Sermon Select

The Pop Culture Is No Culture For Pop 6/18/00

6/18/00

THE POP CULTURE IS NO CULTURE FOR POP
PSALM 128: 1 – 4

Jesus Christ is a home builder. The homes of America need and can benefit from His constructive wisdom and enabling power.

Home wrecking crews are varied and numerous. There is one source of bonding and building of family members. That one is Jesus Christ.

An indication of the destructive forces at work in America is seen in the fact that tonight 40% of the children in America will go to bed in a home where their biological father does not live.

Today’s TV dads are all that many of America’s 25 million youth will learn about fatherhood. The average household watches approximately 50 hours of TV a week with children accounting for 26 of those hours. Of the 100 family shows only 15 feature a father as a main character on a regular basis.

Studies show that programs that do feature fathers don’t do it in a positive light. Fathers are portrayed most often as an androgynous father. That is, he is not necessarily a feminine father but a male/female figure. Throughout the history of western civilization the differences in males and females have been recognized and celebrated. In the 1960’s social psychologists began teaching that the roles of the sexes are interchangeable. As a result many dads have become androgynous fathers, that is, feminized and weak parents.

Accept it, we males and females are different. Watch us dress and you will know it. The female coordinates everything. The skirt and blouse must match. Shoes and purse must compliment the outfit. The accessories must highlight the ensemble. The right fragrance is a must.

Now the male. Have you ever heard of a man trying to make sure his wallet matches his shoes. If his coat isn’t too wrinkled it is wearable. He takes down a shirt and smells its armpit and if it passes the sniff test he wears it. We are different.

The absence of the functioning father in the homes of America today is further revealed by the fact that 70% of the juvenile felons have no father figure in their lives.

A chaplain in a large prison was asked by an inmate to get him a Mother’s Day card. She did and the word spread rapidly. Others requested cards. She called Hallmark and they responded generously with free cards. Inmates stood in line to get Mother’s Day cards. Some time later the chaplain was looking ahead and noted Father’s Day was coming up. Again she requested cards from Hallmark. Again they responded generously. The warden announced the availability of Father’s Day cards and a time to pick them up. Not one prisoner requested a Father’s Day card.

There is a great wound in our culture called the non-functioning father.

Perhaps the greatest discovery of the last ten years in America is the influence the absentee or non-functioning father is having on our nation and the need to help men be better fathers.

Let us pray the prophecy of Malachi 3:17: “…turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers.”

Jesus Christ said, “Honor your father and your mother…” (Matthew 15:4). Father’s Day is inventory time. Are you honored? The answer to that in part may be found in the question: “Am I honorable?”

Four insightful traits of an honorable and honored father are given in Psalms 28.

I. A WALK IN THE PATH OF GOD “Who walks in His way.”
“Blessed (happy) is every one who fears the Lord.”

The idea of “the fear of God” is confusing to some. Let me illustrate the beauty and importance of it. I feared my dad. That statement alone may make him look like a brute or tyrant. No, he was a good and gentle dad. He was a loving and self-giving dad who was very involved with his sons. I knew that if I disobeyed him or engaged in conduct unbecoming of him it would break his heart. I feared breaking his heart. A positive way of expressing it is I wanted to please him.

The only one who truly fears God is the one who is afraid of displeasing Him by forsaking the paths of His will. It is not fear of the punishment gained, but the pain given Him. In this way fear of God becomes a constructive, regulating principle.

To FEAR God means to be totally committed in obedience to God and loyal to His Word. Such a person is blessed because he has no other competing loyalties or desires and thus no resulting worries. He is free from contending pressures.


II. A WORK IN THE PURPOSE OF GOD
“…you eat the labor of your hands.” (Vs. 2)

An industrious man is an object of his family’s admiration. It has been said, “Youth is a blunder; adulthood is a struggle; and old age a regret.” It doesn’t have to be so for the godly.


III. A WIFE IN THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house.” The New King James gives a more literal translation of the Hebrew text. The wife is pictured as being like a vine in the inner courtyard of the house. Such a vine is considered an indication of Divine favor. By using the vine to illustrate the role of the wife, the Psalmist points out these characteristics: Attachment, Productivity, and Refreshing Grace.

By noting the relationship of the vine and the wall we see the role of the husband as related to
the wife. He is too: Support, Strengthen, and Shield.

Husbands, turn with me to Ephesians 5: 22, this is the male manifesto.

Please either tune me out now or don’t leave until I have fully finished developing the thoughts in this passage. Unless you stick with me through this you will get a distorted interpretation. It says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Most men know that verse. Some misinterpret it and grossly misapply it with dominant force. “Submit” is their battle cry.

Ladies turn with me to Ephesians 5: 25. Fellows, you can and should follow along also. It says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.”

Translated to a single word that verse means men “COMMIT.”

This is not a male female issue. It speaks of order in the family. To submit means to give honor to. Remember the earlier question: “Are you honorable?” If you are as committed to your wife as Christ to His church your wife will have no difficulty fulfilling her role.

