Monday, November 30, 2015

Andrew Murray's Favorite Hymn

This beautiful hymn, Moment By Moment, was the great devotional author Andrew Murray's favorite hymn. I understand why. 

 Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
 Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
 Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,

 Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.
 Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
 Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
 Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
 Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.


Never a trial that He is not there,                                                                          Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I’m under His care.

 Never a heartache, and never a groan,
 Never a teardrop and never a moan;
 Never a danger but there on the throne,
 Moment by moment He thinks of His own.

 Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
 Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
 Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
 Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Today is the first Sunday of Advent 2015

Today is the First Sunday of Advent 2015

We begin a new teaching series entitled:

This is the bumper clip I designed and developed for this series:

I recenlty heard this story about shepherd who was a youth on that first Christmas night. And now he is old and as his grandson sits on his knee he recalls that night, "A long, long time ago, when I was a little more than a boy, I was out on the Judean hills one night with some other shepherds, keeping watch over the flock. And an angel of the Lord came upon us and the glory of the Lord shone roundabout us. And we were very afraid. But the angel said, "fear not... for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord... you shall find the baby in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

When he had said this the old man’s lips quivered and ceased to move and there was silence. Then the grandson turns and looks with wide, puzzled eyes into his grandfather’s face and says, "But, grandfather is that all? What did you do when you heard the good news? Was what the angel said really true? Was the Christ child ever really born?"

The old shepherd sadly shakes his white head and answers, "I never knew. I never went to see. Some say that it is all a myth. Others say they found in Him, the light of God and the power for life. But for me I could never be quite sure. Because I never did go to see."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Preparing for Worship on the First Sunday of Advent 2015

 As we gather for the First Sunday of Advent at North Raleigh Church of the Nazarene the sounds of Christmas are beginning to fill the air.  The Worship Center is decorated for the season and I plan to launch a new teaching series for this season.  This is the perfect time of the year to invite a friend, neighbor and family member to join you at church. Jesus came to "seek and to save those who are lost."  We also need to be sensitive to those who need to experience the love of God in their life.

I hope you will plant to be with us each Sunday of Advent and experience the work of God in your life.   Here is the order of worship we have prepared for this Sunday:

We continue in our worship by lighting the first candle on the Advent wreath.

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)

Today’s MTheessage:   Part 1: The Forecast        
For some of us, the word “snow” is a four-letter word in every sense. But in this Advent series we’re going to see that when God causes His snow to fall in our lives, everything changes.  whole reason that Christmas exists is because Jesus came to make our sins white as snow. Let it snow!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thankful Everyday!

I hope today you are thankful!  As we gather on Sunday the Advent season is upon us!

In may be 60 degrees outside today - but SNOW is coming....  

Here is a "tease" for the new teaching series:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Day 2015 - A prayer of thanksgiving

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."                                        1 Thessalonians 5:18

Did you catch that? In everything. In the good times, as well as the bad. In the pleasantries of life, as well as in the pain. During difficult times, trying times and frustrating times, too.  Here is a prayer for you and your family this Thanksgiving Day 2015:

Thank you, God, for this food we are about to eat. And thank You for Your many blessings on us this past year...the ones we've seen, as well as the ones we haven't seen. 

Thank you, God for the times You have said "no." They have helped us depend on You so much more.

Thank you, God, for unanswered prayer. It reminds us that You know what's best for us, even when our opinion differs. 

Thank You for the things you have withheld. You have protected us from what we may never realize. 

Thank You, God, for the doors You have closed. They have prevented us from going where You would rather not have us go. 

Thank you, Lord, for the physical pain You've allowed in our lives.  It has helped us more closely relate to Your sufferings on our behalf. 

Thank you, Lord, for the alone times in our lives. Those times have forced us to lean in closer to You. 

Thank you, God, for the uncertainties we've experienced. They have deepened our trust in You. 

Thank You, Lord, for the times You came through for us when we didn't even know we needed a rescue.

Thank You, Lord, for the losses we have experienced. They have been a reminder that You are our greatest gain. 

Thank You, God, for the tears we have shed. They have kept our hearts soft and moldable.  

Thank You, God, for the times we haven't been able to control our circumstances. They have reminded us that You are sovereign and on the throne. 

Thank You, God, for Your ability to take what we consider 'tragedy' and turn it into a treasure.

Thank You, God, for those You have called home to be with You. Their absence from this earth reminds us to keep our eyes fixed on heaven.  

