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A Confession about Carpet Tacks

April 23, 2021

If I remembered the title, I’d save you the trouble.

I recently tried to watch a movie that reminded me of some of my own sermons.

And not in good way.

The movie began with a teenager being picked up from summer camp by a parent. Their cliché-riddled conversation only offered occasional hints of something better to follow.

Then it devolved into a somewhat creepy situation that never fully moved into the horror genre.

I’m not sure what was going on biggest chunk of the film other than several new plot lines opening up and disappearing with disturbing regularity.

In the last 15 minutes it became a sci-fi mashup that suddenly went dark screen…lengthy pause…an assault of bombastic industrial music announced the closing credits.

As I mentioned, it reminded me of some failed sermons of mine, especially in light of a hero I long ago simply called CHS.

Close college friend David Bryan introduced me to CHS, pointing me to a couple of books by 19th century British preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon (ooooh, “CHS, how clever, Joe!”). His contemporaries often called him The Prince of Pulpiteers or The People’s Preacher.

My first year out of school I devoured his “Lectures to My Students.” This forgettable film reminded me of one of his most enduring and helpful images, comparing nails and carpet tacks.

CHS wrote that it was far more beneficial in constructing something to drive one nail completely through a board than to sprinkle carpet tacks along the surface.

He compared our sermons to those two carpentry methods and strongly advocated for driving home one simple truth in a sermon.

I’m ashamed to admit I’ve preached sermons that were like that movie and rambled all over without landing anywhere. I need to apologize to the people who endured the pain of my carpet tacks.

I share all that to get to my hope and prayer that God would help us all to communicate The Good News clearly!

What happened long ago still happens, by the grace of God —

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. Each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?

— That’s of course Acts 2:5-8. For too long we’ve let one part of the Body of Christ corner the market on that. But that’s another topic for another time.

For now, consider this with me: is our witness easy to understand? That is, are we living our faith in ways that make sense to those around us? To help, in what ways might we listen better to the Director of the real-life film we’re living?

Take some time answering, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, let’s be careful to avoid just sprinkling what CHS called carpet tacks.

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