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Showing posts from August, 2009

In Pursuit, Part 2 (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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As the name implies this is a continuation of last week’s sermon. It is the second of two questions one can ask that helps one determine if he or she is truly in pursuit of becoming a man or woman of God. Are you willing to take responsibility and become a participant in what lies ahead? Is God blessing your journey? Listen to audio

You Can't Hide

Here is a short list of things you can’t hide. You can’t hide an elephant behind a palm tree. You can’t hide the fact that you just ate an Oreo, a blue sucker, or a red Popsicle. Your teeth and tongue will betray you. You can’t hide 38 hips in 32 jeans. For some people it is not just about buying “modest” clothing, but “honest” clothing. You can’t hide a zit on the end of your nose. Ladies have the luxury of using what is referred to as “cover up.” Men just have to bare their zits, while ladies try to “cover up.” But when it is on the end of your nose “cover up” is like putting a VW under a tarp. You can’t hide laughter in church. If you have ever tried to stop laughing in church, then you know that trying to stop the holy giggles most often leads to an unbecoming snort. The laughing starts all over again. You can’t hide what God is doing in your life. After Elijah’s disappearance in 2 Kings 2:11, Elisha took his cloak. The sons of the prophets recognized that “the spirit of

No Joke

It is a well documented fact that 70 – 75% of children raised in church, leave the church after graduating high school. Unlike the experience of previous generations, in which children left church during their college years and returned after marriage, statistics are showing that those that are leaving the church in the current generation are not returning. In the articles I have read on the issue, most children are leaving church because they find it hypocritical, boring, and irrelevant. To them, church is a joke. The story of Elisha is strange. He is a strange man, who does strange things, says strange things, and does and says things for strange reasons. One of those strange moments is 2 Kings 2:23-25. While travelling through the city of Bethel a group of “small boys” mock Elisha by saying, “Go up, you baldhead!” Elisha curses them in the name of the Lord. Female bears then came out of the woods and “tore forty-two of the boys (2 Kings 2:25).” Ouch! The message is simpl

A Double Portion

“Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” (2 Kings 2:9) What will your life inspire in the next generation? What if they do what you do, doubly well? Will their relationships be twice the disaster? Or, will your choices inspire them to seek to be twice the quality of person you have become? If you go to church once a month, as adults, your children will probably go twice a year. If your children see your Bible collecting dust on the shelf, when they are grown and own a home, they may simply choose to save the space. If your children only hear you use a few words of profanity, they may choose to arm their vocabulary not with a few profane words, but with them all. If you are constantly critical of your children and of others, their world will be twice as dark. Our walk should inspire our children to be twice the student of Scripture, even more devoted to Christ, more edifying in sp

In Pursuit (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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“The value of the possession is seen in the intensity of the pursuit.” Our lives give evidence of what is truly important to us. What is your intense pursuit? If we saw we are a Christian we must be intensely pursuing Christ. If we say we are a man or a woman of God, we must be intensely pursuing God’s Word and God’s will. Elisha begins his intense pursuit of God by leaving no chance of returning to his past. In his pursuit he remain tenacious even when he is tempted to park. Listen to audio

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

Read 2 Kings 2:1-14 Super group U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was a number one hit in 1988. The song became an ironic prophecy. Though they have won 22 Grammy awards they have not had a number one song on Billboard’s top 100 since. Why did Elijah tell Elisha three times to stay behind as he travelled to another town? Was it some sort of test of devotion? Was Elijah trying to spare Elisha the hardship of losing his mentor? Though no one can answer the question with certainty, what we can be sure of is that everyone knew Elijah was leaving. In two different locations the sons of the prophets (students in a “prophet school”) told Elisha this was the day Elijah was leaving. Twice Elisha declared he knew Elijah was leaving, and twice he told them to keep quiet. Elisha would not stop the journey despite the coming pain. When Elijah was taken up Elisha tore his clothes, an obvious sign of mourning. Yet perhaps the greater reason Elisha would not stop the journ

If You Aim At Nothing. . .

