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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Preaching that Connects

Preachers must know the Scriptures and their audience. They must know what they are saying and whom they are saying it to. That is the advice and counsel I received in seminary classes, books, and preaching workshops.

“Have you been following me around? How did you know I needed to hear your message today?” “Have you been stalking me? What you said today spoke to my heart.” Comments like these encourage me that I must be doing something right and that the Scriptures are touching people where they live.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in Encouragement, Preaching

 

What will people remember about me?

I have officiated and/or attended a countless number of funerals during my lifetime. I have conducted memorial services for family, friends, members of the congregation, and strangers I’ve never met. I have led services within our church and for local funeral homes who had a client that desired a clergy member for the event.

During these services, I have heard funny stories, whispers of regret, thought provoking comments, empty phrases, and polite comments. I have witnessed people who praised the dearly departed’s cooking ability and flower arrangements. I have heard tales about their gracious manner, witty repartees, and insightful comments. Still others told stories about their loved ones’ generosity, helpful gestures, and winsome personality. I have laughed, cried, felt somber, been joyful, and experienced every emotion in between.

On many occasions, I have left the service feeling that their loved one must have been a wonderful, delightful person. But I wondered, did they love Jesus? If so, why didn’t anyone speak about their faith?

When it comes time for my funeral, what will people remember about me? Will they talk about who I was or what I did? Will they focus on my character or my behavior? Will they tell funny stories? Will they speak of what I taught or events I planned? Will anyone comment on my faith? Will they say that I loved Jesus?

Perhaps I should be more intentional about how I live now rather than leave my legacy to chance. Maybe I need to model the qualities that I want people to remember about me.

What will people remember about you? What legacy do you want to leave?

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2018 in Funerals, Personal growth

 

Is “Be Yourself” good advice?

Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Nagy has the words, “BE YOU” printed on his play sheet.

While running errands, I passed a church where the banner, “Be Yourself” was prominently displayed out in front of the church.

Is “Be Yourself” good advice?

During one of the NFL games featuring the Chicago Bears, the sideline reporter made a point of explaining the “BE YOU” instruction. If I remember correctly, it was a reminder from the coach’s daughter (?) that he got the head coaching job by being himself rather than trying to be a different person. In that sense, “Be you” is probably good advice. An NFL coach needs to model authenticity and integrity.

However, “Be Yourself,” strikes me as inappropriate for a church slogan. If I understand Scripture correctly, I am called to “Be holy.” It is one of the foundational principles of the Old Testament law. Not only was it required of the priests (Leviticus 21:6, 8), it was also required of each member of the nation of Israel (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Numbers 15:40). Holiness was an essential characteristic of those who were devoted to God and took on the vow of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:5). Because God lived in their midst, the nation was to be holy (Deuteronomy 23:14).

Lest we think that holiness was only an Old Testament concept and is not binding today, the command is repeated several times in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15-16). God has called Christ followers to be holy (Ephesians 1:4). Husbands should disciple their wives so as to present them as holy to the Lord (Ephesians 5:27).

Based on what the Bible says, the Christian life should be one of progress and growth towards greater holiness. If I am content to be myself, I will never rise above my own sinful nature. I will never strive to be more life Jesus Christ.

As a pastor, I should not encourage Christ followers to “be yourself.” I should encourage them to “be holy.” That is what Scripture calls us to be and to do.

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2018 in Church, Culture, NFL, Scripture

 

Neighborhood entertainment

I wonder if our neighbors would respond like this if I got on a ladder to put up our Christmas lights.

Maybe next year. 😉

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in Baby Blues, Christmas

 

When Your Resources Run Short

There are seasons in our lives when we feel overwhelmed by the challenges crowding in on us. The requirements are too high, the load too heavy, the task too daunting, the price tag too costly, the emotional toll too draining, and the deadlines far too soon. We cry out for MORE … energy, resources, money, wisdom, health, time …

That is the situation Joshua faced in chapter 10 of his book. Exhausted from an all-night march, he faced the combines forces of five armies. Joshua cries out to God for more time to carry out the task.

Joshua 10 provides us with an example that when we run short on resources, we can ask God for the strength to march—even when we don’t want to (1-15).

The Source of the Conflict (1-5). Led by the king of Jerusalem, five kings in the southern part of Canaan band together to punish the Gibeonites for making a treaty with Israel. Rather than defeat the enemy one city-state at a time, God is using the treaty with Gibeon as an opportunity for Joshua to defeat several enemies at once.

The Secret of Victory (6-15). Even though the peace treaty was made under false pretenses, Joshua chooses to do what is right and he keeps his promise to defend the Gibeonites (6-7). God promised Joshua that he would be victorious and Joshua took him at his word (8). Joshua employed a sound strategy by marching all night long in order to launch a surprise attack (9). Joshua depended on God for assistance. God intervened in a supernatural manner and sent artillery from heaven in the form of hailstones (10-11). Joshua called on God and asked for more time to complete the task (12-15). Since the sun and moon were worshipped by the Canaanites, Joshua’s prayer compels Canaan’s gods to obey the one true God.

Over the years, some have tried to explain away the miracle of the sun and moon standing still by saying it was just a poetic expression of simply a natural phenomenon. Others have tried to find a scientific explanation for how God performed the miracle. According to verse 14, the issue is not how God performed the miracle. The real issue is that God answered the prayer of a man.

When we run short on resources, we can ask God for the strength to engage—even when we are afraid (16-28). Joshua and his men pursue the five armies and defeat them completely. In so doing, they learned a valuable lesson—Press the battle according to God’s plan and leave the miracles to him.

When we run short on resources, we can ask God for the strength to pursue—even when we are tired (16-28). In a series of conflicts, Joshua defeats the southern part of Canaan.

There will be times and seasons when we run short of time, energy, wisdom, and resources. We need to remember that we can call on God to provide the resources we need. He will listen, answer, and fight for us.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 25, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on the book of Joshua. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Winning comes easy

This week’s comic, Betty, had an interested take on both our obsession with winning and our aversion to having to work for it.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2018 in Culture

 
Image

Gratitude

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2018 in A. W. Tozer, Tim Challies