Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Now to the point I want to make: I have been preaching for almost 15 years. Through all of the messages, sermons, teaching, etc., one thing I have learned--and finally accepted: for the most part, I am not an alliterated preacher! This is something I've struggled with, off and on, for years. Alliteration (doing the 5 a's one week, the 4 r's the next week, etc.) is something I have always admired. The minds of some of these expositors just boggles me how they are able to flow with this great and unique gift-to put these words together--almost without ease. Usually, when I have done alliteration, it has been from some preaching book, outline material, etc. I've noticed that alliteration works very well for me in my sentences, in giving the background, and context, and even when giving word definitions. But when I have used the alliteration style/format in my messages--I've learned how to survive a message; but I KNEW, if no one else knew, that the alliteration just wasn't working for me. I do remember reading 7 or 8 years ago that Spurgeon wasn't big on alliteration--though he did use this style earlier in his ministry quite frequently. Even back then, this didn't steer me one way or the other--though I have ALWAYS admired the 'Golden-throated' preacher.
When I first began preaching, I immediately began implementing what worked for me. For instance, my first message. I shared from Philippians 2:12 -17. My points were 1. Walk cautiously and carefully 2. God works in, man works out 3. God's Word is to be obeyed and not discussed 4. God wants you to be blameless and harmless.
Over the years, I used this format quite often...then I would often get caught up in trying to do alliteration (with my points).
Several years ago, I was taking a preaching class with a professor Dr. Denny Autry. He could not attend one class session, and so he invited his friend and preaching colleague, Dr. John R. Bisagno. I was just amazed. John Bisagno? This guy is one of God's best preachers. He is the pastor emeritus of First Baptist Houston. He was along the line of W.A. Criswell--a little younger, but surely considered a sage of a preacher. He introduced us to something that really 'clicked' for me. He showed us what he has popularly termed as PRINCIPLE PREACHING. He explained this idea as creating and delivering sermons for life applications. To really assess and address what the text really says at its core. It has only been now that I fully realize and accept what God has used and shown to work of me (can't speak for anyone else)--and that is principle preaching!!! Just taking the scripture, looking at that scripture and expressing what the writer intended to say and how that truth is integrated (and should be implemented) into the life of the hearer.
I would recommend Bisagno's book, it has been a great help to me. It is 'Principle Preaching' by John R. Bisagno published by Broadman and Holman. I will have to get a copy for all of my preachers--it is a good book with quite a few examples of how it is done!
Monday, October 29, 2007
We've started a new Sunday school curriculum entitled 'When God Builds a Church', being led by Bob Russell's book by the same title. Yesterday, one of our new attendars, Earlonzo Hare (who has been such an encouragement to me personally and spiritually), taught the Sunday School lesson dealing with 'Truth'. His daughter, who also attends Cornerstone, tipped me off to he and his wife's teaching background. When I tell you that this man really did his homework and blessed our entire church--he did! So transparent; so timely; so....inspiring. It is the Lord's continual use of people like this--those persons who will make themselves available--that will have a rippling effect throughout our church. We will see more and more people like this frequenting our church!!! I'll document our progress along the way. I remain prayerful and faithful in this regard... God is up to something great!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
1. Remembering your history, heritage, and your hope - they are all connected.
2. Resisting the futility of worshipping and reverencing that which is carnal and corrupt.
3. Remembering the three c's:
Remember your connection '...the God WE serve...'
Remember Who's in control '...is able...'
Remember your commitment (Daniel chapter 1)
4. Reward - You are an overcomer
- Overcome by the Presence of God vs. 24
- Overcome by the Preservation of God vs. 26
- Overcome by the Power of God vs. 27
- Overcome by the Program of God vs. 29
- Overcome by the Promotion of God vs. 30
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
- I came across a book in my library that I purchased several years ago. The title of the book, Reclaiming God's Original Intent for the Church, caught my attention. More than this, I was arrested and intrigued by the title(s) of each chapter. The chapter, in and of themselves, preach and proclaim some powerful truths and steadfast convictions. I have not finished this book-though I plan to teach or preach or a series on this at some point. I would like to share just a few of the titles of each chapter...
