The Town Crier

“Hear ye, hear ye!”

Long before Facebook, before Google, before cable news, and before newspapers was the Town Crier. Dating back to the 18th century, Town Criers were elaborately dressed men who would deliver the news to the town. Often carrying a large bell to gain the attention of the townsfolk, they would then declare out, “hear ye!” When the crowd had gathered, they would deliver the important news. Back in those days, if you wanted to “share” a story, you actually had to tell someone.

The Town Crier was an important part of society, keeping the people apprised of current events. But long before the Town Crier, David instituted his own version of it: the Town Prophesier. This person had an even more important job than keeping the town up to date on the current events or town scandals. His job was to announce the Word of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.  

Can you imagine this job? The job description might have looked like this: hear from the Lord and declare it to the people. What a cool job! They even had their own band that followed them around. I’ve always thought it would be cool to live life with a soundtrack, but these guys literally had that. Set apart for the ministry of prophesying… how about that?

As I reflect on this verse this morning, what strikes me is how important it is to hear from the Lord and declare it out. It has always been important. But we don’t need Town Criers; we don’t need professional prophesiers. WE can hear from the Lord. The prophet Joel said that God would pour out His Spirit on all people and it happened in Acts 2. Now YOU can hear from the Lord. YOU can prophesy. YOU can declare out what God is saying. 

You just have to take the time to ask and to listen.

The real expert

Acts  27:9-11 9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them, 10 “Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also.” 11 But the centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship.

expertsExperts. It’s fun to talk to them, isn’t it?  I’m not talking about people who think they are experts, I’m talking about the real deal – pilots who know how to fly planes, doctors who know how to perform surgery, and CEOs who know how to run a business.  We can gain so much insight from these people, their training, and their experience.  They have wisdom that we don’t have in their area.  But there’s another expert who knows even more.

Paul was on a ship with 275 other guys when thinks started getting a bit sketchy.  The captain of the ship said everything will be fine.  Wouldn’t he know best?  After all, he is the trained one.  He is the guy with experience.  But he was wrong; things weren’t fine.  The storm got bad and the shipp crashed.  How could Paul have known?  He was just an ordinary guy, let alone a prisoner.  No, Paul was not an expert.  He did, however, have the expert living inside of him.  Although the captain had training and experience, Paul had the Holy Spirit. 

You need the Holy Spirit, too!  You need his presence, his wisdom, his knowledge, and his power to walk through this life.  You don’t have to be an expert.  You don’t have to be trained.  You don’t have to be equipped.  If God calls you to something,  the Holy Spirit will give you all that you need to walk it out.  He is the real expert!  Lean on him and ask him to guide you through all of life’s decisions.  Let the words that come out of your mouth be his and let his expertise shine through you.

*Are you trying to live life without the real expert living in you? 

Mister Big Stuff

Luke 10:17-20  17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Perspective.  That’s what Jesus gives the 72 when they return from their first mission trip.  They came back pumped up about all that happened while they were out.  Sick people were healed and even demons came out of people by the name of Jesus.  They thought that was pretty cool.  “No one can stop me now!”  But Jesus gave them perspective.  Of course the demons submitted to His name; Jesus was there when Satan was kicked out of heaven.  This shouldn’t really surprise you, Jesus was telling them.   And even though it’s true, don’t let it become what you get excited about.  Get excited about the fact that you get to spend eternity in heaven.

It’s good perspective, really.  I hear Christians talk about all the spiritual gifts they have.  I hear them talk about how effective they are at praying for people.  I hear them get all excited about casting out demons.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s all exciting stuff.  But what should be more exciting is our salvation and the salvation of others.  We get so caught up on what we have to offer and forget to rejoice in the one who offered it.  We think we are Mr. Big Stuff because of all our talents, but never mention who gave us those talents.

