Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Joy of Preaching

Philippians 1:15-20

Paul discloses in this passage that not everyone who is preaching Christ is doing so from proper motives. However, the end result is the same...Christ is proclaimed! The passage reveals five improper motives that all who declare Christ must avoid and fifteen characteristics that should evident in preaching.

Improper Motives for Preaching Christ:
  1. Envy - desiring what belongs to another.
  2. Strife - creating division.
  3. Selfish Ambition - literally, one who works for money.
  4. Distress - applying pressure.
  5. Pretense - wearing a mask, not genuine.
Positive Characteristics of Preaching Christ:
  1. Good Will - positive motive expecting positive results.
  2. Love - God's sacrificial "agape" love.
  3. Appointed - destined.
  4. Defense - apologetic, argument.
  5. Pure Motives - unmixed, holy.
  6. Truth - honesty, integrity.
  7. Rejoicing - the outward display of joy.
  8. Deliverance - salvation, progression.
  9. Prayer - supplication, requests.
  10. Holy Spirit Provision - supply of the Spirit, annointing.
  11. Earnest Expectation - literally, "to turn your head and watch", looking for results.
  12. Hope - optimistic belief.
  13. No Shame - no embarassment.
  14. Boldness - confident declaration.
  15. Exaltation of Christ - only Christ is glorified--not the preacher.
Let me encourage you to examine your motives in preaching. May any hint of improper motive be removed and may we be counted among those who have taken on the image of Christ through time spent alone with our Savior.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eight Essentials...

I want to refer you over to Tom Ascol's Blog for a brief, yet well-articulated challenge by Dr. Danny Aiken, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Aiken's "Eight Theological Essentials for Southern Baptists in the 21st Century" are well worth your consideration. Read the essentials here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

My First Church...

During the Summer of 1984 I accepted my first church staff position. I was a young 20 year old who was one Summer away from beginning my Senior year at Union University. I held the descriptive title of "Summer Youth Worker". My primary role was to attend all of the activities that the Youth Committee had already planned and to be a positive role model. I talked the committee into letting me teach a Bible Study as well. It was a great Summer that ended up extending into the Fall. I will always remember and appreciate those wonderful folks at First Baptist Church in Camden, Tennessee who gave me my first church staff position. The church has a website here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I love my church...

I have no doubt that I pastor one of the greatest churches in the nation! Occasionally, when I have a rough week, or when I think that I have received more than my share of criticism--I may begin to doubt. However, give me a minute to recover my focus, and I am quickly reminded of the greatness of this church I get to serve. Just this past week, my wife received a basket of flowers and several cards (some with gifts) expressing appreciation for the work that she does as "pastor's wife". This past Sunday, someone placed a love-gift of $250 into the offering for my family which will allow us to take a little trip during Springbreak next week. Hardly a day goes by that I don't receive some type of affirmation from within the church. I've served in other churches that aren't quite as gracious and so I understand how special a blessing it is to be at Cornerstone. To illustrate, let me share an email that I received on Monday:

Hey Pastor Dave!

Just wanted to drop you a note to say "thanks" for an awesome morning yesterday! God truly answered your prayer at the beginning of the service to speak through you...I know so many people were touched by your message on JOY. I agree that God is really moving in this community, and from our "Experiencing God" study, it is really a privilege that he has asked us to be a part of his work!!

As for myself, I left church incredibly "PUMPED!" about asking lots of people to join us for church on Easter...just wanted you to know, I'll be praying with you about the 100 people coming to Christ that day...and our church being effective in reaching the lost of Windsor year round!

I would like to be added to the list to help put away or set up chairs...I can do it any time, just let me know when you need me.

You are doing a great job, Pastor Dave! Just wanted you to know you are a blessing to me and many others!! Have a great week.

Yes, indeed, I serve a great church! We are consololidating our three Sunday services into one big service on Easter Sunday. We will be holding our Easter service in the High School Auditiorium which is the largest space in town. We are asking God for 100 souls to be saved and we have set an attendance goal of 1000 which is about 700 more than we would normally have on a typical Sunday. I asked our people to write down the names of those that they were inviiting to join us on Easter and to bring the names forward and place them on the altar during the invitation. We had more than 700 names that were brought forward! Amazing!

I just wanted to brag on my church a little today...they deserve it!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Joy in the Journey

Philippians 1:12-14

Paul has focused on the relational aspect of the church in the first eleven verses of his letter to the believers in Philippi. He now turns his attention to the proclamation of the Gospel.

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear."

