This blog is the combined effort of four senior pastors of different churches. Their desire is to point you toward living a God-centered, gospel-focused, Christian life.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Boy Scouts and the Cultural Tsunami

My son has loved being part of the Boy Scouts for the past four years.  He is now a Life Scout and hopes to earn Eagle Scout before the end of the year.  The Boy Scouts have been dear to our hearts as it has been an organization that has helped our son learn life and leadership skills along with sound moral character.   While Boy Scouts has not been an inherently Christian organization, it has been very friendly to Christianity and to biblical morality.  Yet the cultural tsunami of the approval of homosexual behavior is changing that.  Those leading this cultural tsunami demand that all groups and all peoples embrace homosexual relationships as morally and socially good.  This demands that scripture be rejected as a reliable guide for a moral life.
In May, the Boy Scouts voted to amend their membership policy to allow for openly, self-identified homosexual youth to join the organization.  Previously, an open avowal of homosexual orientation would have kept a boy from joining the scouts, as it was perceived as inconsistent with the Scout Oath and the Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed.  To be clear, the Boy Scouts still affirm that no youth should be engaged in sexual activity, heterosexual or homosexual.  Yet the decision that the Boy Scouts made regarding membership reveals a profound change in the organization’s view of the morality of homosexuality.  The new policy communicates that homosexuality is not a moral issue at all.  In this, they exchange the morality of scripture for the morality of the powerbrokers of culture.

Why should believers who are involved in Boy Scouts be concerned?  I think four issues demand rethinking one’s commitment to Boy Scouts.

     1.    Helping Boys with Same Sex Attraction

One’s perspective about same sex attraction is foundational to one’s response to the Boy Scouts decision.  The world would have us believe that same sex attraction is a healthy part of a person’s identity to be encouraged in those who are genetically predisposed.  The forces of cultural change advise young men with same sex attraction,  “Proudly embrace it and at some point in life, express it through homosexual relationship(s).”  The world says that anything other than a celebration of homosexual relationships is bigotry. 
In contrast, the Bible views attraction to any sin as part of our “flesh” that is in conflict with God’s Spirit.  God provides a way out of the sins that enslave and kill, not a way deeper into them.  The world’s counsel is disastrous to young men and young women who are tempted by the specific sin of homosexuality.  Love does not encourage surrender to homosexual sin; love communicates the hope of victory over sin through the Gospel.   If we truly care about the boys who are experiencing same sex attraction, we will point them to the truth that there is a better option for them than the pursuit of a lifetime of homosexual sin.  Such boys need the love of God . . . a love that is full of both grace and truth.  The Boy Scouts new policy does not allow for Scout leaders to share the Gospel truth about this specific sin with scouts who are struggling with same sex attraction.  A large reason that Christian adults volunteer to serve in Boy Scouts is the opportunity to help young men learn to do their duty to God and country and to mature to become physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.  The recent decision by the Boy Scouts ties the hands of scout leaders to help young men who are battling same sex attraction.

     2.    The Integrity of an Oath

            Scouting takes very seriously the Scout Oath which reads: “On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Prior to the decision made by the organization, these words in the scout oath reflected biblical morality, a morality that understood homosexual relationships to be “not straight.”  Yet the decision by the scouts fundamentally changes the meaning of the scout oath.  The words remain the same, but the definitions given to those words are radically altered.  The Boy Scouts decision reveals that they have redefined morality in general and the morality of homosexuality in specific.  In so doing, they have rejected the morality defined by God in His Word.  Beginning in January, the Scout oath will become an oath for a young man to live according to the moral code of the world in contradiction to the moral code of scripture.  The Boy Scouts have a right as an organization to redefine what “morally straight” means to their members.  The members must decide for themselves if they can pledge themselves to the new meaning of this oath.

