I seldom watch "Christian Television." Christian TV was once a great encouragement to me between 1985 to 1995. There were certain obscure programs that the big Christian networks carried that I really enjoyed, like Zola Levett. However, in recent years Christian TV has lost a lot of ground spiritually. I guess they need such a large cash flow to keep their huge satellite payments up-to-date, that they dare not offend their listeners...so they have become compromised.
Nevertheless on a certain Sunday in 2005 I was home recuperating from a surgery. I didn't think I should do the 80 mile round trip for regular morning worship. Instead I opted to slip into an afternoon service that I knew of only six miles down the road. Since I was home on Sunday morning, I decided to watch segments of three broadcast worship services: a Presbyterian, a Baptist and a Pentecostal.
These services were near perfection in the way they were organized and choreographed. Even the worshipers appeared to be dressed by some costumer. Their attire was perfect. Only Hollywood could have done a better job making those services into show pieces. Truly those programs were a kind of work of art.
When the tele-pastors, in all of these churches, began to bring the message of the morning, I became quickly bored. Everything they said was fairly correct. But, THEIR MESSAGES were like sitting down to a fancy table, with all the most ornate silverware and "five star" place settings, only to lift off the covers of the serving dishes to expose military "K ration" packets! The manna they brought was not fresh from Heaven's kitchen.
Even though the spiritual food offered looked like "K rations" to me, I could still tell that these preachers had spent much time researching and working on every aspect of "THEIR" sermon. I'm sure they took time to pray about the sermon too. There was certainly food content and truth to all that they said. But I found THEIR SPIRITUAL MEAL more of what one might find on the shelves of some disaster shelter, rather than a sumptuous meal from Heaven. I found their messages lacking. Their messages were reproductions, lithographs, copies of the original. In other words they were serving stale, re-heated, leftover "TV Dinners!"
I want to clarify what I mean. Most godly preachers today have been taught to seek God and ask HIS guidance for a sermon. While in their study they stumble onto some hot manna from Heaven. Once they spy the manna, they get excited! They take notes, they reason, they plan, they organize, they research words in the Greek and the Hebrew. Then they construct a monologue that, in their estimation, will relay the truth they have found. I want to repeat that I'm speaking about the better preachers...not some fallen, backslidden types, but the more devout ministers of our day.
Unfortunately, the technique of sermon preparation so commonly taught is exactly equivalent to a technician in the Louvre in Paris, taking down the Mona Lisa, placing it on the scanner of a black and white photo copying machine and creating a reproduction. Then placing the photocopy in an ornate frame in place of the original.
I can hear someone right now saying, "Clint, you're nuts!!" But, think with me for a moment. The dynamics of God's truths are beyond the scope of the most brilliant minds. When you take the rich truths of God and filter them through, even Einstein's mentality, you lose something from that truth.
To further complicate the matter, most preachers in the World today are not genius material! Many preachers, even if they are undiscovered rocket scientists, live in third World areas where they do not have access to any visible resource but the Bible itself! Therefore, the only way the truths in the Bible can be evenly and properly disseminated by persons of such widely varying resources and training is if God does 99 percent of the work!
God wants HIS preachers to preach like a heavy equipment operator sitting in a cab, inside a huge earth-moving machine. The operator pulls a very small lever, which moves a very big shovel and/or arm or blade. The operator depends on the hydraulic oil to turn the very slight lever movements into massive buckets full of earth. The operator looks at the surveyor's stakes which tell him what to do. Yet, operator has no need to understand the intricacies of architecture, or road building, or mechanical engineering. The operator merely depends on the Master builder and the surveyor to tell him what little he needs to know. And he simply obeys. But he must remain in the cab of the machine. And the machine must remain on the job-site.
The supernatural preacher becomes an instrument in God's hands. He must remain totally "in Christ." He really doesn't need to understand a whole lot. But he needs to intimately know the Master Builder, the Master Controller. He must have intimate knowledge of the Master's voice, so that he will follow no other voice. He lets God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost be the producer of the message. In so doing the mind of the preacher is not allowed to filter the message, and the full import can be transmitted by the miracle of TRUE preaching, with the whole Trinity of God doing the design, the hydraulics, and the orchestration.
