Sermon Preview: Magnificent Joy

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Christmas starts for each of us in different places. This last week we had the Tableaux and Living Nativity. I heard from several people no matter when Advent begins, Christmas starts with the Tableaux and Living Nativity. When I was a kid, I knew Christmas was coming when it was time for the singing Christmas Tree. I grew up with this monstrosity, part of the Christmas celebration when you grow up at a large church. We had this 80 foot tall metal structure that once decorated could hold a 130 person choir and it looked like a Christmas tree. It got to the point we had three of these trees going. The singing Christmas tree consumed our Christmas. When the tree started, Christmas has begun.

So finally, we get to the point in our worship were we get to the Holy family, Mary and Joseph. We always take our time to get here…but then again, Advent is about waiting. Our worship this weekend focuses on Mary and her song of Joy. We find it in Luke 1:46-55. Mary’s song is a treasured passage of scripture and familiar part of any Advent celebration. It gives us a glimpse into the timeline of God coming into our world.

And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

We will talk about Mary, what makes her important and how her song causes us to realize the real center of our Joy.

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We are who we are because of who God is.

See you tomorrow in worship!

Chad Brooks - March 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

Practicing Prayer

Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is. This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.

From Series: "Celebration of Discipline"

For Lent we are taking a journey into the disciplines. The disciplines are the garden in which we are planted and grown into mature followers of Christ.

Scripture and Discussion

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

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*What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

The Productive Pastor 004: Starting a Theology of Time Management

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In this episode of The Productive Pastor Podcast we talk about TONS of great stuff. As always, it is full of great information and conversation pieces for ministry leaders interested in productivity and time management.

I do have an announcement to make. From the beginning I wanted the Productive Pastor to be about the community. To find ways to facilitate conversation and sharing among each other. We now have a Facebook page and I hope it will be a great center for many different elements of our life together. You can find it on Facebook.com/productivepastor

Let’s get to those show notes!

The List:
1. 3 Strategies for Getting More Done in Less Time: Justin Lathrop

2. 5 Lessons in Creativity from the Return of Ze Frank: Copyblogger

3. A Plea To My Ministry Friends: Joshua Toepper

Starting a Theology of Time Management

For the last several months I have been thinking about time management and productivity from a theological angle. How do we really understand the way our schedule speaks to our vocation as ministers? These are just a few quick observations to get us started. I anticipate this being a returning conversation and I am excited to hear from you and share your thoughts.

1. Productivity vs. Call.
How do we separate ourselves from the rest of the world that is able to shut people off and out in order to get things done. Also, what does it look like for us to understand the nature of our vocation as being one lived in a tension of time?

2. Learning to Live the Quiet Life.
I am not a quiet person, but I have slowly started shifting that way. Here are three resources I have enjoyed over the last few months I think give us a good beginning point to understanding the necessity of those in ministry living quietly.

The Contemplative Pastor by Eugene Peterson
Ordering Your Private World by George McDonald
New Life After the Fall of Ted Haggard: Christianity Today

The simple truth of this is nobody wants a hurried pastor.

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3. What we spend our time doing tells who we are.
What do we allow to run our schedule? Is it the work we must be doing or the work we have to be doing? I think this is a theological conversation. Earlier this week on twitter I read this tweet from @michaelyoder81

We have to be thinking about what we are spending our time doing…it is a theological issue.

Toolbox Tip
I am a serial procrastinator. I shared about that in episode 1. One of the things that really pushed me into a new reality was goal setting. The hands down best method of goal setting was explained to me at an iLi regional training. They really shook out what it meant to set S.M.A.R.T goals. A S.M.A.R.T goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (or realistic) at time bound. Here is a great blog post from Hubspot talking about S.M.A.R.T goals.

Thank You TONS for being part of the Productive Pastor community. I can’t believe the reception of the podcast. It amazes and honors me and it is all because of YOU!

Jump on the conversation on the facebook page and use the #productivepastor on twitter! As always, I encourage you to review and rate the podcast on iTunes. You can follow me at @revchadbrooks on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram.