     3.    The Impossibility of Maintaining the Present Policy

The new decision by the Boy Scouts continues to prohibit practicing homosexual adults from membership and leadership positions within the Scouts.  Yet the decision to allow openly homosexual boys to become members abandons the moral basis that makes homosexual adult exclusion reasonable.  Once the morality of homosexuality is affirmed, what possible reason might one give to exclude homosexual adults from troop leadership? Homosexual author and activist, Nathaniel Frank, makes this same point, I asked the Boy Scouts of America repeatedly for an explanation for why it would remove the ban on gay scouts but continue the ban on openly gay adults. But there isn’t one . . . . the Boy Scouts’ policy is a compromise measure—devoid of all principle—that bows to opinion polls, fears, and the yelps of religious conservatives.”  
Someone suggested that maybe this ban on adult homosexual leadership had to do with the greater threat of molestation that homosexual leaders may pose.  But Frank reported that Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith absolutely denied this to be a consideration at all.  Frank was frustrated that Smith would not give him any rationale for the ban on homosexual leaders.  Without a moral basis for rejecting homosexual behavior, I cannot see a future in which the present policy does not crumble under the weight of its own contradiction and that adult homosexuals will be embraced as qualified to lead youth for character development.  The present policy evades rather than resolves the problem that Boy Scouts faces.  And as champion boxer Joe Louis is attributed to say, “You can run, but you cannot hide.”

   4.   The Potential of Sexual Abuse and/or Spiritual Abuse

            One of the joyful aspects of the Boy Scouts is its emphasis on older boys leading the younger boys in nearly every aspect of scouting.  Summer camps and weekend overnights are highlights for scouts and opportunities for older scouts to closely interact with younger scouts, teaching them life skills through instruction and relationship.  The new policy allows for an openly homosexual 17 year-old boy to sleep in the same tent as a 12 year-old boy.  It allows for a 17 year-old boy to talk with a 12 year-old boy about his homosexual orientation and to convince him of the moral goodness of eventually pursuing a homosexual lifestyle.  As a father, I would not allow my 12 year-old son to be put in this potentially dangerous position. Yet when my son leaves for summer camp or a wilderness adventure, I cannot see how this scenario can be absolutely avoided.

I understand that the Boy Scouts are in a tough position.  The cultural tsunami for homosexual approval threatens to wash them into oblivion like it does any person or organization that contends homosexuality is a moral issue.  It is not fun to publicly be called a “bigot” or a “hater”.  But the Boy Scout’s purpose has been to help boys become men, men who would make the right decision because it is right, even when pressured toward the wrong.  It seems to me, that the leadership of the Boy Scouts failed at the point of their strongest value.  This is not only a missed opportunity for moral instruction; it is a failure of leaders to stand against immoral pressure and show themselves to be men of moral courage. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

What is the Purpose of Preaching?

After my post last week, I realized that I failed to touch on a topic I had meant to cover more deeply: what is the purpose of preaching? Without first understanding this, we are unable to rightly discern whether preaching is "good" or "bad." When we say preaching is good, we may be right, but for the wrong reasons! The following is an excerpt from a paper I did in a seminar for my expository preaching degree:

The final chapter of David Buttrick’s Homiletic is entitled “A Brief Theology of Preaching.”  Here Buttrick asks a salient question:
From a social perspective, preaching may be superfluous….  Reasons for preaching can only be found in faith.  So, though we may enjoy the sweet freedoms of a superfluous vocation, in faith let us struggle with the question: Why do preachers preach?”[1]

