Author Archives: matreames

The Power of Proper Preaching pt. 2

properpreaching

The other day we began to discuss the things that preaching does for us. Our Base text was the Doxology at the end of Romans 16. If you want to read that article CLICK HERE.

We boiled this passage down to 3 main points.

  1. The Preaching of Jesus Christ strengthens us.
  2. The Message of the Gospel is the Revelation of the Scripture to All Nations. The Gospel is the Scripture’s aim from Genesis to Revelation.
  3. Preaching the Gospel should bring about Obedience.

Today I want to explore the first point. I believe that as we explore the narrative of scripture we find that Proper Preaching strengthens us. So let us take some time to search the scriptures for moments where this is pointed out to us.

One of the most beautiful examples of this comes from the Prophet Isaiah. He speaks of the power of Spirit Empowered Preaching in chapter 61. Coincidentally, this is the passage that Messiah reads when He is in the synagogue in Luke 4.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.”  Isaiah 61:1-3

I will also include the quote from Luke 4 to add double emphasis.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19

we see in both of these passages that the Preaching of the Gospel brings freedom, vision, and favor. But In the Isaiah account He continues. We see that Proper preaching brings comfort, beauty for ashes, Garment of Praise (Strength) for Mourning and makes us Oaks of Righteousness.

This is a lot that comes from Spirit-Empowered Preaching. But I think that if we look at it clearly we see that all of these are strengthening us. When the Gospel is preached, it has Power and the power strengthens us.

We need Spirit-Empowered preaching that sticks to the scriptural truth laid out in the Bible because it’s life giving strength to us.

 

 

 

 

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The Power of Proper Preaching

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My Pastor has been in the midst of a series he calls, “What Your Message Must Be…” It was a series on what the Gospel is, and What the gospel is not.

When it comes to the message of the Gospel, we need to be clear in our preaching. We need to avoid mixing the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ with our own thoughts and desires.

Paul was arguably one of the greatest preachers in the history of the faith. He takes multiple opportunities to talk about the message of the Gospel. one of my favorites is the Doxology found at the end of Romans 16. Let’s read it together. I have chosen the ESV, because I can.

Doxology

25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

In this passage we see a simple explanation of the purpose of his preaching.

  1. The Preaching of Jesus Christ strengthens us.
  2. The Message of the Gospel is the Revelation of the Scripture to All Nations. The Gospel is the Scripture’s aim from Genesis to Revelation.
  3. Preaching the Gospel should bring about Obedience.

Over the next few days we will take a look at each of these things a bit more in-depth.

 

Thanks be.. (or Little Candle Boy)

thanksbe

Well, yesterday was Thanksgiving here in america. It is a wonderful time for food, family, and football. But it’s original purpose was a say to give thanks. Sadly this aspect has become a tertiary purpose at best.

We relegate thanks to one team per person before the meal. Then, often we seem to give ours begrudgingly. If we are truly thankful, we should be bursting with Joy when we tell of our blessing.

So, with joy bursting inside of me, I would like to share one of my favorite things to be thankful for…

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”  (2nd Corinthians 2:14-16 NKJV)

How great a passage is this?

I rejoice over this passage. I celebrate this passage. I will never forget the time my good friend Pastor Alan Koch sat down and explained how he derived his church name, (Christ Triumphant Church in Lee’s Summit, MO) from this passage.

So let me dig into this passage a little and take just a moment to show you why it has been so meaningful to me.

First, Paul begins by giving thanks to God. However, He doesn’t just say thank you, He explains to us what He is thankful for and this allows us to share in His thanksgiving.

He is thankful because God always leads us in Triumph. Think about that, God never leads us in fear our doubt, no! God leads us in Triumph. But not just any triumph. Paul is very specific. We are lead in triumph in Christ Jesus.

It isn’t enough to know that God is leading us in triumph. God wants us to know what Triumph looks like. Triumph looks like a slain Lamb who overcomes the world, sin, and the grave.

But Do not stop there… The passage continues. Paul is thankful because God uses us. He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We literally become God’s candles. Jesus said we are the light of the world. that light descended in Acts two like a flame over our heads. This is the image of the Candle.

God allows us to spread His knowledge like light and like fragrance. However, just like any candle there will be two reactions. First there are those who love the candle and want to have it in their home. these are the people who are being saved. But to others our fragrance will be rank. These are the people who are far from Christ and on the fast road to death.

