5 Most Downloaded Sermons on Relationships

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share the top 5 most downloaded sermons in the history of Revolution Church on relationships:

  1. From this Moment (Ephesians 5:18 – 33)
  2. Fathers & Fighting (Nehemiah 13:23 – 31)
  3. What a Woman Wants (Song of Solomon 2:8 – 3:5)
  4. A Good Man (Ephesians 5:22 – 33)
  5. How Love Changes You (Song of Solomon 6:10 – 7:13)

I’m Single, Should I Attend “The Vow?”

I get this question a lot whenever we do a series on marriage and relationships. I’ve gotten it a lot in the last month as we are getting closer to kicking off The VowI’m single, should I attend? Will I learn anything?

The answer is yes and yes.

A few reasons. The idea of biblical manhood and womanhood is bigger than marriage. It is for everyone, single or married. As a man, God is very clear and specific what that means, how you should live, what you should strive to be, whether you are single, dating or married. The same for women. In addition, the goal of life is not to get married. In fact, Paul in 1 Corinthians points out that everyone shouldn’t get married, some should stay single, be on mission and give their life away. If you don’t get married, you have the opportunity to not only become who God has called and created you to be, but to encourage that in others you are in community with, both men and women.

Some people who are single now, will someday get married. The kind of person you will be when you get married, is largely being decided right now when you aren’t married. You are deciding who you will be, and who you will marry. Many women have no idea who they should be in Christ, but they have even less of an idea of what they should look for in a husband. The same is true for men.

In this series, we are spending the first 2 weeks looking at what God calls a man and woman to be. In the 3rd week, we are going to look at how our past gets in the way of our future. Most people don’t realize how their past, the past of their parents, grandparents and on down the family line, how that affects their future. It affects how we see ourselves, potential mates, careers, goals, community and ultimately our relationship with God.

The last week, we will look at how (if you get married) to protect your marriage and enjoy it. We will also look at how someone who is single protects their heart, mind and body, regardless of if they get married. Many people, married and single, give their hearts away, give up their bodies and mind. We do this through a variety of means, but in the end it keeps us from experiencing the life God dreams for us.

Ultimately, each week we will come to the reality that you can’t become the person God created you to be without the gospel. It is the hope of our lives.

So, married or single or divorced. You need to be at every week of The Vow

This Weekend @ Revolution: Getting Along with People

All of us have people we don’t get along with. You may have some of them coming to your house this weekend. For many of us, relationships are not a joyful experience. They are hard, sometimes hurtful and often, they don’t live up to the expectations we have.

What if we miss the point of them?

The whole point of the book of Philippians is how to pursue joy and find joy in different areas of our lives. Relationships is an area many of us are left wanting when it comes to joy, but Paul lays out some clear things on how to find joy and unity in relationships.

That’s what this Saturday at Revolution is all about.

I believe that for many people, this could be a huge step in unlocking the joy that God has in store for us. What if we found joy in relationships? What if we had unity in those relationships? Would that make life different for you?

If so, you don’t want to miss Saturday night as I believe it is going to be a powerful night.

So, do whatever you have to do to get to Revolution this Saturday night (and bring someone with you who doesn’t know Jesus, you never know how a simple invitation can make an eternal difference)! And come expecting to see God move and do something huge in our lives.

Remember, we meet at 5pm at 6620 E 22nd St.

See you Saturday.

 

Preaching is Not a Counseling Session

I think too many preachers use their time on the weekend in front of their church as a counseling session. While it is important to be authentic and to share struggles when they fit with the sermon and are appropriate. At times though, in sermons I’ve listened to, there seems to be a sense of getting things off your chest. Whether it is something that bothers you about your church (they don’t give or invite people or serve), the culture (how sinful it is), other churches (they are growing and we aren’t), your marriage, family, kids, money.

When you are preaching, preachers need to ask:

  • If I share that, does it have anything to do with the text?
  • Does this show the hope of the resurrection?
  • Will this edify my church or edify me and make me feel better by sharing it? Often, we share something not to teach or build up our church or challenge them, but so we will feel lighter. We lay our burdens on our church. If something is bothering you, hurting you. Deal with it and then preach.
  • If it is about someone else, does it honor them? Don’t share a story about how your wife messed up or your kids misbehaved. If you are going to talk about sin in someone’s life, make sure it is your own (unless it is anonymous).

Check your heart. One of the things many communicators do is share out of their sin, things they have not dealt with. One of my preaching professors said that every preacher has a bag and in that bag are all his sins, hurts, fears, and insecurities. If a preacher is not prepared or has not dealt with those things, whether they are sins and addictions (sexual sins, gossip, overwork and lack of rest, mismanagement of money), hurts (loneliness, father wound), fear (will they like me? will they approve? will they come back next week?), or insecurities (am I good enough? am I man enough in my own life?). Without realizing it, many communicators preach out of this bag instead of a heart turned toward God.

