Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian blog and commentary on Crosswalk.com.
— Read on www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/why-pastors-need-to-stop-preaching-what-people-want-to-hear.html
Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian blog and commentary on Crosswalk.com.
— Read on www.crosswalk.com/blogs/joe-mckeever/why-pastors-need-to-stop-preaching-what-people-want-to-hear.html
Love… is actually a nine letter combination of two words. Agab and Agape the two most important and defining words of love known to man. They are the words that God used to define what love is. He not only used words but He also showed us what these words meant by actions.
AGAB is Hebrew for love. It means to “breath after”. I have to say that when I heard this definition of love, it caught in my throat. You see, I know what it means to be physically required to breath after someone and it is earthshaking. When I was diving in Cozumel a number of years ago, I was at about 70 feet below the surface and I ran out of air. This is not a good thing to have happen anytime but at 70 feet below the water, if you ascend to quickly you could die or become permanently disabled due to the “bends”.
So as a trained diver, you always dive with a “buddy”. As part of your dive training you learn to do what is called “Buddy Breathing”. You approach your buddy and signal to them that you are out of air. You grab ahold of their buoyancy compensator and they grab ahold of yours – so you don’t float apart. They take a deep breath and then hand you their regulator. You literally breath after them.
You have to trust them with your life. They have to trust you with theirs as well.
This is the picture of what it means to be breath after someone in a love relationship. You depend on them for your very next breath and they depend on you for the same thing. If one partner hogs the air… the other will die (the relationship dies). You can’t make it on your own either… IF your partner dies at depth and they were the ones supplying the air, you will never make it to the surface either.
God created love between a man and a woman. He designed it so that they would be this kind of close… this kind of intimate…. this kind of dependent upon one another. Completely equal – locked in a relationship – face to face, arm in arm – attached so closely that their entire lives are on display before the other. Nothing gets in between them. Nothing separates them.
This is the relationship that God designed for us with Him as well.
The second word is the Greek word for love – Agape. There are actually two words here… agape and agapao. One means a love feast and the other is to love with everything that we are and all that we have. Both are used in various situations but the concept is the same. To love is to serve and to give to the point that we have nothing left of our own and that we are then dependent upon the object of that love to resupply our needs – much like the Hebrew – to breath after.
This kind of love should drive out fear because it is real love – a deep abiding love that changes us from the inside out. It come to take up residence through the power of the Holy Spirit. It can turn two people that would never get along into life long partners. It can bring two that are headed for the divorce court into true and real reconciliation and restoration. It is what binds two people together for life – a life full of all that God has planned for them.
There is far more here and we will revisit this topic a little more from time to time. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
But just remember that love is not a four letter word, nor is it to be tossed around and used lightly, as this society has become apt to do… At its very best, it brought our Savior back from the dead and breathes life into us. We have been given that breath so that we can then be the very next breath for someone else, who will surely die without it. Perfect love drives our fear because it takes fear out of the equation all together.
Dr.Cliff Robertson, Jr.
In the past, my priorities were all about me. The world says, that’s ok. God’s word says something completely different – We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Our priorities need to become “other’s focused”. With Christ as our example, who gave Himself for each us, we are called to do the same. For you, that may mean that you give someone an encouraging word. Maybe its more complicated than that… It really doesn’t matter… step out and your life can make a difference that matters.
So examine your priorities today. I have and have found them not meeting up with the standard that Christ set… So I vow to make a change. Will you join me?
Before Ashes – There Was A Fire
In the passage – Isaiah 61:1-3 – we all want to rush off to the “Beauty… and the oil of joy… and the garment of praise’
Before there could be an exchange for beauty – there had to be a fire to create the ashes. That means that something went horribly wrong. Yet, Christ has an answer for that to. In order to get to that we must begin with the ….
We have to
The meek are
The One’s whose lives are just not want they ought to be and they know they need a change.
Some of the Meek in Jesus day were the Tax Collector’s, the prostitutes, the people that no one else wanted to have anything to do with – because they knew they needed help.
