Senin, 22 Agustus 2016

Free Sermon Series Package: “Bad Advice”

Free Sermon Series Package: “Bad Advice”

Series - Bad
Help your attenders untangle their lives by learning how to avoid Bad Advice.

Free Sermon Series Package

Download and share this 4-week series with your church.
From Open.Church, ““How did I end up here?” Behind every mess of harmful habits and rough relationships, we can look back and see where we got on the wrong track. Help your attenders untangle their lives by learning how to avoid Bad Advice. Topics covered include drifting from God, addiction, adultery, and dissatisfaction.”
This sermon package includes:
  • Series artwork
  • Countdown video
  • Promo videos
  • Message videos
  • Talk It Over questions
  • Preaching outlines

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Resource provided by Open.Church

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life

3 Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life
“If you trust God, renounce self-reliance, and bring him into every life situation, he is going to make your paths straight.”
A few years back, John Piper recorded a series of video devotionals for the YouVersion Bible app. One of those devotions that came out of the recording was on Proverbs 3, verses five and six. What Pastor John delivered is what we are calling: Three Steps to Stop Wasting Your Life. Here’s what he said.
Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” That verse probably is the one that my mother quoted most often in writing me when I was in college and graduate school. Without even writing it out, she would include Proverbs 3:5–6. And I think it is because the main aim of the verse is to walk in a straight path.
That means, she didn’t want me and I don’t want you and God doesn’t want us to veer off the path into disobedience or into a wasted life or into anything that would dishonor him. That is the goal. He will make your paths straight: straight to obedience, straight to everlasting joy, straight to a God-honoring life. And he says there are three steps to get there, right?
1) First, trust in the Lord with all your heart. So, bank on the promises of God step by step in your life. Make your life a moment-by-moment trusting in a good, holy, kind, loving, all-providing, all-satisfying God.
2) And then, step two, he says: Don’t rely on your own understanding, which I think means a conscious choice not to be self-reliant. Just say to yourself: Self, you are inadequate. Brain, you can’t come up with enough wisdom on your own. You have to turn away from self-reliance. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t think and you don’t plan. It just means that you don’t bank on it. “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31). So, even in the midst of our planning and thinking and using our minds, we are leaning on something else. We are not leaning on our own resources.
3) And then the third one is: In all your ways acknowledge him—the Hebrew says, in all your ways know him. So, at every turn, every new choice you have to make, every new conversation you are in, you are sending up a message: God, I acknowledge you here. I know you here. I am drawing you in here. You are decisive here. I need you here. And if we follow those: trust him, renounce self-reliance, bring him into every situation, he is going to make our paths straight. He is going to keep us from wasting our lives or destroying ourselves and others in the path of sin and bringing us to everlasting joy.

5 Ways to Wake Up Without a Ministry

5 Ways to Wake Up Without a Ministry

5 Ways to Wake Up Without a Ministry
“We should grieve, pray and love, but we shouldn’t think ourselves better.”
It is deeply tragic when ministry leaders lose their ministry, when sin sidelines them for a season. Not only is it painful for the leader, but also it is painful for the people who have been impacted and influenced through their leadership. Because sin is always crouching at the door and because Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour, we shouldn’t be surprised when great leaders implode. We should grieve, pray and love, but we shouldn’t think ourselves better. In fact, here are five ways to lose our own ministries:

1. Believe in yourself.

If you want to lose your ministry, believe in yourself. When someone stumbles, struggles or falls and you think, “That will never happen to me,” you are placing your confidence in the wrong place. If you believe in your ability to stand strong, you are standing on shaky ground. Believing in yourself is a clear indication of pride that leads to destruction. If David, who penned many of the psalms, could crumble—any of us can. If Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, could end his ministry importing idols, surely we are susceptible to idolatry in our lives. If Peter, whom God used to bring the gospel to the Gentiles, could foolishly reject Gentile believers, then surely our lives can drift from our doctrine.

2. Isolate yourself.

If you want to lose your ministry, isolate yourself. After all, “no one understands you or knows the pressure you face.” We should remember that before King David committed adultery and murder, he isolated himself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Sin demands to have a man by himself,” and a leader can be alone in the midst of others if the leader is not seeking or receiving counsel and correction from wise leaders. If you only surround yourself with people who validate everything you think, you’re actually isolated with merely the impression of community.