We should intend in our hearts today to be like Paul. We should be thankful that we are in Christ. We should rejoice that we are walking in His victory. We should Celebrate that He uses us to spread His knowledge. We should Give thanks that we smell like Him, even when it causes others to gag.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”

Thanks Be…

 

Resetting, Rebuilding, Restarting…

reset

It has been quite some time since I have been on here. This has been quite a year. In March of this year I was invited to speak at my Church’s spring conference event. “Recalibration” I taught one of the breakout sessions. My topic was time and how time is relative when we are dealing in the spiritual and the supernatural. I will probably upload my notes from that message soon so those of you who still read this can follow along.

As March drew to a close, I boarded an airplane and flew down to North Carolina. For the next 7 months I worked for King of Glory Ministries and it’s partner ministry “The New Worship Center” in Durham. While working for King of Glory I was the worship leader at all of their conferences and special events over the summer. This gave me the opportunity to work with many awesome leaders such as Dr. James Maloney, Dr. James Goll, Dr. James Durham, Michael Danforth, Kevin & Kathy Basconi, Robert Ward, and more.

Each of these events were special and every single one was marked by the Presence and Glory of God that was accompanied by a release of signs, wonders, and miracles. At many of these events I was also a part of the ministry team and had the opportunity to pray for the sick and to prophesy to hundreds if not thousands of people. It was amazing to see how time and time again God was faithful to show up and minister to each person.

One of the highlights of my work with King of Glory was when I was invited to speak at Passover. That message was recorded and published on the king of glory website. If you are interested in hearing about it CLICK HERE for the first few minutes, Kevin is sharing some thoughts, but about the 20 minute mark I begin to share on the Passover. The theme of this sermon is about Who God revels himself as being different than the Egyptian Gods and displays His superiority.

On the other end, I also worked with The New Worship Center in Durham, NC. At the End of June, they had some staff and personnel changes. In the midst of this I was asked to step in and serve there for a season. I was involved in their sound and media departments. However the true highlight was my weekly worship session.

TNWC

The New Worship Center has a strong focus on worship.This summer they opened the sanctuary from 11am – 3pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays. I filled a permanent set on Tuesday and then subbed in when others were unable. I worship alone with my guitar all the time, but by being at this location, it meant that others had the opportunity to join with me. The doors were open and anyone could wander in and sing and pray while I made incense before my God.

However, now it is November and my time working full-time with the New Worship Center and King of Glory has come to an end. I have migrated back to my home in Lawrence, KS. This past week I have been settling in. Resetting, Rebuilding, and Restarting.

Now that I am here I am settling back into my church and church family. I am setting dates for ministry events and looking at different invitations that I have available to see what God is doing and How I can fall in line with him at this point in time.

Dear Church…

istillloveyou

Dear Church,

Before I say anything else, I want you to know I still love you. I see you there hurt, wounded, beaten and broken. I know that people have been hard on you. Some of it you deserved, some of it you just got because people forgot how much you deserve love.

Let me be honest, things have been rough in recent years. There have been times when you haven’t looked anything like my Bible. There have been times you haven’t looked anything like Jesus. There have been times I wanted to give up and times I wanted to quit. I was ready to pick up a stone and take aim for your forehead. But I didn’t…

Some of your attitudes have left me wounded, and in my rejection and wounding it became easy to forget all the good you have done me over the years. Not only me, but everyone. So I decided to be intentional this year to remind myself of all your benefits.

You are a home. No matter where I go, or how long I am gone, Ms. Mary is always at your front door smiling waiting for me to come home. I don’t get that everywhere I go. Church, you are a home. You are a place that I miss when I am traveling. You are a place that my heart longs for when I am on the other side of the world. Church, I can’t wait to come home and tell you all the amazing things God has done in my life and used me to do in the lives of others.

Church, you support me. You push me to study my bible and really find out who Jesus is. Thank you for encouraging me to not only believe, but to have a “why” behind my belief. Thank you for pushing me to make the hard choices even when it meant hard times. You have pushed me to be more like Jesus than I would ever have pushed myself.

Thank you church for helping me express the worship in my heart. Every time I come through your doors we worship Jesus together. It is such a blessing. Sometimes my life gets busy and I forget to worship Jesus, but there you are, doors open wide and songs proclaiming Loudly, “I love you Jesus. I rejoice to have you as my Lord, and my Light.”

