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Friday, May 19, 2017

05142017 - Fourth Sunday After Easter - "Receive the Word implanted in you which is able to save your souls"!

May 14, 2017
“Receive the Word implanted in you which is able to save your souls (James 1:21)”
If you would look at all of human history to determine a thread that remains the same, the one thing that consistently remains is the oral word.  Whether told around the campfire, the hearth, to entertain or keep warm or a park bench to pass the time, the kitchen table with a meal or even today when families get together and remember the history that has formed and shaped generations, the oral word is how we communicate.  Recently the movie “Beauty and the Beast” showed that at one time, only the rich or highly educated were able to own books, but today with our phones, tablets, computers and the internet, everyone is capable of reading on the go, in planes, trains or automobiles.  Yet, when the first printing press was invented, the world began to change.  The word that had been spoken and which we pass down even today shows not only great value, but also the potential to either alienate or engage, and also the opportunity to enrich or definitely enjoy.
This morning here at Emmanuel, we have heard from a book of the bible that Martin Luther was not the biggest cheerleader of, whether the doctrine or the message.  But Luther still believed it should be a part of Holy Scripture.  The most iconic quote from the book of James is “Faith without works is dead” from James 2:26.  But James also has a meaning and purpose that in our reading this morning reveals not only the power of the Word of God, but its clear application for us today.
Last week we not only watched and participated in the next faith step of Olivia as she made public profession of her faith, the faith in which we baptize.  We acknowledged and confessed alongside her our firm conviction that the Word of God is not only powerful, but life changing.  James states and reaffirms this truth clearly when he wrote, “Receive the Word implanted in you which is able to save your souls”.
What we receive in the Word of God is the most precious, powerful and profound thing known in our universe.  When we receive the Word of God, we not only receive the book we know as the Holy Bible, we receive the Word made Flesh and Who dwelt among us, none other than Jesus Christ.  Our culture would like to claim Jesus as only a myth or as a prophet, but we receive more than a myth and more than a prophet, we receive from the lectern, the pulpit and especially when we read in our own homes the Word of God, we receive Jesus Christ, the Word.  And when we bring children for Holy Baptism, we confess and believe in His power.  For in our Baptism as James said it clearly, we “Receive the Word implanted in you which is able to save your souls”.  This is not only the capability of the Word of God, but the power that changes our individual and collective reality and promises us eternal life out of God’s love for each and every one of us.  And it begins with the oral word that we hear, heed and if we dare to change it or its meaning or application will deeply affect us and how we are seen and received and even our eternal destination.
Today we gather, as a church family honoring the Word of God, Jesus Christ, but we also honor and remember how one individual impacts each of our lives, this person is our Mothers.  Mother’s come in all shapes and sizes, have and provide us different ways of showing love and clearly have differing skills, but what does not change is that one woman whether by blood or by adoption, by circumstance or comfort, by impact or inspiration added value to our lives by the word they spoke to each and every one of us.
In 1994, the now iconic movie, “Forrest Gump” changed our cultural understanding of so many different ideals.  It wasn’t the typical ‘feel good’ movie, because it touched on issues like determination, bullying, war, relationships and even the most profound, love.  From the beginning of the movie sitting on a park bench, Forrest tells the story of his life.  One of the most tender moments in the movie comes, when Forrest is given the greatest and most profound wisdom by his Mother on her death bed.  She says, “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest, you never know what you will get” and she continued, “I was destined to be your momma…and I did the best I could”.  And her parting words reach out to us today and resonate with what we have heard from James.  “You have to do the best with what God gave you”.

