423:  The Breathtaking View of Christ

423: The Breathtaking View of Christ

One of the major failures of the church today is to downplay the place of Christ when we come together to worship.  Yes, you heard right.  We, hopefully unknowingly, often relegate Christ to the back pew or the second chair.  And who do we elevate in His place?  Usually the pastor or, often, the worship leader.

And when we come together as a church we have a tendency to preach on the “what’s” and “why’s” of the Scripture and seldom the “how’s”.  Think about it.  We know we are commanded to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1-2), but are never told exactly how to do that.  Did you ever wonder why?

We are commanded to “walk according to the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), yet are never instructed on how to do that.  We know what it means and why it’s important.  But for some reason, our pastors fail to take our hands and show us exactly how to accomplish this command.  Why?

Is it because practical Christianity is not in vogue today?  Or could it be we have become a church made up of those who can tell us what to do but have never experienced it themselves?  Are we more like cowboys driving cattle from the rear than a shepherd leading from the front?

What are we to do?


Seven Things the Church Failed to Teach Me

Recently I was reading a blog by Frank Viola that shared these seven things the church never taught him.  And I couldn’t agree more.  Consider the following:

  1.  How to practically live by the Christ who dwells inside me.
  2.  How to practically learn how to hear the Lord’s voice beyond “pray and read your Bible.”
  3.  That church-as-we-know-it is drastically different from church-as-God-would-have-it.
  4.  What the gospel of the kingdom is and how radically it can alter a human life.
  5.  How deep the tentacles of the world system go and how to break free from them.
  6.  That God’s presence is extremely subtle most of the time.
  7.  How to find Christ in the Scriptures, including the entire Old Testament.

So in 2019, I have committed to teach the church I pastor the “how’s” of the Christian faith and to answer these, and other, practical questions about living for Him.  Will you join with me as we explore the breathtaking view of our Lord together?

The following is a study on the Breathtaking View of Christ found in Colossians 1:15-19 and 2 Colossians 2:9-10.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

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Twenty Strange Pastor Criticisms

Twenty Strange Pastor Criticisms

For a little Christmas cheer, I’ve listed below the latest actual pastor criticisms from church members.  And a special thanks to Thom Rainer for these.

  1. “You didn’t send me a thank you note for my thank you note.”  Thank you.
  2. “You are too happy!”  I’ll make a point of being a total grump around you.
  3. “I will leave the church if you don’t put tissue seat covers in the bathrooms!”  Please flush on the way out.
  4. “I would be happy to take your wife to the store to help her select some appropriate clothes.”  Please do, but don’t return.
  5. “I guess I have to die to get you to wear a suit and tie to church again.”  The pastor did so the next Sunday.  He’s waiting on the member to hold up his end of the deal.
  6. “Every sermon you preach is better than the next one.”  Thank you . . . no, wait.
  7. “Why do we have to follow something an apostle wrote 2,000 years ago?”  Yep, that Bible is overrated.
  8. “The VBS hot dogs are too cheap.”  What?  We got them at LifeWay!
  9. “You don’t tell enough jokes when you preach.”  Yes, I do. I mentioned your name in my last sermon.
  10. “You need to stop talking about making disciples.”  Yes, that criticism came from an elder.
  11. “When you changed the name from Sunday school to small groups, you took Jesus and the Bible out of the church!”  I agree.  Read Hezekiah 4:11.
  12. “You didn’t give good advice about the family vacuum.”  Now, that’s important.
  13. “I heard you are going to cancel Christmas.”  Yes, I consulted with the Grinch.
  14. “I don’t like the color of your beard hair.”  Thank you.  I plan to dye it pink.
  15. “Your hair color is too dark for someone in your profession.”  Don’t worry.  The more I hear from you, the grayer it gets.
  16. “Just because it’s in the Bible, you don’t have to talk about it.”  I try to be selective.
  17. “Your wife used the wrong spoon in the coleslaw at the church social.”  Thank you.  She has agreed to be in timeout from church for one year.
  18. “We need to throw out the guitar to the streets. The piano is the only instrument that belongs in the church.”  Yep, that’s what the Apostle Paul said.
  19. “You ended a sentence with a preposition in your sermon.”  What is this criticism good for?
  20. “Your pregnant wife is faking morning sickness.”  I would be happy for you to watch her throw up.

Enjoy.

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You can read more of Thom’s church wisdom at his website, www.thomrainer.com.

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Profiting from the Holy

Profiting from the Holy

In Exodus 30 the Lord gives Moses, in great detail, instructions about how to make the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:22-33) and the incense (Ex. 30:34-38) to be used in temple worship.  And He gives specific commands about each.  For the anointing oil He said:

Exodus 30:25-30 – “And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer.  It shall be a holy anointing oil.  With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony; the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense; the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base.  You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them must be holy.  And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests.”