Listen to This Episode
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Life Lessons Learned from Poking a Fire

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Over the last few weeks I have spent more time around a fire than usual. I bought a few fire pits for the church in October and used them several times. I spent 4 days in freezing rain with the Boy Scouts. I have had a fire around the house several nights this last week as well. Even though I am an Eagle Scout, my fire skills aren’t as good as they could be. My friend Jay taught me some great tips when I was out with the Boy Scouts. My fires since then have been a lot better.

We build fires for many reasons. Environment, warmth, cooking, or just fun…fires are pretty awesome. Sometimes people think the only purpose of a fire is to get a flame and they just start piling on wood. But keeping a great fire is much more than burning sticks.

I was sitting around a fire a couple of nights ago and realized there are some serious life lessons from tending a fire. Poking a fire is pretty important.

Life Lessons Learned from Poking a Fire.

1. Poking the fire keeps it going.
When you arrange the fire frequently, you are able to consistently get good heat and better flame. Just letting a fire be is a quick way to a bad fire.

Many times in life we settle. We settle for what we think is success or we settle for what we think is the mundane. We settle for a sub-par life with God. We need to be constantly considering if we are really in the center of God’s will. We need to be making adjustments and intentionally doing the things that lead us to life.

2. Poking Your Fire is a Better Use of Resources.
Wood isn’t wasted when you poke your fire. If your purpose is cooking, you have to be poking the fire to make great coals. You are able to center your heat and energy in a certain zone.

When we are always carefully sharpening ourselves we are able to easier discern if we are making an impact. Are we being aimless in life, drifting without an purpose? I am a big fan of personal evaluation because evaluation enables us to best focus on the places we are able to do the most positive work.

3. You can restart your flame, from nothing to a full burn. In seconds.
Have you ever realized your fire has gone out? It is still hot, but you have no flames. A few careful and maneuvered pokes can get it roaring again in just a few seconds. I am sure someone smarter than I can give me the scientific answer why. I am pretty sure it has to do with oxygen, one of the three essential elements in fire. The fire was simply deprived of something it needed.

We all have those seasons of life where nothing gets done. We haven’t made any forward motion in life. We are just checking off items. When we are aware of this, we can usually jump in and in just a few moments get ourselves back on track. I have spent the last 2 days focused on a project at church which has taken up almost all of my time. I knew this and had to jump start myself back into the swing of things. Since I know my rhythms and habits, this takes just a few moments to get back on track. My fire is going again.

4. You leave no waste.
The other night I kept a really good fire going for around 2 hours. I went through a good bit of wood. At the end of the night, I had around a quart of waste. A few pieces the size of a pecan and tons of ash. Since I was constantly working on this fire as it was burning, I used my resources well. Nothing was wasted and what was left was almost all at it’s highest level of burn.

I don’t like to waste time and energy. This can be through procrastination or laziness. It can also be through misuse or bad allocation of energy. I find most of the time I do this (and others as well) by not being aware of what is going on around them. It isn’t intentional waste. It is a mind that isn’t really focused on what is at hand. In Ephesians 5:16 the Apostle Paul tells us we should be “making the most of every opportunity”. Life is a gift, given to us to give witness and life to the presence of Jesus Christ around us. I don’t want to waste that.

Fires provide awesome environments. People gather around them because they instantly perk up a cold night. In the end, being aware of how we live life isn’t done just for the sake of getting things done, but instead developing an environment around us people can find welcoming and life giving. Just like a great fire.

 

 

Sermon Preview: Love is The Greatest Light

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We all go through phases. I had a pretty big one while I was in college. It was the sort of phase you can only go through in college actually. I became infatuated with one of the greatest cultural phenomenon of the 20th century. I was a Dead Head. Yes, I was a rabid fan of the Grateful Dead. I went so deep I was even a collected of live tapes. At one point in time I had hundreds of hours of live recordings of the Grateful Dead. I could listen to a song and tell from the arrangement what era of Dead it was…and probably pin point it down to what year.

One of the great songs of the early era was Ronald “Pigpen” McKernan version of the standard “Turn on Your Lovelight”. It was usually at the very end of concerts, played as an encore. The song is written from the perspective of a jilted lover, begging the object of affection to “turn on their love light and shine it on me.”