Thank You, God, that we have an inheritance in the heavenly places...something that this world can never steal from us and we could never selfishly squander. 

Thank You, God, for the greatest gift You could ever give us: forgiveness through Your perfect Son’s death on the cross on our behalf. 

Thank you, God, for the righteousness You credited toward us, through the death and resurrection of Jesus. It's a righteousness we could never attain to on our own. 

And thank You not only for our eternal salvation, but for the salvation You afford us every day of  our lives as You save us  from ourselves, our foolishness, our own limited insights, and our  frailties in light of Your power and strength. 

Thank You, God, for all that You have allowed and not allowed in our lives this past year. For we  commit our lives anew to You this day and ask that You would continue to remind us,  throughout this next year, that You are God, You are on the throne, and You are eternally good. 

Thank You, finally, that we can pray in the name of Jesus, who made our access to You—and a personal relationship with You—possible.  Amen. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How a Minister Finds the Freshness and Fullness of God's Power

"We need a generation of preachers who seek God and seek Him early, who give the freshness and dew of effort to God, and secure in return the freshness and fullness of His power that He may be as the dew to them, full of gladness and strength, through all the heat and labor of the day."

                                           -- E. M. Bounds (Preacher and Prayer)

Travel safely and enjoy your time with family and friends as we prepare  for Thanksgiving Day 2015!   This is no prayer encounter at church this evening to provide a time  to be with family on the holiday tomorrow. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

7 Signs You Are a Counterfeit Christian

I don’t usually carry cash. But on this day, I used a crisp $100 bill to pay for some new shoes. As I handed the bill to the cashier, she grabbed a pen. I was somewhat intrigued. Then, she ran the pen across the bill. Now I was puzzled. So, I asked her the purpose of marking up my crisp bills. Come to find out, this is standard procedure for $100 bills. The marker is designed to spot counterfeit bills.

Why would the cashier be concerned about this? The answer is obvious, right? Counterfeit money has no value. Maybe it can pose as authentic for a period of time, but eventually someone is going to buy one of those markers and expose the lie.

And whether you intentionally use a counterfeit bill is irrelevant. If the marker reveals that you tried to pay with fake money, you will lose a $100, at best, and lose a day of freedom in jail, at worst.

During his ministry, Jesus encountered fakes often. And what the market does to money, Jesus does to counterfeit followers. He exposes them.
Whether it was the Pharisees, who posed as righteous men of God or large crowds, who posed as committed followers, Jesus constantly exposed counterfeits.

So, what are qualities of a counterfeit Christian? This question is important. Much like fake money, fake Christians have no value. They flaunt a self-righteous attitude or selfless behavior. But, if you exposed their heart, you would find something different. Most importantly, as Jesus says in Matthew 7:24, eventually counterfeit Christians will be exposed.

To be fair, I don’t believe most Christians intentionally pose as fakes. They have either been handed a counterfeit Jesus or drifted away from the radical life Jesus calls his followers to imitate. With that said, I think every Christian can use this post to work on their heart.

Here are seven signs you are a counterfeit Christian:

1.) You feel more guilty for missing church than hurting your neighbor.

I grew up in a culture where church attendance was the ultimate mark of righteousness. Under no circumstances did you miss worship on Sunday or class on Wednesday. A Christian who had “gone astray” was someone who hadn’t been to the church building in a month.

Intentionally or not, I was led to believe my presence at a building was more important than my actions toward other people. So most weeks I would walk into my church building, worship God, interact in class discussion, then go home. In the meantime, I disrespected teachers at school, gossipped about friends and classmates, and used women for my selfish desires.

If you value church attendance more than loving people, you don’t understand Jesus. The two greatest commands, love God and love your neighbor, are relational. Jesus even says the entire law is summed up by these two commands.

Here’s the deal. It’s entirely possible to be a perfect church attendee and a long ways from God. On the flip side, it’s also entirely possible to be a sporadic church attendee and have an intimate relationship with God.

It’s time to drop this false idea that God values attendance more than people.

2.) You believe the Bible is more important than Jesus.

For much of my life, I placed more trust in the Bible than in Jesus for eternal life. It was more important that I knew the five steps to salvation than the source of salvation. I could sing the 66 books of the Bible. I knew the VBS stories.

If you’re like me and know more about Scripture than living like Jesus, here’s a strong word for you courtesy of the son of God himself.

