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Posts Tagged ‘Sermon’

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception and response to failure.” – John Maxwell

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theadore Roosevelt

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  –Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV)

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…with liberty and justice for all.

Liberty and Justice are two of the most noble concepts a person could ever hope to wrap their mind around.  They are everything our immigrant grandparents came to the United States for, they are everything our forefathers fought for, and they are all we have ever known.

Each of us has faced our own set of challenges, obstacles, and prejudices in life, but most of take for granted the amazing grace of living in a society that values liberty and justice.

The book of Nehemiah tells a beautiful story of what can happen when a community sets their hearts to build together, but there is another building story tucked inside of this book.  Right in the middle of this amazing story about rebuilding a wall around Jerusalem is a story about a different kind of rebuilding, the rebuilding of the people who will be protected by those walls.

Nehemiah 5:1-19 (NIV)

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their Jewish brothers. 2 Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”

3 Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”

4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. 7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them 8 and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

9 So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? 10 I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let the exacting of usury stop! 11 Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the usury you are charging them—the hundredth part of the money, grain, new wine and oil.”

12 “We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”  Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. 13 I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of his house and possessions every man who does not keep this promise. So may such a man be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

What we see here is a cry for justice.  The citizens of Jerusalem are saying, “What is the point in rebuilding a wall if we are still slaves behind its protection?”

This story of rebuilding a wall is particularly relevant to the current social revolution of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.

To be honest , I don’t really get Occupy Wall Street.  As near as I can tell, it is an expression of frustration against corporate greed and lack of accountability in our financial sector.  And at that level I can relate to the frustration.

But the entire movement, from the beginning, has lacked a clear voice, and so, at times, it comes across as a whine for socialism, or an expression of jealous greed.  It has even manifested itself in racism toward Jews and a push for complete anarchy.

The confusion of the Occupy Wall Street movement comes from the fact that it doesn’t seem to know what it wants; it just knows it doesn’t want what it has, and, at that level, it ends up sounding like a spoiled child.

What we see in Nehemiah chapter 5 is similar to how people feel who are part of Occupy Wall Street, except that the frustrations expressed by the Jews in that day were extreme and most obviously legitimate.

Nehemiah 5:4-5 (NIV)

4 Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. 5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

And look at Nehemiah’s response.

Nehemiah 5:6-7 (NIV)

6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. 7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are exacting usury from your own countrymen!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them…

Here is the key: Injustice should make us angry, and it should lead us to action.

As I have read about the Occupy Wall Street movement , one of their hallmarks are the slogans they put on their protest signs.  These guys are professional sign makers.

I want to point out three signs that I call: Wrong, Right, and Radical.  And I want you to consider how these three ways of thinking are impacting your life.

Look at this sign:

WRONG!

“We are the 99%” is one of the huge battle cries of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  It is a claim that the problems in America should be blamed on 1% of the population who are greedy and keeping the rest of us in poverty.

The first major problem with this claim is that it is simply wrong.

At the bottom of the sign, it says, “Look it up.”  And when you do look it up, you begin to discover how overwhelmingly wealthy we are as Americans.  In the United States, the poverty line is approximately $22,350.  If your household makes less than this, you are considered in poverty conditions in our country.

But do you know where that places you in the world?

According to the Global Rich List, an annual income of $22,350 puts you among the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.  And check this out.  A combined household income of $50,000 would make your family among the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.

So back to our 1% boy…

Do you see his shoes?  Do you see his pants?  Do you see his clean finger nails?  This average American boy is among the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.

What is wrong about his sign is that he is using it to say, “The problems I am facing are someone else’s to fix.”  As long as any of us are looking for someone else to fix our problems, we will stay in a mindset of poverty.

No one is holding you down.  No one is holding you back from being who God has created you to be.  But, if you are waiting for a handout to get there, you just became your own worst enemy.

Here is the next sign.

Ouch, that one hurts my feelings.  But this sign is RIGHT.

Now, I do not believe America has failed as a society, but we have been damaged as a society.  And this sign is right because of the words, “So-Called.”  Anytime someone hides behind the label of Christianity and uses that label as an excuse for greed, selfishness, or hatred, they are wounding their society and they are making a mockery of the teachings of Jesus.