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15 I think I picked up this phrase from pastor Bobby Welch, that “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” There are too many people hitting the afore mentioned target. People who accomplish meaningful things take aim at meaningful things. They prepare. In the Bible there is a common thread to the plot. Almost every person who made a significant contribution to the story arises from obscure, almost unaccounted for, years of preparation. It took 80 years for Moses to get going. Joshua was Moses’ protégée before he was Israel’s commander. Elisha spent ten years preparing to be a prophet, with Elijah, from the time of his call (1 Kings 19) to the time the mantel finally fell on him in 2 Kings 2. John the Baptist hit the scene in his thirties, well prepared. Most of what was written about Jesus occurred between

Mentors

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. (2 Timothy 1:4) Mentors show us what is possible. Left to ourselves, unchallenged, we are lethargic. We all need gifted people in our lives that are generous with their wisdom and talents. We need people who do not shy away from pouring their life into us. My parents taught me to never quit and that determination and a friendly spirit will help you overcome a lot of your own mistakes. I saw a kid get pegged in the eye during a baseball game, actually it was game 1 of a seemingly 165 game little league season. After I saw Keith get hit in the eye I wanted to quit. My dad wouldn't let me. He knew I was terrible, but he didn't allow me to quit on my teammates. I have been metaphorically hit in the eye many times in 13 years of serving as a pastor; I'm still at the plate! My grandmother Truelove (isn't that a grea

Beaches Full of Nets

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“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:11 Why is it that people make a commitment to Christ but remain largely unchanged? It is because they leave nothing behind. The modern version of Christianity is to accommodate the call of Jesus into an already established lifestyle. From attitudes to actions we expect Jesus to accommodate. Yet we fail to realize that truly following Christ requires a total reorientation to life. We want to lose weight without changing our diet. We want to save money while we continue to amass debt. We want to save time for more important things without releasing the frivolous. We want to gain Christ and lose nothing. We do not lose weight. We do not save money. We do no save time. We are not Christians without loss. If we cannot look behind us and see a beach full of empty boats and dry nets, then we cannot say we are following Christ. One reason we return so easily to our sin is that we carry our nets

What is Possible? (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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We believe with God all things are possible. Yet we make a grave mistake when we define for God what is possible. We believe God can do anything according to our expectations. When those expectations are not met it casts us into a dark night, a crisis of faith. So what is actually possible? Listen to audio

Success and Succession

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There is no success without succession. It takes more than a lifetime to accomplish your dream. We are stewards of a moment. If your ideas do not survive your life, they will soon be extinct. There is no success without succession. God called Moses to lead Israel to Canaan. Moses successor Joshua led the people to the Promised Land. David dreamed a building God a temple. He drew the plans and gathered the materials. His son Solomon built it. Elijah wanted to wipe out Baal worship in Israel. His mantel fell on Elisha. Elisha anointed Jehu. “Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel (2 Kings 10:28).” Jesus wanted disciples in all nations (Matthew 28:19). He spent three years pouring His life into twelve men. Those men, with the exception of one, began a movement that has effectively circumvented the globe with the gospel. There is not success without succession. In order for succession to be successful two attitudes are necessary. 1) Humility – If we want to succeed we must value the ideas

The Will of God for Butterflies

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It is impossible for God to do His will your way. Instant gratification is our Achilles heel. We do not appreciate detail. We fail to see God in the little things. We want God to hurry, grant it now, and finish the job. It drives us crazy that God meanders. The will of God is full of little things. All we see is the final outcome. God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. We see the final image of the Son of God on a cross, dying for sin only to rise from the dead three days later. But sending your Son into the world is complicated business, full of little things. Like days; while on Earth Jesus experienced approximately 12,045 of them. He needed all of them in order to die on one of them. Every day was a little thing that led to that one meaningful moment. God created the heavens and the earth. God also created the little things, like paramecium and hydrogen atoms. God created the seas, and every molecule of water within them. The will of God is a big thing full of little th

Alone

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“Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone (Genesis 2:18a).’” Lake Vostok, Antarctica is the darkest place on earth. It is a fresh water lake, roughly the size of Lake Ontario, buried beneath 2 miles of ice. Because of the pressure of the ice on the lake, the water is able to stay in a liquid state at only 27 degrees. Scientists hope to find new species of life submerged in these dark, isolated waters. Yet, there is one, glaring problem. No one can find a way into Lake Vostok. While Lake Vostok is dark, it may not actually be the darkest place on earth. In fact, the darkest place on earth may not be geographic at all. The darkest place on earth may be within us. When pressures mount we tend to submerge. We submerge our feelings, hurts, disappointments, and fears until they become a subterranean lake hidden beneath a shelf of hypocrisy. We wear a mask, a glazed, icy stare hoping to hide the hurt. In a crowd we feel alone, isolated, inaccessible. It is not

