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Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 350 pp., Hardcover $24.99

Endorsed by everyone from Rick Warren and Bill Hybels to Dave Ramsey, Steven Furtick and Jeff Foxworthy, Deep and Wide reveals Andy Stanley’s “secret sauce” (p. 17) which he believes makes his church not only great but a model others should adopt.  Stanley’s goal has been to create a church that unchurched men, women and children love to attend (p. 11) and by all accounts he has succeeded.  The first of five sections tells the story of the birth of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, first as an extension of his father’s (Charles) church, then as a split, in which several thousand people eventually left the mother church to join Andy’s.  Andy knows this is not the best way to start a church, but is honest and transparent enough to admit that this is what happened.  Conflicts with his famous father were inevitable and Andy chronicles those as well. Continue Reading…

imagesSpurgeon would occasionally find a nasty anonymous letter lying on his pulpit when he would stand up to preach. There would be a letter but no name. One day he got to the pulpit and there was a piece of paper with one word written in large letters….IDIOT…. So Spurgeon said to his congregation, “Normally I get letters without signatures, but today I got a signature without a letter.” Continue Reading…

how-to-study-the-bibleA 17-year-old young man went to church for the first time because the shoe salesman who had led him to Christ told him he needed to learn more about the Savior he had just received. After the song service, the minister said, “Turn to First Timothy 5:12.”

The young convert turned to the first page of the Bible which his friend had given him and thumbed through Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and a number of other books but could not find Timothy. Turning to the table of contents he found that First Timothy was on page 325, but when he found that page number he was in the book of Joshua. Again looking into the table of contents he discovered that there were two basic sections of the Bible and that First Timothy was in the second! By the time the young Christian had found the text the minister was finished with his sermon. Needless to say, the young man was embarrassed and a little befuddled.

Years later he became a famous preacher who, it is said, led one million people to Jesus Christ. In the later years of his life, he founded a Bible institute that today trains over 1200 young people annually in the Word of God. This young man’s name was Dwight L. Moody, and few men have ever influenced Christianity more than he did. But he would never have been an influence at all had he not been willing to study the Word of God for himself (Tim LaHaye. How To Study the Bible for Yourself, 7-8).

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C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters has the senior demon Screwtape writing letters to the junior demon Wormwood on how to damn the soul of “The Patient.” Lewis said there are two extreme attitudes about demons which demons will use against us:

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the demon. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They, the demons, themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail or greet a materialist or a magician with the same delight (C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1971, p. 3). Continue Reading…

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After winning 22 Olympic medals (18 of them gold), Michael Phelps just two years ago was ready to end his life after two DUI arrests and the image of Phelps smoking from a bong.

Phelps told ESPN. “I figured that was the best thing to do — just end my life.” Then he entered a psychological trauma and addiction treatment center in October in 2015. While he was there, Phelps’ Christian friend and NFL star Ray Lewis Lewis sent him a copy of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. God used this Christian book to turn him around.

Phelps was so helped by the Christian message in the book that he read it to other patients. Phelps was nicknamed “Preacher Mike.”

Even Michael Phelps the most decorated athlete in Olympic history needed a second chance. Just as God gave Mark, Peter, and David second chances so can the Lord enable you to rise up from defeat or depression and serve Him.

 

indexDr. Henry M. Morris, co-author of The Genesis Flood, told the true story of a young pilot named Tom (now with Missionary Aviation Fellowship) who was flying at 30,000 feet when his plane exploded. All in the plane were killed except Tom. As Tom was plummeting to the earth, he pulled the ripcord, but his chute failed to open. At the last minute, the chute did open but it was in shreds, hardly breaking the speed of his fall.

Meanwhile, a Christian woman was standing in her drive watching this horrifying scene. Knowing he was in desperate trouble, the woman prayed for his safe descent. Tom, needless to say, was praying, too. Tom landed virtually at the feet of the woman. Looking up, they saw that the ropes of his parachute had caught in two trees, breaking his fall and lowering him gently to the ground.

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Sunday morning, I am preaching on “Jesus Can Help You Through Your Storm” from Mark 4:35-41. Are you in a storm of finances, broken relationship, failing health, or loneliness or something so personal and painful you can hardly make it? We will learn from this episode of Jesus and His disciples how to make it through the storm to the other side. Go ahead and read Mark 4:35-41 and ask God to strengthen you in your present storm.

If you have a storm you are going through and can share it I would like to pray for you.

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WHO IS A REFUGEE? A refugee is someone who has fled one’s home country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. 18 months to 3 years— average duration of processing time before a refugee enters Continue Reading…

indexMessengers at the SBC’s annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri approved Resolution 12, titled “On Refugee Ministry,” as part of a block vote taken Wednesday on the five remaining resolutions from Tuesday.

“That we affirm that refugees are people loved by God, made in His image, and that Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands,” reads Resolution 12.

“That we encourage Southern Baptist churches and families to welcome and adopt refugees into their churches and homes as a means to demonstrate to the nations that our God longs for every tribe, tongue, and nation to be welcomed at His Throne …”

Resolution 12 also called for “governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm.” Continue Reading…

This sermon illustration is by Pastor Mac Brunson who has served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, since 2006.