Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spiritual Heroes

Spiritual Heroes
Hebrews 6:12; 12:1; 2 Tim. 3:14


We need our spiritual heroes; we need our spiritual examples; we need those who encourage us in the hope that a consistent discipleship is possible; we need those whose own spiritual consistency is commended to us by the testimony of history.
- John Calwell, The Communion of the Saints

In the seventh century, the Church created a holiday to honor God and all His saints. The church chose November 1 for this holiday hoping to replace pagan festivals that took place on that date and involved the spirits of the dead. This celebration is known as the feast of All Saints or All Hallows. On All Hallows, the church remembers the "great cloud of witnesses" described in Hebrews 12 who have gone before us and are now with the Lord. In 1484, November 1 was declared a holy day of obligation: The faithful were required to attend Mass, in addition to fasting the night before. That is, they fasted on the Eve of All Hallows, from which we get the word Halloween. The Feast of All Hallows provides a link between what is known as the church triumphant--that is, those who are with Christ, and the church militant--members of the church still struggling on earth. Christians remember that God has been faithful to His promise to preserve His Church in the midst of even the most trying circumstances. Christians could also use All Hallows Eve to reacquaint their kids with Halloween's Christian origins.
Bump in the Night by Charles Colson


I. The Inspiration of Godly Encouragers (1)

a) Noah ran against popularity (11:7)

Noah was called to preach and to build. Preaching was probably more difficult than the building. Hard jobs are always easier to deal with than hard people. – Johnny Hunt

b) Abraham ran against security and uncertainty (11:8-10)

Hebrews 11:1-2 is faith’s definition; Hebrews 11:8-10 is faith’s demonstration

c) Moses ran against prosperity (11:24-27)

Moses chose the imperishable, saw the invisible, and did the impossible. – V. Havner

If ever there was a generation of people sorely in need of spiritual role models, we are it. No matter how we choose to observe Halloween, those of us attending non-liturgical churches can take a modest step toward telling ourselves a different kind of story this Sunday. Pastors might include the story of a saint in their sermons. Parents could make a point to share the story of a saint or two. All Saints' Day is not about remembering just the saints with brand recognition. It's designed to thank God for the gift of a praying great-grandma in our family tree, a friend who sacrificially provided for his family by working two jobs before he died of cancer at age 42, and an anonymous old woman who quietly fed the poor in Jesus’ name when she thought no one was watching. – The Best Christian Halloween Party by Michelle Van Loon

Saints here and there both remembered

1) The lives of saints of the past. In addition to the saints depicted in Scripture, we have nearly 2,000 years of history that can and should be used as challenges to piety and faith. We Protestants have been so concerned about avoiding the veneration of saints that we often have bypassed a rich heritage of faith. Just as the Book of Hebrews gives a roll call of believers, so we can look to countless examples of equally courageous lovers of God.

2) "The life of the blessed in paradise." Most of us have been completely unaware that All Saints' Day is a celebration of all the saints. It is a day when Christians can remember not only those great believers of the past but also loved ones and friends who have served Christ and are now in heaven. True, it is a day to remember the lives of well-known saints and "to follow them in all virtuous and godly living." But it is also a day to remember our own "blessed dead." - Harold Myra


II. The Motivation of Godly Exhortation (1)

a) Recognize encumbrances.
b) Recognize entanglements.
c) Run with persistence.


Five Types of Spiritual Heroes Worth Remembering:

1) Those who shared God’s truth (like William Tyndale).

2) Those who extended mercy (like William and Catherine Booth).

3) Those who walked by faith (like Watchman Nee).

4) Those who took a stand (like William Wilberforce).

5) Those who practiced endurance (like Charles Simeon).

6) Those who loved, trained, and shaped us.


