I have had a couple occasions to be in Michigan this past month to preach to teenagers. Michiganders are a unique breed. For starters, they inevitably explain where they live geographically in the state by holding up a hand. At first you think they are giving you some kind of a Native American greeting, but then they use the index finger of the opposite hand to point out the spot on the uplifted hand that represents where they live in Michigan, even if you don’t want to know!
Anyway, I had the privilege to preach at a youth retreat at Camp CoBeAc for my good friend Jeff Kahl. The Lord has used Jeff to do a remarkable job face-lifting the camp both aesthetically and numerically. The spiritual atmosphere is amazing as well! Always the innovator, Jeff recently launched the Walk Right Bible Institute, an intense Biblical studies program for high school graduates.
Just this past week I was again in Michigan, this time on the campus of Grace Baptist Church and College for their annual and marvelously attended (1,100 teens) teen spectacular. The Lord met with us in a wonderful way with dozens of teenagers trusting Christ as Savior and hundreds making tremendous decisions for Him. Because of an uncooperative flight schedule, my final message was all of 15 minutes! (Don’t get your hopes up, church members! I can assure you that was an anomaly.)
Even now I am returning from Baltimore, Maryland, where I finished preaching several nights for my dear friend, Scott Tewell. Scott is the pastor of Rosedale Baptist Church, a thriving church north of Baltimore. Not only has the church experienced astounding numerical growth under Pastor Tewell’s leadership (1,400 average), but also Rosedale possesses one of the greatest spirits of a church that I have encountered. Known for his passion for the Bible and expository preaching, Pastor Tewell has lovingly led the good people of Rosedale for the past 13 years. And the future looks glowingly bright with yet another building expansion in the works!
Out and About
Life is full of choices, some made for us and others made by us. And while we can’t always decide what happens to us, we always can decide how we react to what happens to us. Someone once said, Life is 5% what happens and 95% how we respond to what happens. I concur.
This past Sunday at Harvest I talked to our people about choices. Using perhaps the most famous illustrative passage in all of the Word of God on the subject of choices, we explored just the kind of choice God expects for His people to make in serving Him.
Joshua was at the end of his life, and having led God’s people in the conquest of the Promised Land, he affirmed before his people the choice he had made to serve God in sincerity and truth. You might have the words of his choice prominently displayed on a plaque in your home. In all likelihood you have them memorized:
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15b)
Think about the magnitude of this great choice! In just one pithy statement, Joshua crystallized the essence of one submitting himself to the will of God. Let’s consider the depth of this timeless affirmation of General Joshua.
As for me
The choice Joshua made was demonstrably personal. Those who follow God–truly follow God– are those who choose to follow Him of their own volition. Like Paul, they say, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The aged Joshua made a personal choice that affirmed the decision he had made as a youth years before. The aging leader of Canaan was simply reiterating the faith he had exhibited years before as the youthful spy of Kadesh. Moreover, he announced his personal choice. Only as we publicize our commitments to others do we invite the necessary accountability to keep those choices. And it is quite clear that his choice was adamant. He did not await the crowd’s decision or check the current worship trends. With individual resolve Joshua displayed a contentment to live in the minority if need be. Read more…
Ministry Expectations is a teaching series comprising principles from the book of 1 Timothy. In discovering the expectations God had for Timothy and the church at Ephesus, we uncover the expectations He has placed upon us as well.
One teacher astutely commented that the duty of a Christian is to do God’s will, in God’s way, with the right heart motive. I don’t think that any of us are naive enough to believe that one’s motives are not important. Somebody might foolishly say, “As long as the job gets done, I don’t really care how it’s done!” But that Somebody certainly is not the Lord!
“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling. Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.” 1 Timothy 1:5-7
Timothy was surrounded by people who were clamoring for the ministry spotlight. Ostensibly they were doing a good thing; i.e., teaching the very law of God. But in actuality, they burned with an ambition for positional titles in order to be admired by others. Their deceitful hearts and their misunderstanding of God’s truth caused their words to become little more than meaningless sounds and vain jangling.
Modern ministry is full of duplicitous types like these. With no real regard for God or their would-be followers, they merchandise the ministry for their own benefit, whether that is money, power, admiration, or a combination of all three. I’m sure that we all shrink back a bit at the televangelist’s spiel. Closer to home, we’ve probably interacted with people like this in our very own churches. Closer yet, if we are painfully honest, even our own motives tend to degenerate quickly unless we guard and govern them by the regular application of God’s Word. Read more…
Pastoring is the greatest profession in all the world, in my opinion. If we don’t learn to laugh with and at ourselves, we will undoubtedly suffer burnout. Whether you are a pastor or not, I hope that these “top 10″ lists will bring a smile to your face. The list below is offered lightheartedly, realizing that many dear Christians defy the stereotypes that these questions imply.
- How early should I arrive in order to save seats on one of the front three rows?
- Would it be too much to ask if you’d add ten minutes to your sermons? The time passes by much too quickly.
- Pastor, I know it’s the Super Bowl tonight, but would it be possible to add the Lord’s Supper to the end of the service?
- It’s been awhile since you’ve preached on tithing, Pastor. Would you consider doing a series in the near future?
- Thank you for taking time to counsel me, Pastor. Now could you help me identify the ways by which I might be part of the problem in this situation?
- I heard that Bro. Janitor is sick, have you found anyone yet to clean the toilets, because I’m available?
- Isn’t the temperature in the auditorium always just right?
- Would you pray for safety on the roads as we travel back from our vacation this *Saturday*?
- I’m having trouble hearing you preach, could you turn the volume up?
- Would you put me on the nursery schedule for Mother’s Day?
What a joy it is the serve the Lord! My favorite day of the week is Sunday, and this particular Sunday proved to be no exception to that rule. During the Sunday school hour we combined adult Bible classes in order to hear the testimony of State Representative Sam Rohrer. Sam is making a bid to be the governor of Pennsylvania, and it was our privilege to host this fine Christian man in our services.
What a remarkable testimony he shared, and what a passion for our state he articulated! I know that I will be praying for God to bless him and his campaign for our Commonwealth’s highest office. For more information about his record and vision, please visit www.samrohrer.org for yourself.
Sunday night’s service focused primarily on ministry involvement. In a job fair type format, we highlighted the many ministries of our church. Each ministry set up its own display and presented its needs for workers. From what I saw, the night was a smashing success with numerous new members embarking down exciting paths of ministry in the local church.
To set the tone for the evening, I preached a simple message entitled, “Ministry Mindedness” from Ephesians 6:5-8. I suggested four components of the life of one who is genuinely ministry minded. A ministry-minded person is (1) servant-minded. We learned that servant-minded people are they who understand the value of serving. Did not Jesus testify that the servant is the greatest of all? (Matthew 23:11) Our society tends denigrate servanthood, relegating it to “entry level” status. Jesus elevated servanthood and underscored that elevation by becoming the quintessential servant Himself. But serving–if it is to be truly serving–is voluntary. From a heart of love a person decides to serve God and others. Such voluntarism requires the submission of the will and the filling of the spirit (see the larger context in Eph. 5:18-22). Paul declared that he had made himself a servant to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19). May our lives humbly mirror his. Read more…