Haggai Sermon Series Archive

In case your interested all my sermon audio from Forest Hills Baptist Church can be found on our website.  However in this blog post is a quick archive for my four week sermon series through Haggai.  I really enjoyed teaching through this series.  It is a labor of love for my church and it is a joy to serve them through proclaiming the word of God.  I pray these sermons may encourage you in your walk with Christ and encourage you to prioritize the Kingdom of God in your own life. Haggai Part 1: Prioritizing the Kingdom of God - Haggai 1:1-11

Haggai Part 2: The Obstacle of Discouragement - Haggai 2:1-9

Haggai Part 3: Blessings for the Defiled - Haggai 2:10-19

Haggai Part 4: Every Kingdom Needs a King - Haggai 2:20-23

At Forest Hills we are working on getting sermon video up online on a regular basis.  However, we were able to get one sermon from this series uploaded on video.

https://vimeo.com/73145412

 

3 Ways to Preach a Bad Funeral

I must admit. I am a newbie to the whole funeral thing. I've done a few gravesides and a few services, but by no means am I an expert. But as a pastor, you will have those time when you will have to comfort and encourage a grieving funeral. Over the course of my time on earth I have seen some powerful encouraging preaching at funerals and some that made me wish I was in the casket. Funeral sermons can be life giving or life draining to those grieving.  Although I am still learning how to preach a good funeral sermon, I do know three ways to preach a bad funeral sermon.

1. Talk Only About How Good the Person Was

In your funeral sermon if you spend the whole time talking about how good the person was and not how good Jesus is, you've got a serious problems. One of the reasons moralism has so powerfully crept into the church is because pastor propagate it in sermons, particularly funeral sermons. I have heard whole sermons (often well received by the congregation) that discuss how many good things the person has done with absolutely nothing about the goodness of Jesus. Pastor, don't distort the gospel by holding up moralism before the family and congregation. Only talk about the goodness of the person to point to the goodness of Christ. Our righteousness is filthy rags. Don't hand out filthy rags of moralism to grieving people, give them the pure white robe given by the righteousness of Christ!

2. Talk About Heaven Without Jesus

The way heaven is talked about in may funerals is nothing more than religious materialism. Great emphasis is given to the streets of gold and your own personal mansion. We even speak about reuniting with loved ones. However the emphasis in our speaking about heaven is in the wrong place. The chief reward isn't stuff, it is Jesus. Yet so often in funerals, Jesus being there is just a footnote on a grand health and wealth caricature of heaven. What makes heaven wonderful is that we will stand, clothed in the righteousness of Christ and be in relationship with the holy sovereign King of the Universe. We will see His face with unveiled faces. That is what makes heaven wonderful.

3. Sentimentalize but Don't Evangelize

At no other point in people's lives are they more aware of their own mortality than at a funeral. There is no better place to share the hope of the Gospel than standing over the hollow of death. Yet, many pastors fail to preach the Gospel. Deep in our souls we know that death should not be, yet death happens because of sin. Yet God, in his great mercy put in place a rescue plan to save sinners through the death of His son Jesus Christ. Through the death of Christ our sins are paid for and victory has been accomplished, even over death. The Gospel rings in power at the last chime of a person's life. Yet, the Gospel is neglected in so many funeral sermons in exchange for empty and vain sentimental anecdotes. If you seek to comfort the people gathered to grieve preach the Gospel. It is the only hope as we stand before death. Warm fuzzys of sentimentality might last for a day, but the lasting comfort that comes from the hope of the Gospel endures for eternity.

Pastor, if you avoid these three things you are well on your way to preaching biblically faithful and eternally helpful funeral sermons. Funerals create unique opportunities for a pastor to minister in people's greatest need. Steward this opportunity well. Honor the deceased, comfort the grieving, and above all else preach the Gospel.

What other things should pastors not do at a funeral? What are some positive things you have seen pastors do at funerals? Share your thoughts with us all in the comments below!

Soaked in Grace Sermon Archive

Here is the audio archive of the sermon series I taught through the book of Titus. The Series is called Soaked in Grace: How the Gospel Changes Everything. All these sermons are found at www.foresthillsbaptist.org. You can also subscribe to the FHBC sermon audio podcast by clicking here. Feel free to share and use to your hearts content. My prayer is that God would use this sermon series powerfully in your life. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the series in the comments. Titus Part 1: How the Gospel Changes Everything

