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Wrestling with the Word | Thomas Murray Richmond III

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Front Cover.JPG

Wrestling with the Word | Thomas Murray Richmond III

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On a Tuesday morning, Robert came into my office and said, “After hearing your sermon this week, I've decided to quit my job.” Those words scared the bejeebers out of me. He had a wife and two kids, a mortgage, and other bills to pay! I could not think of what hair-brained thing I might have said that brought him to this conclusion. The sermon I had preached on Sunday was not about work, or jobs, or anything else that might lead anyone to decide that they needed to hand in their resignation. I asked him, “Why?”

He told me. “You said in your sermon, 'If you had a million dollars, what would you do differently with your life?' Then you said, 'Why are you waiting for the money? If it is the right thing to do, then you go ahead and do it.” As soon as you asked that question, the first thing that popped into my mind was, 'I would quit my job.' That made me realize how much I hated my job, and I decided right then and there that I was going to quit as soon as possible.”

I was relieved that he was not going to just up and quit that day. He had spent Monday developing a plan with his wife, which included finding another job before he quit his current one. However, he was determined to find a different job.

I was so scared when Robert told me he was quitting his job; the idea that someone might take what I said so seriously they that would change their life, frightened me. What if I was wrong? What if they acted on what I said, and it turned out to be a terrible mistake? 

On the other hand, isn't the point of preaching to change lives?


Thomas Murray Richmond III serves as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Medford, Oregon. He believes that faith should be able to sustain us, not oppress us.


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