Church, I know sometimes we disagree on things. I know I struggle sometimes with the sermon that our pastor preaches. I know sometimes I don’t agree with every word that comes out of His mouth, but Church, you never let my disagreements keep me from coming. You encourage me to understand where our differences are, what differences matter, ad what differences are trivial.

Church, thank you for consistently reminding me to think beyond myself. I thank you for taking the time to remind me of the needs of my city, region, state, nation, thank you for caring about the world as a whole. Thank you for calling me to look into the darkness and see the light shining. Thank you for challenging me to engage the world as that light that I might bring vision of Jesus to the world. Church, this is what you do.

Church, we are a community. Sometimes we differ on what that should look like, but in the end, I need you. You need me too. We have a tough relationship, but I tire of how often people are quick to dismiss you. To throw stones and tell you all the things you need to change just to matter again.

CHURCH! I STILL LOVE YOU.

Original Sin…

One of the things I think get often overlooked in the Christian faith is the concept of Original Sin. I think this is mostly because we went to Sunday school and read the story as a kid. We know Eve ate the Apple, gave Adam some, He ate, BOOM! Sin! Because this is such a simple story we learned as children we often neglect to really dig into it. So let me take a moment here to retell you the story. I am paraphrasing with some artistic license, but I am not deviating from the plot of the story.

In the beginning, God makes everything. This includes; Heaven, Earth, Oceans, Mountain, Fjords, Stars, Trees, People, and even Ducks. Everything that was made, He made, and nothing has been made that God, Himself didn’t make. But let’s focus on the People. First He made Adam, and then a partner for Adam, Eve. He planted the two of them in the midst of a garden. Eden, it was perfection. They had everything they could every need, food, water, and direct access to the Creator of the Universe, God! There in the center of the garden were two trees. One was the tree of life, the other the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.

There was only one rule in this paradise. Do not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You see, if they ate that fruit, they would receive the knowledge of Good and evil… At this point in our story Adam and Eve have knowledge, but all the knowledge they have comes from God teaching them directly. They walked with Him, and talked to Him regularly.This was a beautiful knowledge!

Now we reach the heart of the discussion. You see, God shared with them everything they needed to know, but He left them the tree so that they had a choice. This tree represented a clear decision. Was God enough, or was He hiding something that I desperately needed to know.

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they were making a clear choice that God was not enough. This choice represented their need for knowledge outside of God. This is the primal sin that drives almost all others, and this is why we call it original sin. You see, every Sin we make is our own defiant statement that “God is not enough.” Which, while being a preposterous claim, is made by everyone, everyday.

The heart of Sin, the basis of original sin is the idea that God is hiding something and we need to know it. The basis of original sin is that we need knowledge outside of relationship with God.

It’s January and I have been hanging out in the book of Genesis, but this is something that really stood out to me fresh in my current reading. I don’t know what this year holds for you, or for me. However, I am making a conscious choice this year that I am going to ask God to teach me more. I want to experience knowledge coming from Him, just like it was in the garden. I believe that It is still His desire to teach us, and that is one of the reasons He put His Holy Spirit within us.

I encourage you in 2015 to begin to Let Holy Spirit truly be your teacher. Let Him challenge your knowledge, your suppositions, your everything and allow Him to show you The Truth.

Worship of 2014

So in 2014, I didn’t post much here. It has been a landmark busy year. I had the privilege of serving Eagle Rock Church as primary worship leader for another year. It has been a good ear with great people. I had the honor of leading worship at many conferences. I traveled all over the country. I got to serve alongside many great kingdom leaders like Kevin Basconi, James Maloney, Patricia King, Julie Meyer, Joshua Mills, David Herzog, James Durham, Michael Danforth, and more. I continued my on going work in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico, and set things in motion to do more missions work in 2015. All things considered it was a blessed year of serving the king.

2014 was a great year of worship as well. My friend Wisdom Moon shared a post called “Top 10 Worship Albums of 2014” over at AllAboutWorship.com. I linked it for your consideration. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some other ones I really enjoyed this year. The ones I highlight were not commercial successes at least in the sense of sales, but each one really impressed me with its quality. As is the case with Wisdom’s article. I will put these in alphabetical order.

