Jesus fame is spreading and the crowds are growing larger and coming from greater distances. Yet, as the crowds grow Jesus uses it as an opportunity to plant the seeds for a new relationship that reorients the priority of family. Without undermining the importance of family Jesus illustrates how in Him, we evaluate our family relationships through the higher priority of our relationship with Jesus and His body, the church.
“Christian” seems to be a word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It seems as though everyone thinks they’re a Christian today and at the same time everyone wants nothing to do with the term. We find the word planted in front of everything from our nation to music to amusement parks. But what does it really mean to call ourselves “Christian”? Is there any clear answer out there to this question? What does the Bible have to say, if anything, about it? Though the word “Christian” is found only three times in the New Testament the Bible has a great deal to say about what it really means to call ourselves “Christian.” If we claim that title as our own then it means we are a wholehearted follower of Jesus Christ completely devoted to His will and seeking to please Him above all else. Time and again the New Testament affirms this through the use of the most frequently used phrase designating followers of Jesus Christ: doulos of God or of Christ. This series will take a look at that phrase and its implications for our day to day lives.
When Jesus invited people to be His followers of disciples, what exactly did He mean, and how did those who were His earliest followers understand His request and live it out? A survey of the New Testament reveals many terms and phrases that identify followers of Jesus Christ and each helps us understand what it means to be a Christian. Yet, one metaphor is used more frequently than any other. It is doulos of God or of Christ. As we look at the meaning of this phrase and how early followers of Jesus applied it to themselves it becomes clear what it means to be a Christian. To be a Christian demands that I devote myself completely to Christ as His slave.
God’s relentless pursuit of relationship with humanity continues and expands as the early church scatters and one of the greatest persecutors of the church becomes one of the greatest missionaries for the gospel.
It was a beautiful Spring day. The sun was high in the sky and there was a warm breeze blowing just strong enough to alleviate the heat radiating from the sun. This was the first day that felt like spring after a pretty wintry winter, and since we were living by a lake all we could think about was being on the lake soaking in as much of the day as we could. So we called some family to join us for this picture perfect day trip. Little did we know this picture perfect day on the lake would be nearly ruined by what was under the surface.
Our day trip on the lake started out pretty normal. We packed up the car, headed to boat storage and prepped the boat for launch. As we were prepping the boat, Holly reminded me that the last time we had gone out there had been a faint odor of gas fumes lingering at the back of the boat. So we decided a little additional investigation was in order to insure everything was fine. What we found was that everything wasn’t fine. While topping off the gas tank, a friend who was watching the fuel gauge noticed the floor at the back of the boat was soaked. The boat had been wintered for a few months, so it hadn’t been on the water for quite some time. Being a curious kind of guy he made his way to the back of the boat and lifted the engine cover. To our surprise the gasoline that was supposed to be filling the gas tank was actually filling the bottom of the boat. We immediately stopped filling the boat with fuel and began to assess the seriousness of the situation. We had created a small lake of our own in the bottom of our boat, but this lake could have quickly turned explosive had we tried to start the engine. That’s not the kind of thing that rounds out a picture perfect day!
Fortunately we caught the problem before anyone ended up getting seriously hurt, and were able to put the boat in the hands of a qualified mechanic for repairs. The sobering thing is that had we not paid attention to the faint fumes and the subtle signs things could have ended very differently.
This incident reminds me of how things often work in our relationships. Broken relationships don’t just happen. It is not normal for a wonderful relationship between two people to turn sour overnight resulting in a bitter rivalry. Typically, things build up under the surface with nothing but subtle warnings above the surface. There is a harsh word here, a piercing look there, and if these things are brushed over then the next thing you know you’re in a lake of fire wondering how in the world you got there and what could have been done to prevent it.
Unfortunately as a pastor I see this happen far too often, but very seldom do people catch the signs and react before the fire breaks out. The fire is usually raging by the time we begin crying out for help. Instead of needing a mechanic to perform some necessary repairs that will prevent life-threatening injuries, we are in need of emergency personnel to save, salvage, and perhaps pieced things back together. Oftentimes, we’re left with a charred heap of rubble from which to salvage what we can, if anything.
Are there any faint fumes leaking and lingering in any of the relationships in your life today? Is your spouse speaking a little more harshly, kissing a little less passionately or, staying out a little later? Those could be fumes. Are your children avoiding eye contact or conversation? Those could be fumes. Do you smell any possible fumes elsewhere? If so, its time to take a look under the surface and see if you can identify and address what is going on before it turns into your own little lake of fire. Some extra attention never hurt anyone and a visit to the mechanic is a lot less expensive than dealing with a charred heap of rubble.
This mini-series will look at two passages from the book of Matthew in which Jesus addresses the relationship between the old and the new. As we dig into these two parables of Jesus we will gain valuable insight about our attitude to both the new and the old. Audio and outlines of these two messages can be found by clicking on the following link, http://www.morningstardayton.org/resources/audio/series/info/something-old-something-new
Jesus prayer in John 17 makes a bold statement that the world around will know who His followers are by the love they have for one another. This series fleshes out Jesus prayer and the implications for His followers and their relationship with one another and the world around us. To view individual messages and resources click on the following link. http://www.morningstardayton.org/resources/audio/series/info/love-house
message title: Empty Bleachers
message text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26
message date: 07.25.10
Ownership matters. When I possess something as its owner I also possess the authority to determine the usage of that thing. This series will answer questions of ownership and management. It will look at the world, our lives, and our resources in light of the reality that God owns everything and therefore sets the parameters for our management of all we have and are. This final message in the series looks at our stewardship as the body of Christ. Since God’s family is made up of participants and not spectators how does that impact the way in which we manage our function within our local church?
This was an article for the August newsletter at our church.
Have you noticed that it is almost universal that we human beings get excited about beginnings? Everything from the birth of a baby to the start of a race is filled with a variety of pomp and circumstance accompanied by a frenzy of excitement. As crazy as it sounds for some, even the first day of school is met with a measure of excitement. Think about it, children and teenagers head off to the first day of school decked out in a new wardrobe and sporting all new school gear, because it is a fresh beginning. We could almost go so far as to say we have a love affair with beginning things.
As excited as we tend to get about beginnings we have a reputation within our culture for lacking follow through. Our excitement over finishing well is, let’s say, not so universal. For whatever reason or reasons we can sometimes lose sight of the excitement of driving the last nail or finishing the last mile.
At the end of this month we are celebrating the legacy of MorningStar Baptist Church to finish well. We are closing the chapter of the first 50 years of ministry only to begin a new chapter looking to the next 50 years. My desire is that this would be a celebration of magnanimous proportions! Anyone can start a church, but not everyone can celebrate 50 faithful and fruitful years, and every one of you have made some contribution. It is because of the availability of so many faithful followers of Jesus Christ that we are having this celebration. My encouragement to each of you is to invite those who have been a part of this spiritual legacy to be here on the weekend of August 27-29. This will be our opportunity to thank one another for each other’s faithfulness, and also, to collectively thank God for His gracious hand of blessing. I would also encourage you to invite some friends who you’ve been praying for. I can think of no better way to celebrate 50 years of ministry than to ask God for a harvest of souls coming to know Him – and that will require that we scatter some seed and invite some friends and family who need Jesus. As we all pitch in we can make this 50th celebration one to remember.
I am headed to my 20 year high school reunion this weekend. Special occasions like this always put me in a reflective mood. Personally, I like to reflect. I like to evaluate the ebb, flow and patterns in my life, even though I don’t always like what I see and what God tells me I must do about it. Still, I have enjoyed reflecting during the last several weeks prompted by said reunion. See, I wasn’t living my life to honor God 20 years ago so there is a lot of ebb and flow since that time. There have been a lot of devastating patterns overturned and replaced with life-giving, God-honoring ones. I like to stop and just rejoice when I come across things like that. God doesn’t allow me to stay there long though because there are still so many patterns in my life that need to be surrendered to His Lordship. I’ve got a long way to go, but God has certainly brought me a long way too.
There is another special occasion coming up that I hope will prompt the same kind of reflective mood in all of us. It is the 50th anniversary of MorningStar Baptist Church. What a great time for each of us to prayerfully evaluate the ebb, flow, and patterns of life and ministry for this church. What a great time to rejoice in the ways in which God has revealed and replaced destructive patterns in this ministry. God won’t allow us to stay there too long though because He still has work to do. He still has life-threatening patterns to uncover and root out in us individually and collectively.
We are going to have a wonderful time of celebration August 27-29. There will be old friends and new. There will be memories made and memories remembered. There will be food (of course, we’re Baptist!), there will be music, there will be laughter and surprises. But in the midst of all of that I want to encourage every one of us to also allow this to be a time in which we intentionally, passionately, and fervently seek the Lord asking Him to reveal to us His perspective of this ministry past, present, and future. For those who do, I assure you it will be the highlight of this special occasion.
message text: Matthew 25:14-30
message date: 06.06.10
Ownership matters. When I possess something as its owner I also possess the authority to determine the usage of that thing. This series will answer questions of ownership and management. It will look at the world, our lives, and our resources in light of the reality that God owns everything and therefore sets the parameters for our management of all we have and are. This message takes a look at our role as managers of God’s possessions and how as faitful stewards we are productive investors which keeps us ready for the return of Jesus Christ.