About Preachers and Preaching

As I was thinking about the lessons this Sunday, I remembered a humorous list of poor sermon introductions. I looked through some old files and found a tattered copy.  The title in the bulletin clipping is “You Know You’re in Trouble When the Preacher Begins With . . .

  • Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking . . .

    Central Tuscaloosa

    Central Tuscaloosa

  • Although my wife does not like this sermon, I decided to preach it anyway . . .
  • Cereal boxes do not normally lead to sermon ideas, but this morning as I sat . . .
  • The first of this morning’s eighteen points  . . .
  • Last night I dreamed of footprints in the sand . . .
  • There are some topics that cannot be covered in thirty minutes . . .
  • At first glance, the variants between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Texts do not seem all that interesting, however . . .
  • Here are the notes for the sermon I was going to deliver, but I decided during the song before the lesson, not to give that lesson, but just to simply say some things that are on my heart and need to be said . . .

I do not think I am guilty of any of those introductions.  But maybe, you had a chuckle as you read them.

” . . . but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” Prov 15:15b

-Scott

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Take off Your Hat and Stay

(An edited and expanded version of a post from September 2011.)

A well-to-do family hired a maid to keep the house and laundry clean. All the first day the new maid wore her hat, the family thought that in the excitement of a new job and wanting to get right to work she had simply forgotten to take off her hat. This habit of keeping her hat on continued into the following week. Curiosity finally overcame the lady of the house and she asked the maid why she always wore her hat when she worked. “Well,” replied the maid, “I want to be ready to quit any time you say something that hurts my feelings.”

My weemee

The story is ridiculous, the maid needs some help. Yet I wonder, “How many Christians keep their hats on?” How many of us wear our feelings on our shoulders waiting for an excuse to leave the church? Many times when church leaders talk with those who no longer attends worship, those choosing not to attend say they do so because someone said something offensive to them.  I talked with someone a number of years ago, who left because someone insulted her choice of dress. Yes, what that other person said was offensive and out of line, but we should not let people get in the way of our relationship to God.

I wonder what hope we would have if Jesus had quit because His feelings were hurt? People mocked Him. Religious leaders taunted Him. His disciples and even His family doubted Him. The Sanhedrin falsely accused Him. Roman soldiers slapped Him and spit in His face. The Jews called His teachings into question and that is just the beginning.. Yet He persisted in the mission before Him enduring the shame and suffering (Heb 12:2ff).

When many people quit following Jesus because what He said offended them, he turned to the disciples and asked, “Will you go away also?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of life.” (Jn 6:67-68).

Where could we go if we leave Christ? Where else is there salvation? What is more important to me? My feelings or my soul? Are you still wearing your hat? Take it off and get to work!

-Scott

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Knowing the Enemy’s Method

Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to

Evil, its in the eyes!

devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1Pe 5:8-9).

Our enemy knows our tendencies, do we know his?

  • Satan knows that if he makes Christians defensive, we will think and grow as a result.
  • Satan knows if he causes us to become angry, we will act and our faith will grow stronger.
  • Satan knows that if he leads us to believe our mission is overwhelming, we will simply pray for God’s help.
  • Satan knows if he tries to destroy us with disease, disaster, or death, we turn to God for strength, security, and salvation.

The devil knows these methods are not his most powerful strategy. So he moves us to satisfaction:

  • If a child of God begins to put away sins that disappoint God, the devil will want us to think that everyone has a vice or two to hang on too, we are just human after all. Why should Christians try so hard?
  • If I begin to regret my sin, Satan might see to it that I compare myself to Hussein or Hitler, that will make me satisfied with my own goodness.
  • The world is large and full of sin. Satan wants us to see ourselves as insignificant and unable to impact the world.  We have enough just keeping ourselves from sin.  “Be satisfied you are doing right,” he says.
  • The devil wants you and me to find satisfaction in the size of our church family.  He closes our eyes to the hundreds (no thousands) around us that are lost.  He disengages our compassion to the eternal destiny of the lost in our community and city. After all those empty seats are evidence of the post-Christian world we live in.

Yes, satisfaction can be a tool of the devil. He knows that if I am satisfied with where I am, with what I am doing, with the way things are, then I will not work for the future of God’s kingdom on earth. Living in satisfaction, keeps me average so that I will never be extraordinary.

Dear Father in Heaven, please help me not be satisfied with being or becoming and average Christians.  Help me to be strong and courageous. Help me to make opportunities to do Your will and to grow Your Kingdom. Help me seek to be unsatisfied with the status quo and to be a more and more faithful servant to You. In Jesus name.

- Scott

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Spiritual Leadership

This week a video is running my circle on Facebook.  This video is an interview of a young lady who is a “Preaching Intern” at a local church in Tennessee.  I am not sharing her name or the church, but wanted to defend why I see what she and this congregation are doing is contrary to the Biblical principle that spiritual leadership is the heavy responsibility of males.