What we need to take away from this iconic movie, this passage from James as the message from God for us today is simply this.  God did not only the best He could, He, through His Son Jesus Christ fulfilled for each and every one of us what we could not.  Jesus Christ out of His love for us gives us the gift of eternal life.  And God in His infinite wisdom places people like our mothers and those who are like mothers in our lives to implant in us the Word of God.  For in our receiving the Word of God we receive the greatest gift known to mankind, Jesus Christ.  And in our receiving Jesus Christ we receive not just an abundant life in Him, but we receive eternal life in His Kingdom for all eternity out of His great love for each and every one of us.  May we daily remember our Mothers as God’s gift to us and understand and be able to repeat the truth, promise and testimony of Jesus Christ found of James that says, “Receive the Word implanted in you which is able to save your souls”.  AMEN.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cultural Preaching May 10, 2017

Cultural Preaching May 10, 2017


Cultural Preaching <> Unsubscribe

May 10 (1 day ago)
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A new buzz in bagels, a new Bible museum in Washington, D.C. and Denison Forum's executive coordinator's take on motherhood.
Welcome to Cultural Preaching
May 10, 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 new buzz in bagels, a new Bible museum in Washington, D.C. and Denison Forum's executive coordinator's take on motherhood. I've also attached a sermon for this Sunday titled, Loving God for Life.

In "Pastoring," we'll look at David Green's fascinating book, Giving It All Away . . . And Getting It All Back Again. In "Personal," we'll consider the relationship of consecration to revelation.

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

Buzzed-bagel breakfast?

Many of us start the day with a strong cup of "joe."  Caffeine has a way of jumpstarting one's metabolism - especially for those needing an early morning "pick me up."  While coffee isn't the sole source of caffeine for the slow-to-get-started, have you ever imagined chewing your caffeine? Einstein Bros. Bagels recently announced that it is launching the "Espresso Buzz Bagel." Each pastry contains 32 milligrams of caffeine—about a third of what you'll find in the average 8-ounce cup of coffee. The bakery hopes this "unique and innovative" food offering will be a hit with their tired, caffeine-yearning fans across the country.

What are you expecting from your morning bible reading and prayer?  A caffeine-like spark to your day?  Renewed energy?  When that doesn't happen for you, what are your alternatives?  There's an interesting article from about six ways to find new vigor in your spiritual routine.   Much like a rote physical exercise routine, many of us would benefit from a change.  When daily spiritual exercises become dry and fruitless, consider shaking-up your routine.  While everyday likely won't be a mountaintop experience, finding new ways and approaches might invigorate your day.  Something to chew on.

D.C.'s Museum of the Bible set to open

At presidential inaugural ceremonies and on bedside tables in hotels, the Bible has played a visible role in American life since our founding as a country.  A new, 430,000-square-foot facility, The Museum of the Bible aims to increase its visibility and to offer an "immersive experience to people from all faiths, or no faith, and those who have never even picked up a Bible." The $500 million, eight-story museum is financed entirely by private funds. Just three blocks south of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Museum of the Bible is set to open this November.

Museums are often seen as repositories for old things… even dead things.  They often are designed to assist visitors in recalling what HAS BEEN, rarely on what IS or what WILL BE.  And, while the Bible certainly has a significant place in history and in antiquity, believers see it as a living, vital, ever-relevant document.  2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…"  Many well-known churches, especially in Europe are modern-day museums.  It's been said that a church is never more than one generation away from being a museum.  Let's pray that the inference of "museum" won't cast a pall on the vitality of God's word in the eyes of visitors.  It's alive.  He's alive.

A Blind Side Kind of Mom

Sunday is Mother's Day in the U.S. and several other countries.  Cynthia Yanoff, executive coordinator for Denison Forum, has written an excellent blog on the role of motherhood, which can apply to others, as well.  Cynthia has something in common with the real mom from the movie, "Blindside".   She shares, "as we prepare to celebrate Mother's Day, let's take a minute to consider some different paths we can take as moms in today's culture. One path is to be thankful for the Lord's provision for our family, but still find ourselves wanting more: more friends for our kids, more opportunities, more vacations, more fun. Or another option is to continuously thank the Lord for his great provision, but spend our days consumed with worry over what may be around the corner and how that may impact our families (I have a patent on this one)."

She continues, "But maybe as we get ready to celebrate Mother's Day we should consider a better way, one requiring us to expand our traditional thinking on what we are called to as moms. What if we made the decision to live a lifestyle where every day we seek ways in which we can share God's "wealth" with others in our circle of influence? In other words, find where the Lord would call us to be a "mom" to those beyond the ones that share our DNA. Because somewhere around you I bet there's a child whose mom has cancer or whose dad is an alcoholic, whose parents are in a struggling or failed marriage. Maybe it's that kid who is ALWAYS at your house, or a classmate your children tend to avoid because he or she is "weird." …I don't know exactly the faces that come to mind for you, but I know every day we pass up real people, with real needs that we can meet. For my family, that "face" came to us fifteen months ago in the form of a foster baby…." Read more here.