3. Place “the ministry” above your family.

If you want to lose your ministry, neglect your family. The most important gathering is the one that meets at your house. The most important group in your ministry is the one under your own roof. If you place “the ministry” above your family, your family will be hardened to the ministry and you won’t set a good and godly example. According to Jonathan Edwards, “Every Christian family ought to be a little church.” He stated:
Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful.
Every family should be a little church, and your little church should not be squandered for pursuits of “ministry success.”

4. Preach repentance for everyone else.

If you want to lose your ministry, stop repenting. If you want to lose your ministry, believe that the messages you herald are for everyone else and not for yourself.

5. Use people to build ministry.

If you want to lose your ministry, use people to build your own kingdom and agenda. Leadership that is Christian in nature is the exact opposite. Godly leaders use ministry to build people, not people to build agendas. They believe and behave on the basis that people are image-bearers of God, sons and daughters of the King, and holy priests gifted by God.
There is a better way. Instead of believing in yourself, understand your weakness and rejoice in the grace God gives. Instead of isolating yourself, throw yourself fully into the messiness and beauty of Christian community. Instead of placing “the ministry” above your family, minister to your family. Instead of preaching repentance for everyone else, first preach repentance to yourself. And instead of using people to build a ministry, use ministry to build and serve people.

How to Not Grow Weary in Doing Good

How to Not Grow Weary in Doing Good

How to Not Grow Weary in Doing Good
We WILL reap a harvest in God’s perfect timing, in his “due season.”

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. GA 6.9

You would not think that we who believe in Jesus would grow weary of doing good. He’s been so good to us. When we do good it brings him joy and he rewards us. Yet Paul warned the Galatians not to grow weary in well-doing. Why?
It often feels like nothing happens when we do good.
We usually don’t reap immediately. We can be tempted to ask, Why am I denying myself and doing all this work? We keep giving to the church, yet we’re constantly financially tight. We keep asking God to save our teen, yet he shows little interest in God. We can think, I’ve served in Children’s ministry 15 years and no one has thanked me once. Or, I constantly try to bless my husband, yet he never appreciates me.
Sometimes when we do good things get worse.
Jesus healed and taught and his reward was torture and death on a cross. Joseph faithfully served his Egyptian master who tossed him unjustly into prison. It seems the more Moses obeyed God the worse he was treated. His own people said this to him:
“The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” EX 5.21
After God used Moses to deliver Israel from Egypt, they turned on him again:
They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” EX 14.11
Moses’ reward for helping his people was their constant grumbling:
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” EX 16.2-3
Talk about doing good and things getting worse and worse—the more Moses served God, the more Israel grumbled against him. He must have felt like quitting so many times.
We can be tempted to grow weary of doing good because our seeds seem small and powerless.
We can think, what good will it do to give $5.00 to missions? We pray, then think, what good did that do? I have prayed for suffering people and felt like my prayer went up in the air about two feet then fell to the floor.
God assures us our prayers are powerful even though they don’t feel like it.
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. JA 5.16-18
Our prayers may not feel like they have great power, but God assures us they do. Then God mentions Elijah the prophet, who prayed it might not rain for 3 ½ years and boom—no rain. He prayed again and it rained and the earth was fruitful. Talk about power. Elijah is a super hero. But here’s the point: Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. He was no different than us, a mere human. But he prayed fervently and God answered because the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
The good news is we don’t have to do monumental works. We just need to plant seeds—a simple prayer, a word of encouragement, work on memorizing one scripture. A small gift to missions. Our faith is not in our power or the size of our seeds but in God’s character:
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? NU 23.19
We must leave the timing to him—in “due season” we shall reap. It is often in this life, but often in the next.
Those who sow in tears
SHALL reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
SHALL come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him. PS 126.5-6
So don’t grow weary in doing good. Remember, the seeds we sow are powerful. Something good really is happening even if we suffer initially. Our seeds will bear fruit in God’s timing. We WILL reap a harvest in God’s perfect timing, in his “due season.”