-It's about AUTHENTICITY...not SIZE
-It's about making DISCIPLES...not simply recruiting VOLUNTEERS
-It's about a CALLING...not a CAREER
-It's about CHARACTER...not CREDENTIALS
-It's about COMMUNITY...not just MANAGEMENT
-It's about TRUSTING GOD...not TECHNIQUE
-It's about FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT...not mere STRATEGIZING
-It's about SERVANTHOOD...not POWER
-It's about FRUIT...not ACHIEVEMENT
-It's about LISTENING...not just PREACHING
-It's about LOVE...not BEING RIGHT
-It's about our TRIUNE GOD...NOT US
Monday, October 22, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I think that is my issue with pastoring. Pastoring is so different for me--because you have to rely upon more than just yourself. Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for Pastoral Ministry. Then again-I KNOW that I am because I KNOW that God called me to do this. It can be a little overwhelming at times. I just don't understand what God is doing and why He allows so many difficulties, obstacles, dissapointments, and frustrations in my pastoral experience. My situation is so unique because I am the Founding Pastor of a fledgling church who has yet to gain her momentum, capture it's identity, and most do not see what I see. I was watching BET's EXALTED:Kenneth C. Ulmer. He said something that struck me: you are telling people about a vision that God has given you; but they haven't seen it yet. This becomes the great frustration. NOW-that being said-some do realistically understand the vision and it makes sense, they just don't want to do what needs to be done to accomplish the goal. I would hate to say where I wish I was--but I will just say that it is difficult pastoring in the Houston context. Everybody is just so busy, always running, the church really doesn't get much of their time. This is not the culture I grew up in--people didn't frequent the church or treat it in a cavalier manner; they were committed to the church. Don't get me wrong, large churches here (like other cities) thrive and do well here!!! From my observation, small church do not. There is work to be involved in small churches. EVERYBODY is needed! If someone isn't involved, the person involved begins to either feel guilty or pressured. The larger churches stay large or get larger while the smaller ones get smaller. The greatest thing that the small church can do, I believe, is continue to preach and teach the word, worship in spirit and in trust, be unapologetic about our commitment to COMMITMENT, and THEN...and this is what I think is the greatest challenge for us--GET NEW PEOPLE IN THE BUILDING, KEEP THEM THERE, GET TO JOIN, GET INVOLVED & REPRODUCING OTHER NEW PEOPLE. We'll get it together--it is GOING to work. It's just going to take a lot of prayer, patience, and people who are WILLING to hang in there, run with the vision, come to church, get involved, stop gossiping, SERVE, get others to get involved, bring their families--there is no telling what we could accomplish. I'm praying for more churches like this. I am dedicated to encouraging pastors everywhere who have this mysterious call in the pastorate that keeps telling them 'God wants more'. Let me say this--many pastors sense that God wants more--and think they need to find another church in order for God to do that. Sometimes that is so and may be necessary. I am afraid that, often, God desires to grow US, grow our churches in the place where He has planted us. We just haven't taken advantage of the dry seasons and learned from seedtime and the waiting period. I'm intent on learning. A lesson not learned is worth repeating. I don't want to prolong where the Lord is sending me because I keep ignoring what He is trying to teach me right now, in 2007, 29 years old. Let's learn it so we can pass the test and get to the weightier matters.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Wow! Then it began to dawn on me--just a proverbial question-how often do WE do that? Instinctively, we rush in haste to search and acquire what, unbeknownst to us, was there all along. Dreams, ambitions, grace gifts, etc.--it was there all along. If only I had done invententory--I would have found this TREASURE and saved time, energy and, yes, money. All I can do--is once I find where that old book is--my responsibility is to give it to somebody else who needs God to meet them at a dead end. Maybe we have everything that we need that God will use to bless us and move us to what He has S.H.A.P.E.d us for; it just needs to be re-discovered and cultivated in the hand of the Master Craftsman. Just a thought; but I think it'll preach...and LIVE!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
CIT: God’s return and judgment are imminent. You have departed from the command of God; it is reflective your giving. God’s grace abounds with His desire to reciprocate our giving back to Him. Bring the tithe; the relationship will be restored; the storehouse (church) will abound—and God will be pleased and you will be blessed.
