Archive for August 2008

Enjoy the Sermon?   Leave a comment

As I sit down to one of the most stimulating and challenging tasks of the week, sermon preparation, I try to remember our time together on Sunday mornings needs to be about transformation. It must be about “next steps” in the process by which God transforms us into the likeness of Jesus (2 Cor 3:18). I am reminded of a couple of things I read recently about sermons …..

Ajith Fernando the director of Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka is in great demand as a speaker. When on preaching visits to the West he observes that the most frequent response to his messages is “I enjoyed that sermon” he tells that this concerns him as he shares the conviction that “sermons should disturb, convict and motivate to costly obedience. I have wondered whether peoples desired result from sermons is to enjoy themselves rather than be changed into radical disciples who will turn the world upside down.”
Jeff Lucas
 who carries preaching responsibilities in churches on both sides of the Atlantic (yes he commutes!!) expresses similar concern in his book “Creating a Prodigal Friendly Church.” Examining the impression we might give to a prodigal returning to our church he says “For them (us!) grace simply isn’t so amazing anymore….the sermon has become something Christians endure weekly rather than eagerly anticipate. It rarely evokes the nervousness that one should feel around the ticking time bomb that is Truth”

The privilege of preaching is awesome and one I take very seriously. However I believe that transformation has more to do with our attitude and expectations than how good or bad we perceive the sermon to be. And those attitudes and expectancies will rub off on those who visit our church. Do we expect to hear from God each Sunday morning?  Do we listen for the ticking time bomb that is Truth. Would we rather enjoy what we hear than be disturbed, convicted, or motivated? Have we any desire to be changed into radical disciples? What do you expect from a sermon and is it happening?

Posted August 28, 2008 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

Whose blog?   Leave a comment

The world of blogging has opened up a whole new range od insights into the lives of tothersand I was thinking recently there a number of people whose blogs I would love to have read!
St Augustine 
I am fascinated by this man who once prayed “Lord make me pure but not yet!”
Brothet Lawrence ,
His little book “The Practicie of the Presence of God” is one of the most challenging things you will ever read. He set out to do the simplest task directly for God. He makes no secret that this  was not easy and I would love to have heard his musings on the subject
John Stott 
He is one of the godliest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He manages to distill complex theology into the most profoundly simple thoughts. (I know there are various blog type sites that use his material but I would like to hear from him!)
Oswald Chambers …..I think!
The relentless challenge he brings in his devotional “My Utmost for His Highest”  might be a little scary fresh each morning. However there are few books that have been more effective in my life than this one.
And of course there are others…..but how about you whose blog would you like to read and why?


Posted August 27, 2008 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

Its a jigsaw   Leave a comment

When I sat down for my devotion this morning I have to confess I was frustrated with God! I have been asking Him for some time now what exactly he wanted to teach us  when we finished the Messed Up Worldseries. I pointed out to Him that the series finished this week (as if He did not know!). I wondered if He had noticed that I had been fumbling around with a number of ideas but as yet had no clarity. I reassured Him (good of me huh!) that I did know He always came through and I was not expecting this time to be any different. However right then I was a little stressed about the timing…….. I know I have preached so many times that God’s timing is not our timing but I still find it a struggle to live in that truth sometimes. Then God gave me a picture that really helped. I saw life as a progressive jigsaw.
…….. Now if you do jigsaws you know there are times when you find lots of pieces that go “somewhere around here” but you can’t see exactly where. Then suddenly you get one key piece and all those “somewheres” become “right heres.” The important thing is to be patient while waiting for the key. ………… and then God graciously gave me one such key.
I am excited that our next series will be entitled “Hope Floats”. (Yes it is a movie, I have seen it and enjoyed it but I can’t remember if it fits the message!) The theme of the series will be God’s promise that we can live in hope (Romans 15:4). However often that hope is like a balloon held under the surface of our lives by a net of our humanness! We will see how Jesus releases that hope in the lives of people He meets in the gospels. And we will discover how He can do the same for us beginning on August 24th with “Hope for the Confused,” a look at Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus!

So if you are feeling like you have a bunch of pieces but can’t quite make a picture pray consistently, hang on tight, and remember He is always on time and always faithful!

Posted August 13, 2008 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

I knew it would be good but…   Leave a comment

f you were in church on Sunday you will know that the trip to collect TYG from camp out did itself this year. We arrived to all the excitement of the final meeting and it is amazing to be packed in the same room as hundreds of young people a large number of whom you can feel have encountered Jesus in new ways during the week and will never be the same. To celebrate with them as they learned that they had given more than $6000 to missions and then the tradition is that they leave the chapel and go down to the side of the lake that is the center of the campground where there is a large bell. The whole camp celebrates once again as each person who has made a personal commitment to Christ during the week rings the bell to mark their decision……all that was amazing but this year was made extra special because, as we walked down towards the lake, two of our young people asked if Josh and I would baptize them there and then! What a privilege it was to baptize Lauren and Mikey with a large group of their fellow campers cheering them on!

The service I atented at New Spring was a baptim service and that was so cool to see 30+ people make that committment to christ. Mark Batterson and Steven Furtick have both featutred baptisms at their church inn recent blogs. Go and vist the blogs and get excited . I dream that God will be making baptims a frequent celebration inat NLCF will you pray with me and pray for your friends that this will beciome a reality………….and I promise we will post the footage of our lake baptisms as soon as possible

Posted August 12, 2008 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

Three out of four   Leave a comment

We often assume that our non-Christian friends don’t want to hear about our faith. Well I was reading Discipleship Journal yesterday when I came upon some interesting statistics that indicate that perhaps we are wrong in that thought! Lifeway have done some research amongst people who do not go to church aged 30 and above and they discovered:
75% would be willing to listen to someone talk about his or her Christian beliefs
78% would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs even if they disagreed with the friend
ONLY 28% think that the Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs
That means three out of four people we know who are not Christians would have no objection to talking to us about our faith. So here’s a challenge: pick a day and try to recall all the people you know with whom you have spent some time.  How many of them have you at one time or another talked with about your faith? Of those with whom you have not yet shared, how many have you assumed were not interested?  Perhaps we need to think again!

Posted August 6, 2008 by jolm15 in Uncategorized