Tag Archives: Worship

Breaking the Rules to be Obedient to God

I may have offended some this past weekend with my departure from the rules that govern our use of the English language.

In my defense, we do have a lot of rules to be mindful of.


“Do not end a sentence with a preposition.”

“Do not split your infinitives.” (The most famous split infinitive comes from Star Trek: …to boldly go where no man has gone before.

“Do not begin your sentences with a conjunction.”

AND as for the rule, I broke…

“Avoid double negatives.”

Well, I did. I broke that last rule into a thousand pieces and did not bother to even try to put it back together.

It was only one sentence, but it was one of the main points in my sermon.

This past Sunday was a special day to reflect on missions. Missions, in my working definition, include all of the ministry and projects we do or fund that seeks to bring people into the Kingdom of God.

You could correctly say that about 98% of what we do here at the church has a connection to missions.

My gross misuse of the English language occurred when I made this statement:

You are NEVER NOT a missionary.

I apologize to any English teacher who feels the need to scrub their ears clean after hearing that or wash their eyeballs after reading it.

But it’s true. It may not be the best way to express such a glorious claim, but that does not negate the fact that this is the truth.

On the evening of the resurrection, while the disciples were huddled together behind locked doors, Jesus came to them and commissioned them.

“As the father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21

He wasn’t just talking to those few who were gathered there at that moment. Jesus IS talking to us, his 21st-century followers, present-day disciples, Christians.

To take the words of Jesus seriously, we have to take them personally.

The Father sent his Son into the world to save us.

Jesus is sending us to the world to witness to the salvation we have received and preach salvation to the perishing.

Jesus sends us. We are his missionaries. Every one of us!

In church life, we give special esteem to those who have answered the call of God to be missionaries in foreign lands, and rightly so. I admire deeply the sacrifices made, and the complete consecration of one’s life, that is necessary to live as a missionary in a foreign country.

But the term “Missionary” needs to be more broadly applied. We are missionaries if we are followers of Christ. He might not have called us to a far away land, but be calls us none the less.

As a Christian, you are a missionary whether you have a passport or not.

As a believer, you are an ambassador for Christ wherever you go.

As a child of God you represent your Heavenly Father every moment.

We are missionaries. Some of us serve in the neighborhoods we grew up in. Some of us have traveled a little farther.

The point is, be faithful wherever God has sent you.

To be a missionary where you are is just as important as being a missionary on the other side of the planet. God has given us all the opportunities we need, right here and right now, to make an impact on our community and our country.

And if God calls to you, to send you from here to some place he has in mind for you, be ready, be available, and be willing to serve him. It is only in faithfully serving him here, there, and everywhere, that we truly get to know him and grow in our love for him.

Lessons from the Lord’s Supper for Our Christmas Celebration. Sermon Outline.

Sunday morning we observed the Lord’s Supper.  The Advent Season brings heightened meaning to our Lord’s Supper celebration.  I hope these sermon notes will help remind you this week about the significance of the Incarnation of the Word of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is God’s great gift to mankind.  By reflecting properly on what he has done for us, we come to a place of greater appreciation for what Christmas means to each one of us.

The Costliest Gift

  • The Lord’s Supper Is A Tangible Reminder Of The Incarnation Of Christ.

  • The Lord’s Supper Deepens Our Appreciation For The Gift Of Jesus.

  • The Lord’s Supper Serves As A Connection Between The Manger And The Cross.



The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1 :14



And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  Luke 22:19



“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  John 6:51



Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:27-28



And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.  Hebrews 13:12



Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  John 1:12-13


The Costliest Gift Isn’t Under The Tree…It’s On The Table.



The Significance of the Wise Men. Sermon Outline from December 4th, 2016.



The Wisest Search Ever Made

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

  • Truth: God is making himself known to those who hunger for him.

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 49:6


The Old Testament Confirms the Story of Salvation

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Matthew 2:3-6

  • Truth: Scripture authoritatively communicates God’s plan.

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:20-21


Those Who Found Christ Worshiped Him

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 
Matthew 2:10-11

  • Truth: To know Christ is to worship him.

προσεκύνησανfall prostrate, bow down, worship

The Gifts

  • Gold – A King’s Gift

  • Frankincense – A Priest’s Gift

  • Myrrh – A Gift for a Sacrifice


The Wise Men Left A Different Way

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. 
Matthew 2:12

  • Truth: A person’s life hinges on their experience with Christ.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 
1 Peter 2:9-10


You Must Dig Deep to Grow Tall

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah‬ ‭17‬:‭7-8‬ 


Roots Come Before Fruit

The greater the tree, the greater the roots must be. 

What is above the ground is supported by what is within the ground. 

When the connection between the roots and the branches is healthy, fruit will come in its season. 

Our life in Christ mirrors the life of trees. 

When we lose touch with our connection to God, our life withers. But through spiritual disciplines, especially those that are inward and private, our life grows. 

