New Sermons: Loneliness and Guilt

New Sermons: Loneliness and Guilt

Human emotions are tricky. One day your emotions are perfectly fine and another day they seem to be all confused. Life, aka – the human experience, can be a roller-coaster ride and your emotions flow right along with it. Throughout a person’s life, they have feelings of guilt and loneliness. Each time, the emotions may differ in strength, but they still have their effects.

There are times when guilt and loneliness can be overwhelming and start to hinder the progress of our lives. It is then time to find the steps necessary to begin to break free from our burdens and begin to grow again.

Here are two recent lessons on Loneliness and Guilt are you free to download and use. The links to the Microsoft Word and the Microsoft PowerPoint files are below the picture.

guilt burden

The Burden of Guilt Microsoft Word document (Right-click and choose “Save As…”)

The Burden of Guilt Microsoft PowerPoint document (Right-click and choose “Save As…”)


The Burden of Loneliness Microsoft Word document (Right-click and choose “Save As…”)

The Burden of Loneliness Microsoft PowerPoint document (Right-click and choose “Save As…”)


For Your Information: The outlines and PowerPoints above are provided for your benefit. I encourage you to take the information and make it your own instead of just downloading and using it without study. Do not become lazy in learning, but let these become seeds of thought for future lessons

Just some thoughts,

 

 

The Christians Described — Second Century A.D.

The Christians Described — Second Century A.D.

I might have posted this before but I was not able to find a date, but the words provide a very interesting look at the description of a Christian during the second century. Take a moment and give it a quick read and see what you think.

This description was found in a letter from a letter to Diognetus, Second century A.D., Rome.


The “Christian” Described

“Christians live in their own native lands, but as aliens; as citizens, they share all things with others; but like aliens, suffer all things. Every foreign country is to them as their native country and every native land as a foreign country.”

“They marry and have children just like everyone else; but they do not kill unwanted babies. They offer a shared table, but not a shared bed. They are at present ‘in the flesh’ but they do not ‘live according to the flesh.’ They are passing their days on earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the appointed laws, and go beyond the laws in their own lives. They love everyone, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and gain life. They are poor and yet make many rich. They are short of everything and yet have plenty of all things. They are dishonored and yet gain glory through dishonor.”

“Their names are blackened and yet they are cleared. They are mocked and bless in return. They are treated outrageously and behave respectfully to others. When they do good, they are punished as evil-doers; when punished, they rejoice as if being given new life. They are attacked by Jews as aliens, and are persecuted by Greeks; yet those who hate them cannot give any reason for their hostility. To put it simply – the soul is to the body as Christians are to the world. The soul is spread through all parts of the body and Christians through all parts of the cities of the world. The soul is in the body but is not of the body; Christians are in the world but not of the world.”


Just some thoughts,

“Sorry, I am ________________________.”

“Sorry, I am ________________________.”

A few years ago, I strolled up to a door of a nearby house without a thought in my head, as I began to knock on the door I looked around to my see my door-knocking partner one house down. He had already knocked on the door and was passing along information about the upcoming gospel meeting. As the door opened I invited the resident to our meeting and heard the fateful words, “Sorry, I’m Baptist.” I gladly smiled, handed the resident some information and proceeded back to the road to walk to another house. As I told me friend the news, he smiled and told me he had gotten the same response. I asked what he said to the lady and his response was simple, “That’s OK, you can come too.”

How many times have we let our religion get in the way of truly seeking to understand the message of the Father and His Son?

If you have done any door-knocking you have heard them all…

“I’m Baptist.” “I’m Methodist.” “I’m Lutheran.” “I’m Presbyterian.” “I’m Episcopalian.” “I’m Mormon.” “I’m Catholic.” “I’m Pentecostal.” “I’m Church of Christ.” (yeah, I have heard that one too.) “I’m Community Church.” “I’m First Baptist.” “I’m ______________________.”

All of those labels and nothing about, “I’m with Jesus.”

I often wonder what Peter, James and John would say when asked with what religious group they identified. I have found a pretty close answer in Acts 4…

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”

(The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ac 4:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

Did you read that? “And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” They knew that Peter and John were not educated at the greatest schools or the greatest secular teachers, but they realized they had been with Jesus.

Can people tell you have been with Jesus?

The labels of this world should mean nothing to us, instead our focus should be the label of “Christian.”

While the disciples of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch, the name with which their character was founded has become the focus of their lives. Even today, Christians are seeking the majesty of the Creator God and that, only that should be the continual goal of our lives. Being close to the Father is not a position to be won, but a life to behold.