In the religious environment of the Twenty-first Century, this claim flies in the face of common post-modern feminist thought and propaganda. To claim male spiritual leadership in today’s Christian churches promotes a politically incorrect message. Modern movements and modern churches are allowing female spiritual leadership to make inroads and take hold as the normal operating procedure. Groups insist that women are to preach, serve as “pastors,” and minister in key ministerial roles including serving as youth ministers, children’s ministers, preaching ministers, education ministers, and any other role thought to be traditional male roles. This push for inclusion has not left those of the Restoration Movement untouched. I have personal experience in talking to a young lady on the phone that identified herself as the “Youth Minister” of the church of Christ I was calling. Why do some, including me, still claim that spiritual leadership is the responsibility of males? There is a basic reason to hold to male leadership that finds support in the context of Scripture.

ipad 015The apostle Paul instructs the younger minister Timothy the principle of male spiritual leadership in 1 Timothy 2. Paul’s reasoning is not a hatred for or a low view of women, but the order of creation. Notice his supporting claim in 1 Tim 2:13, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” For Paul, and for his student Timothy this is evidence enough. The writer of Genesis 2 relates the events of this creation,
“ . . then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. . .Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen 2:7, 18-23)

God created Adam first. Adam is then the firstborn in the order of creation. From Scripture we learn that God places upon Adam, as the firstborn, the responsibility of spiritual leadership. Compare what Nehemiah 10:25-37 records concerning the firstborn son.
“We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the LORD; also to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God, the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks; and to bring the first of our dough, and our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and to bring to the Levites the tithes from our ground, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all our towns where we labor.”

The firstborn son belongs to God. After Ezra read the Law of God, the people responded by the promise recorded above. They made an obligation to dedicate their firstborn to God’s service. God had already provided a way for man to keep this promise and keep their firstborn at home. He provided the tribe of Levi to serve in the people’s place in the stead of every firstborn son (Cf. Numbers 18). Going back to the beginning, we see that God gives Adam – the firstborn – the command to tend the garden and not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, when the creature made comparable to him – woman – comes into existence, Adam relays the commands of God to her (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1ff). Man from the beginning is to take the responsibility of spiritual leadership. Adam’s punishment resulted from his sin, not only in eating the fruit, but for not leading his wife spiritually, “And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;” (Gen 3:17).

The simple application is: Spiritual leadership is the responsibility of men. Paul emphasizes this leadership role by comparing the church and Christ to the relationship of husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:21-33. The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the Church. Since Christ is the Savior (protector) of the Church, the husband is to protect his wife. Christ leads the church by sacrificial service; the same is so with husbands and wives. The husband leads not by a domineering hand, but by a sacrificial serving leadership. Paul lays the example before us and we are to follow. Men have the responsibility to sacrificially serve as spiritual leaders. Any other course runs counter-current to God’s way.

- Scott

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Proving You Are a Christian

Tornado Relief Goods (April / May 2011)

Tornado Relief Goods (April / May 2011)

Many years ago I read a story from the 1200’s during the time of the Inquisition.  Misguided religious people joined with other Crusaders believing they were to eliminated all “heretics” not by converting them to Christ, but by putting them to death. If an Inquisitor came to your place of business or home, you had to provide evidence that you were a Christian or face death.

In Toulouse, France, the Inquisitors met a man named Jean Tisseyre. Tisseyre was a laborer who went through town accosting the crowds with these words,

“Listen to me, citizens! I am no heretic: I have a wife . . . and she has borne me sons. I eat meat, I tell lies and swear, and I am a good Christian. So don’t believe it when you hear I am and atheist, not a word of it! They’ll very likely accuse you too, as they have me: these accursed villains want to put down honest folks and take the town from its lawful master.”

These words caught the attention of the Inquisitors. They arrested Tisseyre and condemned him to the stake.  All the while he persisted in declaring himself a good Christian.

I am not convince Tisseyre took the right approach to proving his Christianity. Yet, I wonder, How would you or I prove that we are a Christian?  Could you prove it, if asked too? Would I show a baptism certificate? would I show I can quote certain scriptures?

How do we prove our faith?

James says, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (Jam 2:18b). Faith works, specifically in compassionate care for the suffering and those in need of God’s Grace.

Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:34-35).

Can people tell you are a follower of the Christ?  Is your light shining as you reflect God’s light?

- Scott

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Fellows in the Same Ship

Fellowship.  Churches use this term on a regular basis. But what is fellowship? Here are some answers:

The building where I obeyed the gospel.

The building where I obeyed the gospel.

  • Fellowship is finger-foods on Sunday evenings.
  • It is greeting each other when we meet.
  • It is greeting visitors guest at our assemblies and events.
  • It is church sports teams.
  • It is lunch or super with Christian friends.
  • It is welcoming newcomers in our homes.
  • It is prayer breakfast and ladies’ Bible class.
  • It is Vacation Bible School.
  • It is Men’s Retreat, Fall Festival, and Spring Fling.
  • It is mission trips to stateside and foreign mission points.
  • It is visiting the sick, shut-in, or bereaving.
  • It is special events at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
  • It is bridal teas and baby showers.
  • It is house warmings and gift baskets.
  • It is work days at the building or camp.
  • It is disaster relief.
  • It is cleaning the yard or home of elderly members.
  • Fellowship is loving one another, accepting one another, encouraging one another – continuously – as we anticipate our Lord’s return and our eternal fellowship with Him and one another.

1 Peter 4:8-10, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

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More for The Others

Yesterday we looked at how we as Christians are to NOT treat others.  Today we look at how we are to treat them. There is so mush that we are to do for each other. This is one of those areas where the following maxim holds true, “If we do the dos we don’t have time to do the don’ts.”

  1. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (John 13:34)
  2. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19)
  3. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
  4. I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)
  5. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
  6. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
  7. with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (Ephesians 4:2)
  8. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
  9. submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
  10. and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
  11. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
  12. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

It is time we as Christians stop looking out for ourselves, we must stop being self-serving as we remove selfishness from our lives. The time is past to begin taking on the mind of Christ and serve others.

- Scott

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