Sermon: Loving God for Life

For last week and today, I am providing Mother's Day sermons I have preached in the past. I know that this can be a challenging Sunday for preachers. I hope the messages will be helpful to you.

David Green is known to the world as the founder of Hobby Lobby. The company he founded is now worth $4.6 billion. In Giving It All Away . . . And Getting It Back Again, he tells the story of God's blessing on their family and work. Then he challenges us to use our time and resources for God's glory. To read more, click here.

 Exodus 19 finds Moses and the nation of Israel at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Here the Lord will reveal his Ten Commandments, truth that would change the world forever. Before the people could receive this revelation, however, they must prepare themselves for what God would give to them: "The LORD said to Moses, 'Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people" (vv. 10–11).

Here we discover an important truth: Consecration must precede revelation. A holy God must have a holy people. If I pour purified water into a dirty bottle, the water is no longer pure. The Holy Spirit seeks holy vessels through which to reveal God's word to the world.

As a result, our spiritual health must be our highest priority. Only when we are close to God can we speak his truth to our culture. This commitment is the foundation for all we do in serving our King. Since human words cannot change human hearts, it is imperative that the Lord speak through us to those we serve. And he can do this only when we are consecrated to his use and purposes.

Here's the problem: our personal spiritual health is seldom a priority to which others hold us accountable. In twenty-five years of pastoral ministry and forty years of preaching, I have yet to talk with the first person who asked me about the health of my soul. Not one has encouraged me to take more time to be alone with Jesus. As pastors, we speak into the lives of others every day but seldom receive such ministry ourselves. And so the well easily runs dry.

The good news is that our Father is ready to meet with us whenever we choose to meet with him. The Spirit's consecrating power is as close to us as our knees. How close would your Father say you are to him today?
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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Sunday, May 7, 2017

05072017 - 3rd Sunday After Easter - “Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20)”