He begins with an amazing statment, "My circumstances (i.e. imprisonment) have actually advanced the Gospel". This should help us to find hope in the midst of our own difficult circumstances. It is the purpose of God to expose more people to the Gospel story and He will take us through difficult places to see it occur. Perhaps, more often than not, the purpose of our pain is to give us a platform for sharing Christ.

Paul says that the Gospel has progressed in three clear ways:
  1. Paul has become well-known throughout the Roman guard and everywhere else because of his imprisonment. His notoriety has become his vehicle for sharing Jesus. How can you use your own experiences of suffering to share Christ?
  2. Paul insists that some have trusted in the Lord because of his imprisonment. He has not only been sharing Jesus--but people are responding. He has found a field to harvest in the midst of his prison. What about you? Are people attracted to Jesus by the way that you respond to difficulties? I don't think that there could be any greater purpose in your pain than to see someone's life transformed because of it.
  3. Paul says that the other believers have become courageous and bold in sharing the gospel because of his example. What effect is your suffering having upon the church?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Polital Party Matching...

Which political party belongs to each of the four statements?

#1 The __________ Party is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding opportunity for every American. That commitment is reflected in an agenda that emphasizes the security of our nation, strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights.
Click here to see which party this statement belongs to.

#2 I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.
I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
Click here to see who this statement belongs to.

#3 As ___________, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
Click here to see which political party owns this statement.

#4 We seek a future without war, exploitation, inequality, and poverty. We strive to build a brighter future, one based on democracy, peace, justice, equality, cooperation, and meeting human needs.
Click here to find this political party.

How did you do?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

3000th Hit!

I hit a small blogging milestone today with hit number 3000. Someone from Dallas, Texas did a Google search as follows, "are there any awana programs in denver colorado". You can see the result of their search here. Hit number 3000 occurred at 8:34 pm and lasted less than a second. I obviously did not make much of an impression! Thanks to everyone who occassionally takes a look my way. It's amazing to see the locations from around the world that have stopped in--sometimes regularly.

By the way, my very first post was on June 13, 2006.

Monday, March 12, 2007

How to Have Joyful Relationships - Part II

Philippians 1:9-11

This passage builds on the first eight verses that provided an indication of what our relationships should be like in the church. You can read my notes from Philippians 1:1-8 here. I believe that verses 9-11 indicate a maturing progression that should be occurring within our "church" relationships.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God".

The Definitions:
  • "love" = agape, sacrificial love
  • "knowledge" = practical understanding of spiritual principles
  • "discernment" = ability to make correct decisions
  • "approve" = to affirm after having thoroughly tested
  • "excellent" = worthwhile, vital, different
  • "sincere" = pure, unmixed, genuine
  • "blameless" = not stumbling nor causing to stumble
  • "righteousness" = fairness, justice
  • "glory and praise of God" - the ultimate purpose of man

The Progression:
  1. We must be spending intimate time alone with God receiving His undeserved love and affection so that we will, "abound more and more" in sacrificial love. Only when we are saturated in the love of God can we progress in our relationships beyond selfish and superficial connections. If you doubt the importance of love--simply read the Gospels.
  2. We will understand how to apply spiritual principles into our lives and the lives of others only when we love sacrificially. Otherwise, we are working from our wounded and selfish inclinations and are prone to make great mistakes. Knowledge without love quickly becomes cold legalism.
  3. Notice that Paul doesn't say that when we lovingly speak knowledge into someone's life that we will be able to confront their failures. No, he says instead that we will be able to, "approve the things that are excellent". The result of Godly knowledge and discernment mixed with agape love is an incredibly positive approach to pointing out what is right in people's lives--not what is wrong!
  4. The process of speaking positively into someone's life progresses to our own sincerity (purity, perfection) and blamelessness (lack of stumbling). We become better people and look more like Christ when we lovingly encourage.
  5. The result of this sincere love is righteousness, justice, fairness. We seem to truly want the very best for those around us when we we're focusing on what they are doing right--and not so much on their faults.
  6. The final progression is the ultimate goal of man--to praise and glorify God. God is glorified when we are lifting each other up rather than dragging each other down.
It is from this platform of harmonious and loving relationships that the Gospel is most effectively proclaimed!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

My Favorite Blogs...

