Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Two Laned Path to Greatness

When it comes to making an impact for Christ, it seems there are two very important questions to ask.

1. Where are we showing up?
The ministry of presence is powerful. As a Church (as Christians) we have impact when we show up for events, outreaches, difference making gatherings in our community. So where are you showing up? Where you show up says a lot about what you care about.

2. What are we giving away?
Impact is made by our presence and what we leave behind in those places. The greatest impact on this world came through Jesus. And the coming of JEsus meant that 1) God showed up and 2) He gave himself away. God came to earth in the incarnate Son and gave his life as a ransom for sin for the entire world. His Church that continues to exists as the hands and feet of Jesus are at its best when it shows up and gives away compassion, grace, love, food, clothes, money.

So where are you showing up? What are you giving away? The way you answer those questions will largely reveal your impact for Christ in the world.

I'm grateful to pastor a church that shows up and gives away in our community! I'm convinced those two questions make up the two laned path to greatness in the Kingdom of God.

SOAP BOX: Too many of us in churches get it backwards. We judge our impact by how many show up for our stuff (our own church/denominational events, progams, services) and give us stuff (tithes, offerings, time). While gatherings have there place in accomplishing impact, I think this view is at best woefully inadequate.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

DONE! ...Our Challenge

QUESTIONS-> Do you ever want to say “I’m done!”? Does your life seem stuck? Do you feel like you’re on a plateau? Are you tired of the spiritual rut? Are you eager to see your life, your family and your church achieve a deeper devotion to, and impact for, Christ? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions then you will be very interested in the NEW sermon series and small group semester starting August 28th.

DONE! -> “I’m done!” This is a phrase we often use in exasperation to declare we are closing one chapter and beginning and new one. The reality is that advancement in any endeavor, achievement of any goal, growth in any area of life demands that we say “I’m done.” We must forsake certain things and replace them with others. To achieve a goal, old habits are forsaken and replaced with new ones. You’ve probably noticed that most people remain stuck in unfulfilling patterns of life because they are unwilling to forsake useless, even harmful ways and replace them with healthy, life-giving ones. They haven’t yet come to the place of saying “I’m done”, so their misery continues. We must give up to go up! Improvement means declaring an end to lesser things for greater things.

JESUS‘ EXAMPLE -> Christ was done with people lost without salvation. So he forsook the previously unbroken fellowship with the Father in Heaven, to come to Earth to die on the cross for our sin. He gave up “equality with God” for a greater mission, the mission to redeem people far from God.

SMALL GROUPS -> I urge you to come hear the messages AND to participate in a small group. In our small groups, we will discuss in greater depth the previous Sunday’s message and corresponding challenge. Every member of our church family serious about Jesus should be participating in a group. Groups are forming now and will start the week of August 28st.

BACK STORY -> I read a book and I prayed. In the fall of 2010, I read a book entitled Radical written by David Platt. I knew God wanted me to preach on the topics covered in the book so I waited for the right time. In the meantime, I have been praying a radical prayer for our Church, including you! Because of Radical and Jesus’ words in places like Luke 14, I’ve been praying that all of us would take up the challenge to forsake spiritual mediocrity and replace it with whole-hearted devotion to Jesus. I’m praying every one of us will say “I’m Done” with spiritual mediocrity.

August 28 DONE! with Ignorance of the Bible
September 4 DONE! with Spiritual Apathy
September 11 DONE! with Complacency
September 18 DONE! with Materialism
September 25 DONE! with Isolation

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wisdom -- Follow Me

Street smart, common sense, has a clue, intuitive, emotionally intelligent... these get close to what the book of Proverbs means when it calls us to gain wisdom. Technically, wisdom is the right application of knowledge. We tend to admire knowledge and neglect the critical value of wisdom. Now the Bible celebrates knowledge. Smarts is good! But horse sense is even better! Knowing how to apply said knowledge, having wisdom, is the real treasure. We all know really smart people who do really dumb stuff! Knowledge acquisition is no guarantee that a person will have any clue how to relate to others, order their finances, manage time, or speak with tact (for example).

The ancient sages of the Bible esteemed wisdom highly because they saw a created order in the universe. They rightly perceived that certain moral principles governed human life. Therefore they implored their youth to know those laws (knowledge) and properly apply the principles (wisdom)so that they would have success in life. "He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers" (Prov. 19.8).

It's frustrating when we smart folk consistently find our lives hitting the "proverbial" brick wall. Here's the truth. It may not be because we lack knowledge, it may be that we are futilely attempting to defy wisdom. The Lord promises to instruct us, if only we will listen.

June 12 we will begin a series on the book Proverbs. Each Sunday through the summer we will be talking and learning wisdom from Israel's wisest King Solomon. The school of wisdom is now enrolling.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When We Pray

Two things are true of prayer. (1) Never is a Christ-follower STRONGER than when s/he is praying. (2)Nothing in the Christian life is HARDER than praying. We desire to pray but honestly we fail so often at it. Prayer gets misunderstood. Evidence of this is seen in how much time is spent discussing and debating postures and volume - sit or stand, quiet or loud, hands up or folded, eyes open or closed, written or spontaneous. Which is the right way? Which is better? Which way works?

Did you know the original disciples of Jesus were just as curious about prayer as we are? They once asked Jesus (the master pray-er), "how do we pray?" Jesus told them, WHEN YOU PRAY say...
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.

You've heard it before. It's been called the Lord's Prayer, the Our Father, even the Disciples' Prayer. What's important to remember is that the words of this prayer are not a rhetorical rabbits foot, or spell or incantation, they contain the Lord's insighful teaching on prayer. And the prayer is POWERFUL!