Can those around us see that the religious labels of the day hold nothing to the power of the Almighty?

Our lives should not be a reflection of the building we attend, but the life we are following!

Just some thoughts,

Hooked: A Book Review

Hooked: A Book Review

Whether the world desires to believe it or not, casual sex is having powerful effects on the lives of thousands of teenagers. The effects are not only felt immediately, but linger for years in a person’s life. No book speaks to the effects of casual sex in the lives of teenagers and adults than Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children.”

The research behind Hooked is staggering and powerful; from the immediate effects in the lives of teens, to the lasting effects into the lives of adults, to the quotes of real people on the choices they made, and last but not least, the statistics behind the facts.

The book begins with a discussion of popular culture and current thinking regarding casual sex before digging into the science and makeup of the brain. In simplistic terms, while adding the science terminology, the authors describe how the brain develops and how vital the chemical makeup of the brain is when making decisions.

The language is simple and the facts are powerful:

  • “Another study had similar findings. It showed that adolescent females who being sexual activity at age 15-19 years will have, on average, more than seven voluntary sexual partners during their lives.”
  • “In contrast, females who maintain their virginity until age twenty-one will have, on average, two sexual partners during their lives.”
  • “Data also shows that delay of sexual intercourse for males also significantly reduces the number of lifetime partners.”

(Source: Hooked, electronic version, Chapter Four, Page 7 of 36)

Following the discussion of brain development, a discussion begins with “Baggage Claim” in chapter 4, “Thinking Long Term in chapter 5 and “The Pursuit of Happiness” in chapter 6 before giving the “Final Thoughts” in chapter 7. Each chapter is filled with information, research and statistics which blow your mind; such as:

  • “Only one in fifty adolescents in the 1960’s was infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Today, one in four sexual active adolescents is infected.”

(Source: Hooked, electronic version, Chapter six, Page 13 of 36)

Who should read this book? Parents, counselors, ministers, youth ministers and others teaching youth moral principles.

In case you are wondering, this is not a Biblical book. It does not cover what the Bible says about sex, it covers the research and the effects of a casual sexual life. Its words are powerful, the research is eye opening and the material is valuable.

Give it a read today.

On a personal note, I would not by the electronic version. I bought the electronic version and wish I would have bought the hardcover. I would have worn out a highlighter and pen while reading this book. Get the hardcover and use the information.

 

Just my thoughts,

 

 


This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. By clicking the link and purchasing the product, Amazon will pay 4% – 6%. These funds go to support the work of the Preacher’s Pen.

A Few Thoughts on Worship

A Few Thoughts on Worship

The stripes wave in the breeze to the passing cars, pedestrians and children on the school bus. The majestic stars are embroidered against the blue background creating an image offset by the story each star tells. From childhood, we have stood, placed our hand over our hearts and recited the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.”

We have pledge (promised) our allegiance (duty, responsibility) to our country as our eyes fixate on a flag. While our national bird, the bald eagle, captures our eyes as its wings catch the next updraft, the stars and stripes has captured our heart. Why else does this symbol of our country stir emotions of freedom, causes tears in our eyes and pride on our country? Why would this fabric symbol inspire thoughts of lives lost and loved ones passed? Why would people argue over its burning at public protests? Is it not because it has captured our hearts?

Would our honor for this symbol surpass our honor for the Creator? Would our devotion for our country trump our citizenship in the eternal kingdom?

For some of you, it already has. Your affection for the political leanings of the past, present and future has disdained the purpose of the most innocent Savior on the cross! Minds quickly turn to the “right political party” instead of the righteous One! A political sign, sticker or shirt is emblazoned on our lives for all to see more than the sign of salvation on our hearts. The times of change are sweeping our land like they swept the heart of the Israelites.

“We want a king they shouted. We want to be like the nations around us. Give us a king!” And a king they got! (Chris Gallagher Paraphrase; see 1 Samuel 8.1-9)

The king they wanted brought calamity against the King of the Universe. (See 1 Samuel 15) To many, the God of heaven was replaced with the “god” of an earthly, jeweled crown. When the nation prospered, so did the people. Remember, prosperity brings forget. The past is forgotten because of the present! The reality of the prosperous present gives darkness to the true reality of the future.

Too soon they forgot and too soon the kings fell, from Saul, David, to Zedekiah . The nation became divided, not as God desired, but as man wished. The children of God acted too late, their lives were fixated on the present allowing for future regrets.

Has it become so with Christians in our present day? Have God’s children allowed the loyalty to the physical to veto our allegiance to our Maker?

Was it not Paul who said, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” (Philippians 3.20)

If our citizenship is in Heaven, why do we cast our fears to flawed men seeking flawed positions in a flawed system? Are we fearful our Creator will not care for us as He promised?

Peter says, “Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5.7)

Are we living in fear that God promised us great blessings but His hands are never working in our lives? Did He put us on this dirt clod we call Earth, give it a quick spin and decided to sit back and watch calamity take control and let the evil overrun the righteous?

When our fears take over our faith, then we rely on the physical man. Will we become the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and zealots of the present? Will our allegiance cast itself on a physical party to solve our spiritual dilemmas? Will our spiritual allegiance be cast on a group instead of the Risen One?

The words of Jesus to the frightened twelve should settle our hearts today,

“Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14.1,2)

The words of the Savior brings us to worship? Reliance on the Creator humbles our hearts to His plans and His love. Do we honor the physical because we forget the spiritual? Or do we stand in awe of the spiritual because we see the physical?

You see, worship is not an event on a Sunday morning. It is not a five-fingered pattern of physical actions, but a crystal clear “cut to the heart” matter. Worship is found in its definition; “to stand in awe of, honor, respect” and “ to bow down to kiss the hand of.”

Worship with awe is an event; a life changing event. Worship without respect is just time spent. Worship without honor is…well, sad!

As Paul gathered on Mars Hill to address the city’s “unknown god,” the stark reality of flawed men became ever present. While the world’s greatest thinkers mocked, the host of heaven became alive. The philosophers pondered and others responded. It was in full affection Paul brought their flawed thinking to light with the cross of Christ. The humble reformed Pharisee brought to their minds the ignorant worship of their participation. For years, their actions toward the “unknown god” were just that – actions!

Their allegiance to this unknown god was split a thousand ways. Other gods got their attention, in place of the True God who deserved their attention.

Have you beckoned our own attention to split a thousand ways?

Has your worship been replaced by your rising fear?

Have we become 21st century Israelites? Once circumcised by the Spirit but lost in the futile?

Have we left the citizenship of Heaven for the party of a country? Or, have we left the citizenship in the family of God for the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and zealots of the present?

Your worship is effected by your party affiliation. The party of choice will become the belief of the present. The views of the party cloud the mind and wrinkle the souls as they stiffen against anything that does not walk the party line. Consider the Pharisees, their choice of party allegiance effected their worship.

“In vain they do worship we, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15.9)

Their choice to place power in their performance effected their worship! They had chosen the things of men greater than the mind of God. Their own teaching had become the focal point. Honor and respect of themselves became the “god of their choosing. While they delighted in the sacrifice of the physical, the spiritual sacrifice took a back seat resulting in a physical sacrifice of thoughtless and worshipless actions. Selfishness settled in and godliness was squeezed out.

“I am sure the Pharisees had not planned to delve into the physical course, but their earthly loyalty took them ultimately to themselves instead of Jesus. The did not miss the forest for the trees, the missed the tree for the egotistic mirror of their own life. They missed the forest because they missed the One who made the forest.

Are we honoring what we will instead of what we must?

“For God is a spirit and those that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4.24)

To which brings greater honor:

Citizenship in our current land?

or

Citizenship in our eternal land?

As worshippers seeking to worship the One of no beginning and no end, God, where does our honor reside?

For a land awaits there awesomeness abounds because of the One who resides. The land awaits is a land of honor, awe and praise; but it only awaits those who seek it.

“The road is narrow and the way is hard and few there are who find it.” (Matthew 7.14)

Citizens of Heaven are beyond loyal to the land of God, it is life of mercy, grace and love. There are no flaws in the heavenly country because its King is the flawless Creator.

As you seek to worship God, where is your honor?

Just some thoughts.

2017 Goal – Read 100 Books

2017 Goal – Read 100 Books

Today, over 20 people have given me the names of their recommended books and their recommended authors. I stated and personal goal and asked one simple question.

Does the goal seem impossible?

I bet to some it does. Just think about it; 100 books is almost 2 books a week for the next year! That is outrageous considering most people are struggling to read. (Check out this article from The Atlantic for more information.) I believe it can be done. As one of my quote says,

“The one who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the one doing it.” 

My 100 book goal will be a difficult one, but I am going to put forth my best foot forward and get it done. It you set goals that do not change or challenge you, then why set any goals? For me, it means some changes and taking advantages of opportunities to make progress every day.

Personal Note: This is not my only goal for 2017; it is just one of the many. I divide my goals into several categories: (1) Personal, (2) Family, (3) Spiritual, (4) Ministry, (5) Financial, (6) Home and finally, (7) Business.

First, understand that every book will not be a 200 page book. I will be reading from a variety of disciplines and each one will be different in many aspects. Currently, I am reading a 704 page book, more like a resource book, to get some personal improvement ideas in areas from finance to wellness to creativity.

Second, understand I have a lifestyle that encourages reading. Being in ministry, teaching, writing and speaking several times each week allows me the privilege of researching, reading and more writing. I know it is easier on me than others because of my lifestyle.

Below are some steps I am going to take to get it done.

Manage Opportunities – Too many people whine about not having enough time until they want to do something and then, suddenly, time appears. The fact is none of us manage time, we manage the opportunities we have in the time we are given. Each person is given 168 hours a week to do with as we please. However, not everyone will use time the same. (I will write more about this later.)

Several years ago, I stopped doing everything and start doing something. I have found that I do not have a gift for everything but I can do something. In fact, I have about three decent abilities and I try to stick with them instead of being a “jack-of-all-trades.” I will help others as much as I can, but there are things I cannot do.

As an example, there is a project that I undertook rather stupidly. I thought it would be an easy project and I would learn along the way. Instead, my brain has been friend and I have been frustrated with getting it done over and over. Finally, today, I outsourced the project using Fiverr. (This is my first experience with Fiverr so I will say more once the project is completed.)

For now, I am going to start by scheduling reading time every night before I go to bed; no more late night phone checking and falling into the Facebook, Social Media and YouTube Blackhole. Speaking of, have you ever wondered how much time people waste in the Social Media Blackhole? As of 2011, it was 6.9 hours a month. I bet the amount has steadily increased. It is amazing. (Go read Mashable’s article on Social Media and Time here.)

(Math Time) Figuring I can get in at least 30 minutes every evening, gives me 15 hours in a thirty day month. Since most people have a reading speed of 250 to 300 words per minute (source) that puts me at 270,000 words a month. The average book length is 64,531 words in length (source), that gives me 4.18 books a month. Remember, not every book will be 64,531 words; some more and some less. This provides a pretty good start.

Remember, that is only 30 minutes each evening. What if I added 30 minutes into the midday? What if I added 30 minutes in the morning? To do this, I would need to cut out several time wasters out of the day or I would need to maximize every opportunity.

Having an Amazon Kindle (affiliate link) will help to maximize reading time by allowing me to carry my electronic library wherever I go. Whether I am in line picking up one of my children from practice or waiting in line somewhere, I have the ability to spend a few moments reading. If do not have the Kindle with you, then you can at least have the app on your phone.

Speed Read – As stated previously, the average person reads between 250 and 300 words a minute, but some are much faster. Not all books, at least for me, can be glazed through at a high rate of speed. There are some books that need time to digest, others to be reread and still others to dive into deeper with time.

I started experimenting with speed reading a few years ago and found some success. A few weeks ago, a friend point to a few speed reading apps available for phones and tablets. He is an iPhone user and uses Spritz. For Android users, you can check out this list of Spritz-like speed reading apps. There are other speed reading apps found at the Spritz website for Android users.

Additionally, if you have the Kindle app on your phone, it also has a speed reading app built into it. Give it a try and see how you do. My friend has increased his speed reading time dramatically.

Comprehend More – While speed reading will boost the words per minute, there still must be something to hold onto after the book is put down. To be able to comprehend more, I will need to add notes to my journal and even highlight and go back and review my notes at the end of each book. This is where having a personal website will help. I have decided to make my notes and reviews available for a few books over the course of the year.

Be Accountable – One of the easiest things to do is not to hold yourself accountable for your goals. It is easy to let a goal slip by and make excuses for them. Being held accountable puts the burden of responsibility on your shoulders to get the job done. I have already thrown myself out there by stating my goals on Facebook and even writing this article.

I am hoping to compile my list soon and make it available to you.  If you need a list to start planning today, here are a few:

100 Must Read Books form the Art of Manliness

Popular 100 Books to Read before Your Die from GoodReads.com

Finally, if you want some motivation to read more, join the Better Living Book Club I am putting together next year.

Find out more by sending me a quick email with BETTER LIVING BOOK CLUB in the subject line. OUr first book will be the “Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. (affiliate link)

Anyway, the night is growing short and I have some pages of that huge 704 book to read, I better get moving.

Let me know what some of your goals are next year and how I can encourage you to keep them.

Just my thoughts,

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