Message on Romans 12:1-2: Do not be conformed, but be Transformed

Revival Message at New Zion:

Outline:

Introduction:

Let me thank you for this opportunity to preach tonight.

Revival means renewal and improvement on the condition of something.

Thanks for this opportunity. I love preaching with other churches.

This is a revival and revival starts in my heart

Revival will not happen without God’s Word reshaping and reforming and remixing us. If you are not in the Word, nothing is going to happen:

Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

Luke 9:23:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.


Sermon Intro

Black is the opposite of white, wet is the opposite of dry, left is the opposite of right, winter is the opposite of summer. There are many opposites in our life. The world is the opposite of God. The world opposes God. James 4:4 says that friendship with the world is enmity (hostility, ill will) with God. In John 17 Jesus prayed about the world hating the disciples and Him. In Gal 1:4 Paul talked about this “present evil age” or “world.” There is dichotomy between Christians and the world. There is a difference between the things of God and the things of this world.

When I was thinking about what to speak about Romans 12:1-2 came to mind. I was required to memorize this passage when I was in High School. This passage is one of my prayer passages, meaning I pray that I, as well as my children will live this passage out in their lives. But it’s difficult. You see as Christians there is the increasing temptation to be like the world. In America, for the longest time, the world had Judea-Christian values, but we are losing those values real fast. The world is getting worse, and so far the church is not responding very well. Instead the church is becoming like the world.

But in Romans 12:1-2 Paul instructs Christians to not be conformed to this world, but instead be transformed. Let’s talk more about why we are to do this and how we are to do this.

Let’s read this passage:

Read Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This text says to:

  1.                     In verse 1 Paul is telling the Roman Christians and us to make our bodies “living sacrifices.”
  2.        Paul gives a reason for this. He says, “by the mercies of God.”

                                                              i.      In chapters 1-11 of Romans Paul had been talking about God’s mercy.

  1.       Paul had been talking about how Jews and Gentiles can be Christians.
  2.       Paul talked about the law.
  3.       He talked about how the law shows that we are sinners.
  4.       He talked about how under the law no one is righteous.
  5.       Paul talked about how death came by the law, but life came in Jesus Christ.
  6.       Now, in Romans 12:1 Paul makes a major transition. IN the first 11 chapters Paul talked about the theology of sin, the law and salvation. Now Paul transitions to talk more about the practical aspects.
  7.        Chapter 12 starts with a “therefore.” This is an inferential conjunction. That means “therefore” is making a summary or application. Paul is making an inference.

                                                              i.      Therefore, we have all this mercy, so let’s…

  1.       But notice how Paul does this. He says, “I urge you…” He says “I urge you, brothers” or “brothers and sisters.” Paul is strongly asking them to do this. This is almost a command. He uses family language to show his relationship with them. He doesn’t say, “I urge you, son.” He says brothers.

                                                              i.      This is important to Paul, but Paul still doesn’t talk down to them, even though he could have.

                                                            ii.      So we are to make our bodies living sacrifices because of God’s mercy.

  1.        but how do you become a living sacrifice?

                                                              i.      Living and sacrifice are contradictory terms. We always think of a sacrifice as being dead. The problem with a living sacrifice is it can crawl off the alter. I was in a Sunday school class that was led by an older man. This man was hunting with his grandfather during the depression. It was bitterly cold as they walked down the railroad tracks looking for food. His grandfather walked right passed a dead possum. But my Sunday school teacher, he saw it. He called out to his grandfather and they took it home. His grandfather gave it to his wife who put it by the stove to get it ready for the preparation process. Well as that possum got warm it got life back in it and started running around the house. They thought it was dead. It was on the alter to be food, yet it got off of their alter.

                                                            ii.      We as Christians must do this intentionally. Intentionally we must be sacrifices for God.

  1.        Our bodies as living sacrifices are to be “holy and acceptable to God.” Acceptable could be better translated, “Pleasing.” God is pleased by our sacrifice. But as we are a sacrifice we must be holy. We must be holy to come to the throne of God. God is holy. Lev 11:44: “be holy because I am holy.” Ex 3:5: “Take off your sandals for you are on holy ground.”
  2.       Being a sacrifice to God is worship. Worship is not just singing to God. It is worship to make our whole life a sacrifice to God.
  3.       This living sacrifice is a process. Since we are alive, this is not a one-time thing, but continual.

                                                              i.      What does it mean to be pleasing to God? The idea is of God having an attitude towards us as pleasing. The Old Testament sacrifices were said to have an aroma that was pleasing to God.

  1.                  In verse 2 Paul calls us to avoid worldly contamination and have spiritual transformation. Let me repeat this for emphasis, Paul calls us to avoid worldly contamination and have spiritual transformation:
  2.        We can present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy, by not being conformed to this age, but by being transformed.
  3.       These words: “Conformed” and “transformed” are both commands.

                                                              i.      Transformed is the word for metamorphosis. This is the same word used to describe a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. We must have a gradual change to be more and more like Christ.

                                                            ii.      Any of you like superheroes?

                                                          iii.      I think of Clark Kent changing into Superman

                                                          iv.      How are you doing with this?

  1.       I think, as I look at the church overall, we are doing a very poor job. We ARE being conformed to the world. We ARE NOT being transformed by God.
  2.       I am going to give a few examples and some of these might sting a little.
  3.        When Christians are missing church worship because of sports that is being conformed to the world.

                                                                                                                                      i.      This is one that I expect to especially sting a little, but it must be said.

