Monday, February 25, 2013
A couple of conversations the past two weeks have caused me to think about how many people hear a sermon. Often, based on a life circumstance or journey, a listener will focus on something the preacher says that is not really what the sermon is about. Let me give you an example or two: 1. In a sermon about the authority of God's word, a preacher my say, "We stand against divorce because God says he hates it". Now immediately those who have experienced divorce may be offended because theirs was "allowable" by Scripture and they may even take the preacher to task. 2. In a sermon on Christian family, a preacher may say, "God designed a family to have a mom and a dad and kids, and that is the best way to do family". Suddenly, single parent radars go off, feeling as though the pastor has made them a second rate family as they struggle to do their best. 3. In a sermon on struggling with sin, a preacher may say, "I sin every day even though I don't want to". Suddenly, people in the seats think everything from "I wonder what sins he commits" to "we pay him to be holy, why is he still sinning?" Suddenly the focus is on the sins of the pastor and not how the Holy Spirit guides us through these struggles of the flesh. My point is that there are always a multitude of things not said in every sermon because time does not allow for the preacher to explain in detail every theological nuance of the day's teaching. So, here's the best way to get past these distracting phrases and what is left unsaid about them. First, try to focus on the text and the points the pastor is making based on his week of study, prayer, and preparation. Often a word of The Lord is missed because we are listening for what we want to hear and not what God wants to say. Second, if there are things you hear in the sermon that are not fully explained, do some biblical research (eg. look up "divorce" in a Bible concordance and read the Scriptures where divorce is mentioned). I say often when asked about my opinion on some topic, "Whatever the Bible says about that, I believe that." Third, ask your preacher to explain but do so in love. Don't assume the worst of the preacher (ie. you have bad theology) but give him the benefit of the doubt (maybe he has a different context, or I heard it wrong). In short, don't allow the things not said in a sermon to drown out the things that are preached from the Word of God.
at 10:45 AM
Monday, February 18, 2013
Yesterday we did an in depth look at the Genesis 27 story where Isaac inadvertently blessed Jacob instead of Esau. Blessing is so mis-understood in this culture because our value system is so out-of-whack. As I said yesterday, the O.T. blessings of Prosperity, Victory, Progeny, and Realty are not what is important to God (and therefore should not be important to us). God did not send his Son to help our 401K, help our team win, help us have many kids, or help us acquire beachfront property. Jesus fulfills O.T. blessing in a spiritual way that has a much higher value than what we tend to value as humans. At the end of the sermon yesterday, I prayed a prayer of blessing over the people of Eastview. It moved me deeply and many of you said it did you as well. So I have copied the blessing below. Be blessed...and I mean it as stated below Final Blessing for Benediction: And now, may God bless you with the riches of joy, peace, and love by faith in Him who gave his life for you and saved you by His blood May you be blessed in overcoming your enemy Satan. May you triumph over all his schemes, temptations, and fears in your life by the word of God and the power of His Spirit... May you be blessed to find your place in the family of God as sons and daughters of the Most High and may you fully participate in his house, the church May you be blessed with a great hope in the inheritance that is yours in Christ Jesus and may you live each day in the awareness that you will never die. And now may the love of the Father, and saving grace of His Son Jesus, and the presence His Holy Spirit be yours in abundance, both now and forever more.
at 10:30 AM
Monday, February 11, 2013
Okay, many of you have mentioned that you missed my blog last week. Sorry, it was one filled with some unexpected challenges...and I just didn't have words (a rarity for me)...and the time just got away. So thanks for reading and hope I can offer some words worth chewing on today. Special shout out to my guy, Tim Thul! Today's word is WORD. Of course, the first thing we should think of is Jesus as the Living Word of God...and the Bible, God's written word. I've said before, if you want to hear from God, look at Jesus and read your Bible. 'nuff said. I mentioned yesterday in the sermon from Genesis 22, if a preacher can't find a word about the WORD in that passage, he should find another profession. An only son, a loved son who carries the wood for His death up a hill. A substitutionary sacrifice, the love of a Father...can you hear God? This reminds me that our annual "Power of the Word" conference is coming up March 18&19. It is a conference for encouraging preachers and preaching of the Word. It is also the least expensive preaching conference in America. If you aren't a preacher and just love preaching, you are welcome too. Go to eastviewchurch.net and click the Power of the Word icon to register and get information. My passion continues to be encouraged by your words. Yesterday at the cross, two first time visitors commented on how they loved that I used the Scripture in preaching. I didn't know there was another kind of preaching! I simply don't have much to say unless I magnify the Word of God. When you give a word of encouragement about my words upholding the Word...it means a lot and keeps me going. Thanks for your kind words! Finally, our words aren't as powerful as God's words, obviously; but there is great power in everyone. Last night in the Atlanta airport, I noticed people complaining about the delays (I was tired and impatient too) so I made a deliberate attempt to say kind and edifying words to flight attendants, fellow passengers, and even my wife. It's true, a word can change a tough situation into a bearable one. How many people can you cause to smile today, feel good about themselves today, or have hope in God today? Let's see. The Word (Jesus) and the word (the Bible) and your words hold great power today. Hope you use them all!
at 9:13 AM