Redeem Hallowe’en as an exercise in being a transforming influence. Set October 31as a day when stories are retold regarding how our family came to know Jesus.
- Jack Hayford, Redeeming Hallowe’en

Why allow Halloween to be a pagan holiday in commemoration of the powers of darkness? Fill the house or church with light; sing and celebrate the victory of Christ over darkness. – Richard Foster in The Celebration of Discipline

For more information, search for these articles:

Harold Myra’s article Is Halloween a Witch’s Brew at www.christianitytoday.com
Charles Colsons’ commentary Bump in the Night at www.breakpoint.org
Jack Hayford’s Redeeming Hallowe’en at www.jackhayford.org

Redeeming Hallowe'en

For years I have appreciated Pastor Jack Hayford's spiritual and practical teaching and responses to a lot of questions in society. One of those is the much-disagreed subject of what a Christian should do with Halloween. Hayford offers his advice, with which I agree, in his article, Redeeming Hallowe'en.

Richard Foster writes, Why allow Halloween to be a pagan holiday in commemoration of the powers of darkness? Fill the house or church with light; sing and celebrate the victory of Christ over darkness.

Remember Our Heroes

I have so enjoyed the fall weather this week. The colors around Laurens have been beautiful and probably at their peak.

Am preaching a message tomorrow morning entitled Spiritual Heroes in recognition of this time of year. For me, this week always officially starts off the Novemember-December preparation for and celebration of the holidays. November 1 is the day set aside by the church as All Saints Day, a day to remember our heroes in the faith. It is actually a sort of Christian memorial day. Then, October 31 was recognized as All Hallowe's Eve, a day to prepare for All Saints Day. And it was on October 31 of 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Witttenburg chapel door - the spark that ignited the great Protestant Reformation.

I try to take some time in my family beginning this week and during the month of November to teach my children about some of the great spiritual heroes of Christianity - and also to take time to remember some of our own heroes in our lives. Don't just let these days float by as missed opportunities when the secular world dresses up like gouls and glorifies death and destruction. Redeem this time and use it as a stepping stone into the holiday season. Spend the month of November leading up to Thanksgiving learning some new spiritual heroes - and being thankful for some familiar ones.

I have found that the years that I intentionally do that throughout the month of Novemember - beginning on October 31 - it makes me sense that the whole month is a spiritual preparation to be truly thankful by the time we get to Thanksgiving - and then ready to move forward worshipfully into the December holiday season.

The following link is a tremendous resource from Chrisitan History Institute linking us to dozens of stories of Christian heroes through the centuries. Click on it here.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jim Demint

The last 3 years I have been extremely impressed by South Carolina's Senator, Jim Demint. Today I read that Demint scored a 100% in supporting conservative, family-related legislation on the Family Research Council's Congressional Scorecard.

Three years ago, I read Demint's excellent book Saving Freedom, in which he gives a clear and impassioned call to make choices in America that will keep freedom alive, unlike many of the choices that are coming out of Washington. I encourage you to get his book and read it.

Demint just came out with another one called The Great American Awakening: Two Years that Changed America.

Demint is a genuine Christian, a Southern Baptist, and is the real deal. He did not go into politics until his late 40's, when God stirred in him to help take a stand in a declining world. (You may remember that he was the most vocal opponent to President Obama's bailouts.)

Interestingly, his books are published by Broadman and Holman, the publishing house of the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Southern Baptist pastors endorsed his Saving America.

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Demint. Many folks hope he will run for the Republican nominee one day. He is a godly statesman among many thorns. We need God to raise men like him up to change the course of our nation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Don't Have to Get Together

During the liberal-moderate-conservative controversy that engulfed the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 20th-century, Adrian Rogers (who became probably the key spokesperson for the Conservative Resurgence), was in a peace meeting when people on different sides of the table were supposed to be working things out and coming together. One man kept challenging Rogers to compromise. The exasperated man exhorted something like, "Adrian, if you don't compromise, we will never come together!"

The following was Rogers' response:

I’m willing to compromise about many things, but not the Word of God. So far as getting together is concerned, we don’t have to get together. The Southern Baptist Convention as it is does not have to survive. I don’t have to be the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church. I don’t have to be loved; I don’t even have to live. But I will not compromise the Word of God. – Adrian Rogers

We Are In Trouble

Truth is a basis for society to survive, relationships to endure, and churches to prosper. In the very beginning, in the third chapter of Genesis, the serpent attacks truth: Did God really say?

