April 29, 2009

Baby Believers - Part III

If you've been keeping up, I shared a couple of ways over the past week that human babies are a lot like spiritual babies. A spiritual baby is someone who is a new believer, or it could be someone who has been a follower of Christ for many years but just hasn't grown or matured very much in their walk with Jesus. I'll finish up this series today. So far we've seen:

1. Babies like to be handled
- and we like to handle babies.

2. Babies have their "safe place" - and they don't like to change it.
3. Babies want milk - and that is enough for them.

Now let's move on:

4. Babies like to sleep - a lot! If you go to church, let me ask you this - Why? Why do you show up on a Sunday morning to you local church? And where do you sit, and why? Do you sit near the front, hungry to hear? Or near the back for a quick escape? Do you listen - pay attention? Or does your mind begin to wander? I guess what I'm trying to say is "Are you sleeping in church?"

I remember the story about an elderly gentleman who showed up faithfully Sunday after Sunday. But as soon as the sermon began, he would fall asleep in his regular seat on the back row. One day, the pastor, who had noticed this trend for years finally decided to teach the man a lesson. He said to the congregation "All those wishing to have a place in heaven, please stand." Of course, the sleeping man was the only one who didn't stand. The preacher had everyone sit back down, then said to the congregation in a very loud voice "All those wishing to have a place in hell please STAND UP!"

Immediately the man was awakened, and having heard the words "STAND UP!" he did! After a moment of confusion, the man said "Pastor, I don't know what we're voting on here, but it sure seems like you and I are the only ones standing for it."

Babies in Christ, though they don't necessarily fall asleep while sitting through a sermon, are certainly content to sleep through life - in a spiritual sense. Rather than look into the things of God, study, learn and grow, they pass the time doing other things. They waste a lot of valuable time involved in activities that have no value. Are you a baby Christian? Are you sleeping through life when you could be learning and growing in your walk with Jesus?

5. Babies want their own way - now! Babies learn quickly what it takes to get what they want when they want it. They scream, cry, yell, throw tantrums - all in an effort to get us to give in to their every desire. It is so much easier to give in than to try and ignore the selfish longings of babies.

Baby believers, especially those who have been believers for many years, are this way in the church. "I want my favorite kind of music." "I want to hear a certain kind of preaching only." "I want to park in my favorite spot." "I want my kids to get special treatment." On the list goes. These are baby Christians!! These are people who don't understand God's kingdom, and kingdom growth. They are only concerned about what they can get, and making sure they get it now.

Are you a baby Christian? Grow up! Go on to maturity. Get over yourself, look around, learn, grow and find someone else you can help in this journey called life.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes work, it takes discipline. I hope you will do whatever it takes to move forward in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

April 27, 2009

Baby Believers - Part II

2. Babies have their "safe place" - and they don't like to change it. As babies grow they tend to become attached to certain things. Their crib is a special place. It is their "safe place." Some babies find it difficult to sleep in a crib or bed that is not their own. As babies grow into toddlers and learn to talk, one of the first words they learn is "mine!" They can quickly become attached to a routine. They become attached to their room, to their toys, to their parents. Babies become territorial.

Young believers who never mature properly have the same problem. I have seen churches full of these baby Christians. "This is my church. Don't think you're gonna come in here and change things." "You're trying to ruin the good thing we have going here." And my personal favorite: "We've never done it that way before."

Young believers who never mature properly also tend to become territorial. They become attached to tradition. They become attached to their favorite leaders and pastors. "My pastor should visit me in the hospital when I am sick." "He's a good speaker, but I really enjoy it when you preach." It is easy to become more interested in the speaker than in what the speaker has to say. Paul had to address this issue with the Corinthian church:

11My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."(1 Corinthians 1:11-12)

Paul's response? "Is Christ divided?" Did your favorite pastor die for you? NO! We all belong to the body of Christ. We are all united in Christ, and only Christ. This is not my church. This is not my pastor. It's not about my way of doing things. This is God's church. The kingdom of God is much bigger than a local gathering of believers.

3. Babies want milk - and that is enough for them. Babies are satisfied with the basics. They don't know about or desire a nice juicy steak. As adults, we know that there is more to life than a bottle of milk...like chicken wings, cheese fries, hamburgers, and filet mignon! (Wow, I'm getting hungry!)

Baby Christians who are not taught to feed themselves will become dependent on the milk provided to them by others. What a dangerous place to be! Hebrews 6:1 says we should leave the elementary (foundational) truths about Christ and go on to maturity! In other words, learn to eat the good stuff! Get a knife and fork, cut into the meat. Grow up!

