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
When we are at our lowest, God promises to be there. In the 23rd Psalm, David says,
“Tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they protect me.”
The song that is included in this post was written by a man acquainted with the valley of the shadow of death but not his own – His wife and little unborn child. Tommy Dorsey was leading the music at a revival south of his hometown Chicago when he got the telegram that his wife had died in childbirth.
He got home as soon as he could, only to find that the child had died as well. It broke Tommy in ways that few can get their arms wrapped around. He told everyone that he was walking away from God and leaving gospel music forever.
A few weeks later a friend came to visit him. He was worried about his grieving friend. So he went in and convinced him to take a drive with him. His friend was a Christian but he knew better than to begin preaching at Tommy. So he took him to a school and they walked into the music room. His friend walked over to the piano, Tommy Dorsey’s long time companion in writing literally thousands of gospel tunes. Tommy followed him and sat down on the piano bench.
He began to cry almost instantly. He opened the cover and began to play the tune that this post began with. He later recalled that it was like the Holy Spirit came to him in that moment and poured that song into him.
When we are in the valley of pain and loss, we can be assured that God knows it and is coming to lead us through it. If you are in the pit today know that you are not alone – God is there with you. Call out to Him and I know there are tears and pain now but He promises to wipe away all those tears. Listen and enjoy this next song and let it encourage you as well.
I have heard this many times and even said it myself. Our society can be pretty unforgiving of the mistakes of the past. A record can follow you forever.
But what is interesting is that some of the most famous, interesting and successful people have a record. They have been to the pit. I remember hearing T.D. Jakes preach one day about a Pastors conference he had attended. He was recalling the Pastors stories of faithfulness and many had only been married once and had served the church all their life. He said –
“While all those stories were great and I am very happy for them, they had nothing to say to me. You can’t help me if you have never been through anything.”
Bishop Jakes story rang really true to me. Then I recalled the story of the Maniac of Gadares. Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee just to see him and it changed everything. This man couldn’t live with the rest of the people. They tried to chain him but he was so crazy that he broke the chains. He lived in a cemetery, probably waiting to die – wanting to die. Anybody been there?
After one touch – one word from Jesus, his life was different. In fact, he was so different and the change so radical, that it scared the people of the closest town. The man wanted to leave with Jesus but Jesus knew that this man had a mission. Jesus told him –
“Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee and had compassion on thee.” Mark 5:19b
Do you know what the man did? – exactly what Jesus told him to do. Yet, not only did he go home, on the way there he…
“…and began to publish in Decapolis [Ten Cities] how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” v. 20
Real change is possible! Jesus can take you from insanity to peace. This transformation is what Paul describes as “You are God’s Masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus…” (Eph.2:10 NLT). But you are not saved to sit. You are not transformed to be placed upon a pedestal and pose. You are saved to serve – transformed to testify. The Maniac of Gadares published, which means to spread the mission far and wide, and the people all marveled. His life now made a difference, where before he only wanted to die and he had to be locked away. Now that he was free on the inside, he shared it with all who would listen.
You too have a mission – Paul continues to tell us in that same verse,
“created anew in Christ Jesus for the good works ordained for you from the beginning.”
God has a plan for you and it is a good one. God had Jeremiah, the prophet, tell people in “captivity” aka -Jail, this:
There is more here but I want to stop and hear from you. Let me know what you think and if you want to talk more about this reach out to me. I would be honored to hear from you. Maybe you want to share your story of transformation – this is a good forum to do so. I will accept guest blog posts about this topic as well. Have a blessed day and let not just talk about – let’s be about it!
Cliff Robertson, Jr.
2 Timothy 4:2,5
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!
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. AMEN” Matthew 28:19-20
As we study scripture and Church history, we see how the mission has been carried out in the past. Men and women with great zeal and faith have done the amazing. But the work is not done as long as there are those who have not heard the “Good News” of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This command is far more than just going and preaching an evangelistic crusade and moving to the next venue. No, it is marching orders that require that leaders and teachers be hands on with believers in a community, that Christ called His Body throughout the world.
In modern cities this is part of the normal missions of local churches and they are doing a good job. But what about the poor cities, states and countries where there is no running water, much less electricity? What about the global poor who have no advocate, no money but whom Jesus Christ died for nonetheless?
