Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder (2 Peter 1.12-13).
Peter wrote these words, from a Roman prison, just before his martyrdom that Jesus predicted years before. As he said goodbye to these disciples, and thought about the truths in which he longed for them to be established, he came to this realization. I don't really have anything new to say. The things that are paramount; the grand themes that are most important; I've already communicated them to you many times.
Yesterday I preached a farewell message to COTK. The title: Just a Few Reminders. As I was preparing the message, I pulled out my calculator and calendar to try and figure out how many sermons I've preached since starting our church. After counting Sunday morning services, plus the Sunday night and Wednesday night services we used to have, and then subtracting guest speakers, and adding in special events, I came up with a rough estimate of 806.
Then I started to read through my sermon file.
I've preached through a lot of topics: spiritual gifts, end times, depression, dreams, discouragement, disaster (9.11 and Katrina), conflict resolution, sex (especially during the series just before my wedding ):, prayer, dangerous prayers, fasting, Bible study, prejudice and racism, evangelism, singleness, decision making, spiritual growth, spiritual disciplines, busyness, sabbath, goal setting, giving and stewardship, family, marriage, dating, divorce, parenting, missions, worship, church planting, the Spirit-filled life, the voice of God, leadership, spiritual community and spiritual warfare.
I've preached through all of our major doctrines several times: the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, sin, salvation, the authority of Scripture, healing, communion and baptism, the nature of the church, the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I've preached through the attitudes of victorious Christian living: faith, love, hope, and joy.
I've preached on the cross more times than I can count.
I've done sermons together with small group campaigns: 40 days of purpose, 40 days of passion, revelations, conversations with Jesus, Neos, I am Jonah, and Epic.
I've preached on a host of Bible characters: Gideon, Abraham, Daniel, Paul, Peter, Jonah, Joshua, Moses, Noah, Herod, Esther, Mary, Joseph (the father of Jesus), Joseph (the son of Jacob), angels, Gamaliel, Pilate, Deborah, Nebuchadnezzar, Abigail, Sarah, Hezekiah, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Esau, Adam, and Eve.
I've talked about Jesus a lot: His majesty! His exaltation! His humility! His sacrifice! His triumph! His second coming! His ongoing presence! His victory!
I've talked about His Father a lot: God as Father, God as Spirit, God as Son, the names of God, the attributes of God, the Triune God, the love of God, the discipline of God, the power of God, the presence of God.
I've preached things that should never have been said. Once I accidentally implied that my neighbor had spent time in my bedroom. Another time I preached an entire sermon on death while unknowingly referring to the grim REEFER. And then there was the message last year when I compared my wedding to a crucifixion.
I've tried to illustrate the Scripture. I've carried around suitcases and carried around people. I've ripped my clothes, dressed in fatigues, and painted one of our interns. I even filled one sermon with country music songs to illustrate the parable of the prodigal son (don't ask):
I've preached through entire books: James, Hebrews, Philemon, Exodus, Acts, Ezekiel, Jonah, Song of Solomon, and Philippians.
And as I thought about sermon #807, I came to the same conclusion as Peter. I really don't have anything new to say.
So I decided to go out the same way I came in. I preached the five points that outlined our first five week sermon series. I preached the five points we cover in every membership class. I preached what has hopefully become the culture and DNA of our church. I preached the values that I hope our church recalls when they think of me.
- Prayer can do anything God can do (Prayer)!
- We exist for the welfare of our city (Outreach)!
- Jesus deserves center stage (Worship)!
- Discipleship is progress (Education)!
- The church should look like heaven (Reconciliation)!