Preaching http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching Sun, 19 Apr 2015 08:41:34 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Why Your Mother’s Day Service Shouldn’t Be About Mothers http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21718-why-your-mother-s-day-service-shouldn-t-be-about-mothers http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21718-why-your-mother-s-day-service-shouldn-t-be-about-mothers

As Mother's Day approaches, every pastor's in-box will be visited by clips and links to fun and sentimental videos about moms. These may be just the right thing to add spice to your Mother's Day service, but the rest of your service should not be built around moms.

You read it right. Mother's Day should be about men.

Here's why:

1. On a normal Sunday in a normal church, over 60 percent of the congregation is women. Many unchurched men believe that church is mostly for women. They think church is about talking and singing and caring for children. They think pastors are effeminate. Churches tend to be warm and relational, which appeals to women more than men.

2. One of the easiest days to get men to attend church is Mother's Day. They come, not for themselves, but as a favor to their wives and moms.

On Mother's Day, seldom-seen husbands, fathers and sons show up believing that church is for women, and we reinforce their stereotype by decorating the stage with flowers and frilly stuff, and preaching on the virtues of motherhood. These men leave further convinced that church isn't for them.

Last Mother's Day, New Song reversed that trend. Instead of preaching on mothering, I preached on the family. And I let the congregation know ahead of time that the message wouldn't be centered on moms, but would be relevant to dads, granddads, and sons.

Sixteen people made decisions for Christ. Fourteen of them were men.

Yes, we said "Happy Mother's Day" to everyone. Yes, we showed a wonderful video tribute to moms. Yes, we did child dedications. But we didn't hand out flowers, and the music wasn't skewed to the sentimental, and the message included illustrations and applications for men, not just women. At the end, when I gave an invitation to receive Christ, men responded. And they returned the following week.

Mother's Day may be the most strategic day of the year to reach men. Here are four way to make that happen:

Four Must-Do's for Mother's Day

1. Skew the message towards men. Men want to relate to a manly man. And women like it when men act like men. Male pastors ought to use male illustrations. Sometimes about sports; often about business. If you hunt, fish, or camp, those provide excellent glimpses into the masculine world as well.

During my message, I outlined the purpose of the family. Men can relate to purpose.

They want to know the purpose of their lives. We're goal-oriented. What's the purpose of a family? Men like to think about things like that.

During the message I gave six biblical purposes for the family:

   1. To build character.

   2. To bring stability.

   3. To shape identity.

   4. To provide mutual care.

   5. To create good memories.

   6. To prepare for eternity.

All of these require strong male leadership. I'll need to find a different topic for this Mother's Day, but you can use this outline, if you'd like.

2. Give an invitation. Years ago my goal on high-visitor days was to deliver such a compelling message that guests couldn't help but return the next weekend. That rarely happens without the nudging of the Holy Spirit. So now, on every high-visitor day, I invite people into relationship with Christ. The chances of a new believer returning are far higher than the chances of an intrigued onlooker making his way back the next Sunday.

In 1871, Dwight L. Moody was conducting a series of evangelistic meetings in downtown Chicago. He closed his Sunday message by encouraging everyone to return the following evening to hear the gospel. The Chicago fire broke out that night. No one returned the next day. Moody determined that he would never again pass up an opportunity to lead people to Christ.

For pastors, Easter, Christmas, and Mother's Day are high-opportunity days. Without the wooing of the Holy Spirit, the chances of your least-committed audience members returning are slim-to-none. Invite them to Christ before they leave your building!

3. Don't use the word "feelings." Language matters. In masculine settings, you hear words like, "vital," "excellent," and "incredible." In feminine settings you hear words like "feelings," "encouraging," and "adorable." Without realizing it, pastors play into the feminine side when they give "a recipe for a great marriage," instead of "factors," "components" or a "formula for a great marriage."

Ask a fireman, hunter, carpenter, or mechanic what he thinks of a guy who talks about "hurt feelings," "encouraging friends," or "adorable babies," and you'll find that he's not inclined to hang out with someone like that. Pepper your speech with masculine verbs and adjectives.

4. Let women know they should invite men. A significant number of the women in your church wish they had a man sitting beside them. Many of them have one who came once and felt out-of-place. This year, let your female members know that their men will not feel out-of-place on Mother's Day. Then prove it to them by delivering a service with robust, high-energy music, and a message with illustrations and applications for men. At the end, invite men to become great fathers, brothers and husbands by becoming great followers of Christ. (Men love to follow a great leader.)

