The Gift of Love

Love is a GiftOne of my greatest joys each year comes on Christmas day. My son runs into my room, jumps on top of me, and says, “Dad! Get up! It’s Christmas morning! Let’s open the presents!” He is so excited to play with his new toys without even knowing what they are.

After opening every present, he systematically begins to spend time experiencing the joys each gift provides. By the end of the day he has played with every toy and has begun to go back for a second round of fun. Would you believe that in ten years he has never left a present unwrapped under the tree? He opens every gift with great anticipation of all the enjoyment he will have for days, weeks, and months to come.

God’s love is a gift He offers each of us. When we receive His gift of love and begin to unwrap it, we will find within many other gifts which reveal something special about His great love for us.

In this week’s sermon, “Love is a Gift,” we will unwrap a few of the various gifts found within the love of God.

To listen to “Love is a Gift” follow this link: Listen online

Love is the Solution

Love is the Solution

Have you ever wondered if you will ever find something in life that makes you happy? What is it that will fill the void in your life? Is there anything that can bring lasting joy, fulfillment, or contentment?

To find what your heart is searching for, listen to this week’s message, “Love is the Solution.”

 

Purity Required

Dwelling In God's PresenceAs a Christian, I have very strong beliefs about God’s definition of what is righteous or unrighteous, right or wrong, pure or impure. God has made it clear that those who love sin, unrighteousness, or impurity will have no part in the kingdom of heaven. He has even specifically spelled out the practices that will prohibit you from getting to heaven.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, His presence in your life will compel you to live according to His way. As Christians we live our lives daily within the presence of God; therefore, He has certain requirements that will be seen in our lives if we have moved from worldly living to Christ-centered living.

This past Sunday as we looked at the Tabernacle we examined a few of these requirements for dwelling within the presence of God. We do not try to live according to these requirements so that we will be acceptable to God, but because we have been declared acceptable by Him. His Spirit dwelling within changes us. We no longer are shackled to our fleshly desires. We have been set free, we are a new creation, and we cannot find satisfaction in anything except God.

To hear more about living a pure life, pure worship, and a pure walk I would encourage you to follow this link and listen to the message: “Dwelling in God’s Presence.”

If we have truly become followers of Jesus then we will look different from the world. We won’t ask the question, “How far can I go before it is sin.” Because of the Spirit living within we will know God and His holiness, and therefore flee from that which is sinful.

I hope the message “Dwelling in The Presence of God” leads you into a closer relationship with Christ.

Insecurity–The Church Killer

challenged church, the_t_nvJesus said, “…everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12.48b). Those who find themselves in a position of leadership have been given a great responsibility. We are to lead those entrusted to us toward attaining “the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4.13).

Our calling requires us to keep our heart and mind focused on Christ’s leadership. Being a leader is never easy; however, when we are rightly focused the burden of leadership seems light. Dealing with those who are argumentative, stubborn, or people who just don’t like us can be difficult. Yet, they are not the greatest hinderance to leadership success. When we allow our insecurities to start controlling us we put ourselves and the church we lead in dire circumstances.

In Ronnie Floyd’s post “Pastors and Church Leaders: Will Your Insecurity Problem Hurt Your Church” we are given a few signs of insecurity, the solution for each, as well as the ultimate reason for not being insecure.

Floyd writes:

One of the major challenges that prevent many churches from being focused on their mission can be summarized in one word: insecurity. It eliminates opportunities for evangelism, planting churches, ministry expansion, and making disciples because it creates conflict in the church. I have even seen insecurity ruin ministries.

A Testimony: I will never forget talking with a leader who served with his Pastor for decades in one of the strongest ministries in America. I asked him about the challenges of adjusting from leading church staff leaders from people in the world. He remarked, “I have found that ministers are the most insecure people I have ever met in my life.”

Since insecurity can hurt ministers, churches, and ministries, we need to consider ways to overcome this problem. Here are some helpful tips for identifying the signs of and solutions to insecurity.

