Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Preaching: 1 Difference Maker made famous by Jesus, Paul, and Stephen

I love preaching, teaching, and communicating. Chances are, you do too.

And I have noticed this about preaching; sometimes people preach hard and it connects.. You hear God Word's preached with passion, accuracy, and humility and wow... God really uses the speaker as a vessel.

And sometimes people preach hard and they come across a little jerk-ish.. A little hypocritical. A little like the preacher had it together and we (the audience) needed to get up to his level asap..

So...Is there anyway we ensure we connect more and come across jerk-ish less?

Yesterday, God reminded me of a simple principle that enables us to have a better chance of connecting when we preach God's Word.

"We have to genuinely LOVE our audience."

Not like. LOVE.

This sounds like a no-brainer principle, but stay with me for just a minute and my prayer is that God reminds you of what He reminded me of yesterday..

Jesus, Paul, and Stephen. What do they have in common?

1) They preached HARD..

Jesus- need I illustrate?

Paul- boldly preached the Word and didn't pull his punches..

Stephen- told the Jewish council that you guys just crucified the Messiah and you missed it just like your ancestors did when they killed the prophets..

These guys preached HARD..
These guys connected.
But these guys LOVED the people they were preaching to..

Jesus, on the cross, asked God to "forgive them for they don't know what they are doing." He says this speaking of the people who arrested him, charged him on bogus crimes, and ultimately killed him. (Luke 23:34)

He LOVED them.

Paul- says in Romans 9, that if it were possible for him to go to hell for some of his jewish brothers (even though he knew it wasn't possible) so that they might receive Christ, he would do it..

He LOVED them.

Stephen while he is being killed by the people who didn't take kindly to his message, prayed "God do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60)

He LOVED them.

They didn't kind of like the audience but loved to hear themselves speak..

They loved their audience and they preached hard.

And God used them and their ministries is AMAZING ways..

So as we teach, preach, speak, communicate (whatever you want to call it), this week;

May we preach the Word accurately and passionately..

And may we teach with THIS KIND OF LOVE for our audience..

Thankful God reminded me of this yesterday,


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Make a Ripple...

God reminded me of a conversation today I had with my youth minister, Ben, when I was a student. We both listened to John Reuben occasionally as nerdy youth ministry fans do and Reuben once poetically said something to the effect of---

"I'm not trying to change it all, I just want to make a ripple".

And I remember Ben telling me that ALL he wanted to do was"make a ripple."
To be used of God mightily for his glory..
That's all he wanted..

And I remember thinking at first; selfishly I want more that that...
But then I thought about that much later as Ben always caught on to things quicker than I did, and frankly still does. And I realized what a worthy goal: To make a ripple.

To be used of God in whatever way He sees fit.. THAT is a worthy life goal.

Not as concerned with the results; but the process.

God use me however you want to for YOUR glory.

"God, just let me make a ripple."

Well today, that fire has been re-lit in my belly. I have also spent some time pondering on people who have poured into me and have helped shape me into the man I've become.

I thought of 5 people:

1 & 2: My parents.

3. Ben Hackler

4. Mark Robinson

5. Steve Speer.

These people have at least made a ripple, I know because God has used them over and over again in MY life.

So, my challenge for you is this:

1) Make it a goal of yours to make a ripple.

   To be used of God in whatever way He sees fit. All of you for All of Him.. To be Ben, Mark, or Steve to someone else.. Ask God to use you in that way today even if you feel incapable..

Ask God to use you to make a ripple..

I know it makes a difference.. That its worth it. The sacrifice. The intentional discipleship..

Because I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for these 5 ripple makers.

2) encourage people today that have been used of God mightily in YOUR life.. 

Sent them a text, or message, or take em out to coffee next week. Something. Let em know that God has used them in your life.. It may be just what they need today...

To know that they have at least made a ripple for His glory.

                        So.... Who has God used mightily in YOUR life?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Jesus said about Happiness... Pt.1

The next couple of weeks I want to write about one word; happiness

But let me tell you what kind of happiness I am referring to.

True Happiness. Happiness that doesn't depend of things going right for us. I'm not referring to the happiness that comes with winning a game and leaves after losing one.

I mean the real deal.

We all seek it.

Let me rephrase that; we all desperately seek happiness.

And let me tell you something some people won't; Jesus wants you to find it. 

Chances are we've all probably tried many things hoping they would bring us this elusive happiness.

        - relationships (dating, marriage, parenthood,  friendships, etc), success, popularity, music, the  party life, etc.

And sometimes it seemed like we found it. We were happy!

But then it fled. It rolled out. And we were left... well unhappy.

Unless your views of happiness are the same as those Jesus holds. 

Because Jesus weighed in on this age old debate about 2,000 years ago.
Since Jesus wrote this, there have been literally tens of thousands of books about how to be happy.
But Jesus nailed it... because.. well He is Jesus!

So what did Jesus say about happiness? His happiness message begins in Matthew 5:1.

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.    
He said:   
 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 4 Blessed are those who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
   for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

   11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12, NIV)
Now you guys who grew up in the church recognize this passage; its the beatitudes. What does this have to do with happiness?

Let me set up the story for you: 

Jesus and his disciples have just retreated. They did this a lot. They went up on a mountain and Jesus began the greatest sermon of all time. We call this sermon the sermon on the mount... because He is literally teaching on the mountain.. haha I wonder if the Bible scholars who named the sermon on the mount won some kind of literary creativity award.. Probably not. That's beside the point. 