In the next few weeks at Breiel Church we are going to plunge the topic of prayer by looking verse by verse at the Lord's Prayer found in Matthew 6. We're not going after pat answers or evidence to defend our preferred method of prayer. We are seeking illumination into the power of prayer and inspiration to do it! I'd love to have you join me in this study of prayer. The series runs from May 1 - May 22.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Re:Presenting Christ

"Better"... that is the one word that sums up the book of Hebrews. Twenty-five times the cluster of words, 'greater', 'better', 'more' appear in Hebrews' 14 chapters. The book, which really functions and reads more as a sermonic letter, reveals how much greater Christ is than... well than everything! The Supremacy of Christ is a powerful biblical truth that Christ reigns over all. This doctrine is a deep and crucial one that every follower of Jesus must understand and be convinced of. It has practical implications for our lives. Understanding that Christ is above and over all impacts our worship, our understanding of suffering, our understanding of the cross, our decision making, even our understanding of the history of the world. Just to name a few.

This letter was originally written within the first few decades after the resurrection of Jesus. The writer of Hebrews provides encouragement to a weak, scared, confused and intensely persecuted church by pointing them to the truth of Christ's Supremacy. He heads off their fear fed temptations to turn away from Christ, back to false religion by reminding them of the greatness of the One that saved them.

So, if you are a Christian who is questioning your faith; or if you're not a Christian and wondering what's the big deal about Jesus; or if you're simply unfamiliar with the doctrine of the Supremacy of Christ then this preaching series will be of great benefit to you. The series, RE:PRESENTING CHRIST, continues each Sunday from February 20 through Easter (April 24).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

One Outstanding Student Loan

With our 16th Anniversary just days away I thought I'd re-post this in her honor. This was written to my wife Kristy upon OUR graduation from Asbury, 13 years ago.

From May 22, 1998
At times I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for the wonderful person I have married. This time in my life, when the sentiments are running high, I can’t help but express in words how much you mean to me. These past three years of our marriage have been nurtured in a place we have both grown to love. We have had celebrations –September 20th, and we’ve had disappointments- like when the couch wouldn’t fit! But through it all we have maintained our sense of humor and been willing to adapt to each situation.

As I prepare to walk the stage this Sunday I want you to know that you will walk with me. You, probably more than me, earned this degree. You deserve to be celebrated. It takes an extraordinary person to delay his or her own plans and dreams for someone else’s, like you have for me.

So as we look at paying back the monetary loans, let me assure you that I realize that there is yet one other outstanding debt to be paid. I hope that this down-payment of gratitude is a good start to my lifelong payment plan: a plan that includes honoring you, serving you, and never forgetting the hard work you have done to make this graduation from Asbury so meaningful.

May 22, 1998

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A Simple Plan to Become More Like Jesus

At Breiel Church our mission is to see “more people become more like Jesus.” If you want to be more like Jesus, here is a simple plan to follow. Commit to the following plan and you will be more like Jesus by the end of 2011.

1. Worship (Love)
Practice: Devotions
Frequency: Daily

Make a habit of doing devotions (Bible reading and prayer) every day, or at least most days. This will make your relationship with Christ personal and authentic. The daily devotional can be as simple as reading a few verses from the Bible and praying on your way to work. Making this a daily habit is vital to your maturation as a Christian.

Practice: Community Worship
Frequency: Weekly

Go to Church each week. Grow in your love for God by worshipping him along with the local Body of Christ. Weekly large group worship will lift you up and keep you encouraged.

2. Discipleship (Learn)
Practice: Small Groups
Frequency: Once Every Six Months

Participate in two discipleship sessions per year. This will deepen your knowledge of God’s Word as well as help you connect with other Christ-followers. Attend two discipleship classes per year (10-20 meetings). This will look different for each person depending on their needs. For example, your two discipleship sessions might be a (1) Fall Financial Peace University course and (2) Spring Bible Study. Or it could be an eight-week (1) Sunday night ULearn elective in the Fall and a (2) Summer small group. Or it could be two sessions of a Sunday morning class (Sunday School).

3. Serving (Live)
Practice: Serving
Frequency: Once a year

Obviously there will be times to serve more often than once per year. But make it a point to participate, at least annually in an outreach event. This could mean involvement in a local outreach event like serving the homeless or volunteering at a block party outreach. Or it could mean that you go on an overseas mission trip to Peru or Ecuador. Another option would be involvement in a special outreach production like a Christmas or Easter outreach event

There you have it, a simple plan that can help you become more like Jesus.
"Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 3:18

Monday, January 03, 2011

Never Waste a Crisis

No one likes a crisis. I know I don't. Actually, I like to avoid them if possible. But here's my suggestion, if avoiding a crisis in not possible then for heavens sake don't waste it! I discovered that a crisis, though hard and treacherous at times to navigate through, provides golden opportunities. Some times these are once in a life time opportunities! Here are three good things a crisis can give you.
1. A crisis zooms us in what is most important. When you're in a crisis, you discover very quickly what is really important, what the real mission is, what the real purpose is.
2. A Crisis cuts through the bull. Few things reveal true attitudes, thoughts, feelings, movitations quickier and as clearly as a crisis situation. Often what we call crisis is merely bringing to the surface what has been lying below the surface all along. Thus, a crisis gives you the opportunity to deal with what's really going on and to understand what is really happening in the relationship, family, or organization.
3. A Crisis provides the opportunity for systemic change. A crisis, a real good one, will provide the opportunity to address and change long-standing, deep-rooted and systemic dysfunction in your relationship, family, or organization.

My advice, never waste a crisis!