Does prayer make any difference? Absolutely! And prayer makes a difference because the living God, the Holy Spirit, lives inside the one praying. Further, when God’s people get together and pray as a community, amazing things happen!
Preaching, as a Pastor, is hard. It’s not hard to get up and say something inspirational. It is hard to get up and rightly divide God’s Word, build a bridge from an ancient culture to our own, and then to call people to an appropriate response to God’s revealed truth consistently week after week.
Jesus was more than a mere prophet – he was the sinless Son of God, the human-divine sacrifice for our sins. But he is a prophet nonetheless, and the greatest prophet the world has ever known.
I’ve hung out with megachurch pastors and I’ve read plenty of books and biographies of great leaders. But there is a hero from whom I’ve learned more about relational leadership than anyone else – my wife, Angie Cox.
I’ve spent the last month or so mapping out the next year of preaching. That doesn’t mean I’m preparing a year’s worth of sermons in detail or that I won’t make changes along the way. Sometimes a congregation experiences unexpected transitions or cultural events, and sometimes God just makes it clear that what was planned isn’t the best message for the moment. So I’m flexible, but I want to think ahead.
Preaching is a sacred task. We who shepherd congregations are entrusted with the assignment of opening God’s very own words to his people, week after week, and translating ancient truth to today’s people. We are to preach so as to build up (edify), to hold up (encourage), and to fire up (exhort).
There are no “good” people in the Bible – at least not in the theological sense – except for Jesus. Everybody else is wrecked and ruined by sin and desperately in need of a Savior. So the way we have traditionally approached character-based sermons has a tremendous flaw. Here’s the traditional approach…
Paul addressed the issue of sincerity in preaching on several occasions throughout the New Testament. One such instance is 2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” As I have reflected on this verse, it’s given me some comfort to know that the issues that plague modern Christianity also faced the apostles. I’ve also found an important value in preaching – sincerity.
I’m quite excited that after much studying, praying, agonizing, and wrestling, I finally caught a vision for a fresh series of messages for the three weeks leading up to Christmas this year. I’d share the graphics but I don’t own the original. You can find it at Graceway Media.
I’m overwhelmed with anticipation about what God is going to do in the life of Grace Hills Church in the next nine weeks. This coming Sunday, we’re starting a new series of messages called ROOTS: It’s Time to Grow Deeper. It’s based on the New Testament book of Colossians, and as I waded into the study of this ancient text, I was pretty moved by the similarities between the church at Colosse and our own church family.