May 7, 2017
“Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God (1 Peter 2:20)”
If you were to study Taoist/Daoist philosophy there is the ying and the yang represented by a “Black and White” symbol.  There is equality and there is ‘balance’ according to not only the symbols, but also the belief structure.  Accordingly there is no grey area, yet, for some in our current culture, they do not believe there is grey, nor do they want to see, nor engage in this grey area.  Sadly, this temperament of ‘no grey’ does not allow any flexibility, whether in decisions, life, or especially in relationships.
For Christians, it is agreed, God’s laws are clear, given in the 10 Commandments.  But, what some Christians refuse to believe and understand is that God’s Grace, God’s Mercy, God’s Love and God’s Gospel are in the ‘grey area’ and God can and does overcome even the ‘black and white’ of the 10 Commandments.  Because only the ‘creator’ can rule over that which they created.  If we Christians are rigid and put the 10 Commandments on the pedestal, we will fall and we will fail.  For we have failed and this is a result of Adam and Eve biting the forbidden fruit.  We had and have no control over this, but we have to deal with this reality daily and God knows this clearly.  For the rigidity of the law we live with will always be the pitfall for each of us and it is even more difficult for God’s Glory to be revealed for all of mankind.
However, this morning Peter in his epistle clearly states, “Do what is right and suffer for it…this finds favor with God”.  Peter is looking clearly not at the law, but at the past and to the future.  In the past, Peter looks directly at and through the grace that God lovingly and freely provides specifically in what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for all of mankind.  For Jesus Christ overcomes not only the white and the black of the ying and the yang, Jesus Christ overcomes the grey of our world with the truth that what He has done and was willing to die for us on the Cross and His sacrifice found great favor with God.  Jesus Christ willingness to suffer and die for all of mankind looks not with earthly eyes, but with eternal eyes.
This is the future Peter looks with and to, the eternity that Jesus Christ out of His love for us was willing to suffer to bring us to, looks not with the glasses of the here and now, the latest toys or the latest gadgets.  Not with desire for control, nor manipulation, but only with the forgiveness that only Jesus Christ can and does freely offer.  It is a forgiveness that doesn’t hide come from compulsion, but true change in each and every one of our lives.  It is a change that looks with God’s greatest honor and glory in mind.  This is why we bring children, like Lakyn a few weeks ago, for the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.  In order that God’s Glory will be revealed and we might understand that God’s grace is forward looking and offered to each of us through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection.  For in our Baptism, God lovingly picks us up as the broken creatures we are and takes us into His loving arms in order for each and every one of us to receive the greatest gift of love we could receive, eternal life.
These 40 days between our celebrating Jesus resurrection and Jesus Christ Ascension into heaven are an opportunity for us to point to Jesus Christ and His willingness to suffer and His finding favor with God.  For Jesus Christ willingness to go to the Cross of Calvary and suffer for us, sets each and every one of us free through our Baptism and today we not only celebrate what Jesus Christ did, but how now today we celebrate with the graduates, Simon Bassett, Adison Avelar, Kasey Stramel, Kate Zelfer and Kanami Sojima, but also here in a few minutes, Olivia Bassett will shoulder for herself the responsibility of her faith and her future growth in Jesus Christ in her own life.
Today, Olivia with her confirmation will shoulder the mantle of accountability and responsibility, not as a child, but as an adult in the eyes of the church.  Olivia has ‘done what is right’ learning from the Small Catechism, the 10 Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed and how the Bible connects clearly with our Confessional teachings.  This is how we as a church have fulfilled our promise made at her baptism, just as we did for Lakyn a few weeks ago.  Yet it is not just the promises we make, but it is also how we will and should now treat Olivia and each of our Brothers and Sisters in Christ as equals in the Body of Christ.  If we treat her or others as children or discount her or others individuality, this is not the Christian witness Jesus Christ died for on the Cross of Calvary.  If we want to ‘find favor with God’ not only should we point to Jesus Christ, we are called to treat each other as if they were Jesus Christ.
The best witness of this I have seen and experienced was last year when we, Olivia and the other confirmation kids went up to Sky Ranch for Confirmation Camp.  It was an experience that had as its core the desire to spiritually enrich Olivia and each of us who went ‘up the mountain’.  Olivia enjoyed living in community, whether eating brownies with her counselors and cabin mates, enjoying the beauty of the wilderness created by God on day hikes, but also in worshiping God in the meadow, where we encountered and were embraced by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was during these times, whether in the meadow, on the mountain or in community with one another that God was present and during which a simple, but profound question was consistently asked.  “What will you do once you are ‘down the mountain’?”  We were asked this question, not for the leaders to provide a ‘pat answer’, but in order to encourage Olivia and others to change our collective perspective and remind each of us who personally encountered Jesus Christ of His willingness to bear our sins on the Cross of Calvary and heal us. 

Truly the offer of grace we are baptized into and now Olivia will shoulder of the responsibility for her faith and life, isn’t based upon her abilities nor strength.  The grace we receive solely comes from Jesus Christ offer of forgiveness for mankind, but especially for each and every one of us gathered here embracing Him and the opportunity and ability to trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and His offer of grace for each of us.  For in, through and by the Water and Word of Holy Baptism and now today with Olivia’s Confirmation we remember and realize that we are grafted into the tree of life Jesus Christ.  And this offer of grace is freely given, because of God’s love for each of us.  For as we gather today God sees us through the lens of Jesus Christ each and every one of us and we who gather to celebrate Olivia’s Confirmation, find favor in the sight of God because of Jesus Christ and His love for each and every one of us.  AMEN.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Hundred of Churches Will Close Down This Week: 9 Urgent Changes We Must Make •

After some sad news this week, I think this is VERY appropriate to consider not only internationally, nationally, but especially locally. Thom S. Rainer​ does an excellent job of calling an 'ace an ace' and a 'spade a spade'!

Which one of these specifically speaks to your church or context? Please comment below!!!

Hundred of Churches Will Close Down This Week: 9 Urgent Changes We Must Make •

Hundred of Churches Will Close Down This Week: 9 Urgent Changes We Must Make

May 4, 2017

It broke my heart.

