Monthly Archives: June 2016

9 STEPS TO ELIMINATE FROM YOUR LIFE

Blogger Tim Challies wrote this article last month:

“How to Backslide in 9 Easy Steps”

You are probably thinking, “It doesn’t take me 9 steps to backslide.”

That is true, but not the point of Tim was making.

Challies is not saying it takes 9 steps to drift away from godliness, and he certainly isn’t giving us any pointers to do what we know well.

The purpose and benefit in reading these 9 Steps is to remind ourselves of the early steps which end up leading us away from God whom we truly do love.

The inspiration for these 9 steps comes out of the classic book by John Bunyan, “Pilgrim’s Progress”.

If reading Challies’ article eliminates even one of these steps from your life – that is a benefit worth grabbing! Learning from these 9 warnings will protect our heart, give joy to our Lord and spare us needless regret.

 

REAL ANSWERS TO ANXIETY

Do you ever worry?

If you are a breathing member of humanity, you have problems that look (and perhaps are) fearful. Anxiety is one of the most shared and common of human experiences.

Our experience is different in the degree to which anxiety dominates our emotions, but we are all touched by it.

Yet, the Bible tells us that we should not remain in a place of anxiety. In Philippians 4:4-7, the Apostle Paul gives us this biblical council:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul even gives us direction on how to overcome our anxiety – replace it with praise and prayer.

You have probably tried that with mixed results. The problem is not that Paul gives faulty direction, but that we are weak vessels.

Part of our problem is that we listen to the voices in our head which insist that a full blown 5 alarm anxiety siren is the correct response to our current disturbance.

Justin Taylor wrote an excellent article entitled 8 Arguments for Why You Should Be Anxious Today (and How the Bible Responds)”. Justin points out that the real battle in these times is between belief and unbelief.

His premise is quite helpful, but what I appreciated most in his article was the way Justin listed 8 arguments our minds give for worrying, he then briefly presents an opposing truth from God to defeat each one.

Justin has provided us with a useful article that is great for sharing!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.27.16

“We fail, but Jesus doesn’t”

 

John 13:31-38

We tend to swing back and forth from thinking we are strong, to being overwhelmed by our weaknesses. The true and more helpful perspective is to recognize, we at times fail, but Christ doesn’t

 

Jesus Declares the Glory of His Work

The “glory” he describes is the finished work of the cross

v31  The FATHER is glorified in Jesus’ death and resurrection

They manifest his perfections in holiness, justice and grace

They reveal his astounding plan and the fulfillment of his promises

v32  The Father glories the SON in himself

Jesus shows the heights of his humility, love and sacrifice

We see his wondrous victory over sin death Satan

Jesus describes this glory as now (v31) and at once (v32)

The unveiling of God’s eternal plan has begun and the events are moving quickly

The cross not only glorifies the Father and Jesus, it glorifies US (John 17:22-23)

Through the cross we are made new and will be complete (Romans 8:30)

(1)  Every believer is the subject of the most glorious works of God

(2)  Every believer is in the process of being made in the glorious image of Jesus

(3)  Every believer is called to be part of how God’s glory touches others  

We don’t have to do big things, we simply live out and share glorious truths

These glorious truths should show us that we spend too much time thinking on the wrong things

Jesus describes the events of the cross as if they were finished – because they were that sure

So we can look at what the gospel accomplishes in us as that sure

We are believers, so we should face uncertainty and burdens with what we know

 

Jesus is Doing a Great Work, But His Leaving Will Be Hard (v33)

Jesus leaves them with “new commandment” (vs 34-35)

He shares what should be at the center of their fellowship when gone

They have already been given the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor, how is this commandment to love “new”?

What makes it revolutionary is to love one another “just as” Christ has loved us!

