Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Time for Change?

I am considering a new blog. You can check it out at http://breakingthrough.tumblr.com/ and let me know what you think. Be sure to read why I am thinking of changing. What needs challenged/change in your life?

More thoughts for young leaders from Ed Young

The Cussing Pastor

Advice from Pros

As a young preacher, I actively look for and soak in as much advice from more experienced preachers and pastors as I can. And I am thankful when they share. James MacDonald is someone I have a lot of respect for and he shares a few tips for young preachers here.

If you've got experience, who are you sharing it with?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Inside Out Living

I just finished my first ever sermon series. It was a three-parter that was entitled "Inside Out Living." It was a great series to be a part of and to see how it impacted people. Here's the short version: we are to have three priorities in life: #1 is a relationship with God, #2 is our family, and #3 is community. We talked about one priority each week. The first week I focused on John 15, in which Jesus says "you must remain in Me, apart from Me you can do nothing." God has invited us to have a 24/7 personal, deep, relationship with Him - and if we don't have that as our first priority in life, everything else will be more difficult. Our other relationships will be more difficult, coping with stress and trials will be more difficult - because we will not have a solid foundation built under us to support and strengthen the other areas of our life. I invited folks to try using a watch or cellphone (something that will beep on the hour) to remind them every hour just to notice God's presence with them, as a way to begin remaining in God. Brother Lawrence called it practicing the presence of God.

In week 2, we explored the family. Our family is to be our next highest priority - above all else besides our relationship with God. We talked about how important it is to make our marriage a priority, and I shared my own story of struggling with that (from one of my previous posts entitled "Quality Time." This resonated with quite a few people. Why do we assume no one else is struggling and that everyone else does marriage without any effort? EVERY marriage relationship takes a ton of TIME and COMMITMENT, as well as a lot of love. We also talked about how raising your kids needs to be a priority as well (in front of hanging with friends, golfing, etc.). As a family, we have to plan God into our everyday lives. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 tells us that we should impress God's commandments upon our children and discuss them at all times. It should be a part of the family's life (how we spend time, how we use our finances, maybe setting up family values). Healthy, functional families are incredibly important in this day and age, and both the aspects of marriage and raising our kids right have to be a priority.
The final week, we talked about community, or in essence everyone else. As a corporate body, we the Church have a responsibility to build community. Acts 2:42-47 tell us what that looked like in the early church - they spent all their time TOGETHER, and they shared every good thing they had with anyone in need. The 2 results were that they found favor in the eyes of all the people, and the Lord added to their number daily. If we want similar results, we have to adopt a similar desire to come together to help people. There is SO much more that every church could be doing, without a tremendous effort. And when we are not invested in helping those who are hurting, addicted, and lonely in the community, we are essentially saying "You don't matter, and I don't care." Jesus said "if you want to be great, you have to be the servant of all." As they did in Acts, we must serve others in our community, and that is what will make our church something special. Also, as individuals and families, we need to make community a priority too, and we do that by committing to missional living. This means being intentional in what you do every day. Getting to know people in your neighborhood, at work, at the coffee shop, building relationships with them, praying for opportunities to help and to have discussions - not just living every day for yourself, but for others.

Our jobs are important, as are many other things in life - but those other things CANNOT take PRIORITY over God, Family, and Community. When we cram other things into those priority slots, our worlds get messed up. If you have more than 3 priorities, you have no priorities. Inside Out Living works like this - it begins on the inside with that relationship with God, but it isn't meant to stop there. We have to begin to bring that out into the rest of the areas of our lives and show people every day the difference it makes to us. Later on in Acts, those folks were not known as Christians, but as The Way. The reason for this is because they didn't just believe in a set of principles, they had a unique and entirely different way of life that stood in contradiction to the mainstream culture. Are you just a Christian or are you following The Way?