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Message Monday: Finish Strong – Remember Who’s in Charge (Judges 14:1-9)

Intro:RightInOwnEyes

  • Last fall, many lauded individuals in the media culture of our country were ousted as a part of the #MeToo movement.
  • This movement encouraged women to speak up if they had been harassed by men or worse.
  • While many were accused and stepped away from their positions, the one that really caught my eye was the email apology of Food Network celebrity chef Mario Batali.
    • Like others Batali in a very veiled fashion confessed his wrongdoing and took responsibility.
    • He related the remorse he had over embarrassing and disappointing his family and fans.
    • He lamented losing the privilege of sharing Italian food with others, and included the almost obligatory line “I will work every day to regain your respect and trust.”
    • Then at the end of the email, above a picture of the same, he includes a p.s. ” in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these pizza dough cinnamon rolls are a fan favorite.”
  • Almost immediately everyone quickly recognized that the recipe at the end revealed the hollowness of this apology calling it tone-deaf. http://time.com/5067633/mario-batali-cinnamon-rolls-apology/

Hook:

  • No matter what you think about this movement, or this apology, it revealed to us several aspects of our modern culture.
    • Chaos ensues in a world where morality is driven by consent alone.
    • Apologies are hollow exercises when they are viewed as the means to return life to normal.
    • Unless we answer to a Higher Authority we will always do what is right in our own eyes, like adding a tone-deaf recipe to the end of a sexual harassment apology.
  • But friends, forgetting that God is in Charge is not merely an activity of our culture.
    • Our culture makes it clear that they do not believe in God, but in the church many act as if God is not in charge of life.
    • Many Christians assume they have such a close and special relationship with God that he does not care how they live.
    • Their relationship gives them the ability do what is right in their eyes, without ever discerning through prayer and Scripture God’s will, and they will receive his pardon without ever confessing sin.
    • Heaven forbid that this be the case with any of us!
  • Friends today, I want to remind you that God is in Charge and hopefully convince you of how a believer should live from Judges 14:1-9.

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Posted by on April 23, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Finish Strong – Follow a Godly Example (Judges 13:2-25)

Intro:

Everybody's distracted nowadays

If the people closest to you were to turn out just like you, what would they be like?

  • One of the most disturbing songs that I think I have ever heard tells the story of the example a father sets.
  • Beginning with the birth of a son the song takes us from scene to scene as a dad has too little time to play with his son or spend time with him.
    • In the first two scenes the song finishes with the words of the son who says “I’m gonna be like you day, you know I’m gonna be like you.”
    • In the third scene the father and son’s roles have been reversed. The father wants to spend time but it’s the son now who does not have time for him.
    • By the final scene the father calls the son and he does not have even the time to talk with his father on the phone, and the father says “He’d grown up just like me, My boy was just like me.”
  • From the very first time I heard The Cat’s in the Cradle the haunting lyrics of the chorus “When you coming home? I don’t know when, But we’ll get together then. You know we’ll have a good time them” evoked an emotional response in my soul.

Hook:

  • I think the reason I have always responded to that song has more to do with one of my greatest longings as a child, and fear now as a father.
    • As a child, because my father traveled every week, I longed for him to spend devoted time with me. It hurt for him not to be around, though I had no doubt that he loved me.
    • As a father, especially because of my role as a pastor, I fear that I am too often away from my children; and when I am with them, I fear that I do not give them the kind of devoted time they need.
  • Every one of us sets an example parent or not. The difference is whether or not it is godly.
    • Setting examples takes time, so whatever we devote the majority of our time towards accomplishing, that is what is communicated as important.
    • Whatever we cannot devote any time towards is communicated as unimportant.
  • Consider as a parent what we spend time doing. As a church member what do we spend time to accomplish each weeks. Pastors or deacons, what do we spend time on in our meetings?
    • Does the example we set match that of Christ?
    • Are we advocating with our time the need to love God and love others?
    • Are we devoting ourselves towards making disciples at home, every day, and especially as leaders?
  • What I hope to share with you today, through the story of Samson’s parents are the examples that a spiritual father and a spiritual mother will endeavor to set.

