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Two Ears Walk into a Church…

They both went to Pierced Church, but over time they learned to listen differently to the sermon. One ear, trained on sitcoms and sound bytes, rarely ever got what the talking ear behind the pulpit was saying. He preferred brief, inspirational talks sprinkled
with good jokes. The other ear, however, knew that the message from God’s Word was relevant to her. She knew that what she was listening to every Sunday was the most important message she heard all week as if God himself were talking.

Christianity is a message-driven, communicative faith and that the foundation for belief is built on words and ideas formed by a non-ignorable Author. Thus, it requires listening, a certain amount of literacy and a response.

Christopher Ash has written a practical little guide to listening to sermons called Listen Up! Ash serves up several ingredients for healthy sermon listening, and I follow with some commentary:

1) Expect God to speak. Prepare yourself on Saturday or Sunday morning in prayer and maybe reading the sermon text if you know it.
2) Admit God knows better than you. This mindset of humility will make you tender to not only to hear the Word but also do something with it.
3) Check what the preacher says with what the passage says. Does the main point of the preacher’s sermon reflect the main point of the biblical text? This kind of analytical listening starts with Bible open, head down and ears perked.
4) Be in church week by week to hear the sermons with God’s people as opposed to replacing attendance with listening to podcasts or TV/radio preachers. Christianity is not a private affair that is between just you and the Lord. The local church is a learning community; so, go to lunch with friends and talk about how to apply the sermon to your lives this week. Pray with each other asking God to empower you to change.
5) Do what the Bible says today— and rejoice! The local church is also a ‘doing’ community. James 1:22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Posted by Will Pareja with

“Churches Are Only Interested in Your $$”

So goes an objection of many people whose religious experience has been jaded by the desperate pleas and manipulative ploys of churches or TV preachers. There is some merit to this suspicion, but if you’ve been around the church for a while or read the Bible much, you understand that there is some obligation to give to the Lord. Two HUGE truths will shape your thinking about money and what the Lord “gets.” First, the Lord Jesus owns everything (Psalm 24:1). Christ’s lordship of your life means that he wants every bit of you including your pocketbook. You are just a manager of whatever
material resources he blesses you with. Second, we give because Christ gave (2 Corinthians 8:9). So…. We’re supposed to give as much as Jesus gave us? “Impossible!,” you might say. These timeless truths don’t give us the formula for giving that we often crave. Our mentality often is: “God, just tell me what I need to do or how far I can (or cannot) go without sinning against you.”

David A. Croteau’s booklet Tithing after the Cross steered me away from the “How much” question to the: ‘“Where can I cut my budget so I can give more to God’s work?”’ question. Many causes are lining up for our limited resources (especially this time of the year). Why should we dare even think of giving more to the Lord? In one
word: grace. If we spend time “soaking” in our Lord’s and his apostles’ teaching, we will discover that saving grace empowers us to serve and fuels us to generously give. The grace of God, in other words, produces an abundance of joy, generosity, and sacrificing
ourselves to God and for others.

1. Study the following Scriptures— Matthew 6:19-34; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 Tim 5:17-18; 6:6-10, 17-19 (and there are many others!). Then, read Randy Alcorn’s tiny book The Treasure Principle to further challenge you about giving.
2. Rejoice continually in God’s grace to you!
3. Remember that you are eternally indebted to love God with all that you are.
4. Repent of your greed and/or misuse of God’s money.
5. Radically yet responsibly re-direct your spending so that God is honored.

Posted by Will Pareja with

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