Al Mohler shares how the serpent is still asking the same question today. Read it here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scarcity Thinking or Abundance Thinking

Moses has led the Israelites for a little more than a year in Numbers 11. The Lord has promised that He will overload them one day with meat (You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it he says). Moses cannot understand how this can happen. How could they receive this much food (for several million people)?

Moses asks the Lord, Even if we butchered all our flocks and hers, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?

The Lord answers, Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true.

Michael Hyatt writes, Over the years, I have noticed that there are two kinds of thinking. One kind leads to success, joy, and fulfillment. The other leads to failure, fear, and discontent. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV).

The two types of thinking he describes are scarcity thinking and abundance thinking.

Hyatt shares the eight characteristics of abundance thinkers:

1. They believe there is always more where that came from.
2. They are happy to share their knowledge, contacts, and compassion with others.
3. They default to trust and build rapport easily.
4. They welcome competition, believing it makes the pie bigger and them better.
5. They ask themselves, How can I give more than is expected?
6. They are optimistic about the future, believing the best is yet to come.
7. They think big, embracing risk.
8. They are thankful and confident.



He also notes eight characteristics of scarcity thinkers:

1. They believe there will never be enough.
2. They are stingy with their knowledge, contacts, and compassion.
3. They default to suspicion and find it difficult to build rapport.
4. They resent competition, believing it makes the pie smaller and them weaker.
5. They ask themselves, How can I get by with less than is expected?
6. They are pessimistic about the future, believing that tough times are ahead.
7. They think small, avoiding risk.
8. They are entitled and fearful.


As we continue forming the DNA of The Spring Church, it is on your pastor’s mind that we embrace abundance thinking and not scarcity thinking. Small thinking will lead to small people. Small people will lead to small church that stays small. Let us challenge ourselves and each other to think large, because I think the Lord thinks large.

Remember, Jesus said, Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back (Luke 6:38).
Charles Swindoll shares in his excellent book The Grace Awakening that there are two types of faces among Christians – “yes” faces and “no” faces. Let’s work hard to be faces turned from no to yes by the grace of God.

You can see Hyatt’s full article here.

Family-Equipping Ministry

Timothy Paul Jones coined the term family-equipping ministry to describe the family ministry paradigm that he and Randy Stinson developed for the School of Church Ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Soon afterward, Randy Stinson located and brought together an informal coalition of ministers who were doing in practice precisely what he and Jones had sketched out in theory. Leading early practitioners of the family-equipping model included Jay Strother at Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee, Brian Haynes at Kingsland Baptist Church in Texas, and Steve Wright at Providence Baptist Church in North Carolina (1).

In many ways the family-equipping model represents a middle route between the family-integrated and family-based models (2). Semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact in family-equipping contexts. Many family-equipping churches even retain youth ministers and children’s ministers. Yet every practice at every level of ministry is reworked to champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives. Because parents are primary disciple-makers and vital partners in family-equipping ministry, every activity for children or youth must resource, train, or directly involve parents (3).

Whereas family-based churches develop intergenerational activities within existing segmented-programmatic structures and add family activities to current calendars, family-equipping churches redevelops the congregation’s structure to cultivate a renewed culture wherein parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the primary faith-trainers in their children’s lives. As in family-integrated churches, children whose parents are unbelievers are connected with mature believers in the types of relationships that Paul described in his letter to Titus (Titus 2:1-8). Every level of the congregation’s life is consciously recultured to “co-champion” the church’s ministry and the parent’s responsibility.

To envision the family-equipping model in action, imagine a river with large stones jutting through the surface of the water. The river represents the Christian growth and development of children in the church. One riverbank signifies the church, and the other riverbank connotes the family. Both banks are necessary for the river to flow forward with focus and power. Unless both riverbanks support the child’s development, you are likely to end up with the destructive power of a deluge instead of the constructive possibilities of a river. The stones that guide and redirect the river currents represent milestones or rites of passage that mark the passing of key points of development that the church and families celebrate together.

