Monday, March 26, 2012

On Worship of God

James Montgomery Boice:
To worship God we must know who God is, but we cannot know God unless God first chooses to reveal himself to us. God has done this in the Bible, which is why the Bible and the teaching of the Bible need to be central in our worship.
Quoted in: Give Praise to God

This Week's Sermon

This week I preached on Luke 18:1-8 where Jesus encourages His disciples to continue to pray and not lose heart. Specifically He tells them to continue to pray for the return of Christ and the justice that will come with Him. You can listen to the sermon here:

Persistent Pleading (Luke 18:1-8)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sunday Sermons

AM - Unworthy Servants - Luke 17:7-10

PM - Cleansed and Thankful - Luke 17:11-19

Revitalizing CLBC: Part 8 (Final Post)

This is part 8, and final post, in the series walking through the revitalizing process, thus far, of Cypress Lake Baptist church. You can read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here, part 5 here, part 6 here, and part 7 here.

This is my final post in this series, and it has been a clarifying series for me. After saying all that I have I must admit the process has been pretty amazing. I've been in this church for just over a year and a half at this point. Our attendance has gone up pretty significantly, we've been more engaged (though I still want more!) in reaching out to those around us and to the ends of the earth, we've seen God do amazing things, and yet we haven't been all that engaged in doing the work like I had hoped.

What I mean is that when we get to the end of this post I realize that the changes that have taken place thus far, the growth we've seen, the desire to know and study God's Word, have all happened in spite of what I have or have not done. We are in a very good season as a church, yet I constantly see the need to shift, strengthen, organize, mobilize, and a thousand other things. Yet God continues to grow His church numerically as well as in depth.

This is exciting. But what really has caused this?

When I look at the success of the early church I realize two things were taking place. The apostles stated it clearly in Acts 6:4, "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." Most of my plans haven't come to fruition, at least, not at this time. Most of my thoughts haven't happened the way I thought they would (or at least how they should). However, one thing that has happened with our church is a growing love for God's word as well as realization that we are absolutely dependent upon God for anything to happen. By realizing this we have seen God do amazing things as He's answered prayers and created in us a hunger and thirst for righteousness and His word.

There are areas I think we need to improve upon, but then again there will always be areas we need to improve upon because we are still in need of final redemption. The story of Cypress Lake Baptist Church is still being written. God is still doing an amazing work in and among us. But rest assured, it is God who is doing the work. It is God taking His word, accompanied by His Spirit, who is doing the work in His church. It is as though Jesus was serious when He said, "I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Revitalizing CLBC: Part 7

This is part 7 of an ongoing series walking through the revitalizing process, thus far, of Cypress Lake Baptist church. You can read part 1 herepart 2 herepart 3 herepart 4 herepart 5 here, and part 6 here.

It's about time for me to close out these posts, but I have this one and then a concluding post for this series. This one is crucial. This one is prayer. Prayer has no doubt contributed in unbelievable (and probably unknowable) ways. However, I do not simply mean prayers over the past 18 months. I came to this church 18 months ago, but they had their pastor search committee for over a year. Since I was the second pastor of CLBC this was a new process for them. I've heard several members of the committee talk about the process, the struggles, and the drive to prayer that they were often led to individually and together.

However, that's not where it began either. The truth is I came into a place that had prayed for years for God to do a work, reach the community, and increase His glory in this place. I came into a place that had labored in prayer and work for over 30 years together. I came into a place that God had already been working in and moving to accomplish great things for His name's sake.

I have recently come to realize this truth more and more. While it is true that 18 months ago our church was struggling in some ways, they were not struggling in prayer. They believed God had a plan for them and they continued to seek His face to see what that plan might be.

Over the past 18 months God has answered numerous prayers in our midst. They called me as pastor, which was an answer to their specific prayers in that season. We've seen God work in and through our people to bring about healing spiritually, emotionally, and physically. We've seen guests show up nearly every Sunday for 18 months, and the overwhelming majority of them have not been invited by us. I've also seen and heard of many of our members mention how they pray for my family and I daily. I cannot stress enough how important this is and how blessed I feel.

God is doing a work. God is answering prayer. And these are prayers that have been going on for many years, by many people, at many times, in many ways, and in many places.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Revitalizing CLBC: Part 6

This is part 6 of an ongoing series walking through the revitalizing process, thus far, of Cypress Lake Baptist church. You can read part 1 herepart 2 herepart 3 herepart 4 here, and part 5 here.

As I have thought through more and more of how we have come to where we are today as a church I realize that it's completely God's doing. This post will focus on one of the many ways that God has brought revitalizing to CLBC.

Not long after I came to CLBC I realized that our people were wonderful. They cared deeply for one another and for the Word. The previous pastor was here for 34 years (he planted the church) before I came. That pastor was a very generous, loving, and kind man. These characteristics have been evident to me in this church since the day I arrived. He is still in our church actually. I almost didn't come because I knew that beforehand, but after much prayer and discussion with him we decided it was the Lord's doing.

One day I was talking with him about the church. I was asking questions about his ministry and giving some thoughts about where we were going. He has been extremely supportive of me since I arrived and has honestly contributed greatly to the transition for his ministry to mine. One of the subjects that came up was the reality that we needed some new members in our faith family. Let me be clear here. We needed new members because our church was growing older and had become stagnant in many ways. The members who were here before I arrived had been praying for new members and for a reviving of this local body long before I came. Of course, we realized that Christ would build His church in His ways and in His timing. With that being known I began praying that God would send us some new members. However, I didn't just pray for new members, I prayed that God would send us some folks with ministry experience and solid theological understandings.

Over the past 12 months or so God has answered these prayers far beyond my expectations. New people coming into a congregation has a way of encouraging the folks who have been there for years and years praying and asking God for these things. By God's grace we have people coming with a variety of gifts and talents. We have people coming with different passions to minister to others, to extend mercy, to reach our community, and to reach the nations. And the truth is we know that it is God's doing because we are still rebuilding and refocusing areas and ministries. What I mean is we haven't focused nearly as much on outreach as I'd like, but we have prayed and asked God to help us. We have trusted that as we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and seek to faithfully preach/hear His Word and faithfully obey what Christ has commanded that He would work and move in and among us. And by God's grace, we have seen these prayers answered with 'yes.'

So, another item that has helped us in the revitalizing process thus far is the addition of more people. Whether you add or subtract from the body of Christ it produces change. Thus far it appears God is changing us for His glory.