One more thing: don't call out the men. For a long time, churches have blessed women for being great mothers and guilted men for being poor fathers. The last thing a guy wants is to be told why he's a loser, failure, or under-performer. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells men to love their wives, and women to respect their husbands. Respect is one of a man's highest needs.

This Mother's Day, make him feel respected, give him tools and encouragement, and invite him to fulfill his calling as a man by becoming a Christ-follower. It just might be your best Mother's Day ever!

Hal Seed is the founding and lead pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. New Song is launching a new campus every year and has seen over 17,000 people come to Christ. Hal mentors pastors to grow bigger, better churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at www.pastormentor.com. For the original article, visit pastormentor.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Hal Seed ) Preaching Thu, 16 Apr 2015 21:00:00 -0400
What Pastors Do That Cause Their Members to Cringe http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21709-what-pastors-do-that-cause-their-members-to-cringe http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21709-what-pastors-do-that-cause-their-members-to-cringe

Robert Schuller died last week. This founder of the Crystal Cathedral in California and founder/host of television's "Hour of Power" broadcast was the "media pastor" to countless millions who would never have entered my church.  He wrote books, did a lot of good, did much that was questionable, and drove us traditionalists out of our collective minds.

When I read of his passing, I posted this on my Facebook page:

My favorite Robert Schuller story: When he was a kid, his mother taught him piano lessons.  Once, in the middle of a recital, his mind went blank and he forgot the rest of the piece he was playing. There was nothing to do but walk off the stage in humiliation.  Later, his mother gave him some great advice. "Honey, any time you mess up in the middle of a piece, always end with a flourish and no one will ever remember what you did in the middle."  Schuller would say, "Some of you have messed up in the middle of your life.  But my friend, you can end with a flourish if you start now."

It's a great story and a fine sermon illustration.

In posting it, I suggested Facebook readers restrain themselves from giving us their judgments of the man.  "He has One who will judge him, One who is far more qualified than either of us.  And since I will be needing mercy when I stand before Him, I want to show mercy toward everyone I meet."

The comments poured in quickly.

Most expressed appreciation for something Dr. Schuller had done or said, a few remembered visiting the Crystal Cathedral and gave us their lasting impressions, and several thanked me for the tone of my note.

None judged.

But this brought back a memory of the first time I told that story which I had picked up from a book of sermon illustrations.

In telling the story, I made the mistake of using Robert Schuller's name with it. (In later tellings, I learned to say "A certain preacher" in order not to set off the alarms of the heresy hunters among us.)

I was the new pastor and some in the church were not sure about me, fearing I was not conservative enough for them (In my previous church, some had accused me of being too conservative. So, I must have been doing something right).

A woman rushed to me after the service. "Pastor, you clearly do not know what Robert Schuller believes or you would never quote him from the pulpit!"

I assured her I knew about the man. "But," I said, "I simply told a story from him. I didn't endorse his theology."

That was not good enough for her.  She now had something to use against her new pastor and would be sharing it with friends, that was sure.  Before she walked off, I added, "I quote a lot of people.  If I quote a Catholic priest, it only means I like something he said." Since she was a former Catholic on a relentless tirade against that religion, that would never do.

A wise pastor will give advance thought to his congregation before endorsing or slamming another preacher, and do so under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

When pastors publicly identify preachers they consider heretics, many in the pew cringe.

A friend who has suffered in this life more than almost anyone I know told me last night of a book by one of these questionable media preachers that is ministering to her.  This friend buys and gives away "Jesus Calling," a book that has sold in the millions while irking a lot of people for what is actually good reason. And yet, I know a lot of people who have absolutely no use for that book.

(I'm trying to give an example here; please do not ask for my assessment of "Jesus Calling.")

"Let him alone," said our Lord to His disciples about the lone-ranger preacher. "For he who is not against us is on our side" (Mark 9:40).

We are reminded of the parable of the tares from Matthew 13.  "Lord," said the farm-workers, "Shall we go into the fields and uproot the tares?"  "No," said the owner. "Lest while you gather up  the tares you also uproot the (good) wheat with them."

The principle is perhaps best stated something like this: "Sometimes you should name names and sometimes you shouldn't.  Know your Bible, ask the Lord, and obey the law of love."