The Meek are really you and me – He came for us! Sinners in need of a Savior. But if we miss that then we can miss the greatest gift the universe has ever seen or will ever see.
To bind up the broken hearted
Anybody here eve have their heart broken?
Anybody here ever lost anything precious to them?
Anybody here ever been lied to by the person they are supposed to be able to trust?
Christ came to deal with those hurts in a way that only He can – I call it Holy Heart Surgery.
The passage says He came to bind up the broken hearted – so that means that He is reaching inside of us, at the point where the pain is greatest, where the need for healing is the greatest and where if healing doesn’t come, all the rest will be wrecked.
He isn’t just touching it, He is binding – hearts take time to heal so He binds them so that they can.
To set free those that are bound
These things can be more oppressive than any prison.
To set the prisoner free
Beauty for Ashes –
YOU CAN’T – HE CAN!
YES – REAL CHANGE IS POSSIBLE! THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE DOESN’T HAVE TO DEFINE YOU!
Jesus Christ will perform this Great Exchange & do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
THE OIL of Joy for mourning!
SINCE IT IS THE OIL OF JOY –
But we have to be willing to say – LORD, I’m hurting and I need healing – my heart is broken and only you can heal it.
Binding – Oil – And a touch from the Masters Hand – The Great Physician.
THE GARMENT OF PRAISE FOR THE SPIRIT OF HEAVINESS
Depression – The worries of the world weighing you down? This is one of the greatest problems in America today. Many have a general sense of hopelessness because there is a general decline in the morality of America, a decline in the family unity and way more problems than we have the time to go into here. The common denominator with all of them is the fact that each day, God is being taken further and further out of this society.
The answer is Jesus Christ – when we turn to Him and give Him our lives to Him, we can put on the garment of praise. Depression cannot remain when we are praising God.
I can tell you from experience that this has happened to me. I could feel depression like an 800lb guerilla on my shoulders. I gave my life to Christ at the lowest point in my life and the ugly monster of depression got up off my shoulders and walked out the door.
You need to know that sometimes depression has come back to visit to me. When it does, it sneaks in like a thief, trying to steal my joy and make me not want to praise. I find myself praying and wondering what is wrong. What I learned is that, on my own, I cannot win but if I will turn to God, depression will flee. So let’s get practical – how do you do that? What I will do is pray and then put Christian music in my ears as I go about my day. When I do this, before I know it, I am praising God and depression is no where to be found. I have put on the garment of praise and there is no room for anything else.
Where does this leave us?
Christ has a great plan for you and me. He came for us – at our worst – He came for us. He came to bring healing, to set us free and cut us loose from the pain of our past decisions. When we turn fully to Him, we get the exchange of beauty for the burned out shell of an existence that we had before – aka “Ashes”. We get the oil of joy for mourning over the past destructions of life and peace that we experienced. Then we get the garment of praise, for the weight of the world we use to carry around with us. He does all of this because He has a plan for us.
You have a job – a divine mission that has a specific reward.
Let’s live His Mission & Receive His Reward!
THE TRANSFORMATION PROJECT
The question was asked:
“Why? Why would you write this book? Why would anyone want to read it?” I have to say that, I was a bit startled by the question. The man asking the question was not only challenging the work that I committed myself to do for several years but, to me, it was also deeply personal because this book that I am writing tells my story and what I believe to be God’s message to a broken and hurting world.
As I am preparing to fire back, he hits me even harder as he asked,
“There are tons of books on ‘recovery’ and memoir’s are a dime dozen. What makes your book so special?”
My pride wanted to rise up in me and vigorously defend my work. When I was done with that, I was thinking that I could then turn the tables on him. For me, there was no way he could be asking those questions if he had really read what I had written. When I was about to fire my first salvo in what was getting ready to be a war of words, I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the shoulder and tell me in my spirit,
“Stop and listen, he is right and trying to help you… Let the questions sink in and I will guide you to the answers…”
It was then that I understood… “Why should he read it?” was an excellent question that needed to be answered. In fact, why should you read this blog? I can tell you that seeking the answers to these questions created a whole new outlook and also a lot more work. As I sought the answers to the questions for myself, I began to turn the questions over and over in my mind. I began to make them very personal – Why did I write the book? Why should someone read it? How does it differ from the others?
