Correcting Those You Influence

Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who stood by me in my...

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Sermon Illustration: Welcome to College

Earlier this week, the New York Times posted an article entitled “Welcome to College. Your Parents are in the Tents Next Door.” The article begins with this: Tianjin, China – When Yang Zheyu arrived at Tianjin University this fall for the start of his first year, he had all the essentials. Winter coat. Dictionary. Four pairs of shoes. Toothpaste. And a few hundred yards from his dormitory, in a cobalt-blue tent set up on the floor of a gymnasium, he had his mother at his beck and call, ready to bring him bowls of instant noodles, buy him soap and...

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Disciple-Making is Counter-Everything

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the commanding officer. Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops.(2 Timothy 2:2-6) Disciple-making is hard because everything around us pushes against us doing this one thing. After Paul instructed...

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Sermon Illustration: Nissan Pathfinder

Recently, my 2001 Honda Accord kicked the bucket. A couple of failed emission tests and a need to purchase a catalytic converter forced me to trade it in. Sad day. One, because I loved that car. Two, because I loved the monthly payments (Read: I didn’t have any). My wife and I traded in the Accord for a Nissan Pathfinder. So far, we love it. Not the monthly payment, mind you. . . the vehicle itself. Since owning the car, I have noticed something. Actually, I have noticed A LOT of somethings. Nissan Pathfinders are everywhere! When I drive down...

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Slow Down

“Even zeal is not good without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily sins.” (Proverbs 19:2) Before you make that accusation, check your facts. Before you make the big decision, know what you are getting into. Before you post, take a deep breath. Before you act on a whim, make sure it is wise. Before you make another assumption, determine the truth. For sure, we can be guilty of “paralysis by analysis.” We sometimes do nothing because we are scared to mess up. But we can also go to the other extreme. Passionately respond without knowing. Acting in haste without...

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Sermon Illustration: How to Murder Your Husband

Nancy Brophy, a sweet looking granny is in jail for murdering her husband. Yep. A granny who looks like someone who could make a mouth watering apple pie and famous turkey and dressing is now behind bars because she didn’t want her husband around anymore. The crazy thing? She is a novelist who, years earlier, wrote a fiction novel about murdering your husband and getting away with it. Later she wrote an essay on how to write a compelling novel about this very topic. Yep. She wrote books and essays on how to murder your husband and get away with...

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Hamburger Helper vs. Filet Mignon

“Better a dry crust with peace, than a house full of feasting with strife.” (Proverbs 17:1) What would you rather have? Peace or a Feast? You can’t NOT afford counseling. Better to take time off from work and get professional help, than to keep at it – trying to force it away with more money. Is counseling expensive? You bet it is. But it’s better to eat Hamburger Helper every meal where there is wholeness, than filet mignon where there is division. Why are you gone from home all the time? To make more? So your family can have lobster...

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September 16th, 2001

Sunday, September 16th, 2001. A day I would love to have back. Five days after the tragic of events of what is now called “9-11.” I was just over four months into my first pastorate. I was preaching through the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. The scheduled text for that week was “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The church was full. Packed. People standing in the back. On a normal Sunday, we averaged 75 or so. On this day, there were at least twice that. People came needing answers. People came needing comfort. People...

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The Most Important Part of a Great Sermon

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:4 If it is true that great sermons are in the eyes and ears of those sitting in the pews; and if that implies the preacher is completely dependent on the Spirit to do the work; then THAT means the preacher’s most important task is to pray for his people. When the disciples chose the first deacons in Acts 6, Luke tells us they did so in order to give themselves first to prayer and then the ministry of the word. Recently, I had an opportunity to lead a group of preachers...

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Authority to Cast Out Demons

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Matthew 10:1) Have you ever wished you had authority to cast out demons? Me too. Especially when my children are, well, you know… Recently, while thinking about this text and how Jesus sent His followers to those in need, I wondered why He doesn’t do the same thing today. Or does He? Without doubt, Jesus sends His followers out looking for those who are welcoming them into their lives. He sends us out into a broken world...

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