Sunday, November 28, 2010

Notes from Sunday - 11/28/10

I am in St. John’s in Antigua & Barbuda, preaching for the Dr. Hensworth W.C. Jonas and the Baptist Circuit of Churches.

The Baptist Circuit of Churches is made up of three congregations in Antigua led by Dr. Jonah – Central, Tryells, and Covenant Baptist Church.

The mother church, Central Baptist Church, celebrated 45 years of ministry today. The Tryells Baptist Church celebrated 18 years today.

Dr. Jonas is also the founder and principle of the Baptist Academy of Antigua. With over 400 students, it is one of the leading schools in the country.

Today is Harvest Sunday in Antigua. It is their equivalent to our Thanksgiving.

I really missed worshiping with my church family today.

This was the first Sunday my wife was able to attend church since her surgery. Praise God!

Thanks to Pastor Al Letson for ministering the word today.

You can tell how mature a congregation is by how it acts or reacts when the senior pastor is away.

I preached Saturday night for the ECBM leadership banquet.

I preached three times today, at two of the three congregations.

These are well-fed congregations that love the word of God. It was a joy to preach to the saints here this morning.

Tonight’s service was beginning of an evangelistic crusade that will take place at each of the three churches.

Pray that many souls will be reached for Christ during this evangelistic crusade.

Dr. Jonas and one of his deacons tried to convince me today that soccer is the real football. I am not buying it!

My Dallas Cowboys lost to the Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Jaguars lost today to the NY Football Giants. The Jags will have to find a way to get it done on the road.

I am yet to see any of the sites in Antigua. I trust that will change before my trip ends.

There is a KFC here and three Subway sandwich joints. That’s it. Every thing else is local. That’s pretty cool.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Notes from Sunday - 11/14/10

Thanks, again, for your continued prayers for my wife, Crystal.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my installation as pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church.

I love my congregation.

May the Lord make me into the man and pastor I need to be to lead Shiloh in its next season of ministry.

Hebrews 6:10 kept coming to my mind throughout the day: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (NKJV)

Throughout the weekend, I having been listening to and singing to myself Minister Thomas Whitfield’s song, “I’m Encouraged.” My testimony!

Our children’s choir rocked!

Praise God for those who were baptized in worship.

Grateful for the guests who joined us in worship.

I preached from James 1:12 – “A Blessing for the Steadfast”

I argued that Christian steadfastness transforms burdens into blessings.

I outlined the text in terms of (1) a present and (2) future blessing for the steadfast.

Studying James is exposing to me how much I need to grow as an expositor and preacher. I am up for the challenge.

Next week’s sermon: “The Truth About Temptation” (James 1:13-15). Sorry GEH for stealing your title.

Praise God for those who were saved and added to the church today.

HBC3 and I caught the Jaguars-Texans game this afternoon. Great game. Even better time with my son.

My beloved Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Football Giants 33-20. Does this mean that Wade Phillips was actually the problem?

I do not have a dog in the fight, with my USC Trojans under NCAA sanctions. But I am really enjoy the college football season.

I am so glad that I did not waste my time or money on the Pacquiao-Margarito fight. Either make Pacquiao-Mayweather happen or boxing is dead.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Long Series and Short Attention Spans

People have short attention spans. You cannot preach long series any more. It is best to keep sermon series short – six weeks at the most.

Many who preach and many who teach preaching have concluded that society in general and congregations in particular have short attention spans. Churches cannot endure long sermon series anymore, they say. This conclusion is stated as an irrefutable fact. And it goes unchallenged. But is it true?

Every pastor must make a personal decision about how long to spend on a particular book, theme, or biography. And there are many factors that go into this decision.

A sermon series can definitely go too long. Genesis and Psalms and Matthew and Romans and Revelation are great books to preach. But it may not be wise to spend multiple years analyzing the details of them. You may cause your congregation to miss the forest for the trees, if you go too slowly through a book.

But who determined that a pastor had better keep a series under seven messages or risk experiencing a mass exodus of protesting members?

There are many good preachers who preach long series. Expository series. Doctrinal series, even. When I hear this short series theory stated dogmatically, I smile as I think of strong preachers in growing churches around the country who do not subscribe to this theory.

Let me offer an alternative theory: People will endure whatever they become accustomed to.

If you only preach short series, the idea that you can only preach short series becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if you take a shot at a longer series, making sure that every sermon is a solid biblical message that can stand on its own, your congregation very well may keep coming and keep growing.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Notes from Sunday - 11/7/10

It was coooooold yesterday!!!

We had a good day of worship at Shiloh.

Thanks for your continued prayers and many expressions of kindness as Crystal recovers from her surgery. Please continue to cover her with your prayers.

Throughout the day, I was praying for three pastors I know of around the country who were beginning officially started new churches yesterday.

I was also praying for the Diamond family and the Abyssinia Church, who funeralized their long time pastor, Dr. Tom Diamond, Saturday morning.

I really enjoyed my time with the New Members Class yesterday. We discussed the good news of Jesus Christ. What a privilege to explain the message of the gospel of salving by grace through faith in Christ!

Praise God for the celebration of the Lord’s Table yesterday as a church family.

Grateful for our deacons and deaconess who serve in our congregation’s celebration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And grateful for all who serve behind the scenes in the church.

We began using video announcements for the first time. It was different, but cool. We’ll see how it goes.
It was good to have many guests in worship with us.

I continued my study of the book of James with a message on James 1:9-11 that I call, “Boasting In What Money Cannot Buy.”

I saw two main ideas in the text: (1) Mature Christians boast in spite of their poverty (1:9), and (2) mature Christians do not boast in their wealth (1:10-11).

“Any trial that weans us away from the love of passing things and sets our affections on things above is a blessing in disguise.” – William McDonald

James is a hard saying. We do not often think or act as James prescribes here. It was very challenging to meditate on this passage over the course of the week.

I introduced the sermon with one of my dad’s stories. In the 10 AM service, I abandoned by planned conclusion and closed with another one of my dad’s story. Got away with it. But I wish I could tell them they way he used to tell them.

I look forward to preaching on James 1:12 next Sunday, which announces a blessing to those who hang in there.

Praise the Lord for those who were saved and added to the church yesterday.

My beloved Dallas Cowboys lost last night to the Green Bay Packers 7-45. The free-fall continues. When will it end?

Even though the Cowboys are losing, this has been a good NFL season. I am enjoying the competition.