Last Sunday, I took a week off from preaching and invited my friend, Maurice Stargell, to come over from Atlanta and unpack the Scriptures for us. If you were there, you know how challenging and encouraging his message was from Romans 14:1-13. If you weren't there, I'd love for you to go to the media player on our website and check it out. I've had several people ask me why I took this particular Sunday off. And there are several reasons I could give - the elders and I decided to reduce my preaching schedule from 46-47 weeks a year to 40 weeks a year to give me rest and provide opportunity to develop other preachers; we had a group leaders' training that afternoon that I was leading; I had preached twelve straight weeks.
But here's the real reason I took a night off: because we - me and you - needed to hear God speak through someone else's voice. Having an outside voice declare the greatness of God and challenge the present trajectory of our lives is both good and critical if we are going to avoid following Jesus on auto-pilot. Maurice said things in ways we don't say them and illustrated his points with examples and stories that are different from the examples and stories we tend to share.
We have great confidence that God is always at work. Our hope is not in the homiletical and oratorical skill of any man. But God can speak through the unique wiring of particular men - and I'm thankful for how he spoke to us through Maurice last Sunday.