If I’m not praying out loud (one of my favorite things when I drive alone), or on the phone (hands free of course), or listening to a sermon podcast or The Bridge on Sirius then I’m listening to sports talk radio. It’s the easiest thing of the five options above. Sort of mindless and rarely of much benefit but every now and then someone will drop an ounce of gold into my mental pocket.
Earlier this week Jesse Palmer was being interviewed. Palmer played quarterback in college for Florida and in the NFL for the Giants before turning to broadcasting. He is now one of the main on the air guys at ESPN. And this season they’ve struck gold with he and the iconic Brent Musburger.
In the interview Palmer was asked: “What has it been like working each week with Brent Musburger?” I loved his answer. “Every time we go live at the start of a game and Brent says ‘You are watching live as…’ I had to pinch myself to know if I wasn’t dreaming.”
Now, I’m a little bit of a broadcasting geek. I grew up listening to Howard Cosell and “Dandy” Don Meredith, to Layton and Dearman (fellow preacher Jim Dearman did radio in Birmingham as part of one of the legendary duo’s there in the 70’s), to Keith “Whoa, Nellie” Jackson and Eli Gold. But my favorite was Sunday afternoon when the NBA on CBS came on with Musburger – the days Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins, “Downtown” Freddie Brown, Wes Unseld, Gail Goodrich, Hondo Havlicek, Larry Bird and I could go on.
Yeah, I have a collection of autographed pictures of sports announcers. For about 7 years I called high school football for the Hamilton Aggies and then for nearly 10 years I worked with one of the best voices in the business, Jonathan Seamon, as we did broadcast with Craig (game day host), Burt (spotter), Bayron (sideline reporter), Peter (statistician) and others, the high school games of the Lipscomb Mustangs (we won two state championships and were runners up twice in that classic run).
Yeah, I enjoy broadcasting and good broadcasters but my real idols have always been preachers! I grew up loving good preaching. I remember from my earliest days Batsell Barret Baxter, Ira North, Roger Russell, Jimmy Allen, Jerry Jones, Willard Collins, Eddie Cloer, Ed Wharton, Jerry Humphries, VP Black (I wasn’t yet 10 when I asked him if VP stood for Vampire), James Fowler, George Bailey, Jon Hackett, I could go on and on. And I remember meeting Gus Nichols one Sunday night and dad telling me that was maybe the best man I would ever meet.
And, now, as a preacher for the last 30+ years I get to work with, be around, and BE a preacher. My dearest friends are preachers. I love time I get to be around older preachers like Jerrie, John and Jay and younger preachers like Joey, James and Jon (sorry if your name doesn’t begin with a “J” – we’ll do other letters later) and hundreds of others. I feel like I am in the presence of greatness when I get to hang out with, eat with or bump heads with my preaching friends.
BUT for all of us – preacher, plumber or pharmacist, evangelist, executive or employee, minister, mom or mechanic – for all of us … each eek we get to be in the presence of true Greatness!
The poet of Hebrews as the Spirit pushed the pen, I imagine with swift enthusiasm, wow’s us with the flare: “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them … But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word…” (12:18-24).
Sunday you’ll have the opportunity to be with the “assembly of the firstborn,” to the “city of the living God,” to the presence of “God, the judge of all.” and to be with Jesus! What would/could be more important, pressing, awe-inspiring than that! To pray with, study with, feast with, praise with those of “the heavenly Jerusalem?” When you lift your voice be aware of Who is listening as well as of who is listening. When you bow in prayer remember Who the audience is. When you commune remember the depth of sacrifice given for you and the connection to both Him and “them” all around the globe who will also commune. When you go to Bible class remember the importance of the Word’s central place in your life as well as it’s impact on your families daily faith. May it be a deeply meaningful, moving and motivating moment in your life! Preacher’s remember what you do – what you are blessed with, what you are privileged to hold before others, what someone amazingly pays you for the opportunity to do. Remember it’s Good News we share.
And, whether you are standing with the People of God or as a member standing before God Himself. You are in the presence of greatness – I hope you have to pinch yourself to see if you are dreaming!