Tag Archives: Tests

Why Pastors Need to Stop Preaching What People Want to Hear – Joe McKeever Christian Blog

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

What Are You Building For – Eternity or Now?

christ on the rock

We have choices each day and they matter greatly. When we choose the God-Centered path our lives are building for eternity. When we go off on our own, what we are building will never last.

I was reading a 2 Chronicles 36 today and it is the tragic story of the fall of Jerusalem after King Josiah went out to fight against Egypt when he was supposed to stay home – was told to stay home. This king did some great things but he got off track. When he got off track it cost him his life but that is only part of the story. The rest of the story was  that Egypt took control of his country, then Babylon. Israel ceased to be a nation – millions died and almost all of the others went to prison (i.e. captivity).

Here is my question – Could the outcome have been different had he made a different decision? I believe the answer is yes. When he turned to God and did all that he did to restore his nation to the God of their fathers, a prophetess told him that because he did that he had stayed the countries destruction.

So with that being said, let’s look out our decisions. Is there something we can begin to do differently that would be Christ centered and eternity building? There are many thing in our lives that are self-centered or maybe something that is inherently good, but it is simply isn’t what we are called to do.

So my challenge for you today, just like it was for my discipleship class I teach on Sundays – Pray this little prayer –kneel

“Lord, open my heart to what you would have for me today. Lead me, guide me, direct me, protect and correct me as I go through this day, for I long to be the Man/Woman of God that You have called me to be. AMEN”

Look out, because God will answer this prayer. But I want you to take this one step further – I want you to live in expectation that God is going to answer this prayer. Get excited about your future with Him because the plans He has for those that seek Him are beyond anything you or I could ever imagine or plan for or …… He knows what our gifts and talents are because He is the One who created us and gifted us.

One last thought – our failure to heed the word of God, can also have disastrous results. Josiah loved the Lord but didn’t listen when it mattered most. It cost his country a great leader and the men that took over after he was gone, drove it into destruction. What if your actions or inactions could have a similar result? What would you be willing to do differently now that you know that all of it really matters. I am challenged by this fact daily. I don’t get it right all the time either but I am seeking Him and He tells us when we seek Him, we will find Him. When we have found Him, we have all the answers we need – Jesus Christ! AMEN!

Praise Him!

Cliff Robertson, Jr.

Anybody Smell Smoke? There Is Fire & You & I Started It

ashes - remain

 

Before Ashes – There Was A Fire

fire ragesbeauty-for-ashes

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 ….

tough part-

We have to

  • Jesus Came to Preach the Good News to the meek
  • To bind up the brokenhearted
  • To set free those that are bound
  • To open the prison doors and set the prisoner free

 

The meek are

The broken

The destroyed

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?

Loved One

Friend

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

  1. Addictions
  2. Depression
  3. Money problems
  4. Pride
  5. And More

 

These things can be more oppressive than any prison.

 

To set the prisoner free

 

  1. The Bible is full of examples of this chainbreaking freedom
    1. Peter
    2. Paul
    3. Joseph
  2. To me the greatest example was the thief on the cross – He wasn’t set free from the penalty that the worlds system had imposed upon him but he was set free from a far greater eternal punishment – He was in paradise that day!

 

 

 

Beauty for Ashes –

  1. Before there were ashes – there had to have been a fire.
    1. What caused the Fire
  1. Bad Choices
  2. Personal Tragedy
  • Addiction
  1. Fill in the blank
    1. Why didn’t the fire get put out sooner?
  1. Why did it burn to the ground
  2. Why did it get out of control
  • What was the trigger
  1. What fueled it

 

  1. It happened
    1. What do we do with the mess?
    2. Did anybody Notice?
    3. Can hide it?
    4. How do I begin again?
    5. How can I put my life back together?

 

YOU CAN’T – HE CAN!

  1. This Fire/Tragedy
    1. Didn’t Surprise God
    2. Ashes can’t be restored – they blow in the wind
    3. Jesus will take those ashes and give you something new – Beauty
  1. The beauty is Himself
  2. The beauty is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit
  • The beauty is an eternal home
  1. The beauty is an everlasting hope
  2. The beauty is healing
  3. The beauty is transformative
  • The beauty includes the gifts of the Spirit
  • The beauty gives us the confidence to say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13
  1. The beauty tells me that I am more than a conqueror
  2. The beauty tells me that I am not my own any longer – I am a child of the King – saved by grace – adopted into the family of God
  3. The beauty means that I am now “ God’s Masterpiece – created anew in Christ Jesus for the Good Works that He ordained since the beginning of time.”
  • The beauty means that I have a job – “ the good works” “ to build, raise up & restore”
  • The beauty give me double for my trouble.
  • The beauty restores my family

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!

