When I am working through a text, people I’ve known come to mind. I test the verses against their stories. One Sunday morning years ago I had spoken on a text of great encouragement. After the sermon, a grieving mother came through the hand-shaking line and ambushed me. " It doesn’t work, " is all she said. So now when I have a passage like that, I think, " What would keep someone from believing that this works? "
Once when I was preaching about Moses’ excuses to God in , I called a pastor I know who stutters. " For Moses, stuttering was an excuse, " I said to him. " Why wasn’t it for you? " His answer helped me make the sermon more practical. Many times, I’ve pushed God in my prayers, " Lord, I think I know what this text says, but I just don’t see how it will make much difference to Dave or Marjie. I really don’t think people will go home moved by this. What am I missing? " Crash-testing the text against the walls of real lives helps me find the weaknesses in my sermons and make them strong enough to keep people safe in real life.
I am afraid that I think of the objections intellectually, but I don’t think of the objections in living something out. Good thoughts.