Frank Sinatra and the Garden of Eden

Frank Sinatra and the Garden of Eden

Did you know that one of the most requested songs to be played at the funeral on a non-believer is “I did it My Way” by Frank Sinatra? If there was ever an anthem for what we are without Christ, old blue-eyes sums it up with that song.  

“Doing it my way” started back in the garden of Eden when Adam & Eve became discontented with God and his rules. Remember the rules? Everything is yours, all of it except for the one tree. Enjoy paradise kids!

If you know the Genesis narrative, we quickly find that Eve was deceived by a talking snake and Adam was as lost as a ball in the Alabama weeds. All that to say, they did the one thing God told them not to do, they ate the fruit! Have mercy!

The choice to eat of the fruit was, and is, the starting place for all the trouble in the entire universe.  When Eve took that bite, sin entered into all of us. It has been said that sin makes us stupid. Sin seems to push us away from God, and it certainly did in the case of Adam and Eve. Genesis chapter 3:8-10 we find Adam & Eve on the run. Funny how sin does that. We sin, then we run. We run away from the very being we should be running to, God.

 

There were three things that Eve did that contributed to what we call “The Fall” and put Adam and Eve on the run from God:

  1. Listened to the Lie
  2. Believed the Lie
  3. Acted on the Lie

What lies are you believing today?

-I can hide from God

-No one cares about me

-This feels right to me therefore I will continue in this ungodly relationship

-God is angry at me and I have passed the point of no return

-My marriage will never rebound from this

 

All lies! Right from the pit of Hell. We really need to stop talking to snakes!  Remember, who you spend time with can be a blessing or a curse. Choose wisely! Take inventory of not only the who’s in your life, also ask what is in your life. What has come in that needs to go? Another way to say that is, “What is in my life that is not helping my life, as it pertains to my personal holiness?”

Ultimately, we need to connect with God. He changes our lives; makes dead things live! His grace is sufficient. Grace is beautiful, it’s getting what you don’t deserve. Grace says, you don’t need to run away from God, you can run to God.  Take it, take the grace, we need it! We are so dead without grace, yet so alive with it!

Here are three things to help you live a life that moves away from doing it your way to His way:

 

  • Counter the lies of the enemy with truth.

 

Read your word, pray over the word, memorize the word.

  1. Identify the areas in your life that you are in bondage to.

Confess those to the Lord and confess to a mature believer and ask for accountability.

 

  • Get yourself into community

 

Don’t be isolated. Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. Plug into a group at church. Find someone to disciple you. Remember isolation drives you away from the cross!

 

My friend Ron Galla-Rini has been kind to remind me in times of frustration the following words, “You have more power than you think you do.” Indeed, that is true. Thank you, Lord for the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit not only convicts us of our sin, it also helps us to overcome doing things our way, which leads to sin, and gets us doing things God’s way, which leads to life!

 

To Life in Christ!

Charlie Moulton

Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Confessions of an Arrogant Preacher

Recently I was asked to do a lecture at a Christian university.  The class was students comprised of men who were training to go into the ministry. As I put the finishing touches on the lecture I opened it up to questions.

The questions were all over the map. Everything from sexual purity, how long does it take to prepare a sermon, to life balance, you get the idea. However, there was one question that stood out and pricked my soul. My prayer is that it also pricked those that were listening then and reading now.

The question was actually simplistic in nature. It was as follows:

“Pastor, how has your preaching changed or what is different about your preaching now since you first started out?”

I looked that young man in the eye and said, “Son, when I first started out I was arrogant and did not even know it. I thought I had to win every battle that came across my desk. I have now learned that I no longer need to win the battle as I am more concerned about the war.”

To be arrogant is to feel superior, to have a need to be right, or put other people’s noses in it. The actual definition is: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities. That was me!

You see, I was more interested in my pet doctrines than I was for the lost. I was more interested in speaking than listening. My library of books consisted of those who only thought like me. My circle of friends mirrored my thoughts.

Then I remembered why Jesus came. He came to seek and save the Lost. He came to bear witness to the truth. Jesus was a man on a mission. He loved the sheep. Even the smelly, nippy little sheep. Sheep bite you know!

