As soon as the musicians had cleared the platform, the preacher, literally marched his way up to the pulpit the way a Marine Honor Guard would, carrying his Bible and what looked like a horseman’s riding crop. He stared out into the faces of the congregation, scanning from left to right, slowly, deliberately, the way a General would appraise his troops before sending them into battle.
It was as if the swing of his head had control over the volume of murmur from the sanctuary. When his eyes completed its arc, the sanctuary was pin-drop silent.
The unexpected sound and shock wave of the stick cracking against the side of the podium brought forth a gasp of ooh from those sitting closest to the percussion.
“Sometimes, a good thump from a rod of correction is not only sound, but, necessary in order to bring about the discipline which bears much good fruit,” said the preacher in a commanding drawl.
Still scanning the masses, he continued, “We know this is true.” Then, in a relaxed sing-song voice he crooned, “Because the Bible tells me so,” breaking the tension in the room.
Now, with a normal inflection the preacher said, “We are instructed to use a rod of correction from the Psalms. In the NIV, chapter 29, verse 15 declares, ‘The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.’ So today, we’ll examine an application and outcome of this wise teaching, from the book of Acts 15:36-41.”
“We see in these verses the true story of Paul and his friend and ministry partner, Barnabas. They were preparing to travel back to the cities in which they previously preached. While discussing whom they would task to assist them, the Apostle Paul refused to bring his partner’s nephew along because John Mark deserted them during their last tour. Paul did not think him worthy of the honor, nor fit for service.”
“So, the pair split up. Paul took faithful Silas and Barnabas went his own way with Mark, his nephew in need of further mentoring.”
“Obviously, the sound thump from Paul, and time with Uncle Barnabas paid off because John Mark later became renowned in church annals. He soon matured into a mighty man of God.”
Coming from behind the podium and sitting down on the first step of the platform, like a father getting close, low and eye-level with his children in order to share a secret, the preacher said with pride in his voice, “Mark wrote one of the New Testament Gospels, the one bearing his name. Also, he later became Pastor of the church at Alexandria, before being martyred there.”
The preacher stood up, walked back behind the pulpit, and with a soft assuring tone said, “Because God’s heart is to restore all things back to good, Mark, who received a rod of correction from the elder Paul, was fully restored to the Apostle when he was imprisoned in Rome, in chains, for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. 2nd Timothy 4:11 in the KJV spotlight’s not only the healed relationship but also Mark’s reward for having a teachable spirit. ‘Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry,’ Paul wrote.”
The preacher continued, “When this young man fell, he rose. And, he rose tall. Mark rose just high enough to bear fruit for the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Again, the preacher came from behind the podium, but this time he walked to the edge of the platform with arms outstretched, and encouraged with a smile, “And that is our call today, brothers and sisters; that when we fall over a corrective thump, we too shall develop the discipline to rise and serve our King, to the last.”
And the church said, “Amen.”
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