Most of the works we read [in this seminar] suffer from failing to answer this question correctly, if at all.  It is difficult to overstate the importance of knowing what the purpose of preaching is.  The widespread lack of understanding of or attention to the purpose of preaching in the evangelical community is perhaps the most disturbing trend I have observed during our coursework.  It was frustrating to read various authors develop and defend methods that clearly did not share the passions of Scripture. 
Failure to Consider Purpose.  On one end of the Protestant homiletical spectrum are those works that fail to even consider why Scripture tells us we are to preach.  Fred Craddock rebels against the idea of the authoritative proclamation of truth.  He advocates that the preacher “re-create with the congregation the inductive experience of coming to an understanding of the message of the text.”[2]  Eugene Lowry advocates the narrative form of the sermon based upon our intuitive sense of how to preach: “Transforming our intuitions into articulate form [the narrative] is precisely the purpose of this book.”[3]  Their works never even address what God would have the preacher do.
Purpose and Proof-Texting.  But even works written by sound bible expositors sometimes betray a lack of proper concern with purpose.  A biblical theology of preaching is not one that can be simply defended with a few quick proof texts.  Warren Wiersbe in Preaching and Teaching with Imagination develops an entire work around the thesis that preaching should be creative.  His text to defend this argument is 2 Samuel 17 where Ahithophel’s counsel is thwarted due to Hushai’s speech. 
It is not that Wiersbe is wrong to urge creativity in preaching.  His practical suggestions are excellent.  The problem lies in the fact that his work is driven by a text that is simply not about creativity.  The primary purpose of the text is to show how the sovereign hand of God uses Hushai to protect David.  Not to unfairly target Wiersbe, but the absence of passion about God’s purpose for preaching in his work left me hungry for something more.  What is needed in homiletical instruction is to develop within the preacher a heart that burns for the things of the Lord. 
A passage that seems to creep up frequently in sections of preaching books that are presumably dealing with purpose is 2 Samuel 12 where David is confronted by Nathan through the telling of a story.  For example, York and Decker introduce their chapter entitled “The Goal of Preaching” with this story.  They conclude their introductory remarks, “Making the emotional connection with David was instrumental in getting David to act on Nathan’s rebuke rather than just to hear it.”[4]  But this text is not about preaching.  And, what is more concerning, nowhere in this chapter on the goal of preaching are any biblical texts that deal with preaching in the church even mentioned, much less explored.
The problem is that there is a lack of a clarion call to the church regarding the true purpose of preaching.  This problem is not universal, but it is wide-spread.  Some works may feel that such a question is beyond the scope of their work, but it seems to be so essential to anything else one might say about preaching that it is a question that should at least be addressed at some level.
Preoccupation with Pragmatics.  Finding something that “works” is the goal of many homiletical books.  Craddock’s call for change is not based on the fact that the church is failing to fulfill God’s design for preaching but rather that “in countless courts of opinion the verdict on preaching has been rendered and the sentence passed.”[5]  Graham Johnston assumes our primary task is to “reach the present age without selling out to it.”[6]  Even Michael Fabarez contends that the proper evaluation of a successful sermon is “the biblical change it brings about in the lives of our congregants.” [7]  Our postmodern culture, as the handout from the seminar contends, “is into whatever’s expedient.”[8]
Failure to Apply Purpose.  Some of the works we examined have a solid evangelical theology of preaching but fail to consider the implications of that theology.  Dennis Cahill in The Shape of Preaching provides an overview of the tools available to the homiletician of the contemporary church.  He does this while maintaining an appreciation for and a defense of traditional evangelicalism’s understanding of the purpose of the sermon.  Unfortunately, he fails to have his theology truly interact with his method.  The purpose of the sermon is never really applied to the methods he surveys.  At one point he juxtaposes preachers who neglect to develop a propositional idea with homileticians “who sound as if preaching is just the communication of information about the Bible.  For them…it is explanation with some application.”[9]  Cahill never describes what the middle ground looks like, nor what exactly is unsettling about explaining and applying the Bible.
Focus on the Sacred Task.  It should come as no surprise to anyone at Southern that Dr. Mohler gets it right.  In the introductory chapter to Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, he identifies the true reason we preach: “True preaching begins with this confession: we preach because God has spoken.”[10]  This simple statement is surprisingly profound, even within evangelical circles.  Mohler’s conclusion to the article should be required reading for some of the people who advocated various methods in our material:
The preacher is a commissioned agent whose task is to speak because God has spoken, because the preacher has been entrusted with the telling of the gospel of the Son who saved, and because God has promised the power of the Spirit as the seal and efficacy of the
preacher’s calling.
The ground of preaching is none other than the revelation which God has addressed to us in Scripture.  The goal of preaching is no more and no less than faithfulness to this calling.  The glory of preaching is that God has promised to use preachers and preaching to accomplish His purpose and bring glory unto Himself.
Therefore, a theology of preaching is essentially doxology.  The ultimate purpose of the sermon is to glorify God and to reveal a glimpse of His glory to His creation.  This is the sum and substance of the preaching task.  That God would choose such a means to express
His own glory is beyond our understanding; it is rooted in the mystery of the will and wisdom of God.
Yet, God has called out preachers and commanded them to preach.  Preaching is not an act the church is called to defend but a ministry preachers are called to perform.  Thus, whatever the season, the imperative stands: Preach the Word![11]