You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.                                                                                                     John 5:39-40

The Bible is NOT more important than Jesus. Oh, you can recite the books of the Bible using an annoying song? You memorized the book of James? That’s great. The Pharisees memorized the first five books of the Old Testament and Jesus told them their knowledge was useless.


They memorized Scripture, thinking their knowledge made them righteous. Instead, their knowledge inflated their egos and blinded them from the Savior.
The whole point of the Bible is Jesus. Go ahead, have your morning meditations. That’s great. Memorize Scripture. Good for you. But those things don’t give you brownie points with God.

Instead, answer these questions.

Does the Bible increase your love of God and intimacy with Jesus?
Are you confident in your salvation because you know Scripture or because you know the one Scripture points to?

Remember, the first-century Christians, especially Gentile Christians, had no Bible. They had no background about Jesus. They just heard a message of redemption, believed that message and lived in community with others who accepted it.

3.) You wonder how close you can get to sin without actually sinning. 

Few questions upset and sadden me more than this one. “Frank, is _______ a sin?” Just fill in the blank. Spending the night with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Getting a buzz. Watching a movie glorifying sex and worldliness. As a church leader, I am asked these questions quite often.

I refuse to answer them.

Here’s why. I can’t, in good conscience, answer a question that feeds your desire to flirt with sin. Most likely, if you’re asking this question, you need to check your heart. I know because I used to ask those questions.

Why would you flirt with sin when you can fall in love with God?
Why would you see how close you can get to sin rather than how close you can get to God? How crazy does that sound?

4.) You believe it’s OK to hold a grudge against someone if he or she hurts you bad enough.

I’m not sure where the line is drawn, but at some point, counterfeit Christians believe it’s acceptable to refuse forgiveness. Maybe that line is murder, rape or your best friend sleeping with your spouse. I’m not real sure, but there are certain unforgivable sins.

I’m not trying to minimize the pain you experienced. I’m trying to elevate the example Christ provided. On the cross, after mere men nailed the son of God to wooden beams and mocked him, Jesus looked up and said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

If God can forgive men for mocking him, you can forgive anyone for the pain they caused you. Is this easy? No. But you can’t claim to follow Jesus and refuse to forgive.

5.) You believe real Christians would never engage real sinners. 

Several years ago, I was talking with a minister about a church in Nashville that was meeting in a bar. This church was baptizing former alcoholics and drug addicts. God was really working.

But not according to this church leader. His response? “Frank, do you really think God is OK with people worshipping him in a bar with alcohol and drunks? Surely you don’t think that?!”

You see, counterfeit Christians don’t think it’s acceptable to associate with real sinners and remain a real Christian.

Jesus, however, would have a thing or two to say about this. Repeatedly, Jesus associated with tax collectors, talked to prostitutes and touched sick people. In Jewish culture, touching sick people made you ceremonially unclean. That was bad. But Jesus didn’t seem to care.

Why is this? Jesus was more concerned with healing people, both physically and spiritually, than maintaining a solid reputation with church folks. Call me crazy, but I think if Jesus were here today, he would spend more time in bars with the homeless and drunks than in church buildings.

This whole point centers around your understanding of holiness. In the Old Testament, holiness equated to separation. The Israelites couldn’t marry people from other nations. They couldn’t form alliances with them. They were called to be separate.

When Jesus came, he changed the idea of holiness. It no longer meant separation from, but engage with.

The holiest, most godly Christians are the ones who engage others with the goal of healing and restoring them.

6.) You believe God rests in a building, not in a group of people.

Until the death of Jesus, the temple was the place where the Israelites encountered God. The temple was everything. No one dared to speak a word against the temple. And only a handful of appointed people could enter it.
God’s presence isn’t found in a building. It’s found in his people.
After Jesus’s death, God’s presence left the temple and entered his people. But don’t tell this to counterfeit Christians. Like the Israelites, they view their church building as a sacred place. Actions change. A certain type of behavior is expected.

Counterfeit Christians use their Sunday commute to talk with their homeboys or girlfriends about the hot guy or girl they slept with the night before. But as soon as they turn into the church parking lot, those conversations cease, and it’s all about God.

Counterfeit Christians spend the entire week sacrificing their family on the altar of work. But as soon as they enter the church building, they grab their spouse’s hand, put their arm around their children and wear a smile as big as their bank account.