IV. A WARD IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD
“Your children like olive plants all around your table.”

Young shoots grow up around the base of a well-rooted tree. They draw their life from the tree.

The olive tree represented joy and peace. They will if the father is honored. He is more likely to be honored for the following reasons:

A. POSITION
Certain positions carry with them honor. The role of the father does. Children pass on what they receive. It is also logical to say children can’t pass on anything they don’t receive. This pattern is seen in that abused children grow to be abusers. Let’s break the bad cycle and build a positive one.

“Heritage Family Builders” has developed an acrostic to make clear some things that are needed and should be passed on. The word is: A – R – O – M – A !

AFFECTION. If “love” is the noun “affection” is the verb. Affection is an act of the will. When relationship priorities are in order affection is shown.

RESPECT. Respect results when we realize the true worth of others. I sat at the bed side of a dear friend as she passed into the eternal presence of our Heavenly Father. Understandably her husband was expressing appropriate deep grief. Someone said to him in that moment “You would have no grief if she were not of value.” We respect others when we realize their value. Husbands/fathers RESPECT your wife and children. By respecting others we teach them respect. If a parent respects a child the child is much more likely to respect the parent.

ORDER. Order is the act of managing and modeling Godly leadership. It results in a refuge of calm. Children need creative freedom within well defined boundaries. We imitate the Creator of the universe when we have order in the home. The Bible asserts: “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord” (Psalm 37: 23).

MERRIMENT. Question: “Are you fun with which to live?” Merriment is an environment of enthusiasm coupled with uninhibited joy and happiness. There is life after failure. Realize the difference in failure and disobedience. When there is disobedience teach the child through proper discipline. When there is failure teach the child failure isn’t final unless you accept it as such. Don’t accept it as such. See it as an opportunity where you gain by losing. Laugher does good like a medicine. Learn to laugh at yourself and laugh together. The father of the prodigal son realized the therapy of merriment in that he celebrated his return.

AFFIRMATION. Affirm one another. Help each other to realize who they are and whose they are. Every child has a right to live in an affirming environment that helps him or her develop their full potential. The following letter by Ricardo Montalban to his son originally appeared in “Family Concern.”

“Dear Son:
As long as you live in this house, you will follow the rules. When you have your own house, you can make up your own rules. In this house, we do not have a democracy. I did not campaign to be your father. You did not vote for me. We are father and son by the grace of God, and I accept that privilege and awesome responsibility. In accepting it, I have an obligation to perform the role of father.
I am not your pal. Our ages are too different. We can share many things, but we are not pals. I am your father, This is 100 times more than what a pal is. I am also your friend, but we are on entirely different levels.
You will do in this house as I say, and you cannot question me because whatever I ask you to do is motivated by love. This will be hard for you to understand until you have a son of your own.
Until then, trust me. Your Father.”

B. POWER
Some positions and persons are honored because of their power. The dad has the position from which and the power by which to bring up a child “in the nurture and admotion of the Lord.”

That means to train by discipline. This discipline relates to

  1. The Subject – the one subject to the discipline, the child. Loving discipline rapidly moves a child from a “have to” to a “want to” position.
  2. Self-Discipline – of appetites and attitudes.

C. PERFORMANCE
“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day. I’d rather one would walk with me than merely point the way. The eye is a better pupil, far more willing than the ear. Fine counsel is confusing, but examples always clear.” Edgar A. Guest

THAT BRINGS US BACK TO POINT ONE: A WALK IN THE PATH OF GOD.
“…thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.”

A Childish Sermon 8/13/00

8/13/00

TODAY’S MESSAGE: A CHILDISH SERMON
DEUTERONOMY 6: 4 – 9


Jesus Christ loves children. That is why He loves each of us. Chronologically we may be way past adolescence but there still lives in each of us a bit of the child we once were. Therefore, try to interpret this message from a child’s vantage point. Let the child in you enjoy it.

Jesus loved children while on His earth voyage.


Once while teaching some persons brought some little children for Him to pray over. The dignified disciples thought them to be intruding and held them back. Jesus seeing this said, “Don’t hinder them. Let the little children come to me.”

That historical moment is a living and abiding invitation.

The Bible posts an order: “Train up a child in the way it should go.”

In the Old Testament God gave His people specific instructions regarding training children. All of us: single adults, college students, empty nesters, couples without children, youth, children, grandparents and parents alike need to be attentive to today’s message. There is a Godly way to relate to children. Indications are many aren’t doing it properly.

In America each year there are 2.7 million reports of child abuse. As a result of child abuse approximately four children die every day. We are training children to be violent. Violence among children is growing at an epidemic rate. There is a brat attack going on in our country because children have been improperly taught. Many parents in a guilt ridden generation are raising spoiled kids. Parent your child don’t pamper it. Children who are coddled, indulged, and endlessly forgiven without repentance are developing a paralyzing sense of entitlement.

