Friday, July 29, 2016

Misunderstanding Greatness (message outline)

Misunderstanding Greatness: or How to Avoid Embarrassing Yourself
Mark 10:32-45
Stuff Jesus Talks About, But We Don’t

Is there a way to speed up growing up? 

Hear and apply what Jesus says

Mark 10:32–34 (ESV)
32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

Recognize the danger of embarrassing yourself if you don’t

Mark 10:35–40 (ESV)
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

Aim at genuine greatness

Mark 10:41–45 (ESV)
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Comfortable Danger: How Grace Cures an Anxious Heart (Sermon outline)

Comfortable Danger: How Grace Cures an Anxious Heart
From the series Stuff Jesus Talks About But We Don't
Mark 10:17-31

You need uncomfortable encounters with God to root out secret idolatry that threatens your well being now and for eternity. 

An awkward conversation

Mark 10:17–22 (ESV)
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

An impossible task

Mark 10:23–27 (ESV)
23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

A gracious God

Mark 10:28–31 (ESV)
28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Receiving the Kingdom Like a Child (message outline)

Receiving the Kingdom Like a Child
Mark 10:13–16
Stuff Jesus Talks About, But We Don’t

How children help us overcome barriers that blind us to the heart of the gospel.

Recognize how persistent our stubbornness is

Mark 10:13–14a (ESV)
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant 

Recognize that our stubbornness offends God

Mark 10:14 (ESV)
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

Receive God’s kingdom understanding that we are powerless to help ourselves

Mark 10:15–16 (ESV) 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why Hell Matters Message Outline

Why Hell Matters 
Mark 9:42-50
Stuff Jesus Talks About, But We Don’t

Know the seriousness of negative influence

Mark 9:42 (ESV)
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.

Feel the urgency of fully following Jesus 

Mark 9:43–48 (ESV) 
43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’

Live accordingly with passion

Mark 9:49–50 (ESV) 
49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

The Importance of Why

Today's reading:
Proverbs 22:17–19, Psalm 119:49–72, Isaiah 56, Matthew 4

I read the above scripture this morning and made a few notes, but before that while running I listened to a panel conversation amongst a few well known pastors at the recent SBC meeting in St. Louis. I was challenged by it, but also discouraged because I don’t do well what they are talking about and don’t see a clear path to get there. But then as I was praying this morning I reflected on these verses:

Mark 11:1–3 (ESV)
11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’ ”
 Which led me to pray this: (slightly edited for clarity)
Jesus, you are all knowing. You saw all this coming. Even now, even then at this moment, you were preparing to die for us. Jesus, I worship you, because you deliberately and intricately kept walking toward the cross even as you forsaw these details. O Jesus, to talk about the what and how of evangelism, as I felt like I was hearing this morning, while bypassing the why simply does not work on my heart. Jesus, it grieves me deeply. But the moment I actually begin to see you steadily moving toward the cross as I do here in this text, even in the simple planning of setting up for this final Passover, where you will institute the Lord’s supper, then Jesus I am moved in my heart to want to talk to people about you. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Eating a Box of Doughnuts

(I learned after writing this earlier in the week that today is National Doughnut Day.)

I love doughnuts and Richmond is a mecca for great doughnuts. Krispy Kreme is two miles from my study. Sugar Shack is four miles from my house. I haven't been to the Duck Donuts here, but i’ve been to the one in Duck, and wow. Dunkin’ Donuts is two miles from my house. Not as good, but I don’t usually turn them down. Now, I don't average eating a donut per month, but I sure do like them. There is nothing like a Krispy Kreme just after it's come off the conveyor belt (which I could go do right now if I chose to).

But eating a whole box of doughnuts, yourself  . . .  everyone knows that’s a terrible idea. But let's use the idea of eating a box as a metaphor for something that’s ok to do a little of, but not good to do a whole bunch of. Let me show you what i mean. 

Monday, Memorial Day, I did not feel well. It was the worst day of a cold or allergy thing. But I got up early anyway and hit the ground running. I followed my morning disciplines as usual: reading, Bible reading and prayer time for an hour and a half or so. Then I was able to get in about an hour of message work. But then we had other things on the schedule. 

When we returned a couple of hours later, I was tired,  didn't feel good, and had been up a long time. I laid down, but instead of napping or reading, I started watching a crime drama on my phone that I like. No problem, right? That depends. I have a bit of an addictive personality and with streaming video, like doughnuts it can be hard to stop at just one. Over the course of the afternoon I watched 4 or 5 episodes, that's 4 or 5 hours, almost the equivalent of watching three movies! Then that evening I watched a movie with Kat and Noelle. Again, you may be thinking, it was ok to take it easy. But I didn’t feel good about it.

The consequences of my actions were clear on Tuesday. My ability to focus on the serious work of sermon prep was greatly diminished. I could not focus. My mind was addled by so much consumption of entertainment the day before. I depend on being able to spend at least two hours per day studying and no matter what I tried, nothing worked. My mind, nor my heart would engage. 

Occasionally people tell me, “Gene, I can’t read the Bible, I don’t get anything out of it.” I can’t help but wonder if that is not the result of a distracted state of mind, due to gobs of mindless entertainment. That atrophies our ability to engage God in his word.  

Tuesday evening, I came across this paragraph in a book on leadership. Regarding a leader’s reading it said: 

You should read a book or article only for what it is worth. If you find that the book is not contributing to your life and leadership, set it aside. The world is filled with books and other reading material. And in this respect, time is more valuable than money. Is the book making you think? Do you find that it is sparking new thoughts and reflections as you read? If so, read on. If not, set it down and move on.
From Conviction to Lead, Al Mohler

If a book isn't making me think I should not waste time on it. Watching Netflix almost never makes me think. It is the equivalent of eating donuts. And a good donut every now and then is wonderful. But if I eat a whole box of them at once, it is going to make me feel lousy.

Eating a box of doughnuts literally or figuratively has numerous negative effects:

  1. Remorse. You know you shouldn’t.
  2. It makes you feel bad
  3. It’s not good for you in the long run. 
  4. It has a way of encouraging more of that behavior in the future.
  5. You feel useless for doing anything else for a good while.

For the sake of being able to meet God in his word we must learn to discipline ourselves (and children in our care). We need our brains to think, to be creative, and to listen to God. There's too much of great importance to be done in the world to gorge ourselves on the wrong stuff.

Getting the Gospel Message Outline

Getting the Gospel
Mark 9:30-41
Re-engineering Home

1. You never outgrow the message of the cross

Mark 9:30–32 (ESV) 
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

2. Choose the lowest place 

Mark 9:33–37 (ESV) 
33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”

3. Cooperate generously

Mark 9:38–41 (ESV)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.