Monday, April 29, 2013

Ministries of Word and Mercy

Yesterday morning I had the great privilege of preaching from Matthew 9:35-38. This a very familiar passage of Scripture for many people. Here is the text:
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
For our church I feel the time has come for us to take seriously the mission God has given us. In His providence He has placed us in SWFL. We gather to worship at 8400 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers, FL 33919 and then we leave and spread throughout SWFL. Though I have noticed this before, it is clear to me that you can see the model of ministry that Jesus used while on earth. He was very clearly serious about the ministry of the Word AND mercy.

You can see His focus on the ministry of the Word in verse 35 where it says, "And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom." It's the teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom that is so important to see  here. This was the normal pattern of Jesus' ministry. He was constantly teaching and preaching.

In verse 35 you also see His focus on ministry of mercy where it says, "and healing every disease and every affliction." He was extending mercy to those who were in need. Again, read through any of the four gospels and you will see His mercy ministry of healing, feeding, and helping others.

I believe this is the model of ministry that Jesus expects from His church today. We cannot choose whether we will focus on ministry of the Word or ministry of mercy. It's both/and. It is true that some have focused and done very well at ministries of mercy. I want to learn from them! However, it is also true that some have done so well at ministries of mercy that they forget about the ministry of the Word. People do not come to faith in Jesus because we do good deeds. However, our good deeds do give us opportunities to share the gospel. In fact, I believe we can see the importance of actually providing for others in need in many places, but one is in James, "15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

My point in all of this is I hope our church will simply continue the work that Jesus was doing on earth. Yes, this means that we will go and make disciples. And we will do this by focusing on ministry of the Word and ministry of mercy.

You can listen to the sermon by clicking here: Pray 
and Proclaim

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


This past Sunday I finished preaching through Galatians. Galatians is such a great book that I hated to see it end! You can listen to the last message, "Boasting in the Cross," or have access to all 19 sermons. Hope they minister to you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Biblical Community: Part 2

Last Sunday morning I preached Galatians 6:1-5 and titled it Biblical Community. Community is one of the areas I am stressing at our church this year. I want us to be a church that genuinely seeks to know one another well enough (strengths, weaknesses, struggles, sins, etc.) to be able to genuinely know how to love and pray for one another. This, I think, happens best in smaller group settings.

At our church we have two different smaller group ministries. They do not compete with one another as they are meant to serve different functions. They are actually aimed at completing one another. We have Sunday School every Sunday morning for all ages. The goal in these classes is to study the Bible. Presently we are using The Gospel Project as our curriculum.

We have also recently launched our Care Group ministry. At this time we only have one Care Group, but it is our hope and aim that this will spread throughout SWFL. The primary purpose in these Care Groups will be fellowship, encouragement, and prayer.

Yesterday I was able to preach Galatians 6:6-10 and titled it Biblical Community: Part 2. It certainly does not cover everything needed when talking about community, but I pray it will continue to push us and cause us to think through how we are or are not living life together for the glory of God and the good of our souls.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Biblical Community

One of the five things I've focused on since coming to CLBC is community. I've done this in more than one way. I hope to blog more on this very soon, but this past Sunday I preached Galatians 6:1-5 and titled it Biblical Community. It is my hope that our church would seriously seek to model true community where we love, encourage, confront, help, and pray for one another. You can listen to the sermon here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Fruit of the Spirit Includes Self-Control

Recently I've been preaching through Galatians with my church. I was reminded again while preaching through Galatians 5 of the fruit of the Spirit. Interesting enough is the fact that it does not say fruits, as in plural, but fruit. The Spirit of God in the life of the believer produces such fruit. Of course our sinful flesh is still present as well and we often fight against the work of the Spirit. That's why Paul says in Galatians 5:16, "Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." The key to not gratifying the desires of the flesh is to walk by and yield to the Holy Spirit who dwells within everyone who believes.

And while it is true that "fruit" is singular in Galatians 5:22, it is also, I think, appropriate to evaluate your life as a Christian in light of this. It's appropriate to ask yourself if you truly love God and neighbor the way the Spirit leads. It's right to evaluate whether or not you have true joy in the Lord above all things. And the list goes on.

One, however, that I think it's easy not to focus much on is self-control. Maybe this is only true in my own life. I have come under much conviction as of late over my lack of control. And I've made every excuse under the sun for it! However, a lack of self-control is not simply a reflection upon my sinful desires, but also a reflection of rebellion against the work of the Spirit of God in my own life.

One very clear example of this is based on my lack of self-control when it comes to food. I blogged yesterday that I am trying to refocus and get this under control (you can read it here). I stated yesterday that my eating habits have been sinful in that gluttony has been a part of the issue. Yet, I think it's also sinful in that it also reveals a lack of self-control. According to my understanding of Galatians 5 a lack of self-contol shows that I am gratifying the desires of my flesh. And this is sin.

There are many other examples I could point to in my own life. The truth is I realize more and more how wicked my heart is apart from the work of Christ. However, there is good news. The good news is that because Christ Jesus died for my sins they are forgiven. Completely forgiven. Nothing held against me since I am in Christ. And, because God is so unbelievably gracious, He has given me His Holy Spirit who helps lead and guide me. The battle against a lack of self-control is a Spiritual battle. It takes prayer and trust and leaning upon the Spirit.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Getting Healthy...Again

Many of my close friends, family members, and church know I have struggled with poor eating habits. A couple years ago I lost a bunch of weight with help (you can read about it here and here). However, since then I have completely dropped the ball and gained all the weight back. It's a struggle for me. But it's also sin. I struggle with gluttony. And I know I can't fight it alone.

I am now starting back on the journey of being healthier. I realize it's not a diet, but a change in my lifestyle. I have asked two friends (Joe Thorn and my chairman of deacons) to hold me accountable as I seek to lose this weight (as well as my gracious, loving wife!).

I just revisited this post by Joe and hope to implement some of this as well. It's good. You should read it!

I also welcome your prayers. Since this is also an issue of sin I know I need the help of the Holy Spirit to fight against my flesh and sinful desires.