Having forfeited their role many parents have less influence over their children’s values than TV, movies, and music. Before the age of 18 the average American youth has seen enacted on TV over 10,000 murders. For many who now populate and will populate our prisons this is the acceptable norm. Societal norms and social stigmas have been so laughed at that a generation of morally confused youth have been spawned.

British statesman, Edmund Burk, said, “men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains on their own appetites.”

These coddled kids are to live in a world that can never be as good to them as their pampering parents. Therefore, they are destined to become disappointed adults rather than fulfilled ones.

Worse still they will never be able to properly relate to the less fortunate and disadvantaged of the world.
Josh McDowel reports the results of his survey of 3,795 youth from evangelical churches. These are not street kids. 57% could not affirm there are moral absolutes; that is that an objective standard of right and wrong exists.
66% have lied to their parents in the last six months.
36% cheated in the last three months of school.
23% tried deliberately to hurt someone in the last three months.

Adequate fences can’t be built to control unbridled appetites. The story is told of a kangaroo that kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing he could hop pretty high the zoo keeper put up a ten foot fence. The next morning he was out again wandering around the zoo. The keepers put up a 15 foot fence. Again the next morning he was out. This continued until the fence reached 50 feet. Finally, the camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, “How high do you think they will go?” The kangaroo replied, “Probably 100 feet, unless somebody starts locking the gate at night.”

Unless we start locking the gate to the heart we can’t build high enough fences called laws. It is estimated that approximately 80 billion people have lived on earth and still we feel inadequate to rear a child.

Deuteronomy 6: 4 – 9 tells us. The passage begins with the word “hear.” It is a translation of the Hebrew word SHEMA, meaning to hear. Be attentive to what is said. First, teach them there is one God and He loves them. He is to be loved and obeyed for our own good. Instantly cynics step in and question the “one God” concept in light of the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. No problem. In the Old Testament the regions of Judah and Ephram were one. In America many states are one nation. As with each of these there is one unit with several parts. We might have A bunch of grapes consisting of many grapes. So God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one unit consisting of three entities.

Teach your children about this God and that He is to be lovingly obeyed. He is to be loved with the totality of our being: our heart, soul, and bodily strength. They were given a visual aid for their era to remind them of this. They were to write the SHEMA on pieces of paper and put then in a little leather pouch called a phylactery. One was to be strapped to the forehead reminding them to use their mind in the loving obedience to God. One was to be strapped to their wrist as a reminder to use their strength, their body, in acts of loving obedience. They were to make evidence of this truth in their home by putting it on their door. If a person were to enter your home what physical evidence would there be of your faith. What visuals do your children see of your faith.

My dear friend Pete Marivich, whom I discipled for a year, had carved in his front door the text of John 3:16 because he wanted anyone who came to his door when he wasn’t home to know what he believed.

Deuteronomy 6: 7 is an appeal to use the teachable moments to share profound truths.

– TEACH CHILDREN TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Teach them by example. Bickering, belittling, and battling have no place in interpersonal relationships.
Conversations such as this have no place in the family:
You’re dumber than a box of hair.
You’re few clowns short of a circus.
You’re as dumb as bait.
You’re antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels.
You’re missing a few buttons on the remote control.
You’re a few peas short of a casserole.
You’re an experiment in virtual stupidity.
You’re surfing in Nebraska.
You’re a few yards shy between the goal posts.
You’re 24 cents short of a quarter.
Even Barney knows what to do. “Nip it, just nip it.”

Teach by precept and example how to get along.

A teacher was talking with a group of little children about the Ten Commandments. Having dealt with “Honor thy father and thy mother,” the teacher asked if there was a Commandment that teaches how to treat brothers and sisters?” Without a moments hesitation one child responded, “Yes, thou shalt not kill.”

Use the teachable moments. Create teachable moments that you might teach better. Parents covered a table with plastic and gave each of their children a tube of toothpaste and told to see how much they could squeeze out. You can just imagine the thrill of their efforts and the laughing that went on. Major efforts were made to get out the optimum. When all efforts were exhausted dad put a $20.00 bill on the table and said, “The one who gets all the toothpaste back in the tube first gets the twenty.” Even knowing the impossibility it was worth a try for $20.00. “We can’t do it” protested the youngest child.” Then the teachable moment was seized. “That is just like what the Bible teaches about our tongue. Once words come out, it is impossible to get them back in. You need to be careful what you say because it is impossible to take them back.”

I had a dear young man who is now away in school call me the other night and say, “Pastor I want to thank you for being my pastor and staying true to the word of God. However, before I can do that I need to ask you to forgive me for being so critical of you.” I appreciated his efforts at getting the toothpaste back in the tube. When you discredit the messenger you discount his message.

– Use the teachable moment. Seize the moment of the opportunity if you are to seize the opportunity of the moment.