Jesus never said that His path would be easy. In fact, a number of times He told us that it may cost us everything to walk His well-lit narrow path. So as we look at the challenge presented by the Great Commission and the huge need of the global poor – what is our response? Yet, the problem doesn’t stop there. The command of Christ was that they not only hear it but that they be engaged in a church teaching environment so that they can grow in Christ. This is essential so that the new Christian can get to the point where they can begin to teach and spread the Good News even further. This isn’t an easy call to answer but…
One man and his wife did answer this call – Patrick and Barbara Hubbard began Living Bread Ministries in 2004. Patrick tells us that “our heart was to spark a movement to plant churches among the global poor. Even more, we wanted the movement to be comprehensive in nature, planting churches and equipping them to minister directly in their communities. Finally, we wanted it to be a movement that is participated in by the whole Church working together.”
Eleven years later, this ministry is working in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. Here is a quick video from their website that tells a far greater story than my words can do it justice:<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/95570758″>Our Mission</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/livingbread”>Living Bread Ministries</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
This is only a small sampling of what this awesome ministry is doing. Recently, I had a chance to ask Mr. Hubbard a few critical questions about this church planting movement among the global poor. Without further delay – let’s hear from the founder.
– Mr. Hubbard, thank you so much for your time. Can you please tell me about this incredible ministry?
Living Bread Ministries (LBM) has a very unique vision. As far as I know, LBM is the only ministry whose sole focus is comprehensive church planting among the global poor. This is unique in two regards. First, our focus is church planting among the global poor. It is uncommon for organizations to church plant among the impoverished. These communities are usually engaged through humanitarian or development ministry. However, this is often done outside a local church context and typically by a Western organization.
This brings me to the second unique aspect of our approach. Our church planting efforts are comprehensive in nature. This means we do not differentiate between the physical and spiritual. Rather, we work to proclaim and manifest the implications of the gospel today and in eternity. Practically, this means that as we are making disciples and planting churches among the global poor, we actively equip these local members of the body of Christ to identify needs and implement solutions in their communities through the local church. The result is that we plant churches and equip these churches to implement many of the humanitarian and development ministries other organizations do, while actively proclaiming the gospel and calling people to repentance and faith. You can learn more at www.livingbread.org/vision.
– It sounds like you guys get down to the “nitty gritty” of the fulfillment of the Great Commission. While there have to be some amazing stories of God’s grace being poured out, can you share with us your greatest joy?
My greatest joy is seeing lives transformed and the kingdom of God manifested in some of the darkest, most forgotten places on earth. Often when I attend worship services at our church plants, I find myself standing in the back of the room, listening to praise being lifted up to King Jesus from people who seemingly have no earthly reason to do so. I can’t help but praise him myself, through tears.
– Ok, now that we have discussed your greatest joy, let’s turn the page and ask the tough question: What is your greatest burden?
My greatest burden is to see Christ glorified. I believe transformed lives and the local church ministering to their own community in a comprehensive way, just as Jesus did, brings him tremendous glory.
– I have to say that your answers are humbling and challenging. Too often we get stuck on numbers and the insignificant. Sir, your answers have caused me to do a double-take on my own motives, burdens and what is truly the greatest burden on my heart. The truth is, for every believer, our burden should be to see Christ glorified in our words and deeds! If our focus is anywhere else then we are simply missing the mark.
– I know many people reading this and going to your website are going to be moved and desire to help in some capacity. What is your greatest need from the Body of Christ?
We, of course, need prayer. Our churches are ministering in some of the darkest most dangerous places on earth. The enemy has held earthly dominion over urban slums for a long time and he has no desire to surrender it, but we rejoice that he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.
I don’t like to talk about it, but the reality is there is a cost to this work. We have counted the cost and are willing to pay it, but we need others to help us. We need the church to invest in comprehensive church planting among the global poor to help us expand our work throughout South America and Southeast Asia. If anyone would like to partner with us they can do so at give.livingbread.org.
Anyone who would like to keep up with our work can sign up for our updates, and we will send them a thank you gift. www.livingbread.org/coffeesleeves
Thank you so much for your time and your heart. I look forward to hearing more about what is going on this ministry. Personally, I will contacting your office to see how I can get more engaged.