God causes us to produce spiritual fruit in proper proportion to our faith. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭22-23‬ NIV

To cultivate spiritual fruit, maintain the disciplines of prayer, study and worship. These disciplines stretch the roots of our soul and feel our heart, our mind, and our Christian imagination. 

Roots and Hidden Disciplines

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians‬ ‭3‬:‭3‬

Jesus warned against performing our spiritual disciplines for others to see and admire. He chastised the hypocrites’ desire for praise from men through their praying, fasting, and acts of charity.   

Jesus said: 

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ‭

To grow in Christ is to focus on the hidden parts of our lives: the places our true character reveals itself.  

To hide in Christ is not to hide our faith from the world, but to maintain a focus on God. He is the source of our life. 

For in him we live and move and have our being.  Acts‬ ‭17‬:‭28‬ NIV

Strong Roots Keep Us Secure In Difficult Times

The tree whose roots grow deep beside the stream never has to fear the drought. 

Any tree or herb or grass can flourish in the wet years. But only the trees with roots that touch the hidden aquifers will thrive in the dry years. 

Plant deep roots before the wind blows or the clouds hold back their moisture. 

Make God your delight before the times of hardship come. 


7 Little Gifts for Mom

Mother’s Day is upon us!

You did get the flowers ordered, didn’t you?

You picked up the card on the way home from work, didn’t you?

You went to the jewelry store and bought the just-right piece of bling that says “You Are The Most Awesome Mom In The Universe,” right?

It may be too late for those kinds of gifts, if they are not already in hand.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on impressing Mom on Mother’s Day. Moms love their kids more than the stuff their kids get them. Stuff isn’t important.

Did you know that it’s in the Bible that you have to take your Mom to church on Mother’s Day? I didn’t know that either.

As I was studying for the Mother’s Day message, I came across this verse from the book of Leviticus.

Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God.
NIV Leviticus 19:3

…Respect Mom (and Dad, too)…and Observe my Sabbaths…

…Mother’s and Sabbath Day…

…Take Mom to Church on Mother’s Day…Mother’s Day just so happens to be the Lord’s Day when Christians practice Sabbath.

It’s a No Brainer. You have to take Mom to church on Mother’s Day, if you can.

Whether or not you’ve bought that special gift for Mom yet, or whether you are taking her to church or not, here are some ideas for Little Gifts for Mom. If you adhere to this list, you’re going to score some major Mother’s Day points!

Here’s what All Mom’s want on Mother’s Day:

A Little Respect

Go ahead and plan for extravagant respect. It is Mother’s Day after all. If you will up your respect game just a little, the rewards will be tremendous.

A Little Gratitude

This should come easily. I bet you can make a list a page long in the next 5 minutes of things that mom does that don’t often elicit thanksgiving. Moms are professionals at doing the little things that make our lives easier.

 Her children arise and call her blessed…NIV Proverbs 31:28 

A Little Consideration

Sometimes it’s not just the stuff mom does that is overlooked. Sometimes Mom is overlooked. That doesn’t go over well on Mother’s Day. Mom deserves to be front and center in our thinking on Mother’s Day. Don’t do anything that doesn’t involve her in some way.

A Little Time

Did you know that more phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year? Would mom prefer you be there in person? Sure. But if you can’t be there with her, at least give her some of your time with a phone call, Skype, or Facetime chat.

Big warning:::Text Don’t Count on Mother’s Day (Unless you have lost your voice and you lives a thousand miles away from your special Mom ladies).

A Little Grace

Moms make mistakes, too. Moms aren’t perfect. Give Mom a little Grace on Mother’s Day of all days!

A Little Prayer

Take a moment to honor Mom through prayer. Ask God to bless her in a special way. Thank God for the blessings that have come to you through your Mom. You don’t even have to tell Mom you prayed for her. Just do it. And keep on doing it regularly. You’ll find many benefits from praying for Mom and all the other important people in your life.

A Little Encouragement

Moms need a pat on the back just like the rest of us. Brag on her. Show her your support. Ramp up the kindness. Go all out. It’s Mother’s Day for crying out loud!


Everyone gets a carnation on Mother’s Day at FBC Nederland. Come by and celebrate the blessings of God that come through mothers as we gather for worship this Sunday.

Death Gives Way To Victory, But First We Must Deal With Death

The Sunday before Easter gives us an opportunity to deal with the dark themes related to our faith.

In order to deal with salvation, we MUST deal with death.

Jesus told his first followers about his death three times before it occurred. Three time he also shared about his resurrection on the third day. Three times they heard him but never believed the resurrection part. Resurrection sounded too good to be true.

Because Jesus’ disciples didn’t know what to make of his talk about resurrection, they were all the more surprised on the first Easter Sunday morning, bright and early, when the women came to report that Jesus was gone from the tomb.

Surprise turns into worship. When God reveals he is greater than death, we can’t help but to worship.

We don’t have the luxury of being surprised like the first followers were. But we can walk through the themes they had to wade through in order to get to that glorious first Easter.

