Monthly Archives: April 2012

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.30.12

Connected to Grow Ephesians 4:15-16

Last week we saw that we have mutual responsibilities to ‘one another’. To fulfill those responsibilities, we must be connected. This connection needs to take place in two ways:  Growing together and Care for each other. Today we will look at being Connected to Grow

All believers are meant to grow and become spiritually mature

Maturing is to increasingly apply and live by the realities of God. This means our actions indicate God is the main character in all situations and that His word rules over all we are

Growing in maturity is a great path to be on

At first impression it can seem a harder way to live, because it runs against the current of this world and our old nature resists it

But it ends up being the better and even easier way to live, because it is God’s way! God’s way is the way of wisdom, stability, peace, fruitfulness, hope and joy

God intends all our circumstances to be part of the maturing process

Whether a situation is hard, easy, evil or kind, God wants us to grow through it

When we focus on this intention of God, we can find encouragement in discouraging circumstances

If God wants you to be grow, then you can be growing

God supports us in every purpose he gives, and he doesn’t give up on us

There is never a moment when God’s will be for the believer changes, even when we fail

We are meant to grow together with “one another”

Ephesians 4 describes spiritual growth in “the whole body”

A healthy church is not just a gathering of healthy individuals; it is a community of believers who are growing together in love for God and each other

This idea is echoed in Colossians 2:19

1.  It tells us the whole body is “nourished together”

Unless we learn together, we don’t learn as well. Attending course and reading books on building a house are not enough, we need to work with people who have experience at it

2.  Colossians tells us the whole body is “knit together”

We are to apply what we learn with each other. God is not pleased with knowledge that is not lived out. And only other believers can give us biblical feedback

Our spiritual growth is not purely individual

A body (the church) has many parts which all affect one another. An individualistic approach to the church body produces a deformed body

We not only have a responsibility in the growth of others, we have a need for the growth of one another

You are weakened by lack of connection to the whole body and your church body is weakened as well

How do we take our part?

1.  Be in the growing process: pursue a closer relationship with God by obedience to all his ways

2.  Be engaged with believers on way: make sure you are interacting with other Christians in your growing process and in theirs

How can we take growing together seriously?

1.  Participate in a small group at your church. These provide what is not practical in a Sunday service.

They allow opportunity to ask questions, discuss implications, and apply truths to our situation

If your church does not have small groups, ask a committed believer (of your gender) to be in a mentoring relationship with you

2.  Make the most of your conversations (Ephesians 4:29)

Work at seasoning your conversations with what strengthens and encourages other believers

Be discussional about what you are learning and what God is doing in your life.

Look for ways to commend graces and small steps in the lives of other believers

 

FRESH GRATITUDE FOR OUR SPOUSE

Brian Croft’s Practical Shepherding Blog is a helpful resource for pastors and church leaders. He provides insightful and practical thoughts on caring for God’s people around us. In this article he gives a simple way we can regain the perspective God wants us to have rather than focusing on “the small, petty, annoyances that come with our spouse”. So only read this article if you are ever tempted to be frustrated with your husband or wife.

ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO TOUCHED YOU

Last week I received an email from Taylor University where I went to college. One of my teachers, Professor Phil Loy, is retiring after 48 years at Taylor. The school invited those who are interested to sent a note to him. Immediately I knew I should do so because of the benefit I received from him. Professor Loy was a challenging teacher. He made us integrate all we were studying in order to think about it as a whole. He was the most helpful teacher I have ever had; and I gained life long lessons from his classes, yet I have never told him.

I can think of other people who have touched my life in meaningful ways. I am sure you can to. We cherish the memory of how people have impacted and helped us along the way, yet we often don’t take the simple step of letting them know about these feelings of appreciation.

The Practical Shepherding blog encourages us in this article to reach out to those who have discipled or mentored us.

A few years ago I was thinking about someone who invested in me as a young man in ways that still influence me today. On that occasion I decided to try and contact him. Thankfully with the internet it is easier than ever to find people.  I remember how thrilled he was to receive my call and how thankful I was to have taken that step.

There are people in your life who are merely a phone call or a letter away from you. Your contact will not only encourage them, it is fitting that we acknowledge the people who bless us. Remember they go through struggles just like you and most likely question at times whether or not their life has made a difference. Why not let them know today that the difference they made in you is something you treasure in your heart.

 

ARE YOU THE ONE?

