• A prayer that all Christian leaders need to pray

    I have been reading Replenish by Lance Witt and on page after page it has been cutting to the core of me and doing significant heart work. Today, I have been reading about the desire pastors have to be significant in people’s eyes which is a significant struggle I have. Here is a prayer that I am going to pray daily which Lance has in his book. I think it is  a prayer that all Christian leaders should pray:

    Today I still long for so much honour, I am so pleased with myself, so rooted in my nature. I am pleased when others as for my opinion, when I am made to feel I am needed, when people know that I am clever, talented and popular. I am glad when I am friends with everyone, when I can share what is in my heart, when I can shine.
    But Lord Jesus, you were servant of all. Today I surrender all desire to be great; I renounce all pleasure I take in being important.
    (From Baselia Schlink’s book I found the Key to the Heart of God: My Personal Story, 47-48 as quoted in Lance Witt Replenish)
    Is this a prayer you need to pray too?
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  • Why we Sydney Evangelicals need to be a bit more charasmatic

    I preached on these verses over the weekend:

     “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

     “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

    Matthew 7:7-11

    As I was preparing the text I found myself thinking “But there are some things that this doesn’t apply to.” I was thinking about asking God for fancy cars, money and general bling. All of which I am still sure this text doesn’t apply to. But as I kept thinking I found myself rationalizing this text away. I was thinking that there were so many good things I was saying this couldn’t apply to.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for revival in our land he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for healing of this sin or sickness he would do it.

    This can’t mean that if we ask God for spiritual renewal in our church he would do it.

    I mean those things seem so big!

    I know what you are thinking “In his sovereignty God may or may not bring those things to pass” Totally and 100 percent agree.But,  have we used God’s sovereignty to negate us asking big things of God? Have we, in our cultural and theological conservatism, really undermined this text and undermined the character of God as revealed in this text?

    Our charismatic brothers and sisters seem to believe this text more than I do. They not only believe it intellectually but they believe it in action and prayers. We see this in the things they try to do for God and the types of prayers they pray.

    I need to learn from my charismatic brothers and sisters in this area.

    Do you too?

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  • Pastors who do you perform for?

    As pastors we have so many people looking at what we do and making judgments about it. What many people don’t realize is that we are our worst critics and so when we get an outside critique it can hurt and wound. But the other side is when we get praised. Getting praised feels so good, maybe a little too good. With all this in mind I read this quote this morning in a book called Replenish by Lance Witt:

    “A reporter once asked an insightful question when interviewing a woman from the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra: “How does it feel to get a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of your performance and then wake up in the morning to a negative review from the newspaper?: He response was even more insightful. She said over time she has learned not to pay attention to the applause of the crowd or the disapproval of the critics. She was only after the approval of her conductor. After all, he was the only person who really knew how she was supposed to perform.”

    I wonder what would happen to our inner voices if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we preach if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    How would we lead if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    What conversations would we have if we were only concerned about what God thought of us?

    It is my prayer that we would perform for one and one only!

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  • Why so many pastors are wrong about leadership

    I am in Tony Morgan’s new church leaders coaching network and I have been reading some of the ebooks he has written and have found them very useful. I found this quote very convicting as I read so many business leadership books but often neglect the bible on Leadership. This has been a helpful corrective for me:
    “It is true that we church leaders can learn from business leaders, but the corporate world should not set the foundation from which we lead. We can also learn from fellow church leaders, but they are also human and don’t provide a perfect model for Biblical leadership. When we look to other leaders, we are essentially holding on to our traditions rather than embracing the truth about leadership found in God’s Word. The Bible needs to become our filter for truth in every area of our life and ministry just because we see others doing it doesn’t mean that’s how God designed it.”
    Tony Morgan Developing a Theology of Leadership
    So many pastors are wrong about leadership because we look to secular models of leadership more than looking at what the Bible Says about Leadership. This is something we (especially myself) need to repent of.
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  • The Character of a Christian

    I have been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount at Resolved and I this week I am preaching on Matthew 5:38-48. In my preparation I came across this quote which perfectly summarizes the character Christians should have.

    Jesus’ disciples should be people of such integrity of character and truthfulness of heart that whatever they say is absolutely believable and dependable. A person of integrity is one who in daily conversation is so truthful, dependable, genuine, guileless and reliable that his or her words are believed without an oath.

    Michael J Wilkins, Matthew: NIV Application Commentary, pgs 247-248

    How do you think we get that type of character?

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  • The true nature of marriage

    I love being married to my wife and this quote by Don Carson encouraged me to continue to love her as Christ loves the Church:

    In God’s Word, marriage and love are for the tough minded. Marriage is a commitment; and, far from backing out when the going gets tough, marriage partners are to sort out their difficulties in the light of scripture. They are to hang in there, improving their relationship, working away at it, precisely because they have vowed before God and man to live together and love each other for better,m for worse, for richer, for poorer in sickness as in health, until death separates them. Love is the determined commitment to seek the other’s good, to cherish, shelter, nurture, edify, and show patience with one’s partner. And this commitment, worked out because of deep-rooted obedience to God, brings with it the emotional and sentimental aspects of love as well.

