Jesus Is Worth The Risk

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It’s been said, “There are a great many more trap doors to failure than there are short cuts to success.  In other words “success” involves risk.  This principle is true in business, relationships, and in many other areas of life.  However, this principle is true in serving Jesus as well.  If you are a Christian, you have been called to lay down your life to follow Christ.  We aren’t called to just simply believe and then carry on about life our own merry way.  We are told that we must daily die to our desires and do what Jesus tells us to do.  When you stop to think about it, from a worldly perspective, that is risky.  You see Jesus tells us that we must not hide our light, but live openly as Christians.  The risk is that open light could lead to open ridicule and hardships.  Jesus also tells us that we are to live honestly in public and in private.  The risk is that it is easier and in some circumstances more profitable to be dishonest.  Thus, to be honest would mean we would face uncomfortable confrontations and we may not presumably gain as much.  Jesus tells us that we are to go and make disciples, hence share the loving truth of Jesus to others.  The risk is that we might lose friendships or be labeled a freak.  With all honesty, yes these risks may occur, but dear friend, isn’t Jesus worth it? After all Jesus told us it would be this way, but He did so with an awesome promise: “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.” – Matthew 5:11-12a NLT.  Yes following Jesus is risky, but the payoff is certain and far greater!

The Caring Cabinet

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Allow me to share something that has made me so proud of my church. Our mission as a church is simple, we are here to be a congregation who is “Loving God, Loving Others, and Serving Our Community.” We seek to carry out this mission through worship, giving, Life Groups, and outreach.  Recently we launched a new ministry known as the Caring Cabinet. In the corner of our parking lot you will find a wooden box suspended on a post.  Within that box are all kinds of personal items from toothbrushes to toilet paper.  Why? To show the love of Christ to our community. We are giving these items away to help others in need.  The part that blesses me the most is that our church family has gotten on board with this vision.  It is our prayer that our community will be blessed and eventually partner with us in this ministry.  I have been amazed to see how God has brought this into reality.  What started as a spark in my wife’s heart after seeing other churches in various areas of our nation do similar things, has now become a reality for our little church to show love to the people of Bowling Green.  We realize there is risk and uncertainty involved, but we have stepped out in faith to become a blessing to others.  Thank you Scottsville Road Baptist Church for allowing me to be a part of church who loves others with more than word, but with their actions. Our theme verse for this ministry is “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrew 13:16 ESV, and that is what we are truly longing to do.

 

Preaching That Changes Lives

pulpitA minister once observed, “Every sermon should change the person in the pew, or it should be changed by the preacher in the pulpit.” When the man of God stands up on any given Sunday morning, he should be ready to deliver a message that comes from God. For today’s preacher, he can know his message is from God if it comes from the word of God, the Bible. If he is delivering a message from the Scriptures, like he always should, then his message should be a life changing message. As it has been said many times, you cannot be in the presence of a holy God and not be changed. The same is true with the sacred words of God. When the word of God is delivered with the urgency and the fervency that it deserves, the preacher will do his duty to point his hearers to what the word is calling them to change in their lives. How tragic it is when preachers of the world present the awesome word of God in a lethargic and an informational manner. This is not much greater than a common Joe standing before a congregation reading the news paper. He may very well be reading truth, but it is hardly life changing. Today’s preachers, as it was in the days of Paul and Peter, and in the days of the reformers, and in the days of Spurgeon, are to carry out the responsibility of proclaiming God’s message of the life changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a message that should never grow cold and is always relevant to the lives of sinners and believers. May the men of God preach the word!

Why I Preach The Bible

ephesians-1339714-mMany years ago a gentleman wisely jested, “Some sermons are a mile long and an inch deep.” With such a statement he was declaring that some ministers are willing to give long oratorical proclamations, with fine stories, and useful ideas, but was shallow in biblical depth. Is this really a problem? After all aren’t gifted men to speak before God’s people? While the answer is yes, we mustn’t forget that what the people of God need most desperately is the rich Word of God. Catchy stories and useful ideas are amusing and can be helpful, but they must have their roots in biblical truth. Some may wonder why I preach predominantly expository or textual sermons. Why do I put such an emphasis on verse by verse preaching? Well, I do this because I believe there is no spiritual nutrition outside the Bible. The Bible deals with all the major details of life. You want to know how to be a good spouse, a good parent, a good employ, or a good neighbor? Turn to the pages of Scripture and you will find the answers. Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying; I’m not claiming that I preach “deep” messages each week. My aim is that I preach richly from the Bible and that the words of Scripture will drive the unbeliever to the Savior and the believer further on their road of sanctification. So yes, as a messenger of God, I will stand by the Word and I will die by the Word. To quote the Lord Jesus, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4 NKJV.

I Am Not The Perfect Pastor

up-on-the-pulpit-760078-mAs a servant of God I fail in many ways. I worry too much. I eat too much. I talk too much. I don’t get enough done. I don’t meet deadlines. I don’t pray enough. I don’t witness ever enough. I don’t do visitation enough. I don’t meet everyone’s expectation. I’m not ultra creative. I don’t know all the latest trends in ministry. I don’t have the latest gadgets or technology. I don’t have great ideas. I’m not a trendy dresser. I’m not the best looker. I’m out of shape. I’m not super outgoing. I don’t read enough. I don’t give enough time for sermon preparation. I don’t have a Ph D. I’m not good a time management. I procrastinate. I’m not the world’s greatest example of a husband or a dad. I live in a smaller mediocre house. I’m not debt free. I’m not sin free. I fight temptations as much if not more than some of the other men in my church. I get disappointed. I get depressed. I get anxious. I have had to face conflicts and have caused conflicts in my church. I don’t pastor the largest congregations in my town. In fact I pastor one of the smaller congregations in my town. I am not a perfect pastor.

But I serve a perfect God. While I may never measure up to many standards in the world of ministry, I am so humbled that He allows me to be in the work of ministry. I know there is a lot of improvement that needs to happen in my life and ministry. I know that I should never be content with the status quo. But I must never forget the amazing grace and the power of the gospel the Lord has entrusted me to carry out. I may not be the perfect pastor in the perfect ministry situation, but I am a very blessed pastor. I serve a very good group of people. I have a mission field that is full of potential. I may have a small home, but it is a home full of love. Our squeaky floors never bother me do to the little feet that cause them to squeak. I have a woman’s love and support that has helped carry me through the good and bad years of our ministry. And deep down in my soul, God has placed a passion for His word. I love the Bible. I love to tell people the truths from the Scriptures. And it brings me immense joy to help others go deeper into the Word of God. So no, I’m not a perfect pastor, but I sure am a thankful one.

Get In The Game!

There is an old baseball saying that says, “The man who never makes an error never plays much ball.”  How true that is in life and ministry.  The more you live and do God’s work the more you will see your mistakes.  Some folks have decided to never really take part in any ministry activities due to the fear of their mistakes.  They go through life more as spectators rather than players on God’s team.  But the problem is that there is a purpose for each member of the body of Christ. The Bible says “God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” – Eph. 2:10 (NCV). So you see don’t let your fear of “errors” keep you on the sidelines of God’s purpose for you in His work.  Get involved and feel free to make a few mistakes.  After all there is only One who is perfect and He wants you to get in the game!

Churches Learning From Churches

I laughed the other day when I read this quote, “It’s difficult, if not impossible, to save money when your neighbors keep buying things you can’t afford.” How true this is when we start letting others influence our standard of life.  However, this is also true in ministry as well.  There are many times that churches see what other churches are doing and feel that they must “one up” their neighboring church.  The result though can be quite disappointing when these churches soon realize that their motivation was not for the glory of the Lord, but by their own ministerial pride.  The other side of the coin is that many churches look around at what other churches are doing and decide that they never can be that relevant to their culture.  So they just decide to stay in their own comfortable shells.  In all honesty, if a church wants to be in the center of where God wants them they need to come to grips with two truths: 1. Other churches do have God centered ideas, that might work for them as well.  2. Not every idea is God’s will for every church, but every church must be willing to adjust to be relevant to their culture.  So it is important as a church to recognize with others are doing, but how we react to what we observe will be a real witness about our heart for God and our love of our neighbors.

Leadership Is Tough

As a pastor, I am reminded each day that to be a good leader you have to make tough choices.  To be a leader can be a lonely job, because as a leader you can’t make everyone your friend.  I can remember before having any leadership roles in my life, thinking how glamorous and easy it must be to be the boss.  However, that’s not the case at all.  Truthfully, I have more stress now in my life than I ever did before.  This is why I have learned that leadership is not for the faint of heart.  It takes people with deep conviction to want to do what is right, over what is popular.  It takes a person willing to be the “bad guy” when it comes to issues of discipline and ethics.  Leadership is meant for the honest.  For honest people are the same before everyone they face.  A good leader will be consistent in their actions, even when the easiest thing to do is ignore the situation or play it down.  “Am I a good leader?”  BY NO STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION.  However, I am striving to be one.  The reason I know what it takes to be a good leader, is because I can see all the areas in my leadership where I need to improve.  Why am I sharing all of this? Leadership is meant for the honest.

Careful Zealous

It has been said, “Zeal without knowledge is the sister of folly.” Have you ever met people like that?  They are very fired up about doing something, but they don’t know exactly what to do.  We must be careful about this in church as well.  At different times of the year we may get “fired up” about missions or tithing or evangelism or benevolence or personal Bible study or building projects or you name it!

However, while being excited about doing any of these tasks is good, doing them wrongly is bad.  Whatever we do as a church we need to do with excellence.  Why excellence?  Because ultimately what we do is to be done for the glory of the Lord.  If we are to tackle any of these topics with zealous, we must first realize that Jesus deserves our best. The only way to give our best is to approach our agendas with biblical precepts.  This should be our standard in whatever we do in life.  So for instance, if you are excited about worshiping on Sunday, that great! However, let’s be sure that our worship is done in accordance with God’s Word.