Perhaps the most profound thing our Lord ever said

“Except you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

What’s lacking in the great majority of religious experts–of all tribes, all beliefs, all everything!–is a childlike humility.

I’ve sat across from the salespeople hawking Jehovah’s Witness and Mormon doctrine door to door and been amazed at the sheer gall and arrogance of these know-it-alls.

I’ve sat in the auditoriums and classrooms when prophecy teachers were spreading out their charts and telling far more than they could ever know, pronouncing their anathema upon anyone daring to believe otherwise and taking no prisoners in the process.

I’ve sat in massive conferences among thousands of my peers and heard ignorance spouted as truth but camouflaged with alliteration and pious phrases and encouraged and affirmed by thundering echoes of “amens” and “hallelujahs”.

In every case, I longed to hear someone say, “We see through a glass darkly….”  (I Corinthians 13:12).

To hear someone say, “I have not arrived. I press toward the mark….” (Philippians 3:12-13).

To hear someone say, “We do not know how to pray as we should….” (Romans 8:26)

To hear someone say, “That which I am doing, I do not understand.  I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

Where is the childlike spirit we hear so much of in the Word?

1) I can hear someone say, “Well, we enter the kingdom by that spirit, but thereafter, as we learn and grow, we become teachers and instructors and gain confidence and are allowed to become more bombastic.”

Rubbish.

We are expected to be of a childlike spirit all our lives.  We are to remain teachable all the way to the end. We are instructed to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, and that includes such traits as gentleness, humility, self-control, and faithfulness (Galatians 5:22-23).

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Why your good sermon turned out to be a dud

Pastor, if you are like the rest of us, you’ve had this happen….

You brought a sermon on an important scriptural passage which you knew beyond a doubt was from the Lord and inspired of God.  You had a great time studying and praying for this sermon, and you knew this was cutting edge stuff. So, why was the sermon itself so poorly received?  Halfway through, you could sense the congregation’s collective minds wandering.  How could this happen?

Clearly, the problem could be any of one thousand things. But if I may, I will share a strong conviction on the number one reason your excellent sermon was so poorly received.

You failed to lay the foundation for it.

That is, you preached the event without setting the stage and placing the context for it before the congregation.  For instance….

–You preach Matthew 1:18ff and Luke 1:26ff, the Mary and Joseph event.  This beloved story needs you to point out how the world had lain in darkness for centuries, with no word from God, no prophets appearing, no fresh revelation.  And then the angel Gabriel showed up.  Bingo!

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Turning sarcasm into “sic ’em!”

“Jesus said, ‘No doubt you will quote this proverb to me, “Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” No prophet is welcome in his own hometown’” (Luke 4:24). 

John Fogerty’s group Creedence Clearwater Revival is unforgettable to anyone who has owned a radio in the last 50 years.  Several years ago, in an interview with newsman Dan Rather, Fogerty was remembering a key moment in the 1960s.

The group was one of many bands to perform at a particular event.  As the final group to warm up, and thus the first band to appear on stage, suddenly CCR found they had been unplugged.  John Fogerty yelled to the sound man to plug them back up, that they weren’t through.  The technician did so reluctantly, then added, “You not going anywhere anyway, man.”  Fogerty said, “Okay.  Give me one year.  I’ll show you.”

One year later, the group was so hot with hit record after hit record (“Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising”) that “we were too big to play in that place any more!”

Turning sarcasm into a healthy sic ’em!  Something to spur you onward instead of allowing it to crush your spirit and keep you down.

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What if the Lord should ever forget me?

“The righteous will be remembered forever” (Psalm 112:6).

What do you suppose would happen if the Father in Heaven ever got Alzheimer’s?

After all, He’s really, really old, right?

Okay. Not going to happen, of course. My whimsy gene is just asserting itself today.  Scripture makes it plain that “He knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19).

But it did start me to thinking….

What if the Lord really ever were in danger of forgetting me?

Well, the good news is He has these memory aids, mnemonic devices they are called, to guarantee that He doesn’t lose track of any of us.  And no, I do not mean God ties a string around His finger.  Something far better.

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