Titus Part 2: Godly Leadership in the Home and in the Church

Titus Part 3: Discerning Truth from Lies

Titus Part 4: The Gospel Fuels Discipleship

Titus Part 5: Living Out Sound Doctrine

Titus Part 6: He Saved Us

Titus Part 7: On Guard Against Drift

The Weight of Preaching

4400217305_2d902129df_b One of the things I've experienced over the past month is the profound weight and responsibility of pastoral ministry. As I've stepped into the roll of Interim Senior Pastor at my church, God has graciously made me aware of the amazing burden of caring for God's people. A Pastor is first and foremost a shepherd, who has been stewarded to precious flock of Jesus Christ.  I know that as a pastor I stand as one who will give account for the sheep in my fold. Every church member I am given the task to shepherd their soul.  I am called to lead them with the rod of the scriptures.  I am called to protect them from wolves and even from themselves.  I'm called to lead them through the war zone of culture helping them to persevere to the end and not fall captive to the empty philosophy of the world.  That's why I love that picture above of a man shepherding his sheep in a tank grave yard. That is the job of a pastor.

I felt this responsibility most clearly as I stood up to preach this past week from 2 Timothy 4.  Paul gives the powerful charge to Timothy to "preach the word". Paul's last cry to Timothy was to shepherd the church with the scriptures. The task of preaching we see in this passage is for the building up of the church so that they may be "competent, equipped for every good work".  However, the task of a pastor through his preaching ministry is also to protect the people from their itching ears.

Everyone, including myself, is tempted to scratch their itching ears by finding teachers, books, and resources that suit our own passions.  Our sinful nature makes us truth repellers not truth seekers. Sheep wander off into danger, and it is the job of the shepherd to rescue them through the preached word of God.

The Pastor is a man who will be held accountable before Christ to faithfully preach the word, in season and out of season.  When it is popular for him to do so, and also when it means preaching truth causes him to lose his job or lose his life.

The weight of this responsibility was so heavy on my heart this past Sunday. The few minutes before I went up to preach this text to my church, I quoted this passage in my mind and by God's spirit he reminded me of the responsibility but also the glory of this task.

As the great 20th century preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his great work, Preaching and Preachers:

the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called. If you want something in addition to that I would say without any hesitation that the most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and the most urgent need in the Church, it is obviously the greatest need of the world also.

What the church and the world needs now more than ever are men who feel the weight and the glory of their task of shepherding their people through the preached word of God.  May pastors rise to this most glorious challenge!

If you would like to listen to my sermon from 2 Timothy 3-4 you can click here.

Interim Senior Pastor

IMG_1981-608x456 It was announced last night that the Forest Hills Baptist Church has asked me to step into the roll of Interim Senior Pastor. I am excited and honored that the church would entrust me to start filling the pulpit every week as we continue to pray for our future and look for our new Senior Pastor. Preaching is something I take with utmost seriousness. Filling the pulpit is no light task to me. Every time I step up on a Sunday morning to proclaim the word of the Lord I am filled with humble awe of God, that he would choose to use me for this task. I am also filled with a serious joy, for the Gospel message is an urgent one.

We have several itenrant preachers coming in May already schedule, but beginning in June I will be the primary preacher at Forest Hills Baptist Church. I'm really excited because over the summer we are going to study the book of Titus. As a man who values expository preaching, I believe that point of the sermon should be the point of the text. As a result, the most effective form of preaching is when we preach through books of the Bible. It allows me to avoid personal hobby horse topics and forces me to preach the whole counsel of God. All scripture is useful for building up the body of Christ and I'm excited to begin this journey with my church.

As far as my students go, I will stil be overseeing the student ministry personally. However, the church is going to bring on a summer intern to help lead the youth ministry over the summer. I love my students dearly, and I thank God for their sacrifice in allowing me to give up some of my attention and focus to direct it to the church as a whole. They are a precious to me and I love them very much.

If you are reading this, I hope that you will commit to praying for me and for Forest Hills Baptist Church. God is doing some amazing things in our church right now, and I can't wait to see what the future holds as we listen and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. Also pray for my brothers Grant Stanley and Nathan Carter as we shepherd the flock of Forest Hills together during this transition.

Pray for me that I might balance all the responsibilities God has entrusted to me and to do them well for his glory. As I am a christian, husband, father, pastor, student, and blogger ask God to help give me balance. My desire is to pour my life out like a drink offering. I don't want to waste a second focusing my life on me, but joyfully pour myself out for others.

Thanks for your continual prayers and encouragements. May God receive all the glory and praise through my ministry. May he find me a faithful servant.

Top Quotes from Christ-Centered Preaching

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Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell has become the modern go-to preaching book.  It is a wonderful introduction to anyone wanting to understand the discipline of homiletics or preaching.  However, where the book is most helpful is the last few chapters, when Chapell explains the necessity of Christ-centered sermons and how to observe Christ in every text that may be preached.  It is incredibly practical, scholarly, and helpful for anyone who feels called by God to preach his Word.  