Most of the authors whose contributions appear on these pages view family-equipping ministry as the ideal. At the same time, the principles that they present will be useful far beyond family-equipping churches, particularly in family-integrated and family-based contexts. Even segmented-programmatic and educational-programmatic ministries may find this text helpful as they seek to develop theological foundations for their ministries to families.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) For the model as practiced by these ministers, see Jay Strother, “Family-Equipping Ministry: Co-champions with a Single Goal,” in Perspectives on Family Ministry, ed. Timothy Paul Jones (Nashville: B&H, 2009); Brian Haynes, Shift: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, 2009); Steve Wright with Chris Graves, reThink: Is Student Ministry Working? (Raleigh: InQuest, 2007).

(2) Much that is found in Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide (Colorado Springs: Cook, 2009) fits in the overlap between the family-based and family-equipping paradigms, at least from an organizational and programmatic perspective; many of the associated publications may be helpful in resourcing the development of family-based and family-equipping ministries. The content and approach of materials from The reThink Group seem in many cases to be driven more by ecclesial pragmatism than by substantive theological or biblical considerations.

(3) For the “resource, train, involve” principle as well as the term “co-champion,” see Steve Wright with Chris Graves, reThink: Is Student Ministry Working? (Raleigh: InQuest, 2007).
[Editor's Note: This article was adapted from the book Trained in the Fear of God, edited by Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones. Used by permission.]

Tuning Out by Turning it On

Charles Colson shares a great commentary on our culture - the culture of sloth. Read it here.

Wisdom is Justified by Time

I have been enjoying slowly reading Dick Cheney’s autobiography In My Time. It fascinates me to review the lives of those who have shaped America the past several decades. Cheney rubbed shoulders with many of Washington’s elites in the Republican party.

One lesson was gleaned from observing the leadership of Gerald Ford: some actions are only justified by time.

Cheney shares the surprise he, and many Americans, experienced when President Ford announced on September 8, 1974, that he was issuing a full, free, and absolute pardon to Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal. Cheney writes, He described his actions as a way to ‘shut and seal’ the matter of Watergate and to mitigate the suffering of Richard Nixon and his family.

At the time, this action cost Ford – some speculate that it cost him the reelection. There was immediately a firestorm of controversy and criticism. Ford’s approval rating dropped from 71% to 49%. The press condemned Ford, and he endured much negative criticism as a result.

However, more than thirty years later, Cheney writes, the wisdom and generosity of Gerald Ford’s instincts have been recognized for their courage and honored for their rightness. But at the time the pardon was controversial and unpopular.

Wisdom beckons that at times the right choice is the unpopular choice. The right choice may be greatly misunderstood and even condemned. It takes courage to make the right choice. And in time, even those who criticize that person may see years later that it was the right choice.

More than a decade ago, my parents left a church situation that had become abusive. Before they left, she warned some persons of the unwise and ungodly path that the senior pastor was taking. Mom and Dad received an incredible amount of criticism and ostracism for their stance. The staff was even told to not have conversations with them. Several years later, however, (after several hundred people had left the church), a staff member commented in retrospect, Mrs. Wilson was right.

One of the traits of a godly man or woman is this: a godly person does not play to the crowd. A wise person does not make his judgments solely based on public opinion. King Saul in the Old Testament lived most of his reign working to make himself look good in front of others. The fruit of his character revealed a pitiful life, not so different than the lives of some Hollywood favorites or political figures who woo the crowds but lead miserable lives of shallow character.

Be willing to make the hard decisions when necessary. God will be pleased, and time will tell.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quotation of the Day

I have been enjoying reading a sermon by the great expositor Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his studies on John 4 called Living Water. He writes in his sermon, The Possibilities of the Christian Life . . .

Possibly one of the most devastating things that can happen to us as Christians is that we cease to expect anything to happen. This may be one of our greatest troubles today. We come to our services, and they are orderly, they are nice - we come, we go - and sometimes they are timed almost to the minute. But that is not Christianity, my friend. Where is the Lord of glory? Where is the one sitting by the well? Are we expecting him? Do we anticipate this? Are we open to it? Are we aware that we are even facing this glorious possibility?

Or let me put it like this: You may feel and say, as many do, "I was converted and became a Christian. I've grown - I've grown in knowledge, I've been reading some books, I've been listening to sermons - but I've arrived now at a sort of peak, and all I do is maintain that."