When I have said pastors should be cautious in identifying by name heretics from the pulpit, many have disagreed strongly.

Didn't John call out Diotrephes in III John?  Didn't Paul issue a caution about Demas and others?  Didn't he say, "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm"?

Yes.  But mostly, the apostles did not "call them out by name."

In the Corinthian church, Paul was perplexed by certain "super apostles" who were sucking all the air out of the room.  They were the "stars" of their day, they had gifts and egos and resumes' (and probably coiffures and best sellers and lived in gated mansions!) that outshone Paul's measly style, unheralded gifts, and questionable accomplishments. (I say that tongue in cheek.  Who in the history of the Christian church rivals this apostle in gifts and accomplishments? In a newspaper column just this week, a writer called the Apostle Paul one of the most influential people to ever walk this planet.)

Paul hated what these people were doing. He called them "false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:13).

That was enough.  Those "in the know" required no further identification of the culprits. Besides, Paul was not there.  His knowledge of these glamor boys was based on reports from friends.  He would not sit as their judge, because he did not possess enough information.  Nor did the situation require it. Addressing the situation should be sufficient.

History has not told us the rest of the story, although that will be one of the questions Paul will be addressing in his recollections some day in glory.  (I hope the Father has in mind classes on this and ten thousand other subjects to tell His children "the rest of the stories."  I can't wait.)

Please note that I did not say a pastor should never "call out" the wrong-headed preachers. Only that he should exercise care.  He risks wounding the heart of the weak brother or sister who has found spiritual comfort in that one's ministry. Therefore, pastors who decide to name names of offending preachers should know what they are talking about (that is, they're not just quoting something they read from another preacher somewhere), should know their Bibles sufficiently to be certain of the Truth, and should obey the Law of Love as the Holy Spirit leads.

It's not the worst thing in the world for the pew-dwellers to cringe at something the pastor says.  But that should motivate him to be sure of his footing before he takes such a stand.

Our Lord said we shall give account of every idle word (Matthew 12:36). How much more will preachers account to Him for every sharp, harsh word, even when spoken in love with good intent.

After five years as director of missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe McKeever retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner, where he's working on three books, and he's trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way.

For the original article, visit joemckeever.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Joe McKeever ) Preaching Tue, 14 Apr 2015 21:00:00 -0400
10 Things to Avoid When Preaching a Sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21708-10-things-to-avoid-when-preaching-a-sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21708-10-things-to-avoid-when-preaching-a-sermon

Most pastors have been nervous about delivering a sermon at one time or another. Here are 10 approaches you should stay away from when in the pulpit:

1. Make it about you, not Jesus.

2. Let the Holy Spirit just lead you on the spot (not also the week or two before in your prep time!).

3. Forget to use your clutch (also called "transitions") as you switch gears between points.

4. Preach like a Texas steer ... a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in-between.

5. String together random verses to support your outline instead of drawing your sermon from a strong exposition of God's Word.

6. Steal your sermon outlines from someone else instead of wrestling through your own.

7. Take 30 minutes to make a 10-minute point.

8. Make people feel like they need to do more for Jesus to truly accept them.

9. Overuse or underuse humor, stories and illustrations.

10. Refuse to give the gospel.

Greg Stier is the president and founder of Dare 2 Share Ministries, which is mobilizing teenagers across America to share their faith. Visit him at dare2share.org.

For the original article, visit gregstier.org.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Greg Stier/Dare2Share Ministries) Preaching Tue, 14 Apr 2015 18:00:00 -0400
Phil Cooke: Eye Contact Matters http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21690-phil-cooke-eye-contact-matters http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21690-phil-cooke-eye-contact-matters

A recent study from the Journal of Safety Science indicates that when a pedestrian is crossing the street, more drivers stopped when pedestrians looked directly into their eyes as the car approached the crosswalk.

That momentary direct look was all it took to cause the driver to stop and allow the person to cross the street. It's been shown in the past that a person's status is enhanced when direct eye contact is made.

It may be that direct eye contact triggers a desire on the part of the driver to be nice, look good, impress people, or even some guilt. Whatever it is, eye contact seems to dramatically increase the status of the person doing the looking. Other research has shown similar results, with one study proving that drivers were more likely to pick up a hitchhiker if the hitchhiker looked at them in the face.

What is the leadership lesson for today? It's that eye contact matters. It enhances your authority, gives confidence to others, and makes a dramatic difference in how they respond.

