Thursday, February 23, 2006

When my cell phone went off during my sermon

Recently my own cell phone went off while I was preaching!
I have occasionally reminded other people to turn off their cell phones during church. We have run an announcement before worship on Power Point that says, "If you do not want your cell phone baptized, please turn it off before the service begins." Not long ago, I was giving the invitation at the end of the service, when a cell phone rang. I asked the congregation, "Are we as quick to respond to God as we are to a cell phone?"
But this particular Sunday evening, it was my own cell phone that went off! Normally, before the service begins, I take my cell phone off my belt, turn it off, and give it to my wife to put it in her purse. But for some reason, I forgot to do that. Thankfully, my phone is always set to virbrate, so it never rings. But in the middle of my sermon, I suddenly felt my left hip vibrate. I could hear the gentle "bzzz" sound. I tried to ignore it, but the "bzzz" continued. I often make a habit of walking among the congregation as I preach, and at that moment I was standing near the front pew, just inches away from some of the people, and I was sure they heard the "bzzz" too.
What should I do? I could continue to ignore it, but it was distracting me so much that I couldn't concentrate on my sermon. So I stopped preaching, reached down, slipped the phone off my belt, and threw the phone down on the front pew, while saying, "My cell phone is going off." After a few chuckles from the congregation, I went on and finished my sermon.
After the service, several people said, "We would never have known your cell phone was going off if you hadn't said anything." True. They didn't know, but I knew, and I couldn't think straight until I got rid of it.
What do you do when you get a sudden call during worship? Acts 2:38-39 says that the promise of forgiveness of sins is available "for all whom the Lord our God will call." So if the call is from God, you'd better answer it. But if it's a distraction from the devil, you'd better get rid of it. Wisdom is in recognizing whose ring tone you are receiving-- or who is shaking your hip.

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