This is a book that will warrant are reread in order to fully understand and comprehend the wisdom locked in its pages.  However with my first read through, here were some of my top quotes:

An expository sermon may be defined as a message whose structure and thought are derived from a biblical text, that covers the scope of the text, and that explains the features and context of the text in order to disclose the enduring principles for faithful thinking, living, and worship intended by the Spirit, who inspired the text. (31)

Character oozes out of us in our messages.  Just as people reveal themselves in conversations by their words and mannerisms, we constantly reveal ourselves to others in our preaching. (37)

You must know grace to preach it. No matter how great your skill or accolades, you are unlikely to lead others closer to God if your heart does not reflect the continuing work of the Savior in your life.  (39)

You may never hear the applause of the world or pastor a church of thousands, but a life of godliness combined with clear explanations of Scripture's saving and sanctifying grace will engage the power of the Spirit for the glory of God. (41)

The healthiest preaching does not assume listeners will automatically see how to apply God's truth to their lives; it supplies the application people need.  If even the preacher cannot tell (or has not bothered to determine) how the sermon's truth relate to life, then people not only are unlikely to make the connection, but also will wonder why they bothered to listen. (53)

Make sure that you motivate believers primarily by grace, not by guilt or greed.  If God has freed his people from the guilt and power of sin, the preachers have no right to put believers back under the weight Jesus bore. (219)

These are just a few of the MANY quotes I got from this book.  There were to many to count.  I commend this book to you!

The Pastor and his Study

I forget who said it first, but none the less it remains true: A call to preach is a call to study

The life of a pastor and teacher of God's Word is a life dedicated to the study of that Word. If you feel called to preach God's Word but have no desire to study theology, hermeneutics, and homiletics than you might want to seriously pray about whether God is asking you to preach His Word. Now by study I do not mean that you have to necessarily go to seminary, although for most it is a good idea. However, it does mean that you must be diligent in your study and understanding of God's Word.

As preachers, our message is tied to God's revealed Words in the Bible. As a result, if we are going to preach the Bible faithfully we must study it diligently. This means picking up a working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew to carefully examine the Bible. This means a consistent and daily habit of reading great Bible teachers and respected pastors from Church History to help you understand the Word better. This means listening to sermons from great preachers to learn the Word and sharpen your homiletical skills.

I'm not talking about just sermon preparation in which you spend hours and hours exegeting the text, creating an outline, and doing the messy work of illustration and application. The life of a Pastor/Preacher is a habitual pursuit of deepening our own minds so we can clearly and more aptly communicate the truth of God. In my own, short experience, I am amazed how often as I'm working on preparing to teach on a text of Scripture, God reminds me of a cross reference or a section of a book I read. My study over the years has created a mental card catalogue of resources that God has used to instruct me. The Holy Spirit simply just pulls out the cards as I'm prayerfully studying for a sermon. In fact, I'm learning more and more that the purpose of my formal education is not necessarily to give me all the answers, but to teach me where to find them. Through a lifestyle of habitual study over time God sharpens our minds and equips us for the task of preaching.

As preachers we have a HUGE responsibility of boldly proclaiming God's Word to our people. This task of preaching is not for intellectual bums and theological charlatans. Lazy thinkers make terrible preachers. The responsibility of preaching is a laborious work and requires painful study. If we want to be faithful to the task God has called us, may we seek to proclaim his Word with excellence.

Study the Word. Preach the Word.

Pastor, Expect God to Work Through Your Preaching

As my preaching and teaching responsibilities at my church seem to always be increasing, it can be really easy to find myself forgetting to approach the pulpit with a sense of expectancy.  As you work hard and prepare your sermon, you bathe it in prayer as ask God to use you through the proclamation of his word.  However, it can be so easy for us to forget that at any moment and in any sermon God can do the unexpected.  Indeed, the task of preaching is glorious and mysterious.  Pastor, God is able to powerfully work through you in the lives of your congregation.  I like what Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones says about this: Seek Him! Seek Him!What can we do without him? Seek Him! Seek Him always. But go  beyond seeking Him; expect him.  Do you expect anything to happen whey you get up to preach in a pulpit?  Or do you just say to yourself, ‘Well, I have prepared my address, I am going to give them this address; some of them will appreciate it and some will not?’ Are you expecting it to be the turning point in someone’s life? Are you expecting anyone to have a climactic experience? That is what preaching is meant to do.

May we never forget this.  May we never find ourselves in a rut monotony in our preaching ministries.  Through preaching the Spirit raises the dead to life.  Through preaching the Spirit can bring about revival in an instant.  Don't grow weary in your task to proclaim the Scriptures, and expect the Spirit to work powerfully through you.  Pastor, may we  praise God that he has called us to this most sacred task of exalting Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel!