Wednesday, December 7, 2022
5 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS EVERY CHRISTIAN CAN MAKE
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.
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
- 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
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.
- Human tendency is to pursue greatness, but the way of Jesus is one of humility and dependence.
- Every time Jesus talks about children, He elevates them and prioritizes their protection.
- Temptation is a part of life, but you can choose to not make it worse.
- In your struggle against sin, you have not really given all until you have made painful sacrifices.
- God cares deeply about children who are lost or invisible.
- Conflict resolution should always begin in private.
- As long as you can and as much as you can, avoid bringing more people into your disagreements.
- Forgiveness never goes out of style.
- You may not forgive that person, but God in Christ would.
- Accusations of others don’t fit well on those whom God chooses not to accuse.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
5 Sermon Sound Bites from Matthew 17
It is interesting, that Matthew's gospel devotes very little ink to the most glorious moment of Christ's life (the transfiguration), while spilling much to demonstrate His compassion and the point towards His coming suffering.
- The mountaintop is a great place to visit, but a bad place to live.
- Overshadowed by the Spirit, listening to the Father, and communing with the Son is the best way to live.
- The way of Jesus must include suffering.
- The more closely aligned your purposes are with God’s purposes, the more He will be able to do through you.
- Children of God obey earthly authority, not out of obligation, but to demonstrate loving submission.
Monday, January 24, 2022
5 Sermon Sound Bites from Matthew 16
Often, when I preach, I try to have several sound-bite-type statements sprinkled throughout my sermon. These statements are usually the last piece of my sermon to develop as they are in many ways the transitions and summations of the key points of the sermon.
Read more about "sound bite sermons" here.
- Increased understanding of nature should lead to increased understanding of God, but the more humanity learns about creation, the less they seem to appreciate the creator.
- Left unchecked, legalism always grows, infects, divides, and destroys.
- If your answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” doesn’t include the word “GOD”, you still don’t have it right.
- Jesus lived to die. Nothing could get between Him and the cross.
- We must die to live. Nothing should get between us and His cross.
Friday, January 21, 2022
25 Observations from Matthew 15
Matthew 15 is not easy. These thoughts are starters, but most require more digging.
- These scribes and Pharisees are from Jerusalem. They are the heavy hitters trying to assess how much of a threat Jesus actually is.
- Not only can tradition not save, it often causes us to drift further from God.
- Religious traditions are usually an effort to create or preserve the life we want. Traditions serve us but rarely do they serve God.
- The Pharisees had used tradition to create a loophole by which they could shirk their responsibility to care for their parents.
- Throughout history, religious groups have existed that exhibit fervent external worship but whose hearts have not been changed at all.
- Remember, man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
- Beware of worship that sounds, looks, and feels powerful, but which is only an external expression. (Amos 5)
- The Pharisees claimed to be clean because they only ate “clean food” and they ceremonially washed before eating it.
- The Pharisees thought the disciples were unclean because they were eating clean food with unclean hands.
- Jesus made it clear that cleanliness before God has nothing to do with the food we eat or the hands with which we eat it.
- What goes into the mouth is physical but what comes out of the mouth is spiritual.
- In verse 13, Jesus references the truths told in chapter 13’s parables. Not all plants are good plants. Let God sort them out.
- How do you know if your guides are blind? If the fruit of their heart does not match the actions of their tradition.
- Verses 17-20 are a summary/remix of the sermon on the mount.
- Guard your heart, for from it flows everything (Proverbs 4:23)
- It’s worth noting that Jesus lists “evil thoughts” and “slander” in the same category as murder.
- By including the story of the Canaanite women, Matthew is building the case that Gentiles were, in many ways, more receptive to Christ than the Jewish people were.
- Having just confronted the Pharisees about unclean food, Jesus now has a conversation with an unclean person.
- This woman had every reason to lose her faith, but she didn’t. Jesus was silent when she prayed. She was mistreated by Jesus’ followers. She felt like she didn’t fit in.
- Jesus wanted everyone to know that she was a Gentile, so he emphasized it several times.
- The woman’s appeal to Jesus is not based on who she is or what she has done, but rather on who He is and what He can do.
- In verse 27, the woman is actually referencing an idea that has always been true. Even in the OT, there was room within the Jewish community for outsiders if they were willing to take the prescribed steps of assimilation.
- Crumbs from Jesus are better than a feast from anyone else.
- Jesus’ healing of many as well as his second feeding both illustrate an important point: There is plenty of Jesus to go around.
- This feeding is a second feeding as Jesus will reference both of them together in the next chapter.