[1] David Buttrick, Homiletic (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1987), 449.
[2] Fred Craddock, As One Without Authority (St. Louis: Chalice Books), 99.
[3] Eugene Lowry, The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), xix.
[4] Hershael York and Bert Decker, Preaching with Bold Assurance (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), 11.
[5] Craddock, 3.
[6] Graham Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2001), 10.
[7] Michael Fabarez, Preaching that Changes Lives (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002), 9-10.
[8] “Postmodernism Handout,” Expository Preaching 80314.
[9] Dennis M. Cahill, The Shape of Preaching: Theory and Practice in Sermon Design (Grand
Rapids: Baker Books, 2007),93.
[10] R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “A Theology of Preaching ,” Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, Michael Duduitt, ed., (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 14.
[11] Ibid., 19-20.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thank You for Your Suggestions on How to Improve My Preaching (Seriously)

In an ideal world, any time a person had a suggestion regarding how I could improve my preaching, I would receive it graciously. Free from the vice of pride, I would carefully contemplate the truth of the statement and gain from the instruction. In fact, in this ideal world of which we speak, I would invite critique, feedback, and dialogue.

I do not live in an ideal world.

In the real world, where I reside, I sometimes don't want to graciously receive feedback. I just want everyone to think I'm a great preacher.

It's not an excuse, but I think one of the reasons for this is that the sheer amount of feedback a pastor can receive is overwhelming and often contradictory. It seems that everyone has an opinion about some aspect of some sermon.

The conclusion I've come to is that even though it can be overwhelming, when people are talking with you about your sermon, it's usually a very good thing. If the people in my church don’t have any opinions about my preaching, it probably means they’re not as engaged as they should be. If they don't have questions or haven't wrestled with some statements I've made, perhaps I haven't engaged them as I ought.

The fact that people have an opinion, even one that differs from your own, means that they are engaged. It means you've forced them to listen to your interpretation of God's Word and they're grappling with it at some level. Maybe they're wondering why you didn't address an issue they find pertinent. Maybe they're wondering why your sermon was too dry or too shallow or too deep or too light-hearted.

In his book Between Two Worlds, John Stott mentions the example of Peter Fiddick who struggled to pay attention to sermons. Fiddick
…learned to beat ‘the sermon problem by having mental debates with the preacher’, a technique which failed in a Chopin recital ‘since waltzes are not susceptible to argument’. Peter Fiddick probably imagines that preachers would be furious if they thought their listeners were having ‘mental debates’ with them. But surely, on the contrary, we should be delighted. We have no wish to encourage passivity in the congregation. We want to provoke people to think, to answer us and argue with us in their minds, and we should maintain such a lively (though silent) dialogue with them that they find it impossible to fall asleep.

So what kind of feedback do I receive and what do I do with it? As I’ve considered the suggestions I’ve received over the years, I’ve realized that they fall into several categories.