MOT: Pastoral & Exhortative
Thesis: The God above has given an awesome promise—to bless those who honor His command. God owns it all; He commands the tithe; He uses His tithe to provide a blessing to somebody else, namely, the storehouse. Paying the tithe flips the script, reverses the curse, and creates a flow that can not be contained.
MOS: God’s goal for his church (his people) is to honor Him in their giving. Disobedience to God’s command for giving dishonors God and curses the robber. Obedience to God’s command for giving honors God and blesses the giver. Ultimately, God’s glory is CONNECTED to our giving.
Practical Themes: Stewardship, Giving, Tithing
Keywords: Flow, Rob, Steward, Manager vs. Owner, Tithe, Prove/Test, Pour
Title: Reverse the Curse
I. The Danger of Disobedience (vs. 6 – 9)
a. Rebellion ‘…you have gone away…’
b. Robbery ‘…you have robbed me.’
...............i. You are robbing God
...............ii. You are robbing God's house '...even this whole nation.'
...............iii. You are robbing yourself
c. Result ‘…you are cursed with a curse…’
II. The Grace of Giving (vs. 7 – 10a)
a. The grace of giving is based on your Position ‘return…’
b. The grace of giving is based on Privilege ‘bring you all the tithe…’
c. The grace of giving is based on Purpose ‘that there may be meat…’
III. The Outcome to Obedience (vs. 10b – 12)
a. God promises to reward our faith ‘I will open…not be room enough…’
b. God promises to rebuke our foes ‘I will rebuke the devourer…’
c. God promises to renew our fruitfulness ‘…all the nations…delightful land...’
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Here is what I have learned--or rather--what I already knew, but the Lord confirmed it even more: the enemy tries to throw the church and many pastors off course by getting us to MAJOR IN THE MINORS AND MINOR IN THE MAJORS. Most of us can re-visit our mission and vision statements--and will conclude, of course, after reading scripture, that Christ's priority was not buildings, budgets, or burgeoning congregations. It was transformation, reformation, sanctification, outreach, ministry.
After all--there are many congregations who didn't rush out to get a building. Higher Dimension (http://www.higherd.net/) opened its doors with hundreds in their first service; they grew to over 2000 within 3 years, and stayed at an elementary school 5 years. Saddleback (http://www.saddleback.com/) met for 11 years in over 30 different facilities before purchasing over 50 acres in Orange County. And then there is Fort Bend Church (http://www.thebend.org/) who is in the Houston metropolis who came out of Brentwood (http://www.brentwoodbaptist.org/). They had over 700 people in the first worship service--started about a year before Cornerstone--and they continue to meet in the Junior High School.
Now there is nothing wrong with that. My point is this: we allow (or atleast sometimes I have allowed) people who do not bear the weight of the ministry, the call, and accountable to God for the spiritual progress of the church--to steer and veer us off course. Before my time on earth is done--I want to be an encouragement to churches and pastors and remind them that we are accountable to God ONLY and that human lives are our first priority.
Bottom line--tell you how the Holy Spirit works--we have an awesome capital campaign (considering we didn't hire any outside sources)--you can see it at http://www.cornerstonefamily.org/ under Our Future. We kicked off the campaign in January '07. I lifted the challenge, set the goal, and chart our progress. Incidently, we have raised about $3500 toward our $75,000 goal. Do you know what? I have a mixture of emotions about this--I am both glad about it and saddened by it. I am saddened by it because--there is a part of me that would like to have a building (think of the extra programs, classrooms for teachers, children's space, etc.). I would like to have it--it's just not a priority. There is another part of me that is glad--because the Lord has shown me that this is a team effort. It is as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders that said that the reason that we don't have a building is because of me. I know now that that is a lie from the Devil himself (John 8:44). God gave me the vision, I lifted it before the church, and I have given to the vision myself; also getting about 3 people who were not members of our church to give to the campaign. I feel SO free.
