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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“For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and smoother than oil is her speech.” (Proverbs 4:3)

Before there was a folk singer by that name, James Taylor was a professor of preaching. This veteran teacher of preachers held forth in classrooms at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for many years. One day, in a room filled with young preacher boys, Dr. Taylor cautioned us about the temptations we would be facing.

“The day will come when a woman will sit in your office and proposition you. She will make herself available to you sexually. If your marriage is in trouble or if you are not up-to-date in your relationship with your Lord, you could get in big trouble fast.”

I raised my hand. “Dr. Taylor,” I said, “do you really believe that every one of us in this room will face this?” My mind was incapable of imagining a scenario in which a woman–any woman–would sit in a pastor’s office and try to seduce him.

“Yes, I do,” he said. “Even you, McKeever.”

That got a laugh.

I lived to see that day. (Fifteen years after she…

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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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Growth“Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation….” (I Peter 2:2).

The bane of the church today is immaturity.

A Sunday School class is asked to relocate so a growing class can have a larger room and it sets off a firestorm of belly-aching.

A longtime church leader does not get the recognition he feels is his entitlement and his family threatens to leave the church.

The pastor teaches a rich lesson from Romans or Hebrews and the congregation isn’t capable of understanding it. The sermons they prefer include “four reasons to be saved today” and “the sin which God hates above all others.”

The preacher brings a message on the tithe and church members criticize him for emphasizing money. At the monthly business meeting, they gripe because the church’s income is lagging.

The church hears a missionary’s report on a great harvest of souls in Singapore and balks at being asked to receive an offering on its behalf.

The pastor is asked by an influential group in the church to invite a flashy, carnal evangelist whose message is God-wants-you-to-prosper. When he hesitates,…

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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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