It's time for another installment of "My Favorite Blogs". I did a list quite some time ago and I thought it would be a good idea to once again list the blogs that I read. I will also go ahead and rank them in order of preference. I'll limit myself to ten, even though I peruse the contents of many more each day. In fact, I have about 30 blogs that I frequent with some regularity. I read several bloggers who are not SBC but my 10 favorites are all SBC. I think that it is awesome that through blogging we have the opportunity to read the thoughts and musings of the great diversity that exists within the Southern Baptist Convention. I found it extremely difficult to limit myself to a "top ten". Nevertheless, here it is...

#1 Wade Burleson - Grace and Truth to You - link
#2 Ben Cole - Baptist Blogger - link
#3 Marty Duren - SBC Outpost - link
#4 Art Rogers - 12 Witnesses - link
#5 Kevin Bussey - Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee - link
#6 Albert Mohler - Albert Mohler - link
#7 Taran - Coffeespoons - link
#8 Bart Barber - Praisegod Barebones - link
#9 Geoff Baggett - Along the Shore - link
#10 Bowden McElroy - Counseling Notes - link

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

From Pastor to President?

I have been watching the gathering of Republican and Democratic candidates for president with great interest. I have to be honest--I have not been impressed! That is until today, when I was reading Tim_Ellsworth's_blog and discovered that Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas, has thrown his hat into the ring. Huckabee is a former Southern Baptist pastor who seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Newsweek has an article and some video that you can see here. Governor Huckabee could be the light in the darkness for conservative Christians in the 2008 presidential election.

Monday, March 05, 2007

How to Have Joyful Relationships...

Philippians 1:1-9

Our churches should be filled with SLAVES, SAINTS, and SERVANTS (v1)
Paul and Timothy are bond-servants (slaves) who do not have any rights except those that are given to them by their master (Jesus). The letter is written to the saints (holy ones) at Philippi. Note that their "saintliness" is because of Christ and not because of their own self-righteousness. Included in their number are some overseers (bishops/pastors) and some deacons (servants). These officers are listed
after the saints because they are the servants of the saints. There is no room here for prestige or position--just humble service!

Our churches should be marked by GRACE and PEACE (v2).
Grace is simply "unmerited favor"--getting more than we deserve. Peace is "the absence of conflict". Those that God would bring into the church should be treated to grace and peace--not legalistic rules and conflict! The world will flock to our churches for grace and peace! They don't seem to be too interested in our fights!

Our relationships in the church should be marked by . . .
  • Pleasure with God (v3). Can you thank God for everyone in your church?
  • Prayer (v4). Do you pray joyfully for all of the members of your church?
  • Participation (koinonia) in the Gospel (v5). Are you "sharing in" the gospel as well as "sharing" the gospel?
  • Positive Affirmation (v6). Are you reminding the members of your church that God is still perfecting them?--He hasn't given up!
  • Partaking of Grace (v7). Are you filling your plate and the plates of others at God's buffet of grace?
  • Passion (v8). Are you passionate for the members of your church? The word for "affection" in verse 8 is the strongest possible Greek word to convey compassion!

Our relationships in the church should be abounding in LOVE! (v9).
Paul uses the word "agape" here and indicates that the seed of healthy, nurturing relationships in the church is agape (sacrificial God-like) love. One can only distribute agape love by receiving regular doses of the same from the giver of love--God Himself! We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:7-8). Are you spending intimate time with God each day?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Koran Affirms Jesus...

Lee Turner has written a brief article for Pulpit Helps that details how the Koran both affirms and denies the unique nature of Christ.

The Koran rejects the biblical Jesus in four ways:
  1. Jesus is not God (Surah 5:72-73).
  2. Jesus is not the Son of God (Surah 9:30).
  3. Jesus is not a member of the Trinity because there is no Trinity (Surah 5:76).
  4. Jesus did not die (Surah 4:157).

The Koran affirms the biblical Jesus in seven ways:
  1. Jesus performed miracles (Surah 2:87).
  2. Jesus was strengthened by God through the Holy Spirit (Surah 2:87, 2:253).
  3. Jesus is called a Spirit from God (Surah 4:171).
  4. Jesus is repeatedly called the Messiah (Surah 3:45).
  5. Jesus is declared to be righteous (Surah 3:46).
  6. Jesus is called the Word of God (Surah 4:171).
  7. Jesus is declared to be like Adam (Surah 3:59).

--Pulpit Helps, March 2007, volume 32, number 3

Friday, March 02, 2007

Global Warming on Mars...

Evidently for the past three Summers in a row, the carbon dioxide "ice caps" near Mar's South Pole have diminished in size. The obvious conclusion--any warming that has ocurred on Earth in recent years is more likely to have been caused by the Sun than human causes. From my observation--the ice cap in my front yard is still a good month away from completely melting...