Archive for Notes – Sermons/Books/Seminars/ Conferences

11
Jan

How To Pray For The Prodigal In Your LIfe

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To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons. (Luke 15:11-12)

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“A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. (Luke 15:13-14)

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About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:14-16)

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 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger! (Luke 15:17)

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 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’  “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

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“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

These are dangerous prayers but if we are not praying for the prodigals in our lives who will?  With prayers like these things may get worse before they get better but remember the words of Jesus.

“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.” (Luke 18:1)

 

 

11
Jan

Book Notes – Four Faces Of A Leader

 

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Bob Rhoden grew up without much leadership in his life.  His parents were killed by a drunk driver when he was two and he was raised by his widowed grandmother in her house alongside a railroad track in North Florida.  Yet, he became a Pastor of a congregation which he led for 22 years.  His next 15 years, saw him lead over 300 churches as District Superintendent of the Assemblies of God Potomac District.

Rhoden asks the question all of us leaders ask, “How do you know if you’re an effective Christian leader?”  What is the standard to which we should hold ourselves?
  • Large Sunday attendance?
  • Balanced budgets?
  • Community reputation?

Rhoden calls Jesus the “most riveting leader of all time” and in his book considers the 4 faces of Jesus’ leadership as he asks, “What does a great leader look like?”
He sees Jesus as a Shepherd, Servant, Steward and Seer.
Jesus as a Shepherd
“The real shepherd loves the sheep even when they are ugly, when the bite and when they disobey”
  • A Calling is different from a Career
  • Shepherds sacrifice for the sake of the sheep
What do shepherds do?
  • They feed the Word of God
  • Equip and add value
  • Bond
  • Protect
Jesus as Servant
“Jesus saw people as individuals, not categories”
  • Confident leaders do not worry about their status or image
  • Churches should showcase servant leaders in their congregations
What are the traits of a servant leader?
  • You’re ok with others going first
  • You don’t care who gets the credit
  • You are recognized for more than your title
Jesus as Steward
 “Stewards or managers understand that the operation is not actually theirs.”
  • Competence does matter
What does Pastors manage?
  • Speaking on God’s behalf
  • Serving as God’s Diplomat
  • Personal walk with God
Jesus as Seer
 “God’s work always stands in need of those who can see what others miss…”
  • Living in what was will not move you towards what could be
  • A Seer must understand that the winds of culture keep changing
What must a Seer see?
  • New ministry opportunities
  • Potential for conflict
  • Rising new leader
The conclusion of the book has a test to help the reader determine their strengths and weaknesses when it come to these 4 faces of leadership, with the encouragement to bring up your weak areas.
An easy read, you could use 4 Faces with your church board, staff or in a mentoring relationship.
Quotes Worth Quoting
“Success in a career is defined by how much you earn and how many people you control.  Success in a kingdom calling is defined by how much you give away and how many people you serve.”
“What is maturity?  My definition is when people produce more than they consume.  If sheep are healthy, they will reproduce.”
“What any of us is predisposed to think is not as important as what Jesus taught and modeled.”
“The very factors that produced today’s success often produce tomorrows failures.”
“Leadership is not so much about what we set in motion.  Its about planting the right seeds in people.”

Photo Credit

 

11
Jan

Sermon Notes – Here’s How To Have A Strong Church (Bible)

 

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“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

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As you can see from the example above it’s important how you build:)  Paul writing to the Ephesians said we are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself  as the chief cornerstone.(2:20)

What happens when the foundation shifts away from solid Biblical teachings?

 

When We Don’t Build On The Bible – Kingdom Activity Takes A Backseat to Social Activity

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.”(Isaiah 1:17)

Scripture is full of admonitions to care for the less fortunate and many times we fall short of these commands.  However, with the rise of the Social Gospel the heart of the Gospel message of salvation was devalued.  Taking care of those in need must be seen in the larger context of the redemption story.  What’s the point to only care for the temporal physical needs of people without point them to eternity?

 

When We Don’t Build On The Bible – Discipleship Takes a Back Seat to Feeling Good

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)

Turn on your television or listen to your radio and it’s not hard to find a proliferation of “Feel Good” preaching.  I am not against preaching hope, comfort or healing but it must be done with the over arching goal of discipleship

 

“For a Church to be deficient in discipleship is to be deficient in its fundamental reason for existence.”
When We Don’t Build On The Bible – Jesus Takes A Backseat To Everything

The Bible is clear that Jesus is unique, when the Scriptures are not truly preached or watered down, the Son of God becomes just another good teacher.

 

Why Build On The Bible? – The Bible holds the words to Eternal Life

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God,  and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

 The hope of the Bible is the hope of eternal life and without that message being preached clearly the Bible is just another book of quaint sayings and inspirational stories.
Why Build On The Bible? – The Bible will give you stability in the storm
 

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice,  I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well-built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49)

Like the rock that has withstood the test of time the Bible has also withstood the test of time.

 

Why Build On The Bible? – The Bible is your GPS through life

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

   The longer I live the more I see people running without direction or hope in their lives, they are looking for answers.  The Bible has the answers to life challenges whether relationships, marriage,  eternal life , suffering it’s all there and shame on us if we dilute the Scripture to moralisms.

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When a carpenter is building a house it does not matter which way the winds blows or if it’s too hot or too cold the building of the foundation does not change.  As ministers we carry a huge responsibility of laying a proper foundation for our people.  The winds of popular opinion of societal change should not influence us from making sure we build upon the foundation of the “apostles teaching”.
How do you build a strong church?  Build on the Bible.
 
 
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Photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

11
Jan

3 Signs You Might Be In Spiritual Drift

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We were with our friends Jay and Carol and we had made the trip from Charlotte, North Carolina to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  It was our first trip there and it was awesome.  I grew up by the water, but the water in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada never, came close to the warmth of Myrtle:)

So in we went,  jumping as high as we could to avoid getting splatted.  Wheezing and coughing as our mouths and eyes filled with salt water.  It was great!!

After 20 – 30 minutes we took stock of where we were and realized that the shore didn’t look familiar at all.  We had drifted.  Now you expect to drift a bit but we were way down the shore.  By the time we got out and walked back I was actually winded.

Here’s the thing about drifting

  • Drifting requires no effort..
  • It is an unconscious process…
  • You don’t drift against the tide…
  • It can take you away from what’s important…

 

Our spiritual lives are no different.  The writer of Hebrews gives a warning that is still relevant all these years later.

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For a moment let’s consider 3 ways we can drift from God when times are tough.

Warning #1 – You start to DISTORT the PAST

The children of Israel had been rescued from Egyptian bondage and were on their way to the Promise Land.   But their disobedience caused the journey take much longer than first imagined.  So they started to complain.

“ … remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. (Numbers 11:5)

Really?  Funny how tough times can make our past look better than it actually was. The reason why their food had no cost was because they were SLAVES!!!

“Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.”  (Exodus 2:23)

If you stepped back for a moment and were realistic are you distorting the past?  It may be s sign of Spiritual Drift.

Warning #2 – You MISS What GOD Is DOING In The PRESENT

When you read the text in Exodus at times it seems as if the Children of Israel are in the middle of the wilderness all by themselves.  But nothing is further from the truth.  God was in the midst of them in the middle of the camp.  They were guided by a cloud by day and a fire by night.  This was the Old Testament version of our GPS.

“The cloud of the Lord hovered over the Tabernacle during the day, and at night fire glowed inside the cloud so the whole family of Israel could see it. This continued throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:38)

The front of every tent opened towards the middle of the camp and the presence of God.  So every morning when they opened their tent door they saw the Tent of Meeting with the cloud reminding you of the presence of God. At night as they went to bed they could see the fire representing the presence of God.

Yet, while they complaining about having no water, no food.  While they complained about the leadership of Moses and Aaron and that God had left them.  God’s  presence was always in their midst.

Are you complaining about your future why missing what God is doing in your present life? It may be a sign of Spiritual Drift

Warning #3 – You Forget who Saved  you.

You may know the story about Moses climbing up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments.  He was gone so long the people thought he wasn’t coming back and they went wild and I mean wild.  Then we read this verse.

All the people took the gold rings from their ears and brought them to Aaron. Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded it into the shape of a calf. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:3-4)

Really?

The idol you made with your own hands freed you from slavery?

Was the idol with you when you crossed the Red Sea?

Was the idol with you when water came out of a rock?

Are you beginning to take for granted what Jesus did for you?  Is the message of the cross holding less significance in your life?  It may be a sign of Spiritual Drift.

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Are you going through a difficult time right now?  Take a moment and step back and ask yourself.

Am I making the past out to be much better than it’s reality?

Am I so focused on my trouble that I am missing what God is doing in my life right now?

Am I devaluing what God has done for me through Jesus?

 

What should I do?

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Start Rowing

  • Get your devotional life back on track
  • Get involved in a church ministry
  • Get involved in a small group and stretch yourself

 

 

 

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