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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Finish Strong – Recognize Life’s Hurdles (Judges 13:1)

hurdlesIntro:

  • Finishing strong is a desire we all share.
  • No person starts a home improvement project, or knitting an afghan, or even supper for the family with the goal of stopping short of finishing the project.
  • No team begins a season looking for a last place finish or even a middle of the pack finish.
  • Even at an event as civilized as the Masters, in this morning’s Herald Journal there is a story about Rory McIlroy seeking to avoid the disaster of not finishing strong.
    • McIlroy in 2011 was leading on the back nine until he triple bogeyed the 10th hole and double bogeyed the 12th in what the paper described as an epic collapse.
    • This year, he had to rescue his ball from the azaleas on the 13th hole in order keep pace with Patrick Reed and make it into the final round.
    • He said of the strong finish today to avert disaster, “I’ve been waiting for this chance, to be honest.” Of the day in 2011, “I always have said that was a huge turning point in my career. It was the day I realized I wasn’t ready to win major championships and I needed to reflect on that and realize what I needed to do differently.”

Hook:

  • There is a great deal of wisdom in McIlroy’s comment about the day that he did not finish strong in 2011.
  • For him, it was a turning point. He had come to a hurtle in his life. He had to reflect, and realize what to do differently.
  • No one would say that he was not a good golfer, but if he continued as he was, no one would ever say he is a great golfer.
  • Let’s turn from golf to you. Do you recognize a hurtle in your life?
  • A hurtle is some sort of barrier that is holding you back from the great things you desire to accomplish?
  • But most importantly are you ready to change, for this realization to become a turning point?
  • Today, my prayer is that you will see in the answers to the three major questions of this message how to begin living differently.

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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Training of the Twelve – Jesus’ Teaching (John 21:1-14)

Intro:John21

  • I was reading through the headlines in my news app this week, and this one caught my eye: “The Friends cast ate the same lunch every… single… day.”
  • The show Friends was a phenomenon when I was a teenager, and I found it strange for it to be a news item fourteen years after its final show, so I tapped on the story to read more.
  • The article was from the food network and related that the three women on the cast ate lunch together every day, and every day ate a Cobb salad.
  • At least that is what the salad began as. One of the cast members “doctored up” the salad with turkey bacon and garbanzo beans and other items.
  • Why was this news? According to the last line, spoken by one of the friends cast, “if you’re going to eat the same salad for 10 years it better be a good salad right?” (See Food Network By Amy Reiter)

Hook:

  • Friends, do you approach Christ with that kind of attitude?
    • I have no trouble wanting to worship Christ on Christmas and Easter, but if I’m going to worship him every day my life better be a good life, right?
    • That attitude is understandable, after all Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
  • But who defines what a good life is, after all? For Jesus, who lived a perfect life, going to a cruel cross and dying on our behalf was worth it, “for the joy that was set before him”
  • Today, I hope to share with you three ways that Jesus makes a routine difference in our lives by talking about one of Jesus’ last moments with all his disciples.

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Posted by on April 3, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Training of the Twelve – Judas Iscariot: The Failed Disciple (Matthew 26:20-25)

Intro:

  • For any child who grew up in the 1980s an announcement came this week that was stunning. Toys R Us was to close its remaining stores and liquidate their assets.
  • As if on cue Toys R Us founder Charles Lazarus died within days of the announcement.
  • Lazarus had founded the stores so that when a child or parent walked in, it would be an unforgettable experience.
    • There was a long hallway filled with shopping carts leading into the store to make it seem that an endless number of shoppers and toys were inside.
    • The long entrance hallway allowed anticipation to build, but the hallway out of the store was always shorter so that you could get home to play with the toys faster (or so we thought).
    • The shelves were stocked from floor to ceiling with every imaginable toy and as the jingle said, from bikes to trains to video games. It was uncanny how the stores seemed to not only have what a child was looking for, but also had so much more.
    • Even for parents they sold diapers and other items related to children at a great discount.
    • In order to make money they had to understand the toy trends, so they were one of the first stores to have a computer system that tracked how great the demand was for each toy item.
  • As a child that grew up during that time, I can attest to the extreme treat it was for my parents to tell us that we would be going to Toys R Us.

Hook:JudasIscariot

  • So what made Toys R Us come to the point of bankruptcy and closure of all its stores?
    • Toys R Us failed because it relied upon the concept that it was the only place in town that had toys. Walmart, Target and Amazon all became large competitors.
    • Toys R Us failed because its prices were no longer as competitive.
    • But most important Toy R Us failed because it betrayed its mission of being a destination and experience that children and parents saw as unique.
  • Can the same be true of us as believers?
    • Can we fail because we rely upon false beliefs?
    • Can we fail because we cannot compete?
    • Can we fail because we betray our purpose and mission?
  • Today, I want to share with you the tragic lessons that we can learn from Jesus’ failed disciple, Judas Iscariot.