Two excited children were running all over the house carefully following the complex instructions of the “Truth Map” just given them. They were looking for the treasure.

They had been given a very simple map earlier that was much easier. It led to a false treasure box that was empty. Now with greater treasure in prospect the new map was being followed more closely. It read:
STEP ONE: Walk 16 paces into the front family room.
STEP TWO: Spin around seven times, now walk down stairs.
STEP THREE: Run backwards to the other side of the room.
STEP FOUR: Try to get around Dad to climb under the table.
Can’t you see it. The children are running around like crazy, laughing, and having a ball. After some time they find the “truth treasure box.” Opening it they found in it their favorite candy
treat.
“Which map was easier to follow?” ask Dad.
“The first one,” came the reply in chorus.
“Which one was better?”
“The second, it led to the treasure.”
“That’s just like life,” Dad said, “Sometimes it is easier to follow what is false. But it is always better to seek and to follow what is true.”

Then they read from Proverbs 2:3, 4: “If you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, and search for her as hidden treasures; Then you will understand … and find the knowledge of God.” Lesson over!

– Use the teachable moment. You must seize the moment of the opportunity if you are to seize the opportunity of
the moment.

Dad stood at the top of the stairs and the children at the bottom. Dad gave the instructions. “I’ll take you to Baskin Robbins for ice cream if you can figure out how to get up here. But,” he said, “there are a few rules. First, you can’t touch the stairs. Second, you can’t touch the railing. Now start.” After exhausting their thoughts the youngest said, “That’s impossible, Dad! How can we get where you are without touching the stairs or railing.” After a bit of bickering one child said, “Dad, please come down here.” Dad did. “Now bend over while I get on your back.” That done the child said, “OK, now you climb the stairs.” Dad then drew the parallel of how it is impossible to get to God on our own. When we trust Christ’s work on our behalf then we can get to heaven. All the family piled in the van and were off for a double-scoop of chocolate-chip ice cream.

Scripture says we must “Unless you are converted and become as a little child, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18: 3).

That means there is no means to get up the stairs other than by Christ.

Children Have Rights… 5/21/00

5/21/00

CHILDREN HAVE RIGHTS…

MATTHEW 18:1 – 6

JESUS CHRIST said, “Let the little children
come unto Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is
the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

Children have a right to come to Jesus.

Jesus had a harsh condemnation for anyone who did anything to misdirect a child: “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

If that were applied literally today, the person with the millstone concession would make a fortune.

It is estimated that 4.5 million children are abused annually. There are 4.5 million teenage alcoholics today. Most start drinking alcohol at age 12.

Sam Janus in THE DEATH OF INNOCENCE records that there are over 5,000 reported cases of incest annually in America with up to twenty times that number not reported.

The Lord God said, “None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness” (Lev. 18:6).

The FBI estimates there are over 100,000 young people who run away from home annually. Friends who minister on the beaches of Florida frequently have told me of the hunger, loneliness, and poor housing many youth on the run have. They are abandoned, unappreciated, physically and emotionally abused by strangers. Yet, these youth say this is a better life than the one from which they ran. They say it is better to be beaten up and sexually abused by someone you don’t know and don’t care about than by members of your family you want to love and care about.

Child abuse is one symptom of the stress in our society. It is also an indication of sin in our culture. Both can be dealt with — and must be.

Ruth Kempe in her book CHILD ABUSE states: “Since the abused grow up to be abusers, the intervention we can offer serves not only to protect the children now, but can help break the chain that binds future generations.”

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ABUSER?

They are:
-Immaturity and dependent
-Social isolation
-Poor self-esteem
-Difficulty seeking and obtaining pleasure
-Fear of spoiling the child
-Belief in the value of punishment
-Impaired ability to empathize.

It was said, “Jesus called a little child unto Him, set him in the midst of them…” (Matthew 18:2). He then proceeded to teach using the child as a model. Let’s do the same asking the question: “To what does a child have a right?”

In the gospel written by him, John tells of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with 5 barley loaves and two small fish. There is a line in the narrative spoken by the Apostle Andrew that stands out: “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish…” The portion of the statement that is impressive is not the number or kinds of fish and loaves but simply, “There is a lad here…” One translation reads, “There is a child among us…” At times it appears we individually and even collectively are unmindful “There is a child among us…” We need to be mindful of the children among us. They have rights.

I. A RIGHT TO BE VALUED

They should be considered “a heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3).

We have developed children who have a Narcissistic Complex. The story of Narcissus, the son of the river god Cephisus is told by the Roman poet Ovid in his work the “Metamorphoses.” The Greek mythological character was very much in love with himself. So deeply infatuated with himself that when he saw his image in water he could not leave looking at himself. He eventually fell in and drowned. Upon his death he was turned into a flower called a Narcissus. Persons enamored with themselves are said to have a Narcissistic Complex.

