This past Sunday, in light of the CT tragedy, I preached from Matthew 2 and Revelation 12 on, "Christmas is War." I'm indebted to one of my favorite seminary professors, Dr. Russell Moore, for his influence on my life on the issue of Christ as conqueror over Satan. I was also greatly helped by D.A. Carson's insights on Revelation 12 from his book, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. I hope this message emboldens your faith in our victorious King who has come to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
This past Sunday I preached from Ephesians 2:1-10. I looked at our identity as God's workmanship and asked us to step into the story God has written for our lives. Even though we may feel like we've messed up the masterpiece and scribbled over the story, we don't have to feel stuck in our guilt and shame. God has made us new in Christ and has prepared good works for us to step into. You can listen to the message here.
This past Sunday I preached on our paradoxical life as Christians. Ours is a life of rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15). I used an acronym to remember how we give real help to those who are suffering. H – Hope not answers. When people are in the midst of suffering, they need hope more than answers. Hope is not found in solving the problem, but running to a person. Jesus. We may not know why everything happens, but we can hope in the person who understands suffering more than anyone and sympathizes with us in it.
E – Enter into their pain. Empathize with them. Did you know that grieving with someone can be the single most helpful expression of love and care? Weep with them. Just be there for them and be with them.
L – Listen to them & Love them in tangible ways. Seek to understand their situation. James 1:19 says, “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” If you must speak, tell them, “I am standing with you. I am grieving with you.” And love them in tangible ways. Make a meal. Offer a small gift. Spend time with them.
P – Pray for them and Patiently walk w/them through the long journey of suffering. In the deepest of suffering, some may find it hard to even pray. We can intercede for them and carry this burden. And oftentimes, after the initial help has arrived, we forget the one who is suffering over time. But this is when the church is even more needed. To patiently walk with them and be with them through the long road of suffering.
Anything you would add?
This past Sunday I preached from Colossians 4:2-6 and unpacked these two simple points: 1) Evangelism is for Everyone
2) Evangelism Happens Every Day
This Sunday, I invited my friend, Matt Perman, to speak to my church on how the gospel relates to the workplace from Colossians 3:22-25. You can listen to his message here. I'm excited about Matt's new book coming out in September called, What's Best Next: How the Gospel Changes the Way You Get Things Done. I encourage you to check out his blog as well.
This past Sunday I preached from Colossians 3:18-21. In this passage, Paul gives us 4 Family Rules, but behind each of these rules is the One who has fulfilled every one of them. Jesus Christ came to do what we could not do. He came to undo what Adam and Eve had done in the fall. The fall affected everything, not just us as individuals but it affected all our relationships including marriage and family life. Jesus came to restore these broken relationships through his death on the cross. He came to make us new. Our old self is dead and gone and our new self is alive. And we bring this new self into our relationships, into our home life. Listen here.
Yesterday I got to see Tullian Tchvidjian preach at Southern Seminary. I love his focus on the gospel of grace. Toward the end of his message he asked an interesting question: If Christ accepts me based on his righteousness and not mine, then what is my motivation to do good? In other words, if I have a great day, I'm accepted, if I have a bad day, I'm accepted. So why do good? He answered the question with a quote from Spurgeon:
When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.
In other words, the deeper I go into the gospel, the greater my motivation toward obedience. I encourage you to watch this message and be amazed again at God's grace for desperate sinners like you and me.
My friend, Chad Nuss, with a good reminder for preachers, teachers and hearers of God's Word:
In this classic scene, Buzz is convinced his role is to save the galaxy. However, Woody knows who Buzz really is and is trying his best to get through to him. This is what preaching is all about. Preaching is not primarily about what we are supposed to do or not do. Preaching is about reminding us of our identity. We are like Buzz, convinced we are good, spiritual people. The preacher comes to us like Woody, yelling at us to get us to see we are really sinners separated from God without Christ. But once we become followers of Christ, the preacher continues to come to us like Woody, yelling at us to remember who we are in Christ. Christianity is not about a list of do’s and don’ts. Christianity is about identity. We cannot change what we do until we change who we are. Preaching reminds us of who we were without Christ and who we are in Christ. Preaching reminds us that we can’t save the galaxy because we can’t even save ourselves. Only Christ can do that.
Recently I gave a message on the 5th Commandment - Honor your father and mother. Here's one segment where I adapted Tedd Tripp's concept of the Circle of Blessing (from Shepherding a Child's Heart) and brought out our need for the gospel. I also want to give a shout-out to Tony Kummer whose idea I borrowed from this bible lesson for kids.
If you're a member of LBC, I just found some links to a few sermons by our friend and former student pastor, Lisle Drury! Take a listen and send him a word of encouragement! He's doing a great job serving as Pastor of Sojourn's J-Town Campus. The Gospel of God's Cross
The best preachers and teachers take profound, meaty truths and break them up into little, understandable bites so their listeners can "get it" and do something with it. I love what John Stott says in his well-known book, Between Two Worlds: To preach instead over people's heads, is to forget who they are. As Spurgeon once commented, 'Christ said, "Feed my sheep ... Feed my lambs." Some preachers, however, put the food so high that neither lambs nor sheep can reach it. They seem to have read the text, "Feed my giraffes" ' (p. 147).
This past Sunday I preached from 1 Peter 4:12-19. My message was entitled, Through Fiery Trials, as I walked through these three questions: 1. What are fiery trials? 2. Why does God bring fiery trials? 3. How should we respond to fiery trials?
Watchman Nee first divided the book of Ephesians into 3 basic sections in his book, Sit, Walk, Stand. It's a simple and profound reminder that our entire life is meant to be lived out from the finished work of Christ on our behalf.
Sit - Our position in Christ (Eph. 1:20, 2:6)
Walk - Our life in this world (Eph. 4:1, 17, 5:2, 8b)
Stand - Our attitude toward Satan (Eph. 6:13-14)
Sometimes we separate preaching and counseling as two distinct parts of pastoral ministry. But good, gospel-centered preaching is a means of soul care to believers as Lloyd Jones makes clear in this quote below:
The preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit to individuals who are listening, has been the means of dealing with personal problems of which I as the preacher knew nothing... D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Daniel Montgomery, Pastor of Sojourn Church in Louisville, Kentucky, shares 5 different “images of a small god” that we create in our minds. Each one is a startling contrast to Jesus Christ, as described in Colossians 1:14-23. The Jesus we often settle for is not the Jesus of scripture. He’s a small Jesus, who acts like: (click on each one for more)
As we think about all the types of people we preach to on Sundays, don't forget the children. They may be the biggest group of unreached people in your church...and I guarantee when you get on their level, the adults will be tracking right there with you. Spurgeon once said:
...He is no preacher who does not care for the children. There should be at least a part of every sermon and service that will suit the little ones. It is an error which permits us to forget this.
~ Charles Spurgeon, Spiritual Parenting, 15.