New Free E-book: Long Term Sermon Planning

Without a doubt, one of the most difficult things I do every year as a pastor is spending two weeks in November preparing a preaching schedule for the following year. Without a doubt, one of the most important things I do every year is an annual preaching schedule. The quality of the messages is greatly impacted by that advance planning.  I have had several pastors ask me, “How can God lead you what to preach ten months from now?” My answer – “God can lead me in long term sermon preparation the same way He can lead me to preach next Sunday’s sermon!” Long term sermon planning does not hinder being flexible or sensitive when national disasters or church family crises arise. Long term sermon planning is work – hard work! It takes a great deal of prayer, concentration, and meditation. Yet, a settled peace will come to your heart and God’s power to your pulpit as you allow Him to lead and guide this effort.

This e-book has been created to help pastors with this important task of sermon planning. I hope this e-book will be a helpful resource to you as you prepare your sermon planning schedule.

A Journey of Faith, Part 2

Reprinted from Baptist Voice, Part 2

Ministry Lessons

Philippians 4:19Missions!  “If we take care of God’s business He will take care of our business.”  God blesses a church that is committed to the Great Commission.  We began supporting missionaries before we even chartered the church.  God has honored His promise to meet the needs of a missionary supporting church.

Acts 4:31Prayer!  “And when they prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”  Beginning a prayer partner program was one of the best decisions I ever made as a pastor.  Men and women commit to praying with a prayer partner for one year.  Upon inaugurating this ministry, God blessed us with three consecutive years of either someone being saved, baptized or joining the church every Sunday.  All to God’s Glory!  He seemed to be placing His stamp of approval on a ministry bathed in prayer.

Matthew 6:33Holiness!  God First!  Early in ministry I was challenged by the “Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.”  As a 19 year old man, Edwards wrote down the resolutions to order his life.  As a result, God used him to spark the Great Awakening, prepare the colonies to establish a government based on Biblical principles, and change the world.  With that inspiration, I wrote down 31 personal life goals and principles to live by.  You can jot down your own list.

Give glory to God by maintaining a daily walk with Christ, Matt. 6:33

Surrender my will to Christ and desire His likeness, Rm. 8:29, 12:1-2

Love my wife as Christ loved the church, Eph. 5:25

Raise my children to love God, Eph. 6:1-2; 3 John 4

Serve the Lord with excellence in our church family, Col. 3:23, I Tim. 1:12

Honor my parents, Eph. 6:2

Share my faith with the unsaved, Acts 1:8

Live with Integrity, I Thess. 2:3-10

Regularly commit Scripture to memory, II Tim. 2:15, Psalm 119:11

Keep my testimony above reproach (Be a Daniel), Dan. 6:3-4

Be a godly influence on my Christian friends, Jms. 2:8; Gal. 6:2

Be honest, Phil. 1:10

Be pure, I Thess. 4:3

Choose a positive and joyful attitude, Gal. 5:22-23; Phi. 4:4

Be loyal to my church family, Heb. 13:17

Commit to excellence, Col. 3:23

Trust God daily, Prov. 3:5-6

Tithe on all my income, Prov. 3:9-10

Manage my time well, Eph. 5:16

Develop personal discipline, I Cor. 9:24-27; Gal. 2:20

Be a leader (be an example), I Tim. 4:6,16

Serve others, Gal. 5:13

Maintain excellent health, I Tim. 4:8

Have regular family devotions, Deut. 6:4-7

Have regular family activities, Eph. 6:4

Read ½ hour a day for additional study, II Tim. 4:13

Be kind and forgiving, Eph. 4:32

Develop concentration of power, Col. 3:23

Develop orderliness, Prov. 24:30-31

Increase my giving to God yearly, II Cor. 9:6-8

Control family spending and live by a budget, Prov. 23:4-5

Ephesians 5:16-17Balance!  Effective and Spirit-filled ministry needs constant attention and care.  More time with the family; more time in counseling; more time in soulwinning.  Without balance in life, you will fall and fail.  If you lose your wife and children, you lose your ministry.  Satan is very effective at removing men from the ministry.  Some “foul out,” some “rust out,” and others “burn out.”  There is one thing they all have in common – They are OUT!

Nehemiah 6:3Focus!  “I am doing a great work for God, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you?”  No one ever built a statue to a critic!  Today is the day to love and serve God!  Nehemiah refused to come down off the walls and “discuss” the petty objections of his critics.

John 21:22 – Accountability!  It is a great day when you discover that you will give an account to the Lord for your life.  Peter asked the Lord, “What’s going to happen to John?”  I love Jesus’ answer – “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  Follow thou Me!”  Daniel Webster said, “My greatest thought is my accountability to God.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Serving Jesus Christ in the ministry with my family is the greatest joy of my life!!!

