This past Sunday I got the opportunity to preach. For the past 10 years as a Youth Minister, on occasion, I fill in preaching when the preacher is absent (usually sick or out-of-town). And over those years, preaching has been one of my favorite parts of youth ministry. But it’s always been a challenge to stay focused (insert youth minister A.D.D joke here). So here’s what I’ve begun to stick in my Bible when I stand up in the pulpit.
As a young guy and youth minister, so many different thoughts can cloud the sermon preparation and delivery process. Conversations throughout the week. Visits to the hospital. Knowledge of members’ life situations. Deaths in the family. Shows on television. Criticism. Personal doubts, sin, and struggles.
Even standing in the pulpit, I have my own set of distractions to fight while I speak. It’s a struggle to stay concentrated. Thankfully, there is one great burden moves me to speak, to lead, and to get fired up. The red ribbon I stick in my Bible reminds me of that burden: to preach Jesus. Here’s a few of the ways it reminds me to stay on track…
- The red ribbon reminds me about WHO we should preach. Paul said he would forget everything else to preach Christ [1 Cor 2:2]. Above all, Paul preached about one man, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In other words, my preaching should be personal. People need to see Jesus as a real person. His friendship, his attributes, his attitude, his character, his relationships, and my relationship with Him. My preaching should flow from the intimacy I enjoy with Him on a daily basis. Of all the preachers, kings, shepherds, prophets, priests, and kings in the Bible, they all prefigure and point us to the hero of the Bible, Jesus Christ. My preaching should do the same.
- The red ribbon reminds me about WHAT we should preach. Paul also said he would not forget the most important points of his message: That Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted. The whole theme of the Bible is God’s plan to save man from sin, through Christ, for His glory. The sacrificial death. The dark burial. The power of resurrection. My sermon should echo with the prediction, fulfillment, worship, and reflection of that gospel.
- The red ribbon reminds me about WHERE we should preach. Some of the last words Jesus spoke on earth were telling us where to preach: to the ends of the earth [Mark 16:15]. We don’t have to be in a church building, behind a pulpit, wearing a tie to preach. Our gospel is good news set to be delivered to all the world. Wherever we go, we need to be sharing the gospel to baptize and make disciples.
- The red ribbon reminds me about HOW to preach. The blood-sealed promise of salvation is hope for our souls. Because of Jesus, we have hope. Because of hope, we have confidence. Because of confidence, we preach boldly. My delivery ought to humbly reflect the courage, guts, and authority of the gospel. Preaching is the powerhouse of the church. It’s where we boast and flex in the great strength, energy, and might of our Savior.
- The red ribbon reminds me WHY we preach. Each sermon is an emergency rescue effort. We are searching for individuals drowning in ways of the world, people who need a Savior. As Jesus came to seek and to save, our preaching is an extension of that mission.
The Old Testament prostitute, Rahab, was known for hanging a scarlet line out her window for God’s people to escape. By her action of faith, she saved herself and those in her house. I’m praying that God can use my scarlet-ribbon-preaching for God’s people to escape. And that in the process, God might save those in my house, and even a prostitute like me.