                                                                                                                                    ii.      If we can’t learn to prioritize our worship of Christ over sports, then how in the world can we prioritize our worship of Christ over other things.

  1.       Someday, maybe soon, Christians are going to face physical persecution in America. If we can’t prioritize now, then how can we then.
  2.       Kids everywhere are missing youth group and children’s ministries because of their commitment to sports. Adults and families are missing mid week Bible studies because of commitment to sports.
  3.        Dads you all have a responsibility under God to disciple your children. Part of that responsibility is bringing them to church.

                                                                                                                                      i.      Sadly, this is not a new problem. Way back in the 4th and early 5th century a man named John Chrysostom preached about the same problem. Christians were missing church for horse races and theatre.  

  1.       Let’s apply more. What are you and your children listening to on the radio? What are you viewing on television?

                                                                                                                                      i.      Christians are called to be separate from the world, but we are entertained by filth.

                                                                                                                                    ii.      This is something I especially have to fight as well.

                                                                                                                                  iii.      Remember: revival starts in my heart…

Let’s keep the passage in front of us:

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

 

So, how do we do this? How do we allow ourselves to be transformed by God?

  1.        This happens by renewing our mind

                                                              i.      Paul doesn’t tell us what to renew our mind in, but I can take some guesses

                                                            ii.      I think of walking according to the Spirit in Romans 8, which sets one’s mind on things above.

                                                          iii.      I also can’t help but think of Jesus’ command “to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me”

                                                          iv.      Luke 9:23:

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

                                                            v.      (Mark 8:34//Matt 16:24//Luke 9:23) = Don’t be conformed, but be transformed to discern God’s will.

  1.       We should renew our mind in God’s word: Phil 4:6-9 read

                                                          vi.      This, “don’t be conformed” passage is quite memorable: I like it. This is a rhetorical nice and memorable verse

  1.       When we are transformed we can test God’s well

                                                              i.      1 Thess 5:1 says to “test everything”

                                                            ii.      We must test things to make sure they fall under God’s will. We can’t do this when we are of the world, but only when we are of God. God’s will is good and acceptable.

                                                          iii.      Look at Eph 4:22-23

                                                          iv.      Look at Romans 6:1-2

  1.       We cannot test these things when we are still in the world.
  2.       I had a student in my youth group ask me, “How can I know what God wants?” you can do that by knowing His Word, and by being transformed to His interests. If you are of the world, you will not. 
  3.        Come out of the world, be Christ like. There is a difference between the world and Christianity.

 

I had a social psychology professor that said, “Opposites attack. Birds of a feather flock together.” We are Christians. If as Christians we are conformed to the world, then we have a battle inside us. The world and Christ, they don’t get along. Be transformed to Christ. Then, you can really know God.

Back in the 1920-1940 there was a man named Dietrich Bonheoffer. There is a wonderful biography about him right now. He was German and he was a genius. He was a very well educated pastor. He was a pastor with a doctorate. He did work in America, England and other countries. But he resisted Hitler. Many other German churches caved. Many German churches didn’t stand up to the many anti-Semitic statements going on in the country. But Bonheoffer did stand up. He was involved in a network of churches that were anti-Hitler. Bonheoffer was hung in a concentration camp for that. You know that he didn’t have to be hung. He could have gone along with things like the other churches did. He was also in America. He could’ve stayed over here. But he didn’t he went back to Germany specifically to help the churches resist Hitler and he died for that cause. He is one who wouldn’t be conformed to the world.

How about you?

But do you know Jesus? Some of you need to rededicate your life to Christ today and some of you need to dedicate your life to Jesus for the first time now. Think about that during this song and come forward and I want to pray with you.

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Think about that as we sing Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord.

After song pray.

Pray:

Amen.

 

 

Advertisements

sermon on Sunday, Acts 10:1-23

Opening:

I want to begin this worship service with a short video clip. Harriet Olsen has been accusing someone of being illiterate when in reality he is an immigrant who is quite literate. Watch the clip where it picks up.

Little House on the Prairie Clip:

Charles Ingalls is to preach so he has Harriet read the Scripture from a Bible in another language. She had called someone illiterate the previous week. He really was literate, simply not in English.

Now, there are many different cultures, countries and languages in the world. I did an internet search and found out the following: When people are asked how many languages they think there are in the world, the answers vary quite a bit. One random sampling of New Yorkers, for instance, resulted in answers like “probably several hundred.” However we choose to count them, though, this is not close. When we look at reference works, we find estimates that have escalated over time. The 1911 (11th) edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, implies a figure somewhere around 1,000, a number that climbs steadily over the course of the twentieth century. That is not due to any increase in the number of languages, but rather to our increased understanding of how many languages are actually spoken in areas that had previously been underdescribed[1]

This makes Revelation 7:9 so much more powerful:

 

How amazing is that? All of these languages, all of these cultures, all of these tongues worshipping the Lord together. This Thursday we will be going to New Zion to worship the Lord at another church, together, as we well should, Praise God!

We are too often divided. A few weeks ago I was listening to a short message about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s best message which was not a sermon but Letters from Birmingham Jail. In it he talked about people asking him to quit. He said that he cannot quit. When he is asked to quit he thinks about how his daughter will ask him why they cannot go to that restaurant or that amusement park. He will think about certain other things. I listened to that very message the day after watch a movie titled 12 Years a Slave made after a book written after a true story and a very moving story. How sad it is, truly sad it is how culture divides us. How sad it is, truly sad it is, how language divides us.

What I see in this Bible passage is God saying, “NO MORE!” God is saying:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Amen! Can you agree to that? If so, say Amen??? Everyone, everyone should be saying Amen!

