Tell the world we preach the Word!

October 31, 2014 Leave a comment

Church growth is on my mind this month. Not growth for growth’s sake but building our base to be able to make a difference in our community. The reality is that a church will not rise above the level of its pastor’s preaching. The pastor is the key ingredient in turning around a church. If there was nothing else to offer here, you should feel comfortable telling others, “come hear” what our pastor teaches.

 

Consider God’s vision of the valley of dry bones. Ezekiel saw the valley filled with dead men’s bones and asked, “can these bones ever live again.” God’s answer was, “Start preaching!” (Ezek 37:9) As he continued preaching, the bones took on flesh and began to breathe again. Ezekiel asked God what to do next. God replied, “Keep on preaching.” (Ezek 37:12) So he continued preaching and the valley of people became a marching army.

 

Let me be clear that I don’t see a church turnaround solely as the responsibility of the pastor. What I do see is that when there is sound biblical preaching from the pulpit, that is, the word of God delivered as God wants, then restoration is possible. I have heard two different comments since I’ve been here, “I hope he’s not discouraged because there aren’t many people” and “he preaches like there’s a full church”. Ezekiel preached to a valley of dry bones. I preach on behalf of God and the attendance does not impact this. Here are some things I believe about preaching:

 

Preaching that turns churches around is Biblical

When people come to church they want to find it necessary to open their Bibles and dig in! A sermon that breathes life into a congregation is one that is filled with constant references to the text and its principles. Though most preachers are preaching the Bible, not all churches are coming alive. There are more ingredients in Biblical preaching that must be there as well.

 

Preaching that turns churches around must be relevant

My task is to give out more than Biblical information. I believe God wants me to make sure that the Biblical principles I share are the ones the people need in their everyday lives, not answering questions that nobody else but preachers are asking.

 

Preaching that turns churches around is understandable

A preacher who preaches over the heads of his people isn’t smart. He just has bad aim. My job is to communicate the truth so that the people will be able to obey God’s word.

 

Preaching that turns churches around is passionate

I’ve heard too many preachers who preach with all the enthusiasm of reading a two-week old newspaper. Our message is the best news the world has ever heard. It is a high privilege to preach the most exciting Book in the world. I ask two questions each time I preach: “Do I really believe what I am about to say.” Second, “Is what I am about to say really important?” It must be a message from one person’s heart directed to another’s heart.

 

We are all part of the solution in growing our church. I will do my best to deliver the kind of preaching I’ve described. Then we’ve all got to get the word out that we have something to say here that is worth coming for.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Rich

 

 

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Company is Coming

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

As we move into the final three months of the year, we begin to think of the holidays. Holidays usually mean folks coming over to visit, share a meal or celebrate with us. What do we do when we know company is coming over? If yours is anything like the Holt household, this means straightening up the living room, planning meals and arranging furniture so that people will feel comfortable and welcome when they arrive.   We need to look at reaching out into our community the same way. Outreach is meeting the needs of our community while expressing God’s love in ways that build relationships and provide opportunities to share God’s plan of salvation. It’s important to our church because it is important to God and that makes it important to every Christian for the following reasons:

  • Outreach was commanded by Christ. Before His ascension, Jesus told the disciples that their impact on the world should start in their city and expand its influence into the entire world (Matthew 28.19; Acts 1:8; 2 Peter 3:9).
  • Outreach is necessary for growth. Worship, discipleship, and serving are important, but if you never progress to the next stage of maturity by reaching out to others, you will be spiritually lacking and incomplete. A living church is reproducing, while a dying church has no heart or burden for the lost in their community. (Matthew 9:9-12).
  • Outreach both glorifies and pleases God. The Bible tells us that doing God’s work is like a tree bearing a lot of fruit. Jesus told us that God is glorified when we bear fruit by reaching out to others (John 15:8; 1 Timothy 2:3–4).
  • Outreach results in God’s blessing and favor on your life. The Bible is very clear that God intends to bless those whose hearts are focused on reaching out to lost and hurting people. God clearly affirms those who share His passion and heart for reaching out to those who do not know Him (Genesis 12:1–3; Luke 6:38).
  • Outreach requires synergy. Loving our community and world will require individual and organizational cooperation. It calls each of us to set aside our individual preferences and combine our time, talents, and treasures (Ecclesiastes 4:9).