So now I have question for each of you that read this brief interview about Living Bread Ministries – What are you going to do about it? If you have been moved, as I have, I encourage you to reach out to them today. I like this approach – GET UP! Give, Engage, Tell – Undertake, Promise!
GIVE what God puts on your heart! You have TIME, TALENT & TREASURE – Why not give some of all three?
ENGAGE in this mission at some level – pray, volunteer, seek opportunities where you are.
TELL everyone you know about it! Get your church involved. Light up social media with all the information you can get. The livingbread.org has more media to share than you can imagine.
UNDERTAKE to make your involvement, at whatever level God puts on your heart, to be part of your daily walk, prayer and meditation.
PROMISE! It’s a big word but if you will make a commitment, giving this commitment to God, you will be amazed at how God will open doors for your. This is a ministry right at the very center of his heart and I believe He will move mountains for those who are sold-out for His causes!
So, GET UP Today! Do the next right thing and see how Christ will be glorified in your life.
Thank you Jesus for this incredible opportunity to share your story being lived out through this ministry! Amen
What Do We Do When We Get Off-Track?
My Bible study this morning in 2nd Chronicles 21 led me to the tragic story of King Jehoram, the son King Jehoshaphat. Things started out so well for him. He saw the amazing miracles that occurred due to God Almighty and the faith of His father. According to scripture he was given the kingdom because he was the oldest of many brothers. He was given much gold and silver – there was nothing he wanted that he wasn’t given.
Yet when he became King and had established himself, he killed all his brothers, married King Ahab’s daughter (the daughter of Jezebel) and led the nation of Judah in the ways of idolatry and sin. His life got off track.
But even then he was warned. The prophet Elijah sent him a message telling him of bad things to come if he didn’t turn back to God. The young man didn’t listen. So the enemies came and began to destroy Jerusalem. Where the faith and godly life of his father had brought peace, the lack of faith and godless life of the son broke the country into pieces.
The King was then plagued with a stomach illness that was incurable and things ended so badly for the king that no one mourned his death.
My question for all of us today is: What are we doing? Have our lives gotten off-track? Are the warning bells ringing? Do we have people coming up to us asking: Is everything alright – you just don’t seem right? Have we gotten in over our heads in debt? Has an old addiction crept back in? Is some demon of the past raising its ugly head again and you have begun to lean that way? How about depression – has it come to sit on your chest like a 800lb guerilla, that has no plans of leaving any time soon, leaving you alone, feeling hopeless, defeated and lost? How about anxiety – worry – nervousness….etc.
None of that is from God, so it means that we may have gotten off-track. You may be thinking that since you haven’t as far off as our King Jehoram that this doesn’t count for you – but it does.
Getting off God’s well lit narrow path can be as simple as walking in a way that is not God focused. In Amos 3:3 we are told that two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. So that means either we are in agreement with God and therefore walking with Him or we are walking away from Him. When we are walking away from Him, we are walking into our very own demise.
So what do we do about it when we discover this? Well let me tell you what I did and maybe it will help you. This afternoon I didn’t want to get out of bed. I am struggling with looking for work and I just didn’t want to get back to it today? I hated the idea of putting in another resume or filling out even one application and answering all the questions that the new online job profile screening programs give us. I tried to sleep it all away but it didn’t go away. So I prayed,
“LORD, What do you want me to do?”
I heard in a very clear and concise way in my spirit,
This is not the answer that I wanted, so I asked again and guess what answer I got back –
So I came and got on my computer and thought, Lord, what do you want me to write about – That was when I was reminded about the bad choices of Jehoram that I studied this morning and how he ignored the path of his father and the word of The Lord spoken directly to him by the prophets and how this led to his total destruction.
This story resonated very deeply with me and where I was at today. I was reminded that rarely does a person wake up one morning and decide that he or she is going to go into full on rebellion against God – it’s usually a progressive thing. It is that step by step movement away from the LORD that leads a person down that path into darkness.
