BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

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Our Pastor’s tenure with us is coming to a close. As we approach his last month, I’ve reflected upon his many contributions to the spiritual growth of our church. In my opinion, I believe his primary contribution has to do with his zeal for the gospel and challenging us to be more gospel-focused.

By this I mean, he has made it a high priority that we actively pursue and create opportunities to tell others about Jesus. He has taken the focus off us and redirected it to the proclamation of the good news about Jesus to those not now part of our church – to friends, working colleagues, neighbours, and family members who are outside the family of God.

Continue reading BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE – be careful who you point your finger at

Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff

Sometimes little decisions are much bigger than they may appear at first glance.  Let’s say that my boss at work wants me to stay back late, but it’s Bible study night.  Should I go to Bible study?  Or should I stay at work?

It seems to be rare that someone would fall away from the faith by making a one time decision that Christianity is not true.  Usually people drift away from the faith, slowly.

A friend of mine works in ministry to the medical profession.  He told me once that a survey showed that 70% of medical students who were Christian fell away from the faith.  That’s an enormous percentage.  The reason why this is the case is probably due to the fact that medicine is a career that is all consuming.  Enormous hours at all sorts of times are required.  Medicos can start to miss church and Bible study.  They can find it difficult to find the time to keep reading the Bible.  After several months they may find that they haven’t read the Bible or been to church, and it no longer seems to matter.  Slowly they drift off.

Of course this is not true of all medicos (there’s the 30%!).  And it’s not just doctors who are in such spiritual danger.  There are some law and accounting firms that seem to demand similar hours from their workers.  No doubt there Continue reading Little Big Decisions – sweat the small stuff

The Ministry of the Word and Prayer

In Acts , a dispute arose between the Hellenist and Hebrew Christians regarding the daily distribution to widows.  The apostles handed over the responsibility for this task to seven chosen men.  Why?  So that they could devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word ().  This is a key verse, I think, about ministry.  Ministry is made up particularly and especially of two things: the word and prayer.

This has long struck me as being very significant, particularly when it comes to prayer.  I spend many hours a week preparing my sermon, as I should.  I study the passage of Scripture, usually in the original language, and pour over it with commentaries, making notes and thinking about meaning and application.  There’s no easy way around sermon preparation – it takes hours.  It probably takes me about 10 hours or so these days.  Immediately after Bible College it was double that.  So do I spend 20 hours, even 10, in prayer?  If my ministry as a pastor is prayer and the word of God, should I not be giving a lot of time to prayer as well?

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But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

“Going to Church”

“We get used to going — “going to church” is what it is called; the reality is, we, the church, are going to each other, to meet together. We gather to join again as one body, under the headship of Christ, to worship, pray, sing, hear the truths of the Bible, and build one another up in faith and love.

We get used to going week in and week out; it becomes a routine, almost a rut — the tendency is to get used to it.

But please don’t!

Don’t get used to it.

When we get used to it, we then have no heart and mind preparation, and we bring no heart with us to the church meeting; then we go without expectancy of God meeting with us personally.

So as you go today, stop and get some expectancy in your heart. Ask the Lord Jesus to meet with you today “at church” – at the meeting of His saints; He will do so for seeking and asking souls; when He does, we are changed by Him and we then love the meeting of the church even more.

Today God can meet with you at church; ask Him to, and then bring a hungry expectant heart there with you.

I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go unto the house of the Lord‘ ().”

122:1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

How to Improve Your Pastor’s Preaching

Let’s face it – not every Pastor is a C.H. Spurgeon; that’s why they called him the “Prince of Preachers”. No, unfortunately, it takes effort to listen to some Pastors.

Here’s 10 hints to improve your Pastor’s preaching.

HINT #I –Take your Bible to church and follow along whilst it is being read and referenced by the Pastor. This is what the Bereans did in Acts 17:11.

HINT #II – Take a notebook to church and take notes as the Pastor preaches. Write down his main points with Scripture references. Write down the phrases he uses that you think are memorable, or touch your heart. This is worship. Remember, the reason for gathering together in our church services each week is to worship God. Preaching and listening to the message is perhaps the most important part of worship.

Continue reading How to Improve Your Pastor’s Preaching

Legalism vs Common Sense, or – Spare the Rod

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I was raised in a very strict home.

My father was the authoritarian dispenser of discipline in our family. What he decreed happened, or else!

Or, I could describe it this way-

I was raised by Godly parents.  My father did his best to teach me that there were consequences to my decisions by applying loving but firm discipline.

Continue reading Legalism vs Common Sense, or – Spare the Rod

24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Leading a Balanced Life

Straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Discipline is often frowned upon as a negative concept.

It often conjures images of punishment or oppressive patterns of rigid routines and daily deprivations that lead to a life of misery.

However, we need to look at discipline as a friend, not a foe. How does anyone reach their goals? – Through discipline. An athlete trains rigorously to reach their physical and competitive goals. A surgeon studies and practices for years before obtaining the necessary skills for their specified work.

Through discipline comes reward. For example, physical discipline through exercise and a balanced diet will bring us a fit body, increased energy levels, resistance to sickness, higher concentration levels and an improved self image. Continue reading Leading a Balanced Life

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Grace Filled Relationships Bring Change

“I’m eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way each of us will be a blessing to the other.”

Have you ever had the sincere intention of changing something in your life yet have failed to turn it into reality? Looking back over my past, I’ve found myself getting frustrated with all the ‘good intentions’ I’ve had, yet failed to implement. However then I was posed the question: If I have always done it a particular way, what makes me think I can change? A strong will? A strong will is an oxymoron and only leads to legalistic frustration! Yet God calls us to be ‘transformed’ (Rom 12:2); to turn from our ignorant and darkened lives to follow Him and experience a new life. Having a determined and strong will is not enough… we need something else. Continue reading Grace Filled Relationships Bring Change

12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Is that all church is to you – just a conditioned response – just a habit?

I won’t be posting this for a few days, but here are my thoughts from last Sunday morning.

Our home is located not far from a church that rings its bells 15 minutes prior to the commencement of worship and then again 2Pavlov's Dog minutes before. We don’t normally have an opportunity to hear the second set clarion because we have used the first to get us in our car to make the five minute drive to the church we previously attended.

However, our decision to be involved in the establishment of Hills Bible Church has meant that we no longer attend our previous church. And our worship services at Hills are currently held Sunday afternoons rather than during the traditional morning time slot. So now we hear both sets of church bells.

Perhaps it’s a Pavlov’s Dog thing. Every time we hear the church bells ring, we have a desire to get in our car and drive to church.

Is that all church is to us – just a conditioned response – just a habit? Is “church’ simply something we’ve done since childhood and we don’t know how else to fill our Sundays? Continue reading Is that all church is to you – just a conditioned response – just a habit?