Cageles Birds – Live at Home

Those of you who have followed my blog in the past will know I have a lot of lover for Jon & Melissa Helser. They recently signed on with Bethel Music to help produce and distribute their music. Coinciding with this Bethel re-released “On The Shores” which is possibly my all time favourite worship album.
However, at the begining of 2014. The Helsers got together with the band and their staff at this ministry base in North Carolina and collaborated on a group of songs. Then they gathered in Jon & Melissa’s living room and recorded these songs live from home. It yielded great songs including one of my favourites of 2014 “Mt. Zion
Housefires – Housefires I 
Wisdom mentioned Housefires II on his article, but thier first album came out in the begining of 2014 and was recorded in a home group setting mu like “Live at the Banks House” by United Pursuit. This album has some of the same songs from Housefires II but is much more stripped down and intimate in its tone.
Jake Hamilton & The Sound – Beautiful Rider
Jake has alwyas been enjoyable, but often his raspy voice and almost screaming vocals in worship have put some people off. In this album he still gets a bit of that but writes a few more mellow worship albums. The Title track “Beautiful Rider” is one of my favourites of 2014 and is my phone Alarm. It wakes me up every day reminding me that God is Beautiful and He is coming back for me.
Jaye Thomas – Here is My Worship 
Jaye is a friend and I had the honor of worshiping with him at my thursday night bible study recently. That was an intimate stripped down night where Jaye led from a grand piano in a living room filled with college students. However this album recorded live at Onething 2013 in Kansas City is a full scale recording with Jaye and His Gospel choir known as the Cry.
This album features several new renditions of familiar songs as well as some great new songs. Its blend of Gospel and modern worship makes for a unique experience that is well worth your time.
John Mark McMillan – Borderland
This album is not corporate but it contained one of the best corporate songs of the year “Future/Past” This album is great and explores new territory for John Mark and the gang. It is well worth a listen because it is just a musical marvel.
Jordan Marcotte – Leaning
Jordan is another firend and I have played and sang with and alongside him for several years. This album is R&B and Slow jams, but all worship and centered on the heart of God. It is such a style diverge from the vast majority of worship that it needs to be on everyone’s ipod.
Josh Baldwin – Rivers
Josh is a great worship leader in the Carolinas. This album is just full of corporate worship songs that really need to be sung more. I can listen to it end to end and then restart and not be bored. That is a joyously rare quality. It was one of my best finds of 2014.
Liz Vice – There’s A Light
Liz is one of the worhsip leaders at Door of Hope in Portland, Or. She is part of the Band “The Followers” with Josh White (another artist you need to know) This album has a soul/R&B feel that reaches back into the 60’s and 70’s but doesn’t feel lost or dated. I can’t recommend this enough. We need more like this.
Mark & Sarah Tillman – In My Bones
Mark and Sarah are another great couple from the Carolinas. This is their debut album but is so worth it. It has a unique indie feel that is accentuated by their natural flow as husband and wife. The closing track “Sing My Spirit” has brought me to tears more than once and helped me move through tough times in my life. Check this album out.
These are only 9 albums, and there are many great ones I left out. But these are ones I really felt compelled to highlight. Please take time to listen to them. buy the albums support these artists, help them make more beautiful worship.

Christmas Lights…

So Yesterday I started a series about Christmas. My post made the point that Christmas was always about family. I reminisced about my childhood and the Christmases we shared as a family. But another thing I always loved about Christmas was the lights. I mean some of them were just beautiful, and other were mindblowingly cool, and still more were ugly and chaotic. But I loved to go look at the lights.

You see, Christmas is about the Light. There was a star in the sky and it was a map guiding people to a king that was born a baby. That King was Himself a light. In John Chapter 1, he writes of Jesus and says, “In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Jesus is the light of the world. He is the light of ALL MANKIND, and darkness has never defeated him. In the same time of the year, Jewish brothers and sisters all over the world celebrate Hanukkah which is the festival of Light. Becuase light is important. It was the first thing that God created in Genesis 1, it was continually tended in the temple, and it was Jesus himself. The Light of all mankind.

We often talk about the light, but do we really let it sink in and illuminate our souls? John continues to discuss the light, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Jesus Christ came into the world that we would all have and share in His light. In Genesis 1:1 we saw light go into the darkness and illuminate everything. In John 1 we see the True light come into our darkness and illuminate us. God shine that light on us afresh and remove all the darkness that hides in us.

Christmas was about Light coming into the world. 

