Four Ways to Avoid Money Worship

I recently had the privilege to preach at my church on the topic of Proverbs and money. Here is an excerpt that I found helpful for my own soul and I hope it does yours.

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Money worship is a constant threat to all believers. Money daily promises to give us the safety, security, and satisfaction that only Christ can. It never ceases it seductive work and is always calling us into its arms. But, King Jesus makes it clear to all his people, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24) and Proverbs 11:28 warns us about what money worship will ultimately bring: ““Whoever trusts in his riches will fall…”

So, how can we keep ourselves from drifting into money’s embrace?

Four Truths to Keep You From Money Worship

Let me offer four counsels that, if tattooed on your mind and heart, Lord willing, will protect you from the worship of money.

1) Remember Your God

Jesus said it clearly, “You cannot serve God and money “ (Matthew 6:24). Since everyday you will drift toward idolatry, you must intentionally remind yourself each day that Jesus is God and no one else is. Everyday we must ask ourselves, “Who will I worship today? What or who is my Supreme Treasure today?” We must consciously reject giving money your heart, mind, soul, or strength or she will take it. Daily, we we must consciously give those to King Jesus.

2) Remember Your Responsibility

Psalm 24:1 cuts straight to the matter, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” God owns all that is in the world and all who is in the world. He owns you and he owns your money. Some may say, “That doesn’t say money!” Well, Listen to Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” So, the world is his, you are his, and your money is his. All his.

What does this mean? Simply: all of your money is not your money, it’s God’s. It will do you a world of good to start referring to the money in your wallet, your bank, and your retirement as “God’s money.” You are a manager, not an owner. You’ve been given the company card for company purposes. It is not your prerogative to spend it how you want, but how he commands. Remembering your identity as a steward and your responsibility to use God’s money according to God’s Word will help you experience money as a blessing and not a curse.

3) Remember Your Gospel

Notice, when Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be generous in giving, he doesn’t give them a scolding, he doesn’t give them threats, he doesn’t give them a guilt trip or sob stories of people’s need. What does he do? He shows them Jesus.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).

Jesus became poor with our sin and death so we can become rich with his grace!

This is an important point for Christians who don’t give or give little. Some of you may giving because of some sterile sense of duty rather than delight. The little you do give is because you feel you have to rather than we want to. Can I suggest to you that, if your giving is non-existent or cold or begrudging, you may have lost sight of the cross? The cross breeds thankful, gospel-fueled generosity.

Remembering the gospel is important for Christians who give to ease their guilt. Some of your giving is fueled by guilt rather than grace. You may feel guilty about not being generous enough and you may be tempted to just start giving more to feel less guilty. If that’s you: do not give. Giving should never be done begrudgingly to get rid of guilt. Giving should be done cheerfully because our guilt has been gotten rid of! Fuel your giving by grace, not guilt. If guilt motivates your giving then sprint to the cross and stare at Jesus until your eyes bleed and your heart opens. Pound the cross into the deepest place of your heart until the joy of his free grace begins to pump through your veins.

Do you want to be free of money’s curse? Then tattoo the cross on your eyeballs. See God’s free generosity in forgiving your sins through the cross. It is hard to be tightfisted when you live at the foot of the cross.

4) Remember Your Eternity

Jesus instructs us:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to not store our treasures. No, he tells us to store our treasures in places where they won’t be stolen or lost. We’re shown that the safest place to invest our money isn’t in a conservative mutual fund or a well-diversified retirement account; it’s in the bank of Heaven. You know what your 401K looks like on earth, but what does your account look like in Heaven? What have you invested in eternal stock? You may be rich here, but will you be rich there? Where are you investing?

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What Your Idols Will Do to You

A little while ago, I read this cute little story in The Gaurdian:

Baby pigs and two sows were freed by firefighters from Pewsey in Wiltshire when a barn went up in flames in February.

Isn’t that adorable? Big, brave, and strong men saved a bunch of little piglets from certain, terrible death. What a beautiful story of salvation.

But, the story didn’t end there. The firefighters were generously reward for their bravery.

The farmer, Rachel Rivers, promised she would present the firefighters with organic sausages when the animals were slaughtered for their meat. Six months later she did just that and the firefighters cooked the bangers on a barbecue.

Devoured by the very ones who saved them.

Though it’s no longer a quaint story about cute piglets, it still serves as a sobering story of what our idols – the things we look to for security, satisfaction, and salvation – will eventually do to us after we’ve experienced their “rescue.”

As God once said, “They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods” (Isaiah 42:17).

Friend, God commands us to have no other gods before Him, because all the other gods you’ll turn to will eventually eat you whole. Only He will give you true salvation and everlasting life. Trust not in the gods who promise life yet only devour you in the end. Trust the only God who has given His life for your sake so your life will have no end (John 10:10-11).

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A View of Christian Education

I gave this speech at an 8th grade graduation of students at the Independent Learning Academy in Orange County.

First of all, I want to thank the Independent Learning Academy leadership, parents, and students for the privilege and honor of offering a few words at such an important occasion as this.

My Hike

Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a youth pastor. In my work as a youth pastor I had a practice of taking my senior boys to hike the Trans-Catalina trail (about 25 miles) over a weekend. The first time I did this was a disaster. Being new to the task, I didn’t prepare the group well. We didn’t bring enough food. Everyone was ill prepared for morning cold. I underestimated the rigor of the trail and very much overestimated the strength of our group. What was supposed to be a slightly challenging camping experience began to feel like an episode of survivor man.