Many young people have been told they are special so much they believe it and are in love with themselves. They have grown to think they deserve pampering. A “me” centered world has evolved around them. This too is an unidentified form of child neglect. Their parents have neglected to teach them their value is related to their worth to the Lord.

Don’t tell them they are special. Be specific, “You are special to me.” That means they are of value to you. That’s good. Others may not consider them so special. Or better still, tell them they are special to God. Indeed, they are. This concept helps to develop a commendable self-worth. The person grows to realize their worth is based on who they are in the sight of God, not in their own narcissistic eyes.

Children have a right to be wanted. We live is a society where disposals are common. Human beings are even considered disposable. If a young woman becomes pregnant and doesn’t want the baby all she has to do is dispose of it.

Today we even have a potential law being considered in Georgia that if a new mother decides within a week after birth she doesn’t want her child she can take it to the local hospital and leave it. If a boy is desired and a girl is born just drop it off at the hospital. If the child isn’t perfect just take it to the local hospital and let the tax payers parent it. Brown eyes might even result in being a dropped off baby.

A person not mature enough to rear a baby has no moral right to birth a baby. Every child has a right to be wanted.

II. A RIGHT TO BE TAUGHT FROM THE CRADLE THAT THEIR WILL IS NOT LAW AND THEIR WHIMS ARE NOT TO BE INDULGED.

This spoils a child. Sooner or later someone will have to teach the child this principle. It may be a teacher, a drill sergeant, or a policeman, but it must be learned.

By age three, Samuel’s mother taught him good from evil.

By age three, Moses’ mother taught him morals for life.

By age five, Voltaire memorized an infidel poem.

Modern minds are being molded by a common mentor: TV. Monitor what is viewed. It soon becomes the accepted pattern for conduct.

Self-indulgence is self-destructive.

There is a tragic form of illiteracy in America. It doesn’t relate to reading and writing.

This form is MORAL ILLITERACY.

One of the best ways to teach and hence to learn is through stories. Our imagination is enlightened and excited by stories. They engage our imagination. In the word “imagination” can be heard the root word “image.” Imagination more than reason helps us make decisions. Reason often submits to imagination.

It is not enough to simply KNOW what is right it is necessary to DESIRE right. Many know what is right but have no desire to do it.

Plato said children should be reared to love VIRTUE and hate VICE. How? Upon hearing the answer you may well concede they are being taught to love vice not virtue. Plato said they are taught to love virtue and hate vice by such things as music, books, and TV. (Plato didn’t mention TV. It along with the Internet are the new entries of consequence.)

The way to teach best is by stories. Stories engage the imagination for good or bad, to love virtue or vice. Not only should children be taught the stories of the Bible we adults need to go back and reread them regardless of how familiar we think them to be. In the stories are found the virtues needing to be taught. In these stories virtue is advocated and vice is shown to be improper and destructive.

If you desire to inspire courage read the story of Daniel.

If it is leadership you want to inspire read of Moses.

If it is sexual purity read of Joseph.

If it is submissiveness read the story of Mary the birth mother of Jesus.

If it is willingness to pay the price read of Esther.

If it is boldness and confidence in the Lord read of David and Goliath.

If it is virtue you want to teach read of Ruth and Boaz.

If it is the love of God read the story of Jesus Christ.

In the book entitled “Lord of the Rings” one character asks: “How shall a man judge what to do in times like these?” “As he ever has,” comes the reply. “Good and evil have not changed… It is man’s part to discern them.”

It may be unclear to a child whether or not he wants to be good or bad, BUT it is easy for him to describe WHO they want to be like. In doing so they choose good or bad. Because children are not being taught by stories they are choosing to be like: Madonna, Bart Simpson and their ilk. Read for yourself, and children, biographies of people of virtue not vice and they will choose to be like those persons and in doing so will learn to choose virtue and hate vice.

III. A RIGHT TO A COMMENDABLE ROLE MODEL

Parenting is actually patterning. The young child picks up traits and habits from the parent. Instinctively they walk like the parent. Their vocal pattern is a parroting of the parent. They tend to look at the world through the lens of their parents. A parent should demonstrate what is right and wrong not merely dictate it.

CHILDREN LEARN BY OBSERVATION AND EXPERIENCE

If a child lives with approval, He learns self-acceptance.

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to share love.

The title of a Gary McSpaden song is true:

“What They See Is What They Hear.”

* Model for them a good work ethic.

* Demonstrate for them how to handle disappointments.

* Exemplify for them courtesy and good manners.

* Teach them respect for others with whom they disagree.

* Help their understanding of finding pleasure in little things.

* Exhibit for them a willingness to pay the price in order to stand for your convictions.

* Pattern for them a living faith in the Living Lord. Let them see Jesus in you.

IV. A RIGHT TO PARENTS WHO LOVE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER

“Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2: 2,3).

