Archives For Joe McKeever

Money“Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

The worst time to preach on money is when you need some, pastor. The second worst time is when the church needs some.

The best time to preach on money is all the other times.

That said, here are a number of cautions for you to consider before walking into that lions’ den to tame the monster called greed.

1) Get your own house in order. Now, it’s possible to preach on prayer while knowing you have a long way to go in that respect. You can preach on good works and witnessing even if your record is spotty. You can do so because everyone has room for improvement in these areas. But when it comes to giving/stewardship, you can know when you are doing well.

The Christian is to be a giver. That means a hefty portion of his/her income will go into the church offering (whether you call it a tithe or something else), and believers will also be generous to the poor,…

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When I was 8 years old, using the new Bible my dad had given me for Christmas, I began reading a chapter each night before going to bed. And, I stayed with the program for several years.(I bogged down in the major prophets. Just too heavy going for a kid.)

When I was about 12 or 13, under the influence of older cousin Billy who seemed to know a great many things the rest of the world was clueless about, I quit using a pillow at night. For years, I slept without a pillow because Billy said using one produced poor posture.

Several times in my latter years, I have started on January 1 and read the Bible through, marking up the Scriptures in order to present to one of our eight grands.  One year, in order to present Bibles to twins Abby and Erin, I alternated with two Bibles, but made sure to mark them both alike.

So, I’m not at all against making resolutions and keeping them.

It’s just that a lot of people shy away from making commitments for a full 365 days. It’s so…

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Most of the world seems to be on Facebook. I’ll be somewhere really remote, drawing people following a church service, and as I hand the finished product to the (ahem) victim, will say, “Now, this is your new Facebook picture.”

No one has ever said, “I’m not on Facebook” or especially “What’s that?” Usually they say, “Good idea” or “You’ve got it!”

Now, I recognize that being a Southern Baptist preacher, most of my FB friends are like-minded with me about the Lord and church and the Bible–you know, spiritual things. It’s the nature of these things. So, on a Saturday night or Sunday morning, the “posts” from many of my buddies all seem to say similar things….

–”Join us for church at Shiloh this morning at 9:30 am. You’ll receive a blessing.”

–”Today I’m preaching on Hezekiah’s tunnel.  We’ll see if we can find the light at the end of that thing.”

–”My little granddaughter is singing today at Cornerstone. You won’t get good stuff like this on American Idol.”

–”Have you ever wondered what happened to the Jebusites? Be at Riverside Church this morning and…

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Questions“…knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance….” (James 1:3)

Pity the church with an immature pastor. He can drive good people crazy.

His ego is always out there seeking a caress, his stubborness could put a mule to shame, and his unteachable spirit frustrates even the saintliest. He thinks of himself first of all, what effect something will have on his career secondly, and of the church a distant third.

A few days after Hurricane Katrina went through our part of the world and left New Orleans flooded and hundreds of thousands of people homeless and vast numbers of churches destroyed, I had a phone call from one of our young pastors. His church had come through fine, but his members were scattered and some were not coming back.  He said, “Joe, I worry about the effect this will have on my future prospects. I mean, this will not look good on my resume’.”

Yes, he actually said that.

I replied, “My friend, you don’t have a resume’. You’re still in seminary.” I let that soak in, then added, “If you will do this right and be faithful, you will…

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As the incoming pastor, I asked the church committee not to terminate Manley, a staff member whose chief failing was that he was ineffective. The committee was willing to cut him loose before I arrived to save me the trouble.

“Give me a chance to work with him,” I said quickly and perhaps a little naively.

A year later, after finding him lazy and incapable of doing the work his position required and with no other spot on the church staff suitable for him, I released him.

He was so angry at me.

That evening, I was complaining to my wife about the unfairness of his criticism. Hadn’t I saved his job for a full year? Hadn’t we given him ample warning and opportunities to improve? Weren’t we providing generous severance?

Margaret said, “Joe, be realistic.  You want to fire a man and have him like it.”

I guess I did. (His anger made me feel that I had failed him in some way, even though the personnel committee met with Manley that very evening to assure him the decision was unanimous. That helped me a little, but not much. Manley moved…

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“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

The pastor who is a servant to his flock has an authority and influence unmatched by those who have taken all the leadership courses and read all the  books and are able to display all the certificates on their walls.

The leader who will serve his people demonstrates Jesus Christ to them, proves his concern for their needs, models effective leadership for those coming after him, and builds a solid structure on a firm foundation.

Not all pastors want to serve. Some wish to be known as strategists and pulpiteers, managerial experts and motivational geniuses. But only those who serve are building a church that will last upon a solid biblical foundation. The others are playing their control games.

Here are 3 areas by which anyone considering becoming a leader of God’s people can check himself.

What servant leadership looks like

In John 13, Jesus girds Himself with a towel, gets down on his knees, and does the lowliest work imaginable to the disciples:…

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Good title, right?

Now a confession. I was never afraid to stand in front of a group and speak. Not ever. In fact, quite the opposite.