Another thing pastors do is they share sins without realizing it. Pastors will often talk about how busy they are, how many hours they work. And yes, pastors and people on church staff’s do work long hours, they have a lifestyle job (which means there is always something more to do, something can happen on their day off or in the middle of the night), but keep in mind if you are on a church staff:  the people in your church work a full-time job and then come and volunteer at church. It does not honor them if you go on and on about how much you work and how much you have to do or that you didn’t get something done because of lack of time.

When pastors stand on stage and talk about working long hours, raising a family or paying bills, this does not engender sympathy from their church as it falls on deaf ears. Pastor, you are not always the busiest, most stressed out, tired person in your church. When you talk about working long hours, being stressed, you are actually saying to your church, “I’m sinning. I’m not keeping margin. I’m not resting or having sabbath.” When you talk about financial stress you are experiencing, you are saying, “I am sinning and not honoring God with my finances. I am in too much debt, I have bought into consumerism.”

Preaching is not just standing on a stage, opening a Bible and sharing what you learned during your prep time. You must look at your life, you must cleanse your sins before God, seek reconciliation in your relationships, make sure you are preaching out of an empty bag. Preaching is not about you and your life, if you need a counseling session, get one. Preaching is not that time.

Gospel Powered Parenting

In preparation for our series The Perfect Kid I have read a bunch about parenting and family. It is amazing to me how many books basically say the same thing.

William Farley’s book Gospel Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting is not that book. One of the things that sets this book apart is that it sets out to see how the gospel changes parenting. Christians who are parents should parent differently than parents who do not know Jesus because of the gospel. If the gospel has changed our lives (and the gospel does that), then it should transform how we parent.

Farley starts with the idea that the gospel changes people, in this case, parents. That change in a parents life then changes parenting, which means it changes everything about their family. Their roles as parents, as a couple, how they communicate to their kids, how they discipline their kids, their expectations and goals for their kids. Many Christian parents seem to have a goal that their child attend church when they become an adult. For a parent who has been captured by the gospel, this isn’t a goal, that is too low.

This book was less about what to do and what principles to put into place as parents and more about what parents are and the type of people they become. This has been a major theme in my preaching and my thinking: I think God is less concerned about what we do and more concerned about who we become. For this reason, who we become dictates what we do. We cannot make any changes to our behavior until we make changes to who we are. We cannot become better parents until we are changed inside by the gospel to be better parents. Tips, tricks, new ideas will not make us better parents if we don’t change ourselves.

Farley  says “the gospel makes parents effective in these 7 ways”:

  1. The gospel teaches Christians parents to fear God.
  2. The gospel motivates parents to lead by example.
  3. The gospel centers families in their male servant leaders.
  4. The gospel teaches and motivates parents to discipline their children.
  5. The gospel motivates parents to teach their children.
  6. The gospel motivates parents to lavish their children with love and affection.
  7. The gospel is the solution for inadequate parents.

For Farley, and the whole point of the book is that the gospel shapes everything about how we parent. For too many Christians, the gospel seems to have very little to do with parenting. His chapters on discipline, fatherhood and marriage are worth the price of the book and some of the best material on parenting I have found.

Here are a few other things that jumped out:

  • Aim discipline at your child’s heart, not their behavior.
  • Our marriage is the most powerful example that we possess. To the degree that the gospel makes our marriage attractive, God will empower us to reach our children.
  • The “ways” of effective Christian parents are holy. They are different from the world around them.
  • USA Today found that 70% of teenagers said their parents were the greatest influencer’s in their lives.
  • The opposite of holiness is not sinfulness. It is commonness.

In case you are curious, here is an interview with the author.

What He Must be…if he Wants to Marry my Daughter

Last week I read Voddie Baucham’s book What He must be…if he Wants to Marry my Daughter. I read it for a few reasons. One, it went with my last sermon in our series on the book of Nehemiah. Two, it was one of the books I wanted to read for our series in July The Perfect Kid. Three, the idea of Ava getting married one day scares me to death. I think I’m scared for a few reasons:  I remember what I was like in high school and college and I don’t want that guy anywhere near my daughter, and I have never seen parents actual do this well.

What Voddie points out and I have to agree from experience. Parents are more involved with their daughter’s choice of college than they are in her choice of a husband. Which one is more important? The answer is obvious, but we let daughters go it alone.

After reading the book, I am actually excited about the role and responsibility that God has given me as a father in raising sons worth marrying and helping Ava navigate the arena of choosing a husband. I love the one chapter title, “Don’t send a woman to do a man’s job.” His point is that we allow and expect our daughters to do what God has called fathers to do.

Voddie walks through how to help your daughter find a man worth marrying. Just because “he is a anatomical man, and a Christian does not make him worth marrying.” Wow. He also walks through how to raise sons worth marrying.

The application of this book is huge. For parents, what plan do you have to help your daughter know what to do, how to choose a husband, what criteria will uphold, what things will you highlight as things worth going after and what qualities will you show as not worth it. How will you raise your sons? Ironically, this was a huge part of the book because the church and our culture have no idea how to raise boys to become men. We do everything in our power to make men into women and then wonder why there are no men. Not chauvinistic, power hungry pigs, but men. Not boys who live at home, play video games and aren’t sure if they want to get married before turning 30, but men.