I do not think that I am going to read through the entire passage this morning, but I am going to break it down. We are going to set up this chapter this week. And finish it next week. This passage is a transition in the book of Acts.

[I am listing the passage in the manuscript for those that read it.]

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

Peter’s Vision

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

17 While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.

Peter at Cornelius’s House

The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along.

This is the longest narrative in the book of Acts.

  1.                     Verses 1-8: In verses 1-8 and angel visits Cornelius.
  2.        We find out in verse 1 that Cornelius was part of the Italian Cohort. Just some brief information about this man and area:
  3.       Caesarea was the seat of the Roman government of Judea (see note on 8:40). Cornelius was a centurion, a commander of 100 men, and a member of the Italian Cohort. (A “cohort” consisted of 600 men under the command of six centurions, but with auxiliary forces in remote areas such as Judea a “cohort” might have as many as 1,000 men.) Ten cohorts formed a “legion.” Centurions were paid very well (as much as five times the pay of an ordinary soldier), so Cornelius would have been socially prominent and wealthy.
  4.        Verse 2 tells us that he was devout:

                                                   i.      He prayed.

                                                 ii.      He feared God.

                                                iii.      He gave.

                                               iv.      He was a God fearer which means that he was considering Judaism. He may have been a full Jewish convert, but maybe not. We are unsure of this. He was definitely a Non-Jewish man and did not keep the dietary laws.

  1.       In the next few verses he sees a vision. The Bible says that this is clear. This is unmistakable. So, this is an angel and the angel says that his prayers have been answered. He is to send servants to Joppa where Peter is.
  2.       Now, that sends us to verse 9 and to Peter.
  3.                   Verses 9-23: In verses 9-23 God prepares Peter.
  4.        So, two soldiers are on their way to Peter. Peter, being a devout Jew, is about to have his world rocked.
  5.       Noon was the normal time to eat and it was normal to use the roof for rest as well as for drying vegetables and other things.
  6.        Noon was not a regular hour of prayer (3:1), so Peter prays in addition to the traditional hours followed by many of his contemporaries.[2]
  7.       I wonder, just a note of application, what is your prayer life? What is my prayer life?
  8.       It is important, it is critical, it is imperative, that I am about prayer, that we are about prayer. We won’t do anything without God’s help. Wait, I feel like that was said and written wrong. We need God leading us. We need communion with God. We need prayer. We need dependence on God. Are you seeking Him? I must ask myself the same thing. Am I seeking Him?
  9.         You know what? Let’s pause and pray now?
  10.        Pray:
  11.       Lord, may we seek you with all our heart, do not let us stray from your commands and may you speak to us as you did Peter, continue to speak to us in this message which is not complete.
  12.          Have a moment of quiet and then close the prayer.
  13.         So, Mr. Peter is praying and God gives him this vision and we are not going to break down this vision. Peter sees unclean animals.
  14.        By the way, the animals are given in a similar manner as they would be in the account of the flood narrative, which is interesting.
  15.          Verse 13: take, kill and eat…
  16.     God is for P.E.T.A. People Eating Tasty Animals
  17.       Verse 14 and following Peter says, no way, my translation, I have never eaten anything unclean.

                                                   i.      You must know that the Jews had dietary laws. They were not supposed to eat certain foods. In the Old Testament, God separated them from the other nations.

                                                 ii.      I some cases they were not even to eat with people who at those foods, even if they were not actually eating the foods.

                                                iii.      This consumes a lot of space in the New Testament, and actually this consumes a lot of space in the Old Testament.

                                               iv.      In 1 Corinthians chapters 8-10 Paul writes about the dietary laws. In Acts chapter 15 we will come back to the dietary laws. In Romans (14 and 15) we will come back to the dietary laws.  In Galatians and Colossians we will come back to these concerns.

  1.       3x the Spirit (verses 15-17) says take and eat God has made it clean.

In verse 23 we are left with Peter and others leaving to Caesarea. Some of the brethren are accompanying him. I find this so very profound because we see witnesses many of what God is doing. God is opening up the Gospel to Gentiles. This is pivotal for the rest of the New Testament.

We are going to pick this up right here next week and we are going to look at Cornelius’ conversion. But think about the importance of the Gospel to all these nations. All these languages and Jesus came for all of them. In the past there were these set dietary laws. In the past, in the Old Testament, God set up a Jewish nation state, they were their own culture and civic organization. Christianity transcends culture. We do not have language barriers. Not anymore. We do not need to be bound by culture.

That is why Paul wrote:

1 Cor. 9:19-23:

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law(though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

This is why Martin Luther King Jr’s dream is so powerful and meaningful. This is why Revelation 7:9 could be true:

Revelation 7:9 so much more powerful:

 

The question is, how do you feel about it?

Do you know Jesus?

Are you opened to other cultures and people knowing Jesus?

Who do you need to introduce Jesus to?

Who do you need to be opened to introduce Jesus to?

Where are your prejudices?

Where are mine?

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

 

[1] http://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/how-many-languages-are-there-world

[2] Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Ac 10:9). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Today’s sermon

Introduction:

See if there is a clip from the Bible movie of this:

Let’s look at prayer and miracles:

A new study shows prayer helps people stay in control of their emotions and behavior. According to a story in the DailyMail, those who pray when their lives become demanding find themselves better able to cope with temptation and control their emotions.

