What do you consider a dirty word? There are words from our faith that we no longer want to hear – like sacrifice, authority, sin, holiness – to name a few. In my new message series, we will look at Scriptures that deal with some of these words. The next five weeks you will be challenged by the Bible to be the person God has called you to be.
Our deepest desire is for a relational lifestyle. Our lifestyle does not leave room for relationships. This is the dilemma of life in the suburbs in the twenty-first century.
A life shared with meaningful conversation, and a sense of being known for who we really are, takes time. The relational life takes time. In our culture, time is money. It also takes time to develop and maintain a career, and the more productive you are, generally the more affluent you become. Taking time for relationships will cost you money (in the short-term). You will become less productive, which means you will make less money, and you will lose opportunity for advancement in your work.
Yet, once we pay the price for authentic relationships, the pay off is invaluable. The relationships we obtain are priceless. In addition, the benefits of authentic relationships are not just the intangibles. Long-term relationships are the doorways to the blessings of God. God moves through relationships. Almost every answer to prayer and kingdom opportunity that has come to me has occurred because of a relationship developed. I believe the phrase, “Our relationships today, are the answers to our prayers tomorrow.” So pay the price for authentic relationships because it will be the best investment of your time for tangible and intangible benefits.
Each month I meet with two groups of pastors (here is a recent “selfie” of one of those groups). These relationships are not based off of an agenda, an event or an obligation. We simply meet to laugh, encourage and talk. Some months it seems very inconvenient, and almost unproductive. Yet, the commitment to these fellow pastors as my personal small groups has contributed to my emotional health, my professional sustainability, and my overall happiness. These men have made me a better husband, father, and pastor. Relationships matter!
One of the great cultural myths in America is that every conservative individual is close-minded. While some conservatives may espouse beliefs without critical thought, many liberals do the same thing. In my case, I believe I have an open mind that listens to various perspectives on a variety of subjects. Yet, I have developed a conservative world-view based off thoughtful conclusions.
So, I believe through deductive reasoning:
- God designed the family, and biological determinations define the ideal family. Families work best with a father and mother, therefore traditional families should be encouraged by all of society.
- An embryo is a person with a unique DNA, the ability to feel pain, and rights that are to be protected. Our judicial systems will punish the harm of an embryo in some situations, and endorse the destruction of the embryo through legalized abortion. Are we to decide if an embryo is valuable based off the situation? No, God values all life.
- If people do not work, complex economies will fail. Our country was built on capitalism. An economy with more “takers” than “producers” will not sustain.
- Humans have abused the earth. Conservation of the planet makes sense, and should be considered a Christian issue. Christians should care about the environment.
- Pro-life Christians should be concerned not only with the unborn, but with the quality of life of the born.
- A pro-life Christian should be concerned with unjustified killing of the innocent through hasty capital punishment. The death penalty should be used rarely, with the greatest of necessity.
My five days in India was an incredible experience, and a true gift from God. My close friends Balakumar and Yamuna Mannar were incredible hosts, and their hospitality allowed me to experience Indian culture and opened great doors of ministry.
I spent the entire trip only in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), but there was more than enough to see in this sprawling, exciting city. I enjoyed staying two nights in an Indian home, and experiencing the daily rhythms of life in that neighborhood. The idol worship that occurs through Hinduism was present everywhere. This was a constant reminder that these wonderful people need to know and accept the message of Jesus Christ. Pray for India.
I was thrilled to see that the message of Christ is advancing in the city of Chennai. Local pastors Abraham Thomas, David Mohan (see video below) and Sam Chadwick have built churches of thousands that are turning people to the living God. I was privileged to speak in each of these men’s pulpits, and these churches were thriving and filled with God’s presence. There are many other churches in Chennai, but more are needed to reach the millions who are not saved and discipled in the way of Christ.
The future is bright for India economically, politically and culturally. Yet, the greatest story could be the emergence of Christianity as the predominant religion. Statistically, there is much distance to cover to classify India as a Christian nation, but with the outstanding leadership of the church, and the fervent faith of the young people that already exists; there is great hope for the rapid spread of the gospel in India this century. Pray for India. The best is ahead!
It is such an honor to partner with a new church in east Nashville called Sacrament Church. My friend Preston Sharpe came to CIL in January to share the vision for Sacrament, and we were glad to announce our partnership then. Since that time, the church had an Easter launch, and have established themselves as a presence in their community.