Weak leaders look away and avoid eye contact, while confident leaders meet others eye-to-eye.  In fact, lead researcher Dr. Nicolas Guéguen, professor of behavioral sciences at the Université de Bretagne-Sud, remarked that "Some research has reported that men who gaze at other individuals in the eyes are perceived as dominant."

Practice this week. Make the effort to make eye contact with others and notice the reaction. Leadership isn't always about vision, strength, position, or circumstances. Sometimes, being a great leader simply is about looking people in the eye.

Have you experienced that reaction when you make eye contact?

Phil Cooke, Ph.D. is a media producer and strategist. His new book for church and nonprofit leaders is Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Branding and Social Media. Find out more at philcooke.com.

For the original article, visit philcooke.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Phil Cooke ) Preaching Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:00:00 -0400
WATCH: A Message to the Pulpits of America ... Would Your Pastor Agree With This Pastor? http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21679-watch-a-message-to-the-pulpits-of-america-would-your-pastor-agree-with-this-pastor http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21679-watch-a-message-to-the-pulpits-of-america-would-your-pastor-agree-with-this-pastor

When it comes to God, many attributes come to mind, but this pastor says the this is the top one.

Watch the video to see why. 

Pockets of true revival are breaking out across America. Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He recently released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God at shaneidleman.comShane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at wcfav.orgFollow him on Facebook at: facebook.com/confusedchurch.​​​​

 

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jessilyn.justice@gmail.com (Shane Idleman) Preaching Fri, 03 Apr 2015 18:00:00 -0400
What Happens When Fear and Anxiety Invade the Pulpit? http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21620-what-happens-when-fear-and-anxiety-invade-the-pulpit http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21620-what-happens-when-fear-and-anxiety-invade-the-pulpit

Economic growth results in a higher standard of living. More people are employed and more resources exist to improve education, highways, and social safety nets.

Growth creates more disposable income with which to send missionaries, build churches, and have more meaningful church outreaches to the poor and disadvantaged. Lower national output has opposite effects.

Over the last 10 years, the Federal Reserve has increased the U.S. supply of money (M2) from about six to nearly 12 trillion dollars in an attempt to stimulate the economy. But the expected benefits have been largely offset because the velocity of money has fallen dramatically.

Consumers are less willing to spend. Some of this reaction may be attributed to wise caution and prudence. But, much of this reaction is because consumers have become anxious, less certain of the future, more pessimistic, and even fearful. Anxiety and fear harm economies.

More importantly, anxiety and fear are hindrances to the Kingdom of God. Testimonies are not said. Tithes and offerings are not given. Callings are not accepted. Prisoners are not visited. The poor, homeless and destitute are not helped. Churches, outreaches and even businesses are not started and expanded. Missionaries stay home. Sins remain unconfessed. The hurting are not helped and encouraged because our gifts of the Spirit remain dormant. Anxiety and fear are rampant in today's modern culture and its effects are devastating.

Fear and anxiety can and often does invade our pulpits. The Word is compromised. Sermon topics are selectively chosen so as not to offend. Sin is ignored, minimized and even approved. Preferences are given to the wealthy and well connected. Gifts of the Spirit are in abeyance.

Inspiration is ignored because of a preplanned program or tradition. Too many citizens in the Kingdom are not being equipped. Many are denied the help they so desperately need.

But we have assurances from the King of Kings. Ministers should make every effort to equip the flock to overcome fear and anxiety. As ministers we should model and provoke courage, strength and boldness. The Word gives the following principles.

1. Preach the uncompromising Word of God. Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2 NASB).

2. Operate in the gifts of the Spirit. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NASB).

3. Emphasize relationship with Jesus and the fruit of the Spirit. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear ... We love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:18-19 NASB).

4. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33 NASB)

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (James Russell) Preaching Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0400
To Avoid Charismatic Excesses, These Pastors Actually Quenched the Spirit http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21613-to-avoid-charismatic-excesses-these-pastors-actually-quenched-the-spirit http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21613-to-avoid-charismatic-excesses-these-pastors-actually-quenched-the-spirit

As I stated in a recent post, I, like many Christians, tend to be "safely" conservative when considering the power of the Holy Spirit. However, Scripture clearly supports the miraculous work of the Spirit today.

I'm open but cautious. We need sound doctrine and the power of the Holy Spirit. But it is possible to be "Bible taught," but not "Spirit led"—straight as a gun barrel theologically, but just as empty. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (see 2 Cor. 3:6).

Don't get me wrong, theological and expositional teachings are essential to Christian living, but how often are theology students encouraged to fast and pray as well as study? How often are they taught brokenness and repentance in addition to translating the Greek language? We can sometimes be more concerned about a master's degree than a degree from the Master.

The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures and empowered Jesus and the Apostles. We are desperately remiss if we fail to recognize His vital role in our lives. I agree with Leonard Ravenhill, "We need to close every church in the land for one Sunday and cease listening to a man so we can hear the groan of the Spirit which we in our lush pews have forgotten."

Sadly, we often pray on the run and scurry through a 5-minute devotional, yet we devote hours to television, movies and the Internet, and we wonder why we know little of the power of the Spirit. R.A. Torrey (friend of D.L. Moody) said, "We must spend much time on our knees before God if we are to continue in the power of the Holy Spirit." The only thing holding many churches together today is social activity, not the activity of the Spirit.

I knew a pastor who instructed his worship leader to remove most of the songs that mentioned the Holy Spirit, or that were "too emotional," and another pastor who removed songs about the blood of Christ. How sad ... in their zeal to avoid charismatic excesses and offensive truths, these pastors actually quenched and grieved the Spirit.

A.W. Tozer insightfully said, "If the Lord's people were only half as eager to be filled with the Spirit as they are to prove that they cannot be filled, the church would be crowded out." I sincerely believe that the greatest need in the church today is to confess our sins, obey the Word, and to be filled with the Spirit.

Christians can embrace one of two extremes concerning the Holy Spirit. At one extreme are those who embrace pure emotionalism and hysteria—"if it's odd, it's God"—all weird behavior is excused. The other extreme lacks a living, vibrant spiritual life. The church feels dead, cold and lifeless. Talk of reviving the things of God (revival) is either dismissed or ridiculed. Both extremes can hinder the work of the Holy Spirit and genuine Christian growth.

I will primarily address the first extreme where I have viewed videos of people supposedly "getting high," "toking" and "drunk" on the Holy Ghost. This is not the same as being filled with the Spirit of God (cf. Eph. 5:18). And I have seen video footage of people being led around like dogs on a leash and acting like animals. Yes, I'm serious ... bizarre and grossly unbiblical manifestations are not reflective of one filled with the Spirit. Those truly filled with the Spirit seek to reflect the nature of God.

When questioned about extremes in this type of odd behavior, there are no answers that find support in Scripture. Common responses are, "I know it seems bizarre, but ... ." Or "I know it's weird, but ... ." Or "You're quenching and grieving the Spirit by not being open." These are not biblically sound responses for such bizarre manifestations.

The Holy Spirit is not quenched when we honor God's Word and "test the spirits, whether they are of God" (1 John 4:1). He is quenched and grieved when we do not test and discern—when we allow the Holy Spirit to be misrepresented. The apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:15, said that we are to judge, or discern, all things.

Scriptures are often used in an attempt to support very odd behavior. For example, Acts 2:15 states, "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day," and John 18:6 records that men "drew back and fell to the ground" when Jesus surrendered Himself shortly before His death. These Scriptures, when used to validate wild, ranting fanaticism, are incorrect and misleading.

Granted, we cannot dismiss the truly miraculous works of God that happen daily, nor can we minimize the incredible power of God to radically change lives through the power of the Spirit. However, in our zeal and excitement we often minimize the need for discernment.

A discerning person considers supernatural experiences in light of God's Word, nature and character. They ask, "Is there genuine fruit? Does the experience align with God's Word? Is the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 present: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?"

A true, genuine experience with the Holy Spirit will produce godly fruit and obedience to God. It seeks to promote those things that are pure and/or righteous. A word of caution here: Even those in the New Age movement experience powerful feelings of love and euphoria, but it doesn't draw them closer to Christ or lead to repentance or surrender to the true God.

Although sincere, we can be sincerely wrong and seriously misled. Having an experience or being enlightened can create "feel good" emotions, but it does not necessarily mean that it is right. Even though there is flexibility and freedom, our experiences must align with the Scriptures and the character of God. "We should not interpret Scripture in the light of our experiences, but rather, interpret our experiences in the penetrating light of Scripture" (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones).

For part one of this series, click here.