A Journey of Faith, Part 1

Reprinted from The Baptist Voice, Part 1

On a hot summer day in 1975, God answered my mom’s prayers and my dad was wonderfully saved from a life of alcohol addiction.  At a service station, my parents picked up a church tract which resulted in our family attending Fairfax Baptist Temple.  After hearing Pastor Bud Calvert preach the gospel, I received the Lord as my Savior.  Under his preaching, I surrendered my life to do whatever God would have me to do.  Instead of becoming a pilot, I became a preacher!  At this time in my life, my two biggest fears were snakes and public speaking.  Snakes could easily be avoided, but not public speaking.  Many preaching opportunities brought on the affects similar to panic attacks.  It was through these hundreds of experiences that I discovered that God is greater than my weakness.

Pioneering Valley Forge Baptist Temple

Following Bible college and an internship, my home church sent me to the Philadelphia area to begin Valley Forge Baptist Temple in 1984.  My wife and I came to the area not knowing a soul.  After six months we organized with 21 people while meeting in a public school.  After 5 years we had grown to an average attendance of 90.  Our first of four buildings was constructed in 1989.  God blessed the growth of VFBT in an unusual way, doubling the attendance the first year in the new building.  We currently average just over 1,000 in attendance in double services.

Deep Waters for a Young Pastor

God showed Himself faithful to our family through our deepest trial.  My first wife passed away of cancer in 1993.  As a single father of two young boys, I found myself receiving much help from a very loving church family.  Through the deep waters God continued to bless the growth of the church.  I learned three powerful lessons about God during this time…

  • God’s way is perfect and He makes no mistakes.
  • God loves us with an everlasting love.
  • God is all-powerful to fulfill His love in our lives.

This is true of the Lord, no matter what the trial.  Then the Lord brought “a princess from Canada” into my life to become my new bride – Jodie Friesen, a pastor’s daughter.  We were married in 1996 in Ontario, Canada.  God has blessed our family with a total of five children – Matthew, Jeremy, Megan, Scotty, and Amber.

Many Hooks in the Sea

The Lord Jesus called us to “fish for men” not “guard the pond.”  As the church family matures in their faith, they become witnesses wherever they are.  To that end, we have many of the usual outreach ministries – bus ministry, VBS, camps, Reformers Unanimous, etc.  But we also have some “unusual ministries” – Chosen 300 (a ministry to preach the gospel and feed the homeless); Community Outreach days, and even a Rugby Team.  The Valley Forge Baptist Patriots are the first church rugby team in America registered with USA Rugby.  The main purpose of having a Rugby team is outreach – to share the Gospel.

The two foundational pillars of our church are:

The Glory of God, I Corinthians 10:31 & The Great Commission, Mark 16:15

These verses are etched in granite in the first two cornerstones of our church building to be a constant remind of the reason for our existence.

“A Church Crazy about Missions”

At our 2013 mission’s conference, Jeremy Pinero from Vanuatu said that “Valley Forge Baptist Temple is a church crazy about missions.”  I learned from my pastor that the Great Commission is for every church.  The Lord Jesus said that we are to be witnesses “BOTH in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  The command is to reach BOTH our local community and the world – at the very same time!  This can only be accomplished by partnering with missionaries who will go to the ends of the earth.  I believe one of the many reasons the Lord continues to bless our church family is our commitment to supporting missionaries.  Currently we support 180 missionary families and projects.

Why I Love My Church

There are literally millions of people in the world who can genuinely say, “I Love My Church!”  These people have experienced the blessing of a church family that loves God, exalts Jesus Christ, and shows love and forgiveness to one another.  It is this kind of a church family that people come to know the Lord as their personal Savior and they begin to develop a spiritual walk with God.  The results are amazing:  peace in their life and joy in their hearts.   Unfortunately, there are too many who have had negative experiences at church – sometimes it is their fault, but all too many times it is the fault of another.   One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, “I’m not going.”  “Why not?” she asked. “I’ll give you two good reasons,” he said.  “First of all, they don’t like me, and secondly, I don’t like them.”  His mother replied, “I’ll give YOU two good reasons why YOU SHOULD go to church. First of all, you’re 59 years old, and secondly, you’re the pastor!”  That is a sad situation when the pastor is not thrilled about attending his own church.  My experience has just been the opposite.  After pastoring the same church for 29 years, I am thrilled to say, “I Still Love my Church!”  I agree with the many in our church who have shared their reasons with me about Valley Forge Baptist – The Caring Church!

The have said to me…

I Love My Church Because…

God is at Work Here!

We are a Family!

I Learn How to Grow Closer to God! Jesus Christ is Exalted!

We Feed the Hungry and Give them the Gospel!    

I Love the Music!    

The People!  

Do you have a church you can call “Home”?  If not, come experience what some of your neighbors have experienced at the corner of Black Rock Road and Rt. 113 –  People who love God and others.  If the greatest desire of the human heart is to love and be loved, then you will only find that desire met in a church where Jesus Christ is worshipped!