My friend, you muyst get rid of that attitude; you must get rid of it once and forever. That is religion - not Christianity. This is Christianity - the Lord appears! Suddenly, in the midst of the drudgery and the routine and the sameness and the dullness and the drabness, unexpectedly, surprisingly, he meets with you, and he says something to you that changes the whole of your life and your outlook and lifts you. Do not let the devil persuade you that you have all your are going to get. That has been a popular teaching among evanglicals. You get everything at your conversion. Oh, do not believe it; it is not true. It is not true to the teaching of the Scriptures, it is not true in the experience of the saints running down the centuries. There is always this glorious possibility of meeting with him in a new and dynamic way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quotation of the Day

The ultimate goal of spiritual leadership is not to achieve numerical results, to accomplish tasks with perfection, or to grow for growth's sake. It is to take people from where they are to where God wants them to be. God's primary concern for people is not results but relationship.

Leaders cannot take their people into a relationship with Christ that goes any deeper than where they have gone themselves. Thus, spiritual leaders must continually be growing themselves if they are to take the people into a more mature relationship with Christ.

- Henry and Richard Blackaby

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quotation of the Day

Waiting time is not wasted time for anyone in whose heart God has placed a vision. Difficult time. Painful time. Frustrating time. But not wasted time.

– Andy Stanley

Quotation of the Day

I have always found that the writing out of a pain makes it at least bearable.

- L.M. Montgomery

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Attacking Dissenters - How Outcasts are Treated

Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton share in their book Toxic Faith about the five roles that occur in a faith community that has turned unhealthy.

The fifth role is that of the outcast who refuses to play the dysfunctional games, becoming one of the lone voices crying out for change – change that “will not come as long as the co-conspirators manipulate the system, the enablers allow it to continue, and the victims fall in line with blind faith. When outcasts surface, they are identified as troublemakers and pushed out of the system as soon as possible.” The outcasts are unimpressed by position or title; they see through the delusion and are willing to suffer great personal loss in order to make a stand and leave the system. Unfortunately, these outcasts will be discredited by the leadership immediately through the process called labeling. Even if they are long-time supporters of the church, the leadership will be glad to see them leave.

One mark of an unhealthy faith community is that it attacks these "dissenters." Anyone who continues to disagree, particularly after initial pressure, becomes the enemy. The pastor and his key supporters will secretly but effectively spread the word that he or she is a trouble maker. Members who speak out with genuine concerns about the leadership are considered rebellious and will be scapegoated. References to the dissenter may be that she is sinful, selfish, and unstable and that she is going to hinder the work of God in that place. The opposite of Christian fellowship occurs; the leadership will consistently discredit and discount the persons they view as the enemy.

If necessary in an abusive system the leadership will destroy the reputation of the persons with whom they disagree. Arterburn and Felton call this process labeling: “Once the label is in place, it becomes more difficult to see that person as a human with real needs and the potential for good judgment. . . . Disqualification by labeling hurts the victims and allows persecutors to continue in their toxic faith. It is sheer poison.” Unhealthy systems will even aim their venom at their sub-leaders and get rid of them quickly if they pose a threat in his mind to their continued success. This divisive practice illustrates the destructive nature of an abusive system. Political processes replace biblical community, leaving excessive carnage.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Refirgerator Door Stuff for Leaders

1. Adopt para-church resourcefulness.

2. Move from scarcity to abundant thinking.

3. Be a pioneer, not just a problem-solver.

4. Don’t get work done through people; get people done through work.

5. Cultivate right-brain leadership.

6. Feed champions.

7. Model what you want/expect.

8. Listen more than tell.

9. Think hard.

10. Lead from strengths.

11. Quit doing something today.

12. Hunt down bureaucracy.

13. Ask, who will be my congregant in 2, 5, 10 years?

14. Create temporary, ad-hoc strategic alliances.

15. Get outside more.

16. Invest in people.

17. Remember, people belong to people, not organizations.


- Reggie McNeal

Camping Out in Unexpected Places

Camping Out in Unexpected Places
Exodus 19


Life Lesson: God invites us to prepare to experience Him in unexpected places.

