A little humor for the end of one year and the beginning of another.
Monthly Archives: December 2015
At the end of the year, WordPress sends me an annual report of the stats for my blog, On Target. Click on the link if you are interested. Thanks to those who read and follow it.
In order to grow and develop your skills, one needs not just experience, but evaluated experience. That is one of the many lessons I learned from “Prof.”, Dr. Howard Hendricks. As I work with and mentor pastoral interns at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, I try to build those kind of experiences into their training.
Whenever one of our interns preaches, I ask several people in the congregation to fill out an evaluation form on their sermon and delivery. I then compile the forms and go over the results and comments with the individual. The goal is to help them build on their strengths and improve their weak areas. Below is the form that I use. Click on the link to download a pdf version of the template.
Sermon Feedback Form
Preacher: ___________________ Scripture ___________________ Date ___________
|_________________________ got my attention||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ touched a felt need in my life||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ introduced the text or topic of the sermon||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ exposed and explained the text clearly||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________’s message had a main idea that was faithful to the message and relevant to my life||1||2||3||4||5|
|Summarize what you sensed was the main idea of the message:
|_________________________ engaged my mind and heart through the message||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ helped me apply biblical truth to my life experience||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ came across as sincere and genuine||1||2||3||4||5|
|_________________________ looked me in the eye and appeared comfortable||1||2||3||4||5|
|Two strengths of the message:
|One area to develop for further growth:
Happy 35th Anniversary to the wife of my youth! 35 years is too short a time to be married to your best friend. Let’s keep pressing forward and adding more milestones. Love you!
“It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” Indiana Jones
“It’s not the years of our lives, it’s the life in our years.” Me
“Count your days to make your days count.” Moses in Psalm 90:12
Where will your journeys take you this Christmas? Will you go over the river and through the woods to visit family? Will you get on an airplane to visit relatives? Will you ride a ferry and cross a bridge to connect with old friends?
Journeys play a big part in the Christmas story. From an earthly perspective, Jesus Christ’s journey certainly had many twists and turns.
- Gabriel journeys from heaven to earth twice to deliver news to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25).
- Mary & Joseph journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Luke 2:1-7).
- The shepherds journey from the fields to the stable (Luke 2:8-20)
- The wise men journey from the east to the house where Jesus is (Matthew 2:1-12).
- Joseph, Mary, and Jesus journey from Bethlehem to Egypt, and then later back to Nazareth (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23).
Last month, my wife and I visited Disneyland in SoCal. I always enjoy seeing it decorated for the Christmas holidays. As you walk down Main Street, you pass the Emporium. Each window has a display of a scene from one of the latest Disney animated movies. Each window tells one part of the story.
The manger in Bethlehem only tells one scene of the story of Jesus Christ. If you focus only on the baby in the manger, you will miss the whole point of the story. In order to fully understand the story of Jesus, start at the manger, and then go to the cross. The cross is why Jesus came. That was his purpose.
Listen to how Jesus described why he came to earth.
- Matthew 20:28, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
- John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus Christ did not come to be:
- A baby in a manger
- A Christmas ornament
- A decoration on a lawn
- A story told once a year
- A character in a pageant
- A reason to give presents
- An excuse to visit family
- A reason to be nice to neighbors you don’t like the other 364 days of the year
- A time for a ceasefire or a call to end a war
- A reason for a party
Jesus Christ came to be our Savior. He was born to die. He came to pay the full and final price for our salvation. He came to give his life as a sacrifice. He came to ensure our forgiveness and freedom from sin. He was born to die so that we might spend eternity with God.
During his life on earth, Jesus never instructed his followers to remember his birth. But he gave us two practices, two ordinances, baptism and communion or the Lord’s Supper, so that we might remember his death and resurrection.
In your spiritual journey, start at the manger, and then go to the cross. Remember his birth, but consider his death. Confess your sins and receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life he offers.
This is the synopsis of a devotional shared during the Christmas Eve service at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 24, 2015.
“Marriage will bring you more heartbreak than any other relationship you’ll experience,” he continued. “But it will also bring you more joy. It is the hardest but also the most fulfilling human relationship you will ever have.”
Of all the advice given to me before I was married, this ranks among the best. It prepared me for the times that marriage has been difficult. There’s a cost in committing oneself to another sinner for better and for worse, and the more we’re prepared for that cost, the better off we’ll be. I’m glad that I was warned to expect hard times in marriage, because they’ve come. It’s easy to recite part of the marriage vows (for better, for richer, in health) and think the latter half (for worse, for poorer, in sickness) won’t apply.
But I’m glad that I was told that marriage would bring me so much joy. This relationship that has exposed so much of my sinfulness, that has sometimes left me frustrated and both of us in tears, has also been the relationship that has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine or deserve.
These are part of the insightful words written by pastor and author Darryl Dash in an article entitled, “The Cost and Beauty of Marriage.” I need the encouragement on a day when I learned of another couple going the way of divorce.
Marriage is not easy. Marriage is challenging. But it is well worth the time, energy, money, sacrifice, apologies, communication, humility … needed to make it work.
I am grateful my bride and I will celebrate our 35th anniversary in four days.