Some Sermon Critiques Are Misguided and Unhelpful

Some sermon suggestions come from those who have a fundamental misunderstanding of what preaching is supposed to be. For example, a well-intentioned person might offer this suggestion: “Why don’t you preach shorter sermons so that the unchurched will enjoy your services more?”

While I appreciate the feedback, this misses the fundamental point that worship is not designed for the unbeliever but for the believer. When unbelievers come, what attracts them should not be a service that speaks to the unregenerate heart. Instead, as our members passionately engage in worship of God, the unbeliever comes into a Christ-exalting service and “the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you” (1 Cor 14:25).

When I receive these types suggestions, I try to carefully consider them in light of what I believe the central task of preaching is: proclaiming Christ to the church. If a suggestion is contrary to that task, I tend to disregard it.

Some Sermon Critiques Are About Personal Preference

Other suggestions are related to things an individual might prefer but still aren’t really essential to the task of preaching. One person might suggest that I use more sports illustrations. Is that a sinful suggestion? Of course not. Is it essential? Of course not.

What is funny is that on any given Sunday, I might receive several contradictory comments. The sweet saint who tells me, “That sermon was very specific” is immediately followed by her brother in Christ who declares, “That sermon was way too vague. Get practical!”

There was one brother who kept telling me that my sermons needed to have more applications. There were several weeks where I was sure that he would tell me I had finally nailed it in terms of giving specific applications. But, to my disappointment, that never happened.

Finally, one Sunday I happened to mention the dangers of pornography in an application. The next day I received an email from my friend that read, “Thanks for really getting into application today.” I realized he had a very specific idea of what application meant. When I touched on that issue, he felt like I was doing application. His thoughts weren’t wrong, they were just very specific.

What do I do with suggestions that are more about personal preference than Biblical mandates for communicating Biblical truth? I try to listen to them but not over-listen. I want to be sensitive to the needs of my audience, but I want to be careful to allow a few dominant voices drive preferential issues.

Some Sermon Critiques Are Helpful but Not Implementable

Still other suggestions fall into a category that I would describe as helpful but not implementable. Suggestions that are connected with personality would fit under this category.

There have been several times people have told me that I need to be more emotional when I preach. My response is usually to ask if sarcasm counts as an emotion. What they mean is that they want to see a certain kind of emotion. While I’m certainly not a stoic, I’m also not a person who is that demonstrative with their emotions (again, unless cynicism counts as an emotion).

As much as many preachers would like certain things to be true of their preaching, the truth is that we are constrained by some limits God has placed on us, such as personality or intellect (Daniel, wouldn't it be great if you didn't need any notes at all while preaching? Well, sure...).

When people give me suggestions that might indeed be helpful in my preaching but possibly not implementable, my temptation is to become discouraged. A more healthy response is to thank God for the other leaders in our church that are able to teach in ways that I am not.

Once at a staff or elder meeting, as I listened to the other leaders talk about their ministry responsibilities, I jotted down this note: “This church is so blessed by my many weaknesses.” What I meant was that it is good that I am ineffective in some skills so that God can use those who have tremendous abilities in those areas.

Some Sermon Critiques Are Inappropriate and Unhelpful

It's rare, but sometimes I’ve been rebuked by an angry individual after a sermon. This seems, to me, inappropriate and unhelpful. One time a young man berated me for taking issue with the Roman Catholic Church on a doctrinal issue. I told him that I was surprised that he was so shocked that a Protestant pastor would find points of disagreement with my Roman Catholic friends!

When people critique me in a way that is inappropriate and unhelpful, I try to be gracious. I suppose how successful I am in that endeavor is a matter of perspective. . . .

Some Sermon Critiques Are Helpful and Instructive

A final category of suggestions, and where most of the suggestions I receive fall, are those that are both helpful and instructive.

When someone sends me an email about something they saw in the passage that perhaps I missed, that is instructive.

When someone takes me to God’s Word and shows me the importance of touching on some aspect of God’s character that I’ve been neglecting, that’s helpful.