I. The Encampment Before the Covenant (19:1-2)

1. God controls the times and the seasons (19:1).

2. The Israelites broke camp in one place to join God in another (19:1).

3. The Israelites planned to stay in a less-than desirable place (19:2).

This part of the journey would be the farthest point of their travel away from the Promised Land. In this place they most likely felt the most lost, the most desperate, the most frustrated, and the most disappointed since leaving Egypt. –Priscilla Shirer

Sinai – (Horeb – Ex. 3:1; Dt. 5:2; 7363 feet at highest point; plain at foot was 2.5 mi. x ½ mile wide. It would be the focal point for the next eleven months. It would witness the zenith of the entire book of Exodus. If Canaan represents a life of external blessings and abundance, Sinai represents a life of internal blessings and abundance.

So the timing of the Israelite’s arrival in Sinai was not accidental. Being in this place on this day was carefully calculated by God. This wasn’t their ultimate destination, and they knew it. This wasn’t what they had left Egypt to find, and yet under the covering of God’s guiding cloud, they chose to open the divine invitation. They decided to settle in, pitch their tent, camp out – questions and all – and turn their attention to God’s mountain. - Shirer

II. The Benefits of the Covenant (19:3-6)

1. God speaks to His people (19:3).
2. God teaches His people faith (19:4).
3. God expects his people to obey (19:5).
4. God values his people immensely (19:5-6).


III. The Preparations for the Covenant (19:7-25)


1. Observations about leaders who experience God.

a. The primary leader must involve others (19:7).
b. The secondary leaders must agree to follow God (19:8).
c. God confirms His shepherd to His people (19:9).
d. The leaders must carefully involve other people (19:24-25).


Three primary marks of a spiritual leader:

1) His life reflects a habit of prayer.
2) He regularly experiences God.
3) He speaks God’s Word to God’s people and others.



2. Observations about the congregation that experiences God.

a. The people must consecrate themselves in order to experience God (19:10-11).
b. The people must observe God’s boundaries in order to experience God (19:12-13 , 21-22).
c. The people must deny self in order to experience God (19:14-15).
d. The people must walk in holiness in order to experience God (19:23).


3. Observations about the God whom we experience (19:16-20).

a. God demands our attention (19:16,20).
b. God desires to meet and speak with us (19:17,19).
c. God deserves to be respected and feared (19:18).
d. God directs us from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion (He. 12:18-29).


Conclusion

Sinai teaches us about God’s immanence, His presence and sustaining involvement in our lives. And it teaches us about God’s transcendence, His otherness, being above and separate from us. In one chapter of the Bible, we see two very real, very important sides of the same God. He gives us close, intimate times to show us His immanence. Then, he takes us through the wilderness times to show us His transcendence. We learn there to trust Him in new ways. Keep these ongoing realities of God in a healthy balance.


Six observations from today’s text . . .

1.Get engaged in what God is doing right now – not just what you wish He were doing.

2.We should desire God more than his benefits.

3.Spiritual leaders must guide their people to hear from God, thus giving priority to the Word of God and prayer.

4Spiritual leadership is authenticated and validated by the Lord and His presence.

5.The fear of the Lord is essential to a congregation’s experiencing God.

6.Experiencing God requires careful preparation, holiness, and obedience.


Don’t waste what God is doing out here. Don’t leave your bags packed and keep working out of your travel kit. Don’t sleep with your clothes on. Nail your tent pegs deep. Press into Him. Engage fully in every season you spend at Sinai. And turn your eyes to the mountain.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Leaders Pray

Henry and Richard Blackaby share in their updated book Spiritual Leadership why spiritual leaders must pray:

1) Spiritual leaders place their faith in God. Little of eternal consequence occurs in a prayerless leader. Biblical praying can be the most challenging, exhausting, laborious, and yet rewarding thing leaders do.

2) Prayer is fundamental because to be a spiritual leader, one must be filled with the Holy Spirit. Without the Spirit's activity, people are not spiritual leaders.

3) God's wisdom is a third reward. God sees the future. He knows the needs. (Jer. 33:3)

4) God is all-powerful. He can do far more than the most resourceful leaders.

5) Prayer is the leader's foolproof remedy for stress. There is one who stands ready to carry their burden.

6) Finally, God reveals His agenda through prayer. (Mark 1:30-39) Jesus was in regular communion with his Father, so he was not sidetracked from his assignment.