The focus should be on Him, not us.  When we focus on what we have and not on who He is, people will start turning to us and not Him.  Maybe that’s what you want, but it’s not what they need.   You shouldn’t have to talk about all your gifts, you should just give them back to the Lord by serving Him in them.  Talking about them usually comes from one of two places: insecurity and pride.  Sometimes it’s both.  It’s not about us, people!  It’s not about the gift; it’s about the giver of the gift.  So don’t rejoice in the fact that you’re all that, rejoice in the fact that your name is written in heaven.

Open Mic Night

1 Corinthans 14:  26-35

26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Oh boy, where do I begin?  I couldn’t just pick a verse today; there was just too much.  You really have to read the whole section.  As I was reading, I gravitated writing on the first half of this chapter today because it is all about spiritual gifts.  That is an exciting topic.  But I figured that the second half of this chapter is more controversial, so why not?

When we read this, we have to keep in mind that this letter is a response to information that Paul received from the Corinthians.  They either sent him a messenger, a letter, or both.  We know this from 1:11 and it is inferred from 8:1 – among other places.  Throughout this letter, Paul seems to be answering questions.  When I read this section of chapter 14, it seems to me that this too is a response.  Look at verse 26.  He does not ask them if everyone has a hymn, a word, etc.  This seems to be information he was told.  I gather the question went something like this:

“Dear Paul, when we come together, everyone has a word to share.  So many people want to sing a song, share a tongue, or prophesy that our services go all day long.  We also have lots of people asking questions.  So Paul, what are we supposed to do?  Do we just let everyone speak?  How do we know where to draw the line?”  So in response, Paul says that there should be some order in the church.  God is not a God of disorder, he says.  So not everyone needs to speak.  If you have 10 people give a foreign tongue, it is going to get confusing.  In fact, some people might even be doing it to show they have the gift.  That’s the wrong reason – this isn’t open mic night at church.  This isn’t a karaoke bar.

So when you come together, make some sense out of it, Paul writes.  In that time, women were separate in the temple and not allowed to speak.  Does Paul believe women shouldn’t speak?  Well it seems to say that here, but in 11:5 he says that women pray and prophesy.  The problem was that the cultural norm was for them to not in this particular setting.  Not only that, but there were cults that put women in the forefront in a not so good manner.  Let’s not confuse people, let’s do what is culturally right so that we can lead people to Christ, not make them stumble.

Thus is the need for order.  Holy Spirit led does not mean chaos.  Notice that Paul does not tell them to stop operating in the gifts, he says to have order.  Sure, there are churches that have put a complete stop to operating in the gifts because of this passage, but that was not the intention Paul had.  He was responding to a question.  Let the gifts come forth, but do it in a way that leads people to Christ.  Do it in a way that is not overwhelming.  Be respectful of the people  you are ministering to.   That’s a good lesson not only in a corporate setting, but in a personal one as well.

Charlie Brown’s Teacher

1 Corinthians 13:1-2  1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Charlie Brown’s Teacher

You know how Charlie Brown’s teacher always said a lot but you couldn’t figure out a word she was saying?  It was, “wah wah woh wah wah,” or something like that.  That’s what you sound like if you don’t have love.  Well, that’s what Paul is saying anyways.  You could have amazing gifts from God.  You could speak in tongues or have the gift of prophecy.  You could have such tremendous faith (the kind bigger than a mustard seed) that you could move a mountain.  But if you don’t have love, you sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

That’s really the big take away today.  Sometimes we like to get into debates with people about our beliefs.  We like to prove we are right.  Another trend I am seeing lately is people condemning the church.  There is lots of talk about how the church is messed up, etc.  If it is done out of frustration and not love, then that talk sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  And really I am being nice about this whole thing.  After all, Charlie Brown’s teacher is simply not understood.  But Paul says that without love we will sound like a resounding gong or clanging symbol.  That’s a little more annoying.  Not only will people not listen to you, but you will annoy them.  Great.

So we must examine our motives.  Are we reaching out to someone to fix them for our convenience or is it because we love them?  Do we have compassion or toleration?  Is love present in our conversation and in our thoughts?  Just some things to think about.   Let’s lay a foundation of love in our lives and see the gifts really come alive the way God intended them to.