SGC Pastor's Conference 2016 Some of the people who regularly and deeply influence me with the gospel

Yesterday we honored Fathers and their influence on our lives.

However, some of you men (and women) may be so aware of your limitations that you doubt that your life can be an influence for God.

The famous people in the world certainly seem to have far more influence than the people who serve Christ. However, where it counts most, they are completely impotent!  Just as this world will end, so will the influences of those who follow its values. But the influences for Christ’s eternal Kingdom will last as long as his kingdom does!  

To be a godly influence two truths reign supreme:

1.  The focus of our influence must be the Gospel

Romans 1:16 tells us the gospel is “the power of God for salvation”. There is no greater influence we can have on people than for the gospel. This is not just true for unbelievers. Every believer needs regular encouragements in living out the gospel.

2.  The power in our influence is the Holy Spirit

Our influence is not meant to be what we can be to others; it is what the Holy Spirit can accomplish in and through us. Wouldn’t you rather have your potential be what God will do?

Conclusions about our influence through the Holy Spirit and for the gospel:

1.  Our influence goes beyond our abilities (Acts 4:13)     

2.  Our influence goes beyond our what we can see (1 Corinthians 12:21-22) 

3.  Our influence is not lost due to weaknesses or past failure (John 4:16-18 & 39)

General observations concerning being an influence:

1.  Each person you can influence is worth influencing

We often think and act as if we have no vital ministry from God. Yet, every person already in our life needs gospel influences. Perhaps we will be the only person to be praying for them this way!

2.  Every person who can observe you, can be influenced by you

Just by living a life in contrast to the world, we are an influence on those who see us. The people in your life need to be surrounded by those who love and live by the gospel.

3.  Small things can have an effective influence

The key to every godly influence is how God will use that influences. This should encourage us concerning small actions for Christ. If God honors a small action for Him, should we still consider it to be a small thing?

4.  The world desperately needs the influence of the gospel and godliness

At times if feels as if we live in the middle of a swamp of ungodliness. Rather than bemoan this fact, recognize that it sets up a vivid contrast when we live whole-heartedly for God. In our self-centered culture, godliness will stands out and be noticed. Be encouraged that your life can be a place of solid ground in the midst of the swamp.

And while you are at it, do not tire in thanking those who are an influence in your life. They need encouragement too!



Last week we held a conference on sexual purity, “Fight to Be Free”. I taught the final session entitled “Come into the Light”. In that message I dealt with three lies Satan uses to draw men into lifestyles of pornography and lust. Here is my outline.



Hell Wants You to Believe

You will not stay pure; it is only a matter of time before you fall. Satan wants you to doubt that real change can happen, so that your actions will lack full conviction

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Ephesians 6:16 tells us that faith is a shield to extinguish the darts of Satan: Faith is to take God at his word – so act on it

Sinning again is a possibility, but that we will be pure and whole is the great inevitability

It is true we will be tempted again; but the greater truth is that we are being completed in godliness

“I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ”  Philippians 1:6

“May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Satan is a liar who knows the real inevitability

‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ Romans 16:20

Applying the Truth

Look for your identity in God’s Word. Look for the declarations of God’s work on behalf of his people

Become more mindful of God’s activity: look for evidences of God’s grace & give thanks for them

Think more often about eternal realities



Hell Wants You to Believe

You are too weak; other Christians can live victoriously, but not you. Satan wants you to think your struggle is unique, your situation is harder and your salvation is weaker

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Of course you are weak! But that fact is irrelevant to victory (Eph 6:10-18)

Great Commandment Living is always by the power of God (John 15:5)

Jesus lived and worked on earth in the power of the Holy Spirit

Power at work in you is same power that raised Jesus from the dead & lifted him above enemies (Eph 1:19-21)

The entire Godhead is active in our becoming godly men

  • Our new life of godliness was set in motion by the Father’s will and plan (Phil 2:13)
  • Our godliness is made possible by the all-sufficient work of Jesus Christ
  • Day by day we are empowered to live whole by the Holy Spirit who lives in us

Applying the Truth

Stop listening to yourself and daily preach gospel reality to yourself

Embrace your weakness as wisdom that keeps you abiding in Christ, rather than as a discouragement that leads to giving up

Become more Trinitarian in your praying and thinking



Hell Wants You to Believe

Sensuality and sexual fantasy bring needed happiness. Satan wants you to think there are justifications for “controlled indulgences” in lust

The Truth That the Gospel Gives You

Sin is Empty – it cannot give life or wholeness or fulfill its promises. Sin will never satisfy or be satisfied

Sin always turns on us! It chews up our life without a care for the consequences it brings

True Fulfillment and lasting Joy can only come when we love and submit to God (Eph 3:14-19)

Holiness must be the greatest happiness, because it is to be like our perfect Heavenly Father

Applying the Truth Eph 5:18-21

Be a worshipper who is in awe of God, and who increasingly loves God

Fill life with gospel work, this will regularly bring situations that press us to remain closely connected with God

Be deeply connected with believers who feed your soul and be that to others


by Paul Long

I always wanted to have children, so I am thankful that God blessed me with four of the greatest kids ever.

Being a dad is hard and I don’t claim to be an expert. Often my own sin, laziness and pride get in the way. But God continues to be gracious to me. Here are a few things God has shown me (is showing me) over the years:

1. Read the Bible to your kids

Every night in our house ends with “the routine” – brush teeth, go potty, get in PJs and gather together to read the Bible and pray. Honestly most nights I am hoping my wife will lead “the routine” so I can mindless scroll through Facebook or watch a show in bed (told you I was lazy and sinful). But I know God has called me as dad to be the spiritual leader of the family.