It may not be a secret that you attend church on a Sunday morning, but what does your version of Christianity say in the workplace?  In the handling of your finances?  In your home?  In private?

A half lived faith does a whole lotta damage to our world.

Let’s take a look at one more sign.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

This is a quote from Albert Camus, a 20th century novelist and philosopher. And that, my friends, is the definition of radical.  It is one of the most beautiful sentences I have ever read.  And, in the Occupy Movement, it is being used in exactly the wrong way.  What a heartbreak!

The Apostle Paul says it this way:

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

If you want to see justice in our land, begin by taking responsibility for your actions by doing these three things:

  1. Confront the wrong ways of thinking in your heart.  Filter them through the truth of God’s word.
  2. Accept what is right.  Allow yourself to be challenged by hard truths.
  3. Live radically.

If we would apply ourselves to these truths, I believe we would see true justice and liberty flow like a river through our land, and we would most certainly become ONE NATION UNDER GOD.

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Here is a video rendition of the opening illustration from Sunday morning’s message.  Enjoy!

Links

Click here to learn more about the Native American Buffalo Jumps Pastor Eric referenced in Sunday’s message.

“No man can make me submit!” Click here to learn more about David Louseau, the UFC fighter Pastor Eric mentioned Sunday whose courage inspired his faith and prayers one night in a hospital room.

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The Roman RoadIf yesterday’s message left you wanting to close the door of sin in your life— that’s really good.  If it left you wanting to put out the welcome mat for God’s presence at the door of your heart— that’s great.  If it left you aching to share what Jesus did on the cross with someone you know— that’s tremendous.

Here’s a tool called the “Roman Road” to help you do that. It’s just a road map, really, through the pages of Romans that can keep you focused as you talk through the amazing gift of salvation with someone who needs to hear it.  Print it out and keep it handy, jot it down in the back of your Bible, put it in your smartphone, or memorize it completely.  But, whatever you do, be prepared to testify about how this journey has changed your life and get ready to see it transform someone else’s.

  • Romans 3:23
    For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • Romans 6:23
    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 5:8
    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Romans 10:9-10
    That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

 

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On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, bound for New York.  Four days into her maiden voyage, she hit an iceberg and sunk into the Atlantic Ocean.

The sinking of the Titanic is a story ingrained in our culture with mythic proportions.  The events of that tragic day have been scrutinized from every angle, but the greatest contributing factor to the loss of so many lives was the simple neglect of multiple warnings from other ships, “Icebergs ahead.”

Failure to head warnings has lead to more disasters than just the sinking of one ship.  It has lead to loss and heartbreak at every level of life and human relationships.

I believe there are three significant warning signs every follower of Jesus must be aware of if they desire to steer free of icebergs as they navigate their way through life.

Three warning signs of ice bergs ahead:

  1. When what I hear on Sunday morning changes my language, but not my life, I am in iceberg waters.
  2. When the cry for comfort is louder than the cry for compassion, I am in iceberg waters.
  3. When my eyes are so focused on this world that I am not homesick for Heaven, I am in iceberg waters.

Warning signs are not a guarantee of either a collision or avoidance thereof.  They simply are what they are, a cautious observation that you are sailing in dangerous waters.

I pray you will give careful consideration to the warning signs around you, and may you steer clear of the icebergs that could hurt you or the ones you love.

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My apologies that the Monday Morning Review has lagged to the Tuesday Evening Review, perhaps even the Wednesday Morning Review. I hope everyone was able to satisfy their Monday morning cravings in other ways.

If you missed Sunday morning, I want to echo Pastor Loran’s advice to find a Haiti mission team member or members and pick their brains. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. The testimonies and reports shared during Sunday’s services were absolutely incredible. I want to take a moment to thank all of the Haiti team members for all their hard work, not just during the mission trip, but also in the fund raising and other preparations in the months leading up to the trip. Also, thank you to all of the EFC members who helped to make the trip possible. And last, but certainly not least, to the other Pastor Loran for putting together such an awesome team and trip. I know lives were changed in Haiti and right here in Sweetwater.

Podcast

I don’t know if the Haiti testimonies and/or Pastor Loran’s sermon will be available in this week’s podcast, but if it is, you can click here to listen.