Signs of Insecurity

  • Competitiveness – One of the biggest problems insecurity carries with it is overt competition. Churches try to “out-do” one another. Pastors find themselves competing with other pastors. This competitiveness results occurs because of insecurity and further results in jealousy and a critical spirit.
    • Solution: Remember that as a Christ-follower your only competition is the world, the flesh, and the devil; not other pastors or churches. Remember who you are in Christ and abide in this spiritual reality.
  • Combativeness – I have seen many pastors or other church leaders ruin their ministry by the incessant need to have their way all the time. God has not called ministers to always “be right”, but to “be godly.” In my book, “Ten Things Every Minister Needs to Know” I talk about this issue in detail. I am convinced we can do the right thing in the wrong way. We need to operate with the Spirit of Christ at all times.
    • Solution: Recognize that not every hill is worth dying on. Sometimes the best, most Christ-like way is to humble yourself and see that the best idea is not always your own. Listen to others. Learn from others. Learn from your own mistakes. Do not let a word, a sentence, or a spirit take away from your main message. Your goal is always be like Christ, not to always be right in the eyes of others or even in your own eyes. 
  • Complaining – Some of the whiniest people I know are ministers. It also happens that pastors are some of the most insecure people I know. The two often go together. Complaining is a serious obstacle for many ministers of the Gospel. How can we expect others to be attracted to our message and our leadership if we are complainers? This does not magnetize people to the message but it distracts them from the message.
    • Solution: Return to the reason you are in ministry. Church leadership roles are often very hard. When all the bad stuff starts coming your way instead of complaining about it keep your heart in the Word of God and keep your eyes on Jesus and the lost-ness of the world. Most of all, return to your call from God to go into the ministry . . . this is why you are doing what you are doing.

What We Do Not Have Time For

We don’t have time to play games and be insecure. We are not competing against the pastor across town. We are not competing against a church across America. While every church is called to make disciples of all the nations, we have to carry out this commission in the different contexts God has called us to serve. We are not entitled to getting everything our way because we’re in a church leadership role.

Insecure Pastors and Churches

Insecure pastors create insecure churches. Insecure churches are ineffective churches. Competitiveness, combativeness, and complaining do not have a place in the church of Jesus Christ, especially in the life of a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So let’s set aside the competitiveness, combativeness, and complaining and focus on taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and making disciples of all nations.

Why There Is No Need To Be Insecure

Our Lord’s command to go and make disciples is prefaced by the statement, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” and is followed by “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mt 28:18, 20). Because we live in and with the authority of the Great Commission there is no need for insecurity. This is why there is no need to be insecure . . . The Lord is with you always!

Daily, I pray for the authority of the Great Commission to operate within and through my life as a leader. Knowing that the One who has all authority is with us, we can face anything in life and ministry.

If you suffer from various forms of insecurity, I would encourage you to pick up Timothy Keller’s book “The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy.”

Kingdom Character

Kingdom CharacterI have always enjoyed studying the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob. He is one of the heroes of faith that we would all do well to emulate. This past Sunday we looked at some of the lessons we could learn from a man who was faithful to demonstrate Kingdom Character.

The kingdom of God is filled with people who seek to live out their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. Their Kingdom Character is a direct result of continual fellowship with Almighty God.

Click on the following link to listen to or download the message, “Kingdom Character.”

“In My Seat” — A 9/11 Story

Most of us can remember where we were on September 11, 2001. In my mind, I can still see the images of buildings burning and eventually collapsing. I can also remember vividly the video images filmed from a helicopter hovering over the crash site in Pennsylvania as well as the Pentagon.  I remember gathering at our church that evening to pray for survivors and the search and rescue teams.  I remember the pain in my own heart as I thought about the anguish so many families were feeling at losing a loved one in such horrible fashion.  Without a doubt, it is a day that I will certainly remember for the rest of my life.

This week I received an email from a dear friend entitled “In My Seat.”  He told me that it wasn’t your normal 9/11 heart tugging story, but it was a wonderful testimony of a man who was scheduled to fly American Airlines flight 11.  The video is just over 15 minutes long, but it is well worth your time to listen to the 9/11 story of Steve Scheibner.