Faithful Pastors are shepherds, certainly not perfect but they are to care for the flock entrusted to them. John 10:11 tells us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

I heard Pastor Johnny Hunt say that “Shepherds need to smell like sheep.” And tenure has taught me that you don’t choose your sheep, God does. They come in all sizes and shapes and, believe me buddy, some of them sheep will test you, pull you, and some may even curse you! You are called to love them anyway. I now love my sheep and consider it pure joy to be their Shepherded.

Allow the words of Charles Hodge to help you as it did me. “The doctrines of Grace humble a man without degrading him and exalt a man without inflating him.”

Yes and Amen to that Brother Hodge. I NOW understand what you meant by that!

When the Sunday Morning Service Turns into a Train Wreck

When the Sunday Morning Service Turns into a Train Wreck

It was a Sunday morning service like no other. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. Don’t think for a moment that I am exaggerating. For example, the audio team could not get the squeaking and feedback corrected.

The worship team took a new song out of the oven before it was fully cooked. The congregation was as lost as a ball in the tall Alabama weeds trying to learn the song.

The guy doing the announcements was having a bad day and appeared to have the love and compassion of Osama Bin Laden.

I also contributed, getting lost in my sermon notes 3 different times and going on to preach my longest sermon of the year. Not my best to say the least.

At lunch, I remember looking at my wife and saying the following words: “That was the worst service we ever had, what a train wreck.”

So how do you rebound from a service that really is a train wreck?

Here are 10 things to do:

  1. Learn from it.
  2. Talk about it. Laugh! The fact that anyone comes back the following week is proof of God’s sovereignty.
  3. Get clear on what you want.
  4. Get clear on what you don’t want.
  5. Be sure everyone on the team has the right tools to do the job. Ask, make sure!
  6. Remember God can change lives, even in so-called ‘train wrecks’.
  7. When in doubt, don’t tell them, show them. Model to your team what ‘good’ looks like.
  8. Re-evaluate if all team members are in the right spot. If not, make changes.
  9. Encourage your team.
  10. Ensure your team gets back on track immediately!

Does Your Congregation Need to be Reminded of its Responsibility in Gospel Partnership?

Does Your Congregation Need to be Reminded of its Responsibility in Gospel Partnership?

My home seems to get its fair share of door to door solicitors. We know they are at the front door as our two dogs bark at the intensity and pitch of a 300-dog kennel. I liken this to having cold water thrown in your face at 2AM. Anyways, when I finally get to the door, it does not take very long before I am asked to part with my money.

One such solicitor represented, what I believe to be, a worthy cause. Because I believe in what they are doing I usually give a little something.  This same organization seems to come back to my door once every 3 months. Each time they do, I give to their cause.  

As I opened my wallet to give a few dollars from my billfold, the man at the door said, “Mr. Moulton, thank you for your partnership.” I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is hardly a partnership.’ Candidly speaking, what was happening was very much transactional. This does not mean that I did not find the cause to be noble, even worthy. It was! I just did not pay too much attention to the cause with the exception of the good reminder and visual of the person standing at my door. This may be all too familiar to many of those who attend your Sunday services two times per month.

The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4 spoke of the difference between partners and consumers. Verses 14-15 lets us in on the fact that the Philippian church partnered with Paul in his gospel ministry. They partnered with him in many ways, including meeting his financial needs.

Not only did the Philippian church partner with Paul. They did so right after he left the church of Philippi to plant in Thessalonica. In other words, Paul is saying “You have been partnering with me since the beginning and continue to partner with me all these years later.” How cool is that?

Yet he contrasts this with what I call the “consumer mentality” as he says, “When I left Macedonia, no other churches entered into partnership with me. You were the only one!”  So, verse 15 gives us a sneak peek in that many churches/Christians were enjoying the benefits of Paul’s teaching and his care for the congregation yet not assuming the responsibility of giving.

I think this quote from Tony Merida says it beautifully:

“How common this is in local congregations receiving benefits but giving nothing in return. When a person is receiving sound instruction, which leads to life and godliness and when a person is receiving pastoral care, they have the privilege and the responsibility of giving to support the mission of the church. “

Partnership is not just about the Benjamins; however, we can’t carry out the mission of gospel ministry with only pats on the back. We need our congregations to partner in the gospel.  All Christians are commanded to partner with the church. Remind your church about what God’s word says as it pertains to stewardship. In doing so, you will likely move some from consumers to partners.

Pulling for you!

Charlie