On the Radar

EFC Volleyball @ Sonic.  Wednesday, July 27, come join us at Sonic for food, fun and volleyball from 7-9pm.

Kids School of Worship (Jammin’ with Jesus) is right around the corner. Sunday, July 31-Wednesday, August 3. The theme this year is “Fruits of the Spirit,” and we still need volunteers to help out with supplies, snacks and manpower. For more information or to volunteer, contact Pastor Lolo.

EFC Fantasy Football League. Yes, it’s that time of year again, and if you missed out last year on the First Annual EFC Fantasy Football League, now’s your chance to get in on all the fun. You can contact league commissioner Curtis Ward to find out how to play.

Discipleship Training: How to Study the Bible. Coming August 7 & 14, 6pm at EFC.

Mother’s Day Out information is available online!  Emmanuel Fellowship Church is excited to host a Mother’s Day Out program beginning Fall 2011 for children ages 1-5.  There are only a few spaces remaining for the Fall semester.  More information and downloadable registration forms are available by clicking HERE.

Links

Follow EFC on facebook. If you don’t already, you’re missing out on the daily EFC dish.

In keeping with the Discipleship Training theme How to Study the Bible, here are a few very helpful online Bible tools:

And, as always, a shamless plug for my very own Bible blog, Beauty of the Bible.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

    •  “Friend of God” by Israel Houghton
    • “You’ll Come” by Hillsong United
    • “Higher” by Worth Dying For
  • “Saviour King” Hillsong

 Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, July 24, we continue our summer sermon series entitled, “Prayers that Shook the World,” with Jim Cargile.

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Somewhere along the journey of life each one of us takes a picture of ourselves.  And in that snapshot, we magnify our faults.  We memorialize a moment of failure, a moment of weakness, or an insecure or awkward stage of life.

At some point in time, someone said something, pointed out a fear, or made a judgment about you — and it stuck.  In fact, it is still sticking.

As much as we try to hide, it seems impossible to get away from the flaw-filled person we see in the mirror.  We are all wounded by the damage we have received, and even more, we all fear the damage we can cause.

As personal as our story may be, we are not the only ones who feel this way.  It is a wound common to us all.  Tucked away in the pages of the Bible, we find a man who shared our common pain, our common fear.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.  (1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV)

I see three simple, yet powerful connections between each of us and the life of Jabez.  Through acknowledging these three truths, we could each find ourselves breaking the cycles of our past and enjoying the grace of God for our lives today.

  1. We all carry scars.  However hidden or personal our story may be, we are all united by the simple fact that we are not alone.  Everyone around us finds themselves trying to make sense of their life.  We all carry scars of the pain we have received and the pain we have caused.
  2. We all carry fear.  The most damaging impact of the scars we carry is the haunting fear that the pain may not be over, that our past may wound us again in the future.  We carry the fear of being hurt again and the fear of hurting others in the same way we were hurt.  If left unanswered, our fears will box us into a small and unsatisfying life.
  3. We all carry hope.  It is what moves us forward.  Somehow, somewhere, someone has to have more to offer than a life lived in cycles of fear and pain.  Hope invites us to take risks and embrace a life of meaning and purpose.

This was the story of Jabez.  He carried the scars of the wounds he caused as a child and the fear of the name given him that he would continue to cause pain all the days of his life.  But somewhere in the midst of the scars and fear, Jabez nurtured hope, and his hope caused him to cry out to the God who created him, “Bless me, indeed.  Enlarge my territory.  Let Your hand be upon me.  Keep me from evil.  Keep me from causing pain.”

A powerful and faith filled prayer.  A prayer we still connect with on a very deep level.

If I were to summarize my personal connection with the prayer of Jabez, it would be: “I don’t want to keep hurting from the same old wounds, and I don’t want to be the link that causes my pain to become my children’s pain.”

Do you have a personal connection with the prayer of Jabez?  How does his cry touch your heart?  What does it stir in you?

May you be blessed indeed!  May God enlarge your territory, your sphere of influence!  May the hand of God be upon you.  May God keep you from evil!  May you and those you love be free from pain!  Amen.

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