The study, by researchers at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim in Germany, recruited participants from all faiths, agnostics and atheists. The team reported that “a brief period of personal prayer buffered the self-control depletion effect.” Previous findings by scientists show that people who try to control their emotions and thoughts suffer from more aggressive outbursts and binge drinking/eating.

“These results are consistent with and contribute to a growing body of work attesting to the beneficial effects of praying on self-control,” concluded the team.

Okay, so that is prayer, right? Now, let’s talk about miracles or the unexplained…:

 

The brand new pastor and his wife were assigned to their first church in Brooklyn and were to reopen it. They arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw the church, it was run down and needed a lot of work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve. 

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19, a terrible driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. After the rain stopped, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit.
He cleaned up the mess on the floor and decided to postpone the Christmas Eve service. 

On the way home, he noticed that a local business was having a garage sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to church.


 
By that time, it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus which would arrive 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder and hung the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area perfectly.


Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” 

The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. 

The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were living in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week but he was captured, sent to prison and she never saw her husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth but she told him to keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, which was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.

On Christmas Eve, the church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return. One older man from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stared. The pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall. The pastor explained and then the man said it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and wondered how there could be two tablecloths so much alike.


He told the pastor when the Nazis came he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again.


The pastor then asked if he would allow him to take the man for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island, to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.
 He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and that day, he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine. as this husband and wife embraced each other of the first time 35 years. 

God shows up in the unexpected. Have you ever been there?

We are going to continue teaching and preaching through the book of Acts. Today, I want to look at Acts 9:32-43. We are going to look at a passage where Peter heals two people. This is the power of God at work. This is the power of the Holy Spirit at work. As we look at this passage notice Peter was willing to be involved, Peter exalted Christ and Peter let the Gospel produce fruit. Let’s read the passage:

 

Acts 9:32-43:

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years. 34 “Aeneas,” Peter said to him, “Jesus Christ heals you.Get up and roll up your mat.” Immediately Aeneas got up. 35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.

 

  1. First exhortation is to be willing to get involved. Notice that Peter was willing to get involved. Verse 32 says that he was traveling through the regions. He was busy, yet something was about to happen and he was not too busy to be used of God.

One of my favorite pastors, Charles Swindoll was willing to get involved, listen to this story:

Somewhere along the many miles of southern California shoreline walked a young, 20-year-old woman with a terminal disease in her body and a revolver in her hand.

She had called me late one evening. We talked for a long time. A troubled young woman, her mind was filled with doubts. She had advanced leukemia. The doctors told her she would not live much longer. She checked herself out of a hospital because, as she put it, she “couldn’t take another day of that terrible isolation.”

Her husband had left her. 
Her two-month-old daughter had recently died. 
Her best friend had been killed in an auto accident. 
Her life was broken. She’d run out of hope.

She and I spoke calmly and quietly about what was happening. I did a lot of listening. There were periods when there was silence on the phone for thirty to forty-five seconds. I didn’t know where she was. I still don’t know her full name. She spoke of taking her husband’s revolver and going out on the beach to finish it all. She asked me a lot of questions about suicide.

In what seemed an inappropriate moment . . . I felt peace, a total absence of panic. I had no fear that she would hang up and take her life. I simply spoke very, very quietly about her future. I made no special promise that she would immediately be healed. I knew that she might not live much longer, as her doctors were talking to her in terms of a very few weeks—perhaps days. I spoke to her about Christ and the hope He could provide. After a sigh and with an ache that was obvious, she hung up.

Thirty minutes later my phone rang again. It was the same young woman. She had a friend who was a nurse, who used to come to our church. The nurse had given her a New Testament in which she had written my name and phone number and had said, “If you really are in deep need, I think he will understand.” By the way, the nurse—her closest friend—was the one who had been killed in the auto accident. She had nothing to cling to from that friendship but memories and this Testament. She read from it.

I said, “What does that little Book say to you?”

“Well, I think the first part of it is biography and the last part is a group of letters that explain how to do what’s in that biography.” (That’s a good analysis of the New Testament.)

I said, “Have you done that?” And she had called back to say, “Yes, I’ve done that. I decided, Chuck, that I would, without reservation, give myself to Jesus Christ. I’m still afraid; I still have doubts. I still don’t know what tomorrow’s going to bring, but I want you to know that I have turned my life over to Jesus, and I’m trusting Him through this. He has given me new hope . . . the one thing I really needed.”

It’s very possible that someone reading these words right now feels the very same way. You’re thinking thoughts that you have never entertained before, and you’re thinking them more often and more seriously. Without trying to use any of the clichés on you, I would say that this hope Christ can bring is the only way through. I have no answer other than Jesus Christ. I can’t promise you healing, nor can I predict that your world will come back right side up. But I can promise you He will receive you as you come in faith to Him. And He will bring back the hope you need so desperately. The good news is this: That hope will not only get you through this particular trial, it will ultimately take you into God’s presence when you die because you have received the gift of eternal life through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ your Lord.  

 

    1. In verse 33 he found this man named Aeneas. This man was bedridden for 8 years. Or, the text could actually say, “since he was 8 years old,” either way, Jesus heals him. We’ll come back to that in a minute. 
    2. Again, then in verse 36, this woman named Tabitha is dying and dead. Peter is busy. Peter is traveling. If there is anyone busy it has got to be Peter, right? Yet, he jumped at the chance to go and raise her back to life in verses 38-39.
    3. How do you and I do with interruptions? How are we with interruptions?
    4. I must look at the Bible, I must look at this passage like a mirror. I tend to plan out my day and I am on my way somewhere and then a family member calls, right? Maybe that interruption is ministry, possible? Is it possible?
    5. I know of opportunities when I stop to help someone or even go out of my way to help someone and I am glad that I did. So, the exhortation here is to be willing to get involved. Peter was.
  1. The second exaltation is to Be Christ exalting.

