Sunday, November 30, 2008

Notes from Sunday - 11/30/01

In spite of the rain, this has been a wonderful Lord's Day. To God be the glory!

I am still dealing with a cough and some chest congestion. But the Lord gave me physical strength and spiritual energy to carry out my assignment today. Thanks for covering me in believing prayer. And praise God for his faithfulness.

The women's chorus led the musical praise in our worship services today. And it was great. I really do appreciate the diligent work that Roger Sears - our minister of music - and the entire music team puts into the their preparation for and participation in our corporate worship services.

I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance today. I expected the crowd to really be off today because of the holiday week and the rain. Praise God for the saints pressing through to worship.

I preached the third message in my series on Luke 15, entitled, "Lost People Matter to God." I am at the third parable of the chapter - the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I intend to preach it in three parts - with a message devoted to the lovesick father, the prodigal son, and the elder brother.

Today's message: "The God of the Wayward Child" (Luke 15:11-24).

The final two messages in this series:

12/7 - "Lessons from the Prodigal Son" (Luke 15:11-24)

12/14 - "Lessons from the Elder Brother (Luke 15:25-32)


Praise God for adding to the church those who are being saved!

During our Bible Study Fellowship hour, I led a question and answer session. I get really nervous about these times, because I do not claim to be a "Bible Answer Man." No offense Hank. But at the same time, I really enjoy getting into discussion about the meaning and implication of the scriptures. I hope that the congregation found the questions that were asked and the answers given helpful.

After church today, we enjoyed the hospitality of one of the families of Shiloh. We stuffed ourselves and enjoyed an encouraging time of fellowship with Shiloh members.

The Cowboys took the day off today after stomping down Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day 34-9.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Notes from Sunday - 11/23/08

I am fighting off a cold. And I blame Jacksonville! I thought I was moving to sunny Florida. And it is. Sunny. And cold! This past week, the temperature rose and dropped from day to day. It was in the 30's at points. And by the end of the week, I was fighting off cold symptoms. Who knew that I would need a big overcoat in Florida? But several members of Shiloh have informed me that Jacksonville is not Florida. It's south Georgia! Now you tell me.

Yesterday, I continued my series on Luke 15 - "Lost People Matter to God." I preached the second of the three parables Jesus tells in that chapter - verses 8-10. I called the message, "The God of the Lost Coin."

I was not feeling well during the 8 AM service. And I felt even worse after preaching. But after a cup of tea, several cough drops, and a lot of prayer, I felt better as I preached the 10 AM meeting. Praise God!

I cannot wait to get to the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) next Sunday. This parable is three-dimensional. And I plan to preach messages from the perspectives of the loving father, the prodigal son, and the elder brother.

Sunday's message: "The God of the Wayward Child."

Yesterday was my first baby dedications at Shiloh. It was great. But I only observed. Pastor Letson did the dedications. It would not have been a good thing for me to be sniffling over the babies.

After service, there was a luncheon for the members of Shiloh who have been a part of the church for more than fifty years. There are 67 people who have been a part of the church for more than fifty years. Wow! My family and I enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship with the senior saints of Shiloh. H.B. and Natalie even helped serve the food. Who are these children?

Last night, Hailey and I caught a flight to Oklahoma City (Yep. You read that right. Me and Hailey!).

My boyhood friend, Joe Carter - pastor of the New Hope Church in Newark - is funeralizing his mother today. And I wanted to be here with him to be an encouragement to him and his family. The service will be held today at the Fairview Baptist Church, where Dr. John Reed pastors. Please remember the entire Carter family in your prayers.

My mother lives in Oklahoma City. And I brought Hailey with me so that some of my family members here can meet her. Particularly, I want my grandmother to meet Hailey. It will be a treat for her.

Hailey is her daddy's baby. She was a real pro at airport travel last night. You would think that my 8-month-old was a regular business traveler.

The Dallas Cowboys put a beat-down on the 49ers 35-22.

The Jaguars lost to the Vikings 12-30. The Jags are not 4-7 on the season. But who's counting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sheep Stealing

The McChurch has replaced the traditional church and its relational values. Fast-food Christians pull up to ecclesiastical drive-through windows, order the McGroups, consume the experience and then drive off, discarding relationships like burger wrappers on the highway of life. Savvy church growth pastors quickly learned that significant growth can occur if a church learns how to market it burgers to capture the appetite of this roving crowd. In some instances merely producing an interesting alternative to the status quo can lead to significant church disaffections. - William Chadwick, Stealing Sheep, p. 20

Transfer growth, be definition, creates no numerical growth in the kingdom of God. In fact the term is an oxymoron, and grossly misleading, for its net result is simply much ado about nothing. There are no new converts, no baptisms, no expansion of knowledge of God in the world, and no salvation fruit from this labor  Arguably - and contrary to popular belief - there is no known purely positive kingdom benefit from a benefit change! - Chadwick, Sheep, p. 30

Conversion growth, in general, graphs poorly. Even with the investment of considerable resources in evangelistic programs, conversion growth is slow growth. By its nature it requires the decision of one person at a time. Each of them needs to have the gospel presented in a fashion that they can understand, and often this requires the building of relational bridges to their world. - Chadwick, Sheep, p. 95

We have attractive carpets, nicely arranged bulletins, cleanly painted walls and deep subculture norms. The unchurched do not fit in to this world. When the middle age of life sets in, church people can become upset with the headaches of having newborns in the house; we are past that stage of life. We desire to plan our retirement and find ways of increasing our spiritual and physical comfort levels. The "not like us" gain the disfavor of an unwanted pregnancy and can, in many subtle ways, be aborted. - Chadwick, Sheep, p. 141

Healthy transfer growth is about rescuing sheep. In some cases they are rescued from a church where salvation is not articulated. In other cases they are rescued from a setting where false teaching and heresy occur. And some sheep need to be rescued from abusive church settings. - Chadwick, Sheep, p. 157

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The God of the Missing Sheep

This past Sunday, I began a series of messages on the parables of Jesus recorded in Luke 15. My pastoral concern is that our congregation would have the heart of God toward lost people. And lost people matter to God. So they should matter to us.

Here is the sermon skeleton from Sunday's message.  

Title: "The God of the Missing Sheep"

Text: Luke 15:1-7

Series: "Lost People Matter to God" (Luke 15)

Outline: Jesus teaches us that lost people matter to God by describing how a good shepherd responds to a missing sheep.

I. The Shepherd's Purposeful Neglect (15:4)

    A. The number of the sheep teaches us that God loves us personally and individually.

    B. The nature of the sheep teaches us that God we cannot get back to God on our own.

II. The Shepherd's Relentless Pursuit (15:4)

     The fact that the shepherd searches for the missing sheep until he finds it teaches us that the Lord will not give up on you.

III. The Shepherd's Joyful Discovery (15:5-7)

    A. Consider what the shepherd does not do when he finds the missing sheep: he doesn't get angry.

    B. Consider what the shepherd does when he finds the missing sheep: he rejoices.

Conclusion: Your attitude toward lost people reveals what your true relationship with God is.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Notes from Sunday - 11/16/08

Inadvertently, I took a "bye-week" from blogging last week. But I am back and better... Well, let's just leave it at I'm back.

I did not do much writing or journaling at all last week. By Saturday, I started going through withdrawal. I can't describe the joy I get from reading and writing.

My installation Sunday was the first Sunday this year that I have not preached. Through relocating MSMBC, having a baby, and transitioning to Jacksonville, I have been in the pulpit to preach every week. I really think that my mind needed the mental break from sermon preparation. I pray the break will prove to be beneficial as I take on my year-end pulpit work.

Yesterday, I began a five-week series on the parables of Jesus recorded in Luke 15. I am calling the series, "Lost People Matter to God." I preached the first of the messages in our morning services yesterday. My text was Luke 15:1-7. I labeled the message, "The God of the Missing Sheep."

I intend to preach the second parable of Luke 15 next Lord's Day: "The God of the Lost Coin" (Luke 15:8-10).

This time last year, I was working on my preaching calendar for 2008. And I planned to end the year preaching through the parables of Luke 15. In the ironic providence of God, I am preaching through Luke 15 in Jacksonville, not Los Angeles. "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand" (Prov. 19:21, ESV).

Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church is a great place to preach!

Slowly but surely, I am getting into a preaching rhythm here. But I still have a long way to before I become get into a steady stride. But that's okay. It's a marathon, not a sprint. I pray that I have a long time here to learn and grow in my preaching.

Yesterday, the Jags came out for the second half of snatched defeat right out of the jaws of victory, losing to the Titans, 14-24.

The Dallas Cowboys wore down the Redskins to a 14-10 victory. Tony Romo was back. And the workhorse, Marion Barber, took over the fourth quarter.

If USC would have lost to Stanford Saturday, I would have started cheering for the Florida Gators. Just kidding. Really. It won't happen. March on Trojans!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Free Downloads of John MacArthur Sermons!!!

Grace to You, the radio and television teaching ministry of John F. MacArthur Jr., Pastor-Teacher of the Grace Community Church in Sun Valley (CA) has recently taken a great step of faith and generosity by posting all of the sermons of John MacArthur for free download.

Yes. You read the previous sentence correctly. John MacArthur sermons. Available online for download. Free!

I can't believe it. Praise God that the teachings of one of the great expository preachers/teachers of our generation will be available in this way to be a blessing to some many people.

Click HERE to get to the Grace To You website resource page.

And if possible, send a donation to Grace To You when you get the opportunity, to help support this great work as it continues to "unleash God's truth one verse at a time."

