Tag Archives: worship

A Patriotic Worship Service

I love the patriotic worship service we have at FBC O’Fallon, IL each 4th of July weekend. It is exciting, moving and fun.
Once in a while, I read others who complain about churches having a patriotic service. They remind us of the dangers of patriotism replacing worship and zeal for the nation replacing zeal for the Lord. Duly noted.
But I do believe we can keep a proper perspective of the role of God and country. The first point of my sermon on Sunday was “We have earthly responsibilities but a greater allegiance.” (I preached from the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from Daniel 3 and the greater allegiance referred to the Lord, not D.C. My wife says it was the greatest sermon preached in the history of Christendom- but Continue reading

Military types and the church

   I love that the church where I am pastor (FBC O’Fallon, IL) is near Scott Air Force base.  We have hundreds of military folks in our church and it is a great blessing.  It will be 19 years this summer since I came and I’ve learned some things about the military folks.  (I am a slow learner.)  Here are some things I’ve learned about ministry with the military community.

1.  Military types move.  A lot.  To lots of places.  It isn’t unusual for me to meet a new family moving in from Guam while saying goodbye to another moving to Germany.  Some move in saying “I’m only here for three years so I’m jumping into the church with both feet.”  They look immediately for opportunities to serve and connect.  I love that!  Others say, “I’m only here for three years so I’m not going to get involved.”  The smart aleck in me responds with, “How long will you be here if you do get involved?”

Military families learn how to deal with new circumstances and environments.  The children of military parents learn to make friends and adjust to new things.  Their moves make them interesting to us civilians.  They have seen places we haven’t and enjoyed experiences foreign to us.  We are impressed with the variety of their experiences. 

They are so interesting.  But, they leave us.  And, if we aren’t careful, we guard our hearts against the pain of their departures.  I remind our church often that we must be willing to love each other- military and civilian- even though our hearts are broken when we part.  Love is worth the pain.

2.  Military types deploy. Continue reading

Midnight Worship

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.”  Acts 16:25

On the night my father died, our family gathered in his room.  After weeks of battling physical ailments, death was near.  While we did not grieve as those who had no hope, we still grieved.  And we sang.

As we circled the room where our family patriarch was dying, we sang hymns and choruses of faith.  It felt like midnight in our souls, which made it a good time to worship.  It is good to worship the Lord in the pleasant Continue reading

What a Good Sermon Does

There is some bad preaching out there.  There are sermons that are theological swamp lands and others too boring for the strongest caffeinated drinks.  Some sermons chase rabbits like a hound; others skirt the text like a ballerina.  Preacher, please don’t mislead me or confuse me or, heaven forbid, bore me with this great message.

I’ve been preaching most of my life- 25 years off, 28 years on. At the risk of opening myself to clever comments from amateur comedians who hear my sermons, let me tell you what a good sermon ought to do.

1. A good sermon informs. A good sermon tells us the truth. It teach us God’s word.  That should go unsaid, but because it too often goes undone, it needs saying.  Preacher, tell us what God says, not just what you think.  Tell us what we need, not just what we like or want.  Teach us the bible.  Tell us what God wants us to know.  This is an irreplaceable part of good preaching, but it isn’t enough.

2.  A good sermon inspires.  A good sermon tells us the truth in a way that moves our emotion as well as informs our logic.  It touches our spirit as well as our mind.  Preacher, use a story once in a while.  The bible is full of them.  Use some illustrations.  They grab our attention and they help us to see the truth in a different way.  Preach with some passion and stir us to greater things.

3.  A good sermon implements.  A good sermon applies the text to our lives.  It doesn’t leave us in theory, but connects God’s word to our practical world.  Preacher, answer the question “So what?”  Tell us why we need to know God is the creator.  Tell us why it matters that we understand what grace is.  Move us to action.  Move us to change.  We need to see that God’s word is relevant to our lives.

4.  A good sermon invites.  A good sermon invites us to trust Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord.  It invites us on this great journey of faith.  It calls us to decision as it confronts us with the truth.  There is an invitation to something greater and deeper and more real.  Preacher, don’t be satisfied for us to know the truth.  Call us with everything you have to follow the Truth with everything we have.

Excuse me now.  I’ve got to work on my sermon for this weekend.  This needs to be a good one.  Hey, even a pig can grub up a diamond every once in a while!

Why the Church Matters

“I like Jesus, I just don’t like the church.”

Here is the problem with that thinking. Jesus is the One who formed the church. It is His idea and He is for it. And if Jesus founded the church, He did it for a reason.

Let me encourage you to get involved in a local church. It isn’t perfect and do you know why? Because it is filled with people like you. There are no perfect churches just as there are no perfect people. We connect with others in a church because we need each other, not because any of us are perfect.

Maybe you have had a bad experience with a church. Maybe you got your feelings hurt or you met some unkind people or it just didn’t work out. But don’t give up on finding a church family and connecting.

I’ve had the great privilege of being part of some fantastic churches. The church I’ve served as pastor for the past 18 years is phenomenal and I love those people dearly. But even if that hasn’t been your experience, there is a church and a place for you.

One suggestion about church. Don’t make it just about you. Don’t just think of what you can get from the church. Consider serving instead of just attending. Love others whether they return that love quickly or not. Don’t make it primarily about styles you like but about worshipping the God of the universe.

Connect with a church that teaches and lives the truth. Get active, get involved, be faithful.

If you do, you might change your thinking from “I like Jesus, but not the church” to “I like the church because I love Jesus.”