“And You Call Yourself A Church”

Today we had a man stop by the church and demand we take care of him.  His demeanor was intimidating and somewhat frightening.  We tried to be gracious and tried to help him, but nothing we did seemed to be enough.  He kept saying things like “you mean you call yourself a church and you’re not going to do this for me?”

Eventually we offered to provide him a hotel room for the night and a meal or two for the evening.  Understandably, the hotel would not assign him a room because he had no personal identification at all.  He called me from the hotel lobby to express more anger towards me because the hotel would not rent a room to him without identification.  He refused my offer to take him to the men’s shelter.  After trying to explain the circumstances to him again on the telephone, he spewed out another “you call yourself a church” and hung up the phone!  Somehow he failed to thank me for the financial  help I had already given him.

I wanted to be angry at him, but I felt sympathy for him.  If it were not for God’s rich grace toward me, I could be in that same position.  When you read this, say a little prayer for God’s blessings toward this man.

The “3-Minute Rule”

Have you ever heard of the 3-Minute Rule?  I believe every church could benefit greatly from practicing the rule after each worship service.  Here’s how the 3-Minute Rule works.  After the morning worship service ends, all the regular attenders spend the first 3 minutes talking with guests, newcomers, or simply people they do not know, before they begin talking with their friends.  If possible, they introduce those they meet during the 3-Minute time to their friends with the hope of including them in the group.  We should always keep in mind that . . . .

We are a culture craving relationship. In the midst of our crowded existence, many of us are living lonely lives. We live and work in a sea of humanity, but we end up missing out on the benefits of regular, meaningful relationships.  (Andy Stanley)

I think we should practice a similar rule before the service as well. We could call it the 2-Person Rule. Strive to meet at least two new people before the service begins. Imagine how many people you would meet after a few weeks. Remember . . . .

People are not merely looking for a friendly church; they are looking to make friends at church.

What do you think?  When’s the last time you met someone new at church and were genuinely interested in getting to know them?  Make a genuine effort this Sunday to connect with others–it will be a blessing to them as well as to you.

Sermon Series on Heaven

I’m thinking and praying about preaching a sermon series on Heaven.  If I do, I’ll probably kick it off on Easter Sunday.  In all of my years as a pastor, I have never preached an entire series on the eternal home of the believer. 

Does the topic of Heaven interest you?  Do you think others will be interested in the topic?  Do you personally have questions about Heaven?

I need your help with the series.  What are some questions you think I should address?  Thank you in advance for your help.

Jesus = Happiness!

This Sunday at Shelbyville First Baptist Church I am preaching from Matthew 19:16-30 (see below).  The first portion of this passage (vv. 16-22) relays the story about the young wealthy ruler who asked Jesus, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life”  (v. 16).  Although He had everything his world said that a person needed to be happy, he still sensed that something was missing.  His instincts and the Holy Spirit correctly led him to Jesus, but ultimately, he was unwilling to place God’s will above his own. Tragically, the Bible says that “he went away sorrowful” (v. 22).

I have never been rich; I have never been a ruler; I have seen younger days, but I am happy; I am peaceful; and I am full of joy!  Everything is not “perfect” in my life, but “He” (Jesus) is perfect in my life.  I realize that this all sounds unusual if you are not a Christian.  Although I’m a preacher, I’m not preaching here.  I’m simply saying that my life changed when I met Jesus!  He is my intimate friend and constant companion.  He gave His life for me and I am striving to “give” my life for Him.

If you are a Christian.  Give a shoutout for Jesus and a brief testimony about your relationship with Him.  If you are not a Christian, please consider trusting Him as your personal Savior and following Him as the Lord of your life. 

      16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  Matthew 19:16-22 (English Standard Version)

Book Review: “30 Minutes to Raise the Dead”

I just reread Bill Bennett’s excellent book called Thirty Minutes to Raise the Dead:  How You Can Preach Your Best Sermon Yet — This SundayIt reminds me of the two preaching books written by Jerry Vines because, like his books, it was well written and practical.  It is a very easy read if you are a pastor, but extremely helpful.

In the book, Bennett discusses Faris Whitesell’s 7-part definition of expository preaching.  Here are the seven parts:

Expository preaching must….

  1. Be based on a passage in the Bible, either short or long.
  2. Focus on the primary meaning of the passage.
  3. Relate the passage’s meaning to its context.
  4. Search for the timeless truths in the text.
  5. Organize these truths around one central theme.
  6. Employ the rhetorical devices of explanation, argumentation, illustration, and application to apply the truth of the passage to the hearer.
  7. See to persuade the hearers to obey the truth presented.

If you are a pastor and have not read Bennett’s book, find one and read it.  It is a little difficult to find, but you can click on the title above and find one at Amazon.  The book will be a blessing to you.