Now, though extremely difficult, the trip is remembered fondly by all who went because, in spite of my efforts, we made it to the end; we finished the hike. What was the secret? Well, first, it was the pure grace of God. Second, there was the very nice Ranger named Rick who brought hamburger meat to our remote campsite after we bribed him with money and our eternal allegiance. But beside that, there were two crucial things that helped our overwhelmed group complete the journey: throughout our hike we made a point to look back to see how far we’ve come and look forward to remind ourselves of where we’ll be.

Your Hike

My friends, you are on a hike of sorts. At this point you’ve traveled through 8 years of schooling and you have about 8 more years if you go to college. You have a nice summer to rest yourself in, but the hike will continue on come Fall. But at this milestone day, I would like to serve you by being your own Ranger Rick for a moment. I haven’t been with you for the past 8 years and I will not walk with you for the next 8, but I’m glad to drop in today, congratulate you, and give you a bit of wisdom for the rest of your journey. This speech is my metaphorical hamburger meat and you don’t even have to pay me your eternal allegiance.

But, to help you continue on your educational journey, I would like to offer you the two practices that helped us finish our hike. Let’s take some time to (1) look back at where you’ve been and (2) to look forward together to where you’re going.

Looking Back

As you look back, I want to encourage you to think about all you’ve had to do to get here. Education is not easy. The job of a student is not for the faint of heart. With all the friends and family and excitement that now surround us, it could be easy to forget that truth. To help you cherish the celebration today, let me remind you of all the hard work you’ve done.

In order to sit in these chairs and enjoy this ceremony:

  • You’ve had to solve countless math problems and show all your work in the process.
  • For social sciences, you’ve had to memorize many dates, generals, countries, presidents, battles, wars, and key events.
  • You’ve created science projects, completed science experiments and, congrats to you, you didn’t blow anything or anyone up (at least nothing big enough for me to have heard about).
  • You’ve written numerous rough drafts, middle drafts, almost done drafts, and this-still-needs-lots-of-work-but-its-due-tomorrow drafts.
  • For countless hours you studied by yourself or with friends or with parents at your side.
  • You’ve read many books (many of which didn’t even have the courtesy of having pictures).

Since your work has been stretched over the period of a few years, you may sit here not even thinking about all the work you’ve done. But, let me remind you, you have done a lot and, since you are here today, you did it well.

And as you did all this hard work, may I ask a question? Was there not good weaved all throughout it? Though school is a labor, it is also a gift; not just a responsibility, but a privilege. It may have been the support of a classmate, the praise of a teacher, the pride of your parents, or just the feeling of having done something well or have learned something worthwhile. School is pregnant with good things to be thankful for. In God’s grace the medicine of school is given with lots of sugar. School has been hard, but I trust you also see its been good. At times it’s a burden to bear, but overall it’s a blessing to enjoy.

So, before I say anything else, I want to offer my congratulations to the graduating class among us here today. With the wisdom of your teachers, the love of your parents, and the camaraderie of your classmates, look at how far you’ve come.

Now that we’ve looked back to see how far you’ve come, let’s look ahead.

Looking Ahead

After this summer, you will be official high school students. As you think about that uncharted territory, let me offer you two preparatory words: it will be hard and it will be good.

First, it will be hard. There will be more and longer papers to write, more and harder math equations to solve, more history lessons to wrestle with, more tests to study for, and many more picture-less books to read. But, please, don’t be afraid because you’re ready for it. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here today. Today is a day where your teachers and parents are not only celebrating you, but they’re also telling you something: you are ready.

But, my friends, it will be hard, but it also will be good. You’ll have new subjects to explore, old friends to enjoy, new friends to make, accomplishments to take pride in, and a whole host of experiences to treasure in your memory forever. Even more, after high school many of you will enjoy college, meaningful careers, and the many pleasures of adult life. There’s a lot of good lying ahead of you.

But, as a Christian, I want to give you one serious challenge: don’t make your schooling all about college, careers, applause, or future comfort. I pray you seek more than that. Those are all good things, but they are not the greatest thing. College, careers, money, applause, and comfort are amazing gifts, but they are not God.

In our final moments together, let me exhort you to do the hard work of your future schooling not for grades, applause, college, and careers, but to do it for the serious business of knowing the One who gives it and finding unstealable joy in Him.

Education is About Joy

The famous philosopher Plato is known for saying, “The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” I agree and I would like to add this simple observation: when someone loves what is beautiful their heart experiences joy. Therefore, I encourage you to see the point of your future schooling not end only in grades, colleges, or careers, but to see the ultimate point of all your hard work is unshakeable joy from learning to love beautiful things.

But how does education bring about joy? Let me offer three short ways.

  1. To Experience Joy From Wonder

Education done rightly does not cause us think we have all the answers. In fact, it proves to us we don’t and never will. Genuine education does not produce boredom, but wonder. Christian education should not produce Pharisees who stand in pride before all their glorious knowledge. Instead, Christian education should produce men and women who sit with childlike humility before all God’s glorious wisdom. The former leads to boredom and stagnation, the latter to wonder and life.