So when it comes down to where we are with a building--those who have VOICED their problems with our 'NEEDing' our own--if they haven't given anything or contributed to seeing us move in that direction--they will either have to look straight or leave. Hate to see anybody go--but some can only look straight for so long. Now don't get me wrong--I DO NOT want anyone who reads this to think that we have a lot of complainers, etc. at Cornerstone. Cornerstone is the BEST church that there is--I mean that with everything I can muster. I am a pastor--and like many people--I am emphasizing the minority issue here by a small group. I hope that I do both--show my excitement with those whom God is using at our church; and also some of the struggles I have. I know it will bless some if I do--I always strive to be more transparent when I share on this sacred space called blogspot. Didn't mean to go there with all of this--but that's why its a blog!!!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
* The Lord's Prayer
* The Ten Commandments
* The Beatitudes
* The Seven Churches (Revelation)
Would also like to teach through:
Romans, I Corinthians & II Corinthians
I really want to commit myself to verse by verse preaching and freeing myself from the manuscript. Whenever I set out to do something that will only involve myself and the Holy Spirit, I will do everything in my power to get it done. I do need prayer in the area of consistency, diligence, perseverance, and time management.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Herein lies my problem--and where our discussion led--that I have gotten caught in the trap of allowing the approval of men to steer my performance or determine my approach. That night I had a SERIOUS conviction of my sin--not putting what God wants....FIRST. In Houston--there is this jockeying for so many preachers to be RELEVANT and make APPLICATION. In so many ways--so many have said, in their own way, that the Word of God is just not relevant enough. Now don't get me wrong--I have always used scripture, related scriptures, etc. I just haven't committed myself wholeheartedly to being committed, consistent, and pressing through no matter what. And using the gift that God has given ME. From this day forward--I am committed to doing it GOD'S way. I have considered myself doing things His way--because I have always served Him, obeyed Him, stood on His word, studies His word, etc. But here is my issue--I can't follow HIM and keep worrying about what men will say or do at the same time. I want to follow Him COMPLETELY. Let the chips fall where they may.
Here is my commitment: I will hold myself accountable before God, I will monitor my progress, I will lay aside all of the sins/weights that have stood in the way of my hearing God more clearly, I will establish accountability partners, I will completely wean myself from being fearful or timid about what others think about me and what their response will be to what the LORD has to say THROUGH me, I will the temptation to get a response while I am preaching, duplicating just what I heard somebody else say, allowing the enemy to sidetrack me, allowing other people to sidetrack me, committing each day to devotion, bible reading, prayer, journaling, blogging, and 15 minutes a day to reading the original Hebrew &/or Greek text.
I am changing!!! I can promise you that. I have decided that I have to go myself, lose members, or have everyone to whom I preach misunderstand me...I can't quit. I want to see this thing through...
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
"There is nothing you suffer that you cannot profit by" (George Meredith) This reminds me that adversity is sure to come to everyone and there is some benefit in everything we experience. God's help is always available to us. He shows us the way through adversity (if not out of it) and He makes it an occasion for growth - if we are willing to listen to Him. Look for what you can learn in every circumstance.
Matthew 11: 28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Worry ends when faith in God begins.
Psalm 121:1-8 "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shad at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
1 John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So fix your eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us?"
Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Isaiah 40:31 "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
John 14:27 " Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Philippians 4:8 "Brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Ephesians 6:10 "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."
Matthew 7: 9-11 " Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"
Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."
Lamentations 3:22-24 "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Isaiah 30:18 "The Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"
James 1: 2-4 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Romans 8: 16-18, 38-39: "The spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
An example of faith was found on the wall of a concentration camp. On ita prisoner had carved the words:
I believe in the sun, even though it doesn't shine,
I believe in love, even when it isn't shown,
I believe in God, even when he doesn't speak.
I try to imagine the person who etched those words. I try to envisionhis skeletal hand gripping the broken glass or stone that cut into thewall. I try to imagine his eyes squinting through the darkness as hecarved each letter. What hand could have cut such a conviction? What eyes could have seen good in such horror?
There is only one answer: Eyes that chose to see the unseen.