276 Questions to Ask Before you Get Married

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One of the observations I have having pastored for 15 years; and marrying and counseling many couples is that far tooww often more attention is given to the wedding than to the actual marriage. As a result of this faulty and myopic thinking there are so many married couples experiencing the defeat of divorce because they planned for an event rather than planning for a lifetime. I have attached a resource for those of you who don’t want to be another marriage statistic. It’s called “276 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married.” I don’t know where I found this or who wrote this. I’ve had it for years and it has helped some folks to probe themselves and their relationship on a much deeper level so that they avoid the pain of getting married too soon or to the wrong one.

I hope this helps.

MyRon

276 Questions to Ask Before You Get Married

Your Most Vulnerable Moment


“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:30-32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus had sent the disciples out to do ministry in His name. This was their first time going out without Jesus. The ministry trial was so successful that they rejoiced and bragged that even the “demons were subject to us.”

Then Christ made this statement which has made me realize that success is more dangerous than suffering:

“And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭10:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Notice how Christ redirects their rejoicing. He essentially says, “stop celebrating your success; celebrate your salvation.” Christ turns their minds towards being in relationship with as Him as THE symbol of success versus them doing great things for God.

He illustrates his point first by using Satan as a sad example of this. Christ seems to suggest that Satan’s fall was in large part because he was intoxicated with his own greatness.

I personally know first hand that “pride comes before destruction.” Proverbs 16:18

Almost every time God would use me greatly I would relax spiritually and fall into sin. Success does this. It relaxes our spiritual defenses and causes us to sleep at the wheel.

So am I saying success is evil?

Absolutely not. We need to be successful! God wants us to be successful.

The problem is how we handle success, good days, and times when God blesses us.

Notice what Christ told the disciples to after they had a good day:

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:30-32‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Did you see it? Did you catch the timeless truth Christ just dropped that can save you from a major fall?

Here it is:

When things go well for you; when you get blessed or used by God go to a “desolate” place. Get alone with God! Humble yourself before Him. Praise Him for the blessing. Get low before Him. Ask for humility and grace. Pray for protection from the attacks of Satan, because when God uses you or blesses you, you become a target of the devil.

Check this sobering quote:

All who follow Christ… will be made a mark for the fierce assaults of Satan.–Desire of Ages p. 224

We are always most vulnerable to Satan’s attacks after our greatest moments.

So here is a formula for the successful:

When you succeed go seek God.

My 7 Day Sermon Prep Strategy

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I love to preach! There is no greater feeling than being used by God to transform lives by the things that come out of my mouth! Crazy! Especially when I consider how unworthy I am. It just blows my mind to know that I am making an eternal difference in someones life! I love to preach!

Yet I used to hate preparing to preach. Sermon preparation for many a preacher can be down right stressful and discouraging.

Yet in order to be an effective preacher you have to be equally effective in your preparation. The process will produce the product. If the process is flawed then the product will be as well.

So identifying best practices and proven methods of effective sermon preparation is critical to delivering life-changing messages.

Having studied a number of powerful preachers I noticed that they all have a consistent process or system for developing cogent and impactful sermons. After preaching for over 15 years I have finally settled into a simple sermon preparation strategy that works for me. My system may not work for you but it may help you to identify some practical things to do to help you deliver powerful messages consistently.

For the sake of clarity preaching for me is simply communicating the gospel through your unique personality. Nothing more. Nothing less. Preaching is art in that it is diverse and creative. Preaching is also a science in that it is based on laws of hermeneutics and exegesis. But, at the end of the day it must be consistently powerful and life changing not “with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4 NIV).

So every time I preach, I want my preaching through the anointing of the Spirit to produce transformed minds and changed lives rather than congratulations and applause.  I have developed a 7 day sermon process. This process is based on series preaching that covers one topic or theme over several messages (For those of you who are pastors who have to preach regularly I have found series preaching to be most helpful to the preacher and to the congregation). My process is not meant to show you how to preach, rather it gives you a day-by-day picture of what to do so that you are ready when its time to preach.

Here is my 7 day sermon preparation strategy:

Sunday

  • I will listen to my most recent sermon I preached on Sabbath (day before) and take notes of things that I could have said and need to say in the following message.
  • I read repeatedly the selected text for the upcoming Sabbath and meditate on it
    to determine my sermonic goal.

Monday

  • Day of Prayer and Fasting. 
  • Family Day 

Tuesday

  • I read in various translations the selected scripture looking for the big idea and the contextual situation.
  • I take notes on initial thoughts and ideas that jump out of the text.

Wednesday

  • I take a day off from the sermon and spend time in visitation and member care.
  • This is a vital and is one of the most important parts of sermon preparation for application. Inevitably the Spirit will speak to me through my members and confirm or redirect how the Lord wants to use me on Sabbath.

Thursday

  • This is my main day for sermon internalization seeking to be crystal clear about the essence of what I want to say.
  • I read all supporting material (commentaries, EGW, books, articles other sermons)
  • I will clarify the big idea and main principle of the text.
  • I seek to answer the following questions: What was this text saying to the original audience? What is this text saying today? What do they need to know?  Why do they need to know it? What do they need to do? Why do they need to do it?”

Friday

  • This is sermon organization day.
  • Craft sermon notes and outline.
  • I organize my sermon outline (no full manuscript just an outline) around one singular point based on Andy Stanley’s book on preaching Communicating for a Change:
    • Me-Introduce the subject by finding a dilemma that I am currently facing and point of tension
    • We-find common ground with audience around the same dilemma or issue
    • God-Then I transition to the text to find out what God has to about this issue or dilemma
    • You-Then I challenge me and the audience to act and apply what God said through His Word
    • We-Finally, I close with several statements about what could happen in your community, your church, or the world, if everybody embraced that particular truth

Sabbath Morning

  • Wake up at 6am and spend time praying and taking a last walk through the message.
  • Praying for a move of God.
  • Praying for humility.
  • Praying for flesh and self to get out of the way.
  • Praying for souls to be saved.
  • Preach with no manuscript and minimal notes.