Another church closed. This church had unbelievable potential. Indeed, it had its own "glory days," but only for a season. But, 10 years ago, few would have predicted this church's closure. Today, it is but another statistic in the ecclesiastical graveyard.

I know. We don't compromise doctrine. I know. We must never say we will change God's Word.

But many of our congregations must change. They must change or they will die.

I call these churches "the urgent church." Time is of the essence. If changes do not happen soon, very soon, these churches will die. The pace of congregational death is accelerating.

What, then, are some of the key changes churches must make? Allow me to give you a fair warning. None of them are easy. Indeed, they are only possible in God's power. Here are nine of them:

  1. We must stop bemoaning the death of cultural Christianity. Such whining does us no good. Easy growth is simply not a reality for many churches. People no longer come to a church because they believe they must do so to be culturally accepted. The next time a church member says, "They know where we are; they can come here if they want to," rebuke him. Great Commission Christianity is about going; it's not "y'all come."
  2. We must cease seeing the church as a place of comfort and stability in the midst of rapid change. Certainly, God's truth is unchanging. So we do find comfort and stability in that reality. But don't look to your church not to change methods, approaches and human-made traditions. Indeed, we must learn to be uncomfortable in the world if we are to make a difference. "We've never done it that way before," is a death declaration.
  3. We must abandon the entitlement mentality. Your church is not a country club where you pay dues to get your perks and privileges. It is a gospel outpost where you are to put yourself last. Don't seek to get your way with the music, temperature and length of sermons. Here is a simple guideline: Be willing to die for the sake of the gospel. That's the opposite of the entitlement mentality.
  4. We must start doing.  Most of us like the idea of evangelism more than we like doing evangelism. Try a simple prayer and ask God to give you gospel opportunities. You may be surprised how He will use you.
  5. We must stop using biblical words in unbiblical ways. "Discipleship" does not mean caretaking. "Fellowship" does not mean entertainment.
  6. We must stop focusing on minors. Satan must delight when a church spends six months wrangling over a bylaw change. That's six months of gospel negligence.
  7. We must stop shooting our own. This tragedy is related to the entitlement mentality. If we don't get our way, we will go after the pastor, the staff member or the church member who has a different perspective than our own. We will even go after their families. Don't let bullies and perpetual critics control the church. Don't shoot our own. It's not friendly fire.
  8. We must stop wasting time in unproductive meetings, committees and business sessions. Wouldn't it be nice if every church member could only ask one question or make one comment in a meeting for every time he or she has shared his or her faith the past week?
  9. We must become houses of prayer. Stated simply, we are doing too much in our own power. We are really busy, but we are not doing the business of God.

Around 200 churches will close this week, maybe more. The pace will accelerate unless our congregations make some dramatic changes. The need is urgent.

Hear me well, church leaders and church members. For many of your churches the choice is simple: change or die.

Time is running out. Please, for the sake of the gospel, forsake yourself and make the changes in God's power.

This article originally appeared here.

Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cultural Preaching May 3, 2017

Why we all might need a little more "dirt" in our lives, how a tragedy can help us better understand God's holiness, and why new gym equipment could include beds in the future.
Welcome to Cultural Preaching
May 3, 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 why we all might need a little more "dirt" in our lives, how a tragedy can help us better understand God's holiness, and why new gym equipment could include beds in the future. I've also attached a sermon for this Sunday, Measuring Success as God Does.
In "Pastoring," we discuss Tom Doyle's latest book on the courage of those who follow Jesus amid the conflicts of the Middle East. In "Personal," we consider God's eternal commitment to your next prayer.
In addition, I tweet on current news occasionally throughout the day. I invite you to follow me @JimDenison.


