Here's a short illustration from my latest sermon on showing the difference between trying to do life on your own versus life together in community. The visual of "the juggler" and "the wheel" was taken from the book, Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. Thanks to Eric Ball for putting this video together!
I've always applied Romans 12:1-2 to individual Christians. But look at it.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers (plural), by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (plural) as a living sacrifice (singular), holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind ..."
Paul envisioned all the individuals in the church community offering up their bodies corporately to God as one living sacrifice. It's no coincidence that he continues on in the following verses (3-13) to show us what it looks like to be a body that humbly serves one another in love. From this text and others we see that gospel transformation is something God wants for us to experience together. We change together as we remember God's mercy, live humbly and are committed to community. On Sunday I preached from Romans 12:1-13 on this topic. I pray it encourages you.
This Sunday I'm blessed to be a part of Stephen Cavness' Spring Renewal Services at his church in Cave City, Kentucky. Here's the list of speakers and their topics. I'm looking forward to preaching from Romans 12:1-2 on, "The Gospel for Day 2 and Beyond." My buddy, Lisle Drury, will preach on Sat. from Luke 18:9-14 on "Genuine Repentance: for Salvation and Everyday." Please pray for us. thursday, may 20th 6:30 PM – randy shaw – “the holiness & majesty of god”
friday, may 21st – 6:30 PM – brandon porter – “man’s relationship to god: in need of redemption”
saturday, may 22nd – 6:00 PM – lisle drury – “genuine repentance: for salvation & and every day”
sunday, may 23rd – 11:00 AM – doug wolter – “the gospel for day 2 and beyond”
sunday, may 23rd – 6:00 PM – john nelson – “more than religious: loving christ ”
From the very beginning, man has tried to cover his own sin and it hasn’t worked. Like a little kid standing in the middle of the room covering his eyes, we think no one will see us. But we’re fooling ourselves. We can’t cover our sin. Only God can cover our sin and make us secure in Christ. And because he loves us, he comes after us in our rebellion and confronts us with our sin so we would confess it and continue no longer in it. His goal is that you would be broken before him and out of this heart that’s been humbled, tell of his mercy and grace. This was the story of David. And it’s our story too if we choose to respond the way David did when God came running after him. This past Sunday I preached from 2 Samuel 12:1-15 to remind us that we cannot cover up our sin – only God can cover it with His grace.
My message came on the heels of my good friend Lisle's message on 2 Samuel 11 where he reminded us of the reality of David’s sin and that if it can happen to David, it can happen to any of us. I encourage you to listen to his message as well.
Many of you know that Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, was teaching and preaching around the world with big crowds and good money before God called him to shepherd a small (160 people) church in the suburbs. When he accepted the position many of his friends thought he had made a horrible mistake even going so far as to say that he was being disobedient and a bad steward of the gifts God had given him. So why did he do it? Here's his answer (and I encourage you to read slowly):
The truth is I didn't become the pastor of a church in a Dallas suburb because I had a grand vision for growing a dynamic, life-transforming, church-planting, gospel-preaching, God-centered church. I took the position because after a great deal of conversation, prayer, and fasting, my wife and I felt it was the direction God, through the Holy Spirit, was leading us.
I came to The Village because I thought that by doing so I would get to see more of Him, experience more of Him, sense more of Him, see more of me die and more of my flesh perish. I came to The Village because I wanted the old man in me to lose more power. Christ is the great end that I am after. He is why. (Catalyst GroupZine, Vol. 5).
I tear up as I think about how God answered his prayer in ways he would have never imagined.
When you lose sight of God, it changes everything - just as it did for Saul in 1 Sam. 18:6-29. While David's eyes were on God and his kingdom, Saul's eyes were on himself and his kingdom leaving him angry (1 Sam. 18:8) and afraid (18:12). I encourage you to listen to Tony Rose's sermon on what happens in our lives when we lose sight of God. Listen | Watch | Download | Subscribe
These were his helpful application questions:
- Your perspective on other people
- Do you expect praise for yourself?
- Do you envy the praise others receive?
- Do the successes of others make you angry, jealous, or glad?
- Purpose in your actions
- Our reocurring thoughts determine how we act.
