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Does Your Preaching Change Lives or Tickle Ears?
By: Fred Childs
While musing on the things of God, my thoughts began to ponder modern day pulpit preaching in churches and gatherings around the world. I thought about the many presentation styles I have seen, the expectations of the audiences, the tantalizing titles, the packaging of sermons for media sales, books published consisting of the author’s sermons, the humanistic rankings and comparisons of our favorite preachers, and so forth. I smiled thinking that just as kids might argue with one another, “My dad can beat up your dad,” or, “My mommy is prettier than your mommy”, we might also argue that, “My pastor can preach better than your pastor”. We all tend to be pretty human at times.
This led me to meditate on the evolution of preaching just over the last century. I wondered what changes came about after Bible colleges and seminaries began teaching students about exegesis, hermeneutics, extrapolation, and the fine art of sermon preparation? How did the invention of the public address system change the delivery of preaching? How have Power Point, Bible software, and multimedia projection altered sermon preparation and presentation styles? What differences have radio, television, audio and video recorders, cameras, live streaming, and social media made? Should these and other innovations have had any impact at all on the delivery of God’s Word?
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Five Things you must do to get Unstuck!
Has your church replaced truth with tradition? Have you done the same things for so long that neither God nor man could change things at your church? Do committees and programs substitute for the moving of the Holy Ghost? Has your church become boring and predictable? If so, your church may be stuck in a rut and may be unable to see a way out.
In his book, Rut, Rot or Revival, A.W. Tozer states,
"The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut.
The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been, determines what is, and what is, determines what will be. That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so.
You can predict what everyone will do in a cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God's people are supposed to grow. As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy."[ read more...]
Here are some simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life:
- Ask yourself the question, “Will this matter a year from now?” Is what you are worked up over going to matter a year from now? If not, don’t let it destroy you today.
- Practice Humility. The less compelled you are to try to prove yourself to others, the easier it is to feel peace inside.
- Remember that you become what you practice the most. How do you spend your time? What you do is what you become.
- Every day, tell at least one person something you like, admire, or appreciate about them. Telling others that you appreciate them takes almost no effort, but pays enormous dividends.
- Choose your battles wisely. Every circumstance or problem is not worth the fight. There will always be things and people that don’t do right.
- Life is a test. It is only a test. When you look at life as a test, you begin to see each issue as an opportunity to grow.
- Remind yourself that when you die, your “In Basket” won’t be empty. The purpose of life isn’t necessarily to get it all done, but to do the right things.
- Maintain your confidence by being in right relationship with God. You can’t be objective or discerning if you’re not in good standing with God. A strong relationship with God gives you the grace and confidence to deal properly with difficult people.
- Remember over- reacting will only accentuate the conflict and confuse the issue.
- Hold realistic expectations. Make sure the difficult person can reach your expectations. You may be expecting him to do or be something that is impossible.
- Quit trying to change the difficult person. Give up your rights and expectations regarding this person. Accept the fact that you can’t change him, but you can change your reactions to him.
- Refuse to play his games. He may attempt to use you or make you feel guilty or obligated. Recognize the emotional games, and don’t participate.
- Don’t allow yourself to become the difficult person’s slave. Be honest with yourself and learn to say no.
- Keep a proper spirit and attitude. Maintaining credibility is the greatest struggle. Don’t let bitterness, anger, or resentment grow.
One of the top reasons that so many people, including Christians, fail at budgeting is simply attitude. It a person thinks of it as a penny-pinching sacrifice instead of a means for achieving one’s financial goals, then it is unlikely they will stay with it. To increase the chances of a successful budget, it is important to work on the attitude.
If ”budget” sounds too harsh…consider it as a “financial plan” for the home. The plan can help you get ahead; control spending, and save for future spending. Budgeting really does matter in the process to help one reach their goals and without some formal plan of working with the finances, goals and dreams can never be reached.
Money is a tool…and a tool that everyone needs in today’s society. This tool can enable a person to reach their goals in life, however, until a person knows where their money goes and how it is spent, a conscious decision about how to use this tool effectively is impossible.