I read the following:

Now, one of the interesting things, I think, that we saw on our trip to the city of Rome and then on to Israel, was St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Vatican City. I’ll never forget going in that masterpiece of Michelangelo, which absolutely just beggars description. Takes your breath away even to behold the thing. And we walked in there, and I…one thing caught my eye, and I walked up to it, and it was a…a black statue of Peter about twice life size sitting on a…a little kind of a chair, a throne, really, and on about a four-and-a-half or five-foot pedestal. I noticed as I looked at the statue that his right foot was protruding, but the toe was removed. There was no toe, really, and just a shiny kind of a stub. Then I proceeded to watch, and I watched a series of people who came up and kissed that toe. A line of people just coming up kissing the toe of Peter, and I…I had two reactions. My first reaction was the same reaction that I had when I was in St. Mary’s Church, and I watched people climbing up stairs on their knees, promised that they would get one year off of purgatory for every stair they went up; and my first reaction was sorrow. Sorrow over the tragic fact that they can’t accept the word that Jesus said on the cross when He said, “Tay tellusty, it is finished.” And that they think that they must earn some salvation and that these people are trapped into worshiping these, which really are idols, graven images. Sorrow was my first reaction.

My second reaction was I thought about Peter. I thought, “This must sicken the heart of Peter.” This is just exactly what he got irritated about with Cornelius. He grabbed him, and he yanked him up, and said, “Get up.” He knows…my mind thinks about that, you know, you could almost visualize that statue coming to life and saying, “Stop doing that.” Because the one thing that Peter would’ve hated above everything would be for a whole religion to revolve around people worshipping him. He doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want that at all. All Peter ever wanted was to lift up Jesus. That’s all he ever wanted. When he was gonna be crucified, he demanded that he be crucified upside down, because he didn’t wanna be crucified like his Lord was…so he said, “Jesus makes you well.”

 

Peter was about exalting Christ in this passage and in his life.

 

    1. A thought that I have is as follows: I cannot impress people with myself and I must stop trying to do so. I must only impress people with Jesus Christ.
    2. In the next chapter, Acts 10:25, Cornelius will try to worship Peter and Peter will stand him up and only exalt Christ.
    3. Notice in verse 34: Peter said, “Jesus Christ heals you…” We do not want to draw people to ourselves because we cannot do anything for them. We need to draw people to Jesus.
  1. The third exhortation is to be Fruitful:
    1. Watch Jesus bear fruit as He did in this passage.
    2. In each of these miracles it is about the Gospel.
    3. Verse 35 it says all heard about the miracle and turned to the Lord and then again in 42 the same thing, all heard and believed in the Lord. 

 

 

I read the following

You know, I was sitting with a faculty of unbelievers, unbelieving faculty of this school and I sat in the midst of them and the headmaster of the school wanted me to take the time to do it…talk with them. Anyway, I had spoken at the school for three days in a row and shared Christ with them. We had a wonderful time about, oh I don’t, 25 students received Christ, the football coach received Christ and we had a chance to work with him. But he said, I want you to come and talk to the whole faculty. So last week I sat down with this whole faculty. And of course, a lot of them had all these philosophical arguments against Christianity, all kinds of things, you know. And so I sat there and they were pumping questions. And so they had really been rapping my commitment to Christianity and why I thought Christianity was so great. And that they were offended and I don’t buy it and all this kind of stuff.

And so finally, the headmaster says, you know, he says, I teach economics and he says I don’t mind if people get excited about free economics and you don’t mind…he pointed to this guy in English, he says you don’t mind if people get excited about poetry and you don’t mind they get excited about higher mathematics and you don’t mind if they get excited about history and you don’t mind…and he said, well, why are you guys so uptight when somebody gets excited about Jesus Christ? And he looked at me and said couldn’t you answer that? Hmmm?

I was ready let me tell you. So I simply said this. I simply said it’s very easy to explain. All those other things are just an addition to your life. What is so offensive about getting excited about Jesus Christ is you’ve got to crucify your ego, recognize you’re a vile sinner, reject everything you’ve lived for turn around and go God’s way and that’s offensive. Got very quiet. Jesus isn’t a turn on, He’s a turn around. And aren’t you glad they turned to Him?

If you want an effective personal ministry, just do two things, get involved in what God’s doing already and live to lift up Jesus Christ.

That is the Christian life

Let’s pray

John Wesley on Money and riches

http://www.epm.org/blog/2014/May/14/john-wesley-giving

John Wesley’s Example of Giving

John Wesley on Money and Giving

To turn the tide of materialism in the Christian community, we desperately need bold models of kingdom-centered living. Despite our need to do it in a way that doesn’t glorify people, we must hear each other’s stories about giving or else our people will not learn to give. (See “Should Giving Always Be Kept Secret?”)

The Christian community should be filled with people who set a cap on their lifestyles, giving away everything above that amount. We need to draw a line and stop accumulating beyond it. Give away everything else. That isn’t even sacrificial giving, it’s just giving according to our ability. Simple as it is, the models are so few and far between that people don’t even conceive of how it could work.

Consider the following story about John Wesley (1703-1791). His perspective was changed as a result of something that happened to him while at Oxford:

[Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for protection against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he had spent his money. He asked himself: “Will Thy Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’ Thou has adorned thy walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?”