The defining display of Jesus’ love is about to take place

The new commandment is to love according to the glory of the cross

Jesus has just said he will not be with them, but how he loved them should remain

Jesus tells us this is what should identify a community of his people (v35)

Correct theology is necessary to know the gospel and become Christian

But without love for one another, people cannot see Christ in us

Let’s be sure we see clearly how Jesus loves us

1. Jesus loved with humility (Philippians 2:3-4)   Love is not about our expectations

2. Jesus loved sacrificially (Romans 5:8)

3. Jesus loved consistently through people’s weaknesses and failures (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Since we always have this love in us, we can consistently live it out. To say we “cannot” love someone is biblically false

 

Peter is Still Thinking About Jesus’ Leaving (v36)

Peter has no idea where Jesus is going, but he expresses confidence he can handle it

But Peter is Not As Strong As He Thinks (vs 37-38)

In a few hours he will deny knowing Jesus!  Our weaknesses strike fast

We are like Peter in at least Three Ways

1.  We think we are stronger than we are:

      We think we know what to do and how to handle our lives and problems

2.  We want to debate what Jesus says

Peter does the same thing in v8 during when Jesus tried to wash his feet

We need to ask ourselves – is anything our Lord says ever debatable?

3.  We miss Jesus’ focus: Peter misses that Jesus had just given an essential principle

      Like Peter we get stuck in thinking how we are going to handle a situation,rather than consider Jesus agenda for that moment

We may have an abundance of weaknesses, but Jesus doesn’t: so listen to what he says and follow what he tells us to do

 

 

FULLY YOURS

absolutely

entirely

positively

thoroughly

totally

wholly

from A to Z

altogether

every inch

heart and soul

all in

Many Christians sing about living fully for Christ on Sunday mornings, but then are hesitant to express the same commitment to him in prayer on Monday mornings.

We know what the Great Commandment says about loving God with “all” of our heart, mind, soul and strength – but we squirm when God presents us with the details.

Yet, the wonderful truth is that God is good, wise and perfect!

Everything that God asks of us, will be for our greatest good

There is no degree of faithfulness that we will exercise now that we will not be wholly thankful for in eternity

There is no half-heartedness or compromise now that we will not regret when the Lord appears

On one hand, as “believers” we believe in the goodness of God, yet at the same time – we don’t believe it as fully as his goodness deserves. We are like the man who called out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief”.

All of us stumble in how we live, but a more serious condition is when we knowingly hold back from even the idea of Great Commandment Living.

We are afraid that life will not be as good. But that is a theological impossibility. Life may not always be easier (in the moment) when we live fully for God – but it will always be better!

Maybe you are aware at this moment of an area where you struggle to entrust your life completely to God. Or, perhaps there is an inconsistency between belief and practice that you have not noticed.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to see obedience clearly. And the Holy Spirit wants to guide us into all that is wise. If we will earnestly ask God to reveal what it means to live fully for him, he will bring increased clarity to us.

But we don’t have to worry about God dumping too much on us at once; he knows we can only take one step at a time.

To help us think through where our steps may need to begin, consider which of these statements are difficult for us to honestly declare before God:

Take the leadership of my life into your hands

Take all my sinful desires away

Show me the practices I need to eliminate from my life

Lead me into gospel sharing opportunities today

I trust whatever you want to do with my life

Sift my heart for what does not belong

Take me out of any relationship that doesn’t honor you

All that I have is for your use

Convict my heart where I need it

Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me

Show me where my life is not consistent with your Word

If you can identify what is difficult for you to declare before God, begin asking him for the grace to step forward in trust. But you also need to take hold of that grace as he gives it. If there is someone you can trust, ask them to pray for this with you.

If all of this seems too hard, consider how wonderful it will be to honestly tell God, “I am fully yours!”

WHY DO YOU GO TO CHURCH?

Why go to church?

Let me count the ways.

Well, actually you don’t have to, because Casey Lewis has made this top 10 list of reasons why we should go to church for us.