Internally, as I began to process this, my first response was that, “God told me to write the book.” But then this just leads you to the next logical question, “Why would He want you to do that?” I this question isn’t clearly answered to me, how can anyone else get it? There has to be a greater purpose behind this than just getting a story published.
As I dove into these questions, I began to see and really understand that while there are many books on recovery and memoirs about changed lives, none addressed the real power that is truly required for transformation. There are many “step”-based programs out there like – A.A., N.A., G.A., O.A. and the others. There’s even the “Christian 12 Step Program” which is just the A.A. program with a couple of words replaced. They are all functionally the same and it was in this that I saw a problem. While they all addressed the basic broken condition of men and women due to sin, they stop short of all that God intends for His children. We need to finish the job. I knew that what God had brought me through, that continues until this very day, has radically transformed my life.
Since this is a story for His glory and not mine, I had to check all my motives in the mirror and understand that I might have to go places that I would rather avoid – that might be embarrassing. But if my story helps someone else, even though it embarrassed me, isn’t it worth it? I think it has to be.
So as I looked down the path I had walked, I saw distinct steps that God had taken me through. They are all laid out in the Bible and are consistent the Christian 12 step plan plus about 5 or so more. As I reflected back on the questions my friend asked me, I saw what God had directed me to do. This story is important because it puts His grace on display in the life of truly broken man. How God was able to take man who had broken the law, broken hearts, betrayed the trust of many, destroyed his family and the lives of the people he worked with.
If this story gives one other man or woman hope that real change is possible for them, it will have been worth all the hours/years this story has taken to get put down. My prayer is that this story points everyone willing to read it and apply it to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. I believe this story is important and needs to be read because we live in a broken world and the only real healer available is Jesus Christ.
What started out as just a memoir has turned into so much more. Part One is my story. Part Two is Your Story. Part Three is a Bible Study and devotional. I tried to combine it all into one volume but it got to big. So it will be coming out in three volumes. I will be posting portions of it here at least weekly as it is coming together. So stay tuned.
As we were discussing in my post prior this, this is no easy task. To love, as Christ loved the church, is a very tall order. We discussed much of what that looks like in the other post and today there is more.
1. He broke the chains of oppression that binds the broken. Again, this a reference to Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18. This applies to us in that we are called to make sure that our families, who may come from diverse and very broken backgrounds, are set free from the past patterns and hang-ups that destroyed previous generations. You can call it breaking the generational curses if you want. The only way they can soar like eagles is by having those chains to the past cut away. We must do that for our wives. We must get to know them so well that we know them better than they know themselves and then be the men God has called us to be in their lives – living by example is a powerful tool that has chain-breaking power beyond what the world can understand.
2. He set the prisoners free. Sometimes the chains can be cut but the prisoner still remains in his or her cell. They are free but they live like an inmate. The stone may have been rolled away but the person who has been given new life still remains in the cave. This requires that we lead them out. We let them know that the past is not important – Paul tells us this in a way that has really stuck with me…
“…this one thing I do, forgetting what lays behind me and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” Phil 3:13
So, leaving the past in the past is important. When God forgives it, He forgets it. We must do the same and help the ones we love to be set free and then walk in that freedom.
3. He was compassionate. Are you? The challenge for too many of us is that we are fixers more than we are listeners. We want people to get to the point so that we can go about making it better. Sometimes we won’t be able to make it better by anything we do, unless we just choose to be there and listen, comfort and listen some more. Maybe we just need to hold the one’s we love till our arms stop working. This is real compassion.
4. Jesus was authentic. He cried with the people He loved because He was being real – they hurt, so therefore, He hurt with them. Do you? It’s ok to feel their pain to the point it makes you cry.