- Do you think most about what God wants or what you want?
- What brings pleasure to your heart
- David was pleased anytime God’s kingdom grew.
- Saul was please anytime his kingdom grew.
- Is your soul’s happiness being enlarged by thinking of God’s kingdom or shrunk by thinking of yours?
Recently I had the opportunity to teach a group of preschoolers. The whole experience opened my eyes to how much pastors would benefit from teaching a preschool class.
7 Reasons Why All Pastors Should Teach a Preschool Class
1. Preparation - You better be well-prepared when you teach little ones. Every moment counts. Knowing ahead of time where you're going (your aim) and how you transition from one thing to another makes all the difference. It's true in sermon-planning as well.
2. Introduction - You must connect with little kids right away or you'll lose them. The same holds true for adults. Our introduction should make our people say, "Hey, I need to hear this."
3. Repetition - When teaching preschoolers, you must repeat, repeat, repeat one main point. It's even better when you can connect an action to your main point (e.g. God is powerful -- have everyone flex their muscles!). As pastors we too must strive to preach with one main point and repeat it throughout the sermon.
4. Illustration - In order to capture the minds of young children, you must engage their senses by using vivid pictures and stories. Once again, adults are no different. Think about Spurgeon. He preached images that made the truth tangible for his people. So should we.
5. Interaction - Good teachers get their students involved in the learning process. Even though the classroom is a different setting than "the pulpit" we pastors would do well to interact with the text and with our people in a way that draws them into the Scriptures and into each other's lives.
6. Retention - Preschoolers have short attention spans and can only retain so much. Similarly, our people can only take in so much in one sitting. Consequently, we pastors don't have to say it all in one sermon. Thus, we need to leave out the irrelevant and remember that less is usually more.
7. Condescension - Like Christ, we must come down and meet little children (and adults) where they are at. Spurgeon once said, "Blessed is he who can so speak as to be understood by a child!" How true.
This little anecdote by John Piper is a powerful reminder to make God supreme in all your child's learning no matter if you homeschool or send your kids to a Christian school or public school.
I remember the day when my non-academic, dyslexic son said to me, "Why should I care about spelling the way everybody else spells?" I countered, "Well, you won't be able to communicate as well if you don't learn how to spell the way everybody else spells." "I don't care about communicating well,” he replied. “Why should I care about communicating well?"
The blasphemous, standard, 20th century answer to this question is, "If you don't learn how to spell and communicate, you won't succeed in business and make as much money. And above all, you won't have a high self-esteem." What a Godless answer.
Here's another answer; the one I gave my son. "Ben, you should care about communicating and learning how to spell because you were created in the image of God. And God's a great communicator. You should want to communicate because you’ve got something infinitely important to communicate. You’ve got God to communicate. You’ve got salvation to communicate. You’ve got Jesus to communicate. You can't be indifferent, Ben, to communication. God is love, and we scorn his love when we are indifferent about communicating good news to our neighbors, when they desperately need to hear these things. You need to care about communicating because language was God's idea from the beginning. `In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God.' It was God's idea. He is not a God of chaos and confusion. He's a God of beauty and order. He's not a God of anarchy, even spelling anarchy.”
Brent Thomas has a thought-provoking post on whether our preaching should aim at application or implication. I used to be a big promoter of teaching for application (so your sermon should include lots of application), but Jonathan Dodson's thoughts (as well as Brent's) helped show me that perhaps the goal is Spirit-empowered, heart-focused preaching with life change as a result. Still wrestling if it's an either/or or both/and? Thoughts?
Daniel Montgomery, Pastor of Sojourn Church, from his sermon series on Proverbs: TEACH YOUR KIDS TO SUFFER WELL.
MYTH: Suffering is to be avoided at all costs. REALITY: Suffering is normal. (Prov. 10:25, Rom. 5:3-5)
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO WORK DILIGENTLY.
MYTH: Work is to be avoided at all costs. REALITY: You were created to work. (Prov. 10:4, Col. 3:23-24)
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO SPEND WISELY.
MYTH: Everything is yours to use as you see fit. REALITY: Your life is a sacred stewardship (Prov. 23:4, Rom. 12:1)
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO MAKE WISE DECISIONS.
MYTH: Only you can decide what's the best, most fulfilling way to live. REALITY: Holy living allows you to experience God's best for your life. (Prov. 3:7-8, 1 Pet. 1:15-16)
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO LIVE BY GRACE.
MYTH: Failure is final. REALITY: You were created to receive and give grace. (Prov. 19:11, Eph. 2:8-9)
- Listen to the whole sermon here.
(HT: Jared Kennedy)
[Francis Chan's message] was more than anything else a call to return to the basic task of making disciples. He peppered his message with pithy but convicting illustrations as he is prone to often do. He marveled at the simple game of Simon says. When Simon says something, we do it or we lose. Yet, when it comes to Jesus, when He speaks, we often don’t do what He says. We might memorize it and even be able to tell it to you in the Greek, we might get together to talk about what it might look like if we lived that way, but rarely do we actually do what Jesus says. Wow. Convicting.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. That's the name of our upcoming series on the Life of David beginning this Sunday at LBC. Here's what my senior pastor Tony Rose says about this series: Beginning February 7 we will begin a study of the Life of David, the Old Testament king of Israel. We will follow his story as it is recorded in the books of I and II Samuel. David’s story is truly one of the good, the bad and the ugly. If we take this story at its true value it will have a considerable shocking effect on us. When God told David’s story he did not sanitize it, God told it as it was. Most of us tend to sanitize the stories of our own lives, for ourselves and for others, but God does not. Following David will help us to truly know God in our real life situations and with our real life selves.
Powerful exhortation on why the church needs small groups and community. This is from a sermon on John 4 where Jesus addresses the woman at the well and tells her to "Go get your husband."
(HT: Tony Walls)
This past Sunday my buddy, Lisle Drury, preached a great message on The Absurdity of Idolotry from Isaiah 44. That evening I followed up with a brief message on The Beauty and Glory of Jesus. Both of us were influenced by Tim Keller's book, Counterfeit Gods. This line, in particular, has continued to affect me this week:
"Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol…If you uproot the idol and fail to ‘plant’ the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back (172).”
I pray these messages will help us take steps to remove the false and functional saviors in our lives and replace them with the beauty and glory of Christ.
It was a privilege to have my friend, Justin Taylor, come to preach at my church and speak at our Pastor's Conference this week. We had a good time hanging out and encouraging one another in the gospel. One of the things I appreciate most about Justin is that he makes you feel bigger in his presence ... which is hard to do since he's a pretty big guy! But Justin genuinely thinks of others as better than himself. It's evident in the way he lives and the way he blogs, always pointing to others and deflecting attention away from himself even though he's a gifted writer and thinker himself. Here's the two messages he preached at our church. Justin did a great job teaching on the familiar parable in Luke 15 comparing and contrasting the two lost sons and bringing out good gospel application. And his message on adoption (spirtual and physical) was very helpful, providing a needed challenge for the church.
I'm really looking forward to our Promoting the Gospel Conference coming up in October. Paul Tripp is one of my favorite authors, and every time I hear him speak he challenges me greatly. His sessions will zero in on the Gospel and Growing Church Leadership. I'm also excited about Justin Taylor being with us. Justin and I went to college together and I'm so grateful for his gospel-promoting work through his blog, Between Two Worlds, as well as his editing work on the ESV Study Bible. Justin will speak to us on the Gospel and the Internet as well as Defining and Defending the Gospel.
Finally, my pastor, Tony Rose, will encourage pastors as he shares about how we can rest in the gospel that we preach. I encourage you to come to this unique conference! Register here.
This is one of the biggest reasons why we should thank God for John Piper. Simply put, he brings us back to God. If you have a teaching/preaching ministry, I encourage you to watch (at least) the first 7 minutes of this sermon as Piper reminds us that only our sovereign God can open eyes to see spiritual things. And so, we must pray before we preach.
Though I don't always agree with Andy Stanley (e.g. his views on expository preaching), I have grown to respect and learn a lot from him over the years. In particular, his books on communication and leadership have influenced me greatly. Here's a short video clip taken from a previous Cataylst Conference that gives five elements of a leader. I like his list.