God then tells His people the importance of what He has just commanded them to do.

Exodus 30:31 – “And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.’ “

But there’s a warning.  What has been deemed holy by the Lord is not to be used for personal pleasure or gain.  Man is not to benefit from what is reserved for God alone.  He said, “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me (not to you) throughout your generations” (Ex. 30:31).

The Lord knew then, as He knows now, how easily we can turn worship into something we like and forget about the One it’s designed to honor.  We play the worship music we enjoy, preach the sermons that make us feel good, and anoint anything we feel like anointing.  Our times together to worship the Lord often digress into something that makes us feel better about who we are and not about Who we belong to.

Listen to the warning God gives about making a profit from what belongs only to Him.

Exodus 30:32-33 – “It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition.  It is holy, and it shall be holy to you.  Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.”

You are not to pour My oil out on whom you desire nor make some for yourself using the recipe I have given you.  This is for Me and Me alone.  “It is holy, and it shall be holy to you” (Ex. 30:32).

God gave the same command and warnings about the incense.  After detailing the specific combination of spices He desired, God then tells His children exactly where to place the incense and why.

Exodus 30:36 – “And you shall beat some of it very fine, and put some of it before the Testimony in the tabernacle of meeting where I will meet with you.  It shall be most holy to you.”

This incense is to be placed where God has chosen to meet with His people— a most holy place.   And “it shall be most holy to you.”  It is not to be used in your home, sold on Amazon, or used in any other way God has not specifically prescribed.  Why?  Because its purpose is to prepare a place for God to meet with man— a most holy place.  And not to make your car smell better.

Again, there’s a warning.

Exodus 30:37-38 – “But as for the incense which you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy for the LORD.  Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

You are not to make any incense for yourself for any reason.   Why?  Because “it shall be to you holy for the Lord.”  It’s not for you, just for Him.  And what happens if we choose to ignore His warnings and commands and personally profit from what belongs for Him alone?  He says the person who does this “shall be cut off from his people.”  They will no longer be covered under His covenant.  They shall be as a foreigner, an outcast to Him.


Cut Off From His People

Take a few minutes this Sunday and watch a couple of church services online.  Especially from a mega church.  How much of what you see is designed to glorify and worship the Lord?  And how much is planned to make the congregation feel comfortable and want to come back next Sunday?

Then go look at your own service this Sunday.  How much of what is done is for the benefit of you, or for the adoration of the Lord?  Is the “special music” for your enjoyment, or for His?  And speaking of music, do you even know what kind of music the Lord enjoys?  Is it traditional?  Contemporary?  Psalms only?  With or without instruments?  Does He enjoy loud guitars and a light show?  Or is that just for us?

And the message?  Does it lift up Him and His glory and attributes?  Or is it more about you and your problems and how the Lord can “get you through to the other side?”  Are you encouraged to verbally proclaim the beauty and majesty of the Lord or to turn to your neighbor and say, “You look good today?”

What kind of worship truly worships the Lord?  What type of service would He design if we ever took the time to ask Him?

These are some questions I hope you’ll think about before you head out next Sunday for church.  Because it’s supposed to be all about Him, and not about us.

Something to think about, isn’t it?

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Podcast 303:  Our Bonhoeffer Moment

Podcast 303: Our Bonhoeffer Moment

With our society and culture crumbling all around us it behooves the church to assess its commitment to Christ.  Are you hot or cold or lukewarm?  Is Christ on the outside of the church knocking, waiting, for us to open the door and allow Him into His church? (Rev. 3:20).

These are scary times.  But not unprecedented times.

In fact, it’s these very times that bring out the best in the church. It’s times like these where true men and women of God step forward to take their stand for truth.

It’s the time of Daniel, Elijah, John the Baptist and Gideon.

The following is a study on the call of Gideon.

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Podcast 293:  Credibility and Character

Podcast 293: Credibility and Character

What’s the big deal with pastors today calling themselves apostles?  Why are they doing that and how can that be justified from Scripture?

Or, better yet, what are the qualifications for the office of apostle?  And, once we determine the qualifications, do any of these pastors meet them?  Can anyone meet them today?  Anyone?

The lesson to be learned in all of this is that credibility is not communicated by titles or degrees. Credibility is communicated by character.  True, God-like character.  And the fact we have men calling themselves apostles today shows us how much we still need to learn as a church, doesn’t it?

The following is a study on Colossians 1:1-2.

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Podcast 261:  Down with the “D” Word!

Podcast 261: Down with the “D” Word!

In the latter half of Malachi 2 God employs some strong words to convey His feelings about His people and their attitude towards Him.  He uses treacherously five times in 8 verses.  We also find profane or profaning, abomination, and God saying He literally hates something.

Those two words alone, God and hate, should get our attention.

But what does God hate?  Ah, that’s where the “D” word comes in.

Want to hear more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Malachi 2:10-17.

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