I have admired how Preston and his team have integrated in the community, taking part in the customs and events of their neighborhood.
The church currently meets at Inglewood Elementary School each Sunday at 10 a.m.
Spread the word about this church to friends in that area.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of what is happening at this sister church:
We would all be wise to think critically before posting our opinion on social media, or spewing it out in a social engagement.
Many times I work out thoughts verbally with my wife, family, and closest friends. These unguarded conversations help me “talk through” my emotions. That process helps me refine my perspective, and sometimes causes me to change my mind on an issue.
In contracts to this close group, in a public forum I want my opinions to be filtered, seasoned and effective.
As Christians, I believe critical thinking includes:
- Knowledge of the Bible.
- Ability to listen to another opinion with an open mind (civility).
- Basic understanding of theology and history.
- Cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.
- An understanding of current events. As we regularly follow current events, we will be able to frame the significance of those events properly in light of all the characteristics I have mentioned above.
The more we think critically on a consistent basis, the times we do react will be more effective and honor Christ.
So, keep thinking!
Well, yes. That seems obvious. He is sovereign over all things. Yet, we often complain about the weather mindlessly, as if our negative attitude about the heat or cold will change the situation. Now I understand that most of our complaints about the weather are simply conversation fillers as we participate in small talk throughout the day. But, I have met many people whose disposition is determined by what is happening in the weather.
As we looked at the Providence of God in my Wednesday class, we found many Scriptures that acknowledged and praised God through the expression of the weather. Here is a sample of some of the most impactful verses on this subject:
Psalm 148:7-8 (HCSB)
Praise the Lord from the earth . . .
lightning and hail, snow and cloud,
powerful wind that executes His command.
Job 37:6-13 (ESV)
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
7 He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
8 Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
10 By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
12 They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
13 Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen.
Matthew 5:45 (HCSB)
For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
While I do believe we need to care for creation as Christians conservationists, we have far less control of the weather than we’d like to think. Just consider about how often the meteorologist miss it on their prognostications!
Father, the weather is another example of your Sovereign, Providential character!
We have spent several years moving in and out of the book of Mark in “verse by verse” preaching. We will preach other sermon series that emphasize a variety of Scriptures, then return back to teachings from Mark.
As we started a new message series in Mark 10 yesterday, I intentionally skipped over Mark 10:1-12. While this passage gives us an important message from Jesus, I did not feel it was necessary to revisit this theme as a congregation in light of a past sermon. In 2012, I delivered a message called “If I Divorce, Can I Remarry Again?”
You can listen to the 2012 sermon as an interpretation of Mark 10:1-12, though Matthew 19:1-9 is the primary text for this message.
I thank God that His Scripture is our standard for doctrine and practice.
Since today is the first day of September, its a good time to reinvigorate your Bible Reading plan. If you aren’t following a plan, you’re not reading us much Scripture as you think. I recommend you do the New Testament plan, but there are other options listed in this blog, too. Let’s move on towards maturity!
Originally posted on Aaron's Angle:
I want to share with you the Bible reading plans I have used over the years. I have found that having a Bible Reading plan keeps you focused, holds you accountable and leads you to passages of Scriptures that you may not read yourself.
I go through the Complete Bible Reading plan, and I must admit that it gets difficult to me at times. I have built up some endurance through the years, so those of you who are seasoned at reading the Bible, this plan may work for you too. Depending on the reading selection and your reading pace, this will take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes a day.
However, most of you need to start with the New Testament Reading plan. This plan only takes 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. If you get some extra time or motivation, you can explore…
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There are a lot of things competing for a congregation’s attention, but the healthiest churches are relentlessly dedicated to three or four things. The simpler, the better. Those three or four things may be different for each church, but the power of focus on these defined areas creates congregational health.
At CIL, we focus on . . .
Bible Teaching – Scripture is our authority and source of truth.
Next Generation – Kids, teenagers and college students are the church of today!
Small Groups – People will stay a month for a great service, a year for a great program, but a lifetime for a friend. Relationships are irreplacable. As a church gets bigger, it must get smaller though smaller groups.
Experiential Worship – God is not a concept to explain, but a presence to experience. Experiential worship includes prayer, music, singing, liturgical prayers, spontaneous prayer, silence, the taste of communion, the physical interaction of fellowship, and much more!