What action do we take to be part of what happens within our own church to help lead people to know Christ? Are we the one that just comes and leaves, expecting pastors and others to do the work? Or are we the one looking for where God can use us to touch those he has brought to our church?

The following quote comes from Jeremy Walker’s book “The Brokenhearted Evangelist”:

Do you see someone bowed at the end of the sermon?  Are you the one who goes alongside and asks, “Friend, is there something weighing down your soul?  Can I help?”

Do you see someone stand, ready to walk away from or make light of the sermon? Are you the one who, rather than going to sweep that person along on the tide of unsanctified conversation, says, “Rather than all that, what of those things you have just heard?”

Are you the one who draws alongside the children or teenagers and, addressing them with all gentleness and tenderness, says to them that you desire their salvation, perhaps taking up the terms of the message just delivered?

No one or two or three of us are sufficient for this work.  All the church must be working, and we must undertake that no one else, according to their God-given capacity, will outstrip us in our faithful and loving endeavors to see sinners brought to Jesus Christ.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 4.23.12

Get Connected

Connection in a church needs to take place 2 ways

1.  We are meant to grow together

We cannot fully mature alone. Learning improves in the context of interaction, and biblical truth must be practiced with people

2.  We are meant to care for each other

We have a shared responsibility to care for the other members of our church

We have a biblical mandate to get connected

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another Hebrews 10:24-25

Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin Hebrews 3:13

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom Colossians 3:16

These verses give a picture of mutual responsibility

1.  To stir up one another

We all have a tendency to cool down and become distracted

We are all called to “consider” how to motivate each other to be faithful

2.  To exhort one another

Every day, each us is on the front lines in a battle for our heart

We are all called to keep reminding each other we live for God’s kingdom not the ‘American dream’

3.  To encourage one another

We all get beaten down, and face obstacles that seem too hard

We are all called to lift each other: to be there for people, to be honest about our own struggles, and to highlight the gospel truths that belong to us

4.  To build up one another

We all have weaknesses, and areas of struggle

We are all called to be an influence for godliness to each other

5.  To teach one another

We are all still growing in Christ and have much to learn

We are all called to share God’s word as it grows in our hearts. Most teaching is not in a classroom, it is through example

6.  To admonish one another

We all sin, get off track and have wrong perspectives

We are all called to lovingly protect each other through correction. Give time for prayer to work first; correct slowly with the graciousness God uses with you!

How do we take these responsibilities seriously?

1.  We have to pay attention

The first step is to stop focusing on ourselves. How can you know other needs if you only see your own?

2.  We have to interact

Rather than wait for people to come up to you in church, walk over and get to know them. They hesitate for the same reasons you do

What expectations do you have for your role in your church? What attitude do you bring with you?  If you arrive just in time for the service and leave quickly, how are you part of your church family?

3.  We have to grow relationships

Disney is a friendly place; the church should go deeper in true relationships

How are we getting to know what is inside our friends at church?

4.  We have to keep growing ourselves

We don’t have to be more mature than others, but we do need to be in the growing process

Do you consider spiritual growth to be a personal matter, as if your immaturity does not affect anyone else?

Applications

Small groups have enormous importance

These interactions are not just another option offered by your church.

Small groups are the best way to fulfill our mutual responsibilities. Because of cultural changes over the past 60 years, we need ways to create community.

Be honest, without committing to a small group, many of us don’t know how to connect

If we are all in small groups, then everyone in our church will all receive care

If you are already in a small group, work at building relationships that are more than friendly

Look for ways to serve others

This can be through a church program, but most often it is through meeting needs we see

You are part of the solution to problems and needs you see in your church. Next time you think “the church should do something about this”, remember you are part of the church

Make ordinary interactions meaningful

Listen more than you talk; when you hear a need, pray with them then and follow up with them; look for what you can commend in people

How are you fulfilling the biblical picture of a connected church?

 

THE EARLY YEARS

Since I know you are all excited about my 52nd birthday this weekend, I thought we could celebrate by making it an easy blog day for me and entertaining for you. Several months ago I found my granddad’s old family slides that we had not seen in years. Here are a few that feature yours truly

The earliest known photo of me in 1960.  Yes, that’s my mom and dad

My favorite:  with my Nana Huber and my older siblings Warren & Kappy

“We were soooo poor, my swimming pool was in the gutter after a heavy rain”

My more mature years, when I had cool clothes and cute legs.