  1. To Experience Joy From Loving Others

One of the blessings of education is that it equips you to love others well. Now, no matter one’s education, they ‘re able to love others. Loving others is primarily a choice of the heart before it’s a skill of the mind. But, that said, when your mind is matured from good schooling, you’re able to love others with so many more tools. Imagine two carpenters who both want to build a home for someone they love, but one has more tools, materials, and skill that he brings to the job. They both share the same heart of love, but the better-equipped carpenter will be able to build a home that better reflects the love he has in heart. Both are able to love, but one has more tools to express it. In the same way, if you labor in your studies to be matured in mind and knowledge and wisdom, you will be all the more equipped to love your family, friends, and neighbors in truth and grace. Done rightly, your education will make you a lover with all sorts of tools to bless those God puts in your life. And loving others well will bring you joy.

  1. To Experience Joy From Loving God

Now, though this is our last point, it is not last in importance. It’s the primary reason for education. Without this point, there is no lasting reason to care about education. What the sun is to our solar system, this point is to education. Everything in education must revolve around this one purpose: education exists so we’d love God and know His joy.

Now, you may be asking, “How does math help me love God?” or “In what ways does science help me love God?” The answer is simple and can be found in one verse of the Bible; in fact, the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” How does this answer our question? The logic goes like this: since God is the creator of all creation, then as we study creation we are actually learning more about its Creator.

What this means is…

  • Math points the undeniable logic and coherency of Christ.
  • Science points to the creativity, diversity, and ingenuity of Christ.
  • Social Science & History points to faithfulness of Christ to His people and the wisdom of His Word.
  • Art points us to the unexplainable beauty and depth of Christ.
  • Literature exposes the deep yearning of humanity for what is true, good, and beautiful and sends people to seek out what can only be found in Christ.

One famous theologian said it this way, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Therefore, every single class in this school is dedicated to showing you how the truth, beauty, and goodness of God’s creation points to the infinitely great truth, beauty, and goodness of its Creator. Our classes all point beyond our specific subjects to point to the One from Whom they came and for Whom they exist. Your education exists to not only show you the fruit of creation, but to lead you back to the Root of its Creator.

Hopefully now it’s clearer to see. The student who pursues education to live in wonder of God and to better love God and His people is the student who will know joy. And the type of joy they know can’t be stolen or lost or broken. It is a joy that only strengthens and grows as their love for God and others grows.

In All You Do, Seek Greater Things

Every week I drive to Biola University to teach my class and every time I drive back home I have the mystical experience of smelling the In & Out Burger right off Avery Parkway. It’s a worshipful experience and sometimes dangerous as it almost lulls me into trance-like state that greatly impairs my driving. Any self-respecting Californian knows exactly what I’m talking about.

But imagine you walked to an In & Out Burger and you saw me at the door, seeming to wait eagerly. Then, as someone comes outside the restaurant, I take in an enormous sniff and enjoy it deeply. Then, the door shuts and I wait for it to open again. None of you would fault me for enjoying the smell and you’d agree there are few things more fragrant. But, you’d think I’m crazy for this one simple truth: the burger is better than the smell. The smell is only good because of its source. If I enjoy the smell, then I should go inside and get a burger to complete my joy. And this brings me to the point I hope you never forget: don’t be the person at the door who smells, be the person who enters and feasts. Don’t be the student who seeks only grades, colleges, and careers. Be the student who follows those gifts to find joy the One who gives them. This is my charge to you: student, enjoy God’s gifts, worship God alone. Don’t choose the smell over the source,. Don’t choose the gifts over the Giver.

So, dear students, hear me clearly: today is a day of joy and celebration. Drink it deeply. But with this celebration, I want to give you this joyful charge. As you continue forward in your education, do it so you can grow to experience God’s eternal joy.

  • When next year begins, listen hard in your classes so wonder and curiosity of God’s world would expand you like a balloon.
  • Lean into your homework and studies so you’ll gain more tools to love those around you and serve them with truth.
  • And, above all, be a serious student at school so you will increasingly become a serious worshiper of Jesus Christ in all of life.

As the Apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, in word or deed (or inside class or outside class), do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Do it all in His Name so in it all you’d experience His joy.

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The Book of Converbs: Anti-Wisdom to Be a Foolish & Terrible Person

If you would like to ensure your life is a curse to all people around you, then diligently study and obey this chapter of Converbs. To help you understand and apply these precious truths, I have supplied you with studied commentary.

So, my child, if you want to be a nuisance to those around you; if you hope to a reason for the grieve and sorrow of your family and friends; if you hope to live a fruitless and foolish life, give me your ear and give me your heart. Bind these sayings around you neck and never forsake them and you will become like a mighty skunk living by streams of the sewer, whose scent does not fade, but is poignant in season and out.

“Don’t Seek the Counsel of Other People.” Converbs 1:1

Caring about or looking for the counsel of others implies that you don’t have all the answer or that you could possibly make stupid or harmful decisions. Since you know that’s definitely not true, don’t act like it. Trust your own understanding and not the understanding of others. Lots of counselors only brings confusion and inconvenience so just do the right thing and trust your own feelings and thoughts (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).

“Listen Only to Those Who Affirm You.” Converbs 1:1

The only important voices to listen to and celebrate are those that affirm what you already believe. Anyone who doesn’t affirm your ideas or your choices obviously is not your friend and only wants to hurt you. Surround yourself with people who never challenge you, confront you, or disagree with you. Only your enemies will criticize you.