As we move into the fall season, won’t you join me in looking around our home (church) and asking ourselves if I invite folks over, will this be the kind of place they will want to come back to? Is this the kind of sermon that is attractional? Is this the kind of music that will encourage new people to join us? We know we want to reach out to our community but we should be thoughtful on how to make whatever efforts we do produce fruit for the Kingdom. Let me know your ideas this month. Drop me an email (Richard.holtedd@gmail.com) or even a note in the collection plate. What would you suggest to make us more attractive to the world?   Company is coming. We are going to start inviting folks left and right and we want our house to be the spiritual home that people need. Where can we start?

Pastor Rich

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Whom Shall We Follow?

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Whom shall we follow? I am mindful in these times about how difficult it is for us to follow our leaders. In Titus 3:1 we are told, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good”. Yet Paul speaks of the factions that arose in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 1:10 he appeals to that congregation to agree with one another yet notes in vs. 1:12 that people have chosen to follow either Paul or Apollos, Cephas or Christ. As I come to you now as your new Senior Pastor here at FBCPV I believe that it is God who places a man in authority over a congregation. (Rom 13:1).

 

What then is our role? I believe that once the decision has been made, whether it is a new Pastor or a new Elder, we are to do more than just submit, we are to actively support them. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12 Paul says, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.” So we are to acknowledge them and more. Hebrews 13:17 tells us to, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”

 

The important thing is that we are all to be co-workers in the field of ministry with our leaders and do all that can be done to encourage them, enable them and support them so that God may work through them for the good of the Kingdom. In Exodus 17:10 Joshua goes out to fight the Amalekites at the direction of Moses. As the battle raged, as long as Moses held up his staff, the Israelites would be winning. But Moses’ hands grew tired and when they were lowered, the battle would go against Israel. Aaron and Hur were with Moses and while they couldn’t wield his staff, they could stand to either side of him and hold up his hands all day long until the battle was won. Let us commit to holding up the arms of all our leaders in ministry.

 

In Ephesians 6:12 we are told that, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” When any church calls new leaders, it will be God who equips us and send us into the battle under these leaders. But we must be willing. May we be ready and willing to fight the fight and hold up the arms of all our leaders from morning til evening so that the people of God can triumph in His name.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Rich

 

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A WORD FROM PASTOR RICH

There comes a time when what we say is judged by what we do. The New Testament speaks about the fruit in our lives over a dozen times. Paul admonishes us to live as a direct result of our values, that is, to walk in love. (Ephesians 5:2). We are to live lives worthy of the calling of Christ. In the OT, Jesus is described as a “servant” (Isaiah 42:1). The NT describes Him similarly (Acts 3:26, Philippians 2:5-8). As a servant, Jesus taught that the way to God’s kingdom was by traveling the path of a servant (Matthew 23:11). So, to walk in integrity, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps or better said, Jesus’ character. We are to become more and more like the Him (2 Corinthians 3:18, Ephesians 4:15). We are to demonstrate love to others (Matthew 7:12). In Zechariah 8:16-17 we are told to, “ Speak the truth to each other, render true and sound judgment, do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the LORD.

Personal integrity sets an example to others. A criticism of Christians is that they are hypocrites. Paul tells Titus the way to avoid this, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good”. (Titus 2:7-8) A great way to be an example to your family, friends and to your church is to be a reliable person with your word. When you say you will do something, those who know you should consider it “done”. James says that we should “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’, no, or you will be condemned.” (James 5:12) Our faith is demonstrated by our commitment to what say we believe.

Does our daily life accurately represent what we profess to believe?

Pastor Rich Holt W

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Our Spiritual Act of Worship

Worship is continuously living our lives individually and corporately as living sacrifices to the glory of a person or thing. This connection between glory and worship is clear in places such as Romans 11:36 (NIV).