5. He was giving. His time was a gift and so is yours. If you give them enough quantity of time, there will be plenty of quality time to go around.
6. He went out of his way for one person. Lazarus, the woman at the well and the maniac of Gadares are all such examples. As men, we need to be willing to go out of the way for the woman in our lives that we swore before God to love and to cherish.
7. He cared about the children. This should go without saying but it can’t. If they don’t see us loving them, keeping our word to them and giving ourselves to them, how are they ever going to learn what is supposed to be or even look like? From what they see on TV? I certainly hope not. We need to be the example by being present in their lives – teaching them, playing with them, blessing them, giving them our time, our lives and our hearts.
8. He gave those He loved beauty for ashes. For a woman, beauty can be seen in the security she feels knowing that the one she gave her life to is there for her. She is more beautiful when she has confidence in her man that she is the most important thing in his life and she knows that she can trust him with her heart. The ashes is what the world leaves behind when it is done using you up. A good husband replaces those ashes with the beauty of his heart that he places in the hands of his wife for life.
There is more but I am going to stop here and ask you a question – Does any of this describe you? If it does, then great. If it doesn’t, then be assured that there is hope as long as you are still breathing and you can turn it all around. Jesus gave us an impossible standard to fully meet but He also gave us His Holy Spirit that can empower us to do the impossible. If you will simply choose one or two of these characteristics today and commit the next week to focus walking it out – you will be amazed at the response. Then the following week, pick out one more and so on.
Let me give you a word of caution here: Your goal is to just give without regard to whether she notices or does anything in return. Your relationship may be in such turmoil that she doesn’t notice yet. That’s ok. Just keep giving and remember it’s not about you, this is a command from Jesus Christ and part of the marriage covenant you made before God Almighty.
I want you to pass this message on to as many others this Valentine’s Day Season. When we love our wives as Christ loved the church, giving our lives to them and for them, breathing after them, then we not only honor them, we honor God. He gave us an incredible gift, a wife, that is precious beyond words. Our lives need to be dedicated to cherishing that gift. Are you up for this challenge, men? It will change your life more than just about anything else you can do.
Be a 525 Man today!
2 Timothy 4:2,5
One of the reasons I researched and wrote this was so I could come to a better understanding what Jesus expected of me. I do not pretend to be all that these posts say to be. My goal is to become the man that God intended me to be and when He blesses me with the opportunity again (Yes, I have been married and it failed. If I had known and acted then as I know to do today, I believe things would have been very different.) to receive the gift of a wife, I can seek to be a 525 Man myself by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, as you look at the last two days worth of posts and see the incredibly high standard that Jesus has set for us I want you to become inspired by it. Inspired to strive for it. Jesus would never ask us to do anything that He didn’t also enable and empower us to achieve. Imagine what our world would be like today if more men became like the example depicted in these posts. I believe it would turn the world upside down. I believe families would be restored. I believe our children would have a future altogether different than the one they currently see being played out before them. I look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts on all of this. Happy Valentines Day!
The standard has been set. The bar has been raised. Men, we have been called out by a man named Paul who came from Tarsus. Will you answer the call or will you wimp out? We need to man up and be the “525 Man” our families and wives need us to be and the Bible calls us to be.
The Word of God tells us through the Apostle Paul,
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” Ephesians 5:25
Men, he is talking about you and me. We are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church. We have all heard the meaning of the word love that comes from the Greek word “Agape” which means a love-feast, to love with all we have. But I found the word in Hebrew for love, “Agab” to be equally compelling – “To breath after…” Think about that for a moment and it’s implications. We could go on for days about nothing but that. In fact, why don’t you consider what it would mean to be so closely tied to your wife that you breathed after her.
In scuba diving, you learn to “Buddy Breath”. This skill is necessary when you are diving and you or your partner “BUDDY” run out of air. What you do is one person breaths in through their regulator and then hands it to the other person so that they can breath. Each buddy has a firm grip on the buoyancy compensator of the other, so that you don’t float away. In this case, you are literally breathing after the person you are with. You are face to face, looking your partner in the eye. You have a firm grip on that person, your life depends on them not getting away. Just as they have a firm grip on you, because they don’t want you to get away from them. This is how we are to love and breath after our spouses – just like our lives depended on it.