“All Things in Moderation! Especially the Church.” Converbs 1:3

Always remember that, though Jesus died to save the church (Acts 20:24), loves the Church as His Bride (Eph. 5:25), cares for the Church as His body (1 Cor. 12:27), and has adopted you into the Church (Gal. 4:6-7), it isn’t really that important or necessary. If you want, go to church when you feel like and maybe even give a little money here and then. But, don’t get close enough to allow people to start affecting your life (Hebrews 10:24). Give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). At best, be semi-churched. Try hopping around from church to church. Distrust the pastors and keep your distance from them; after all you don’t have obligations toward them and they’re not responsible for you (Hebrews 13:17). In fact, don’t see the church as a family that you are responsible for and accountable to. It is much better to view the church as a spiritual grocery store that you can visit every now and then, smile at the workers and fellow shoppers, gather up the things you want, and then leave with no thought or concern. Otherwise, they start messing with your life and, since you have it all together, you definitely don’t need that.

“Follow Your Feelings.” Converbs 1:4

Your feelings are not only strong, they are always right. So follow them and never distrust them. In fact, you should distrust anything or anyone that goes against what you feel; especially those pesky things called facts or friends. You should be filled with righteous anger against anyone who challenges or contradicts what you feel. As you know, your feelings have never once led you or anyone else astray, so why stop listening to them now? I feel silly even saying this because it is such a time-tested truth, but follow your heart (Disneyland 3:16)!

“Always Be Critical & Never Be Constructive.” Converbs 1:5

Unlike you, everyone else is mostly wrong, but doesn’t know it. So, you need to make sure that you are quick and consistent to point out the flaws of people or institutions around you. Don’t bother yourself to actually do something to help because that’s their responsibility (Eph. 4:29). You just make sure you are doing your part to help out those around you by pointing out everything that is wrong with them and the world. So many people are not brave enough to do so, so that job is left to you.

“Disrespect and Demonize People Who Disagree With You.” Converbs 1:6

When someone disagrees with you they’re basically dehumanizing you and trying to take away all your God-given rights. To say it short, disagreement is always and only a method of destruction. Anyone who disagrees with you or your ideas is essentially trying to murder you. So, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you defend your right to life by disrespecting and demonizing anyone who disagrees with you. It is crucial that everyone else understands that to believe what they believe automatically shows they’re not worthy of respect and that they probably are actual demons – fallen angels doing Satan’s work. Never be civil with them. Go only for their throat.

“Never Apologize for Something When Your Intentions Were Right.” Converbs 1:7

Sometimes, because people are stupid, they get offended by things you do or say. And sometimes, people are so mean, instead of bottling up their feelings, they actually try to hurt you by telling you how you hurt them. When this happens, be humble and say you are sorry they feel the way they do, but they actually should not be hurt because your intentions were right. After all, it doesn’t matter that your actions hurt them if you didn’t mean to. How could anyone expect you to apologize for what you’ve done when that’s not want you intended? You cannot be held responsible for your actions! Ridiculous. So, explain to them that though your actions hurt them, it’s not your fault because your heart was right. That will help them understand their hurt feelings are they’re fault and not yours. This is hard work, but it will help the other person know that you’re not the problem, but they are.

“Attack People Who Challenge or Confront You With Your Sin or Folly.” Converbs 1:8

Here, the Converbist repeats the theme raised in Converbs 1:6, but extends it beyond people who disagree with our ideas to those who actually confront us about our actions. Obviously, these people are not your friends because friends would never raise an issue that could hurt your feelings. Friends would never say you do anything wrong. Friends are those who affirm you and celebrate all you. They should always and only make you feel good. So, when someone says you have done something foolish or sinful, they’re not your friend, but your enemy. Don’t listen to them, but defend yourself and attack them. Like we all know, your friends will only have kisses for you, but your enemies will wound you faithfully (Proverbs 27:6).

“Remember, You Are Always Right.” Converbs 1:9

Trust in the Lord with all your and lean hard on your own understanding too (Proverb 3:5-6). You know you’ve never made a mistake or done anything wrong in your life. You know, better than anyone, that you’ve never been genuinely wrong about anything in your past so why should you distrust yourself in the present? So, never doubt yourself or your ideas or your choices. Do not trust the Holy Spirit working through other people, only the Holy Spirit working in you! When contradicted, reject your pastor’s counsel, your friends words, and your families pleas because you are always right and could not possibly be wrong! Again, as we all know, “Believe in yourself” (1 Oprah 14:6).

“In the Church, Die on the Hill of Your Preferences.” Converbs 1:10

The Church is a place where we must make sure all our preferences are met exactly how we want them to be. If they’re not, it is our duty to either raise hell about it until meet our preferences or leave. When the style of music they have isn’t to your taste; if the service time doesn’t allow you to enjoy your weekend in the way you want to; if the pastor isn’t as funny or engaging or emotional as you want him to be, then demand changes are made or leave! Make sure not to care too much about the little things like whether or not the Bible is faithfully taught or the gospel faithfully preached or whether or not holiness is pursued or the mission of making disciples obeyed. Making sure your individual preferences are met is far more important than those other silly and unimportant matters. Keep the main thing (your preferences) the main thing at your church.

“Be Vigilant About Other People’s Sins & Diligent to Proclaim Them.” Converbs 1:11

People around you need you to point out their errors and the errors of all the churches and institutions around you. Write long blog posts about how others are failing. Post often about why people are fools and why you, in particular, have the solution and answer for their and everyone else’s folly. Fill the Inter-Webs with your lofty and discerning wisdom; especially when people haven’t asked for it because they obviously need it the most. From time to time, you may be tempted to look at your own sins and confess them, but be strong and reject that urge. After all, if you stop pointing out and proclaiming the sins of those around you, who else will? So, serve others well by ensuring you ignore your own sins to pay attention to theirs.