Even if you faithfully attend your church, you may forget some of the excellent reasons – and there might be a reason or two on Carl’s list that you have never considered

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.20.16

Jesus understands trouble and betrayal   

 

John 13:21-30

Jesus’ Farewell Discourse comes from the perspective of culmination. Yet, there is also the heartache of betrayal throughout this chapter

There is Anguish In Jesus’ Soul

The burden in Jesus has been growing

Jesus mentions it for the first time in John 6:70-71

Now in chapter 13, it is woven throughout the narrative (vs 2, 10-11, 18)

Jesus turmoil over Judas reaches its culmination in v21

Jesus not only carries the burden of his coming crucifixion, now betrayal is added

Jesus had chosen Judas to be one of the 12 who shared life, ministry and miracles with him

What this friend does is repeatedly described as “betrayal” (Mt 26:14-16)

Jesus declares Judas’ act as a fulfillment of Psalm 41:9

 

Jesus Draws In His Disciples

Jesus wants to strengthen his disciples against the coming blow (v19)

Jesus wants them to know that he is sovereign even over this betrayal

God is good and faithful, even in the difficult, unexplainable and painful

Jesus wants to share his own troubled heart with them (v21)

They cannot do anything, but Jesus wants to share his burden

The disciples fall into awkward silence (v22) ‘looking at one another’

They are weighing their own hearts and each others

Peter wants to find out who is the one and asks the disciple next to Jesus

Jesus identifies his betrayer, but the disciples don’t hear or grasp the significance of it

 

Jesus Engages Judas

Jesus reaches out to Judas, he doesn’t send him away, until after the foot washing and the meal

The foot washing allowed Judas to experience Jesus’ care and humility once more

In the last moment, Jesus fed Judas a ‘morsel’, which culturally was a way to honor a guest

In taking Jesus’ love without repentance, Judas has turned himself over to his sin

Judas had been following a path of sin for some time (Jn 12:3-6)

Why did Jesus pick Judas?

John 6:64 tells us Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him

v18 tells us this was so prophecy would be fulfilled

Judas wasn’t forced by God to betray Jesus, God used a betrayer

 

Let’s Consider Some Applications

1.  About Burdens

Life is hard at times for everyone, because our world is in rebellion against God

Some Christians mistakenly think ‘If I follow God well enough, he will take my problems away’

No one lived better than Jesus, and he experienced many sorrows

The Bible tells us suffering and struggle will come

Jesus knows what it means to have a ‘troubled’ heart

We are not meant to carry these burdens alone, we are given the church to bear them with us

When everything falls apart, God has not

2.  About Sin

Nothing is more dangerous, deceiving or corrupting than sin

We don’t know what took place in Judas’ mind, but we know the results

v30 ends with what seems obvious “and it was night”; this was a spiritual statement as much as the time of day

3.  About Satan

He is a real person, with motivations and actions that all hate God

We live in the midst of spiritual warfare: “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6)

If our enemy is spiritual, then our daily preparation must be spiritual

Can Satan enter a believer? 

He would have to be able to overcome the Holy Spirit – and that will never happen

We should take Satan seriously – but God is the only one we need to fear

4.  About Where Your Life Is

Who is Jesus to you?

How does your life demonstrate that he is your Lord?

If you are thinking, “I will respond to God sometime in the future”, pushing Jesus off is how we are turned over to our sin

MOM-TESTED TIPS FOR CHILDREN IN WORSHIP

children-in-church

by Debbie Huber

As each of our children turned six years old, Kyle and I decided that it was time for them to sit in the worship services with me.

Well, to be honest with you, the excitement for this was mostly Kyle’s. I was a little hesitant since that was back in the days when the pastors sat on the platform and he almost never sat with me. I had visions of my very distractible six year old boy causing some type of disturbance in the middle of a sermon.

Fortunately that did not happen but I have memories of spilt communion juice, choruses of “I have to go to the bathroom!…Really bad!”, and both girls’ heads on each of my shoulders while hearing “My tummy hurts!”…”Mine does too!”

