Sure Signs That My Sermons Are Not Going Well!

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1. Our associate pastor Greg is warming up in the bullpen.

2. Debbie and the worship team keeps playing when I come up to take my place on my cushy chair.

3. People spend the whole time I’m preaching filling out their connection cards.

4. When I have one of those interactive sessions and no one knows what I’m talking about.

5. My cell phone starts ringing, and I answer it.

6. When I dismiss the Jr High’ers for their class and their parents go, too.

7. Kate Domke and other mothers of little babies bring their babies into the service and pinch their babies five minutes after I begin to speak.

8. Marino and the ushers are handing out refunds.

9. People begin asking Larry Newman to share his iPad during the message.

10. Willits and the A/V team begin putting messages in the screen behind me when I’m not looking to keep people engaged!

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Five Comments about Gospel Stewardship

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Sunday’s message was how we spend too much time fixating on financial stewardship while we neglect stewardship of the most precious treasure we have — the Gospel message!

Anyway, I said a lot of stuff and as I was speaking it seemed to come our more harsh than I when I prepared it. I didn’t intend that but I do think our church as well as most others find it too easy to be distracted from what is most important.

So here are five things said on Sunday that we need to keep in mind:

#1 — Too many churches have a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” culture that exists. We all silently agree not to ask each other who we have shared the Gospel with so we are not accountable for doing so. I don’t believe this is a conspiracy, but I do think it is a trap we fall into and must break out of. Let’s start asking each other and praying for each other.

#2 — Consider the parable of the man who found the field with the treasure hidden in it. He ran out and sold all he had to possess the treasure. Have you sold all you have to possess the treasure of the Gospel? Have you held back something for yourself? If so, then you really don’t possess the treasure yet.

#3. — Good stewardship is not leaving success to chance, but it is being diligent about what we do and how we do in order to achieve the greatest success. (Thanks Kate for that nugget of truth!)

#4. — Actually this tidbit isn’t from the message. John Ashton sent it to me later in the day. His comment was that a good steward must know the owner’s desire in order to please the owner. What a great comment! Do we know what Christ’s desire is for us, his servants, those who are charged with managing the Gospel story? I fear that too many feel the story is for them alone and never feel compelled to share it.

#5. — I am the worst of sinners in this area. I have enjoyed sharing the Gospel when I have do so. But I am the worst at feeling like I don’t have time. When I do that I am prioritizing my mundane task (cleaning the garage, washing the siding — you know really important stuff) over my responsibility of stewardship of the Gospel. My greatest downfall is robbing time from my family or from my time in the Word or from building relationships for stupid stuff that will one day burn to a crisp. God forgive me for my ignorance!

Ten Suggestions for Gospel Stewardship

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This past Sunday we talked about how important it is for us to be as diligent at being a good steward of the Gospel as we are with our money.

So what now? Don’t you hate it when some loud-mouth preacher rails on you without giving you any real opportunities to do something with the message!

Well, here’s ten suggestions on how to begin to be a good steward of the Gospel:

1. Be intentional about the relationships you build. Ask God to point you to the people He wants you to get to know and beginning loving to Christ. Loving them to Christ means making them more important than yourself, asking about the things important to them, praying for them, earning the right to share about the difference Jesus has made in your life.

2. Do pray walks. Walk through your neighborhood, your campus, your workplace praying for the people you pass by. If you’re really industrious, jog and pray! Just make sure you pray silently or they will know how weird you really are.

3. Be willing to sacrifice what you are doing or what is important to you in order to seize a “gospel” opportunity with someone.

4. Take the first step. Be the one that begins the conversation, that invites the other to dinner, for coffee or dessert. When you do this, some folks will respond and some won’t. Don’t worry so much about the ones that don’t and focus on the one’s that do take you up on your offer. (Be sure you have something really good to serve them!)

5. Begin an evangelistic Bible study. There are several at CCC who have done this before and would be glad to coach you as you lead your study. There are all kinds of materials you can use. If you want to know about them, just email me!