Perhaps as a result of this incident, in 1731 Wesley began to limit his expenses so he would have more money to give to the poor. He records that one year his income was £30, and his living expenses £28, so he had £2 to give away. The next year, his income doubled, but he still lived on £28 and gave £32 away. In the third year, his income jumped to £90; again he lived on £28, giving £62 away. The fourth year, he made £120, lived again on £28, and gave £92 to the poor.

Wesley preached that Christians should not merely tithe, but give away all extra income once the family and creditors were taken care of. He believed that with increasing income, the Christian’s standard of giving should increase, not his standard of living. He began this practice at Oxford and he continued it throughout his life. Even when his income rose into the thousands of pounds, he lived simply and quickly gave his surplus money away. One year his income was slightly over £1,400; he gave away all save £30. He was afraid of laying up treasures on earth, so the money went out in charity as quickly as it came in. He reports that he never had as much as £100 at one time.

When he died in 1791, the only money mentioned in his will was the miscellaneous coins to be found in his pockets and dresser drawers. Most of the £30,000 he had earned in his lifetime he had given away. As Wesley said, “I cannot help leaving my books behind me whenever God calls me hence; but, in every other respect, my own hands will be my executors.*

John Wesley’s royalties at one time gave him what today would be an annual income of $160,000. Yet he lived like someone today might at an income of $20,000. Sound radical? Why? Isn’t it perfectly in keeping with Scripture? “Your plenty will supply what they need. . . . You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Corinthians 8:149:11). Perhaps you’ll never be as radical as Wesley—I’m certainly not, but his example inspires me and makes me reevaluate my lifestyle and giving.

Randy

Yesterday’s mother’s day sermon

Below is yesterday’s sermon manuscript:

Little House on the prairie Clip:

Laurie Ingalls and her Mother:

 

Today, I wish to look at 1 Cor. 13: 4-7 in order to talk about some attributes that mothers typically must demonstrate in order to care for their children. Let’s read the passage from the N.I.V.

1 Cor. 13: 4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

The overall theme for today is a mother’s love and yet I want to breakdown a mother’s love at this time. So let’s breakdown this passage this time. Let’s breakdown this passage right now. Now, these are adjectives in the English and verbs in the Greek. I like to think of them as verbs. These are actions. You know the phrase, a mother’s work is never done. Let’s look at the first one.

 

  1.                     Patient:
  2.        Think about this for a second, what does it mean to be patient? Now, most of us can easily think of what it means when we are not patient, right? Or, actually, I could easily say that I know what it looks like when I am not patient. When I am not patient I end up irritated and agitated, I end up yelling at those around me. I end up thinking bad thoughts. I end up with road rage I end up thinking bad language.
  3.       Those are all descriptive of not being patient, right?
  4.        Not moms. Think about mothers of young children for a second. Actually, do more than think. Everyone take out a pencil or a pen that you brought with you, or there should be one in the pew, and write in the bulletin insert (the part of the bulletin with the sermon notes) a few descriptions of how your mother or another maternal influence in your life was patient.

                                                   i.      I think of watching Meagan gently and patiently feeding Mercedes and then Abigail.

                                                 ii.      I think of watching Meagan patiently rocking Mercedes and Abigail.    

  1.       Love is patient. Do you ever try to solve arguments without patience? It doesn’t work too well, does it? No and it will not. My illustrations were of Meagan with babies, but you may have illustrations with teenagers. I do remember my mom having patience with me when I was a teenager and it was so very important. Praise God for patient mothers.
  2.                   Kind: The Bible says that “Love is Kind.” Think of how your mother’s are kind. Take out your pen or pencil and write down how your mother or another maternal influence in your life was kind or is kind.
  3.        Mothers must be kind, right?
  4.       It takes great kindness to always take care of the needs of another. Think about this. From the time a baby is born:

                                                   i.      Always feeding;

                                                 ii.      Always rocking to sleep;

                                                iii.      Always soothing;

                                               iv.      Always changing diapers;

                                                 v.      Always worrying;

                                               vi.      Always driving places;

                                              vii.      Always paying for things;

                                            viii.      Always cleaning;

                                               ix.      Always bathing;

                                                 x.      Always listening;

                                               xi.      Always_____ you fill it in okay.

  1.        Praise God for kind mothers.
  2.       The Scriptures say in Phil. 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
  3.       I see that Scripture obeyed in mothers.
  4.                 Does not Envy:
  5.        I do not need to park here. This is straight forward right. We probably all battle this, but where can we get if we are all always thinking about what someone else has, right?
  6.       Don’t compare what you know about yourself, which is everything, with the little bit that you know about someone else. 
  7.                 Does not boast:
  8.        What good does it do to brag or boast as a mother to your children about everything that you do for them?
  9.       Listen, there is no way to repay the parent.
  10.        A parent provides for their children out of grace, out of love.
  11.                   Is not proud: and this goes along with the previous.

Proverbs 16:16:

Pride goes before destruction,
    a haughty spirit before a fall.

 

  1.                 Does not dishonor others: There is no reason to harm others as a mother raises her own children. No, try to help others and respect others. You know what, that also is modeling the best for your children. 
  2.        How does it help your children if they remember you always talking negatively about other parents? (We teach children to honor and respect others by modeling this.)
  3.       I remember leaving to many family functions and hearing a parent tell another parent something about someone. I would be in the back seat and hear my parents or a friend’s parents or wherever I might have been I would over hear a conversation of gossip about other people. As children that was overheard. That dishonored others.
  4.               Is not self seeking: This goes along with the previous as well. As a godly woman raises her children she is modeling godly virtues.

