Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dear Pastor, Are You Preparing Your Church for Easter?

Dear Pastor,

Are you preparing for Easter?

I know... You just got past Christmas, Easter is months away, you have other people to do that stuff, you need to focus on this Sunday's sermon...


I know you are busy, and maybe Easter isn't really on your mind. But the truth is, you are already behind.

On Easter Sunday, more people will visit your church than any other weekend this year. More people who are looking for a welcoming church community will visit on Easter than any other weekend. More people who need to hear and believe the Gospel will be at your church on Easter than any other time. Easter provides you with an amazing opportunity, but it also carries a grave responsibility.

Will you be prepared to present the Gospel in a clear and relevant manner?

Will your people be prepared to welcome the explorers who show up to join your community that day?

Will your gatherings be planned and executed in a way that minimizes distractions and maximizes focus on the simple power of the Gospel?

Will your teams be ready to cultivate new relationships and graciously pursue those who show interest in the Gospel or in your community?

Are the members of your church empowered to go to the street corners and invite anyone they can find to the "banquet"?

Are you ready for Easter?

Dear Pastor, please begin today. You will have no greater opportunity this year to present the Gospel to such a large and needy group as you will on Easter. Please be sure you and your church are ready.

Thanks.



Only God Can Truly Care for You, Therefore Only He is Worthy of Your Faith

Give your burdens to the Lord , and he will take care of you (Psalm 55:22 NLT)

This is a pretty straightforward statement, similar to many other promises in the book of Psalms. Believing God is always in control means you can always believe He will take care of you.

However...

While we spout forth words that God will intervene on our behalf, our actions often speak of a very different belief. More often than not, we really depend on other people rather than our creator to take care of us. As a result, we often experience bitter disappointment.

As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers (Psalm 55:20 - 55:21 NLT)

Other people can never take care of us. Even those who claim to be friends will sometimes let us down. No one is more worthy of our trust than God. No one is more capable of taking care of our needs. Therefore, we should never look to anyone other than Him to be our provider and sustainer.

 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 Lessons From the Breakfast Club

Few movies defined a generation more than the Breakfast Club. Of course, as a pastor's kid in a fundamental baptist church, I didn't see the Breakfast Club until nearly 20 years after it was made. But when I did see it, I couldn't help but notice some of the themes are timeless and universal.

This post isn't exceptionally deep, but maybe it'll get you thinking...

  1. We are all dysfunctional. Those who appear to have it all together are just better at hiding their issues.
  2. Those who seek power for themselves are inevitably corrupted when they get it.
  3. Family life is really important.
  4. Nothing unifies people more quickly than rebellion against authority.
  5. Libraries are a great place for tomfoolery.
THEREFORE...

  1. BE HONEST
  2. BE HUMBLE
  3. BE PRESENT
  4. BE TRUSTWORTHY
  5. NO REAL LESSON FOR #5


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Asking Questions About Suffering and God's Love

How far would you go to ensure the long term good health and fortune of your child? Would you allow them to suffer the frustration of homework so they could get into a good college? Would you permit them to suffer the pain of discipline to protect them from future foolishness?

What loving parent would not allow their child to endure a temporary struggle for the sake of permanent gain?

Have you ever wondered to what length God would go to convince you of your sin? What might he be willing to do in order to cause you to repent and turn to him?

If the penalty for sin is eternal death, do you think God might be willing to use extreme measures to convince you that the suffering of the next life is far worse than the suffering of this life?

Might he bring pain into your life to get your attention?

Might he use natural disasters as a wake up call?

Might he cause suffering to convince you to change your direction?

What if he did all these things to keep you from experiencing far greater pain in the next age? Would you be grateful? Would you love him? Or would you bitterly turn from him and hate him?

 

Today's Thought From the Lectionary

How would your life change if you prayed this over your children or spouse every day? How would it change if you prayed it over your boss or coworkers? How would it change if you prayed it over your enemies?

D you think Jesus would pray it over his enemies?

24 The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:22-24 ESV)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Shocking Intolerance of Les Miserables

I finally saw Les Miserables. I don't really know that much about this show as it is French, and apart from their toast, I have a general distaste for all things French. However, I was surprised by a few things in this movie.

I had no idea that Wolverine was that much better a singer than the Gladiator. Perhaps those mutant genes helped.

More surprising was the shockingly intolerant message of this movie. Much is made these days about the intolerant idea of heaven to which many Christians cling. It is thought to be a bit regressive to still view eternal life in the presence of God as something reserved for a select group of people. Much more popular among the highly educated of our society is the understanding that a place like heaven would never be exclusive. The most brilliant among us generally conclude that heaven is for everyone.

How shocking it was for me, then, to discover that Inspector Javert was absent from the final "heaven" scene. How could a movie about the French struggle for individual liberty promote such an intolerant view? How could this amazing story, forged in the fires of the enlightenment, so brazenly suggest that a man as devout as Javert wouldn't make it into heaven?

Even disappointing is the lack of outrage I see. Why has no one pointed out this travesty? Why does no one take offense at the old school intolerance of this movie? Why can I not find one review of Les Miserables arguing that Javert should be in heaven?

People can't possibly believe that some aren't worthy of eternal life... Can they?