“Never Forgive People Who’ve Hurt You.” Converbs 1:12

When someone hurts you or sins against, make them pay. Ensure they know and deeply feel their error by ignoring them, shunning them, speaking about them behind their backs, or just by attacking them head on. Hold onto all your grudges because they’ll energize you to keep moving on in healthy directions. Plant bitterness deep in your heart so you bear fruits of love and joy (Eph. 4:30). After all, it’s God’s job to forgive, not ours (Eph. 4:31). How could God possibly tell us to forgive those who’ve sinned against us? He doesn’t know what it’s like to be sinned against greatly or, even more, how impossible it is to forgive people who’ve wronged you (Eph. 2:1-10; 4:31; Romans 3:21-26; 5:8-9; Titus 3:3-8). So, make sure you’re thankful that God forgave all your small sins against Him, but don’t think you should then be forced to forgive all the other people’s enormous sins against you (Matthew 18:21-35). Also, be thankful God never tells us to forgive others.

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He Was Just a Sheep: A Tribute to Grandpa Dill

Glenn Victor Dill | September 28, 1933 to August 29, 2019

If interested, my grandfather, whom this is about, wrote a short memoir of his life and God’s grace to him. You can access that here.

When George Washington died, the country mourned. Countless articles, stories, and eulogies were written in his honor. Many of them embellished Washington’s life and achievements so much he seemed less a man and more a god.

Seeing these embellishments, Abigal Adams, wife of second president John Adams, grew frustrated. Not because she disliked or disrespected Washington, but the contrary. She thought the fanciful stories that divinized Washington took away the true honor that he deserved. In that vein, she wrote these words, “Simple truth is his best, his greatest eulogy. She alone can render his fame immortal.” For her, honoring Washington was to tell the simple truth about him.

He Was An Extraordinary Man

Whether you knew my grandfather closely for 63 years, like my grandma, or only for the last few months of his life, I am confident you’d agree with me in saying, the same is true for him. The greatest way to honor Glenn Dill is to tell the simple truth about him. For he was an extraordinary man.

Glenn Dill Was a Humble Man

If you read Glenn’s short biography written on the back of your programs, you’ll quickly see he had many accomplishments to be proud of. Yet, though we all marvel at his accomplishments, he never seemed notice them at all. He was quick to genuinely praise his friends and family, but he never praised himself.

Glenn Dill Was Satisfied Man

Though he was successful in the military world, the business world, and the academic world, I have never heard anyone accuse my grandpa of being a ‘workaholic’ or being unable to stop and rest. Though he lived in affluent Southern California, he never cared to keep up with the Joneses – he just prayed for them. He knew what hard work was, but he also knew how to sit still and be at peace. Glenn Dill was the rarest of creatures: a truly content and satisfied man.

Glenn Dill Was Whole Man

As far back as I can remember, I have always known my grandfather to be a man of wholeness. There was nothing hollow in him. Lots of people seem like they’ve got everything together, but when they get knocked on, you hear the hollowness. But, grandpa, he was whole all the way down to his bones.

Glenn Dill Was a Man That Made Others Flourish

I wonder if you remember the old story of King Midas. Whatever he touched turned to gold. That’s a lot like my grandfather, yet those he touched weren’t made into gold. Instead, his touch made other people flourish. His wholeness brought wholeness to those around him. Glenn Dill made people – his wife, his family, his church, his coworkers, his students – flourish.

But, I would like to ask this question, and I would like you all to ask this question: “Why?” What was it that made Glenn the man he was?

Glenn Followed An Extraordinary Shepherd

The answer to this question is simple. Glenn was not the man he was because he was exceptionally gifted or smart or moral. No, Glenn was not the man he was because of who he was, but because of Whose he was. My grandfather was an extraordinary man because, since college, he faithfully followed an extraordinary God: Jesus Christ.

To use the language of Psalm 23, one of grandpa’s favorite Scriptures and our text this afternoon: Glenn was an amazing sheep only because He had an amazing Shepherd. So, to understand Glenn, you must understand Jesus. Once you see what Jesus is like as a Shepherd, you’ll quickly see why Glenn was the man he was.

In Psalm 23, we’re given three truths about what kind of Shepherd Jesus is.

1) Jesus is a Personal Shepherd

In verse one we read this profound statement: “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Please notice the intimately personal language used here. It does not say “we” or “us” or “our,” but “my Shepherd.” Knowing Jesus is not a “long distance relationship.” Those who know Jesus do not know him merely as a Shepherd or the Shepherd, but my Shepherd.

Why was my grandpa’s life so incredible? Because Jesus was his shepherd. Because Jesus personally shepherded him through His Word, the Bible.

  • Why did my grandfather bless those he worked for and worked with? Because Jesus told him, Glenn, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecc. 9:10).
  • Why did my grandpa have such a rich marriage? Because Jesus told him, “Glenn, love your wife, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
  • Why did my grandpa have such astounding and rare wisdom? Because he followed Jesus who proclaimed, ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Friends, I am so glad you marvel at the love, wisdom, and life of my grandfather, but please understand this; Glenn was just a follower, a follower of Jesus. And that’s his glory! That’s also one of the reasons he was so humble! He understood that any good thing that came from him was only because his Shepherd led him. Glenn was a giant in the eyes of men, because he saw himself as a sheep in the arms of his Shepherd. He knew his good life was the result of following his Good Shepherd. How could take credit! Does a sheep boast? He joyfully proclaimed, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

2) Jesus is a Providing Shepherd

In the second part of verse one, we read about what Jesus does for those who follow Him: “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” We live in a world of want! Something more, something bigger, something better. But, when we get the bigger house or the better job or the higher paycheck, we find ourselves just as empty and dissatisfied as before. We’re thirsty and all we drink is salt water!

