Archive | December 2012

Monsters!

Monsters!

We spend their early lives trying to convince our children that there is no such thing as monsters. There is not a monster under their bed. There is not a monster in their closet. There is not a monster in the basement. There is no such thing as monsters. Perhaps we are also trying to convince ourselves that monsters are a figment of our imaginations, invented by moviemakers and storytellers, but not something we will ever encounter in life.

On Friday morning, December 14, 2012, we were grimly reminded that there are monsters, real monsters, and that those monsters are brutal, dangerous, and terrifying. The curtain covering human depravity was pulled back slightly and revealed the ugliest potential of humanity. Friday afternoon children came home from school different from when they left home that morning. Parents greeted their children differently compared to the four previous days. We were all keenly and painfully aware of the real impact of the tragedy in Connecticut. In mere moments, the innocence and distance between comfort and danger had been stripped from us, and the barbaric element of humanity was on display for the world to see.

With sadness for the tremendous losses we have suffered, both of lives snuffed out and the precious naiveté of our sheltered existence, we recognize today that we can no longer deny that monsters are real. We realize as well that these monsters do not resemble those in the picture books or on the movie screens, with bared teeth showing through snarling mouths, sharp claws ready to tear victims to ribbons, and the scaly green skin of an alien body. Instead, we know that real monsters look like the people we encounter every day in our community. Perhaps that is the most terrifying element of this tragedy for us.

In the days stretching toward Christmas, mingled among images of celebration and festivity will be visions of sadness, grief, and sorrow. Along with the merriment that accompanies the Christmas season will be increased vigilance among families and communities.

Amid the wishes for happy holidays people will grapple with the unanswerable questions of “why?’ and the undesired questions of “how?” Why? Why would anyone do what this monster has done? How? How can we ever hope to protect the most vulnerable among us from the viciousness of the people determined to bring evil and destruction upon them? The queries echo in the voices and thoughts of the entire nation. The questions are raised, and there are no ready answers given.

As the nation grieves let us pray for the families of those who have been lost to us. As families are left shattered, let’s plead with God to embrace them, the community, the school-mates of those children, and reveal a level of love that no one can fully understand, and that the darkness of such monsters cannot conceal. In faith, let us bind together, not in reaction, but in response to the needs within our community for security, hope, faith, and love. In this way we can honor and remember those who have been lost, and recognize the presence and peace of God, even in the midst of inconceivable pain.

Sermon Notes: Ordination of Michael Monica–A Heart Set Apart

Ordination Message For Michael Monica – “A Heart Set Apart”

John 12:26
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

The heart of the PASTOR

A Servant Heart

A Set Apart Heart

A Spiritual Heart

A Solid Heart

1 TIMOTHY 3.1-7

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy — one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

A Servant Heart

One of the truths about a person with a servant heart is that, long before there is a title or office designating them as a servant, they find ways to serve. Serving includes noticing a need a meeting that need. For a minister this is one of the key ingredients in the toolbox of the pastor.

A Set-Apart Heart

0Part of the significance behind the ordination of a person for service in the kingdom is the recognition that they have been selected, called, and gifted by God for a specific purpose. In a sense, every believer is ordained and expected to fulfill a certain role in God’s plan and purpose for their lives.

Answering the call to ministry, however, carries with it the weight of being responsible for the care and life of the Bride of Christ, the church. The weight of that calling, and the accountability before the Lord for this role is not something everyone is capable of managing.

A Spiritual Heart

· The Disciplines of Ministry

  • Spending Time in Prayer
  • Scripture Reading/Study
  • Keeping a Clean Heart, Mind, and Walk
    • Confession and Repentance when Mess Up
  • Seeking God’s Direction
  • Living Yielded to the Holy Spirit

A Solid Heart

Notice that Paul instructs Timothy that the Overseer should be:

  • above reproach
  • husband of one wife (a “One Woman Man”)
  • self-controlled
  • sensible
  • respectable
  • hospitable
  • an able teacher
  • not addicted to wine
  • not a bully but gentle
  • not quarrelsome
  • not greedy
  • one who manages his own household competently
  • not be a new convert
  • have a good reputation among outsiders

In other words, the person must be grounded, having a firm foundation of faith on the bedrock of beliefs and the teaching of the Bible. This foundation must be visible through their life to those around them.

Consider a building with a poor foundation…how long before it is visible?

A person who is living with a poor foundation in life will be evident to others

What if all of us, pastors or not, were striving to live with a firm foundation?

Invitation

· Are there some who need to be saved and come to faith in Christ? The first step of the greatest journey of your life is to make your way to Jesus and find forgiveness for your sins and the promise and hope of eternal life.

· Is there anyone here who has felt the nudge into ministry, a deeper calling to something greater, an urging to serve the church and the Lord in a specific role that carries greater responsibility. For example a missionary, a pastor, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have all been given gifts (Super Powers), and we all have a calling (reason/purpose), but not everyone is called to make a career out of those gifts and callings. That is what I’m talking about here. This person is like a soldier under command, and may be “called-up” to “go” and must be willing to follow those orders. Is that what you feel today?

Charges for the Ordination Ceremony

THE CHARGE TO THE CANDIDATE

Michael, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

  • Live up to a Standard set by Scripture
  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize of Christ
  • Serve the Lord Jesus in His Body, the church, in accordance with your gifts and calling doing all things as though you were doing them unto the Lord.

