Tuesday, May 21, 2019

 

How to stay married 46 years...

Most of you know that Marsha and I just celebrated 46 years of marriage.  And yes, we were kids when we got married.  21 and 20 (barely).  We talk to a lot of couples about marriage and often get asked what it takes to stay married that long.

So here are a few things I have learned over the years.

Love God more.  We love each other lots.  She loves God more than me.  Me too. 

Pick well.  Best thing I ever did was choose wisely. 

Stick it out.  Lots of times when you could quit.  Easiest thing to do sometimes.  Don't.

Hold hands.  Touch matters.  Your hands reflect your heart.  I started out preaching when the thing to do was sit on the front row or up on the stage.  I was in that group of young preachers that would rather sit with our wives (and kids) till time to preach.  It was a good change. 

Kiss lots.  Still. 

Say I love you lots.  Lots.  Lots.  And yes, I say it so often that I am one of those idiots who has occasionally told the office staff I love them when I am hanging up.  They know it is force of habit from talking to Marsha.  It's a good habit.

Say I'm sorry.  As often as you need to.  And mean it.  Then do something about it.

Worship together.  Pray together.  Read Scripture together.

Keep dating. 

Love God the most but love your mate more than your kids and your job.  Or anything else.

So Mimi -- and yes Marsha went from Honey to Mom to Mimi -- thanks for picking me.  Thanks for sticking with me.  Thanks for the wife, Mom, and Mimi you are.

I'm sorry.  OK.  That was a just in case I missed anything.

And I love you.



Friday, May 17, 2019

 

Can I Tell You a Story?


In addition to the United States Hope for Life campaigns for Herald of Truth, I also conduct seminars on how to share your faith.  Last week I wrote about Followers Making Followers.  The other seminar I do is Can I Tell You a Story.  Telling stories is the easiest and most natural way to tell others about Jesus.  So we use stories from the Bible, from believers today, from your community of faith, and from your own life.  And Jesus taught using stories.  

Here is the basic material I cover.

Can I Tell You a Story. Why Stories Work?  ( or What's wrong with the way we have always done it?  Or why haven't we done it?)

Getting Hearts Ready to hear the Jesus story: If God’s so good, why is the world such a mess?  If you knew the real me, I
wouldn't be welcome at your church.  I just want to help people, I don't
need your religion.

Planting Jesus Seeds:   Stories about the real Jesus.  He knows us and he still loves us.

Cultivating and Watering:  Stories about what's next and making a decision.

If you have questions or would like more information about hosting this seminar at your congregation, send me a message.   





Tuesday, May 14, 2019

 

What is the Followers Making Followers Seminar?

In addition to my work with Herald of Truth doing United States campaigns, I also conduct seminars for local congregations on how to share your faith with your family and friends.

One of those seminars is Followers Making Followers. 

It is designed to convict, motivate, inspire, and equip Christians to live as followers who make followers.  It is about having a Great Commission lifestyle.  Making disciples is not a program, it is not just for the professionals, and it is not optional.  The only way to grow our family is by new births. 

So here are the four topics we cover.

What is the Great Commission?  Going into your world to make disciples by your life, your service, and your words.  Going.

So how do I go?  You go into your world living forgiven.  Our life is testimony that the Jesus way works. 

Where do I go?  Everywhere I can serve someone in the name of Jesus.  Our service in his name is a witness to the actual love of Jesus in action.  It is to see his hands and feet.

What do I do when I get there?  Speak boldly the love of Jesus.  It is not enough just to transform our lives. Not enough to help someone.  We must tell them why. 

These seminars are usually offered on a Saturday morning with class and sermon on Sunday.  Occasionally I will do the seminar as a Sunday event.  Class, sermon, afternoon sessions.

I do these as part of our Hope for Life campaigns but also as stand alone events for local congregations.  Often, congregations in an area will work together to host one of these.

So if you are interested, message me and I will be delighted to talk about doing one of these for your congregation.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

 

Honoring Jesus and Nurses

So it is Nurse's Week where we give honor and recognition to all the nurses.  Hospitals, Dr. offices, Rehab centers, home health, pregnancy centers, and on and on.  And I do love and appreciate nurses.  I am that guy that stops at the desk on the way out of hospitals to thank them for the way they care for patients. 

But there is another reason I love nurses.  My family is full of them.  Both our girls, Julie and Jamie, are nurses.  So is a sister-in-law, a couple of nieces, a cousin that might as well be a sister, and her daughter.  Our family reunions have to be the healthiest gatherings around. 

So I love nurses.  But here is what makes this group so special. 

They are living out their faith.  Nursing is a natural extension of who they are.  Loving, caring, serving, healing.  You know... like Jesus. 

They sometimes pray with their patients.  I have been stopped by people who went out of their way to tell me how one of these made all the difference in their sickest moments.  Some have burst into tears when they recognized their nurse was someone they go to church with.  They have stayed late just to be with someone in need. 

Nursing is exhausting.  Long hours and often not even time to eat.  They pray, cry, clean up, hold hands, and touch hearts.  They ask tough questions, give shots and meds, answer questions.  They care for babies, moms to be, kids, adults, and old people. 

And they are all women of faith.  They have their own battles and struggles.  They put all these aside to extend care.  And they are wives, moms, sisters, aunts, friends, and daughters.

They are the ones we all call when sick or in the ER.  And they show up. 

They see people at their worst and give them their best.

Because that is who they are. 

Because of Jesus.

So I am blessed to know them.  Nurses ... or ministers.  Maybe angels.

Hands and feet of Jesus.  To look in their eyes is to see him.

So honor to whom honor is due.