 

I read the following:

 

A MOTHER’S MARRED HANDS

There was a teenager who didn’t want to be seen in public with her mother, because her mother’s arms were terribly disfigured. One day when her mother took her shopping and reached out her hand, a clerk looked horrified. Later, crying, the girl told her how embarrassed she was.
Understandably hurt, the mother waited an hour before going to her daughter’s room to tell her, for the first time, what happened.

“When you were a baby, I woke up to a burning house. Your room was an inferno. Flames were everywhere. I could have gotten out the front door, but I decided I’d rather die with you than leave you to die alone. I ran through the fire and wrapped my arms around you. Then I went back through the flames, my arms on fire. When I got outside on the lawn, the pain was agonizing but when I looked at you, all I could do was rejoice that the flames hadn’t touched you.”

Stunned, the girl looked at her mother through new eyes. Weeping in shame and gratitude, she kissed her mother’s marred hands and arms. 

(Source: Randy Alcorn. From a sermon by Billy Ricks, Suffering, 2/27/2011)

  1.             Is not easily angered: There may be days, right? But, anger would be passed down to the children, and we do not want that, do we?
  2.                 It keeps no record of wrongs:
  3.        What good is this?
  4.       What good is this for your children?
  5.        You don’t need to give your kids a list at the end of the day do you? No, of course not? Kids will be kids.
  6.                   Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth:
  7.                 Always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
  8.        I find this to be a great breakdown for these few verses.

 

Close:

May use a video clip instead

 

Corrie Ten Boom in the book, Reflections of God’s Glory (page 69), wrote, “In Africa a man came to a meeting with bandaged hands. I asked him how he had been injured. He said, “My neighbor’s straw roof was on fire; I helped him to put it out and that’s how my hands were burned.
“Later I heard the whole story. The neighbor hated him and had set his roof on fire while his wife and children were asleep in the hut. They were in great danger. Fortunately, he was able to put out the fire in his house on time. But sparks flew over to the roof of the man who had set the house on fire and his house started to burn. There was no hate in the heart of this Christian; there was love for his enemy and he did everything he could to put out the fire in his neighbor’s house. That is how his own hands were burned.”

 

Article on abortion: super excited about it

below is a link to an essay by Dr. Al Mohler regarding someone’s abortion and opinions on it. 

http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/05/08/i-feel-super-great-about-having-an-abortion-the-culture-of-death-goes-viral/?utm_source=Albert+Mohler&utm_campaign=3bc9acfd23-Albert_Mohler_Email_June_7_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b041ba0d12-3bc9acfd23-307773537

Below is a link regarding mental illness and the Bible:

Is Mental Illness Actually Biblical?

just read a really good article

I just read a really good article on Church leaders.com and I thought I’d share it with you. It is below:

 

the links is:

10 Pastors You Should Have MAJOR Concerns About

 

10 Pastors You Should Have MAJOR Concerns About

 
[googlemaps https://ct1.addthis.com/static/r07/sh157.html#iit=1399474426551&tmr=load%3D1399474426219%26core%3D1399474426341%26main%3D1399474426520%26ifr%3D1399474426559&cb=0&cdn=1&chr=UTF-8&kw=Scott%20Postma%2Cconcern%2Cpastor%2Cleaders%2CPastors%2Care%20you%20falling%20into%20one%20of%20these%2010%20deadly%20traps%3F&ab=-&dh=www.churchleaders.com&dr=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.churchleaders.com%2Fpastors%2Fpastor-articles%2F174131-scott-postma-pastors-you-should-have-major-concerns-about.html%3Futm_source%3Dnewsletter%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dclnewsletter%26utm_content%3DCL%2BDaily%2B20140507&du=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.churchleaders.com%2Fpastors%2Fpastor-articles%2F174131-scott-postma-pastors-you-should-have-major-concerns-about.html%3Fprint&dt=10%20Pastors%20You%20Should%20Have%20MAJOR%20Concerns%20About%20by%20Scott%20Postma%20-%20ChurchLeaders.com%20-%20Christian%20Leadership%20Blogs%2C%20Articles%2C%20Videos%2C%20How%20To’s%2C%20and%20Free%20Resources%20-%20Page&dbg=0&md=0&cap=tc%3D0%26ab%3D0&inst=1&vcl=1&jsl=163&prod=undefined&lng=en-US&ogt=description%2Csite_name%2Curl%2Cimage%2Ctype%3Darticle%2Cauthor%2Ctitle&pc=smlwn%2Csml&pub=chagen&ssl=0&sid=536a48fa740ed55e&srpl=1&srcs=1&srd=1&srf=1&srx=1&ver=300&xck=0&xtr=0&og=title%3D10%2520Pastors%2520You%2520Should%2520Have%2520MAJOR%2520Concerns%2520About%26article%253Aauthor%3DScott%2520Postma%26type%3Darticle%26image%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.churchleaders.com%252Ffiles%252Farticle_images%252FCL_10_Pastors_You_Should_have_MAJOR_concerns_about_SMALL_599092436.jpg%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.churchleaders.com%252Fpastors%252Fpastor-articles%252F174131-scott-postma-pastors-you-should-have-major-concerns-about.html%26site_name%3DChurchLeaders.com%26description%3DPastors%252C%2520are%2520you%2520falling%2520into%2520one%2520of%2520these%252010%2520deadly%2520traps%253F&aa=0&csi=undefined&rev=127626&ct=1&xld=1&xd=1″ width=”300″ height=”150″>

It’s not a secret the church has been in decline for a number of years and for a variety of reasons. You can read some statistics and views on why, here and here and here. Everyone has their opinions.