10 Signs You’re Just a Jerk…Not a Leader

10 Signs You’re Just a Jerk…Not a Leader

10 Signs You’re Just a Jerk…Not A Leader
“Leaders who become jerks not only destroy others, they ultimately destroy themselves.”
So you lead. You’re in charge…at least you’re in charge of something or hope to be one day.
But how do you know you’re leading effectively…and that you’re not, well, a jerk?
I mean we’ve all been around leaders who are extremely difficult to be around.
Think about how badly leaders are often viewed.
Over the years, boss has even become a bad word. If you’re a pushy kid, you get labeled as bossy and people stay away. Hollywood simply needs to put the word “horrible” in front of the word “bosses” in a movie title and everyone smiles because they can relate. Who hasn’t had a horrible boss?
And yet, sometimes there’s a fine line between being an effective leader and being a jerk. The strength required to be a leader can sometimes push you up against the hard edges of your personality.
When you reach that point, you fail. You not only destroy others, you ultimately destroy yourself.
Here are 10 signs you’re actually being a jerk, not a leader.

1. You’ve made the organization all about you

Hey, there’s no doubt your leadership gift probably brings something to the organization or church in which you serve—maybe even a lot.
Leaders, after all, make things happen.
If you want to be a jerk, make the organization about you.
Make sure you’re front and center all the time. Think about how grateful people should be to have you.
Be incredulous at why more people don’t thank you for your leadership. Imagine that you should be paid more.
Just think of yourself as undervalued and indispensable. Jerks, after all, think it’s all about them.

2. You think that people work for  you

If you’re a jerk and not a true leader, you’ll believe people work for you. 
Contrast that with what the best bosses do. The best bosses think of themselves as working for the people around them.
They prefer to serve rather than be served.
If you keep thinking people work for you, few people will want to work for you.

3. You never say thank you

Jerk leaders rarely say thank you. After all, why would you say thank you when people are just doing their jobs?
Jerk leaders rarely take the time to tap someone on the shoulder and tell them they noticed the difference that team member made today.
And why thank the employee who worked late to get the project done? After all, shouldn’t they just be grateful to get a paycheck?
Great bosses often take the time to hand-write a thank you note.
They high-five people.
They look team members in the eye and tell them how much they appreciate them.
They put their arm around people and say thanks.
Great leaders realize nobody has to work for them. Which is why people do.

4. You’re demanding

One sure way to be a jerk is to demand things of people.
It’s one thing to have high standards (great leaders have high standards), but to remain a jerk, make sure you always communicate those standards in a way that demeans people.
Always focus on what you want from people. Never think about what you want for people.

5. You keep the perks of leadership to yourself

Leadership does have perks. Maybe you know some people other folks would love to connect with.
Maybe you get the nicer office or have a slightly bigger budget than others. Or people send you gift cards once in a while because you’re the boss man. Or you have a nice parking space (which you shouldn’t by the way…here’s why).
To stay a jerk, just make sure you never share anything with anyone. Keep it all to yourself. Whatever you do, don’t be generous.

6. You keep yourself front and center

If you’re a jerk leader, you think you’re so valuable to the organization (see point 1) that you do whatever it takes to be at the center of everything at all times.
You don’t develop young talent. You’re too insecure to share your platform with others. You never push other people into the spotlight. (Insecurity causes a lot of leadership problems by the way. Here are 5.)
You’re never going to retire anyway, or even if you do, it doesn’t really matter if the organization crumbles when you go, does it?
Besides, no one else on your team has dreams, gifts or hopes. Why would you pay attention to that?
Think about it: Great leaders don’t build platforms; they build people.

7. You take the credit and assign the blame

If you’re a jerk leader, there are two surefire ways to anger your team.
First, take all of the credit for anything good that happens in your organization.
Make sure you mention how it was your idea, and whatever you do, don’t mention your team or how hard they worked on the project.
Second, when things go off the rails, wash your hands of it. Look surprised and then appear concerned.
Blame something else.
Blame someone else.
Blame anything else.
You weren’t responsible anyway. Except for all of the good things, of course.