I love my family of nurses.

And they will all tell you it is because of Jesus.

And they are right.
 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

 

Things I believe about Bible study...

Here are a few things I believe about Bible study.

Reading is study.  I sometimes hear people say we need to do more than read the Bible, we need to study it.  I appreciate good scholarship but for most people, including preachers and elders, it would be amazing if we all just read our Bible every day.  You would be pleased at how much you would learn.

You can understand the Bible.  The Bible really is a simple story.  The important things are clear.  I know there are obscure things mentioned that are not explained anywhere and that seem to only come up once.  I don't worry about those.  I have enough trouble with the things that are clear.  And God does make the big things clear.

Read it for yourself.  It is unsettling to hear someone say the Bible teaches something and when asked to show you where, they have to explain how it really means what it does not say.  I think God and the Holy Spirit were clearer than that. 

It is dangerous when someone tries to explain the Bible does not mean what it does say.  None of us can have a clearer understanding of what God meant than the Holy Spirit did.

The Bible was written by certain men at a certain time to a certain audience.  But they were inspired by the Holy Spirit and God certainly knew about the culture and times that every one would live in.

When giving spiritual advice and counsel, use Scripture.  It is right and true.  And if someone does not like the advice, they can argue with God.  Keeps it from being personal.

I believe that elders have to know Scripture and they are the ones primarily responsible for what the flock is taught.

Do not confuse talking about Scripture with Scripture itself.  Not the same.

Be careful trusting your preacher talking about the Bible more than you trust the Bible. 

If you are going to engage in religious disputes, be sure you are armed with your sword -- the Bible.  I am amazed how many "vigerous discussions" rarely go to the source.  Even among church leaders. 

You need to be responsible for what you believe. 

So start reading your Bible. 





Thursday, April 25, 2019

 

So What Are These Hope for Life Campaigns

So as most of you know, I travel 15-20 weekends/weeks per year doing campaigns and seminars for Herald of Truth.  Occasionally I do blog about the various campaigns but I thought today I would give a quick overview of what they actually involve.

We only do campaigns where the local congregations "buy-in" to an all-out effort to reach the lost among their friends, family, and communities.  Our preference is for multiple congregations in a given area to work together in partnership with Herald of Truth. The local congregations form a steering committee and make most of the decisions about the campaign.

After an initial interest meeting to see how many congregations will commit to the effort, Christians begin to pray for God to connect them to non-believers.  We will conduct a seminar/seminars to inspire, equip, and motivate Christians to share their faith.  I do the Followers Making Followers seminar to help believers live as disciple makers.  Living as forgiven people, serving in the name of Jesus, and speaking boldly about Jesus.  I also do Can I Tell You a Story.  This focuses on starting Jesus conversations, telling your Jesus story, and what stories to use to share Jesus.  Often we will also have Tim Archer conduct his Church Inside Out seminar, especially for leaders.  This helps a church's leadership guide their congregation into healthy practices and outlooks to be welcoming to outsiders. 

These are followed by an evangelistic capstone event where I share Jesus stories designed to communicate with non-believers.  Often held at a central location -- rarely in a church building -- this is designed to invite friends to hear about Jesus, or to spark conversation, to move non-Christians toward Jesus, or to persuade them to make a decision to become a disciple.

I am often asked how we get congregations to actually work together in a major effort like this.  The main reason is that this is about making disciples in our world.  These campaigns are about Jesus, his death and resurrection.  We emphasize Christian living as loving God and loving your neighbor.  We believe those  that want to follow Jesus will be baptized and that they will live forgiven among a community of believers.  If a church can agree to those convictions, they are welcome to participate.  The discipling of new believers we leave to individual congregations.

And here is what happens:  non-believers are introduced to Jesus, conversations are started, stories are shared, and souls are saved.  Congregations work together, encourage each other, share conversion stories, and trade ideas for continued evangelism. 

And these campaigns do not end.  They continue.  Making disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

So that is what I am currently doing in Princeton, NJ, Concord, NH, and Morro Bay, CA area.  Just finished in Wichita, KS and the Dexter/Chelsea area of Michigan.

So if you are in an area where you think this would fit your church, contact me and we will go from there.

What a great job.

Thanks God.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

 

I Have Seen Living Proof of the Resurrection

It is one of the most referenced texts in Easter sermons.  Doubting Thomas.  I get it.  Everyone was so confident and so sure but they had seen the risen Lord.  Thomas had not.  He wanted -- needed -- to see the proof.  He did and he believed.  And we are blessed when we do not see but yet believe. 

Often we imply that our believe is strictly a matter of faith because we have no proof to go own.  I understand the point being made but I am not sure it is entirely true.

I do believe I have seen evidence of the resurrection. 

One of the great truths of our baptism is that we are raised (resurrected) to a new life.  Just like Christ was raised by the glory/power of God, we are raised to a new life.  The old body of sin destroyed by grace, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit.  Living according to the Spirit and not by the desires of our body.

And I have seen that power -- the power of a resurrected life. 

In the life of a believer who fought the demons of pornography and is now pure.

The gossip who now speaks affirmation and encouragement.

The one battling same sex attraction now sexually sober for years.

The adulterer who is now pure.

The greedy businessman who now gives his money to ministries and the needy.

The angry and violent believer who is now full of joy, smiles, and hugs.

And on and on it goes.

The same God power that raised Jesus from the dead has raised us to new life.  And we are changing, becoming righteous by that power. 

Living proof of the resurrection.

And I see it every day in my life and in the lives of my community of faith.

It is real.  He is risen.  And I see that every day.

And so do others. 

Leading them to believe.



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