But I am so thankful that we persevered. Too often parents are afraid to have their children sit with them in a worship service because they are afraid they will be bored, be distracting to others, or not understand.  It is important to see that one of our responsibilities as Christian parents is to train our children in worship.

To help our children learn to pay attention we began to ask them to write three points from the sermon as they listened.  We would then discuss these points as a family on the ride home. Since their writing skills were only emerging at six years old, this started out as drawing pictures of things they heard in the sermon (there were many interesting pictures of their father and grandfather).

As they got older we asked them to write five points or more. What a joy it was to see them progress from writing just the first five things they heard to writing good details about the whole sermon.  But this took time, patience, and consistency.

Training your children for worship does not just happen on Sunday mornings.  Here are a few other suggestions that are important as well:

1.  Model excitement about going to church.   If mom and dad are reluctant about going to church the children will be too.  Be joyful and excited about the Sunday services.

 2.  Prioritize family worship at home. The more your children hear God’s word at home, the more natural it will be for them to listen to it and pay attention in corporate worship.

 3.  Be patient and consistent. Training for worship will take time.  Show grace to your children as they are growing in their ability to sit and listen in the services.  Each child is different – some may sit attentively after only a few weeks and others may take a few years!  Do not grow weary with such a wonderful and worthwhile part of Christian parenting. 

 

Additional Sunday tips from Kyle:

Sunday mornings can be a little crazy for families with small children. So we started the habit of getting a head start on Saturday night. We would lay clothes and do anything else to make Sunday morning less hectic. We also served toaster waffles for Sunday breakfast, because they could be eaten in the car if necessary.

 

THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE CALL HUMOR

When we are with people who are joking around in ways that are “off color” (which is a nicer way to say sinful), it is easy for us to slip in with them with our laughter, or even our participation.

I have noticed that Christians sometimes defend the indefensible by saying “I was just kidding”, as if that justifies sinful speech.

Chuck Lawless gives us words to consider in this article, “Why Believers Must Avoid Immoral Joking”.

He reminds us that our words really do matter – to people, and to God.

By the way we can apply these principles to words of Gossip, Slander and Criticism as well

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.13.16

“Towel and Basin Christianity”

 

John 13:1-17

We begin a sermon series on Jesus’ Farewell Discourse (John chapters 13-16). This is Jesus’ last time with disciples before his crucifixion and the content reflects it

The context of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse is what he knew (vs 1-3)

v1 He knew the events of his crucifixion were at hand

v3 Jesus knew this was to fulfill the eternal plan of the Father

v1 Adds Jesus “loved” his own “to the end” (this was also what Jesus knew)

 

Jesus’ begins his farewell by washing the disciple’s feet

Notice the pacing of John’s description (vs 4-5)

He deliberately draws out his description so we can imagine it

Extraordinary humility dominates this scene

Culturally this was a demeaning job

Jesus’ entire life and ministry were drenched in the theme of humility

Jesus wants his humility to be an unforgettable lesson to those who follow him

Extraordinary love is abounding in this scene

Jesus’ motivation in what he does is his “love to the end”

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his commands to us

We abuse Jesus, if we don’t see love in his sovereignty over our circumstances

 

The disciple’s discomfort is finally voiced by Peter (vs 6-11)

Peter is sure in his perspective, yet he was not only wrong, he was opposing Jesus

Jesus tells Peter in v7 that he will “understand later”; yet Peter persists in his opinion

Jesus’ correction deepens our understanding of what is taking place

v8  If I don’t wash you – you have “no share” (i.e. no inheritance, or salvation)

The foot washing points to the cross; it is a lesson about Jesus as much as one from him

v10  Jesus tells Peter, once his feet are bathed, that’s enough, he doesn’t need to be “washed”

Once cleansed by Christ, we don’t need a full washing again, we are justified forever

 

Our takeaway is Jesus’ example (vs 12-17)

Jesus asked if they understood (we need to follow thoughtfully) 

He points out in v13 they know he is their teacher and Lord

They believed he was the Christ – the Son of God

The thought of the Almighty Lord from heaven washing feet is staggering

Then Jesus reminds us v16 ‘a servant not greater than his master’

Jesus is clear and our obligation is unnegotiable

To be followers of Christ, we must live as Towel and Basin Christians

This is not an action for certain circumstances; it is how we are to live

Washing the disciple’s feet was a display of how Jesus conducted his earthly ministry

His example is meant to be our life perspective

 

How do we live with a Towel and Basin perspective?

