The Pressure of Easter Preaching

Pastor do you feel a pressure on Easter unlike other Sundays?

It seems there is an internal pressure to:

  • Find an obscure verse.
  • Address the story from a new angle
  • Reveal new insight in applying the story
  • Develop a character like no one else has
  • Tell the story in a fresh way

I feel the pressure. Am I alone?

What if we simply preach that Christ was crucified, buried and rose again?

What if we let the Gospel be the Gospel? What if we let truth prevail and the Holy Spirit be the teacher?

What if we drop the pressure and share the truth that God still loves sinners, that the Cross is still enough and that He is calling people to repentance and restoration?

What if we share the glory of the resurrection, not in a way that brings attention to our creativity in preparing a message, but in His humility and grace on the cross?

What if we decrease so the light of the world might increase?

That’s my aim this Easter. Who’s with me?

Five Minute Challenge: Persecuted Church

This week I’m at Moody Founder’s Week. It’s a Bible conference put on by Moody Bible Institute that I’ve come to for several years, especially since my son Nate is a student here. One of the underlying themes this year has the persecution of Christians around the world. I’ve read recently that Christians are under more persecution today than any time in church history.

Then, my friend Tami Heim tweeted that she was praying for the Christians of Uzbekistan. I’ll be honest, I don’t know that I ever prayed for anyone in Uzbekistan. Then I followed the link she provided and realized it’s part of an initiative called the Five Minute Challenge. I signed up. You can too. In fact, I think you should.

HERE is a list of the 50 most-watched countries for church persecution.

Watch this video and then go HERE.

Do you ever pray for persecuted Christians?

7 Ways Satan Tries to Destroy a Church

church crowd

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I’m not a pastor who is constantly looking for Satan behind everything that goes wrong. I concentrate my attention on Jesus and encouraging others to follow Jesus and not to focus on the defeated one. Yet, I’m fully aware that Satan loves to destroy…or attempt to destroy…a church. Obviously Satan is a limited being and God’s church is secure. The gates of hell shall never overcome what God started, but Satan certainly loves to disrupt what God’s church is doing.

Here are 7 way Satan tries to destroy a church:

Church conflict – Satan loves business meetings that get out of hand or when two church members have disagreements outside of church. He loves when church members argue about trivial things, such as colors of the carpet or big things, such as whether to add another service. Doesn’t matter to him. Show him a good argument potential and he’s willing to stir the fire.

Burnout – Satan loves to burn out a church volunteer, staff member, or pastor. If he can make them feel they are no longer needed, their work is not appreciated, or that they no longer have anything to offer…he feels he’s winning part of the battle.

Rumors – Satan is the stirrer of dissension. He likes to plant little seeds of a juicy story, about someone in the church or community…sometimes even the pastor or staff…and watch them quickly spread through a church congregation or community. The version, of course, usually grows to a larger portion than reality. Satan likes that too.

Busyness – Satan loves to distract church goers with a plethora of activity that produces little results in Kingdom-building.

Lies – Satan attempts to interject what he calls a “half-truth”; just a hint of false doctrine and then watch it disrupt or divide a body. Of course, we all know that half-truth is really just a cleaned up version of a bold face lie, but Satan is clever enough to disguise a lie in a way where false teachers gain entry and do damage before being discovered.

Scandal – Satan loves a good, juicy, gossipy news headline in the local paper. If it will split, divide or destroy a church body…even better. If it will destroy someone’s Kingdom calling or work…he’ll take that too.

Marriage and family disruptions – Satan loves to destroy any relationship, but he also goes after key leader’s marriages; even the pastor’s marriage. He likes to encourage prodigal children. He wants to cause families to fight within the church and fight with the church. Satan knows if he can destroy a home, he has a better chance of destroying a church.

Thankfully, there is good news:

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4

What other ways have you seen Satan try to destroy a church?

Moody Bible’s Culby X: Free Christmas Album

Introducing…from the men of Culby X

A Christmas Album.

It’s free, it’s inspiring, and it’s good.

Forgive me, but this is a personal privilege post. My son Nate, a pastoral student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, released his first Christmas album today. This was his brainchild. He recruited the guys on his dorm floor, Culby 10th floor, to help. Nate coordinated the electronic music, another guy sang, and the guys on the floor participated with Scripture input, marketing, and general morale support.

Most amazing to me is that this project was completed in a dorm room. I don’t recall that insanity in dorm rooms from my days in college. Don’t let anyone tell you this generation can’t make a difference. The guys of Culby X, and so many others, will prove you wrong.

Do me a favor and be encouraged:

Download the album:

HERE

Like their Facebook page:

HERE

And have yourself a Merry Christmas!

The Mentor Recruiter

I think I’ve often viewed mentoring the wrong way. For years, I’ve been an advocate of having a mentor. I’ve had one since I was in my early 20’s. I’ve written about mentoring previously. I’ve written about mentoring in posts such as:

Questions to Help Know What to do with a Mentor

5 Types of Mentors

How Do I Find a Mentor?

In the last post listed, I stated that if you want a mentor, you must be willing to ask someone to mentor you. I still agree with that concept. If you need a mentor, it’s better to ask one than to do without. I wonder, however, if that’s really the Biblical model.

Consider for example:

  • Jesus said, “Follow me” (Mark 1:17)
  • Paul recruited Timothy (Acts 16:3)
  • Barnabas took Mark (Acts 15:37)
  • Paul chose Silas (Acts 15:40)

So my questions are:

  • Should we recruit people to mentor?
  • Who are you investing in today?
  • Who are you mentoring?
  • Who should you be?
  • Will you make the first call?

You may feel you have nothing to offer. That held me back from intentionally recruiting people to mentor for years. I’ve learned, however, that if a person has experience at any level, they have plenty to share with those who haven’t walked where they walk.

In a future post I’ll share how I have implemented this thought process.

Do you have a mentor?

Do you have someone to mentor?

Do you need to recruit someone? 

Free Online Conference Focused on Church Finances

If you’ve attended The Nines or any other free online conference, you’ll know how this works. This free online event is focused on church finances. It’s called Fund Your Church Now and it takes places on October 20. Here are the details:

What is it? Fund Your Church Now is a FREE online event to help your church go from financial breakeven to breakthrough. Some of the top church leaders in North America will talk about the practical things they have done to fully fund the church or ministry they help lead. No travel required…just watch from your computer.

When is it? October 20, 2011 from 1pm – 4pm EST. Register here.

Who is speaking? Bob Franquiz, Dino Rizzo, Carey Nieuwhof, Shaun King, Joe Sangl, Tim Stevens , Pete Wilson, Casey Graham, Robert Morris, and others.

Who is behind it? Fund Your Church Now is hosted by Giving Rocket.

If you are a church leader, this free online conference looks like it’s worth your time. Register here.

The Believer’s Response to Grief

Today was a special day of remembrance. You may want to read THIS POST and watch the 5 minute video associated with before viewing this message.

In our series called FREE we talked about living the freedom Christ intends for us to have, in spite of the death, pain, failure, loss and disappointments that come our way…mostly beyond our control. How as a believer are we to grieve? If you’re struggling with a significant loss, I hope this message gives you comfort:

Breaking free from the pain of death or loss from Gcomchurch Sermons on Vimeo.

If you choose to listen to this message, you may do so HERE: