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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cultural Preaching - April 19, 2017

Cultural Preaching April 19, 2017

Welcome to Cultural Preaching
April 19, 2017
Welcome to this week's edition of Cultural Preaching. I am honored to share this resource with you. Know that I am praying for all who receive this email with gratitude for your service and faith.

This week, the "Preaching" section discusses a teenager killed by a shark, a Dancing With The Stars contestant who learned to forgive his father, and Prince Harry's grief over his mother's death. I've also attached my post-Easter sermon, Keys to Serving the Kingdom.

In "Pastoring," you'll find an invitation to one of the most powerful devotional resources I have ever encountered. In "Personal," we'll consider wisdom for dealing with the busyness and stress of pastoral ministry.

In addition, I tweet on current news occasionally throughout the day. I invite you to follow me @JimDenison.

Shark Kills Teen Surfing With Family Off Western Australia's Coast

A girl was killed by a shark while surfing off the coast of Western Australia on Monday. She was bitten on the leg and rushed in critical condition to a hospital, where she died. The teenager was with her parents and two sisters in the popular surfing area of Wylie Bay. While authorities have not said what kind of shark they believe was responsible, a great white had been spotted in the area twice in the last week.

In our fallen world, no place is truly safe. The girl who died could have been killed in a car accident on the way to the beach or riding her bike the next week. While it's tempting to stay out of the water, and while we should always be careful around danger, life is too short to stay on the sidelines. I once saw a poster that pictured a ship in the midst of a storm with the caption, "Ships are safest in the harbor, but that's not what ships are for."

Jesus warned us: "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33a). But he also promised us: "Take heart; I have overcome the world" (v. 33b).

'DWTS' football player Rashad Jennings explains how his faith changed his life

Rashad Jennings, currently an NFL free agent running back, displayed his faith and the remarkable power of forgiveness this week on national television. He is currently a guest star on ABC's Dancing With The Stars. After completing a dance in the competition, he ran to the audience and hugged his wheelchair-bound father, a double amputee. His father's alcohol use and abusive behavior in Jennings's youth strained their relationship for many years. According to Jennings, faith helped him forgive his father: "We love together, pray together, make mistakes together. There's something about having family and keeping God in it that kind of unites us."

Unforgiveness often leads to bitterness and resentment, creating a dominion of darkness that clouds judgment and behavior. Billy Graham: "Man has two great spiritual needs. One is for forgiveness. The other is for goodness.'

God's word teaches and even requires us to forgive: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31–32).

Who needs your forgiveness? Whose forgiveness do you need to seek?

Prince Harry 'in total chaos' over mother Diana's death

None of us old enough to remember the tragedy of Princess Diana's death will forget the image of her sons walking with their family behind their mother's casket in the funeral procession. The impact of that event indelibly impacted Prince Henry, a fact he recently revealed in an interview. Unresolved grief carries an enormous price in a person's life.

In a message to British citizens directly impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attack, Prince Harry's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, wrote, "Grief is the price we pay for love." It may seem easier not to love, lest we lose the one we love and are left to grieve our loss. But we were made to love God and each other (Matthew 22:37–39). Love is the first "fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5:22). When we refuse to love, we refuse to live.

And we know that, in Christ, those we "lose" are not truly lost. Their last breath on earth was their first breath in heaven. They are home and they are well. As we will be, one day.

Keys to Serving the Kingdom

This Sunday I am honored to preach at First Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas as they celebrate their 150th anniversary. Since my message will be specific to them, I've attached here a sermon I preached last year on the first Sunday after Easter. I hope it will be helpful to you.

One of the most significant spiritual resources I have ever encountered is a devotional written by our younger son, Craig Denison. Craig is an amazing worship leader, musician (he spent more than a year on the road playing the guitar professionally), song writer, and speaker. He and his wife lead the spiritual formation initiative for our ministry.

Craig has written First15, a daily devotional that I use every day with great gratitude. He provides a worship video, devotional, guided prayer time, and practical next step. Craig explains: "I created First15 to help believers encounter God in the first fifteen minutes of their day. What I didn't realize was that God would use First15 in the lives of so many pastors. Pastors like Travis, who sent me this amazing testimony: "As a senior pastor constantly in the Word (for others), absorbing the First15 is like coming to the well for myself each morning. They are a perfect balance of powerful Scripture and challenging thought."

If you'd like to know more about First15 and how it can help you and your church, click here.

Several years ago, I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of my pastoral ministry and turned to a very wise older minister on our staff. He told me something I've never forgotten: "Their need does not constitute your call."

You and I are not called to do everything that everyone wants us to do, though this fact will surprise many in our congregations. If you're like most of us, you're too busy. Many in your church know this and want you to slow down, except when it comes to what they need. They want you to go to less meetings, except for their meeting.

I was impressed recently by this paragraph in Exodus 35: "Then Moses said to the people of Israel, "See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer" (vv. 30–35).

Here was the insight that came to me: God calls us, then he "fills" us with his Spirit, then he uses us. Note the order. If we do not do what we are called to do, we cannot expect God to "fill" us or use us. But if we do what we are called to do, we will have all we need to be used by our Lord.

Warren Buffett: "The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything." If you say yes to God, what else matters?
It is a great honor to share this ministry with you. May the Lord empower and encourage you as you serve him today. 

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