8. You never have your team’s back

Is there really any value in public loyalty? Didn’t think so.
If you want to alienate your team, speak poorly of them when they’re not in the room.
For example, when you disagree with a decision a team member made, make sure you tell anyone who will listen how much you disagreed with it.
And when someone complains to you about what a team member did, make sure you pull them aside and in hushed tones tell them how disappointed you were with their decision too, and that you don’t understand why they would do that.
For bonus points, never privately speak to the person with whom you disagree. Just smile when you see them.
Great leaders don’t always agree, but they always disagree privately behind closed doors and they support you publicly, no matter what. That builds a team.
As Andy Stanley says, great leaders realize that public loyalty buys you private leverage.

9. You make all the decisions

One sure sign of a jerk leader is that you infuriate other leaders on your team by personally making as many decisions as possible.
You never let them exercise their leadership gifts or become thinkers in their own right.
And when they do make decisions on their own, you meddle frequently.
You even pull out your pocket veto regularly. Especially if you’re acting on partial information and don’t have the whole story.

10. You act like a martyr

When your team is angry with you (as they should be), one sure sign you’ve moved to the jerk column is that you pull out the martyr card.
Nobody has it as hard as you do. True?
Nobody is as misunderstood.
I mean, who puts in as many hours for a thankless job? And who really understands you?
Nobody. Of course.
To keep jerk status, make sure you tell everyone how hard you work, how lonely leadership is and how you haven’t taken a vacation in X years.
Great leaders realize leadership has a cost, but they don’t expect others to share it. This is exactly why many people are willing to share the cost with a great leader.

The Jerk Inside Me

How do I know jerk leadership so well?
Because I have a jerk inside of me I need to suppress every day. My guess is you might too.
Fortunately, Jesus introduces a completely different paradigm for leadership.
If you want to be a Christ-like leader, just do the opposite of these 10 things. You’ll be well on your way.
And Christ promises to help you.
If you’re like me, it takes supernatural strength to lead in a Christ-like manner. But there’s no better way to lead a team (or your family).

Include Your Team on Decision Making

If you want to include your team on decision making and help them own the challenges before you, my last book (Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow) is 100 percent designed to facilitate team discussion and problem-solving on the biggest issues facing church leaders today.
Plus there’s even a full chapter on creating a healthy team.
You can buy the book and/or the team edition video series (for team discussion) here.
Want to see a sample? Download a free chapter here.

What Do You Think?

What other characteristics of jerk leaders have you seen?
How is this battle at work in your life?

Plan Now to Die Well

Plan Now to Die Well

Plan Now to Die Well
“If you don’t have a better plan for how you are going to die, someone will probably just turn on the television.”
If you don’t have a better plan for how you are going to die, someone will probably just turn on the television.
As a minister of the word of God, I have always thought that part of my calling is to help people die well. That would include Paul’s aim that Christ be magnified in his body by death (Philippians 1:20). I thought of every Sunday’s sermon as part of this preparation for death. And I hoped every visit to the bedside of the dying would be faith-strengthening, hope-giving, Bible-saturated, gospel-centered and Christ-exalting.
Which is why I groaned at the hospital to find the television glittering in the darkness of the approach of death. This felt utterly incongruous. Bizarre.
One of the most godly women I have ever known was dying. She was full of the Spirit and prayer. On one of my visits to the hospital in her last days, she pleaded with me to pray for her quick death, and shared with me the nightmares she was having of “half-naked women dancing around my bed.” I wondered if there was a connection with the television that the staff turned on.
Perhaps not. But surely we can all agree, there is a better way to prepare our souls to “face our Judge and Maker unafraid.” Part of the plan for dying well is to have friends who share your vision of how to live and die for the glory of Christ. Most of us, in the last days and hours of our death, will be mentally and physically too week to set the agenda. Better set it now.
Old or young, directly or indirectly, let it be known that you want—and need—a Bible-saturated, gospel-centered death. I’m thinking of the kind of death that John Knox chose.