    D.A Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World. Pg. 49

    What do you find challenging/encouraging about this quote?

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  • How to talk with a Christian who wants a divorce

    This Sunday at Resolved I am preaching on Matthew 5:27-32  where Jesus talks about lust and divorce. I am nervous to be speaking on such important and potentially painful topics. I have never preached on divorce before and have been reading widely on it this week. In my reading I found this brilliant piece of pastoral wisdom from John Stott about speaking with someone who wants to get divorced:

    “So, speaking personally as a Christian pastor, whenever somebody asks to speak to me about divorce, I have now for some years steadfastly refused to do so. I have made the rule never to speak with anybody about divorce, until I ahve first spoken to them with him (or her) about two other subjects, namely marriage and reconciliation. Sometimes a discussion on these topics makes a discussion on the other unnecessary. At the very least, it is only when a person has understood and accepted God’s view of marriage and God’s call to reconciliation that a possible context has been created within which one may regretfully go on to talk about divorce. This principle of pastoral priorities is, I believe, consistent with the teaching of Jesus.” 

    John R.W. Stott, The Message of The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7 pgs.98-99

    What do you think? Is he right? Would you follow his advice?

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  • How to make your sermons stickier

    I have been listening to Chip and Dan Heath’s audio book Made to Stick: why some Ideas Survive and Others Die. It has been a fantastic experience. The Heath brothers say that most ideas don’t hang around or stick because the person delivering the ideas hasn’t thought about how to make them stick. As someone who wants his own preaching to improve all the time this got me thinking about how I can make my sermons “stickier”

    According to the Heath brothers sticky ideas have 6 attributes:

    1. Sticky ideas are simple. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go deep. A good idea may be profound but it is simply communicated so that everyone can understand it. To make our ideas or sermons sticky the question we have to ask is “What is the core of the message that I am trying to deliver?” Once we have that we ruthlessly cut out the chaff so that people get the idea and only the idea.

    2. Sticky ideas have an unexpected twist to them. We are wired to pay more attention to things that are out of the ordinary and so sticky ideas will make us do a mental double take. How can I make this Sunday’s sermon have an unexpected twist in it? Can I say old truths in a new which will make people sit up and take notice?

    3. Sticky ideas are concrete. Something becomes concrete when it can be described or detected by the human senses. A V-8 engine is concrete; “high-performance” is abstract. Concrete ideas are easy to remember. Experiments have shown that people remember concrete over abstract nouns: “bicycle” over “justice” or “personality.”

    4. Sticky ideas are credible. They are not easily dismissed as being stupid. This is hard for preachers because our message is foolishness to a perishing world (1 Corinthians 1:18). But is there a way we can preach that shows how relevant and true the gospel is?

    5. Sticky ideas are emotional. That means that sticky ideas convey or cause an emotion to be felt. How do we do this with our preaching?

    6. Sticky ideas have a story component to them. That is there is within a sticky idea a mini narrative or the idea is wrapped in a story. Stories communicate more than hard facts or intellectual ideas in most cases.

    How can we use these six principles to make your sermons “stickier”?

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  • How should Christians respond to sin in their own life?

    When we sin in our own lives how should we respond? Jesus’ answer to this question in Matthew 5:29 are very graphic and confronting:

    “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” 

    But what does that mean? What does it mean to tear out your eye and throw it away? Read the sane application of these verses by John Stott:

    “What does this involve in practice? Let me elaborate and so interpret Jesus’ teaching: ‘If your eyes cause you to sin because temptation comes to you through your eyes (objects you see), then pluck out your eyes. That is, don’t look! Behave as if you had actually plucked out your eyes and flung them away, and were now blind and so couldnot see the objects which previously caused you to sin. Again, if your hand or foot causes you to sin, because temptation come to you through your hands (things you do) or your feet (places you visit), then cut them off. That is: don’t do it! Don’t go! Behave as if you had actually cut off your hands and feet, and had flung them away, and were now crippled and socould not do the things or visit the places which previously cause you to sin.’ This is the meaning of ‘mortification’.”

    John R.W. Stott, The Message of The Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7 pgs.89-90

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  • An open letter to Resolved

    Hey Guys,

    I just wanted to say I was so encouraged last night as I saw us all band together to make our opening week at Golden Grove a success!

    So many of you gave up most of your day to come and help out or make sure that things were just right for our first night. That is really pushing the flywheel!

    Thanks to all of you who brought someone new. It was great to see so many new faces at Resolved last night.

    I can’t wait to see  what God is going to do in our midst as we attempt to impact Sydney with the love of Jesus For God’s glory!

    Your Brother in Christ,

    Hans

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