So when we look at this and the statement “even as Christ loved the church…”, what does this mean today and how do we apply it today? Well, the passage is actually pretty clear – “… and gave himself for it.” The word gave means to surrender, yield up, entrust… We need to look a little closer to see exactly what Christ did for us, His church.
1. He came down off His throne, set down His royal crown and robe and became human. He began as a child in great humility. This means that maybe we need to get down off our high-horse and be humble. To seek to understand more than to be understood. To listen and truly care about the worries, concerns and cares of the people we are to care for.
2. He modeled purity. We didn’t want to go there, did we? Yes, that means what you think it means. We must be men who are open and honest and transparent. That means when we are alone, we model purity. When we are in public, we look away when the opportunity to lust presents itself. To think on a woman in a lustful manner is very similar to actually doing the act physically. We have to be better than that and we can only do that by seeking after Christ and being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
3. He modeled obedience to God. Obedience needs to become our obsession. We must seek the word of God and to walk it out. This isn’t easy guys but it is oh so necessary. How can we expect to have the life we have dreamed about and God has planned for us if we are not willing to live the life He has outlined in His word?
4. He led. Too often, we wimp out and abdicate our responsibility here. We are called to lead and lead we must – even when it means we have to give up something we would prefer to be doing. Our Buddy, who is breathing after us, is just too important, not to mention the family that usually comes along with it.
5. He taught. He was able to teach because He knew the word of God. Do you know the word of God? If not, begin today but don’t wait to begin teaching till after you have learned it all. You will never learn it all. Just begin with something simple. Maybe you choose to pick up a daily devotional and take today’s lesson and read the passage and the story that goes with it. Then, think about how it might apply to your life and the lives of your family and share that. It doesn’t have to be complicated or extensive. The word of God will do for you and them what you could never do on your own.
6. He provided. We know the story of the 5000 being fed with the few loaves and everything left over. He took what He had, asked God to bless and look how far it went??? What we will often miss in our own lives is we think we need to work endless hours and miss all the family stuff so that we can be adequate providers. But the truth is, our family really wants us more than they want anything we can provide and if we will just take what we have, give it to God to bless, He will do for us what we could never do for ourselves. God is in the multiplication business still today.
7. He kept His word to them. Whatever Jesus said He was going to do, He did. How many times have we been guilty of telling our spouses or kids something and not doing it. I have to tell you I was really bad about this. Men, we must be men of our word. It is better to say nothing than to commit to something we are unsure we can do. Our word and the keeping of it is something our family needs to be able to lean on without exception.
8. He empowered His Church. Jesus Christ promised that when he left to go back to the Father He would send them a Comforter, the Holy Spirit. He wanted to make sure they had all the things they needed. As husbands and fathers, we need to be empowering to our wives and children. They need to know that we are there for them and with them. They need to know that when things get tough, we have their backs. If we are busy teaching and instilling them with the things of God, this can give them a Holy Confidence that the rest of the world can’t touch. In order to do this, we need to make sure that we have that same confidence. We do this by becoming students of the Word of God and spend real quality time with God in prayer.
9. He healed the brokenhearted. This is found in Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:18. As husbands and fathers, we know that there are going to be times when bad things happen. Our wife is going to lose someone close to them. Our kids are going to get their hearts broken in one of a multitude of ways. We need to be that person they can come to and talk to and we need to be really good listeners. We need to learn when to just hold them and let them cry. We need to know when to speak the life-affirming words of Jesus to them and over them. We need to be men of prayer with them and for them. Yes, pray right there and then with them in their pain. Cry out to God for them when they can’t. They will never forget it and God will always hear it.
We are going to continue this blog post tomorrow. I look forward to any comments or stories you may have to share.
2 Timothy 4:2,5