The Wonderful Value of Stay-At-Home Moms

DEBBIE HUBER: GUEST BLOGGER

Recently in the news controversy has brewed again regarding the value of the “stay-at-home mom”. This is not a new controversy but one that should prompt us to go to God’s Word instead of trying to form our own opinion on the subject.

At the root of this controversy is the loss of the value placed on the biblical definition of womanhood.   God values women and has given women an amazing and unique role in the family.  This is not inferior to the man’s role but complements it. It is working together, each in our unique roles, to raise a family in the way God designed.  His ways are perfect!  When we try to do things our way because it seems fairer in our minds it is treading on dangerous ground because we think our ways are better than God’s.

Titus 2:4-5 teaches us where a woman’s priorities should be:

“train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

Does this mean a woman should not work outside the home?  No, there are times when that is necessary.  Whether a woman works outside the home or not, we are instructed to be homemakers.  This not only includes housework but diligently teaching our children from God’s Word.  These are not easy jobs that can be done quickly.  Vacuuming the floor and correcting a child over and over again may seem insignificant, but is demonstrating our trust in God to our families and those around us.

It is important that we evaluate where our priorities are found.  Outside of our relationship with the Lord, is our relationship with our husband the most important one to us?  How do we love our children?  Are we physically there for them?  This often requires sacrificing social, financial, and career advances.  Is our home a place of peace and a refuge to our families where the Word of God is cherished and honored?

It is hard to not be pressured by the expectations of the world, the expectations that one is not successful unless she has a “fulfilling career” or “time to find myself” outside the home. Trust that God’s word is best for our families and cling to it to drown out the expectations of the world.

Time goes too fast and we will never get a “do-over” with raising our families.  When all is said and done, we will not look at the short term sacrifices as sacrifices at all. We may wish we had sacrificed more of our own wants and needs for the sake of our families.

Raising, shaping, and caring for our family is the most important and serious job we have as women. We should thankfully embrace our unique God-given qualities as women as a mighty testimony to glorify our great God.

FILLING OUR LIFE WITH GOD

I think I have presented these thoughts to you before, but I have found them to be very helpful and we constantly need reminders when it comes to filling our life with God

Three areas of focus to help fill our life with God

1.  NOW God

Filling our life with God always begins now!

We are constantly tempted to put off taking a step for God

  • I will pray after I finish reading the paper
  • I will be more active in church when this hectic time is over (it never is)
  • I will put away this sin . . . soon
  • I will give more than a token offering to God when I get my next raise

Whenever we think we need to complete something else in our life first before we put God first, we don’t get it.

Putting off God now is another way of say I will be disobedient now

Now is the moment God wants most from you, and today is the only day we can ever give him.   Faithfulness now is our greatest possible priority

2.  ALL God

All the doors of our life are to be opened for God to enter and do as He sees fit

No more “yes, but . .” responses to what God’s word tells us

At times we will mess up, but we can be committed to never living in compromise

When all our life is given to God, then all our life will be used well. Isn’t that what you want?

3.  WOW God

Never get over the Wow of God working in and through you

How amazing is it that our life has intersected with the holy and glorious God!

How wondrous that we are totally and eternally saved!

How thrilling that as Ambassadors of Christ, we get to be part of what He is doing

What an honor, that we get to be servants and stewards of Almighty God

When you read God’s word look for the wows – it is filled with them, but we pass by without thought

When you pray, thank God for His rich blessings and for promises that are always true

Be a worshipper who loves to exalt God and be amazed by him

If we are serious about living for Christ, we will want our life to be filled with Him

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

A couple weeks ago I featured a video story from Fotolanthropy about a family that has embraced life with their severely disabled little boy. Today I am sharing another testimony from a young husband and father who was faced with an aggressive cancer.


 

TAKING SOME FAMILY TIME

Easter break is a time when many families get away and ours is no different. Our family is taking a few days to enjoy being together. Even if you cannot ‘get away’, try to spend time with family and friends or just take a few hours to refresh yourself by doing something you really enjoy.

I also want to thank you for taking time to make this blog part of your routine. There are a few hundred people who regularly read this blog; that is a privilege and an opportunity I want to take seriously.  With that in mind, I have been praying more diligently that God will use this forum to honor His name and help all of us to be “Well Rooted”.

I will be back here on Monday, I hope you will too!