Discouraged With God

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Being discouraged is part of being human. You can’t hit a curve ball. You can’t get a date. You can’t catch a break. You are discouraged. God is not exempt from the list from of sources of human discouragement. Humans get discouraged with God. The celebrity lineup of those who became discouraged with God would include Abraham (Gen. 15:2), Moses (Exo. 5:22-23), Job, the Psalmists (i.e. Psalm 79:5), and almost every minor and major prophet from Isaiah to Obadiah. The characters of Scripture were flesh, blood, and feelings just like you and I. They experienced discouragement. We become discouraged with God when He doesn’t meet our expectations. Moses rants, “ O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and YOU HAVE NOT DELIEVERED YOUR PEOPLE AT ALL (Exodus 5:22-23). ” There is a formula common to our rants, expectation + failure = why? What makes discouragement with God more

Raising Children in Church (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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The church should not be a substitute for the home, but a supplement. If a parent’s idea of Christian parenting is to simply take a child to church on Sunday, it will not work. We should be teaching our children the foundational principles of life and education in the home. As parents, we get the first shot at raising our children. The church and the school should be used to supplement the values and ideas that parents are trying to instill in their children. Listen to audio

Learn to Learn

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Church is by nature a learning environment. If your children have not learned to learn, church (and school) will be a bore, a chore, and a war! The Bible says in James 1:21, “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” Some children do not function well in learning environments. Perhaps they find the classroom boring. Their behavior is a distraction to others in the class. They do not respect their teachers. They do not have a desire to learn. For a person to learn they must want to learn; they must have an attitude that is conducive to learning, i.e. “meekness.” It is dangerous for any person to have an unteachable attitude, but it is especially dangerous for a child to be unteachable. If a child is not being challenged to learn at home, it will be a challenge for him or her to learn in a structured, academic environment. The home is the primary learning environment for a child, n

Parents Rely Too Heavily On Church!

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I don’t have fancy stats to prove this one, but I do have experience. I have been a senior pastor now for almost 13 years (ouch)! I served as a youth pastor for almost 5 years. While in high school and college I worked on bus routes and served in children’s church. All of that experience has proven to me that parents rely too heavily on church. Should church be a regular, vital part of parenting? I would contend that if church is not a regular part of your life then you are probably not born again. In the New Testament, a natural part of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit was gathering with other believers for fellowship, teaching, worship, ministry, and communion (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). People who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit seek out people who are indwelt by the same Spirit. Therefore, we could say that if you are born again, and a parent, the church gathering WILL be a natural part of the parenting process. Going to church benefits your children. In June 2007, the Christian Exam

What to Do After Dinner?

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As a Christian parent I have a God given responsibility to raise my children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4).” Raising children is not something you do in a moment. You cannot designate a time of day in which you and your children will cease godless activity, and you, wielding the sword of the divine right of parenthood, instill in them the “disciplined/instructive moment of the day.” Children recognize hypocrisy early. This means that you do not have a membership card into the Christian parent league just because you pray with your kids before bedtime. I could also add to this list, going to church once a week, owning a Bible, or making sure you do not swear in front of your children. One Christian moment a day, or a week, is not Christian parenting. Parenting is about modeling. Being a Christian parent is showing your children what a vital relationship with Jesus looks like 24/7. What does Jesus in dad look like at work, in the yard, and especially in marria

The Etiquette of Dress (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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How should God’s people dress? As Christians we should not act nor dress in ways that would make people think poorly of us as Christian people, make people doubt our commitment to Christian purity and marriage, or cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble. What are the dangers of immodest dress and behavior? Listen to Audio

The Etiquette of Worship (Sermon Audio: Sunday A.M.)

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What should we do with the movements of people? What should we do with the movements of the Spirit? In either scenario we should realize that worship is for God, from man. As such we should be careful that we do not become a distracting influence in times of corporate worship. What does the Bible say about worship etiquette? Listen to audio

Elisha, Man of God

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In February I began preparing to preach on the life of the prophet Elisha. Elisha’s story is told in the Bible from 1 Kings 19 through 2 Kings 13. Today I begin assessing all of my notes and preparing the first few sermons in the series. The first sermon will be shared on Sunday, August 16. In conjunction with this series I will be posting short devotionals on topics that relate to the various themes found in the life of Elisha. The first of those postings will be on Monday, August 10. For now, I encourage you to begin reading the story of Elisha as told in Scripture. Prepare your own notes. Write down questions. Study the Word. Subscribe to these posts and the audio online. Let’s really immerse ourselves in this study, together. Also, in conjunction with this series we will be launching the new RBC Men’s and Women’s ministries. Formal announcements will be made over the next couple of weeks, but you can expect the launch events to be held in September. In meeting with our leadershi