God has used these Bible reading times to open the hearts of my children. We have had great discussions about treasure, heaven, lying, death, and sharing the gospel. I plan to stop reading the Bible to my kids when they move out.

Dads, read the Bible to your kids.

2. Be Present

When it comes to spending time with your kids, what is better – quality time or quantity time? A pastor once said, “You don’t know when the quality time is going to surface, so you have to be attentive and aware as much as possible.”

Dads, your kids need you to be present and that doesn’t just mean at home with your head in your phone or buried in work stuff. Sit on the floor, wrestle and snuggle, play a game, rebuild an engine, go fishing, dance, sing, play hide and seek, read a book for the 500th time.

Dads, be present – because quality moments happen through quantity time.

3. Think Biblically

“God’s word is our guide in all of life” – you probably agree with that statement. But what does it look like in practice in your everyday life? When it comes to your finances, relationships, leisure activities, schedule, decisions, words, attitude and tone of voice, do you think biblically?

Dads, think biblically – compromise in your life will lead your kids astray.

4. Help your children think Biblically.

Our children are always making decisions and I am sure by now you have realized they don’t always make good ones!

Dads, your children need you to help them think biblically.

So when your daughter comes down the steps in an outfit that is just a little too short – help her think biblically.

When your son decides to get a job that will keep him from Sunday worship – help him think biblically.

When your children are fighting over the toy – help them think biblically.

Hold up the biblical standard so that your children know in this home we live by what God has said in his word.

And when your children struggle to think and live biblically, show them that there is help in the person and work of Jesus. Show them that Jesus lived the life they cannot live and he died the death they deserved. Tell them he offers his life and the forgiveness of their failure to meet God’s standard. Tell them this over and over again. Tell them there is grace to help them change.

Dads, help your children think biblically.

Being a father is hard work. If you feel like a failure that’s probably a good place to start; thank God for showing you where you fall short, confess your fatherly failure to Him and your kids. Begin fresh today. Rest in His grace and take a step – your kids need you.


Wisdom from Exodus for Men (Father’s Day)

Exodus 18

The Israelites arrive at “the mountain of God”, and Moses is reunited with his family

Moses describes what has taken place (vs 8-12)

In Moses description all the credit is ascribed to God

This is the only way to accurately tell the story (or our story), Israelites had done nothing to save themselves or impress God

Every judgment on Egypt and every provision for Israel was all God

Yes, Moses had been faithful, but God had to enable him & sustain him

The more we are aware that this is true, the easier it will be to rest in this truth

It was in Moses heart to exalt what God had done

When we love God, we want his will done and his name exalted

In our social media world, ‘posting’ our life easily becomes more about our name than God’s

God is expanding his work of deliverance 

This was more than a conversation; Jethro, the pagan priest, responds with true faith in the Lord

1.  Jethro rejoiced in the Lord (v9)

Praise for the person and work of God is always the appropriate response to our situations

In Christ, God is always working for our eternal good, as well as his eternal glory

2.  Jethro exalted “the Lord” (v10)

This is more than amazement over events, Jethro expresses faith

The word He uses for Lord is “Yahweh”, which is the name God gave Israel to use (6:3)

Clarity about God, will lead to humbling ourselves and exalting (i.e. highly valuing) him

3.  Jethro affirmed his faith in the Lord (v11)

When Moses first went to Pharaoh in chapter 5, he arrogantly replied:

“Who is Lord? . . I do not know him”

Repeatedly during the plagues against Egypt, God said this is so “they will know” I am the Lord

Jethro’s faith is not merely that God exists, but that God is greater!

4.  Jethro worshiped the Lord (v12)

When our heart truly belongs to God, we will act upon it

Worship is to live in response to God, to act on his greatness

In Jethro, the sovereignty and grace of God have come full circle

The Israelites arrived in Egypt centuries earlier because Joseph was sold by his brothers to Midianites who brought him to Egypt

Now Jethro, a Midianite “priest”, comes to trust in the God of Joseph

God never compromises with sin, but He is expansive with his grace

Jethro gives essential advice to Moses (vs 13-24)

The responsibility and load is “too heavy” for Moses to carry

Moses understandably has been the visible focal point for the Israelites

But he is not their hope; Moses had the weaknesses and limitations all men carry

God uses us, but He never ceases to be our help and our hope

But the real issue here is bigger than Moses

We see a strong connection between chapters 17 & 18

In both, Moses is weary and seated with men called to assist him

In both, the support given to Moses was needed for the protection of the nation

God is leading Israel to be nation under Him, rather than a people following Moses

Chapter 18 is about more than good advice; God is preparing the Israelites to see themselves as people committed together under Him

Chapter 18 is making a transition between the first half of Exodus (ch 1-18), which describes God’s deliverance, and the second half of Exodus (ch 19-40) in which God presents his covenant relationship with them

Observations for men on this Father’s Day

1.  Make sure our family conversations include what God has done

God has acted in extraordinary ways for us, and his grace continues to be very real

The habit of recognizing God’s graces is good for our soul and our family

2.  The Word of God is for all of life (v20)

If we are not living by the light of the Bible, we are left to live in the shadows

It is impossible to lead our family better, or those we can influence

3.  Strong godly men are strengthened men

Like Moses, we are not strong enough, and we were never meant to think so

God has given us three major ways to be strengthened

His Word

The Holy Spirit

Our local church

4.  Your church needs you to be a man who is growing in love for God

Half-heartedness robs your life, and it robs your church

We need men of each generation in the church, to be men of faithfulness

Christ is able to make that true in everyone who comes to him!