Why you need more dirt in your life.
A recent "National Geographic Magazine" article states that it's estimated children now spend less time outside than the average prisoner! It goes on to say that this could have devastating effects, since, they claim, that children need to be exposed to the microbes in the soil to build up their defenses against diseases that may surface later in life. But, it's not only children that the article examines.  It claims that the EPA estimates average American adults now spend 93 percent of their lives indoors. Getting "dirty" it appears is good for our health, our sense of well-being and, in an additionally-linked article about why we're wired to be outside, lowers the murder rate!
In Genesis 2:7 God's word says, "Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Perhaps being called "a bag of dirt" is a more accurate description of mankind than we'd like to think!  But, the creation was made for us – even the dirt.  Perhaps there are more benefits to playing/being outside and getting a little dirt under our fingernails than we imagine.  Charles Shultz's Peanuts cartoon character, Pigpen, maybe be the healthiest of us all!
 Blunt obituary attracts attention from White House
 Perhaps all of us can point to a personal tragedy that begs the question, "Why do bad things happen – especially to good people?"  This story of a mother's grief at the sudden death of her daughter due to a drug overdose is all too familiar in our day.  Even the attention from the White House does not mitigate the loss.  This kind of grief is overwhelming and sometimes causes the faithful to question the faith… sometimes even our God.  Yet, King David was grieved at the death of his newborn son when he said, "I shall go to him, but he will not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23).  He believed that his child was already where he would ultimately go, and David trusted him to the God who made him. 
God redeems all he permits.  Even if I cannot see all the ways God is using suffering for good, that makes it no less knowable or real.  C.S. Lewis observed that the man who denies the sunrise doesn't harm the sun.  God is free to use pain for gain, whether I see his love at work or not.  Romans 8:28 does not claim that all things are good.  Rather, it claims that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." God never wastes a hurt.  He will use anything he allows for his glory and our good.  His holiness requires him to do so.  "He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."  Deuteronomy 32:4.
"Napercise" at gyms available for tired parents!"
Gyms in Britain are adding a feature that might cause many of us exercise-avoidant types to reconsider joining one.  Beds!  Sleep deprived moms and dads are being lured into a class called "napercize" that promises not only additional snooze time, but burning some calories, as well!  The 45-minute "classes" are offered in low-temperature rooms (60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit) as a more holistic approach to wellness for today's sleep-deprived parent. Some studies suggest that sleeping in a low-temperature room might rev-up one's metabolism and burn a few extra calories. 
Rest is a vital part of anyone's lifestyle regimen.  Genesis 2 tells us that even God rested after six days of intense creation.  In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  And, rest is particularly important for those who minister to others, as evidenced in what Jesus said to his disciples in Mark 6:31, "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'"
While most of us won't find a gym offering such a "napercize class," we need to consider doing the "homework" anyway!

Measuring Success as God Does
For this week and next, I will be providing Mother's Day sermons I have preached in the past. I know that this can be a challenging Sunday for preachers. I hope the messages will be helpful to you.


Tom Doyle is one of my favorite people. He and his wife are missionaries to the Middle East with e3 Partners and are among the most perceptive interpreters of Muslim culture in the world. His books about Christians in the Middle East are informative and inspiring.
Standing in the Fire is no different. Here you'll read about courageous Christians "facing down the enemies who appear in today's top news stories." He offers eight accounts of believers who are "standing in the fire" today.
Cynthia Yanof, our executive coordinator, has written an outstanding review of Tom's book. To read it, click here.


May is one of my favorite months, and not just because it's the month of my birth. May has been designated Egg Month, Hamburger Month, Loaded Baked Potato Month, and Blood Pressure Month. Does anyone else see a correlation here? It is also Zombie Awareness Month. I have no idea why.
Some more reasons why May is a special month: tomorrow is Star Wars Day ("May the Fourth Be With You"). "Dr. No," the first James Bond film, appeared on May 8, 1963. On May 20, 1873, Levi Strauss patented copper-riveted jeans. And on May 31, 1859, London's Big Ben began operation.
Here's a thought: while most of us have favorite months and seasons of the year, every day is God's favorite day. That's because he is not bound by time. Our Lord is the Great I Am (Exodus 3:14). This fact means he has all the time you need to listen to your next prayer.
So, name your challenges today. If you're like most pastors, you cannot tell others what you're going through right now. But you can tell God. As the psalmists show, he welcomes our most honest complaints and struggles. He calls us to "argue it out" (the literal translation of Isaiah 1:18, "let us reason together"). He has all of eternity for you.
All of God there is, is in this moment.

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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