Counterfeit Christians might serve as a deacon at church, but they spend Saturday nights getting thrown out of their kid’s t-ball game, trash talking every umpire and fan who thought little Tommy was out at first. Who cares if little Tommy is still learning not to pee in his underwear? He was safe at first.
It’s time for Christians to stop saying the church is not a building and actually start living that way. Physical locations aren’t sacred. When you arrive at work, you are a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Treat your employees like Christ. Handle conflict with your peers like Christ. When you travel to the ballfield, you’re a temple for the Holy Spirit. Treat the umpires, coaches and fans with the love of Christ.

You’re a mobile temple. Allow God’s power to work in you, regardless of where you go.

7.) You think Christian maturity is more about how much you know than what you do.

The night before Jesus was crucified, he gathered with his 12 disciples to enjoy one final meal. Not long after dinner, Jesus grabbed a basin, a towel and started washing his disciples’ feet. Unless you understand Jewish culture, you miss the scandalous nature of what’s going on here. Footwashing was a dirty job reserved for slaves. Jesus, in essence, made himself lower than the lowest person in society.

Now, catch this.

Jesus didn’t get out a chalkboard and summarize his teachings. He didn’t quiz his disciples. He didn’t say anything. Instead, he humbled himself. In this moment, you see the summation of Jesus’ ministry. Every sermon. Every healing. Every conversation. Everything is summed up with this … wash one another’s feet. Become a servant.

If you want to point the world to Jesus, stop talking about your theology. Stop telling the world how much you know. Get on your knees and start serving.
There’s a trendy message, even in Christian circles, that challenges people to “Rise up!” If you’re a follower of Jesus, that’s a faulty message. Christianity isn’t about rising up. It’s about falling down. In God’s kingdom, the more power you have, the more feet you wash.

Be very careful about people who love to talk but hate to serve. The most spiritually mature Christians aren’t always the most eloquent or wise. Those most like Jesus are the ones who grab a towel and place the needs of others above their own.


Everything goes back to this: Love God and love your neighbor. The question Christians must wrestle with is, “Do I actually believe it’s that simple?” In a culture where denominations argue over the correct way to baptize someone, grasping the Jesus life can seem like an impossible task.

But it’s not.

The Jesus life is about loving God with all of your heart, mind and strength, and it’s about transferring God’s love onto every person you encounter. Counterfeit Christians don’t get this. Don’t get caught up in the endless interpretations about doctrines. Get caught up in the love of Jesus.

It’s your turn. What are some signs of a counterfeit Christian?                                    Leave a comment below.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen! 

Frank Powell serves in the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Jackson, Tenn., ministering to college-age and young adults.  More from Frank Powell or visit Frank at

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not Trusting God Leads to Stress

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”                                                  (Psalm 20:7 NIV)

Everyone trusts something. The question is, what — or who — do you trust?
Our society tends to spurn trust — or at least we say we do. We’re skeptical of everyone and everything. We don’t trust the government. Employees don’t trust employers. Customers don’t trust businesses. When you get down to the bottom of the decline of trust today, you’ll find that our society’s “truth decay” is a big part of it.

Truth and trust go together. You trust people who tell you the truth. You don’t trust people if you don’t think they’re telling you the truth. And if you don’t believe in absolute truth, then you can’t trust anyone to tell you the truth.
Our lack of trust causes us tremendous stress in life. We were born to trust. God wired us with the capacity and desire to trust in something greater than ourselves because he wanted us to have a relationship with him.

If you don’t trust God, you will create something else to trust. It may be a diploma on the wall, money in the bank, your spouse, your career, or a hobby. This desire to trust in something larger than ourselves is nothing new either. The biblical writers were keenly aware of it in their cultures as well. The Bible says in Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (NIV).

The Bible has a word for whatever we place our trust in rather than God. The Bible calls it an “idol.” God’s Word says that, for our own good, we need to stay away from idols: “For your own good ... do not sin by making for yourselves an idol in any form” (Deuteronomy 4:15b-16a GNT).

Source:  Rick Warren

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Power of Thankfulness - A prayer

I encourage you to pray this prayer every day for the next 10 days:

10 “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.                           1 Chronicles 29:10-13

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Preparing for a time of worship with Thanksgiving - Nov 22, 2015

On this Sunday before Thanksgiving I plan to bring a message God placed upon my heart about the Power of Thankfulness.  Each year we try to make this Sunday unique as I share about giving thanks to the Lord and offer opportunities for people to share their testimonies of thanks to the LORD.

Some churches are not able to provide times of offering a testimony for the Lord. It is a good thing to testify of what the LORD has done for you - and of who He is. God is good and worthy of our praise.

