Monthly Archives: March 2013

Give them Jesus

I can imagine a conversation in which someone who does not know the Gospel story would challenge our Relay for Life theme.  Our theme this year states, “My God is greater than cancer.”  One might ask, “How can you say that pastor?  Don’t you preach from a pulpit that has also hosted funerals for those who have died as a result of cancer?”  It is true that too many of us have lost friends and loved ones because of illnesses like cancer.  However, I would quickly add that the fundamental flaw in that question is the assumption that death always has the final say on life.  People living in a world of darkness, untouched by the light of the Gospel, suffer under the belief that the greatest power at work in this world is that of death.  It is not.

Death is not the greatest power at work in this world.  Death does not have the final word on life.  Relay logo 2013

It is true that we live in a broken world which has been marred by the effects of sin.  Life is difficult, and suffering is everywhere.  We all feel the effects of  sin, and struggle as a result.  There was a day on which even Son of God’s body was devastated and hung on a cross where he died.  On that day he was wrapped in burial clothes and laid in a tomb.  That tomb was sealed with a great stone and darkness covered his life…on that day.  But that day passed.

We ask questions like, “Where is God?” and “What is God doing while all this suffering occurs?”  When we look to the Bible, answers to that question leap from every page.  God is at work in this world.  He is redeeming, healing, restoring, and yes…resurrecting.  The story of the Gospel is that while darkness and sin have had their day, a new day has come.  Time after time in the Bible God restores health and joy where it had been stolen.  Again and again God redeems lives that any reasonable person would have said were ruined.  Everywhere one looks in the Bible there are stories of miraculous healing.  Those same works of God are all around us today.

Into that dark tomb where our crucified messiah laid, light sprang from darkness.  Life was resurrected from death.  The grave could not hold the Son of God.  On that day, death was defeated and the grave was overcome.  It happened because death is not the greatest power at work in the universe.  When we say that death was defeated on that day, we should be clear that it was not merely the death of Jesus that was defeated, but the reign of Death in all of our lives.  The life of Jesus could not be constrained by death, and His life in us will not be constrained by it either.

When Jesus the Messiah died on that cross he received upon himself the punishment for our sins.  Jesus’ sacrifice was a substitution for the penalty of death that is due for all mankind.  In this same way, when He rose from the dead He sealed the victory for us as well.  The same power that was and is at work in the life of Christ will raise all who believe in His name and confess Him as Lord.  In His death he saved us from the curse of sin, and in His resurrection He freed us forever from the power of death.

This Easter when you meet with your Sunday School groups and teach your lessons, you will stand to proclaim this most excellent Gospel.  Prepare well. Pray without ceasing.  Invite everyone you can.  Call men and women to live in the light of resurrection life that has banished the fear of death from our lives.  Give them Jesus in all of His brilliant glory.

Know that I will pray for each of you by name as you prepare.  I am proud to stand by your side we stand together on the side of Christ.

Celebrate EasterDisclaimer: WordPress sells ads that may appear below this article. If you see a video ad, it has nothing to do with the content of this site for PSBC Sunday School leaders. I have no control over the content. Probably best to ignore them. Thanks!

Categories: Keeps People Connected, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Studies God's Word Together, Sunday School, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

Wisdom and Shrimp Creole

Coming to you today from the campus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  I’m down here for a two day class, and I look forward to being back with you for our leadership meeting Wednesday night.  I drove down last night after church (celebrating the Lord’s Supper together was worth sticking around for!), and crashed when I got here for a few hours.  I’m up now sitting in an on campus coffee shop. Just so you know, coffee shops in New Orleans serve great shrimp creole.  Didn’t see that coming, (I should have) but it was a pleasant surprise. Ha!

I had forgotteshrimp creolen how amusing the conversations you hear on seminary campuses can be.  I am currently sitting beside two groups of people who are talking loudly enough for me to hear their conversation without trying.  On one side, there is a group of students debating their differing eschatalogical perspectives (ideas about end times) as if their very lives depended on being right.  On the other side, there is a professor talking with an education student about the principles of a healthy Sunday School.  I am more interested in the latter conversation.

I’ve really only heard one comment that the professor made, but it touched my heart and I wanted to share it with you.  He said that there are a million Sunday School strategies out there (and there are), but they all really boil down to one thing.  He said the one thing is to faithfully live out the Great Commandments through Sunday School.  I would add that The Great Commission (Jesus’ call for us to go and make disciples) is equally important, but I understood his point.  First, we must love God passionately, and second we must love people as much as we love our very selves.

If we are faithful in these two things, we will get everything else right too.

If we love God we will teach His word faithfully.

If we love people we will reach out to new families and want to grow.

If we love people we will organize ourselves to serve.

If we love God, we will love people and be committed to keeping them connected.

It really is that simple.  Love God, Love people, and make disciples.

