It must have been about 1991. I was in my garret study in the upstairs of the old farmhouse in Ohio where we lived at the end of a dead-end road. The house is pictured here. My study looked out over a field beyond the house to a valley and a river. Early in the morning I would walk afield and sometimes take my New Testament to quietly meditate on the passage I was going to be preaching in the small but vital church we were starting that met in a Grange Hall we had renovated for our church. I was still a young man, 33 years old and God was forming my soul.
I was reading this book, The Supremacy of God in Preaching. God changed my preaching when I read that book. When God changed my preaching, God changed my life, because preaching has been my passion since I was fourteen years old and my calling and profession since I was seventeen years old.
When I reached the chapter four, “Gravity and Gladness” I fell to my knees in my study to seek God. I asked Him to help me, for the rest of my life, to have this gladness and gravity in my preaching, to reveal the greatness of God to people every week. I asked him to deliver me from preaching and worship leading that were something less than that, from glibness that comes from not being mindful of the supremacy of God at all times and especially in the preaching hour.
People are suffocating under the weight of empty, temporary things and longing to breathe the pure mountain air of the glory of the One Eternal God and I want to point them upward to God every week in my preaching.
I called John Piper, the author, to thank him for his book. This was before he had reached the notoriety he now has. His wife answered the phone. I asked her to thank him for the book and tried to express how powerfully it had course-corrected my preaching and given me a vision and greater passion for what God has called me to do. She was very gracious and promised to pass the message along to John.
What an amazing privilege I have had to pastor and to preach for over four decades. I do not deserve this great kindness from God and from God’s people but I will never tire of it and God helping me, I will continue faithfully in it as long has I have life and breath.
“The great design . . . of a Christian preacher [is] to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men.” The keynote in the mouth of every prophet-preacher, whether in Isaiah’s day or Jesus’s day or our day, is “Your God reigns!” God is the king of the universe. He has absolute Creator rights over this world and everyone in it. But there is rebellion and mutiny on all sides, and his authority is scorned by millions. So the Lord sends preachers into the world to cry out that God reigns, that he will not suffer his glory to be scorned indefinitely, that he will vindicate his name in great and terrible wrath, but that for now a full and free amnesty is offered to all the rebel subjects who will turn from their rebellion, call on him for mercy, bow before his throne, and swear allegiance and fealty to him forever. The amnesty is signed in the blood of his Son.” Piper, John. The Supremacy of God in Preaching. (p. 29). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.