I invite you to come to church this Sunday with praise in your heart to overflow and have a testimony to share about the greatest of God in your life.

Here is the order of worship we have planned:

“Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.  Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.                                                                      1 Chronicles 29:10-13

Don't forget to join us this after noon for DECK THE HALLS beginning at 3:30pm.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Twenty Five Silly Things Church Members Fight Over

It began as an innocuous Twitter survey. But then it blew up.
A lot of church members and leaders were eager to share about fights, schisms, and conflicts in their congregations. They were likewise eager to point out the absurdity of these issues. There were the ones we’ve heard often: temperature in the worship center, color of carpet, order of worship, and color of walls.
The fights shown below, however, are a bit unusual. Indeed, most of them are downright absurd. I picked 25 of my “favorites.” They are listed in no particular order. The parenthetical commentary is my own.
1.   Argument over the appropriate length of the worship pastor’s beard (I think I saw a verse in Scripture that indicated it is to be no more than 1.5 inches longer than the pastor’s beard.).

2.   Fight over whether or not to build a children’s playground or to use the land for a cemetery (I’m dying to know the resolution of this one.).

3.   A deacon accusing another deacon of sending an anonymous letter, and deciding to settle the matter in the parking lot (The church could have sold tickets to this event and raised a lot of money.).

4.   A church dispute of whether or not to install restroom stall dividers in the women’s restroom (I’m calling unfair on this one. The men should have their stall dividers too.).

5.   A church argument and vote to decide if a clock in the worship center should be removed (I think this one is a timely argument.).

6.   A 45-minute heated argument over the type of filing cabinet to purchase: black or brown; 2, 3, or 4 drawers (This one is an official cabinet meeting of the church leadership.).

7.   A fight over which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer (I just want to know who took the pictures.).

8.   A petition to have all church staff clean shaven (No church planters are allowed.).

9.   A dispute over whether the worship leader should have his shoes on during the service (I vote for shoes, shirts, and pants.).

10.               A big church argument over the discovery that the church budget was off $0.10. Someone finally gave a dime to settle the issue (I have to admit this issue is ten times more important than the church missing a penny.).

11.               A dispute in the church because the Lord’s Supper had cran/grape juice instead of grape juice (Of course it should be grape juice. It’s right there in Hezekiah 4:11.).

12.               Business meeting arguments about whether the church should purchase a weed eater or not. It took two business meetings to resolve (Wow. This fight was really whacky.).

13.               Arguments over what type of green beans the church should serve (I could have resolved this conflict quickly: none.).

14.               Two different churches reported fights over the type of coffee. In one of the churches, they moved from Folgers to a stronger Starbucks brand. In the other church, they simply moved to a stronger blend. Members left the church in the latter example (Perhaps they started a new church: The Right Blend Fellowship.).

15.               Major conflict when the youth borrowed a crockpot that had not been used for years (I bet it was a bunch of crocky old adults.).
16.               An argument on whether the church should allow deviled eggs at the church meal (Only if it’s balanced with angel food cake for dessert).

17.               An argument over who has the authority to buy postage stamps for the church (The members were licking their wounds over this issue.).

18.               A disagreement over using the term “potluck” instead of “pot blessing”(I get it! The concept of luck contradicts the theology of a sovereign God. This issue is very serious. Good luck trying to resolve it. ).

19.               A church member was chastised because she brought vanilla syrup to the coffee server. It looked too much like liquor. (Beth Moore confessed she was the culprit who brought the syrup. Don’t you know, Beth, we Baptists cannot have vanilla syrup at anytime? Chocolate is fine though.).

20.               An argument in church over who has access to the copy machine (I think a calendar should be made where every church member has at least five minutes access to the copy machine each year. You can have a business meeting to vote on each five-minute increment.).

21.               Some church members left the church because one church member hid the vacuum cleaner from them. It resulted in a major fight and split (Thus the Second Electrolux Church was born.).

22.               An argument over whether to have gluten-free communion bread or not (I thought gluteny was a sin.).

23.               A dispute over whether the church should allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil (Are you sure he’s not red? That’s what I’ve heard.)

24.               A fight over whether or not to sing “Happy Birthday” each week (I’ve got an idea. Alternate it with the doxology.).

25.               An argument over whether the fake, dusty plants should be removed from the podium (Just give them a little water. They should be fine.).

Yes. These issues are silly; many are absurd. But they are all distractions from what we should be doing in our churches. In that sense, they are really great distractions from the Great Commission.

Source: Thom Rainer