As a fourth grader in our little West Virginia schoolhouse, teacher Margaret Meadows would periodically invite class members who had read an interesting story to stand and share it. I recall Violet Garten (love that name!) was so good at it. But when she called on me (I’m the guy frantically waving my hand) and I walked to the front of the class, I broke the rules.

I did not relate a story I had read somewhere.

I made one up on the spot.

That is serious something or other, I don’t know what. Was it a love for being the center of attention? Self-confidence on steroids? Not given to introspection, I’ve never tried to answer that, but I am confident that little snapshot reveals a world of insight on the man I became. Positive and negative.

In high school, one of the requirements for presidents of local chapters of the FFA (Future Farmers of America) was that we be able to address an audience of our members…

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Sermon NotebookHave you ever read something and all the bells went off inside you? “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been thinking!” The author has been reading your thoughts.

That happened to me recently.

Warren Wiersbe was the culprit, the reader of my mind. His book is titled “Preaching and Teaching with Imagination.” I notice that he autographed it to me, but have no memory of the occasion when that happened. Mostly, I wonder why I delayed reading this incredible book. (Published in 1994, it’s been around long enough for you to purchase it for a song at www.alibris.com or your favorite used book source.)

Dr. Wiersbe put this insight in the form of a story. I suspect it’s a parable, meaning he fictionalized it in order to make a point. (He has good precedent; our Lord did this.) Briefly, what he told was this:

Grandma Thatcher sits in church with a number of hurts and spiritual needs. Although she’s lovingly known throughout the congregation as a saint, she gets nothing but harassment and trials at home for her faith. When she gets to church, she needs a word from…

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When a church of 120 members set out to assimilate 3,000 converts (from a one-day revival!) into the life of their family, they ranked “fellowship” among the top priorities in accomplishing the task.

Koinonia” is a Greek word which, while almost always translated “fellowship” in our Bible, refers to sharing life, a partnership. My own personal definition is “hanging out.”

The FQ of a church — the fellowship quotient — speaks to how well the members love the Lord and one another and show hospitality to new believers.

Following are 10 aspects and insights about the FQ of your church. They are worth carving in stone, or better, engraving on the hearts of your leadership and membership.

1) Fellowship is the heartbeat of the congregation.

Fifteen minutes after the benediction in a church where I had been the guest preacher, I said to the pastor, “Listen! It’s the sound of fellowship.” His members were greeting one another, hugging, laughing, chatting, and talking. If anyone had left, I couldn’t tell it.

Just as the doctor places a stethoscope up to the chest and listens to the heartbeat, the pulse of the congregation is the…

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The newcomer sees this list in reverse order: Hospitality first, then Joy, and lastly Commitment.

The Greek word koinonia refers to a sharing of life, or a partnership, which doesn’t tell us a lot about what it meant in the followup program in the early church. So, in the absence of anything definitive from Scripture on the precise meaning of the term, I submit for your consideration my own definition: Hanging out.

The “fellowship” quotient of a church–whether the members love the Lord and one another–is one of the most telling features of a congregation, one of the most dependable indicators of the health of the church, and one of the best predictors of its future usefulness in the Kingdom.

Here are 10 aspects of the fellowship of your church worth carving in stone, or better, engraving on the hearts of your leadership and membership.

1. Fellowship is the heartbeat of your congregation.

Simply stated, it is the life of this church family. Do the people enjoy one another?

In a church where I was visiting recently, some 15 minutes after the benediction, I said to the pastor,…

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The four-year-old who says, “I can do it by myself” has a lot in common with the typical pastor.

Pastors are notorious for their lone ranger approach to ministry. It’s what I call the number one failure of 90 percent of pastors. They prefer to go it alone.

Even Jesus needed a buddy. “He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, ‘So, you men could not keep watch with me for one hour?'” (Matthew 26:40)

Sometimes it helps to have someone nearby, praying, loving, caring, even hurting with you.

The word paracletos from John 16:7 is translated “Comforter” and “Helper” in most Bible versions. The literal meaning is “one called alongside,” the usual idea being that the Holy Spirit is our Comforting Companion, a true Friend in need. And each time that word is found in the New Testament–John 14:16,20; 15:26; 16:7; and I John 2:1–it always refers to the Lord.

However, here’s something important.

While paracletos does always refer to the Lord in those scriptures, the word parakleesis (also a noun), for comfort or consolation, may refer both to the work of the Lord in our lives as well as the effect we have upon each other.

Don’t miss that.

Here’s…

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Bear in mind these three things —

  • One sermon on any subject hardly makes a dent in the problem. People need constant repetition and reinforcement of the great truths of God’s Word. Pastor, be faithful and be patient.=
  • People are at various stages of life and alertness. One will be growing in the Lord and rejoicing in her progress while another will be sleepwalking and a third grousing about being awakened in the middle of his nap. Expect it.
  • As pastor, you must love them all as equally as possible and minister to all impartially. However, you will feel drawn to the few who are responding to the Holy Spirit. Ask the Father to show you how to encourage them further without causing a rift in the barely-alive fellowship.

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