So it is important to get the right attitude and not give up. Quitting too soon or tiring of the process is simply a means of failure in reaching the potential goals and dreams one has.
The following scriptures give spiritual guidance for the finances of the home. Take the time to read these and study God’s plan for financial survival.
- Prosperity: Genesis 39:3; Psalms 1:3; Joshua 1:6-8; Luke 6:38; John 10:10
- Provision: Genesis 41; Exodus 15; I Kings 17; John 21:2-6; Matthew 4:11
- Giving: Deuteronomy 14:23; Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23; Hebrews 7:1,2
- Budgeting: Proverbs 22:3; 24:3,4; 27:12; Luke 12:16-21; Luke 14:28-30
Pastor Ray Johnson of the Denham Springs Pentecostal Church shares the characteristics of a growing church.
- There are specific, reasonable and attainable growth goals that have been developed. A pastor must see, believe it and work for it!
- There is powerful Bible-based preaching and teaching, anointed singing, vibrant worship, fervent praying, and generous giving.
- There is consistent visitation and follow-up on visitors.
- The pastor recognizes and releases the gifts and callings among the congregation. These gifts include the gifts of teachers, helpers, prophecy, exhortation, ruling, etc.
- The organization, coordination, and emphasis of the basic departments - Sunday School, Youth, Outreach, Music, New Convert Care - is always on soul-winning and discipleship.
Haven’t you always wanted to be a part of a winning team?
Isn’t it time to let God use your life for His glory?
I Sam 17: 19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle.
Can you imagine all the hundreds or even thousands of warriors that were in the field that day? There were both Israeli and also the Philistine seasoned men of combat. Archers. Chariot riders. Foot soldiers. Champions of wars past. Huge, scarred, muscular men of combat.
And along comes this ruddy, stubbly faced, nosy kid who upon hearing the Philistine champion's challenge, calls out…. “Is It My Turn Yet?”
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I have taken my inspiration from this series from the book written by John Bunyan called The Holy War. The previous messages (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) were instructional in how we should work to control the gates of our mind. Early in the book, Bunyan introduces us to what he terms the Council of War. At this council, there is a conglomerate of devils that all are sitting down trying to make a determination of how they are going to get into the city of Mansoul to destroy it. There are four schemes that they consider prior to the attack of the city.
1. Whether or not all of the wicked hordes should attack the city or should they send just a single soldier in to gain access to the city.
2. Whether or not they should go as they are, which would be easily recognizable to the citizens as intruders, or should they go in disguise.
3. Whether or not to show their real intentions at the start of why they have come into the city or to assault the city with words and ways of deceit.
4. Whether or not they should determine which of the citizens were the most prominent and influential and then destroy them before attacking.
This council of devils finally made a decision that they will go in by subtlety and deceit. Giant Diabolus will go in as a Dragon (Rev. 20:1-2) but by clever disguise in the role of the serpent. A decision is also made that they will kill Mr. Resistance who is the greatest man of Mansoul because he has such a godly influence over the people who are living there.
So once all of these decisions are made, Giant Diabolus in the form of a serpent ascends up close to the Gates—primarily the Eye Gate and the Ear Gate—and sets up the ambush. The Eye Gate is described by Bunyan as the place of Perspection. We might call it our perspective, perception, mindset, attitude, aspect, or our viewpoint. The Ear Gate was the place where the entire Town gathered to hear any information that would be applicable to them for direction of life. What Bunyan was hitting at was the thought that what we see and hear has a huge amount of influence into how we think.
Giant Diabolus begin presenting his spiel of things and when his great swelling words began to capture the residents of Mansoul, they started moving closer to him so they could see him. This was the great mistake because when Captain Resistance moved out of his place of protection and stood on top of the Gate, one of the cruel archers shot him in the head and killed him. Shortly after the death of Captain Resistance, Lord Innocency dies from an unclear reason. Bunyan says that he died either by a “sinking qualm” that came over him or from the “stinking breath of that treacherous Villian old Ill-pause.”[ read more...]
Don't you love them? They add so much to a church or organization. Their destructive attitude is so encouraging. They build faith in all who fall prey to their vile contempt. They're such a blessing!
