A word to my brother-pastors, who every week labor in preparing to teach the Bible in the weekend gathering while the dark cloud of the new cultural downgrade hangs over them:

Brothers, let's not go about our weekly sermon preparation and personal discipleship in sackcloth and ashes. Let's get into the vineyard of God's word, get some holy sweat worked up, whistling while we work, lifting our hearts in worship. Let's get into the kitchen of study and prep and start putting together the banquet. And come Sunday let's spread the feast out rich and sumptuous, beckoning our people to taste and see that the Lord is good. They don't need our doomsdaying or dimbulbing. Still less do they need our shallow pick-me-ups and spitpolished legalism. Like our brother Wesley, let us set ourselves on fire with gospel truth that our church families might come watch us burn.

And when we gather Sunday with the saints, let us shepherd them to repentance and sincerity, reminding them of the holy God who welcomes them with sin-forgetting forgiveness. When we enter the worship gathering, let us not look back to the ruins lest we all become the wrong kind of salt. Let us look forward to the new Jerusalem, where our citizenship is secured even today and evermore. Let's get our wits about us and take heart together, for our Lord has overcome the world. Yesterday, today, Sunday, and forever. Let us frighten the kings of the world and shake the kingdom of the devil with how resolute we are in abandoning ourselves to the mighty God.

Our churches don't need our hand-wringing but our hand-raising. They need our deep, abiding, all-conquering, sin-despairing gospel joy. This and this alone is the hope of the world.

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