What I have learned is that when I begin to feel a separation from God that it is me that has moved away and not God. I know that depression is not of God. I know that anxiousness is not of God. Addictions are not from God. I know that when my mind and heart is stayed on Him that I am at perfect peace. When I look away, I am looking into the abyss of my own demise.
My advice today is to check yourself in the mirror. Where are you going, what is the recurring message between your ears and if it’s not from God, what are you doing about it? God wants the best for His children and therefore we need to look to Him for His gifts and fruits of the Spirit – like peace, joy, love and … When we do, we find that He is right there to lift our burdens, dispel the darkness and restore our joy. One of the simple things I started doing when I feel down is to turn on Christian radio or Spotify through the internet and listen to the Contemporary Christian Mix or Worship Mix. Just hearing the Lords name being praised brings a peace that is hard to explain. But I know that this is a very Biblical response because we find that when David played music for Saul that the tormenting spirit had to leave. It still works today but it doesn’t work with other types of music. Why, you ask? It’s simple – one comes from God and the other does not. One leads you to God and the other must by its very nature lead you away from God.
We must constantly remain on the path that God has for us – for if we are left to our own devices, we will get it wrong. This may also mean that we have to separate ourselves from the other negative influences – the people, places and things – that surround us and try to drag us back into the pit and then do the very best they can to bury us there.
This can be very hard because it requires that we make difficult choices. We will save that discussion for another day. Suffice it to say that today, if you find yourself in a pit of despair or way off-track, do the first right thing and that is to pray and ask for God’s help. Seek His direction and then just do it. Then I want you to put His word in your ears and it will slowly lift that big ugly burden and before you know it your singing along and laughing.
I want you to know that the Creator of the Universe is just one prayer away – call on Him and return – you can never stray too far – His reach spans the entire universe and He can and will restore you, if you will just call on Him – turn to Him. He is waiting today – will you call on Him. I did and it made all the difference.
2 Timothy 4:2,5
Most people struggle with life. The number of people in this country on anti-depressants alone is staggering. Incidents of divorce and suicide are epidemic and violence is everywhere. Teens are falling away from the church at an alarming rate. The prison recidivism rate is staggering. There had to be something for those that simply need to recover from life in a world that is so very broken and hurting. When sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, the brokenness began. Yet, even in this world gone mad, God’s Word shows us that He has made a way for us through the wilderness. He has given us a Savior that is in the transformation business. That Savior is Jesus Christ.
I know that some people doubt that real change is possible. In fact, you may be one of those people. They usually land in one of two camps:
While you are looking at my story, which will begin in the next post, I am going to ask you to look honestly at the reflection you see in the mirror in your own life. What I am asking of you can be a very hard thing to do. Many say that they feel overwhelmed by the gravity of their personal pain and that they would rather just bury it and refuse to deal with it than go through this. But as you bury the past, you are also digging a grave for yourself. You need to know that there is life on the other side of brokenness – a life full of the grace of God Almighty. God made me a “Transformation Project” and He can and will do the same for you! In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet writes about the coming of Christ and His mission of transformation. It’s a systematic plan that can take away the worst and remake them into the man o woman God intended. And just like Job, He can give you double for your trouble. Or like Joseph, He can take you from the pit to the palace. So, if you are in a bad place today, please hear me no matter how bad things may look, no matter what you have done, Jesus Christ has more for you than you could ever imagine. The writing that follows will let you know that whether your problem is alcohol, drugs, greed or abuse or even the worst criminal on death row awaiting his or her execution date, Jesus Christ cares deeply for you and passionately wants to do for you what that passage in Isaiah said He came to do. You can become His next Transformation Project.
“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound… to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness… And they shall build… For your shame you shall have double [the reward]; everlasting joy shall be unto them.” Isaiah 61:1, 3, 4, 7
You may have big doubts about all of this right now and that is alright. God is bigger than any doubt you may have. God made a way for you and me to be transformed way before we were ever born. I believe that this blog will dispel both myths. As you read my story, there will be times when you will see a very ugly picture. Sometimes, it will get so bad you may find it hard to imagine that this person survived. Yet, by walking through these steps, Jesus Christ turned my life around that people who knew me before, won’t believe it’s really. I have already been told that a few times.
Stay tuned – Monday begins my story, The Transformation Project.
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.