A Podcast with LJ Harry
When God called me to be a preacher, I gathered as many tools as I could to be the best preacher I could be. But very soon I found out I missed two tools every preacher, every Christian, must use. Enjoy this week’s episode to hear the story.
LJ Harry’s Story
Life took a major turn between my junior and senior year in high school. I needed God’s guidance of what to do with this life He gave me: should I go to college? If so, what college? What should I study? Should I pursue a career with my dad as an electrician? Or should I just dive into a lucrative career at Krispy Kreme? That summer I went to youth camp and helped with the sound system on the platform. I was already a pro—except for one minor detail: I had never run a soundboard. Aside from that I was pretty much an audio technician. There I was on the platform just behind the drums, pushing levers and turning knobs on the audio mixer.
After we sang, Pastor Ken Gurley stood up to preach “The Dream Peddler.” He preached about God calling people to use their lives for His glory. I buried my face in the carpet and called out to God. And beauty of beauties, God called back to me. I hung up my electrician’s pouch, but I remembered the lesson my dad taught me while I worked with him. “LJ, if you want to be good at something, you’ve got to have the right tools to do the job.”
Since I was just a rookie preacher, I began to gather tools I needed to preach the gospel. I bought one of the biggest and heaviest study Bibles I could find—it was one of those lift-with-your-legs-not-with-your-back study Bibles. I bought a jumbo notebook to match, so I could write down my notes and not get lost. I bought an illustration book to find the right, heart-wrenching and tear-jerking stories to drag people sobbing to the altar. I bought a Strong’s concordance, so I could “misquote” from the Hebrew and Greek languages. I bought a one-volume commentary, so I could know what Matthew Henry thought the Bible said, and I could say what Matthew Henry said. I was ready to preach; I had my preacher’s tool pouch.
But very soon I found out I was missing two tools every preacher, even every Christian, must use.
Weep with Those Who Weep
So I went shopping again. This time I went to one of the oldest stores in town. It was a little shop called Romans. I was walking down its aisles one day, and as I turned down aisle twelve, I found two tools I had left out. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” If I wanted to be a good Christian, I needed to weep with those who weep and have a party favor to rejoice with those who rejoice. I needed to weep for the times I heard that someone near and dear had gone on home to be with Jesus, for the times able men and women in our church families lost their jobs, health, or family. They come to us with tearful eyes and fearful hearts, and we may have more questions than answers for them. In those times, we don’t need the what or why, we just need to reach into the tool pouch, pull out the tissue, and weep with them that weep. Some of the greatest men and women God ever used in Scripture were able to be broken and weep with those who wept.
I think of Jonathan. Jonathan was David’s best friend. You remember David, right? David and Goliath? At the beginning of the day, David and Goliath were both standing, and at the end of the day, only David was left standing. You remember that story. Jonathan was David’s best friend. He really didn’t amount to much in Saul’s kingdom, but he was larger than life in God’s kingdom. For the times he found David who was just about to give up, Jonathan just wept with David. Jonathan never wore the king’s crown or preached to millions, but he ministered so much when he picked up a box of tissues and just wept with his friend. One of the most important tools a Christian will ever have is to weep with those who weep.
Strangely enough that’s the easy one. The tough one comes from the first half of Romans 12:15: “Rejoice with those who rejoice.”Let’s rejoice with one another. Break out that party favor and rejoice. Click To Tweet
Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice (The Toughest Tool)
Now this tool is the party favor, and it’s a blast at parties. But this tool is really hard to use in real life. Rejoicing with others doesn’t come naturally to us. Just ask Jonathan’s dad, Saul. Saul was the young, strong leader sitting on his throne, but he’s the only one in the photo not smiling. Everyone was so happy when David took out Goliath. They all had a party favor in their hands, and they were celebrating. But not Saul. Even David’s friend, Jonathan, was happy for David. Jonathan might have been next in line to be king. If David didn’t succeed, Jonathan might. So if anyone should have been jealous of David, it was Jonathan. But Jonathan understood something all of us need to understand. It’s God’s kingdom, not mine. If God wants to promote someone else, I won’t be jealous, I’ll rejoice.
Saul didn’t feel that way; he saw David as an opponent. Saul had picked up a deadly disease, and we read the diagnosis from Song of Solomon 8:6: “Jealousy is cruel as the grave.” Solomon believed it was impossible to rejoice with someone when we are jealous of them. Saul would tell us now, it’s impossible to hold a party favor in one hand and a javelin in the other. If Saul could testify today, he’d say that jealousy is cruel as the grave.
Let’s rejoice with one another. Break out that party favor and rejoice.
(To hear the entire podcast, click on the link above.)
Resources and Links by LJ Harry
Ten Words: A Practical Look at the Ten Commandments – Originally etched on tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments have been the bedrock of righteous living for thousands of years. These commandments, sometimes referred to as the “Ten Words,” can be summarized in two simpler ones, love God and love your neighbor. In this book, LJ Harry provides us with practical instruction on following these principles today.
Simplify: 52 Weekly Devotions – Life gets increasingly complex. Sometimes we just need to slow down and purposefully simplify. In this weekly devotional LJ Harry calls us to stop and reflect on the Christian Life—to see the humor and to enjoy the simple pleasure of life. And in the process, we see God at work in the everyday world. Read. Pray. Reflect. Repeat.
God’s Word for Life Podcast – Hosted by L.J. Harry, the God’s Word for Life Podcast serves to encourage adult disciples to think deeply about God’s Word, further develop their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and make a greater commitment to the purpose and plan of God for their lives. Subscribe here.
Simplify podcast – a weekly devotional to help us walk closer with Jesus. Subscribe here.