Sermon preparation, for the supernatural preacher, becomes very simple. He reads tons of Scriptures and prays much; that is the preparation. But other than that his work is done. He steps into the pulpit depending on the Holy Spirit to give him the first word, and to take over from there. It takes a lot of faith. Most preachers, myself included, find it very hard to preach at such a high level.
This is how an uneducated Saint Peter can become a mouth piece while the entire atmosphere of Jerusalem becomes a theatre of the Divine, and 3,000 people's lives are changed forever. This is how Saint Paul could preach on and on, an all night sermon. and nobody wanted to go home! This is how the martyr, Stephen, was enabled to preach such a brilliant sermon to the Sanhedrin. The message did not come from Stephen, but from God Almighty directly.
I don't desire to criticize the TV preachers or any preacher for that matter. I'm not interested in hurting or damaging anyone. That is why I'm putting down these words here, rather than bothering any preacher with an annoying letter. Nevertheless, later that Sunday I witnessed true Heavenly preaching.
Near 3:00 P.M., I took a short ride down the road to an almost forgotten little rural town. I stepped into an old clapboard church building with very dated fixtures. The building was a bit run down. Woodpeckers had drilled holes in it. The cornerstone indicated that the sanctuary was put up just after World War II.
Inside there were less than a handful of worshipers. They sang a few praise choruses and then turned the service over to a gentleman in his seventies. Everyone, including the gentleman, was dressed casually. The preacher was not ordained, just a layman. He said a few words and then, in prayer, called on God Almighty to touch him. The preacher admitted to his Lord that he had no idea what God was going to speak through him. But I could tell that the speaker had spent time alone with God. He had great faith that God was going to literally take him over.
His prayer must have gone on for five minutes, because it covered so many areas, and yet I was not tired of hearing that prayer. I felt as though I was being granted the privilege of picking up an extension phone in the White House, to listen in on a presidential conversation between heads of state. I didn't want that prayer to end. It was alive and I was hearing things that were vitalizing. As the prayer went on I could feel that something was happening, something wonderful. The atmosphere in that room was changing for the better! And then the prayer was over and a message began to pour forth from the lips of the speaker.
I won't attempt to reproduce that message here. But I do want to say that as I sat there and thought about the choreographed TV pastor food I had gotten that morning, and the message I was hearing at the moment, I realized that I was now getting "home cooking!" What I mean by "home cooking" is NOT what Mother used to make, as good as that was. But I mean that I was hearing direct from my Heavenly Home. My Heavenly Father was speaking to those few believers directly! We were receiving fresh manna! I have been to many churches, large and small, and I can assure you that most of them often fall into the same "K rations" preaching problem. But this sermon was different. It was tasty. It was savory. It melted into my spirit. It touched my need with a healing result.
It was a strong message, a message of warning, a message of hope and a message of love. When I left that building I knew I had NOT heard from man...but I had heard from God. It was a double miracle, because the layman was not a silver tongued orator...in fact he stammered to some degree with words and pronunciation. His syntax was not college material. That speaker could not pass a high school English exam. But what he lacked in human talent was made up by the connection he had with the Divine ONE in Glory. God took the preacher over. I could tell that he was actually being directed by God, even down to many of the individual words that came out of his mouth.
If the message from Heaven slowed or became difficult the preacher would wait on God for a moment and go on. Sometimes he would even stop to pray a few words, for aid to go on. And in the middle of that sermon God spoke to me! Yes, God cut in and revealed something to me that had happened in my life that week that I didn't know about. The whole atmosphere of that room was charged with the presence of God Almighty!
I know I witnessed a miracle that day! I know that I was allowed to witness what the First Century Church of Jesus Christ had. I was awed how God had given this gift to a layman rather than the big name TV preachers. I want to be present in a place where that happens again!
That lay preacher has been a friend of mine since October of 1994. Many know him as Brother Freedom.