Want to know more about the next great move of God? Click here to see Jennifer LeClaire's new book, featuring Dutch Sheets, Reinhard Bonnke, Jonathan Cahn, Billy Graham and others.

Watch my sermon on Youtube, A Pastor's Thoughts on John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference​here.

Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He just released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God. Shane's sermons, articles, books and radio program can all be found at wcfav.org, Follow him on Facebook.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Shane Idleman) Preaching Mon, 09 Mar 2015 21:00:00 -0400
10 Reasons Preaching Is Scary http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21608-10-reasons-preaching-is-scary http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21608-10-reasons-preaching-is-scary

Anybody who knows me probably knows I love to preach. I so clearly knew God's calling many years ago that only disobedience would allow me to ignore preaching today.

To be candid, though, preaching scares me. Here's why:

1. I will answer to God for what I say. As a 13-year-old, I strongly sensed God's guiding me, "I want you to preach My Word." I know God will hold me accountable for every word I say, and He will not ignore any carelessness from my lips (Matt. 12:36-37). Recklessness in preaching is an invitation to judgment.

2. What I do affects eternity. Here, I am not suggesting that my preaching somehow trumps the sovereignty of God. On the contrary, I am simply aware that God uses the proclamation of His Word to save souls (Rom. 10:9-15). That truth means that preaching really does have an eternal impact.

3. I may have only one opportunity to speak truth to a hearer. A nonbeliever (or a believer, for that matter) may sit under my preaching only one time. In the midst of a busy life, he/she may offer listening ears for only a few minutes. I will miss that one-time open door if my preaching wanders from the Word.

4. It's easier to talk about "stuff" than it is to teach the Word. Preaching is hard work. From personal exegesis of the text to public proclamation of the message, preachers must dig into the Word, soak in it, be cleansed by it and then deliver it. It's just easier to use a few Bible verses as a launching pad to preach about "stuff" than to do the hard work of Bible exposition—and that reality scares me.

5. At least for a few minutes, everybody is focused on me. Maybe I'm uniquely fallen, but I like the affirmations that come with preaching. For a short while, I am the "man of God" to whom others look for truth. Yes, I want my preaching to direct them to Jesus, but I must be honest with myself: Preaching frightens me because it can instead become a means to build my ego.

6. I can preach in my own strength. I've been preaching for 38 years, 33 of those in full-time ministry. I have two graduate degrees from a seminary, and I've taught preaching courses. What frightens me is that I can rely on my training, my knowledge and my experience when I preach—and completely lack the power and blessing of God.

7. Preaching puts my life under the microscope. Those who listen to my sermons presume my life will validate my words. I preach the Word publicly on Sunday, but they have a right to see obedience and faithfulness in my life every day of the week. In fact, the very Word I preach gives them the lens through which to view my life. That's humbling ... and a bit disconcerting.

8. The devil attacks preachers. The gospel is "God's power for salvation" (Rom. 1:16, HCSB). Thus, it is not surprising that the enemy aims his arrows at preachers to hinder us from preaching and living out the Word. Our very calling to proclaim the gospel puts the enemy's bulls-eye on our back.

9. Somebody probably won't like something about the message. It's too long. Or too short. Not enough Bible. Too much Bible. Too much application, or not enough application. You're too loud. Or too soft. You don't preach like my favorite preachers on the Internet. For those of us who can wrongly be perfectionist and people-pleasing at times, preaching is a risky endeavor.

10. Somebody will listenSomebody who hears will take the message to heart and follow it. I've been in places around the world where hearers take the message and proclaim it almost word-for-word that day to their villages. If somebody is going to listen, I need to approach the Word with seriousness and humility.

For all these reasons, preaching scares me a bit. But here's what scares me the most: I will someday approach preaching without the earnestness it demands. I'm well aware that a healthy respect for the task today can become only routine tomorrow.

Please pray that God will give me grace to keep that slide from happening. If you are a preacher, share this post—and invite others to pray for you as well.

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Chuck Lawless) Preaching Fri, 06 Mar 2015 13:00:00 -0500
10 Things a Pastor Doesn’t Like to Hear Right After His Sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21600-10-things-a-pastor-doesn-t-like-to-hear-right-after-his-sermon http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21600-10-things-a-pastor-doesn-t-like-to-hear-right-after-his-sermon

I've actually assembled more than 10 things church members have told pastors immediately after they preached. But these are 10 responses where pastors have had the most visceral reactions.

