Monday, August 30, 2010

The Q

This past Sunday I preached from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.  In this passage, Paul uses the body as an illustration for the church.  His point is that just as every member of the body is important for the body to be a body that functions as it is designed, in the same way every member of the church is important for the church to be the church that functions the way God designed it.

In other words, Paul is saying that every member is indispensable.

I started the sermon talking about how in the board game Scrabble, the "Q" can be difficult to use, especially if you get stuck with it towards the end of the game and all the "U's" are used.  Therefore, the casual scrabble player does not want the "Q."  The "Q" is undesired, unwanted and often un-usable.

At the end of the service, I said that some people may feel like the "Q" in the church.  Unwanted, undesired and un-usable.  However, there are two things about the "Q" that need to be mentioned.  First, the "Q" is worth more points than any other letter in scrabble, which means it actually carries the most value.  Second, there are words you can make in Scrabble with the "Q" that do not demand a "U."  One example is "QAT."  What both of these facts mean is that the "Q" actually has the most untapped potential of any letter in Scrabble.

In the same way, there are people in the church who have been told (either by the enemy, a person or by themselves) that they don't have a purpose or a calling or a mission.  They have been lied to.  And I believe that those people might have the most untapped potential of anyone in the church.  Because they will give God the credit for good things that happen in ministry instead of taking the credit for themselves.

If you've ever felt like the "Q," just know that it has the most untapped potential of any other letter in the church.  Put the "Q" in the hand of a professional Scrabble player and they will make the most of it.  In the same way, we are all in God's hand and He is a professional working through our weaknesses to fulfill his purpose and mission through us.

May you know and realize that you are indispensable to the church.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Failure is an option

This last Sunday I preached from Exodus 6.  The one point for the sermon was: We are to trust in God's promises not in our own inadequacies.  Exodus 6 follows the first time Moses went to Pharaoh.  It was a terrible failure.  Pharaoh made the work load of the Israelite slaves worse than it already was. 

God then gives Moses some amazing promises which Moses then shares with the Israelite people.  The Israelites do not believe Moses and get discouraged.

God then tells Moses to go to Pharaoh again.  But Moses says "If my own people will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh, besides, I speak with faltering lips."

Moses failed once even after God told him to go to Pharaoh, then Moses fails at least 10 more times before Pharaoh lets the people go.  Even when God calls us to a mission, failure is an option.  The key is not to focus on what we can't do, but what God can do.  We are to live in His promises, not in our in inadequacies.  

May you trust in God, even when your circumstances appear to be a failure. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's your agenda?

Christians who share the gospel often have an agenda to save people.  I understand the motive.  It's actually a good motive.  However, often those same Christians are perceived to be judgmental, uncaring and only concerned about getting someone saved.

What if, instead of having an agenda to save someone, our agenda was simply to bless people.  Afterall, if you think about it, we can't save anyone, only Jesus does that.

I think this come down to trust.  Do we trust God enough to free us up to simply strive to be a blessing to people so that the rest is up to him?  We often believe we have to do all the work.  When we think and act out of that, we're not trusting God's Spirit to do any of the work.  And I promise, He's better at saving people than we are.  

Instead of leaving a terrible tip when you get bad service at a restaurant, leave a note that says "It seems like you're having a rough day, I hope this extra tip blesses you" along with a generous tip.

Instead of paying for just your own food in the drive through, how about paying for the food of the people behind you without any strings attached - no note, no message, just the blessing.

Instead of assuming a homeless person who asks you for food is a bum who doesn't want to work, how about offering to take them to lunch to feed them and sitting down to listen to their story.

Instead of returning anger with a harsh word, what if you actually started talking softer and apologized and walked away if you needed to.

Being a blessing is about getting out of the "tit for tat" mindset.  Imagine if God acted out of "tit for tat;" we would all be in trouble.  But God is a God of blessing and he blesses us daily with His grace and love.  He loves us perfectly in spite of the fact that we can't return that love perfectly.  It's not a "tit for tat" relationship.

Our purpose is to share His love in tangible ways.  Our purpose is not to save people, our purpose is to bless people.

May you be a blessing!

Monday, August 16, 2010


The sermon this Sunday was from Genesis 12:1-5 (for listen or download, you can go here) and was the first message in a series we are doing called We are the Church.  It focuses on Abram's call and mission to leave everything and go to a place God will show him.  It's easy to casually read over Abram's willingness to follow God in this situation.  It would've taken Abram tremendous trust and faith to leave everything and do what God is calling him to do.

