Encouragement Through Discipline (New Year’s Resolutions)

Hebrews 12:4-13 

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Children need guidance (12:7-9)

The point of parenting is to teach our children how to make the best choices. Children need rules. They need limitations. They need boundaries. We love our children by not allowing them to hurt themselves. Verse 8 says that we are not legitimate if we have not undergone discipline. Verse 9 says that we learn to respect from discipline.

We need guidance (12:10-11)

We receive discipline and guidance because it is leading us to what is good.  We will receive a share in his holiness. Discipline is never meant to be easy or pleasant. The short term is not the goal. We are in this for the long haul. Verse 11 tells us that we can know righteousness and peace because we have been trained for it.

We become good examples for others (12:12-13)

We are being trained for a purpose. We should “strengthen” our arms and knees to support others. When you lift something up, you use your arms and knees. As we are lifted up, we should lift up others! We undergo training and discipline to strengthen us to be strong for others!

Graphic from the Ministry Toolkit and Lindsey Fleeman 

Presence Evangelism in Networking

If you have been involved with social networking for any length of time, you have probably come across one of these services.  The four services represent a myriad of GPS-enabled apps that can let people know where you are.

The most well-known is Facebook Places.  On the rise in many metro areas is Foursquare.  Lacking some of the social connection aspects, Google Places has been a market fixture for a while in many different forms.  My new favorite is Soundtracking.  Not only can you “post/tweet” where you are, but you can tell everyone what music you are listening to.

As you can tell, I am currently rocking a little Marty Mikles and transMission’s new album, “Majestic” (https://www.facebook.com/satransmission).

All of these apps give a user the opportunity to show where they are and what they may be doing within the confines and purposes of the app.  Foursquare even turns this process into a game.  Whomever is checked into a “place” becomes the Mayor.  Some retailers have started giving special discounts to the current “Mayors.”  I am still the Mayor of the Albany Salvation Army which does not get me any discounts,  Geesh!

All of these GPS-enabled apps can help ministers and leaders by simply showing where that person is.  It is a concept that is becoming known as “Presence Evangelism.”

Presence evangelism is not so much verbal persuasion, but action persuasion through deeds, good works, sincere love and friendship.  To put it another way, it is the Church being Christ’s arms reaching out into the community. Christ’s love is shared through the examples of serving, caring and helping the community’s needs.

Presence evangelism goes beyond saying you are going to do something or go somewhere to actually doing something and going somewhere.  By utilizing effectively some of these apps, a minister/leader/guide can show people where they are and how they are making an impact in the community.  It shows where they are ministering at and with whom.  One of the things that Jesus did very well was being with His disciples.  He ate with them, laughed with them, partied with them, and traveled with them.

Would it hurt you to show people where you are today and how you are making a difference in your community and in the kingdom?

SAFETY NOTE: As with any programs, there are situations that are not always true all of the time.  I would discourage you from revealing too much about the location and activities in certain areas, ie. counseling people, your own home, who you are visiting in the hospital, etc.  Using your best judgment is often the best step you can take!

SermonGeneral Out!

Seven Simple Truths

This is the fifth sermon in the series – CREST: An Army Standard.  This series is a group of teaching sermons that go through the biblical foundation for the parts of The Salvation Army crest.

This sermon deals with the seven gospel shots.

Truth #1: The existence of a holy God.
Romans 1:20 – For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

There is a God.  I am not Him, and neither are you.  We have a loving Creator who is outside of ourselves.

Truth #2: The evils of sin are against God and man.
1 John 3:6 – Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.

Sin is not of God.  Sin is the opposite of God.  Sin is not of God.

Truth #3: There will be punishment for sin that is fair and everlasting.
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you cannot follow the rules, then you have to pay the penalty.  The only free thing in life is the love of God.  Even salvation, which others think is free, cost the life of Jesus to balance.

Truth #4: Jesus dies on the cross for the human race.
Matthew 20:28 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus gave His life for us.  The love of God, God’s economy, is always about others.

Truth #5: Salvation is for all mankind and is free to all who accept Jesus Christ.
John 3:16 – For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

There is no limitation to the scope of God’s salvation.  There is no one beyond the love of God, unless we, personally, choose to be outside of the love of God.

Truth #6: It is the responsibility of every Christian to do whatever they can do to spread the gospel.
Matthew 9:37-38 – He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few.  So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

The love of God is too great not to share.  It is too big not to give away.

Truth #7: God rewards those who are faithful with eternal life in heaven with Him.
John 14:1-3 – “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.  There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.  If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Not only is there a God, but He has a place prepared for those who follow Him.