Sermon: 5/23/10 at Shepherd of the Valley

Here is the audio from my message today at Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church in Hacienda Heights.

Schmus SOTV 5-23-10

It’s a humbling experience to hear yourself talk.  I start out a bit choppy in my delivery and with the mic too far away.   But it seems to get better as I go along.  Blessings!

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Integration of strength and sensitivity

I am reading a book by Eugene Peterson called Run With the Horses.  It is a devotional commentary on Jeremiah.  My wife reads much more than I do, and this is one of her “life” books (you readers know what I mean!).

This passage struck me:

The thorough integration of strength and sensitivity, of firmness and feeling, is rare.  We sometimes see sensitive people who are unstrung most of the time.  They bleed profusely at the sight of blood.  Their sensitivity incapacitates them for action in the rough-and-tumble cruelties of the world.  In contrast others are rigid moralists, ramrod stiff with righteous rectitude.  There is never any doubt about their dogmatically asserted position.  But their principles are hammers that crack skulls and bruise flesh.  The world makes a wide circuit around such persons.  It is dangerous to be in their company for very long, for if they detect any mental weakness or moral wavering in us, we will be lucky to escape without at least a headache (p. 56)

I know both of these realities.  I suspect that people I know have seen them both manifested in me.  To some extent, some of my rigid moralism has been a mask to cover up my inherent sensitivity.  As I grow, I am letting more of that inherent sensitivity out for others to see, and it’s uncomfortable sometimes.  But being sensitive is not being weak.  We need the strength of the Lord to minister to others even when we feel their great pain.  This is part of “comforting with the comfort we have been comforted with.” And there is also time to strongly oppose evil.  But it must be done out of love and with with grace.

Father, help me to walk out this balance like Jeremiah and Jesus did.  Make my heart sensitive to your spirit, and make my will obedient to your leading, even in the face of fear.

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