It is funny though, how some people hate to hear a complaint, but love to be the one complaining. I suppose there are many reasons why a person complains. However, I doubt anyone realizes the full impact of it's destructive ability.
Several years ago, I was working on a job with a fellow leader in the church. We were working the midnight shift in a factory. As the night went on, I found myself complaining to this brother about my situation. At the time I felt justified because it was late and I was tired. I was also hurting emotionally and felt that people in the church should be more sensitive to my families needs. I had a list of reasons why it was OK for me to complain.
It has been over 11 years since that night and I have regretted it ever since. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked God to forgive me for allowing that negative spirit to work through me that night.
The real reason I feel so bad about that particular night, is that in fact the church people had been absolutely wonderful to us. They treated us with respect. They often blessed us financially. They always encouraged us. They took us in when we had nothing to offer them in return and placed us in leadership. As I said they were wonderful to us!
I bare my soul today only to point out how simple it is at times to feel justified to complain. I believe it is true that the majority of people who complain, are complaining about people who they actually owe a great debt of gratitude to.
Some time ago we had a man in our church who was a graduate of the school of complaining. This guy had a Masters degree in it. At first, I thought he had a valid points. However, as the years went by and we all grew weary of his negative verbiage, we also began to see the real problem. In fact he was his own problem.
The people he complained about were actually wonderful people who he owed a great debt to. Even his boss who he often attacked, had to have been an angel to have kept this guy employed. The boss was actually trying to help the man by keeping him on. Yet all the time this guy did nothing but talk bad about him.
This man finally left our church. I am thankful for the strong folks in the church who would not listen to him destroy their Pastor. I am also thankful he is gone. I did not realize at the time how much of my energy was being spent trying to please a man who could never be pleased.
The day after he left, the sky was blue and the birds were again singing. In fact they were singing to me. They were singing me praises and telling me how good I am as a Pastor. They were singing these praises from the tops of the trees for all the world to hear. Opps...sorry about that...reality check! O.K. so it wasn't the birds, but it was one or two wonderful people who attended the church I Pastored. They saw what the man was trying to do and thwarted it with praises.
Praise someone today!
In the nightstand next to my bedside is a plastic baggie. Folded neatly inside is a small remnant of what remains of a little red shirt. The shirt was an integral part of two events that changed my life profoundly. One event was by tragedy, and the other by the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Before this article is completed I hope to use that little red shirt to answer the following question for you, “What do you do with the things that the Holy Ghost hasn’t fixed?”
I must begin by exposing my soul to you the reader. My life has been deeply imprinted by a number of personal tragedies, only several of which I will mention herein. At the age of 19 months I was admitted to the hospital after a lengthy illness. The night I was admitted I died. My father fell across my bed weeping and calling upon the name of the Lord. God heard His prayer and restored life into my body, but I remained curled up in a fetal position, dark circles under my eyes, and the eyes were rolled back so that only the white was showing. My hands and feet were drawn and curled up. I lost 8 ½ pounds of body weight in a little over five hours! The transformation was remarkable and horrendous. My mother went home to rest that night because she was expecting her next child, leaving my father at my bedside. My death and transformation occurred after her departure. She could not recognize me when she returned to the hospital after going home for only a few hours. She actually thought I was someone else’s baby!
I spent much of that night in a bathtub full of ice because of the extreme fever that was destroying my brain by the minute. The next morning I was taken into surgery where four surgeons operated on me. The report to my parents was not good. My appendix had ruptured 3-4 days prior to the surgery. They were dislocated which required more extensive cutting. My body cavity, stomach, and intestines were filled with gangrene. My intestines were completely blocked by a growth necessitating the removal of much of my intestines. Eventually they gave up and simply sewed me together. The surgeons told my parents there was nothing they could do to help me, and that it was best for me to die. Their diagnosis was that my brain was completely devastated, I was a vegetable, and I never would recover. Even if I did, my organs would not work and body functions could not happen properly. The Catholic hospital administered last rights to me. I would soon just be another statistic.[ read more...]