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Posted by on March 26, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Training of the Twelve – Thomas and Thaddaeus: Skeptical Disciples (John 14:21-24; John 20:24-29)

Intro:See the source image

  • In 1972 a little boy named Alexander gave voice to a number of pessimists and skeptics around the world when he proclaimed that he was having a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”
  • Alexander’s day goes bad when…
    • His chewing gum from last night ends up in his hair in the morning, he drops his sink in the sweater, and his brothers find the prizes in the breakfast cereal.
    • On the way to school, he does not get to ride next to the window, his invisible castle picture was not acceptable for art, his singing is too loud, and when counting he leaves out the number sixteen. His best friend is no longer his best friend, and his lunch has no dessert.
    • Afterschool, his dentist finds a cavity, one brother pushes him into the mud, and the other taunts him about crying over the mud. When he fights back his mother scold him for getting muddy and fighting with his brothers. He does not get the shoes that he wants, and his disrupts his father’s office as they pick him up.
    • For supper the family has lima beans which he hates, there is kissing on tv which he hates, the bathwater is too hot, his marble goes down the drain and he wears pajamas he hates, and even the cat will have nothing to do with him.
  • Many, like me, who have read Judith Viorst’s little book, or watched the 2014 movie adaptation, agree with Alexander that some days just are “terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.”
  • But in the book Alexander poses a question as well. He is skeptical about whether things in America will ever be better, but maybe if he were to move to Australia everything would be better there. His mother tells him that there are “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” days even in Australia.

Hook:

  • While Alexander is certainly a pessimist, he is also a skeptic.
  • Every skeptic notices a situation that does not seem quite right and has doubts about whether or not it is true. Pessimist then also asses that situations will inevitably get worse.
  • Skepticism in its most pure form, as stated by one of its most ardent supporters, like David Hume, may be self-refuting. He said that someone who doubted everything, or “the complete skeptic would win up starving to death or walking into walls or out of windows”. https://www.britannica.com/topic/skepticism/Criticism-and-evaluation
  • Nevertheless, the world is full of skeptics, whose doubt is not total or all consuming, but enough to keep them from following       Jesus Christ.
  • Today, I hope to share with you through the lives of two disciples how Jesus answers the doubts of the skeptics.

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Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Ministry of the Word

 

Message Monday: Training the Twelve – Matthew & James the Lesser: Pragmatic Disciples (Mark 2:13-17)

Intro:matthew

  • As a little boy, before school started we would come to the blue jean outlet in Pacolet.
    • We had to perform an important test with every pair of pants that we tried on.
    • We had to perform the squat test.
    • With the new jeans on, my mom would ask me to squat and see if they were too tight or if they worked.
    • Little did I know it but by performing that test, I was being a pragmatist.
    • I was basing my decisions on whether the jeans worked.
  • If you listen to most of the experts in church growth and revitalization they will say something like this.
    • Reaching people today is not the same as what worked in the 1950s.
    • The 50s methods will not work today. We have to change if we are going to reach people today. We have to utilize methods that work.
    • So, most of these experts in a consultation will advise putting up screens, taking away hymns in favor of praise songs, and veil the message amid cool graphics or the pastor and worship teams’ modern attire and cool glasses.
    • If we will just do what works, they promise our success.
  • Friends, such counsel is better known as pragmatism.
    • Pragmatism is “an approach that assess the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application.”
    • In other words our beliefs are only true if they work.
    • For Christians and Baptists practicing pragmatism, they might say that our beliefs and methods are true and right so long as an increasing number of people are baptized or become members of the church.
    • The greatest danger of pragmatism is that it teaches that what is true and right today may not be true and right tomorrow if the methods and beliefs no longer work.

Hook:

  • Consider if the Reformers had been pragmatists. The early ones like John Wycliffe and John Hus tried to change the Catholic church’s view of salvation a hundred years before Martin Luther. They both faced gruesome trials. Wycliffe died before the trial was over but they dug up his bones burned them and cast them into the river. Hus was burned alive at the stake. Pragmatists would have given up when they saw these horrors.
  • Consider friends if the first Baptist missionaries had been pragmatists. William Carey and Adoniram Judson both had to labor and work in their countries for seven years before seeing their first converts. If they had been pragmatists they would surely have given up after year one or two.
  • Consider if that person who shared their faith for you had been a pragmatist. The first time they prayed and then shared the gospel with you, and you did not respond to it, if they had been a pragmatist they would have ceased their efforts with you.
  • Surely there is something better for us as Christians than pragmatism. Today, I hope to share with you through Christ’s call of two pragmatic disciples how he can give us something better than pragmatism today.

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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Ministry of the Word