Charge It To My Head...

We had a warm and uplifting worship service last night. Pastor Maurice Watson preached a timely and powerful message. I trust that anyone who was listening with an open heart and mind was challenged by the message to trust God in a greater way. And I believe the Lord was glorified. But something was went missing.

It was not until after the service was over that it dawned on me that I had commit a big oversight. Nothing whatsoever was mentioned in the service about the historic presidential election that had taken place this past Tuesday. And this oversight has offended some of our members.

I take full responsibility for the oversight. Please forgive me for failing to take the time to pray for our president-elect, our other local and national leaders, and our country as a whole. Whoever you may have voted for, each of us as Christians have a responsibility to pray for and follow, as much as conscience and conviction will allow us, the leadership of those who have been placed in authority over us.

Shiloh, this is one of many mistakes I will make as your pastor. Again, please forgive my absentmindedness and the oversight of such an important national ocassion. And thank you for your patience with me.

If the Lord allows us to live and meet together this coming Lord's Day, I will make sure that we take time in our corporate worship services to pray for the president-elect.

God bless.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Notes from Sunday - 11/02-/08

Thank you Shiloh for your prayers, support, and encouragement, during these days in which I am learning you and you are learning me. I am glad and proud to be your pastor. What a church!

Yesterday was the first Sunday of November. Practically speaking, this year is over. Better start preparing for 2009.

Crystal and I were thrown off Sunday morning. Our clocks and phones changed the time automatically. But we thought we had the extra hour when we woke up. I am glad we straightened that out before we ended up missing the 8 AM service.

Praise God for the new believers who were baptized yesterday and the celebration of the Lord's Table together!

I preached a message on Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah's life-changing vision of God and subsequent call to prophetic ministry. I labeled the message, "A High View of God." I endeavored to make three big points about God from Isaiah's vision:

    1. God is sovereign.

    2. God is holy.

    3. God is gracious.

After our services, I wanted to find a pulpit and preach again. After I ate, I came to my senses and went home and took a long nap.

After my afternoon nap, I woke up to the news that my Cowboys had been stomped down by the New York Giants. We really need this by-week to regroup.

The Cincinnati Bengals won their first game of the season yesterday. Does anyone know who they defeated?

I am getting excited about the upcoming installation services. Some family and friends are coming to town. I can't wait!

Above all, I pray the Lord richly blesses the messages and the messengers, and that each service will bring glory to God and bring encouragement and edification to the dear members of Shiloh.

Footnote: Please remember to pray for our nation today and for the tomorrow's presidential election (1 Timothy 2:1-5).

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Seeing Beyond The Symbols: Another Look at the Lord's Supper

How do you view the Lord’s Supper? Do you see it as some ritualistic, man-made, and unnecessary tradition? If so, let me encourage you to look again. Look beyond the symbols and see the meaning, beauty, and significance of Communion.

Look up in worship. The Lord’s Supper is one of the two ordinances of the Christian church, the other being baptism. These ordinances are sacred rituals that the Lord Jesus has commanded us to practice as a matter of faith and worship. The Lord commands us to practice Communion to make an important point about our salvation: God did it all! We have not earned the right to come to the Lord’s Table. We have been graciously invited by God to come because of what he has done for us through Jesus Christ. So come to the Lord’s Table to worship God for adopting us into his family through the agency of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Look around in fellowship. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 record Paul’s teaching on the Lord’s Supper. These instructions are actually correctives for abuses of Communion in the church. And Paul’s primary concern was the selfish way the believers were practicing the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a “TV dinner” that you enjoy on your own terms. It’s a family reunion, in which God’s redeemed children come together to celebrate the bond that we share in Christ.

Look within in self-examination. Scripture warns against partaking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. But these warnings are not meant to chase you away from the Lord’s Table. Rather, they exhort you to clean up before you come. 1 Corinthians 11:28 says, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Communion bids us to examine ourselves, confess our sins, and receive the forgiveness of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).

Look back in remembrance. The Lord’s Supper is one of the few things the Lord Jesus commands us to do specifically for him. “Do this,” bids Jesus,” in remembrance of me.” The symbol of the bread is to remind us of the physical agony Jesus endured on the cross. And the symbol of the cup is to remind us of the blood Jesus shed on the cross for our atonement, redemption, and salvation. The Lord commands us to regularly remember him with these symbols because he knows how prone we are to forget. Life has a way of crowding God out and causing us to forge the things that matter the most.

Look ahead in anticipation. Indeed, we are to look back in remembrance as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. But the Lord’s Table is not merely a memorial to a crucified Savior. It’s also the celebration of our resurrected Lord who will return to rapture the church, consummate the kingdom, and judge the world. 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as you death this break and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” In fact, he may come again while we are celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Even so, come Lord Jesus!