Christmas Was Always About Family

I Remember

This Thursday is Christmas it is the time of year where we remember that Christ came to earth. So For the next few days I want to share Christmas thoughts.

As a child, I don’t remember the presents I got. I can name a few, A Shaq Poster, A Welding Toy, A Power Rangers Zord set… but as a Child I got dozens of presents over the years. So remembering three is not a big feat.

However, what I do remember is Family. I remember going to Pennsylvania. I remember unfinished business in the basement with my cousins and the Benner boys. I remember Prime Rib and Turkey and all the trimmings. I remember lounging on the couch as the family shared the news of what has been happening. I remember trays of meats, cheeses, and crackers. I remember family.

The Family

Family has always been the cornerstone Christmas tradition for me. I remember the gospel of John and how he opened it. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…” John 1:14

This is an example of Family and Christmas. Christ became flesh and lived with us; with a family. Christ didn’t come as a conqueror. He didn’t come as a King. He didn’t come as some sort of super hero. He came as a baby boy. He wasn’t born into the royal family living in the palace (even though he was descended from the Kings) He was born to a poor carpenter and His wife who didn’t even have a place to stay when he was born and had to settle for a stable and a manger.

Christ experienced life in the context of a family. He joined our family so that He could adopt us into his family. His plan was always to bring restoration and reconciliation and bring us into His family and present us to His father.

Christmas was always about family. I encourage you today to think about your family. No, not only those who are your blood, but those who are His blood. Remember those who are our brothers and sisters around the world who feel cut off, who feel alone, who are being persecuted, and hated. Remember your family

 Christmas was always about family.

Wrestling With Truth (Safe inside our Refuge)

Last Night I was having a Bible Study with some brothers from KU. In the midst of it, The plan was to read and discuss a passage of scripture and then to watch a sermon video. The two halves seemed almost disjointed, yet a singular message began to form. So I want to take a minute to share about some truth that would truly benefit us to understand.

First we read from Psalm 34, and our discussion really focused on the final verse. So let me share it from the NKJV which was the one we first read. Psalm 34:22,

“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.”

Here we see the psalmist, David telling us that there is no condemnation for those who trust the Lord. Which is paralleled in the new testament by Paul’s letter to the Romans. In Chapter 8 verse 1 he says,

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

This verse speaks similarly about a lack of condemnation. This time, it isn’t associated with “Trust” but with abiding. “Those who are in Christ…” However, what you may not recognize from the language here is that Trusting and abiding are identical. Let’s go back to Psalm 34:22, but this time let’s read through the ESV.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”

These two versions have minor language differences. But the one we want to focus on is where the ESV says “…none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” The NKJV says trust, but the ESV says take refuge. So this tells us that Biblically trusting in God is the same as taking refuge in Him or Abiding in Him. 

So when we realize that Trusting God means abiding in Him. It becomes easy. This is why we are called in Hebrews to Rest in the Lord. When we are free to rest and abide in Him we are free from condemnation. Why? Because when we abide in Him we are separated from the things the world sees and says about us.

This leads to the next portion of study where we were watching a sermon video. Every so often we would pause the video and discuss the thing the preacher was saying. Something he said stuck the group.

“What is currently ‘True’ about you is not always the ‘Truth’ about you.” – Blaine Cook

This is a common thought in the kingdom and has been worded in many different ways by different preachers, but it is a vital truth. What He means by this is that there are facts about your life. For instance, you might be sick, you might be in jail, you might be depressed, you might be any number of things. However, while these are ‘facts’ and they are ‘true’ they do not represent the truth about you.

Jesus Christ said “I am the way, the truth, and the Life…” Jesus is the Truth, and anything He says about you matters more than what you see right now. You might have struggles, but if God has spoken, you need to trust, abide, rest, and take refuge in His word and what He says so that you can overcome and be free of the struggles, sins, weights, and such that hold you back from walking in the fullness of the destiny Christ has before you. Paul told Timothy similar when he wrote his first letter. 1st Timothy 1:18-19

 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”

This is a weapon of our warfare. What has Christ said about you, over you, and for you? These are the things you need to remember every time the world and the devil tries to pull you down like gravity sinking you into the pit. Hold fast to the word of God. Wrestle with the prophetic word. Rest in Christ and what He has said. This is how you overcome, you take refuge in Him and let Him wash you with His words over you.

Be blessed my friends…