So these words should shock us! “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” How can the Psalmist say that? We find the answer in verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.” All his wants are provided for. When his belly grumbles, green grass! When his mouth dries up, still and pure water. The world’s shepherds have only crab grass and salt water to offer. But Jesus is a Shepherd who provides for His sheep.

The contentment that marked every decade of my grandfather’s life did not come because he stoically accepted whatever circumstance he found himself in. His satisfaction was not because he trained himself to not have high expectations or strong desires. He was satisfied because Jesus filled his hunger and quenched his thirst every day. In seasons of abundance, grandpa thanked his Shepherd for his kindness. In times of little, grandpa enjoyed Jesus Himself as his treasure and, like Mary, was content to simply be at his feet. He was content not because of what Jesus gave, but because of who Jesus was. Glenn was content because in Jesus his every need and every want was provided for.

Jesus is personal Shepherd and a Providing Shepherd. Last, let us see…

3) Jesus is a Restoring Shepherd

Read verse 3 with me: “He restores my soul.” (3a). Glenn was a whole man because he was a restored man. Jesus restored his soul. Every one of us is born with a huge crack in our soul. We’re broken and we know it. Some try to fix the crack with morality or religious activities, but the glue never holds. Others just ignore the crack and try to fill themselves with the pleasure or praise or paychecks as often as they can. But since we’re cracked, those small joys leak out of us even faster than they came. So, we continue cracked and empty. So, Jesus has to “restore our souls.” He alone has the glue to fix us and the life-giving water to fill us up.

Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “Young man, you’re overselling!” And to you, I say this: Look at the eight decades of my grandpa’s life; that is not a cracked and leaking man. That is not a drain, but a fountain! That is a man whose soul has been restored.

But what does that mean? To be restored? Is it just a frame of mind? A new subjective experience? How did Jesus restore my grandpa? Though much could be said, here are the most foundational ways Christ restored the soul of grandpa.

  • In college, Jesus showed grandpa his sin. The healthy never call a doctor. If we aren’t convinced that we’re sinful, we will never seek a Savior. In love, God made it plain to grandpa that he was sick with sin, that he was broken, and that he was not right with God. He showed grandpa he was a rebel against God.
  • Jesus then showed the remedy for my grandpa’s sin. He made the truth of 1 Peter 2:24 plain to him, “(Jesus) himself bore our sins in his body on that cross.” He pounded into his heart, “Christ died for our sins (and) he was raised on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3). When the world offered grandpa only painkillers to dull his sickness, Jesus, through the cross and resurrection, showed him the cure for his sin.
  • Jesus led my grandpa to receive his remedy through faith. Jesus led my grandpa to turn away from his sin and trust in His work on the cross to save Him. As Romans 10:9 says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
  • From that point forward, Jesus led him faithfully as his Shepherd all the way home. He gave my grandpa promises to trust, truths to hold fast to, and commands to be live by. He guided him all the way home.

In the last few weeks of grandpa’s life my grandpa was in hospice care in Coronado. I was visiting him and grandma along with Drew, the Prince’s, and the Burt’s. He was so weak he could barely speak a whisper. The final stages of heart failure we’re setting in and the end was near. As he lay in bed with all of us gathered around, he began to stir. It looked like he was trying to speak. But, after we quieted down, we realized he wasn’t speaking, but he was singing a hymn. As he started he lifted his fingers to invite us to sing with him. As his body was dying and his heart was failing, his soul was overflowing in praise to God. As he walked toward death, he led us in worship. That is a restored soul.

As we look at the Shepherd whom Glenn followed, I hope now it’s obvious that Glenn was who he was because of Whose he was. He was a great man because every day he followed The Great Shepherd. To use the words of one of his favorite songs, “No one ever cared for (him) like Jesus.”

Why Does Jesus Do This?

As we come to a close, I would like to ask one more question: Why does Jesus do this? The last part of verse 3 tells us: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Jesus Shepherded my grandpa so he and all the world would see how good He – Jesus – actually is. His care for grandpa was not ultimately about grandpa or us. He cared for grandpa so through grandpa’s life we could all see that there is no one like Jesus.

Jesus wanted grandpa to be a window and not a wall. If a wall is boring and dreary, we can paint it or put pictures or artwork on it to make it beautiful. When a wall is beautiful, everyone marvels at the wall and praises the wall it for its beauty. However, if there is a greater beauty that is just outside the wall – an ocean view, a mountain, a beautiful garden – we don’t paint it or hang pictures on it, but we install a window so the greater beauty outside could be marveled at and enjoyed. Friend, Jesus shepherded my grandfather to be a window; not so we could look at him and his life and marvel, but so we can look through his life and marvel at the God he loved and worshiped. Jesus lead Glenn Dill in the path’s of righteousness “for His Name’s sake.” He shepherded Glenn so, through Glenn, we all could see Jesus – the Greater Beauty.