  1. If there is mourning, there is loss
  2. Loss takes on many forms
    1. Loss of a loved one
    2. “   “ friend
    3. A job
    4. Financial stability
    5. A relationship
    6. More

 

  1. Christ understands – He wept when he saw the mourning of the people who loved Lazarus
  2. He promises the Oil of Joy for Mourning
    1. Oil is thick
    2. Oil sticks with us
    3. Oil soaks in and goes down deep
    4. Oil becomes a part of who we are

SINCE IT IS THE OIL OF JOY –

  1. His joy is thick
  2. His Joy can stick to us like glue
  3. His Joy can sink down into our hearts and change everything
  4. His Joy becomes a part of who we are

 

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.

  • He wants to be planted by the river so that we can be examples of grace – for His glory.
  • Then He has a job for us –

 

  • “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations… For your shame ye shall receive double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.” Isaiah 61:4 & 7

 

You have a job – a divine mission that has a specific reward.

Let’s live His Mission & Receive His Reward!

The Great Commission In Action – The Living Bread Story

At the end of Christ’s journey here on earth, He issued a command that has been the battle cry of Christianity since the very beginning.LBM - PHOTO

“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 28:19-20MissionTripPageSlider

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…blog picture - living bread

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&gt;.</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

Victory Can Be Yours! Morning Bible Study Thoughts

As I was studying this morning I thought I would start writing about what I am studying. Since it is God’s Word I believe that it is significant.

I began this morning in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles chapter 14. In it we find the story of King Asa of Judah. We will stick to the chapter at hand and not get ahead of the story. A little background though might be helpful. Asa had a good father who followed God. His name was Abijah. He stood up against the evil King Jeroboam in the name of the Lord and spoke words of great faith and courage in the midst of overwhelming odds. Jeroboam tried to be sneaky and do a flanking maneuver while Asa was telling Jeroboam about God and how he needed to get right. Well Abijah saw what was happening and cried out to God.

When a man of God, cries out to God before his men and leads them in a godly way, this gives them courage as well. They know that they can trust God because their leader trusts God. So the men shout – the priests shout and blow the trumpets. This whole scenario had to make God smile. Men who professed Him as their God and Father and Savior, calling out to Him for deliverance and then stepping out in faith into the battle trusting that God would indeed do what Had promised to do.

God did and the enemy ran for their lives. They ran for their lives, even though they were superior in number. They ran for their lives, even though they had the tactical advantage. They ran because they were no longer fighting man, they were fighting God Almighty. One man or woman, fighting in that power, is the overwhelming force of the day and will carry every battle to victory!

Now that I have told you a little about Asa’s dad, let me tell you a little about Asa. The chapter begins with telling us that “…Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God:” vs.2

What did he do to earn such an acclaim – He took away idols, their altars, the places where these idols were worshipped and led the nation to worship God, the God of their fathers and to live in accordance with His word.

Can you imagine for a moment if our leaders took such a stand? What a different world this would be. But let’s not stop there, in fact let’s begin with ourselves. How different would our lives and families be in we led our families in this way? It would require that we lead by example more than word. It would require that we know God, have a personal relationship with Him. It would require that we take time to worship Him, pray to Him and share what we study with those that we love. It would require that we destroy the idols, altars and remove ourselves from the places where God is not honored.

This is tough but if we want the blessings, the abundant life and the peace that passes understanding we need to learn what it means to take up our cross and carry it daily. Our cross is the cause or mission that God has placed on hearts that is worth dying for dying for. So let me ask you a question:

1. Are there idols in your life? (an idol is anything we give an inordinate amount of affection or another of looking at it is – Is there anything in your life that takes you away from what God would want you to be doing? If so this could very well be an idol.)

2. Do you know God’s word?

3. Do you spend time with Him?

4. Do you truly know God – I don’t mean know who He is, I mean have a personal relationship with Him?

I know that there was a time, ok the majority of my life where, if I was absolutely honest, I would have to say that

– yes I had idols.

– No I didn’t know God’s Word

-No I didn’t spend time with Him.

– (And here is the clincher ) I had no personal relationship. I was lost.

But glory be to God I am not there any longer.

Asa was given mighty victory and I have seen victory in my life as well, now that I have not only turned my life over to Christ but seek Him daily. He has transformed me, and brother or sister, if you knew me, you know that I was in dire need of some serious fixing – I was very broke.

If you are struggling today – look to Him. Lean into Him and He will do more for you and with you than you can ever imagine. I still have a long way to go, but thank the Lord I am not where I use to be.

I will write more later.

Praise Him!