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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Wow! (03/11/10)

TITLE: A Writer’s “Wow!” in Church
By Steve Fitschen


Some sermons are better than others. Some seem delivered just for you. Some contain a sneaky 2x4. You can just be sitting there minding your own business—even, well, daydreaming—when bam! some little something jerks you out of your inattention.

Sometimes that something steps on your toes, convicting of sin. Sometimes it touches a deep hurt, ministering in a way the preacher could not have anticipated. But I had a different kind of Wow! moment the other day. It gave me an insight I needed. Not an insight as a sinner or as someone with a deep hurt, but an insight as a writer.

Something I had long searched for was dumped in my lap, gratis.

You see, as a Christian writer, I had long searched for biblical principles of writing. Oh sure, I had figured out a few: Words are powerful. God uses words; and when we use words, we imitate Him. In other words, I had identified a few profound truths about communication, but nothing that helps with craft!

But then, in the midst of a sermon on the prodigal son, my pastor noted in passing that Jesus was addressing two audiences simultaneously: the tax collectors and “sinners” and the Pharisees.

Wow! How did Jesus pull that off?

To the tax collectors and “sinners,” Jesus offers an incredible picture of the depth of God’s love for them. As the pastor pointed out, in Luke’s Gospel, the parable of prodigal son is the third parable in a series. Tax collectors and sinners are like that one sheep that the Shepard leaves all the other sheep for. They are like the lost coins; God will search every nook and cranny for them. They are like the prodigal son. God longs for their redemption, for their return. And when the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son is found—when they the tax collectors and sinners are found—there is great rejoicing in Heaven. Wow! What a message!

Yet to the Pharisees, Jesus says “You are wrong!” It’s as if He were saying all over again, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”*

Wow! One story, two audiences, two very different messages.

Can I do that? Well, I can try; and with His help, I believe I can.

My two audiences may be different than Jesus’ two audiences. In fact, they may be different from article to article, from book to book. Maybe two kinds of believers—those who are strong and those who are weak or those who are worn out from ministry and those who wrestle with secret sin. Maybe believers and unbelievers—those who need hope and those who know Hope or those who stood firm and those who shipwrecked their faith. Maybe two different kinds of unbelievers—mockers and seekers or atheists and Muslims or black sheep and unsaved church goers.

I’m just starting to chew on this. But . . . I believe with God’s help, I can do this. As a Christain writer, I can offer hope, encourage the downtrodden, speak God’s truth, and say something relevant to the world. Wow!

*Matthew 23:13.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Noel Mitaxa 03/18/10
Congratulations on touching on the humanly-impossible task that we share in whenever we seek to communicate or demonstrate God's grace. 2 Cor 2:16 refers to us simultaneously expressing the fragrance of life to some - and the stench of death to others - depending on how open they are to receive all God seeks to offer them. Only God knows their hearts; and he trusts us to share his heart and his desire for their greatest blessing.
Edmond Ng 03/19/10
An interesting way of seeing a sermon from the perspective of a writer. As writers, we normally target our writings to the masses, and this means each reader may be able to take home something different.

If we are writing devotionals, for example, we should seek God to let us know what He would have us write to the audience. When we do that, God is able to inspire us in the way we write and turn our writings around if necessary, so as to speak to the hearts of the readers. In this way, each reader is likely to receive an understanding from a different perspective, even if the key truths in the writing remain unchanged. Our role therefore is to listen to God and write from the heart, and let God do the rest.

May God bless you as you aspire to write for Him.

AnneRene' Capp03/22/10
I too, share your heart to touch a contrasting group of people, at the same time. Believers in different walks, unbelievers in different stages of their unbelief, and even children and adults at the same time, so can completely relate to what you are saying, and glad to hear another, is like me. :)
Also, think you meant Shepherd versus Shepard.
c clemons03/25/10
Good job!