For us today, a love light functions in the exact opposite direction.

Our scripture passage this weekend is Luke 1:67-80

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
Now we will be saved from our enemies
and from all who hate us.
He has been merciful to our ancestors
by remembering his sacred covenant—
the covenant he swore with an oath
to our ancestor Abraham.
We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness
for as long as we live.

“And you, my little son,
will be called the prophet of the Most High,
because you will prepare the way for the Lord.
You will tell his people how to find salvation
through forgiveness of their sins.
Because of God’s tender mercy,
the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
and to guide us to the path of peace.”

John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel. (NLT)

Zechariah is the Father of John the Baptist. This song and prophecy is written as a response to many things. The first is his praise to God because he thought he would never be a Father. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were old and barren. The second is this is his first born son, an important member of the family for 1st century Jews. The last, and greatest, is this birth is the beginning of the fulfillment of the ultimate prophecy about a promised Messiah.

Zechariah’s son John is to be the promised forerunner and Zechariah knows fully well what is coming. God is illuminating through love all of the things of this world. The good and the bad will be seen for exactly what they are. Salvation is coming. Love is the greatest light.

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We will be talking about this promise and many more things on Sunday when we gather. I would LOVE to see you there!

If you missed last Sunday, I would encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to last week. It will get you up to speed!

Chad Brooks - March 9, 2014

Practicing Prayer

Practicing Prayer

Have you ever felt like you bumble through prayer or are dissatisfied with your prayer life? One of the keys to the Christian life is understanding how prayer builds a big vision of who God is. This week we look at the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 and find out how it helps us build a great prayer life.

From Series: "Celebration of Discipline"

For Lent we are taking a journey into the disciplines. The disciplines are the garden in which we are planted and grown into mature followers of Christ.

Scripture and Discussion

More From "Celebration of Discipline"

Powered by Series Engine

*What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

My Favorite Podcasts (volume 2)

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Earlier this year I shared my favorite podcasts and gave you a few reasons why you should be listening to podcasts. Since then, I have jumped into the podcasting community even bigger. The first was I went on a pretty radical diet and started walking several miles several nights a week. This gave me 4-5 hours of discretionary time and I immediately started searching for interesting podcasts. The next reason was I jumped even deeper into podcast production and started The Productive Pastor as well as continuing to be part of The Threshing Floor.

I want to share another round of my favorite podcasts with you.

1. Stuff You Should Know.
The Stuff You Should Know Podcast is a recent favorite. I have a love for random information and strange facts and this podcast totally scratches the itch. The hosts give listeners the low down and a random story, historical event or any other event. It is an entertaining podcast but it is also helpful. As a Pastor, I have to always be collecting stories, especially intriguing ones. I even wrote about why Pastors need to be hoarders of information. This podcast is a veritable treasure trove of stories.

2. unSeminary.
Rich Birch is a pastor at Liquid Church in New Jersey. The unSeminary Podcast is an extension of his blog. Rich shares information for ministry leaders that isn’t traditionally learned in seminary. He interviews people from all over the church world about their specific areas of expertise. He has a great format and I really love The Lightning Round.

3. Sermonsmith
Sermonsmith is a great podcast hosted by John Chandler. It is another structured interview podcast of conversations about the craft of sermon preparation with a different preacher each episode. My friend Stephen Fife turned me onto this podcast in the comment section of the earlier favorite podcast post. If you teach in a ministry setting, you need to listen to Sermonsmith.

4. The Alton Browncast.
Alton Brown is the best Food Network personality ever and geeks out about amazing things. He has a podcast. I don’t think I need to explain anything else. It is also part of The Nerdist family…which makes it even cooler.

5. Beyond The To Do List.
Beyond The To Do List is a great podcast focused on productivity. I love this podcast because it gives great tips across the entire spectrum of productivity. Since I have a productivity podcast I really eat this stuff up. The host, Erik Fischer, is a new media strategist and understands how productivity works for digital natives.

These are just several of the shows I have been keeping in my ears for the last several months. I am certain I will have a new list in a few more months, so I see this being a regular posting series.

What podcasts are you listening to?