Knox’s “First Anchor”

It was November 24, 1572. Knox was 57 or 58 years old. (The year of his birth is uncertain.) He was dying of bronchial pneumonia. Jane Dawson’s new biography describes his final days.
His wife, Margaret was ever nearby, when not caring for their three daughters and two sons. Richard Bannatyne, Knox’s faithful secretary and friend, was never far from the bedside.
Around five o’clock in the evening, he called for his wife. Earlier he had asked for the reading of Isaiah 53 with the sweetest gospel words:
He was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5–6)
He also had asked for 1 Corinthians 15 to be read with its detailed description of the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and his own.
But finally, he asked his wife to read his beloved “first anchor”: John 17. Thirty years earlier, when Knox was coming to the Reformed faith out of Roman Catholicism, this was the chapter that brought him peace. He said, this is where “I cast my first anchor.” Here he saw the roots of election and Christ’s commitment to keep those whom the Father had given him.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word… I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours… Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me… I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one… Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:6, 9, 11, 15, 17)
Margaret read his anchor chapter. Knox said, “Is not that a comfortable chapter?” Death came about six hours later.
Thinking he was still sleeping, his family and friends conducted their usual evening prayers after 10 p.m. When asked by Dr. Preston if he had heard the psalm-singing and prayers, Knox replied, “I wald to God that ye and all men hard thame as I have hard thame [I would to God that you and all men heard them as I have heard them]; and I praise God of that heavenlie sound.” About 11 p.m., Robert Campbell sitting on a stool by the bed, heard Knox give a long sigh and sob and say, “Now it is done.” When asked by Bannatyne to give the signal to show that he remembered Christ’s promises, Knox raised his hand for the last time and “sleipit away without any pain.” Knox’s battle had ended. (Knox, 310)
Yes, and the war had been waged to the end with the word of God. It was a Bible-saturated death. This is what he asked for, and this is what his wife and friends gave him.

Ready for Heaven

Singing and speaking the word of God—this is what I hope to hear if my death comes slowly. If you have never loved the reading of the word of God and the singing of gospel truth, ponder deeply Knox’s words, “I praise God of that heavenlie sound.”
Nothing will be more discordant in that final hour than the television. And nothing sweeter than the “heavenlie sound” of friends singing and reading the word of God. Full of the gospel, full of Christ, full of hope. Plan for this.

What the Real Enemy of “Awesome” Is

What the Real Enemy of “Awesome” Is

What the Real Enemy of "Awesome" Is
God might be calling you to something that just isn’t average.
While preparing for a weekend of talks to junior high students at Forest Home, I found myself wrestling with two truths I was trying to teach.
The theme set by the camp was “everything.” Not like, “teach whatever I wanted” everything. They were basing this on the “shema” in Deuteronomy 6 that Jesus quotes in response to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
In other words, God wants our everything. As I read this over and over again for like the five thousandth time, I was reminded of two truths I needed to live out and communicate.

First, if I give my all to something, then I can’t give my all to anything else. I think in a multi-tasking society, where we believe we can do 50 things at once, this is a profound reminder. I can give parts of me to lots of stuff, but if I want to give my all to God, then I can’t do that and give my all to anything else. Only one thing can be my everything.
When I let the opinions of people, the acquiring of stuff and the achievement pile become my top priority for a season, then it by default moves God out of first place. I can’t do that and say “yes” to this call in the Greatest commandment.

Second, I found myself wrestling with why it is that I find myself settling for less than “all of God in all of me in all areas of my life.” To that end, this observation proved profound for me spiritually this weekend as I taught it and personally processed it.
When I accept an average amount of God in my life, I miss out on the awesome that God has in store. In a world of comparison games, immediately we go to some sort of competition with that phrase. As in: Who can you be more awesome than? But the truth is, this call of God has NOTHING to do with comparison. Awesome is not defined as “better than,” it is defined as ALL of God in ALL of me! That is awesome.
It’s deciding that the phrase “it is what it is” in this context is flat out a cop-out. No, my spiritual life is not an “is what it is” reality. Our spiritual connection with God is never all it is or could be. There’s so much more. And to that end, Satan doesn’t need me to reject God to win; all he needs is for me to accept a moderate amount of God.
Bottom line, when I settle, it’s a victory for the enemy.
So this week, I’m wresting with these two questions as I search my soul:
1. Is my top priority in my schedule this week something God can be and is fully present in?
2. Where have I settled for average when God had a plan for awesome?