Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Four Preaching Mistakes You Don't Know You are Making, part 3 & 4

As I finish up this post I am going to combine the last two mistakes, simply to save your and mine sanity. 

Mistake #3:  Group Therapy preaching

This type of preaching hones in on some emotional or psychological need that the preacher thinks the people need salvation from. 

I have listened to a lot of bad sermons via Christian apologists and many pastors think that what their people are missing out on is lost dreams. Somewhere you and I got off track from Gods plan and we have forgotten that God has a really big dream for us to accomplish. You could probably switch the word "dream" for "vision" too. 

Bad theology will couch this in "little faith."  We just need more faith and know that God has good plans for us. 

Maybe your dream/vision was to be happy in your marriage, the owner of a successful lama farm, or be a visionary church planter. Whatever it was you have got to repent of your lack of dream/vision planning and get back into the game.  God does not want any losers in His kingdom. 

I say this all tongue-and-cheek, but many preachers are nothing more than Oprah and Dr Phil wanna-be's.  These are just band-aids. Preachers give all kind of successful stories of people they found on the Internet or relate stories from their own life that sound really magnanimous. Unfortunately, what people need is to see Jesus Christ crucified for their sins and risen again conquering death, sin, and Hell. 

Pastor, are you telling people the bad news of their sin and the good news of Jesus or are you simply propping up corpses?  

This leads to...

Mistake #4:  Preaching Law

Pastors do this when they either take Old Testament laws and impose them on the church or they take New Testament commands and place them on par with truly being able to please God. "You want to please God?  Than you need to do ABC and XYZ!"  

They skim over the fact that our true need is cleansing from sin and restoration with a holy and angry God. Preachers love to make tithing an absolute command for pleasing God or witnessing or not drinking alcohol. They use a multitude of Bible passages to back up their claim, and make us feel absolutely guilty if we do or do not do certain activities. We should tithe - because we love Jesus. We should witness - because we love Jesus. We should refrain from drunkenness - because we love Jesus. These do not guarantee Jesus will love us more. It guarantees the proof of our salvation. Jesus has saved from more than we can imagine in our sinfulness and no amount of good works will cause Him to love us more. 

The law is a guide that drives us to Jesus because we can not keep His laws. Only Jesus could and that is why He is our substitute. He kept the law perfectly and not only that He took on Himself the punishment we deserve for not keeping the law. The law then becomes a guide to teach us Gods will and by the power of the Holy Spirit and a lot of grace and mercy we live it out. 

As a preacher do you put more guilt on your people than is necessary?

Are you making mountains out of mole-hills?  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Four Preaching Mistakes You Don't Know You are Making, part 2

In part 2 of "Four Preaching Mistakes You Don't Know You Are Making," I want to share a huge danger in preaching and that is making the Bible passage all about "you."

Preachers are notorius for doing this with narratives such as David and Goliath. The preacher always associates David with who?  YOU!  

Guess what?  You are not King David!  Goliath is not your (fill in the blank).  Goliath is my "bad marriage," "dead-end job," "lack of vision and purpose for my life," or whatever else obstructs your dream fulfillment. 

They preach saying all it takes to conquer your Goliath is faith. Faith in a God bigger than the giants you are facing. Faith to believe God wants you victorious over these giants who slow you down. 

This kind of teaching fosters the false doctrine of, "God wants me to be happy." So I will divorce my wife, leave a job, or make a wreck of my life by putting "me" at the center. 

If faith in Jesus is anything, it is this:  "less of me and more of Jesus." Yet, to often preaching puts man at the center, instead Jesus should be at the center. 

David was Gods chosen vessel for leading His people, the Philistines stood in the way of Gods people.  So,  God used one man, a shadow of the future Messiah, to bring deliverance in a bold and spectacular way. The story is about God rescuing His people, which foreshadows our Savior rescuing His people in another bold and spectacular way.  You are in the story but the story is not about you!  

Preacher, handle the Word of God carefully!  If you start every sermon with "you" you are doing a dis-service to Gods people and you are spoiling Gods Word of its Gospel power. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Four Preaching Mistakes You Don't Know Your Making

I want to bring to your attention four mistakes in preaching you don't even know your making. As a seasoned preacher I have learned through listening to bad and good sermons what real preaching must be. These four mistakes have been made by all of us and if I can help you not to make these same mistakes than I have accomplished my work. So lets dive into the first mistake:

Preaching is not teaching! 

How dare I make this conjecture. 

I will acknowledge your protestations and show you what I mean. 

"Preaching must be about teaching." I will partially grant you this, there will be things taught and explained in a sermon. But a sermon is not about simply imparting knowledge.  

"When we preach we are opening the scriptures in order to tell people about the Lord."  But, this is not the sole purpose, to simply explain who God is.  If I were to simply explain what a smart phone is, this would be of no concern to someone who sees no need for such a device. 

"The Old Testament is explained in the New and the New Testament is hidden in the Old, so a preacher must teach all the scriptures." This also is true and a sensible preacher would have to interpret the context of his passage for those who may not know Old from New. 

If preaching is not teaching than what is it?  

Preaching is always and solely a call for sinners to come stand under the cleansing shower of Jesus' blood!  A summons to come to the Kings house.  A persuading plea for people, who have offended God, to find restitution through the sacrifice of Jesus. 

Can you imagine a preacher giving a thirty minute lecture on the facts of Hell and not giving a summon to repent and turn to Jesus?  It has happened before and I am sure it will happen again. 

If you have read this article I pray you will not fall victim to giving lectures from the pulpit on a Sunday without a plea for sinners to repent and come by faith to Jesus. Otherwise you have simple given a "talk."  

Monday, July 29, 2013

Questioning God: What We Can Learn From Habakkuk

The Minor Prophets are not as useless as we think. They contain the very mind of God. They are also very human. What I mean are the prophets, although people endowed with special revelation, they are still simply people. 

I could connect with Habakkuk more than the other minor prophets. He was a God-fearing man surrounded by people who should have been more God-fearing and he struggled with that knowledge. When he opens his little prophecy we read his heart felt prayer of asking God, "What is going on?  These people are full of sin and violence.  Do You even notice, God?"  

Gods answer, unfortunately, was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear. Habakkuk was given a rare insight. He was allowed to see specifically what God was about to do - and it was not pretty. So, like any good human, Habakkuk asks the second obvious question, "Are You sure that is a good idea, God?"  

So God reveals one of the most important aspects that His people must display - faith. God tells him, "The righteous shall live by faith."  Those words that the apostle Paul would later pen in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11, those words that would stir Martin Luther out of his works-based faith and shake the world with the reformation. 
God told Habakkuk and He is still telling people today, the righteous will walk by faith, even in the midst of pain and conflict. God's prophecy was certain and Habakkuk could only wait for the inevitable to come. Habakkuk does what only God's people do - he maintained his faith in Yahweh. The picture I inserted above captured the last two verses of this little prophecy. "The Lord God is my strength."  These powerful words, full of faith's object and full of hope and inspiration are for people trapped in a painful world. 

When we ask what is going on in this chaotic world, we only have one answer - faith in our God, and more specifically - faith in our Lord Jesus!  Faith says God is sovereign and He has all the authority and all the power to do as He see's best

So when your questions are not being answered read Habakkuk and see the faith that is necessary to maintain a proper perspective. It is reliance upon God to sustain while in a precarious situation.