This also would be helpful for single men to read to see what they should be striving for as a Godly man and for single women to get an idea of what you should be looking for in a Godly man. The criteria needs to be more than breathing and a Christian. Otherwise, “you get what you pay for” as the saying goes.

Before reading this book, my plan was to talk with Ava and pray. After reading this book, I see how important my role is and how active I am supposed to be in training and teaching her about what she should look for and helping her see blind spots. Think about it. Most men ask a girl’s father for a girl’s hand in marriage. But how many father’s actually know enough about the man to say yes or no? I will know enough to say yes or no.

Being a Pastor’s Wife Part 1

Many churches (and pastors for that matter) do not know what to do with pastor’s wives, how to treat them, what role they play or how important they are. While Revolution (and myself) has struggled just like every other church to figure this out, I believe Katie and I have figured some things out that we have put into place which will prove to be invaluable in the future. While this is not exclusive to pastors, any leader in a church and for that matter, any husband can do better in understanding their wives and how to engage them.

Below is part 1 in a series of 5 posts.

I remember when Katie and I were engaged; she met with a woman who was married to a pastor. Katie told her about our engagement, our future plans of being a pastor and starting a church. This pastor’s wife looked at Katie and told her to “run away as fast as she could.” In no uncertain terms, she told her to not marry a pastor. Now that I am a pastor, I can see why (now, let me share my completely biased opinion).

I have not held many other jobs. At 18, I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I poured everything I had into getting there. God opened many doors for me and blessed me with the opportunity to be on staff at some great churches and be around some world class leaders.

But, being a pastor is hard work. It never ends. There is always another meeting to be had, another person who needs help or someone else to counsel, there is always another book to read or a sermon to write, there is always another fire to put out, another person who needs me this minute. Simply put, being a pastor is a lifestyle job. This is the joy and curse of it. It is what I have given my life to, I will just never complete my to do list. And that is okay. What many pastors struggle with is that it is easy to serve others and help others instead of helping and serving their own family. They pour all they have into their churches and leave their families to fend for themselves. What is interesting though is that according to the qualifications of a pastor/elder in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 is that you judge a pastor/elder based on his family and how he leads them, serves them and how they work together.

It is easy for a pastor’s wife to get bitter. To see how her husband helps so many other people, how he listens to other people’s problems and not hers. How he can be ready to serve someone at the drop of a hat, but not pick up his clothes at home. She is left to fend for herself and her kids. What many pastors forget is that their wife and kids attend their church and not only are they pastor dad, they are a pastor to them in the same way that he is a pastor to everyone else in the church.

Because it is a lifestyle job that involves counseling, doing weddings, funerals, and being with people, you get a front row seat to everything. You see the good, the bad and the ugly (and sometimes grotesque) of people in the church. A pastor’s wife sees all of this as well. What can make this painful is when you pour into someone, help someone through a difficult patch, spend hours with someone, only to have them stab you in the back, gossip about you, take all of your available time and then tell everyone you weren’t “there for them when they needed you.”

Pastor, are you pastoring your wife? Are you making time for her? Are you helping her deal with the pains you are experiencing? As a man, it is easy to compartmentalize what is happening and you can get lost in your work, but she doesn’t have that luxury, so you need to help her. I remember one time we went through a painful experience and I got over it rather quickly, but never told Katie that I had dealt with it personally, so she kept hurting for me. One night she let me know how bothered she was by this situation and I told her, “That is over.” Not a good thing.

Invite Them Back

It is hard work inviting someone to church. It is scary, you aren’t sure if they will say yes. Will they think you are weird because you go to church?

You finally invite them and they say “Yes.” They come and have a good time.

Now what?

For most Christians and churches, that’s it. You invited them, they know where to find your church.

This is one of the forgotten, but most crucial steps in helping someone get connected at a church. It sounds very simple. Invite them back. I know, simple.

At the end of each service we say, “We’d love to invite you back next week as we talk about…” This is on purpose. We want them to know, not only were we expecting you tonight, but we are expecting you to come back next week.

So, if you brought someone to church last week, call them now and invite them back.

Invite Cards

For many people at Revolution, the way they found their way to Revolution was through an invite. While people find their way through signs, the web or other adertising, the best way is an invite. Almost 80% of our church has come because of an invite from a friend.

This is why we are big fans of invite cards.

This past Saturday, we spent several minutes in our service praying for the names on our invest and invite cards and for our next big day on April 3rd. It was really a holy moment in the service.

If you have not grabbed some invite cards for April 3rd, make sure you do so this Saturday night.

Here is a list of what to do with invite cards and how to use them (courtesy of Here to Lead):

  1. Hand them to people you meet and say “I’d love to invite you to my church.”
  2. Give them out in drive thru lanes.
  3. Put a stack at your office, store or place of work.
  4. Ask if you can set a stack out in a business that you frequent.
  5. Give them to neighbors, friends and co-workers.
  6. Leave them on tables at restaurants to invite your server.
  7. Make a list of five people and go seek them out.
  8. Ask God to give you an opportunity to give them out.
  9. Give them out in the lunchroom or before class begins.
  10. Keep a few in your wallet, purse or car.