I hope you have opportunities in your church to grow. If not, find a church that values the Bible, and that will help you take the next step in your growth process. Don't settle for milk. Learn about the steak!

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 4.26.09

God continues to bless His work at Southbrook Monroe. Yesterday we celebrated baptism for the first time as a campus. As the service time approached, my anticipation and excitement continued to build! Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Danielle Hewitt let worship for the first time ever. She came to Christ no much more than a year ago. She did an amazing job! I look forward to seeing her continue to grow and develop in the area. Thanks Danielle!
  • For some reason, we seem to have a video glitch every week (at least it seems like every week). The announcement video for Maximum Impact showed...but the audio didn't work. So I just jumped up on stage and took over.
  • I had the privilege of teaching again this week. Hebrews 6:1-12...some tough stuff to deal with in there! But God is faithful. I think it went pretty well.
  • The highlight was our baptism. We opened up the time for anyone who was ready. We had 6 people come forward to be baptized! So cool!
It is so awesome to see people moving from non-believer to believer to growing believer. I love watching people grow spiritually. And it is happening now at Southbrook Monroe.

April 23, 2009

Baby Believers - Part I

We're told in chapter 5 of Hebrews that some in the church are still infants, even though they should be full grown by now. There are babies in our churches, who should be enjoying a nice steak, who are instead sucking milk out of a bottle every week. We're talking about men and women who have been believers for quite some time, who have never advanced beyond the basics. Let's take a look at what these babies look like. What's the problem with staying a baby Christian?

1. Babies like to be handled
- and we like to handle babies. Babies who are handled a lot don't like to be set down. They don't like to be left alone. Babies need to be nurtured, cared for, and watched constantly. Babies will go wherever you go, and do whatever you do. The Bible address this as a problem in Ephesians 4:14. It says

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."

Baby Christians are easy to toss back and forth, like a small ship on the open seas. They will believe whatever the wind blows their way. They are easily drawn to things that may sound right, but are devised by men and women who are being deceitful in their scheming.

Don't be a baby! Don't settle for milk! The best way to start growing is to get your Bible and start reading. Get into a group of genuine believers who are seeking the truth. Find a good Bible teaching church and get involved. Don't allow the world to conform you, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.

(to be continued)

April 20, 2009

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 4.19.09

Some thoughts from yesterday:
  • Sunday was loooong for me. Long but good! I got to preach on Hebrews 5:11-14 - talked about the need for people who have been baby Christians for too long to grow up! I'm thinking about putting together a couple of blogs this week comparing the characteristics of babies with baby Christians.
  • We had some great worship, the sound was great. We put up a drum shield last Sunday. That has allowed us to bring down the overall volume of the music. I think it sounds a lot better now.
  • Numbers were down...the Sunday after Easter is the lowest attended Sunday of the year...isn't that strange?
  • I taught Class 201. We had 7 people take the class. Very awesome to see people taking the next steps in their involvement at Southbrook.
  • Pastor Rob visited with us. He did the announcements. How weird is that? He did the announcements and I taught?
  • We went out to dinner to celebrate Kara's 14th birthday. Happy birthday Kara!
For all of you that missed this weekend, I hope to see you back this Sunday! I will be continuing our study in the book of Hebrews. We're going to take a look at the foundational truths of Christianity found in chapter 6:1-12, and then we're going to celebrate baptism together! It's gonna be another great weekend at Southbrook Monroe!

April 08, 2009


One of my passions is to see people get into God's Word. I want to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus, and one of the key ingredients to that growth process is daily reading the Bible.

The other day I had someone ask me - "You've read the Bible many times. Don't you ever get tired of reading the same thing over and over?" I can see why one might think this way. There are very few books that I've ever read twice. I don't particularly enjoy reading something again, if I've already read it before.

BUT...The Bible is different. The Bible is "alive" (Hebrews 4:12 - "For the word of God is living and active"). It is God's word to each of us. As you read and reread the Bible, God will show Himself to you in a special way. It's His way of communicating with us.

And no...it never gets old! Just like watching a sporting event. I love watching football. I can't wait till August when the NFL season finally kicks off again. We spend my Sunday afternoons (as much as possible) with my family on the couch watching as much football as we can. But someone could easily argue "Doesn't that get boring? Watching the same game played over and over?" Even though it is different games, and different teams, it doesn't get boring (at least for me). Why? After all, it's the same rules, the same size field, the same scoring system, game after game, nothing really changes. So why doesn't it get boring?