V. A RIGHT TO EARN AND DESERVE NEW LIBERTY

The parent-child growth process is a matter of shared and eventually transferred power. At various stages parents turn over bits of power to the child. First a baby assumes the power of his own locomotion and mobility. Then comes the right to feed, clean, and eventually clothe self. Soon comes the right to watch for cars by himself before crossing the street. It seems like only the next week there is a request for use of the car to go on a date.

VI. A RIGHT TO BE DISCIPLINED

Discipline is what a parent does FOR not TO a child. Hebrews 12:3 says discipline is a form of love.

In California an elementary school house was located on a busy corner. The children played close to the buildings and as far away from the streets as possible. A fence was built along the perimeter of the school yard. Knowing the protective limits of the fence the children played all over the yard right up next to the curb. They knew the limits and felt comfortable in them. When a child is blessed to have parents that define the limits they feel comfortable in the area where they are unlimited but protected by limitations.

Regarding the benefits and blessings of discipline Solomon wrote: “he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov 13:24).

A parent must discipline self before attempting to discipline a child.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

“Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul” (Proverbs 29:17).

VII. AN EXAMPLE OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD

As a result the parent should evidence:

-A glad heart. 

-A sense of self-worth.

-A forgiving heart. 

-A thankful nature.

All of this and more grows out of an uninhibited love for Christ which is shared by example and expression.

With the little child in their midst Jesus charged them and us: “…unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus clearly defined one trait He had in mind as typifying how we must come to the Father.

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).

Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). To deny ones self is to come humbly.

An unstated but obvious trait of a little child is dependency. We must come with Him totally dependent upon Him.

Reflect on the story of the lad with the loaves and fishes. He gave what he had and in the hands of Jesus it was multiplied. Give what you have to Jesus. Learn from this simple story. Give your all to Jesus.

Cherish the Past, Celebrate the Present, Commit to the Future 4/9/00

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CHERISH THE PAST,
CELEBRATE THE PRESENT, COMMIT
TO THE FUTURE
EPHESIANS 4:11-16

JESUS CHRIST said, “I will build my church and
the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

As a result of what our Lord has done, is doing, and will do to build His church we have reason to:

CHERISH THE PAST, CELEBRATE THE PRESENT, AND COMMIT TO THE FUTURE.

Ever since His resurrection, by His Spirit, He has been busy building His church universally and locally. I believe in the local church because it is what Christ called His “body.”

Some contemporary thinkers speak in grandiose terms of belonging to the church universal, that is, the invisible church. They profess they don’t believe in or belong to the local church. Their involvement is with the invisible church. To them I would like to say, “That is so wonderful that I would like to contribute some invisible money to help your invisible church.”

Those who declare their belief in the universal but not the local church need to go outdoors and look around. As they stand basking in the sun, they might say I believe in the sun universal. Take away the sun local and there would be no sun universal. Take away the local church and there would be no church universal.

I believe in the local church because Christ believed in it. I believe in the local church because the Greek word for church is used 85 times in the New Testament to refer to the local church.

It is spoken of by Christ as His “body.” To me one of the most distinct evidences of His love and sense of intimacy with the church is found in the life of Saul of Tarsus. Saul had been appointed by the Sanhedrin to investigate the accounts of the resurrection of Christ. The Scripture describes him on his way to Damascus to interrogate by intimidation and if need be death to Christians there who professed the resurrection. He is described as breathing out threats of cruelty.

Suddenly a heavenly light blinded him and he heard the voice of the resurrected Christ saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Saul was a brilliant young lawyer. Under these conditions can’t you imagine his immediately building his defenses. “Jesus, you said ‘Me.’ What do you mean ‘Me.?’ Its not you I am persecuting, its the church.”

Jesus: “Saul, that is Me!”

That is how intimate He feels about His church. I want to treat the local church with the same dignity and love I do its Head.

The church is also called the “bride of Christ.” I know there are some sick churches but I am not going to use them as an excuse to diminish my devotion to His church.

One of the first weddings I performed here has served as a graphic for me regarding this principle.

(DESCRIBE THE WEDDING WHERE THE BRIDE FAINTED.)

In Ephesians chapter 4 several illustrations are used to help our understanding of the church. One of the primary analogies found in the passage related it as being like a human body. Observe:

I. THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH Vs. 15

“Him who is the head – Christ” I like that. Christ is the control central of the church.

READ: Eph. 1: 20-23.

He is not only the Head “of” the church, He is the Head “over” the church. He is the Organic Head and the Authoritative Head.

II. THE HEART OF THE CHURCH Vss. 13, 14 & 11

The heart of Christ’s church is purity of doctrine and order.

A. Purity of Doctrine

For a multiplicity of diverse people to live together in harmony there must be accord in what is believed. The uncommon common denominator must be belief in the same Bible truths. This is a point of entry for Satan to work. Verse 14 describes tactics used by Satan’s ambassadors.

One is “trickery” or “slight of men.” The Greek word so translated is KUBLIA, literally meaning to play with dice. It is a reference to tricky words. One of Satan’s classic twist of words has to do with Christ Himself. There are cult groups if asked will say they believe Christ is the Son of God. But if pressed and asked if they believe Christ was God the Son, they must truthfully answer no. He was Immanuel, God with us.

Another deception is “cunning craftiness” and refers to ingenuity in inventing errors. In a crafty manner Satan did it in Eden. He added to and took away from the Word spoken by God. He still confuses congregations with doctrinal errors.

At this point I must bring in a detail that is a bit personal. Therefore, I am speaking of a principle and not a person. This principle is one of the most humbling in a pastor’s life.

B. Dedication of a Person

In verse 11 it is said “He Himself,” the reference is to Christ, “gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.”

Ideally, the pastor is Christ’s gift to the church. The church that receives the gift receives the Giver. The church that rejects the gift rejects the Giver. I praise the Lord for this beloved church that nearly 35 years ago received the person sent by the Lord to serve Him as pastor.

The last two titles used here are a reference to one person. There is a rule in Greek known as Granville Sharp’s rule. It states: “When two nouns in the same case are connected by the Greek word “and,” and the first noun is preceded by the article “the,” and the second noun is not preceded by the article, the second noun refers to the same person or thing to which the first noun refers, and is a further description of it.”

That means the expression “pastors and teachers” refers to one person fulfilling two functions.

This is the only time in Scripture the under shepherd of Christ is called “pastor.” The Greek word for it is POIMENAS and means shepherd. The root meaning is to protect, tend, and feed the flock. Bible teaching is one area of protecting and feeding.

The other term describing this person’s role is “teacher.”

One way purity of doctrine is to be preserved is by a pastor consistently working as a pastor/teacher. Thus he protects the flock from false doctrine and teaches them true doctrine.

Order is essential for unity in the church. The pastor must be under Christ’s authority and fully surrendered to it. The members of the flock must wilfully put themselves under the authority of the pastor/teacher and learn from him.

The humbling aspect for the pastor is to know some day he must give account to the Good Shepherd.

That keeps the under shepherd from any ego trips.

III. THE HARMONY OF THE CHURCH Vs. 16

A dad who had been away on a trip returned with a gift for his little girl. After visiting together for a while dad settled into reading the paper and the child to playing with her new game. Soon dad’s subconscious began to pick up on sounds of frustration coming from his little daughter. He put down his paper and got down with the child to show her how the game worked. Later at bed-time the child said, “It was a lot better game than I thought dad.”

If you get involved in a vibrant fellowship that teaches the Bible and is Christ-centered, one that is growth oriented, you will have cause to say, “Church is a lot better experience than I thought.”

The church is described as being like a human body with many functioning body parts. Body parts differ but each contributes in its own way. Imagine having two noses; one each where your ears are. Think about having one oval ear where your nose is. Each in its place fulfilling its function makes for a better body.

Observe in verse 8 that every member is given a gift by Christ. That is, a measure of grace that enables them to fulfill some function in the church. This is further defined in vs. 16.

The body is – – –

A. UNIFYING – “joined and knit together”

When one member of the body hurts, all hurt. Another wedding lives in my memory as an illustration of this.

Those fingers hurt so bad that my body sat up much of the night to keep them company. That is the way the body of Christ works.

B. SUPPLYING – “every joint supplies”

Christ has given you Spiritual gifts that enable you to contribute to His cause. No one need feel left out.

Reputedly there once was a church with four members whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. The church had financial needs and Everybody was asked to help. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have. Amid this confusion you know who did it? Nobody. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. Then the church needed a work day, and Somebody was asked to help. Somebody got upset because Anybody could have done the job just as well and, after all, it really was Everybody’s job. In the end Nobody did it. Nobody did a good job. Thereafter, when there was work to be done Nobody could be counted on. Nobody visited the sick. Nobody gave generously. Nobody shared his faith. Finally the day came that Somebody left the church and Everybody and Anybody decided to follow. Guess who was left! Nobody.

C. EDIFYING – “effective working by which every part does its share”

In the word “edification” you can hear the word edifice which means a building. To edify means to build up. In this instance it means to build up spiritually. We are to do that.

If the average car has as many parts that don’t work as the typical church, it wouldn’t run down hill. Are you doing your part? “I’ve been a weight for long enough on the church’s back. From now on I’m going to take a completely different track. I’ll work and pay and pray and carry my load instead. And not have others carry me like people do their dead.”

D. MULTIPLYING – “causes growth of the body”

Dawson Trotman in “Born to Reproduce” gives this illustration of multiplication. If one Christian won one person to Christ and spent six months helping to mature that one before each of them won someone else, the world could be won in 16 years. At the end of six months, the two would become four. At the end of one year the four would be eight. Multiplying this conversion, maturing, conversion cycle every six months the total in seven years would 33,000 converts. If that process continued for sixteen years, the total would be nearly three billion converts.

To win our community it is not enough to add members, we must multiply.

Bon Voyage 10/22/00

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BON VOYAGE

ACTS 20:22 – 24

Jesus Christ, near the end of His earth walk
prayed, “I have finished the work which You gave me to do” 
(John 17:4).

He then concluded that work by dying for our sins on Calvary. With His last breath He cried out to the Father, “It is finished!”

Jesus Christ deals in finished products. He has begun a good work in you. You are a project in progress. Be patient! Be patient with yourself and with others for they too are not yet complete but are in the process of being completed. Those who yield to Him will find: “He who has begun a good work in you WILL complete it” (Philippians 1:6).

You can confidently say: “I am not what I use to be; I am not what I ought to be; but praise the Lord, I’m on my way to becoming all that I was intended to be.”

If you consider yourself a project too great for Christ, consider one of His prime completed products, a most unlikely one, the Apostle Paul. He was one of the very ones who condemned Christ to death. He then was appointed chief investigator of the reports of the resurrection. His task was to disprove it. Instead the evidence of it led to his conversion followed by a life of service. His evidence of the resurrection made him willing to die for his belief in the resurrected Christ.

Paul, the investigator, later described himself as being “apprehended” by Christ for a purpose. Near the end of his earthly ministry he spoke of his service and its imminent closure. He spoke of:

I. COMMITMENT VS. 24

Paul said, “…nor do I count my life dear to myself…”

Those who spend so much of their time preening, pampering, and profiling themselves might find this hard to comprehend.

When there is a commitment to a cause the cause comes ahead of life itself. The Library of Champions for Christ is lined with biographies of persons who have been martyred for Christ. Some have died for Him, some have died while serving Him. They lived among us as persons whose lives were a token tribute to the one who gave His life for them. They were so careful for the cause and so casual of life.

He declared I want to “finish my race with joy.”

Who among us would not like to live a life of joy? It is possible with the right Biblical world view. Let’s come back to that in a moment. In light of this statement in Scripture and my own life- experience there are to me certain obvious observations.

A. LIFE IS A BATTLEFIELD NOT A PLAYGROUND

Spiritually we will each be either a casualty or a conqueror. Inevitably, you like every human being will have difficulties, disappointments, set- backs, suffering, and heartbreaks. In all of these you can be “more than conquerors.” That expression translates HYPER, meaning “more than” and NIKE, meaning “conqueror.” In Christ you are. In this world “you WILL have tribulation” Christ said. Expect it and learn how to deal with it. Remember that, momentarily it will be explained further.

B. LIFE IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT

The object is to finish the long course and finish it to the best of our ability. This calls for commitment to be followed by consistency. Christ didn’t save you to start the race but to finish it.

C. LIFE IS A SACRED TRUST

Life is short. Eternity is significant. If you give proper attention to where you are going the trip takes on a different meaning. A moment ago I mentioned we would come back to the concept of finishing the “race with joy.” To do so one must have an understanding of the joy spoken of. It is not a life lived in a care free zone. It is the capacity to see in your adversity the opportunity to become more Christ like.

If the object of your life is not to become more Christ like you are not going to experience that joy. If the object of your life is to become more Christ like you will find and express joy in adversity.

If the object of your life is not to become more Christ like your outlook will be in a perpetual dark whirlpool of every increasing negativism, pessimism, and complaining. The problems in your life will appear to be a grievous end in themselves rather than means to an end. The end being to become more Christ like.

LET ME SHARE MY TESTIMONY.

II. COMMENDATION VERSE 32

God and the “word of His grace” is “able to build you up.” Additionally, there is “an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

“Sanctified” means set aside for a certain use. An illustration of this is two books. One is a how to book on how to build a house. The other is an inspirational novel about a family that lived in a house. The novel on the family will be of little use in knowing how to build a building. Conversely, the book on how to build a house will afford little or no inspiration. When used as intended both fulfill the function for which they were created, that is, sanctified; one to instruct and one to inspire.

When our Lord saved you He set you aside to become more Christ like. Thereafter, everything in your life is to be used to enable you to fulfill that for which you are set aside. That is, becoming more Christ like. If you miss that you miss your reason for being. Tragically most have missed it. For them life turns cold grey instead of sparkling with the colors of the rainbow as intended. This ties closely with the – – –

III. CHARGE VS. 35

Christ is quoted, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Most often that is associated with the giving of money and it is applicable. I want to appeal to this beloved membership to be more generous than ever in giving to the cause of Christ through this church budget.

There is a wider application of this text to incorporate all of life. Give your every asset and resource to Christ. That is what sanctification is. It is giving yourself to be set aside for His use in the broad sunlit uplands of victory, achievement, and accomplishment as well as along the perimeter of the valley of the shadow of death.

The more we give ourselves away in the service of our Lord the more blessed we are.

IV. CONCLUSION VSS. 36 – 38

After this final farewell Paul knelt and prayed with them. They wept and embraced and bid each other farewell. Bonvoyage! Have a good trip. He had just explained how to have a good trip on troubled waters.