1. "I am going to be late for lunch because you preached so long."

2. "You must not have had much time to prepare that sermon."

3. "My former pastor preached a much better sermon from that text."

4. "I wish {fill in the blank} would have heard that sermon."

5. "You act like you weren't feeling well while you preached."

6. "I'm sorry I fell asleep while you were preaching. Your voice just puts me to sleep."

7. "Your subject/verb agreement was incorrect three times in your sermon."

8. "I wish you wouldn't preach from the Old Testament."

9. "Let me tell you what you missed in your sermon."

10. "Are we ever going to be done with this sermon series?"

Pastors often take 10 to 20 hours to prepare a sermon. They pray for God to speak through them. They preach with conviction and fervency. And then they hear one of these sentences.

These 10 responses are close approximations of what pastors have actually told me. I am sure there are many more. Let us hear what they are.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Thom S. Rainer) Preaching Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Ministry and Aviation: A Natural Fit for Pilot http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21597-ministry-and-aviation-a-natural-fit-for-pilot http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-leadership/preaching/21597-ministry-and-aviation-a-natural-fit-for-pilot

I cannot remember a time when I wasn't crazy about anything with an internal combustion engine. In my life, I have owned a trophy-winning show car, raced stock cars, and have ridden and raced motorcycles.

I was first introduced to my true passion—flying—at only a few weeks old. But, life and finances always prevented me from fulfilling one of my life dreams. I kept telling myself, "Someday I'm going to get my pilot's license."

One day, I realized that if I didn't start immediately, "someday" might never come. A week later, I began my flight training, and forty hours later, my instructor signed off allowing me to take my Private Pilot Check Ride.

By day, I am a quality engineer at the General Motors Plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have been with GM for more than 15 years, and work to investigate and problem solve quality issues within the frame, wheels and drivetrain of a vehicle.

Like flying, engineering requires attention to detail, and both involve constant multi-tasking. Whether flying a plane or working on one of our popular trucks like the GMC Sierra, you must be focused. If you get distracted someone could get killed. Safety can never be overemphasized.

After receiving my Flight Certificate, I decided to take my beautiful wife Kristina on an adventure, purchasing aerobatic rides together. The moment we returned to the ground, two things were clear to me—I needed to become an aerobatic pilot and we needed to go pray with other aerobatic pilots! Never one to steer away from achieving my dreams, Open Throttle Ministries was launched and I began as an International Aerobatic Club Competitor.

Open Throttle Ministries travels to airshows across the country, praying with pilots who accept our offer to do so and participating in motorsports events in whatever capacity we can. You will regularly see us at some of the top aerobatics events, pulling our fifth wheel with my Chevy Silverado, and leading invocations to start air shows while my wife, Kristina, sings the National Anthem.

Oftentimes, I feel we make sharing our faith far too difficult. We have learned throughout our time working with Open Throttle Ministries that, as Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good." As we continue to share our faith with others at various air shows, the many opportunities of our ministry become clear to us, and we oftentimes find that by sharing our experience, people indeed like what they see.

God loves gearheads and Kristina and I have always wanted to share that love with others. Open Throttle Ministries never charges to attend an event and we are not in this for money. Our ultimate goal at each event we attend is to provide for the spiritual and emotional needs of motorsports enthusiasts such as ourselves, and to share the hope of eternal life and peace with the world.

For those interested in forming their own ministry, it is important that people know forming a ministry while also having a full-time occupation is very possible! I find fulfillment in both of my jobs; in my role at General Motors and leading the ministry—and I see similarities in both I have found that relationships are very important in both realms.

In engineering, I need to have a good rapport with the operators on the shop floor since we interact often, sharing feedback to ensure the top quality and design in all vehicles, like the 2015 GMC Sierra I work on.

In ministry, where I find my greatest passion, I need to have a good rapport with event promoters and organizers so they trust that I have something positive to offer their audience and participants.

Relationships such as these are built over time, much like the relationship with our Lord.

Below is a poem that is very meaningful to me; many pilots know it and love it:

High Flight (By John Gillespie Magee Jr.)

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds—and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air ...

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew—

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (9 June 1922 – 11 December 1941) was an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire during World War II. He was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war. He is most famous for his poem High Flight.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Bryan Hayden ) Preaching Mon, 02 Mar 2015 19:00:00 -0500