1.  We start by laying aside our rights and our offenses

Jesus laid aside his privilege as he “laid aside” his outer garment

We will not serve like Jesus if we are on the lookout for our rights

We need to stay watchful that how we serve doesn’t fill up with our expectations

Jesus was even willing to wash the feet of Judas who was about to betray him

When we take offense, we may keep the actions of serving, but we  have lost the heart of it

2.  Willingness to serve comes from what we “know”  (vs 1-3)

(1) We know about the cross:  gospel-centered people are servant-hearted people

(2) We know all things come from God and return to him

Towel and Basin Living doesn’t mean we no long desire good things for ourselves, it means we know that we already have them!  

(3) We know that we are loved perfectly to the end

So we don’t need to assert or prove ourselves, and we can be content with what the world thinks are “lesser” roles

3.  Towel and Basin Living is an expression of Great Commandment Living

We abandon our “me first” perspective, because we are overwhelmed and in awe of God

We then see people with fresh eyes:  they are who Jesus came for – and died for

Slow down for people, listen, and show care instead of trying to “fix them” so we can move on

4.  To live consistent Towel and Basin Christianity, we have to take it home

Husbands have a role, and parents have a role; but it is not to be lords in our home

A Christian home has the atmosphere and expectation that we serve one another

 

Towel and Basin Living may not be natural, but it is good and Christ-like

As in all that we seek to do and be for Christ – it grows prayerfully

LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED FROM MY DAD

The earliest photo of my Dad and me

On Sunday, our church will celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father arriving to pastor this congregation.

We will have a grand celebration on Sunday, but I want to share personal reflections on what I have learned from my father, because they are the most important things in life.

Many of the lessons I have listed are truths he has directly told me, while others are observations from his life.

THE GOSPEL

When I think about my dad, it all starts with the gospel. The gospel is what defines how he has spent his adult life. And the gospel is by far the greatest benefit I have received from him.

When you present the gospel it must be kept clear and unobstructed

Keep the gospel before you at all times

The Bible is completely true, dependable, unchanging and applicable to all of life

PREACHING and PASTORAL MINISTRY

Preaching is to be taken seriously; there are no shortcuts to preparing properly

Don’t allow secondary responsibilities in church life to get in the way of the primary responsibility of Word ministry

Expositional preaching is healthiest form of preaching for the congregation

When you preach, make sure people can see how what you say is in the Bible, for that is what will build their faith

Pastoral ministry is an honorable calling

Love the Church and love your church

“If you can’t sing well, at least you can sing loud” (this goes back to the days when the pastors led the opening hymn)

Be patient with people in their failures and show graciousness to them

There are Christians with whom you will not agree, but you should still have fellowship with them

Act quickly when sinful discord arises in the church

Make God your defender

FAMILY and FRIENDS

Family is important; don’t let those relationships break down

Love your wife and make her your best friend

Discipline and love should not be exclusive of one another

Stand with your friends in their times of difficulty

Makes friends of people when they are abandoned by others

A good meal is a wonderful way to spend time

LIFE LESSONS

Accountability

Hospitality

Generosity

Ask questions

Reading is important

There are a lot of books, so read the good ones

Work hard and carefully.

Don’t carry out any task half-heartedly

Don’t be afraid to own up to your weaknesses and failures

Confess to those you sin against

God is faithful in the midst of dark days and raging fires

You never retire from serving the Lord