Thursday, September 8, 2022

13 for Thursday: 13 PRACTICAL STEPS TO PUT OTHERS FIRST

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus... (Philippians 2:3-5)

If you know who Jesus is and you know what Jesus has done, than you ought to desire to to be like Jesus. Being like Jesus means putting the interests of others ahead of your own. Here are 13 practical steps you can take to count others more significant than yourself.


1. Listen more than you talk.

2. Listen to understand rather than listening to respond.

3. Check your motives.

4. Pay attention to what is going on around you.

5. Assume others are acting in good faith or with good motives.

6. Smile more often.

7. Catch people doing good things, and call them out for it.

8. Regularly tell people why you admire them.

9. Forgive.

10. Pray for your enemies and do good for those who mistreat you.

11. Send a handwritten note simply to encourage someone.

12. Focus your energy on meeting someone else's needs instead of your own.

13. Give something away every day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

3 Things Every Pastor Should Tell Their Church Following the FBI Raid on Donald Trump

Nobody shouted "Stop the Presses!", but they could have. The news cycle came to a screeching halt this week and every major network was quickly consumed with the story that federal agents had procured and were serving a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, the primary residence of former president Donald Trump.

Within hours, the competing narratives we have come to expect were being rolled out on competing networks. The most platformed Christian influencers were quickly serving up their own opinions. I saw one tweet encouraging pastors that they "must" speak to their churches about what happened this week.

I wouldn't presume to tell any pastor what to say to their congregation, but I suppose such momentous news in such divisive times requires us to take a stand. So, here are three things I think every pastor should say this Sunday.


1. Jesus is the only hope for our world.

You may hope that the FBI raid is the final piece of evidence collection and that the justice department will finally have the necessary case to bring charges against Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

You may hope that the powers-that-be have finally overreached and this will turn into a colossal scandal that all but guarantees a second term for Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

Regardless of whether Donald Trump is found to be a criminal or a persecuted ex-official, what people really need to hear is that Jesus is the only solution for their sins and He is the only guarantee of abundant and eternal life. 

Any time you might spend talking about the FBI, is probably better spent talking about Jesus.

2. Love is the calling of Jesus' followers.

You may have spent this week calling for justice against a corrupt administration that has done irreparable harm to our country. You may be calling friends encouraging them to get out and vote to ensure this great wrong cannot be done again. You may have assumed the last two sentences are about Donald Trump or you may have assumed they were about Joe Biden.

Your real calling is to love the people around you. Jesus never spoke ill of Caesar. He didn't concern himself with the occupying empire (other than encouraging his followers to go an extra mile when compelled by the occupiers). He spent a great deal of time teaching how to love and commanding that love be extended to neighbors, strangers, and even enemies.

The people in the pews don't need any more voices telling them who to hate and who to extend their anger (er... righteous indignation) toward. They need to be encouraged and reminded to love, and especially to love their enemies.

3. The Gospel is the message we carry.

The constitution is a great document. It has served our country well for over two centuries. It may or may not have been violated this week. The FBI may have overstepped its constitutional boundaries, and Donald Trump may have overstepped his. Either way, this is not the concern of the church.

We preach Christ, and Him crucified.

Pastor, you would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with mobilizing political action. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with inspiring social change. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with pointing people to a new cause they should take up.

Pastor, you would do very well this Sunday to mobilize people to share and spread the Gospel. You would do very well this Sunday to inspire life change in Christ. You would do very well this Sunday to concern yourself with pointing people to Jesus and the new life they should take up.


* This post is not timeless. It will very soon be out of date. The principles will stand.


Thursday, March 10, 2022

5 Practical Applications from Luke

Luke's stories are rich and full of detail. Yet they are not just for entertainment. In them, we see a complex and beautiful Savior who desires us to follow Him and be changed by Him.


  • Peter and the others fished all night without results. When Jesus told them to try something new, he simply obeyed. Don’t miss out on Jesus’ blessings because you are stuck doing things the way you’ve always done them.


  • Jesus told the disciples they were going to be fishers of men. How many people have you caught with the good news of the Gospel? If it's not very many, perhaps you need to change up your strategy.


  • The leper’s prayer to Jesus should be the same as our prayer. “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” The good news is that Jesus will! He always desires to make us clean.