“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”

In this packed section of Scripture, Paul connects a number of vital truths regarding worship. First, we hold a person or thing in a place of Glory. Second, we then Worship that person or thing. Third, our worship of that person is Unceasing, not some occasional or scheduled thing.

Glory means weightiness, importance, preeminence, and priority, or our greatest treasure, deepest longing, and fountain of hope. Whatever we hold in the position of highest glory is by definition our god. Because we were made for the express purpose of worshiping God, every person is a worshiper. The only question is what or who we worship.

The most common word for Worship in the New Testament is proskuneo. This kind of worship is a profound submission and offering of respect to the one worshiped. We must always ask ourselves if, when we worship, we are coming from this deep, heart driven place.

Jesus’ life destroys any notion that worship is a sacred thing we do at a special time and special place. All of life is to be lived as Unceasing worship; cutting our grass and cleaning our dishes are as sacred and God-glorifying as raising our hands in church. God has made us in His image, which means that we were made for unceasing communion with Him in a life of continual worship to His glory. Paul sums up the life of unceasing worship best in 1 Corinthians 10:31.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The Trinity is our perfect model for worship as each member gives Glory the others unceasingly and perfectly. Not only do we Worship through Jesus, we must also Worship like Jesus. Jesus is the person who has worshiped God the Father with the most glory of anyone who has ever lived. He is the perfect worshiper. Jesus lived a life of perfect Glory to His Father and thus we can look at everything in His life, from the ordinary to the extraordinary, as born out of a life of ceaseless worship that glorified God the Father.

May we all give Glory to God by Unceasingly Worshiping Him in all our ways.

Pastor Rich Holt

 

 

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The Final Gift

June 10, 2014 1 comment

“Grace be with all who love…

This church has been a blessing to me. I have had the greatest joy being your Pastor, teacher, student, mentor, leader, brother in Christ, and friend. There is so much I would like to say to you.

I could take time to reminisce about the ministry we did together, and all the joys we shared, but that wouldn’t be adequate. I could give you one last sermon, a spiritual piece of my mind for the road so to speak… but I won’t do that.

It is not the accomplishments and the sermons and Bible studies that I will take with me in memory, it’s you, the people of the First Baptist Church of Palos Verdes, that I will miss the most, the longtime members and those who have come to be a part of this church family recently. You are an amazing group of people, and the best thing is you don’t even know how amazing you are, so there is no danger of these words ever going to your head. God has truly put something unique and special in you that even churches hundred times your size don’t possess. To put it into words is difficult… I only know you are truly rich in the love of Christ.

So what can I give to a church that has everything? I give you the only thing I can, my thanks, my love, and my prayers that you will continue to grow in His grace and receive it in its full measure. Whatever you and I have accomplished together, we have done it through God’s glorious grace in Christ Jesus.

I share with you the words of Paul as I leave you to go on a new adventure.

“Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.” Ephesians 6:24

Thank you again for all the love you have shared with me

Blessings,

Pastor Joel

 

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AN OLDIE BUT A GOODY

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

As long as I can remember, and especially when the situation warranted it, my mother would quote Proverbs 3:5-6 to me. It was probably the second verse I had memorized after John 3:16.

 

This is also quite often the verse I recite to myself over and over when I have trouble sleeping at night. Believe it or not it has worked for me more often than not. Maybe because in times of anxiety and uncertainty its message of who’s really in charge is the reminder I need to find peace and direction.

 

Faith and trust in the Lord is our home away from home while we sojourn here during life on this side of heaven. Trust in God is the only sure thing we have when we are not sure of what lies ahead of us. As a traveler must trust his map and a sailor trusts his compass, and a pilot must trust his instruments in order to find their way, a child of God trusts God at His word as found in His Word.

 

Because this verse is so familiar to us, we may have overlooked its promise to us. We give him our whole trust regardless of what the circumstances dictate, and let go of what we think should happen, or what may happen. If we give Him precedence in all ways regarding a decision, God’s promise is He will get us to where we need to be. Complete trust is our ticket to the destination of peace.

 

These old words of a wise king still can get us to that new place in the Lord, safe and sound.

 

Pastor Joel

 

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