Guideposts – An Introduction

Guidepost Intro Pic John 14-6

Last night, we started a new series at GW for the summer, entitled “Guideposts on The Way” for our evening worship time.  I am so excited about presenting this series, and hope you’ll join us for it on Sunday nights at 6pm in our Fellowship Hall.

What verses do you think of when you think of core, foundational, strongholds of our faith?  What verses do you think of when you need the strength to hold on?  What verses do you think of when you’re lost and need to find your way?

I love watching signs on the interstate.  I especially like the signs that tell me how far away I am from a certain destination.  I grew to appreciate interstate and road signs even more when I lived in Houston.  Its easy to get turned around and lost in a big city.

However, road signs don’t always mean a lot to us – especially when we can’t understand them!  Imagine, being an American driving on the streets in Shanghai without a modern day GPS to get us from place to place, and all you had were the road signs.  By the time you matched up all the characters in their language – it would take you hours to get anywhere!

I like it when I can understand the signs.  I like it when they mean something to me, and guide me like they are meant to do.  That’s why I like Jesus.  He’s my guidepost.  He’s not only shown us the way, HE IS THE WAY!

In John 14:6, Jesus tells us “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Our ultimate journey is taking us toward Heaven, and Jesus is guiding us on the way.

We get pulled in a lot of different directions, and its easy to get distracted.  But, we have a Savior who has shown us a reliable, well worn path, and many have gone down that path of faith.  I invite you to check back every so often to see a new “Guidepost” and read about passages that can show us the way.

None of these will be overly complicated.  None of these will lead you on a treacherous journey.  These verses will simply guide us.


The One About Addiction…to Anything

addictionAddiction is a word that is heavily associated with things such as alcohol, smoking and drug abuse.  The problem with that is for those of us who have absolutely no problem with alcohol or drug abuse, we tend to feel like addiction can’t take a hold of us.  Like to drink soft drinks multiple times a day?  Can’t start your day without a cup of coffee?  Do you have a compulsive need to finish that bag of chips you just opened?

 Want to go deeper?  Addiction is NOT just dealing with things you consume.  Pornography is one of the things that has a grasp on many.  Maybe you don’t struggle with pornography, so you feel as if you don’t have an addiction problem to anything – but you just might.

Facebook much?  Pinterest much?  Text much?  Candy Crush too much?  Have you played Temple Run so many times that your thumbs are raw?  Do you find yourself going to the internet to look at one thing, and two hours later wonder where your time went because you got sucked into a vortex of web surfing?

The real problem with addiction is that it is possible to be addicted to pretty much anything – and whether that addiction is to something hardcore like alcohol, drugs, or pornography, or whether it is to something less physically dangerous like Facebook, the internet, or games on your phone – it consumes you.

I’m fearful for people when they start to go down a path with things that consume them.  Denial is a big part of the problem with addiction.

After years of consuming diet soft drinks, specifically Diet Dr. Pepper, I realized I had a problem.  I could not go 5 minutes in the morning without cracking open a can and enjoying the bubbly fizz and taste of that sweet nectar of carbonation.  The caffeine would kick in, and I’d be good to go.  That is, I’d be good to go until I got to the office, or to a gas station, or to a fast food restaurant, or anywhere else where I could grab another diet drink.

One in the morning, one when I got to the office, one for lunch, one after lunch, one in the afternoon as a pick me up, one at dinner, one before bed.  If I had gone to a restaurant that day, I would have gotten 3 or 4 refills as well.  I was hooked.  The thought of drinking anything else but a diet soft drink repulsed me.  I knew I had a problem.

I had tried in the past to get off of drinking my diet drinks, but to no avail.  The longest I had gone was a month or so, but I would always cave in, giving in to stress or cravings.  But this time, on March 23, 2012, I woke up with a mission.  I was going to stop depending on this chemical to provide me with life.

Today, I have gone 410 days without having a soft drink.  99% of what I consume as a beverage is straight up water.  And let me tell you, its liberating.

Food tastes better, life is better, my stomach feels better, and I rarely have headaches anymore.

But do you want to know what happened?  My addiction moved from diet soft drinks to other things.  I started to eat more, specifically chips.  I started to play mind numbing games on my phone/ipad to calm me down.  Thats when it hit me – addiction is going to try to find a way to rule your life, especially when you have an addiction problem.

The problem with addiction is that it is a constant struggle.  It rears its ugly head when it can.  It reminds you that you need something to fill the void of something else that filled a void.

Its overpowering.  Its strong.  Can’t have a drink?  Can’t have a smoke?  That’s fine, fill it with food.  Fill it with pornography.  Fill it with ___________ .  Addiction can rule your life.

We tend to trivialize some addictions.   Coffee – oh, I’m not addicted to coffee, I don’t have to have it…yet you’re nonfunctional without it in the mornings.

Facebook?  Oh, I could close my account right now and never miss it…yet you get off the computer and go straight to your Facebook app on your phone.

I noticed the other night how addicted we are to just filling a void with something.  Its almost as if we are scared of the quiet, scared of just doing nothing, scared of having to interact.  My little girl was watching a show while sitting on my lap.  I had my phone in my hand scrolling through facebook.  My wife had her computer out looking through Pinterest.  Show goes off, my daughter goes to bed, we come back downstairs, I get my computer out, scroll through Facebook some more, and my wife gets out her computer and does the same.