Give me your feedback on this 7 day process.

Focus.


Hey guys!

One of the hardest things to do in life is to keep your focus when a million things are trying to distract you!
Focus is a discipline.


I love football and one of the skills that makes a quarterback a great quarterback is his ability to stand in the pocket, keep his eyes focused down field while completing a pass to his intended target with defenders trying to take his head off, linebackers trying to take his knees out and crowds making noise.
That’s Focus.
Jesus is the best example of focus.
Check this…
Luke 9:51 (NLT) says: “As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.”
He made up His mind to compete his mission! He “resolutely set out.”
Ignore the noise. Focus.
Stop majoring in minors. Focus.
Stop wasting energy on distractions. Focus.
Stop letting people get in your head. Focus.
Winston Church Hill said “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw rocks at every dog that barks.”
Focus.

 

Mind Blowing Book!

I tend to exaggerate just about everything. Hyperbole is my spiritual gift. Some people call me a “hype man.”

This is true.

I cannot tell a lie.

I do get carried away a lot and am often a prisoner of the moment.

So when those closest to me (my wife) hear me passionately promoting something they dismiss my enthusiasm as MyRon being “MyRon.”

For example if I eat something really good I am prone to say something like “This is the best taco I have ever tasted in my life!” (wife rolls eyes)

Or if I see a good movie “This is the best movie I have ever seen!” (wife rolls eyes)

This is also true of books as well…Except in this case (wife agrees with me). I’m not saying that this is “the best book ever,” (tempering my enthusiasm) but this is one of the most impactful books I have ever read about the love of God. That’s right I said it. One of the MOST IMPACTFUL, PARADIGM SHIFTING, MIND-BLOWING BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ about the love of God other than the Bible itself!

Okay…I will exhale from my jubilation.

The name of the book is “A God Named Desire.”

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The author is Ty Gibson.

If you are looking to hit the reset button of your understanding of who God is and what He is all about this is the book for you.

Don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself and tell me what you think.

The Holy Spirit. The Seal. Part 1

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Dealing and Revealing

“A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work.”–Review and Herald, March 22, 1887,

There are two things God is constantly and persistently doing in my life personally.

Dealing and Revealing.

Let me explain.
God is dealing with me personally about areas in my life that need to change and simultaneously revealing to me the painful process that will produce those changes.

God not only does that with me personally but also theologically and philosophically.

Specifically, God has been showing me the importance of the work of the Holy Spirit and illuminating to me from His word the indispensable nature of the work of the Spirit in the my life and the lives all of believers. It is hardly possible to study the New Testament without bumping into a mention or reference of the Holy Spirit in each of the twenty-seven books. As a matter of fact there are around 260 references of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. He is mentioned fifty-six times in the Gospels, fifty-seven times in the book of Acts, 112 times in the Pauline epistles, and thirty-six times in the remaining New Testament.

I think you get the point.

The Holy Spirit was so important to Jesus that he actually said it was better that He leave so that the Spirit could come (John 16:7). But if there is a text in the scriptures that shows how important the Holy Spirit is, it has to be when Christ declared that all sins would be forgiven except the sin against the Spirit (Matthew 12:31).

The Holy Spirit is a big deal
Even in the writings of Ellen White, she goes so far as saying that the “greatest and most urgent of all our needs” as a church is a “revival” of the “Holy Spirit” and seeking this should be our “first work” (1 Selected Messages p. 121.1). The bottomline is the Holy Spirit is a big deal to God and should be big deal to His people. So the question is: If the Holy Spirit is so important in the Bible and writings of Ellen White why does it seem for the most part that so little emphasis is placed on having Him in our lives and our churches?

As Adventists we seemed to have placed more value on keeping the Sabbath versus receiving the Spirit. Don’t get me wrong the Sabbath is very important, but in the Bible more emphasis is placed on having the Spirit than keeping the Sabbath. If Jesus Christ is to have preeminence in the church how can this happen without the Spirit? The truth is it cannot happen. Maybe this is why so many of our churches are dying; why marriages are breaking up in record numbers and why we have lost and are continuing to lose our young people. We have the form of godliness but the power of God is missing (2 Timothy 3:5).

War of Extremes

We are at war. Not against flesh and blood but against the devil and all his forces (Ephesians 6).You can tell what the devil is afraid of by what he tries to keep you from doing. He doesn’t mind you attending church and doing religious things as long as you don’t have the presence of the Spirit of God in you. Satan not only loves to distract us from the ministry of the Holy Spirit but also wants to create confusion about His work. If he can get us to lean to extremes regarding the Spirit of God in either direction he has succeeded.

The Point of Controversy?

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”–A.W. Tozer

From my experience Adventists have leaned mostly toward defending doctrines such as the Sabbath, end time prophecy, state of the dead, health reform, dress reform, etc. Consequently we have leaned away from what Ellen White calls “primitive godliness” such as the importance of being born again through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our problem, is not a over emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but an under emphasis of the Spirit. The late Dr. A. W. Tozer, author and pastor, some 50 years ago said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

Could it be that we are overlooking the main thing that God wants us to focus on? Could it be that we are blind to the reality of our greatest need? Could it be that we are celebrating our successes but grieving the Spirit? Could it be that we think we have everything but in essence  have nothing, if we don’t have the Spirit?

Stay tuned for 5 more blogs on this topic…