil, the only one with lasting life, had one difference. This was "the man who hears the Word and understands it." When you share with someone the life-saving information you have about Jesus, are you translating it into everyday, non-religious words they can understand, or are you just transmitting the message in words that might keep them from understanding the most important news of all?

Of course, ultimately, it's the Holy Spirit who enables us to understand what Jesus did. However, that doesn't diminish our responsibility to present it, as Paul said, "clearly as I should" (Colossians 4:3). So many people have no idea what "sin" means, or "believe," or "saved," or "accept Christ," "receive Christ," or "personal Savior." We can't fail them by just speaking words we're comfortable with, not if those words obscure the very things they need to understand about Jesus.

We all need to be translators. It is really important -- like life-or-death important that each person hears the message of God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ in a language they can understand.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Dan
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