His text was 1 Timothy 4:11-16. One of the many things that struck me was a story he told near the end, I will do my best to recount it here!
Not too long ago, this pastor, a marine and veteran of the Korean War, had been asked to preach at the National Cathedral! Present were the soon to be graduated Marine Corps Officer candidates from Quantico as well as all the Marine Corps finest leaders--all decked out!
He had been invited personally by the then Commandant of the Marine Corp, General Charlie Krulak. When the preacher arrived, he was honored when he came face to face with the Commandant (a hero in his own right) whom he had never met. Instead of the customary handshake, the Commandant threw his arms around him and prayed, "And now LORD I commit to you this man. May he speak under the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The preacher was thrilled and knew the LORD had appointed this time! They went in and at the appropriate time, he stepped to the pulpit.
The preacher spoke to those "soon to be leaders of men" about integrity. He recited Psalm 78:70-72 :
"He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds:
From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.
So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands."
He said, "Without integrity you live very near to the edge of disaster. And the only source of integrity is the person of the LORD JESUS CHRIST." At which, the commandant called out a hearty "Amen." :)
At this point in the message, the preacher went on to ask us, "You know why I was invited to this?" He explained that it wasn't because he was a Marine, wasn't because he was an author or a well known preacher or any of that. He said, "I was invited because he (the commandant) knew I would deliver the goods."
The preacher explained:
"I had 25 minutes and I packed the Gospel in there carefully and appropriately and in such a relevant way that they got it and even had a chance in there for them to receive Christ as their Savior! I stood and delivered."He went on to say that men and women of God must have the integrity to stand and deliver the truth--- every time.
At first I thought to myself, quite proudly, "I do that, every time!" Then I was pierced by the Spirit and the memories of two instances when I was asked to "stand and deliver" came to mind. Clearly, the LORD had not been pleased. I saw how I had protected myself in the delivery and I was crushed under the weight of my failure. I wept quietly thinking of what consequences might someday be revealed as a result of my lack of integrity on those two occasions.
I bowed before the LORD and asked for forgiveness and for help for all those who had been in attendance at those two occasions. I asked Him to give me more opportunities and the power of the Spirit to stand and deliver every time He would allow me to do so. But . . . I wondered . . .
Thank you Lord for revealing this to me and for your forgiveness and generosity because today you gave me the opportunity and today you stood with me and we delivered! ;)