|This isn't the Dennis the Menace I saw back then. But it's a good one!|
Years ago, when I had only been preaching for a little while, I read Dennis the Menace in my daily newspaper, and I felt like it was speaking to me. In the comic strip, Dennis and his parents were walking out of church, and the pastor was greeting them at the door. Dennis looked up at the pastor and said, “Why don’t you ever tell us we did something right?” Let me tell you why that spoke to me. I have been in church most Sundays for my entire life. I did the math. I figure by the time I started preaching myself, I had already heard somewhere between 1500 and 2000 sermons. Frankly, most of them I daydreamed through, but some stuck out. Some grabbed me. The ones that grabbed me were invariably the ones that challenged me, that motivated me to change something. So when I felt called to preach, I wanted to make sure that every time I preached, I challenged the people in the pews to change. But as Dennis the Menace says, if I overdo that, it can feel like a weekly beating. I didn’t want people who hear my sermons every week to think they are awful people who are a severe disappointment to God. That comic strip was a reminder to me: People need good news.