excerpted from Jesus Inside:A Prison Minister’s Manual soon to be published by EABooks
‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace.
Who bring glad tidings of good things!’
We have big shoes to fill when we take to a prison pulpit, so it’s nice to know our feet, or at least the steps we take to get there, are beautiful. Not a lot of people see themselves as capable of ministering the Word to an assembly, let alone a room full of offenders doing time. The fear of public speaking is one of the great phobias of our time. When Christ sent out the twelve, He encouraged them saying, “Do not worry about how, or what, you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you…Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light: and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops” (Matthew 10:19-20, 27).
Preaching the Gospel of Peace is just that. Nothing more, nothing less. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2-4, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Anecdotes, non-Scriptural references, life experiences, and personal insights are not forbidden in crafting a sermon if that is where the Spirit of your Father leads you. However, the best-laid plans of men and the most-prepared stacks of note cards are often left untouched at the altar as the Holy Ghost directs the speaker toward the heart of the listener. Going against the grain of God from the podium can and will happen. A particularly personal revelation will be revealed as inconsequential, impertinent, or merely impossible to follow.
James tells it like it is: We all stumble in many things. If any man does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body (James 3:2). The solution is to stumble forward. Admit immediately where we got off track, apologize for it, and apply for grace to get back in the groove. Jesus is the only perfect man. The rest of us must “show by good conduct that our efforts are done in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).