So I’ve made a more conscious effort to quit relying on other things to fill the void in my life.  Maybe I should God fill that void.  If you were to clock your time – do you spend more time on Facebook or more time with God in prayer and scripture each day?

Do you spend more money a month on Starbucks or soft drinks than you put in the collection plate on Sunday?

Or if you do have a serious addiction to dangerous things such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, pornography – have you sought help?

If you’re looking for something to fill the void of a past or current addiction, or if you see yourself struggling with something that could very easily become an addiction – do something about it.

Turn to God.

Turn to a friend.

Turn to a spouse.

Don’t go at it alone.  Get some help.

Facebook, the internet, Candy Crush, coffee, soft drinks, drugs, alcohol, the list goes on and on – don’t let these things define who you are.  Don’t let them control you.

And when you give up your addictions, don’t replace them with other bad addictions.  Let go, and Let God in to your life.

The Best Thing You Can Do

If you read this, regardless of whether you are a full time preaching minister or not, I hope you realize the importance of the message and apply it immediately.

In September of 2011, I began a new job as the full time preaching minister for the Granny White Church of Christ. I was honored and thrilled to be offered this position. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be a “preaching” minister. I never thought I would be very good at it.

I’ve actually been preaching since I was 14, starting in high school when the Friendship Christian School high school chorus did its annual “Church Tour”. I probably would preach 4 or 5 times each year. I did devotionals during college, but never really had a preaching job. When I did campus ministry at Westbury Christian, I was in charge of chapel and spoke often. While a youth minister, I filled in when necessary.

Finally when I was an Associate Minister in Houston, I was asked to speak 12 Sundays a year. I immediately knew this was more than just filling in – and I got a bit nervous. It had been a long time since my “Prep and Del” class at FHU. I immediately began reading books on preaching, listening to podcasts of preachers, reading sermons and sermon outlines, and began paying closer attention each Sunday when I was not preaching to our senior minister.
When asked to be the full time preacher at Granny White, I was honored. I knew it was a great opportunity for me to serve God and a great congregation. Since I’ve been here, I’ve taken advantage of going to 2 lectureships, and a few seminars.

During the seminars, I learned that a minister should try and memorize his sermons, that a minister never preaches a sermon twice, a minister never borrows or uses someone else’s material, a minister should spend X amount of hours preparing a lesson…the list goes on and on and on.

This got in my head and really shook me up. I was not memorizing my lessons. I was preaching a few things I had already done. I was preaching a couple of sermons that I had re-written and modified. I wasn’t spending “X” amount of hours preparing.

And I started to get nervous, and confused.

But then, I realized something – there is no prescribed way in the NT telling a preacher how to preach. Jesus never says “He who memorizes his sermons will be blessed abundantly.” Paul never says “A good preacher will only preach 17.4 minutes.” Peter never talks about how many hours he spent preparing for his great gospel in Acts. In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus said the same thing in different ways many times.

And that’s when it hit me – the best thing I can do – is to be me.

So what if I don’t memorize my sermons. I don’t think anyone is going to give their life to Christ because they are impressed with my memorization skills.

I don’t think anyone is going to be disappointed with me if I only spend 10 hours one week preparing a sermon instead of 25.

No one at Granny White heard that sermon I preached back in 2001. It wasn’t recorded on tape and I don’t believe anyone was at the same summer camp I was at back then.

I am me. That’s who I was hired to be. And that is who God made me to be. I will do by absolute best to be me.

If I memorize a sermon in the future, great! But if I don’t – it doesn’t make me less of a preacher. If I decide not to wear a tie one Sunday, I think it will be okay. If I only preach for 15 minutes one Sunday, I’ll probably have a whole lot more who are happy about it than upset at me!

The only real requirement I see in preaching is that I preach the truth.

And I will continue to do that to the best of my abilities till God no longer sees fit for me to be doing it anymore.

So for you preachers out there – be you. Don’t try to be the next big thing in preaching. Don’t try to impress your members by doing something that doesn’t come naturally to you. Don’t be fake by doing something you wouldn’t normally do.

Just be you. Do it to the best of your ability. Pray that God will use you and guide you. Don’t feel like you’re not doing a good job just because you don’t preach or teach like the other guys. Just be you – and let God do the rest.

Praying for Guidance

Proverbs encourages us to stay on the path of wisdom, and to be careful not to start “to the right or the left.”  In 4:25-27 it states: “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Is this a problem for you?  Ask yourself these questions while thinking about your attitude and behavior in life:

– What is your influence on others?  Whose life have you genuinely touched and changed for the better in recent years?

– What is your direction and purpose?  If you continue to work of the next ten years as you are currently working, what will you have gained?  What will your life look like on its current path in ten years?

– Are you honoring God?  Can you cite three things that you have done in the last year that you believe have clearly brought glory to God?  What are some ways in which you have honored Him at work, in your home, and in your community?

– Are you avoiding evil?  What one thing have said “no” to in the past year in order to “remove your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:27)?  What did it cost you?  What did you gain?

– What is your testimony?  What one characteristic would you say clearly distinguishes you from non-Christians in your workplace, school, neighborhood, etc.?