More than any other single thing leaders do, their prayer life determines their effectiveness. If leaders spend enough time communing with God, the people they encounter will notice the difference. When pastors preach sermons, their people can soon tell whether or not they are speaking out of the overflow of their relationship with God. When leaders or organizations conduct planning meetings with their staff, their people will recognize if the opening prayer is perfunctory or if it is a genuine plea for God to guide the planning process. The holiness of leaders' lives is a direct reflection of the time they spend with God. When spiritual leaders take their task of leading people seriously, they will be driven to their knees in prayer.

Robert E. Lee

"However hot the blood in the chase and in the fight, Lee remained the Christian solider." - Robert E. Lee on Leadership, H. W. Crocker

What is Family Ministry?

The process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation's proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children.

- from Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views, ed. Timothy Jones

Quotation of the Day

We have a generation of parents who were not discipled by their parents, so they have had no model for that. Their parents took them to church. That was the goal of the parents. It was well-intentioned, but it was not grounded in the biblical truth that parents are called to be the disciple-makers of their own children.

- Timothy Jones

What's Wrong with Current Church Structures?

Insightful fourteen-minute video from leaders of the School of Church Ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. What's Wrong With Current Church Structures?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quotation of the Day

A bell’s not a bell till you ring it. A song’s not a song till you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.

- A note Oscar Hammerstein wrote on his deathbed to Mary Martin in 1960

Quotation of the Day

Every step of faith can be criticized as presumption by someone else. - Henry Blackaby

Quotation of the Day

Union has an application with others but no common bond that makes them one in heart. Uniformity has everyone looking and thinking alike. Unanimity is complete agreement across the board. Unity, however, refers to a oneness of heart, a similarity of purpose, and an agreement on major points of doctrine.
- Charles Swindoll, Hope Again

God's New Thing

Sermon preached on October 2, 2011, at The Spring

God’s New Thing
Isaiah 43:14-26

Life Lesson: God promises to do a new thing in our lives as we trust Him.


I. The Preparation of God’s New Thing (43:14-17)


1. God reminds them of who He is (43:14-15).

a. Redeemer (14)
b. Creator (15)
c. King (15)

2. God reminds them of what He did (43:16-17).


II. The Promise of God’s New Thing (43:18–19)

1. God promises to transcend the things that are past (43:18–19).

God is the Healer of broken dreams and the Restorer of stolen years. – Adrian Rogers

Trust God to work something good out of that abusive situation or experience you endured. Turn immediately to Him, and trust Him to be your defender, healer, and restorer. Trust Him to cause something good to happen in your life as a result – that you will grow and not wither, become stronger and not weaker. That you will grow in your faith.

God’s plan is to take ordinary people with ordinary talents, do extraordinary things through them, and give the glory to Himself. – A. Rogers

2. God promises to transform the things that are present (43:14–17).

Through God’s marvelous working there can be spontaneity (I will do a new thing . . . it shall spring forth); creativity (I will make a way in the wilderness); and productivity (I will give waters in the wilderness).

The suffering that you now have is just the black velvet upon which the diamond of God’s glory is going to be revealed. – Charles Spurgeon


III. The Purpose of God’s New Thing (43:19–21)

When God redeems us it is for a purpose, and that purpose is the goal of our lives.

1. God’s purpose is to satisfy His own people (43:20).

David’s life in Psalm 37:3-7,25,37; Matthew 5:6


2. God’s purpose is to magnify His own Person (43:21).

From Genesis to Revelation this truth shines forth with increasing brilliance. – Stephen Olford

Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. – Westminster Catechism


IV. The Prospect of God’s New Thing (43:22–26)

If we are going to enter into the promise and purpose of God’s new thing in our lives then we must recognize certain facts. There is no way to realize the Lord’s new thing without perceiving two things of importance:


1. The failure of man to cope (43:22,24)

Failures in intercession – they had not called upon God. Failures in dedications – they had mocked Him. Failures in ministrations – caring for and pleasing the Lord.

2. The nature of God to care (43:25–26)


Conclusion: With God, the best is yet to be.

Saturday, October 1, 2011