6. Begin a book or movie discussion group. When it’s your turn to choose the movie or book choose one that will lend itself to spiritual discussions.

7. Host a backyard Bible club. Don’t think this is only about the children. Many parents will hang out wanting to know what’s going on. Invite them in and make them feel welcome. When you do that, you just went from children evangelism to adult evangelism!

8. Work on your personal testimony. Don’t let it be so long that you bore your guests to death. None of us have that good a story. Boil it down so you can tell it in less than 3 minutes. Even shorter would be good. Some call this your “elevator story” – in other words, can you tell your story in the time it takes to ride the elevator a few floors?

9. Attend the evangelism class at CCC. Last week Scott and Greg ran out of materials. Be there this week and begin to equip yourself so you can better steward the Gospel.

10. Finally, and this is the most creative idea – don’t fill out your census form. If you don’t fill out the census, our government will send a census worker to your door to ask you their ten questions and you can ask them a few questions back!! “Do you know where you would spend eternity if you get ran over by a car as you walk to the next house?” I bet their visit to your door will be unlike any other!!

If you begin to do any of these things I would love to hear about. We need to be sharing our stories with each other and praying about them. If you keep the good stuff to yourself the rest of us lose out. So spread the news of how your personal stewardship program is going! Leave a comment to share what you’ve done and how it worked out.

Eternal Disaster Relief

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“The earthquake scared me. Voodoo has been in my family but the government isn’t helping us. The only people giving aid are the Christian churches.”
Veronique Malot, a 24-year-old Port-au-Prince resident who joined an evangelical church days after the January 12 earthquake.

Source: Associated Press

This is the stuff the world never hears about the church. They report over and over again about all the scandals that occur but it is rare that a statement like this gets repeated by the AP. (Can we have a little applause for the AP! We rag on the media so much that when they do well we ought to say so.)

You’ve heard me say it in church but I am so amazed by what God does that I have to say it again — God takes situations like an earthquake, a tsunami or war — all things that we are horrified by and He steps into them bringing all kinds of healing and strengthens the church and brings people to Christ.

In his book, “The Church is Bigger than You Think” Patrick Johnstone sheds light on this exact matter. Look at what he says,

“Yet it is these traumatic events that have contributed to the harvest into God’s Kingdom. Some question whether a good God could exist if he “allows” such terrible things.” (pg 117)

“We will never see the whole picture this side of eternity, nor be able to give a logical reason for all of these events.” (pg 117)

Johnstone points out that Christ says in Matthew 24 that these things “must take place.”

“One fact has become clear to me in my gathering of information from around the world; the sound bites and the news flashes on our television screens do not tell the full story. God is doing an unprecedented work in our day. These mighty works are not in spite of the disasters, but even because of them.” (pg 118)

In this chapter, Johnstone highlights recent wars, famine, and natural disasters. He goes beyond the media coverage that we are so familiar with to revealed what God did after the cameras and journalists went home.

He closes the chapter with these words, “one day in eternity I am sure God will show us the full pattern of his working in history through the terrible events that have shaken our world.”

We go back again to Paul’s words in Romans 11:34, “”Who has known the mind of the Lord?” He is doing things we don’t understand and can’t see. So when we read the headlines, we can be assured that there is another story being written that we might not know of until eternity.

For more news about how God is at work in Haiti, check in on Rich Mears’s blog. The Mears family are CCC missionaries serving in Haiti.

Madonna’s irony

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Isn’t it interesting that so often those who set the trends don’t want their own children to follow those trends. Meanwhile, the general public clamors over each other to adopt the trend and even take it further than the trend-setter. This is most interesting when we see these trends invade the community of faith!

QUOTE: “If anything, I wish she’d dress more conservatively. How’s that for irony?” —Madonna, discussing her 13-year-old daughter’s fashion sense with Us Weekly. Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes, are developing a teen clothing line for Macy’s dubbed Material Girls.

[nydailynews.com, 3/31/10]

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