Anyways, here is Jesus beginning his leadership conference with His most devoted followers and the first word out of his mouth was 'makarios". 

Makarios is the word we translate "blessed" most of the time. The reason we usually translate this word blessed is because commentators will say this word means more than just happy by the world's definition. And this is true. Jesus isn't talking about this fleeting happiness that doesn't stick. Jesus is talking about AUTHENTIC HAPPINESS

Jesus is talking about what ALL of us are seeking so desperately! 

The disciples and the people of Jesus day understood this word makarios to mean "the happiness of God."

So Jesus spends the next few minutes opening his greatest recorded sermon with His thoughts on true happiness. 

And they are completely different than what the world was selling... and what the world is selling today. 

So over the next couple of weeks, I am going to do a blog series on these few verses and do my best to unpack what Jesus said about this age old debate of....

What must I do to truly be HAPPY?  
 And to prove the world is right about one aspect of happiness; that a lack of happiness is a problem. 
But to show you that a lack of happiness isn't a friendship problem.

Or an occupation problem.
Or a financial problem.
Or a marriage problem.

A lack of happiness, the kind Jesus speaks about, is a spiritual problem.

Hope God speaks to us as we study these verses together,


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to have joy when everything that could go wrong, does go wrong..

Let's be honest. Sometimes life stinks.
Figuratively, but possibly literally depending what you are smelling right now. (I'm looking at you West Monroe people that live near the paper plant! haha)

Some days it seems like everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

    - Financial trials: Finances are tight to say the least and things are stressful right now. 

    - Job trials: Maybe you have a job you hate. Maybe you don't have a job and want one.

    - Marriage trials: Yours is hanging on by a thread or maybe you guys just aren't "clicking" right now.

    - Relationship trials: Friends are stabbing you in the back or maybe you are lacking community now.

    - Health trials: You can't do what you want to do physically or you just can't seem to get over something.

    - Spiritual trials: God seems a little distant right now and you aren't sure why. You are struggling.

   -  Normal life trials: Everything in your house breaks at the same time! Or so it seems.
Let's be real. In this life, we are going to face trials. But the Bible says we are be joyful at all times..

Really God? 

James 1:2 says,"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds," 

Consider it pure joy when I lose my job? 
Consider it pure joy when God seems distant?
Consider it pure joy when people make fun of me at school?

Really God?

Last week God helped me to understand this principle more clearly.. 

I learned that the phrase "consider it" in the NIV literally means "add it up".
Essentially James is saying "add it up" as pure joy when we face trials of many kinds..

And God helped me grasp this: 

That if I take all the trials that I'm facing and put them on one hand..

    - Add up all the trials that you are going through right now..

Then on the other hand I compare them to the cross...

    - the fact that GOD LOVES ME SO MUCH that He sent Jesus to die for my sins and take my place! 

And I add them up: it comes up JOY! 

This is because 


That if you are truly IN CHRIST; then whatever happens this side of heaven you can add it up as pure joy because;

The beauty of the cross.
The depth of His love for you. 
The amazingness of His grace. 
The richness of His mercy. 

We don't have to like the trials we are facing right now...

But we don't have to live a joyless life because of them.. 

Ponder your trials today and compare them to the beauty of the cross.. 

Christian, I can guarantee that with the help of the Holy Spirit...

You can add it up as "pure joy".

Thank you Jesus.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My healthy addiction..

I still can't fathom sometimes that God loves ME.

After all the bone headed, stupid things I have done in my life thus far God still loves me.

Actually, He loves me a lot. Like way more than I love Him.
He has saved me from my sins... even though I didn't/don't deserve it.
He has blessed me richly with so many things in this life that I don't deserve like an amazing wife, awesome church family, and incredible friends. 

God is great. (more than I will ever grasp this side of heaven)
God is good. (always.. even when I don't understand why)
What a simple prayer that we pray as kids but what great theology it is!

Because God is so good, gracious, merciful, beautiful, holy, just, righteous, and scary.. but in a good way..

I want to see other people experience what I have.

The joy of my salvation! That I was hopeless, and yet He saved me!
The joy of growing in Christ! That I may become more like Him so that I may live a life that brings Him more glory!

This is why my life mission is: 

"to see people move forward in their relationship with Jesus."

Wherever they are in their journey..

For those who don't know Christ, to come to know Him! 
For those who know Christ, to become more like Him!
We can all move forward. 

And this includes myself.
I want to become more like Jesus.
I want our church to become more like Jesus.
I want people in our community who don't know Jesus, to meet Him.

Honestly, I must confess that I am addicted to seeing people move forward..

I want to see more people baptized (we had the joy of baptizing 5 Sunday at our church!)
I want to see more people put Christ as the center of their marriage.
I want to see more people fall in love with Jesus and his Word.
I want to see more people realize their worth in God's economy.
I want to see more people connect in small groups and experience Biblical community.
I want to see more people start serving passionately and effectively in the church.
I want to see more people be freed from addictions and live in the freedom they have in Christ.
I want to see MORE!

And I am addicted. And I'm not apologizing.

Our verse for this season of ministry at FBC Kopperl:

 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

My prayer(I'm literally praying for you) is that everyone who reads this will become addicted to seeing God change lives in your church, community, and family.

I've told you my passion.. Addiction. Vision for my life.

What is YOUR mission for YOUR life?