If that sounds familiar, it should.  Those are the principles reflected in our church purpose phrase: Worshiping God, Strengthening Families, Changing Lives.

I am thankful for each one of you, and I look forward to seeing you this week!

Disclaimer: WordPress sells ads that may appear below this article. If you see a video ad, it has nothing to do with the content of this site for PSBC Sunday School leaders. I have no control over the content. Probably best to ignore them. Thanks!

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Making Room for the Sacred

For many people there is one thing that is preventing them from becoming more productive in their service to God: the pace of their life.  I have been meditating for a couple of weeks on the importance of keeping a manageable pace in one’s life.  I usually meditate on things like that when the pace of my life has become unmanageable. And by meditate I am referring to that few moments when I am driving frantically between two places, both of which I need to be at once, and I can’t do anything but think  for a few minutes because I’m  behind the wheel.

I am convinced that the spiritual disciplines and quiet moments of fellowship with God are the only things that can fuel a Kingdom building life of significance in Christ.  A frantic prayer before you roll out of bed for God to deliver you from all the demands of the day does not qualify.  Coffee cannot fuel the kind of victorious life we are called to live as believers, only the Holy Spirit can.  And though there are times in life when God does sustain us in the midst of maddening circumstances, that type of lifestyle cannot be Plan A.  For many of us it may not be the plan, but it seems to have become the reality.

For many of us, soul nourishing time with God resembles two jet planes conducting a mid-air refueling more than a purposeful disciple who prioritizes quiet times of reflection and prayer.mid air refueling

Often when I feel pressed about my frantic pace and overloaded schedule, I feel helpless more than anything else.  I feel like the victim of an overextended life.  The truth is that God would not have us be victimized by our calendars any more than He would have us be victimized by anything else.  God has not called us to be overwhelmed by life, he has called us to be over-comers.

Much like God gave Adam a mandate to exercise dominion over His creation in the Garden, we must exercise Godly dominion over the chaos of life.  God told Adam to “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it…”  That same mandate exists for us today.  Instead of digging dirt, rearranging shrubs and pruning vines, those of us who wrestle with busyness must subdue our schedules.  Mark Chanski speaks of God’s example for us in this work, “It’s time to reflect our beloved Heavenly Father, who took the primeval chaos of the unformed universe, and with his efficient labor ordered it into a finely tuned domain over which he stood as a capable ruler.”  As we seek to live up to God’s call and image, remember that He has not left us alone to do so by our own might or wisdom.  1 John 4:4 – Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

Here are 2 keys to success in balancing the chaos of life, and making room for sacred time with God.

Key #1: We must depend on the work of God in our hearts to fuel our effectiveness.  The difference for me is whether I am depending on the work to get my heart right, or depending on my heart to get the work right.

Key #2: With God’s help, take control.  If you are unorganized, find the most organized person you know and schedule time with them to learn their tricks.  If you are always rushed in the mornings and that sets the pace for your day, get up an hour earlier.  If people distract you from getting things done, have someone install a door to your office.  If you already have one, close it from time to time so you can focus.

Those of us who are church leaders must prioritize the inner walk with God because if we don’t, the outer walk which everyone sees will be so chaotic that it will be of no use to anyone.

 

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Signs of Life in a Small Group

Quick reminders:

I look forward to seeing you this week at our Wednesday night leadership meeting.

Don’t forget to encourage your class this week to be inviting FRIENDS who don’t have a church family to Sunday School and Worship next Sunday.  We had a great day last Sunday with people inviting family members who aren’t connected at a church!

Recently I read a great article by Rick Howerton about “signs of life” in small groups.  There were several that I thought were very good, and I’d like to share the list with you.

Take a moment and look at each of these characteristics of a group that has “come alive”.signs of life

Small group meetings come alive when…

The leader has been praying for her/his small group members throughout the week.

Group members have been in conversation between meetings.

Every group member has been spending time with God daily between meetings.

The group cries out to God expecting Him to do something.

Everyone is more concerned about everyone else than they are themselves.

The goal of the Bible study time is to find out what God is saying.

The outcome of the Bible study time is a commitment to thinking differently or doing differently.

The group leader models authenticity.

Group members are honest enough to ask others in the group to help them carry the burdens of life.

The group takes the time to celebrate significant life experiences with a group member.

Which of these characteristics are true of your group?  Which is an area in which you need to improve?

One of the most striking things about this list is how each of these important signs of life can be directly addressed and influenced by the group leader.

Do you need to address or reinforce any of these characteristics next Sunday?

Disclaimer: WordPress sells ads that may appear below this article. If you see a video ad, it has nothing to do with the content of this site for PSBC Sunday School leaders. I have no control over the content. Probably best to ignore them. Thanks!

Categories: Keeps People Connected, Organized to Serve, Reaches Out to New People, Studies God's Word Together, Sunday School, Wants to Grow | Leave a comment

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