Abuse, apostasy and irrelevance are just a few of the words that keep coming up in the search for reasons for the decline. There are a variety of compelling opinions, and I even have a few of my own.

But I suggest there is another area of decline more significant and perhaps much less obvious—and one that certainly contributes to the church’s decline in numbers.

And I think it’s likely a careful analysis would implicate the church’s leadership for this more significant issue.

In other words, I’m concerned about pastors and the role they play in the church’s decline.

 

By saying so, I’m not suggesting this pastor has it all together. Nor am I trying to cultivate (or ratify) some dishonest skeptics’ hate for the church. Rather, I’m hoping to raise some concerns in a conversational kind of way.

Further, I’m not claiming to be the expert in all church issues. However, I have been in some form of pastoral ministry for the last 19 years and feel I have some measure of insight about the issue.

So in an effort to pursue this conversation in a healthy way, here are 10 pastors I’m concerned about.

1. I’m concerned about the pastor who is better at managing church programs than he is at making disciples of Jesus.

Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger addressed this topic somewhat in the book Simple Church, but I’m not sure how many pastors paid attention to the message.

The church is not better because it has more programs. It’s quite possible for programs to hinder its real mission.

2. I’m concerned about the pastor who attracts people with fancy self-help sermons instead of teaching people to be students of the Bible and theology.

Sure, topical sermons can be helpful teaching tools when used appropriately and in moderation.

But to pique interest in the unchurched, church-growth pastors have promoted episodic sermons ad nauseam and to no avail at effectively grounding deeply committed disciples of Jesus, as the statistics provided previously demonstrate.

 

3. I’m concerned about the pastor who is a chief executive instead of a contemplative sage.

The pastor is called to a contemplative life of prayer and study of the word (Acts 6:4, cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). From that life, his ministry flows to the church.

The pastor was never called to be a rockstar communicator or benchmark business leader. He was called to model redemption and shepherd the flock of God (1 Peter 5:1-4, cf. Acts 20:28).

Perhaps pastors should consider putting away their John Maxwell and Nelson Searcy books and picking up the Bible and the church fathers.

4. I’m concerned about the pastor who uses the pulpit to milk members instead of minister to the saints.

It was the angry atheist Richard Dawkins who asked Ted Haggard (back in the day) why he needed a multimillion dollar sound system that paralleled that of MTV to teach people about God. I think that’s a question that deserves an answer.

Why do pastors need to build bigger and better on the backs of God’s people?

I think the answer may be rooted in the human heart. Francis Chan seemed to have caught that vision when he was still pastor in Simi Valley. And if we think we need to build bigger barns, perhaps we should pray about church planting as a viable alternative.

5. I’m concerned about the pastor who makes growing the church the goal instead of glorifying God the goal.

There is no biblical mandate for growing the church. Sure, there is one for propagating the gospel and making disciples. But the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. There is nothing in Scripture, except pride, that drives pastors to drive the flocks they are supposed to be tending.

6. I’m concerned about the pastor who builds his ministry with people instead of building people by his ministry.

It seems I’ve said this already, just differently. But here I’m speaking to a philosophy that often underlies many of the abuses in the church.

For example, a well-known megachurch pastor once advised me to think of people in seven-year terms. He explained that people generally burn out after seven years. And if I wanted to build a big ministry for God, I would need to leverage those seven years.

Funny, I don’t recall God asking pastors to leverage his people for the pastor’s dream of building a big church for God.

 

7. I’m concerned about the pastor who cultivates a culture of dependency on himself instead of cultivating a culture of community within the church.

Of course, I’m not denying spiritual dependency on Christ is biblical. But the pastor is not the people’s savior.

He’s a just man who will burn out and fail himself given enough time and responsibility.

Christians should be taught to depend on Jesus as our Savior, the church as our sanctifying community, the Bible as our word from God and the Spirit as our parakletos.

8. I’m concerned about the pastor who reads and teaches the Bible literally instead of literarily.

This is not to suggest the Bible is not important or any less God’s word. It’s to say the Bible is literature, divine literature to be sure, but literature nonetheless.

That means it needs to be read and understood as God’s word to us (or for us) in the context of its literary genre.

Not all the Bible is prescriptive; and none of it was written to be used as a random list of verses cherry-picked capriciously to beat people up or defend our personal ideas and beliefs.

The Bible is the holy canon which reveals God to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Pastors who mishandle God’s word are extremely dangerous.

9. I’m concerned about the pastor who contributes to the culture of consumerism instead of combating idolatry.

Pastors who pander to the consumerism in the church are no different than parents who give their kids everything they want to keep them from throwing a fit or to get them to reciprocate love.

Christianity isn’t a smorgasbord where people get to pick and choose what they like or don’t. It’s a community of believers on a journey and mission of faith who live in communitas with others for the glory of God, the blessing of his people and the advancement of his kingdom.

10. I’m concerned about the pastor who sees the church as a stepping stone instead of seeing it as a custodian of Christ’s kingdom.

Certainly, God moves people. And certainly pastors have a right to pursue other ventures as the Lord leads and gives liberty.

But the church is the primary agent for the stewardship of the gospel and the redemption of the cosmos. It’s the integral institution for advancing Christ’s kingdom and for shaping culture and society. It’s not God’s second-hand agency. It’s not his “Plan B.” Jesus died for the church and it is significant.

These are a few of my concerns about pastors.

What are your concerns? Let me know in the comments.