When someone tells me something I did well that perhaps I hadn't done before, that's helpful.

When someone offers some thoughts about how I might communicate a Biblical truth more effectively, that's often helpful.

I Need Your Help

There are many more examples I could give. The bottom line is that I need the body of Christ to help me be a better pastor. I need you to pray for humility to receive instruction. I need you to pray that I would have wisdom in knowing what counsel to receive.

And, of course, I need your suggestions on how to communicate God's Word more effectively. So keep them coming!

By His Grace,


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Retiring For the Glory of God by Ritch Boerckel

Are you planning for retirement?  One ING commercial presses customers to find the answer to the question, “What’s your number?”  ING suggests that knowing the exact number of dollars we will need in order to retire will help us to “retire the way we want.”  While financial planning is wise, it really is the minor issue regarding our plans for retirement.   Retirement years are much more than living comfortably in our remaining time on earth without the danger of running out of money.  The reason that the financial issue is comparatively insignificant is that it deals only with our brief time here in a world that is passing away.  It is relevant to our lives only for a short period of time.  The far greater issue relates to eternity.  Much more of our joy rests upon how we are living our lives in faithfulness to God so that He receives glory for all eternity.
Retirement years are years full of potential to enjoy God and to fulfill the work He has prepared for us to accomplish in this brief life of ours.  With the average life expectancy in the US reaching 78 years and the average retirement age sitting at 67 years, one can expect nearly a decade or more of opportunity for full-time service to God. 
But someone may protest, “I want to relax in my retirement years!”  I know that it sounds great to get up in the morning and have no stressful obligations, no appointments to make, no time constraints . . . to live the rest of our years with freedom to decide each day what we want to do.  But is this kind of life really that great?  Will we be thankful for that decision when it is time for God to reward His children for their faithfulness in this life?  Is it really better to rust out than to burn out for Christ?
John Piper’s words ring like a morning alarm to awaken us out of our slumber: 
I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition ofReader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30-foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells.
Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: ‘Look, Lord. See my shells.’ That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life.
Those words set a fire in my heart to live for the glory of God all the way to my last fleeting breath.  I realize that if I am to make the most of those retirement years, I need a plan.  So again, I ask you, “Are you planning for retirement?” 
Let me share with you seven considerations that may help motivate you to truly plan for your retirement.
1.    Consider that we were created to know and glorify God and will find our greatest joy when we pursue His glory as our chief end.  God knows far better than we do what will lead to our eternal joy. 
Phil. 3:8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
The “Why” question is the most important one to ask and answer.  Clarity regarding our life’s purpose will make many other decisions relatively easy to make.
2.  Consider that God has given a specific work for you to finish. God gave this work for you to accomplish before He created the world.  Furthermore, God has given you the exact number of days and the precise amount of energy for you to complete His work. 
Eph. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 
Acts 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 
2 Tim. 4:3-6 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
3.  Consider that your life is God’s and not yours.  God has purchased you with a price.  While 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 addresses the sin of sexual immorality directly, the principle it teaches shapes the way we think about retirement. 
1 Cor. 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
4. Consider that God has placed you in a spiritual family (church) for the purpose of strengthening that family.  Our life purpose is eternally connected to our active relationship with Jesus’ church.  We are not loners, but we are part of a great company that God joins together for His glory.  Each of us are vital to the healthy functioning of the body of Christ.
Eph. 3:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
5.          Consider that the world is broken and that God has placed His church in the world to bring healing to broken people.
Matt. 9:35-37 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
6. Consider that so few in the church are living for the glory of God. 
Rev. 3:1-6 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
7.  Consider the joy that those words, “Well done!  Good and faithful servant!” will bring to you for all eternity.
Matt. 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
We rightly invest time and energy to plan for many temporal issues.  I urge you to spend time in prayer asking God what significant work He has for you to complete with your life.  Do not settle for gathering sea shells along the beach.  God has a much more joyful and significant work for you than that!