THE CHARGE TO THE CHURCH

By laying our hands on Michael today we state with the blessing of the church that we believe that he is called and gifted by God to serve as a pastor, elder, and overseer in the church body. As Michael come forward to be ordained today I charge the church body …

Church, on behalf of the Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, in the power and authority of His name and by witness of the Holy Spirit, I charge you to…

  • Pray for this man
  • Serve along side of this man in the ministry and service in the body
  • Hold this man accountable in love and grace, always encouraging him in his ministry and service and aiding him as you are able.

Deployed to Serve with Your Super Powers

Obedience in Using your Abilities, Personality, and Experiences in Ministry

We have Looked at Spiritual Gifts, and particularly the process of Discovering and Developing those special and specific gifts God has given each of us.

Today will be filtering these thought through our C.O.R.E. Principles

  • CHRIST
  • OUTREACH
  • RELATIONSHIPS
  • EQUIPPING

Now it’s time to put our feet to the turf and get to it. It’s time for OBEDIENCE. See, it’s not about what I want to do…what I think I should do…when I feel like doing it…where I want to do it…IT’S ABOUT SERVING ACCORDING TO GOD’S PLAN AND PURPOSE…IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!!

  • The S.H.A.P.E. acronym:
    • S – Spiritual Gifts
    • H – Heart
    • A – Abilities
    • P – Passions
    • E – Experience

Today we will look at the final three elements of your S.H.A.P.E.

A – ABILITIES

Exodus 31:1-6 (HCSB)
1 The Lord also spoke to Moses:
2 “Look, I have APPOINTED BY NAME Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.
3 I have FILLED HIM with God’s Spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and ability in every craft
4 to design artistic works in gold, silver, and bronze,
5 to cut gemstones for mounting, and to carve wood for work in every craft.
6 I have also SELECTED Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be with him. I have placed wisdom within every skilled craftsman IN ORDER TO make all that I have commanded you:

  • God has given you specific Abilities.
  • God has a specific plan for those Abilities.
  • God Expects you to Use Your Abilities in His Plan

IN THE END IT COMES DOWN TO OBEDIENCE!

You might have the ability to give generously. There are many people with the desire to give, but they may lack the ability, but you may have both the ability and the desire, so…OBEDIENCE.

You might have the ability to teach. There are a lot of people who may have the desire to teach, but let’s face it, not everyone can teach. You have the ability, so…OBEDIENCE.

You might have the ability to fold clothes…or to make people feel comfortable when they’re hurting…or to enlist others to work with you in a project…GET ENGAGED…OBEDIENCE.

So Ask Yourself These Questions:

“What ability do I have?”
“What natural talents and skills do I have?”

“Where can I get to work today in OBEDIENCE?”

P – PERSONALITY

1 Corinthians 2:11a
For who among men knows the concerns {thoughts} of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him?

God has given you a Personality.

God has given each person a unique personality. Some are introverted; others are extroverted. Some are thinkers; others are feelers. Some like routine: others like variety. Some are self-controlled; others are self-expressive. And so on.

And so the question you must ask yourself is,

· “Where does my personality best suit me to serve…in obedience?”

E – EXPERIENCES

God has given you Experiences. All of the experiences in your life can be used by God in his service. Let’s notice a number of different kinds of experiences.

You must ask yourself, “What spiritual experiences have I had?” You may have used your gifts to serve God, and you have gained spiritual experiences from using those gifts.

You must also ask yourself, “What painful experiences have I had?” Some people go through incredibly painful experiences. God can use those experiences to help others.

2 Corinthians 1:4
He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

You must ask yourself, “What educational experiences have I had?”

Proverbs 4:13 –

Hold on to instruction; don’t let go. Guard it, for it is your life.

Whatever education you have had—formal, informal, or non-formal—can be used by God in service.
Finally, you must ask yourself, “What ministry experiences have I had?”

2 Corinthians 9:13
Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.

ARE YOU WONDERING WHERE TO SERVE?

Don’t just stand there, do something.

· A gross example when Spike threw up in the car and I was driving…I couldn’t do much, but I could hold his head and I could pull the car over…for which my wife was grateful.

· A Better example, while we were building this building, I don’t know much about construction, and I’m not real comfortable with it, but I learned to drive the fork lift, and I got pretty good at it…I did something.

The problem with a series of messages like this I’m discovering is that we can spend a lot of time in examination of our gifts, passions, abilities, etc…but never really get to work. Today, if nothing else happens, I need you to get to work somewhere…I need you to be OBEDIENT…to get fully COMMITTED…and to become ENGAGED in God’s plan.

So Try Something…Anything…Give it a shot…

BE OBEDIENT!

The final thought is the same thought we started with and have been trying to bring out throughout this series…IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. What I like…What I want…What I feel…these things all come after OBEDIENCE.

WHAT WILL YOU SACRIFICE FOR THE ONE WHO SACRIFICED EVERYTHING IN LOVE AND GRACE FOR YOU?

  • There are a lot of needs here at LWCC!
  • There are a lot of needs in our community!
  • There are a lot of needs in the world!
  • IT’S NOT ABOUT ME…IT’S ABOUT HIM!
  • BE OBEDIENT!