If Grandpa Visited His Own Funeral

If Grandpa was here today, there are some things I’m sure he’d do. First, he’d hug and kiss my grandmother and convince her he’s better than ever. Second, he’d cry a lot. Like a lot a lot.

Once he finally finished crying, he’d go on to thank us, somewhat embarrassed, for honoring him and then quickly and joyfully plead for us to look through him to Jesus. He would tell us to look to Jesus’ person, to believe Jesus’ words, to trust Jesus’ promises, and to follow Jesus’ lead. He would tell us that Jesus has been his Good Shepherd and that He will be your Shepherd to if you give your life to Him.

Friends, an honorable man hopes you will look at his life and say, “What a great man he was!” But a Christian man hopes you will look at his life and say, “What a great God he served!” My grandpa would not want this memorial to be an exercise of wall gazing. He would tell us to look through the window of his life and see the Shepherd of His soul and follow Him as he did so you can experience the joy, the wholeness, and the restoration he knew.

What a man he was.

What a Shepherd he followed.

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Three Questions I Evaluate Sermons By

I have heard a lot of preaching. As a Youth Pastor, I trained multiple interns to teach the Bible and listened carefully to all their messages. As a Professor, I teach a course on teaching the Bible where I evaluate dozens of students’ teachings each semester. As a Christian, I listen intently every week to my pastor open and expound the Scriptures. If sermons were cake, I’d be fat.

Not only have I heard a lot of preaching, I have heard a lot about what people think about preaching. In the youth room, the classroom, the church, or out in public, many people have shared with me what they thought about certain sermons or preachers. By listening to these sermon evaluations, I’ve come to realize that many people have very different standards for sermons than I do.

To stimulate faithful thinking, I thought I’d share the most common ways people evaluate sermons and then share my own.

The Most Common Ways People Evaluate Sermons

Without giving too much comment, here are the most common ways I have heard people evaluate sermons they’ve heard.

“Was It Funny?”

Lots of folks want their preachers to be comedians. They aren’t looking for sermons to be edifying as much as they are entertaining. If it makes them laugh then it was worth the time.

“Was It Uplifting?”

Did I walk away with a positive outlook on myself or my life? Did I feel like I was given new vigor chase my dreams or fulfill my duties? Or, did the sermon make me feel negative or bad? The better I feel about my self and my life or the more Tweetable quotes I’m given, the better the sermon.

“Was It Engaging?”

In this mindset, no sermon should ever take any effort to listen to. I’ve heard many celebrate a sermon because the speaker was passionate (i.e. he yelled a lot) or attention-grabbing (i.e. he flailed around a lot) or earnest (i.e. he walked around a lot) or reletable (i.e. he told interesting stories) regardless of what he taught or how he handled the Bible.

“Was It Emotional?”

Recently, I heard a student evaluate a camp speaker by saying, “He was OK, but he didn’t make me cry.” She had nothing to say about what he taught from the Bible or even how he taught it. She just wanted to feel emotions. Since he didn’t lead her to #thefeels, #hefailed.

“Was It Short?”

People are almost personally offended when someone preaches more than 30 minutes. Apparently, many folks have much more important things to spend time on than hearing God speak (that was snark, but I make no apologies).

“Was It New?”

Just like I hate watching the same movie twice, many people can’t stand to hear a truth said more than once. They think the preacher’s responsibility is to bring some brand new idea they never heard before each time. The true is upstaged by the new.

I think it is helpful to note that, though I don’t think these are the best ways to evaluate a sermon, none of these are intrinsically evil. I appreciate a good sense of humor or even someone that knows how to say a lot with few words. However, I think there are better ways to evaluate sermons that have more to do with the nature of preaching and the responsibilities of a preacher.

Three Ways I Evaluate Sermons

There can be much more said here, but in light of what I know about preaching and the preacher’s responsibility, here are my three main questions I ask of any sermon I hear.

“Was It United?”

I ask this question for two reasons: helpfulness and faithfulness. First, scattered sermons are just plain unhelpful. Even when a preacher unpacks true, biblical ideas, if the sermon isn’t united under one controlling thesis, no one will remember it. If they don’t remember it, they won’t be changed by it. As Spurgeon once quipped, preachers must give their people a loaf of bread to carry home, not a field of wheat to leave behind.

Second, sermons that are united by one controlling idea are faithful to the Bible. God is not a scatter-brain and his Word is not scattered. Therefore, sermons that are disjointed, scattered, or littered with disconnected rabbit-trails are standing in the way of the united and coherent Word of God. They’re hurting, not helping. In order for a sermon to be faithful, it needs to highlight the one controlling idea of a passage and not obscure it.

“Was It Faithful?”

Did the pastor actually say what God said in the Bible? Often times I have witnessed pastors open a text, read a text, and preach some other idea that is decidedly not in the text. It’s like being spiritually Rick Rolled. Or, for those not saavy to internet-humor, it’s a bait & switch. We’re told that we’re going to get one thing and then given something different. Even worse than this are the preachers that only ornament their sermons with random texts, indifferent to their contexts, so they’ll fit what they want to say.

When I sit to hear a sermon, my one demand of is this: tell me what God has said. Other things are fine as long as they don’t obscure or upstage the Living Word of God. Why do I demand this? I can answer with Peter’s words to Jesus, “Who else has the words of eternal life” (John 6:68)? Jokes can make me laugh, but that can’t make me live (1 Peter 1:23). Emotional stories can cause me to have feelings, but not faith (Romans 10:9). Engaging tricks keep my attention, but they don’t change my heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Only God’s Word can do those things. Time is too precious and life is too short to have sermons filled with Man’s words rather than God’s Word.