I believe the point of the text is the purpose of the church.  God establishes this mission for Abram, then in Exodus, God expands the mission to apply to an entire people group: the Jews.  Then in the New Testament letter to the Galatian church, Paul writes in 3:29 that "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs to the promise."

In other words, the promise God gave Abram is still active for those who belong to Christ.  What this means, is Abram's mission is the church's mission.  And that mission, if you read 2-3 carefully, is to be a blessing.  The main idea I shared on Sunday is that we are blessed to be a blessing.

And we are blessed with everything that we have in Christ.  Being blessed isn't only about being wealthy, or healthy or getting our way, the kind of blessing I'm talking about is spiritual.  God's love, grace, mercy, justice and forgiveness that's available to anyone who chooses to belong to Christ, that's the blessing.  We have the greatest blessing to share, we just have to share it without an agenda.

I'll talk more about that in the next blog.  For now, I pray that you might be a blessing to someone this week, because if you belong to Christ, then that's your mission, that's your purpose, that's your calling!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hammering Away

About a week ago I went by a Lutheran church to see their set up with flat screen TV's.  The church I serve is looking into either a projection system, or flat screen TV's.  So I wanted to check out a church that had the flat screens and just see how it looked and how it worked.

Anyway, while there, I met the pastor and we spoke briefly.  He was very nice and took the time without an appointment to show me the sanctuary and answer some questions.  One thing he said really struck me.  He said: "We just keep hammering away at sin." 

It wasn't until later that I thought, "didn't Jesus hammer sin away on the cross...literally."  Now that is not to disresepect that pastor or to say that his way is unbiblical or that he wasn't right, because the Bible does teach that sin is to be avoided.

However, it got me thinking about the content I focus on when I preach.  Now to be fair, I've only been preaching weekly for 6 weeks, however, while I do reference sin and some of the problems it creates, I probably focus more on God's love and goodness and mercy and faithfulness than on anything else.  I think that's the good news.  I think that's not only what people want to hear, but need to hear as well.  And I think its biblical.

Anyway, that pastor's comment really helped me take a closer look at the content of what I preach and I may just be a little more careful about how I handle sin in my preaching.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


The formula for the songs I like on the radio right now are a female chorus with rap lyrics.  The two songs are Airplanes (by B.O.B. featuring Hayley Williams) and I Love the Way you Lie (by Eminem featuring Rihanna).  I'm just waiting for a Christian female singer and Christian rapper to get together and use the formula for a Christian song.

The thing about formulas is that when they work they work, however, they only work for so long, because soon people get tired of the formula. 

I think about the formula I use for preaching, its basically:
1. Catchy Introduction (that connects with the text and point)
2. Something personal (If I've dealt with it, most likely, someone else in the audience has as well)
3. Scripture (Explanation of context and gist of the text)
4. Application
5. Conclusion (Ideally one that bookends something from the introduction)

Its working so far, but I do look forward to trying new things to keep it fresh.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pastor's Favorites

The sermon this last Sunday was the final message in a 5 week series called "Pastor's Favorites."  The text was from John 6:60-66 and while those verses are not necessarily my favorite, the point I shared from them is.  Its a mantra I try to live by.  The point was this: When the truth hurts, lean in.  (If you're interested, you can listen to it or download it here).

In the text, Jesus says some hard things for his disciples to accept.  The term "disciples" is used for a much broader audience than what we assume is the 12 disciples.  What he says is so hard, so offensive, so abhorrent, that some of these disciples turn away and no longer follow him.

They decide not to lean into the truth.  They decide to run from it.

We do the very same thing.  Maybe not literally or physically, but what about in our beliefs, thoughts, feelings and actions.  Often times when we are confronted with the truth, whether the Holy Spirit convicts us or a person challenges us, we often don't like it and our natural response is to run away from it, deny it or fight it.  All three responses take a lot of energy.

Leaning into the truth takes energy too, but its energy used for a much greater and bolder purpose.  

When we lean into painful truth, the pain passes so much quicker.  When we lean into the truth, we are in alignment with the Spirit's guidance in our lives.  When we choose to lean into the truth, we choose a life of freedom, because as Jesus said and still says: "The truth will set you free."

When you disagree with your spouse and you know you messed up, lean into the truth.
When God calls you to a risky endeavor, lean into the truth.
When you lose a loved one, remember them, feel the hurt, lean into the truth.
When you have an addiction, lean into the truth.
When you know your wrong but you want to be right, lean into the truth.
When you think you need something but you really just want it, lean into the truth.

What situations can you think of that we all could do a better job of leaning into the truth?

I would be interested to see them in the comments section.

May you lean into the truth, even when it hurts.