Over at the 9Marks Blog a few of us have been having a conversation about sermon introductions.
Deepak asked the question. I gave the "textbook" answer. Mike McKinley replied, questioning the usefulness of many introductions. I nuanced and Aaron Menikoff chipped in. Mike retorted. I'm planning to reply and link to this post in case anyone wants to read a brief (and not particularly clever) introduction.
So, here's the text of the introduction from Sunday's sermon on Jephthah... (Judges 10-12) I think I actually said something a little different to this, but this was the manuscript I took into the pulpit.
The point he’s making is clear: whatever natural abilities we have, we will not make the most of them unless we have ambition: a desire to use that which has been given us to serve some end.
What is your ambition? What are you intent on achieving with you life?
Fame? I wonder how many people around the country are already rehearsing their skills in order to attempt to have half a chance of fame in next year’s Britain’s got talent.
Wealth? Oscar Wilde once said, “Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons. What this century worships is wealth. The God of this century is wealth. To succeed one must have wealth. At all costs one must have wealth.”
Other ambitions seem far more down to earth than seeking untold wealth or fame, and yet can be just as much of a driving force in our lives. Perhaps you feel your ambitions are much more reasonable, and less, well... ambitious.
· A stable family
· A successful career
· A peaceful life
· Living to meet one’s great grandchildren
· Having a child
· Holding down a job
· Getting out of debt.
· Kicking a bad habit.
· Owning you own home
Perhaps you ahve to admit that you’ve given up on ambition. Your hopes have passed you by, and now you are content to live one day at a time, but occasionally you wonder if your life had become directionless: you feel as if you are not longer living, but only existing.
Ambition becomes a driving force that motivates one to sacrifice a great deal in order to serve your ambition.
What are you ambitious for?
What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to realise that ambition?
It is an important question because our ambitions set the direction of our lives, as much as we are able.
And in setting our life’s direction, it reveals what we think the purpose of life is.
What do your ambitions say about your understanding of the purpose of life?
Judges 10-12 introduces a new character who is nothing if not ambitious...