“Was It Christian?”

Jesus taught that the entire Bible points to Him. He alone fulfills all the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the writings (Luke 24:44). All the Scriptures testify about Him (John 5:39). Therefore, any sermon is not organically connected to the person and work of Jesus as foundation or focus or finale of our faith is not a Christian sermon, let alone a good sermon.

My pastor offers a good example of this done well. Currently, our church is working through the book of Proverbs and each week is focusing on a theme that is substantially unpacked therein. In the second week, he preached on the topic of the heart. He showed how Proverbs teaches the heart is the source from which all our words, feelings, desires, and actions come from and then he showed how Proverbs continually says our hearts are broken and rebellious in nature. Then, as he helpfully worked through those points, he finally led our church to the incredible truth that we cannot change our hearts but Jesus can through the gospel. It helped all of us understand the nature of our hearts and the hope given us in Jesus. It was faithful both to the book of Proverbs and the gospel of Jesus. My church family was both instructed for earthly life and encouraged by eternal life.

This last point can be summarized fairly easily in this: if your sermon could be well-received in a synagogue, then it missed the mark. A Christ-less sermon is an unChristian sermon and therefore a bad sermon. We must grow to demand our preachers to preach Christ or go home.

There are definitely more evaluations to be considered in sermons, but I would argue that there cannot be less. In order for a sermon to be truly good it must be united in thought, faithful to the Bible, and centered on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.

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7 Schedule-Friendly Ways to Serve Your Church

Most of us are busy. Between our responsibilities at home and at work, we’re at maximum capacity. So, the idea of serving at church can easily be overwhelming and quickly dismissed with the thought, “I wish I could, but I just don’t have time.”

But, that doesn’t need to be.

There are numerous ways we can significantly serve our churches without carving out loads of extra hours each week. To help, here are 7 simple and schedule friendly ways you can serve your church family.

7 Ways to Serve Your Church

1) Show Up 15 Minutes Early

Instead of showing up to church 15 minutes late or even right on time, love your church by showing up 15 minutes early. Be available to catch up with church members. Be present to warmly greet new visitors. Honor your pastors and leaders preparation for service by being there to receive it all, from the very beginning. Instead of rushing to church in anxious haste, show up early.

2) Own the Greeting Time

As an introvert, I am predestined to see greeting time as a time of misery, but as a Christian, I am trained to see it as a time of ministry. Instead of greeting people you’re already comfortable with or hiding in the bathroom, use greeting time to prove to visitors that you’re happy they’re there.

There is a wonderful sister at our church who seeks out new comers like a heat-seeking missile. One time, I even saw her walk across the room to say hello to a young, single Marine who was at church by himself for the first time. After introducing herself and seeing he was alone, she invited him to come and sit with her and her family. After service ended, he stuck around talking with her family and others. Now, he is in the process of becoming a church member and is being discipled by other men. Don’t underestimate the ministry opportunities at greeting time. The harvest is plentiful, but the greeters few.

3) Stay 15 Minutes Late

Instead of racing to your car after the final “Amen,” stick around for a hot second to bless and be blessed. Ask Suzy how she is holding up with her sickness. Hear the latest about Billy’s last football game. See how John’s new job is going. Take a moment to follow up with the new person you met at greeting time. Make them feel wanted and welcome. It’s almost too basic to say, but show your love for your church family (1 John 4:20) by actually offering them your time. Lunch will wait.

4) Sing With Gusto

The Scriptures command us to sing with one another and to one another (Ephesians 5:19; Col. 3:16). Nick Aufenkamp helpfully applies Colossians 3:16 verse when he says, “By singing of your sin and salvation, you are instructing your church, spouse, children, friends, and neighbors in gospel truth.” When you sing, “You are good! You are good!” you encourage the heartbroken. The guilt-ridden are strengthened when they hear, “Jesus paid it all!” Children are instructed about Christian joy when they watch you happily sing, “In Christ alone my hope is found!” Your church may never hear you preach from the pulpit, but they definitely can hear you sing from the pew.

5) Give Generously

In thinking about ways to serve your church, don’t be so spiritual that you forget about the mundanely practical. Don’t just think about parking, coffee, and conversations, think also about stuff like equipment or even money. Does kids ministry need new toys? Is the hospitality ministry well supported? Is your church’s budget adequately supplied? Are your pastors compensated generously for their continual, crucial, and sacrificial work? Your church’s ability to serve its members and community will be greatly affected by the generosity of its people. God loves a cheerful giver and so do churches.

6) Ask, “Where Can I Help?”

If your church is like most, the odds are that the existing needs outweigh existing volunteers. Seeking needed places to serve and actually serving there will powerfully encourage your church’s leadership and bless your church family. Don’t wait to serve only in an area of interest or for a voice from the Lord. Serve wherever your church’s needs match your ability and you will be a blessing.

7) Open Your Home

Warmly welcoming people into your home is a powerful way to minister to their hearts. Invite people over for dinner. Host a board game night. Collect a group to enjoy a movie and snacks together. Doing something at your home with church folks provides opportunities for God to do something in their hearts. The strength of your church is increased by the strength of its people’s relationships with one another and those relationships will grow as hospitality is practiced.

There are many more ways to serve your church, but hopefully these simple ways help you get started without having to add to your weekly calendars.

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