CP#24: Re-Preaching Rivers

CHURCH PLANTING LESSON #24:  You’ll always want to Re-preach your last sermon(s).

I always want a another chance.   Nearly without fail, I want to re-preach every sermon that I preach, right after I preach it.   At times, this desire overwhelms me seconds after I’m done.  Other times, it results days, or even weeks later, usually after I’ve read a Scripture, a book, or come across some other idea that would have been “perfect” or at least “better.”  Alas, there are always the things I wish I would have said, things I wish I hadn’t of said, things I forget to say, and things that I simply butchered when I said them.

The truth is, there will always be different ways to preach the same text.  God’s Word is a living mountain that is never fully mined of all of its nuggets.  I trust that the Holy Spirits is powerful enough to ensure that what He wants to be said is preached however broken the pastor or the sermon might seem.

I recently had this experience with a sermon I preached on crossing the Jordan.  I would post it here but our computer’s crashed so it sounds like C3PO speaking from a pulpit in the middle of the cantina in Mos Eisley (Shout out to my fellow Star Wars Freaks!).   The sermon text came from Joshua 3, where Israel is led across the Jordan.  Now I usually try to intentionally forget about my last sermon and move on so as not to dwell.  In fact, I’ve never listened to my own sermons after I preach them…ever.  Unfortunately, as is usually the case, I was reading a book and happened upon a passage that made me want to re-preach that sermon.

I am reading a classic titled, Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   The first chapter about “costly grace vs. cheap grace” is amazing.  Every Christian should read it.  The second chapter begins with a verse from the Gospel of Mark: 

14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

The stated intent of Bonhoeffer’s book is to “recover a true understanding of mutual relation between grace and discipleship.”  In other words, he wants to prove how being saved by grace means more than a free pass to live how you want; but actually leaving everything to follow Him and live for Him absolutely. It reminded me of how I needed to better point Joshua 3(and all sermons) and following God across the river, more toward the cross and following Jesus who said, more than once, “Follow me.

So, in the hopes of redeeming my Joshua 3, C3PO sounding sermon here, I’ll quote Bonhoeffer because how he explains how genuine faith in Jesus does more justice to the idea of crossing the Jordan into a new, different, scary, and amazing life:

“The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead.  He is called out, and has to forsake his old life in order that he may “exist” in the strictest sense of the word.  The old life is left behind and completely surrendered.  The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calcuable (it is, in fact, quite incalcuable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calcuable), out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality)…it is nothing else than bondage to Jesus Christ alone…”

Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, pg. 58


Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

2 thoughts on “CP#24: Re-Preaching Rivers”

  1. I couldn’t do what you do. Only recently I’ve been able to let old conversations go where they played over and over in my head and how I wish I would have said ‘this’ or ‘that’ instead of ‘that crap’. It comes out in a form of turrets syndrome where the memory of the crap I said creates a profane outburst. It’s weird. Wow, that was cathartic. Thanks Sam 🙂 You’re good.


  2. I agree with Joel too as I tend to ruminate on things I say especially when talking about the Lord to my grand kids. Last week after church we had a long discussion about the Lord. They were asking me directly questions, and I was sharing TRUTH with them from my heart knowing I’m the only one they will ever hear the gospel from — my daughter is an unbeliever who literally HATES Christians because of past spiritual abuse in a church from her childhood. Last Thursday the kids told her something I said (which I didn’t say) about Satan and she sent me an e-mail, told me I disgusted her, and that I could no longer be a part of her kid’s lives. All weekend long I beat myself up wondering what I should have said differently and determining I would never again talk to those kids about the Lord. I couldn’t eat, or sleep or stop crying all weekend. And so I prayed and prayed and continued to beg God for my daughter’s salvation. For today, He only worked out this current conflict. But still….I have to guard my words so carefully and yet my heart yearns for them to come to saving knowledge of Christ. They are torn up between believing Grammy or their mommy. I can’t even begin to express how painful this is. And Sam, for the record, you preach awesome sermons full of Life and Truth. God changes me every single week so He IS using your words. Trust it!! It must be so emotionally draining dealing with that week after week, and I have heard other pastors say the same thing. Please know, that I am going to specifically pray for you about this very matter!!


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