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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.