They had to deal with Jesus’ death: the dark theme that is our focus for the Sunday before Easter.

What To Expect

  • We’ve done some elaborate things on the Sunday before Easter in years’ past, but not this year. I want us to give all of our attention to the words of Christ.
  • We are wrapping up our sermon series, “I Dare You To Believe,” this Sunday. I dare you to believe this statement: God is Greater Than Death.
  • We’re reading from John 12, with a focus for the teaching part of the service coming from verses 23-33.
  • We’ll have some special scripture reading times included in Sunday’s worship. The Gospel of John devotes about a third of his book to the last week of Jesus’ life. I think that’s good counsel for us to give more time to reading about the meaning of Christ’s cross.

How To Prepare

  • Be Present–There are some blessing you can only know through participation. Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, makes Easter Sunday better just as the Dark before the Dawn makes the sunlight seem brighter. To experience the contrast between these two Sundays is what makes us appreciate, all the more, what Jesus did for us.
  • Be Prayerful–Our hearts are the target for God’s message. When we’ve dressed our hearts through prayer, we are made fit to be addressed by God in worship. You know the difference between those Sundays when you came into the Lord’s House, prayed up and tuned into what God might reveal to you, and those other Sundays where the distractions of the world and the worries of this life divided your attention. Prayer that seeks to connect us to God makes being present to God a powerful resource for our lives.
  • Be Reverent–There is an enigmatic saying in the the book of Ecclesiastes: It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. The somber times are the fertile soil for the salvation we celebrate. If every day were a festival day, then no day would seem festive at all. We willingly walk through the sad moments, with Christ, to be delivered to the glorious moments. Reverence is the best attire for the Sunday we deal with Jesus’ death.
  • Share–We shouldn’t keep Christ’s sacrifice a secret. Learning about what his death means might be the key to understanding all that Christianity means for someone on the outside. I hope you’ll find someone to share an invitation with.

The reason we are able to deal with death this Sunday is because we believe “Death Gives Way To Victory…. Because He Lives“. Death is our last and ultimate enemy, but it has been defeated. Remembering how Christ conquered the grave by surrendering to it helps us to celebrate our salvation.

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!


I sure hope you can join us, but if you can’t, follow along here to keep in touch with what’s going on during this season of Resurrection.


Reaching Out, Without Going Out

It’s time to think like a missionary.  We don’t have to travel to Zimbabwe to be a missionary.  We can practice missions right where we live.  Let me show you 6 things that you can do this Sunday that will provide blessings and encouragement to those who will be visiting our church.

1.   …and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Act 1:8  (…or at least the far parking lot.)

Imagine what an impression it will make on our visitors if there are plenty of parking spots close to the building.  We can help make sure our visitors have plenty of close parking spots by getting here early enough to take those spots are the far end of the parking lot.

2.   “…go and recline in the lowest place.” Luke 14:10

I know how coveted those pews along the back are.  I can feel your appreciation for those seats along the aisle.  We all have our familiar spots that we have made our pew-home for years.  But when it comes to having a houseful of visitors, we would be good hosts and hostesses if we gave up the good seats to make sure our guest were well blessed.  I think it would be a valiant missionary gesture to offer our visitors the choice seats instead of making them crawl to the middle of the pew or suffer sitting on the front row.

3.   ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile.’ Job 9:27

We’ve all known Christians who seems to be in a perpetual bad mood.  Don’t be one this Sunday.  A smile conveys warmth and a welcoming spirit.  There’s so much to be happy about on Easter Sunday.  The music will be uplifting, the crowd will be enthusiastic, we get to celebrate baptisms with those who have come to the Lord, and we get to vividly remember how great our salvation is.  Share the joy in your heart through the smile on your face.

4.   “A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

The people who will be coming to worship this Sunday are looking for many things.  One thing we all look for and need is community.  We need friends to travel down this road we call salvation.  We are not going to heaven alone; we are going with other pilgrims who have claimed Christ as savior.  Be eager to reach out to someone new this weekend.  It may be that God puts someone right beside you who needs the encouragement that only you can give.

5.   Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up.  Ephesians 4:29

There are going to be people in church this Sunday who do not know their way around the building.  Take the initiative and ask if they need anything.  Some of the more common things people may need help with are: where the bathrooms are, where the nursery is, how to become more involved the church activities.  Visitors may not feel comfortable asking about these things so go ahead, break the ice, let them know you are glad they are here and offer to assist them while they are here.

6.   Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

In this electronic age, we can make an impression on more people, in more places than ever before, without leaving our building.  When you check-in on Facebook before worship, you are letting people around the world know that you are part of a community that has something to celebrate.  Social sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are part of a new mission field that was not present a decade ago.  If Facebook were a nation, it would be the third most populated in the world, with its 800,000,000 subscribers.  Let’s take the time to let the world know what we are doing this Easter Sunday as we gather to worship our resurrected savior.

I’m praying for you as you prepare to lead your classes and your students to a greater understanding of God’s love for them.  Feel free to pass this on to others.