Because each time you watch a game, you see something different. You see different strategies, you see the players do things that hopefully the other team hasn't thought of yet. Now I must be careful here. I am not saying that the Bible changes! Just like the rules for football don't change from game to game. What I am trying to say is that the Word of God is living and active! It changes me! As I spend time in the Word, over and over, God reveals new and different things to me all the time! Over and over. It never gets old.

So no...reading the Bible over and over does not get old. In fact, let me ask you this. Are you reading God's Word every day? If not, I would encourage you to get into it (or back into it, as the case may be). God's Word is living and active, and He longs to communicate with you...today.

April 06, 2009

Scoring Engine

My son, Garren, and his friend Jeremiah, wrote this poem for his 6th grade English class:

Scoring Engine
Ty Lawson like a lion
And "swish" he puts it up like he's not even tryin'

Wayne Ellington shooting his jumpshot
He can make it from any spot

Danny Green shooting all those 3's
He makes Duke's defense freeze

Deon Thompson in the post
He represents the whole East coast

Tyler Hansbrough inside
Basketball is his pride.

All five are like a scoring engine
They'll never stop until they win!

Averaging 90 points per game
If you're on defense, it's a shame

Ty Lawson races down the court in just a second
As he sees, up court, Tyler Hansbrough beckon
So he lobs it up to Tyler and then BAM!
the ball gets slammed
All five are like a scoring engine
They'll never stop until they win!

Sunday @ Southbrook Monroe 4.05.09

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the week before Easter.
Here are some highlights from yesterday
  • I had a blast yesterday. For some reason I felt an extra sense of stress...not sure why.
  • We did some training with our First Impressions team in preparation for Easter Sunday.
  • We had a new worship leader. Steve and the band did a great job. Thanks guys!
  • I met and saw quite a few guests again yesterday. I love seeing so many smiling faces.
  • I preached on the triumphant entry - Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem the week before Hi crucifixion. We ended with a brief look at the temple cleansing, when Jesus went in and overturned tables, yelled at people, and reclaimed His Father's house.
  • Children's attendance is busting at the seams. We desperately need to expand our space, as well as our volunteer base in that ministry.
I hope you are ready for this weekend. It is Easter Sunday. Who are you going to bring? What are you doing this week to make sure you bring someone with you to church on Easter?

April 01, 2009

A Different Kind of Financial Goal

I remember as a kid going to video arcades. My parents would buy us a number of tokens and say "These are your tokens. Use them wisely. When they are gone you are done. We're not buying anymore." So I would walk around the arcade, decide how I wanted to spend my tokens, and the use them to play video games. My brother would hold on to his tokens. He would use a couple here and there, but sometime we would leave the arcade and he would have tokens left over. This was frustrating to me sometimes. When I ran out of tokens, and he still had some, I would have to watch and wait for him to use his tokens, if he decided to. Then when it was time to go, I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just give me a couple so I could help him use them up before we had to leave. Once out the doors, the tokens were no good anyway!

I've been reading the book "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn with my kids as our morning family devotion time. Alcorn does a great job of simplifying the discipline of giving in such a way that even kids can grasp and understand. I even made them memorize the 'Treasure Principles' that are taught in the book.

We are about halfway through the book, and it is talking about whether or not we should leave an estate to our children when we die. In this book, Alcorn says that we should not leave a large amount of money for our kids when we die. Instead, we should be using those resources while we are alive to further the Kingdom of God. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." - Matthew 6:19

My wife Nancy asked this question yesterday: "Some teach that we should be saving for retirement, for emergencies, etc. This book seems to teach that maybe we should save money but give it to God and His church. So which is it?"

What a great question! We talked about it for a while (with our kids present...they need to learn this stuff too). Here is my conclusion - our goal should be to have just enough money to last until we die, with none left over. Of course, we don't know when we will die, but we can estimate based on average life span. We should be responsible with the money God has entrusted to us (it is His), and have emergency funds so that we can take care of our family when things come up. We should plan to be able to take care of our financial needs when we are no longer able to work. But we should not 'hoard' money until we die. Having millions in the bank on the day we die doesn't do anyone any good. God gives us control of his resources while we are alive so we can manage it and use it for His Kingdom and His Glory.

Our financial goal should be to die with nothing left over. You can't take it with you. You can't use it anywhere but here. Use God's money wisely, but don't leave any at the end of your life.

What do you think? Do you agree? Should we have money left over when we die?