Pastor Oregon was carrying a white plastic bucket out to the large sign that adorned the entrance to the parking lot of his little brick church. He had a thought in the morning as he was munching on his granola that he had to make a statement to the neighborhood and the world. He would do it on that sign come what may.
He started to arrange the bold black letters into the slots on the vacant sign. His spirit was agitated as usual about the proliferation of heresy he had painfully witnessed on television religious broadcasts each day. He winced at the obvious errors, the blatant contradictions and distortions of the Holy Word of God and he’d had enough. He wanted to let everyone know that there was a haven, a sanctuary of purity in a world of Biblical corruption.
When his task was completed and all the letters had landed in their proper order, he stepped back and looked at what his sign now proclaimed
Unvarnished Truth – Here – Ten Am.
The oasis in a desert of spiritual desolation could be found on Sunday right there in Pinnacle Valley’s last remaining conservative church.
He had been pastor there for a multitude of years and had watched his congregation dwindle, led away by various aberrant doctrines that were designed to tickle ears, more than they were to guide a soul into the kingdom of God. His Sunday school swelled every week with a dozen devoted souls, all of them over fifty years of age. The youth had left a long time ago for more entertaining services. He sighed as he thought of his diligent Bible seeking twelve and comforted himself with the fact that Jesus started with only twelve as well and with them He impacted the entire world. He could do the same. So he faithfully continued to minister to his few and the thirty or so semi-regular attendees that frequented his Sunday morning services.
He looked at the words that proclaimed his heart once more with a measure of satisfaction, and then he slowly wandered back to the parsonage and the remainder of his day.
Pastor Oregon’s life revolved around the Word of God. He rarely watched anything but some religious broadcasts and only glanced at the headlines in the morning paper. So he didn’t know that in the realm of popular Christian music there existed a wildly popular rock band known as “Unvarnished Truth.” However all the youth in the area did. So it wasn’t long before word had spread like an uncontrolled wildfire that the famous band would be performing at Pastor Oregon’s church on Sunday morning. Fortunately it was a small rural community and there would not be masses of youth fighting to get through the doors of the tiny church, but come Sunday morning the parking lot was filled to over flow capacity for the small town.
Pastor Oregon walked the short distance from the parsonage to the back entrance of the church, so he could not see the phenomenon in the front parking lot. He turned his key, unlocked the door and made his way through the church to the sanctuary. He opened the door to his little realm and as he climbed the stairs to his pulpit he didn’t look up until he had settled his Bible open before him – then he raised his eyes to behold his congregation and almost fainted with surprise.
Every seat was filled and there was standing room only backed up into the vestibule and lined up along all sides of the church. He looked down at all the expectant youthful eyes that were staring up at him filling all the spaces on the floor between the altar rail and the pews.
Pastor Oregon was beside himself. Youth! The church was packed with youth! Ah, his prayers had been answered at last! He knew that there had to be a remnant of eager God seeking young people who were anxious to know the pure unvarnished truth of God’s word. The sign had worked!
He knew his regular morning offering that he had planned was not adequate for this gathering. These children needed to know that Jesus was the only way to the Father in this world of liberal attitudes toward God and His plan of salvation.
He took a moment to pray, asking God for the sermon of his life that morning. And God gave it to him in no uncertain terms as the words of life poured out of his mouth like a sweet flowing stream of new beginnings. His youthful audience hardly knew what hit them, for in this once in a lifetime opportunity God took control of the pastor’s heart and mouth and began speaking out His desire for the lives of these children in a sermon that would never be repeated and it would not have to be.
The children of that community assumed that the band would be along shortly so they listened politely. But soon the words that the Holy Spirit was orchestrating began to penetrate their souls like no earthly music ever could. Some of them began to cry. Others bowed their heads. And when the sermon was over, Pastor Oregon gently offered each one a chance to know Jesus in a way they had never known Him before; and for the others who had never known him at all, he offered them their once in a lifetime opportunity for eternal life and the peace of knowing they are loved.
His altar was packed. He cried as he prayed for each one and he hugged them as a father. The service lasted all morning and partly into the afternoon before he jubilantly dismissed everyone and his few regulars who were more than a little dumbfounded at the event.
When it was all over and he remained behind in the sanctuary alone weeping and thanking God for his miracle, he wondered if some of them would return the next week, now that they knew the famous band would not be arriving anywhere near Pinnacle Valley. It didn’t matter. The first souls that he had managed to lead to Christ in thirty years had crowned his long years of laboring in that community with a resounding victory.
Unvarnished truth had been successfully launched into his little town, promptly at ten o’clock Sunday morning just as the sign had promised.
copyright 2009 by H.D. Shively