Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Future is a Phantom, Seeking To Spook You

My good friends Larry and Amanda Castro are missonaries in Quito Ecuador. I read this post on their blog today and i thought it was great.  I pray that it will encourage you and bless you too.

5 Questions To Ask About Your Preaching…

  I recently read this article, because I know many pastors read this blog I thought I would pass it on, its something everyone who preaches or teaches should read and consider. You do it every week. Maybe you do it several times a week. Preaching. You are, by trade, someone who speaks to others. After a while, it can become easy to slip into preaching mode, without doing some self-assessment and taking stock of how you’re doing. For that reason, here are five questions to ask about your preaching. Is it from the Bible? Most importantly, preaching must be from the Bible. Without the Bible, there is no such thing as meaningful preaching. What are you left with? Your opinions? A self-help seminar? Financial advice? A science lesson? Maybe there is a place for financial advice, scientific facts and some self-help tips, but ultimately, everything must come to rest upon the Bible. This is God’s Word. This is what we have to rely on, believe in, and proclaim. As you analyze your preaching, ask, “Am I telling people what the Bible says?” Is it clear? You may have a crystal-clear outline. You may have a beautiful idea of what your sermon is going to sound like. Is it coming out okay? Clarity of communication is more important than the elegance of communication. There is a place for adding finesse, but it is more essential to effective communication that you are being clear in what you say. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m saying making sense? Is it logical? Is it forthright? Is it plain?” Is there an obvious theme? When someone actively listens to a good sermon, they should be able to walk away with a clear […]

The Power of Your Past

  12 I am writing to you, little children, that your sins have been forgiven because of his name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, that you have conquered the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, that you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, that you have known him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young people, that you are strong, and the word of God resides in you, and you have conquered the evil one. 1 John 2:12–14 NET Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John Several times in this epistle John makes his intentions for writing this letter crystal clear. This section of chapter two, however, is different from the other passages that contain some declaration of purpose. In each of the other instances (1 John 1:4; 2:1, 21; 5:13) John points to either the present or to the future. Here, he points to the past. Here, he calls upon the reader to consider his or her past and to be reminded of past spiritual victories. Recalling our pasts can be a powerful and moving experience. The modern day disciple should regularly stop and consider the richness of the past. Like John’s original audience, believers today have many things to be thankful for. Taking time to consider them makes our hearts more sensitive and appreciative toward our Savior. It is dangerous to become so consumed with the present and the future that we forget about our pasts. Recalling the personal things God has accomplished in […]

A New Command…

  7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 1 John 2:7–8 NIV Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John Have you ever wished that you were a part of another family? If you were looking for a family to spend time with, one of the first things you would look at before joining them is how they treated one another. By observing their interactions, you would be able to tell whether their family was something you wanted to enter into. So it is with the family of God. When outsiders look at churches, one of the chief qualities they observe is how people within a local congregation treat each other. This is not an accident. Jesus planned for our unconditional love for one an- other to be the number one sign of our authenticity of God’s life truly living inside of us. God, throughout the Old and New Testaments affirmed the importance of loving your neighbor as yourself. However, it was a new command from Jesus for believers to love one another with the same intensity of self-sacrificing love that He displayed for us. I have found that people are oftentimes more harsh with their own family members than with outsiders or strangers. For example, an older brother might treat his younger brother maliciously, yet treat the kid next-door with respect and kindness. This should […]

Pray For Our Brothers and Sisters

Don’t forget to pray each day for our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted and killed for the sake of the gospel!  Click here to read the article… Fate of Christians Arrested During Christmas in Iran Still Unknown One month after security forces raided their Assemblies of God Church (AOG) in Ahwaz in western Iran two days before Christmas – which resulted in the arrest of the entire congregation, including children – there is still no word regarding the whereabouts of the church’s pastor and three of its congregants. Everyone, but these four, were released from jail not long after the raid. The church was raided on Dec. 23, in a “pre-organized manner,” according to Mohabat News – a Christian news agency in Iran and one of the very few sources reporting on the persecution that the state exercises on its Christian minority. All attendees at the weekly service were arrested and transferred by bus to an unknown location, the agency reported at the time. The security officials reportedly had their faces covered during the raid and treated the children “badly” during the arrest. All detainees except for the four were freed a few hours later, once their personal details such as home addresses were recorded. However, Pastor Farhad Sabokroh, his wife Shahnaz and Naser Zamen-Dezfuli and Davoud Alijaniare, were reportedly still being held in custody by the Ministry of Intelligence. No reliable information has been made available regarding their health and the condition of the places where they are being held, Mohabat News reports. In its last report, the agency said that Sabokroh and his wife suffer from varicose veins and their general health condition is not good. The four were held […]

The Worthy Walk (1 John 2:3-6)

 3   Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. 4 The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. 5 But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 6 The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked. 1 John 2:3–6 NET Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John Stephen Neil wrote the following concerning obedience. “Every virtue is a form of obedience to God. Every evil word or act is a form of rebellion against Him. This may not be clear at first; but, if we think patiently, we shall find that it is true. Why were you angry? You will probably find that it was because you were not willing to accept the world as God has made it, or because you were not willing to leave it to God to deal with the people that He has made.” Total obedience is something most people struggle with their entire lives. It seems that from the moment we are born, our flesh cries out, and encourages disobedience. Despite knowing that we must be obedient in order to be successful in virtually any area of life, we still resist it. For example, to be a successful athlete you must obey the rules of the game; writers must obey the rules of language; students must obey the rules of the classroom; employees must obey the rules […]

The Advocate

“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” (1John 2:1–2 NET) Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John Human nature is sin nature by default.  It has been that way since the fall of mankind, so it should not be surprising when people sin.  However, people all over the world try to deny that they are, in fact, sinners, despite the mountain of evidence that speaks contrarily to that notion.  Some of this is because people truly believe that they have no advocate.  They think there is no one in their corner speaking on their behalf for their own good.  Even worse, they think that God would be the last person to defend them if they were ever to admit their wrongdoing.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  The fundamental message of the cross is that God is for you.  He is on your side.  In fact, Jesus died for you.  He took the death sentence that was rightfully yours.  Think about that.  If there was ever an advocate, a person in your corner fighting for your life, it was Jesus Christ.  It was in His advocacy that He also became the atoning sacrifice for your sins.  He paid the price for your wrongdoing.  It should be expected for people in the world to run from God because they don’t know Jesus, but it’s just downright strange when one of God’s own children runs away from Him.  Think about it.  Most parents are much more pleased […]

Self Deception

“If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8–9 NET) Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John Self-deception is a dangerous and all too common occurrence among Christians today.  Self deception has been defined as “a process of denying or rationalizing away the relevance, significance, or importance of opposing evidence and logical argument.”8 It has also been defined as “bad faith.” Let’s be honest – we are all guilty of this appalling and dreadful action.  We spend countless hours trying to rationalize, explain, justify, validate, and defend our inexcusable actions. The Life Application Study Bible accurately states that, “all people are sinners by nature and by practice.  At conversion all our sins are forgiven past, present, and future. Yet even after we become Christians, we still sin and still need to confess. This kind of confession is not offered to gain God’s acceptance but to remove the barrier to fellowship that our sin has put between us and him. It is difficult, however, for many people to admit their faults and shortcomings even to God. It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses, and most of us would rather pretend that we are strong. But we need not fear revealing our sins to God; he knows them already. He will not push us away, no matter what we’ve done. Instead, he will draw us to himself.”9  Self-deception is indeed bad faith and we must all be careful not to fall into this trap.  Our flesh longs to justify our sin with logic, reason, and what we might dare call “common sense” but […]

Telephone

“If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.” (1John 1:6–7 NET) Taken from The Modern Day Disciple Bible Study on 1, 2, & 3 John When I was a kid, I enjoyed playing the game “telephone.” Perhaps some of you have participated in this childhood game and have been amused by its ever unpredictable outcome.  For those of you who maybe haven’t had the experience, the game begins with the lead person conjuring up a short but complicated story.  The other participants then line up in a “telephone line”, waiting for the story to be passed on. The story-maker whispers his or her message into the ear of the first person in line and as fast as they can.  Once the message is uttered, the message has to move forward, no matter what, and on it goes.  The message is whispered from person to person until it reaches the last person in line.  By and large, the message is significantly distorted after the first two times the message has been shared.  By the time the story reaches the last person, it’s a completely different story.  Unfortunately, the message of the gospel is often misheard and wrongly declared, and in it’s passing from one person to the next, the message changes into something that is lifeless and powerless to change lives.  This is what John’s chief concern was with the people he was writing to.  You see, even though John was confident in what he had heard from Jesus and was certain of what he had declared, he was also wise enough to know that the message of the gospel […]

Cowboy pastor disciples leaders by using the ‘Absolute Basics’

By George Henson, Staff Writer Published: January 06, 2012 http://www.baptiststandard.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13365&Itemid=43 JOURDANTON—Pastor Pete Pawelek had a problem many pastors face—not enough leaders. The scale of his problem may have been a little more severe than most, however. Pawelek had been asked to help start a Western-heritage church in Atascosa County, the place he had grown up. He was looking forward to starting seminary in the fall, but after his college graduation in May, he headed home. He didn’t make it to seminary that fall. Cowboy Fellowship of Atascosa County grew from a dozen families to more than 350 people by July, and he was asked to stay on. In less than 18 months, the congregation had grown to more than 600 people. “The biggest problem we had early on was discipleship. About half my core team of leaders had never been involved in church. They went at Christmas. They went at Easter. But they were casual Christians, if you will,” Pawelek said. “I probably only had about half a dozen people in the church who had ever been a Sunday school teacher or a deacon, or had risen to any level of spiritual maturity where they had been in a leadership role in a church. “Here we have this growing ministry with all these baby Christians, a lot of them saved and baptized right here in our church, and they don’t know anything. You ask them to find the Book of Psalms, and they can’t do it.” To alleviate the problem, he and the core team went to a Christian bookstore seeking suitable discipleship material but couldn’t find what they needed. “Everything either was too simple, or it was too hard,” Pawelek said. “Everything either took […]

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