  • By healing the paralyzed man AND forgiving his sins, Jesus demonstrated that He has power over spiritual and physical evil. Nothing in the universe is more powerful than Him.


  • People who think they are spiritually healthy will never seek the assistance of God. Jesus came for those who know they are sick. Repentance is the recognition that we need His help, it is our act of preparation to receive His spiritual healing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

5 Sermon Starters from Luke 4

Adam was tempted in the garden and succumbed, and so sin entered the world, and death passed to all men. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and triumphed, and so righteousness entered the picture, and life was passed to all who would accept it.


  • The temptations brought by Satan are similar to John’s description of the love of the world (1 John 2:16). Beware of the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.

  • Jesus defeated temptation by quoting Scripture. The more time you spend with God’s Word, and the more God’s Word gets into your heart and mind, the more effectively you will be able to fight against temptation.

  • Verses 18-19 are a reminder that Jesus’ mission was two-fold. He came to REDEEM SINNERS and he also came to RELIEVE SUFFERING.

  • The people of Jesus’ hometown never experienced what Jesus could have offered because they refused to accept Him as Lord. Once we believe in Jesus, we open ourselves to receive the abundant life He offers.

  • Jesus always wanted more people to hear the good news of the Kingdom. He kept moving from village to village so that more people could receive His salvation.

Monday, March 7, 2022

5 Observations from Luke 2

Luke 2 is more than just a Christmas story. There is much there for us to apply to our own lives all year long.


  • According to the angels, Jesus came to bring peace. He makes it possible for us to be at peace with God and He makes it possible for us to live at peace with one another.
  • Even though Simeon had lived a long and full life, the one thing that completed his life was meeting Jesus. You will never be content if you choose the wrong people or objects from which to seek completion. (Jerry Maguire had this wrong)
  • Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple according to the law of Moses. Good parents teach their children to know, love and obey God’s Word.
  • In Luke 2:47-48, Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders AMAZED everyone, and when His parents found Him, they were ASTONISHED. If your interactions with Jesus don't shock you sometimes, you may not be paying close enough attention.
  • When Mary and Joseph were separated they finally found Him in the temple, and Jesus told them they should have known He was there. If you ever feel like you are having a hard time finding Jesus, you’ll find Him in His Father’s house.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

On Russia, Ukraine, Gog, Magog, and The End of The World

In December, we made the decision to read through the New Testament as a church this year. Rather than planning out several sermon series, I selected passages from each week's reading. Since the Olivet Discours appears in three Gospels, I knew I wanted to cover it at least once. 

When I chose February 27 to preach on Mark 13, I had no idea that would be the week Russia would invade Ukraine. By the time we arrived at church on Sunday, many people were on edge. The largest land war in Europe since World War II was under way and a great deal of uncertainty hung in the air. How was this going to affect us? Would we be at war soon? Was this the beginning of the end? 

I decided that I couldn't possibly answer everyone's questions, give a comprehensive perspective of end times, and be faithful to the message I had prepared on Mark 13. So I told my congregation I would do a Facebook Live Stream on Wednesday, in which I would give a much more detailed perspective of the Bible's teaching about end times.

I probably bit off more than I could chew, but 75 slides and almost 2 hours later, I had walked our church through a birds eye view of the "end of all things". You can watch the end times presentation here:

   


You can watch the sermon on Mark 13 here:
   

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

10 Application Principles from Matthew 18

Matthew 18 is an oft-quoted chapter. Ironically, it is a chapter, more than others that should lead to introspection rather than blaming or accusations.


  1. Human tendency is to pursue greatness, but the way of Jesus is one of humility and dependence.
  2. Every time Jesus talks about children, He elevates them and prioritizes their protection.
  3. Temptation is a part of life, but you can choose to not make it worse.
  4. In your struggle against sin, you have not really given all until you have made painful sacrifices.
  5. God cares deeply about children who are lost or invisible.
  6. Conflict resolution should always begin in private.
  7. As long as you can and as much as you can, avoid bringing more people into your disagreements.
  8. Forgiveness never goes out of style.
  9. You may not forgive that person, but God in Christ would.
  10. Accusations of others don’t fit well on those whom God chooses not to accuse.