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OUT OF EGYPT: A CHRISTMAS MEDITATION

At this time of year, Santa Claus is a great moral monitor, keeping children in line so they can get what they want for Christmas. Parents use the selfish desires of children to control their sinful desires. A useful exercise, perhaps, but it misses the point of Christmas entirely. The naughty and nice theme obscures the true meaning of Christmas. God is not up in heaven waiting to reward our good deeds and punish our bad deeds. We are all naughty. None of us are nice in God’s estimation. Christmas is about God intervening in a world gone rotten so that He can redeem that world from its rot. Christmas is the ultimate rescue event of all human history. The world of humans is not pretty and pleasant. It is dark and despotic. God enters the heart of evil to rescue humans from evil at Christmas.


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HELP! HOW DO I MEET ALL THE NEEDS?

“I can’t keep up now,” the pastor said, “so I certainly can’t add anything else to my schedule. I feel like I’m all alone in this ministry trying to keep all the plates spinning. How do I meet all the needs in my church?” We don’t! There is no way that the pastor can meet all the needs in any church, and the more we try, the less we accomplish. We confuse our priorities, elevating the less critical but urgent needs over the more essential but eternal goals. The reality is that trying to do it all says more about us than about the ministry.
 
Our own needs often drive our choices. Our motives get skewed. Eternal priorities are lost. I know. I’ve been there. The issue of ministry busyness cuts much deeper into our souls than we often want to admit. We think that the problem is their needs when the reality is that we scurry around like ants on an anthill to meet our needs. Ministry becomes our mistress, and we lose sight of God’s priorities in our busyness.

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WHO’S FIRST? AN EASTER REFLECTION

The media recognized Jeanne Calment in 1997 as the oldest living human whose age could be verified. She died on August 4, 1997, at the age of 122 years and 164 days. On her 120th birthday, she was asked to describe her vision for the future. “Very brief,” she replied.
 
Life is brief from earth’s perspective but not from Christ’s. Paul wrote that Christ was the “firstborn out of the dead ones” (Col. 1:18). The resurrection of Christ changes everything about our future. Easter teaches us that there is hope for the future beyond the grave, and our hope is grounded in Jesus Christ.

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READ WIDELY TO PREACH WELL

Why is so much preaching today shallow? Many sermons give a superficial examination of the biblical text in the quest for a sound bite theology with its popular appeal. Why? I just finished reading Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers by T. David Gordon. Gordon challenges us with his first thesis.
 
Johnny can’t preach because Johnny can’t read! 

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AN ORPHAN GOSPEL

The gospel preached today is often a man-centered gospel.
 
“Are you lonely? Do you feel afraid? Do you feel ashamed? Are you hurting and broken? Jesus came to meet your needs. God loves you as you are and has a great plan for your life. Jesus died on the cross to give you abundant life. Come to Jesus today and live.”
 
Much missional preaching today identifies needs and proclaims Christ as a need fulfiller. It is a man-centered gospel, but the apostolic gospel was God-centered.

What are the characteristics of missional preaching in Acts?


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