What's on the Pastor's Mind?

Posted on Jun 23 , 2010 in Announcements

Today as I sit here in the office, I am wondering how I can reflect the glory of God by offering more of my time as a servant and comforter to those in need.  This sounds like it should be a simple task for a Christian and especially easy for a pastor, and some days it is as quick as jumping into a swimming pool on a hot day in Atlanta–no problem, you just fall forward a let gravity do the rest.  However, I have been a little tired lately with traveling and writing papers and preparing sermons and counseling and being a dad and being a husband and being a faithful son and you get it…don’t you?  The “ands” just keep on comin!

But as strange as it may sound, I still believe that God is calling me to a greater passion for service to those in need.  Don’t get me wrong, God isn’t telling me that I am not doing enough to please him; He is saying that my passion should spring out of the joy of my love for Christ–that would make the serving easier.  I want my service to be out of my gratitude and love for Christ and not just out of guilt and being on the payroll.  This leads to anger and burnout. I am asking the Lord to help me walk in His example.  He took time to refresh Himself and spend time in prayer and meditation while He worked to meet the needs of those around Him. He was a gentle, loving, tireless and effective servant of His Heavenly Father–I want to be like that and you do too.  Today we must submit to the leadership His Holy Spirit in order to know what Jesus knew about service.  He will teach us how to serve others with the passion and vigor that comes with our being the grateful children of a generous Father. If you love Jesus, you will serve the way He served.  He was glad to do it and He did it with passion.

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Sermons Are Now Available Through iTunes

Posted on May 03 , 2010 in Announcements

If you enjoy hearing the Word of God from Pastor Cobbert, then you are in for a treat. I am proud to announce that you can now subscribe to Redemption Fellowship’s sermons via iTunes (and yes it is free)!  If you have an iPod, iPhone, iPad, a computer, or any other device that can play a MP3, then this is for you.  You can now get your sermons downloaded to your computer (or your device) right as they are posted.  You can click -> HERE <-  to get started, or you can just search for “Redemption Fellowship” in the iTunes Store.  Thank you in advance for help spreading the word, and being a witness to our growth.

P.S. If you want to give your friends, family, and/or co-workers an easy to remember link to our sermon podcast… http://bit.ly/RedemptionSermons. If you do not have iTunes, but use another program for subscribing to podcasts, you can subscribe using http://feeds.feedburner.com/RedemptionFellowshipChurchSermons

Pastor Mike's Book Review of "Christ Centered Preaching" (abbreviated)

Posted on Apr 06 , 2010 in Announcements

Book: Christ Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

Description of the Reading

This is a textbook that basically delivers instruction on how to develop and preach an expository sermon.  The book suggests that sermon has the basic structure of “explanation,” “illustration,” and “application.”  The book builds around this structure as it seeks to explain how to create a sermon faithful to the original intention of the text.  The book treats the subject of preaching as something that is well done when it is handled as a step-by-step process in which the preacher exposes the text in a way that resembles a sort of “Indiana Jones” type of exhuming original meaning.  The text explains everything from picking a text, developing introductions and conclusions, determining main and subpoints and effectively transitioning between these points as well as how to illustrate and apply the text.  The book has as a continuous thread the use of a proposition statement that depicts how the text’s Fallen Condition Focus (FCF) will be brought forth to the listeners.

Central Concerns of the Author

I know Bryan Chapell; he is what I call a pure preacher.  He is gifted and passionate about sermon preparation and is a master of sermon delivery.  If the church was a baseball team, Bryan would be a designated hitter as these are usually the guys who are pure hitters and don’t have to practice fielding to ball.  Bryan usually hits it out of the park.  I say all this to enhance my remarks on what I think Bryan’s concern are in writing this book. It is my belief that the author is concerned with the proper preparation of faithful and effective sermons and how they are delivered in our preaching to a contemporary congregation.  He wants sermons to be about the grace of God and the work of Christ and he wants the preacher to reach the audience in a way that touches the heart and communicates not just the sin of man but also God’s remedy; I believe he is continually stressing the need for sermons to be relevant to fallen people.  He writes a “basic training” manual for preaching and to me that says that he wants preachers to give thought to each part of the process and not just grab a text, say a prayer for understanding and just start preaching.  He wants the preacher to do the work it takes to present a well prepared meal for people who need to hear a true word from God.  He understands that we live in a society where people don’t pay attention to well and very few want to be told that they need to be saved by God or surrendered to God.  Therefore, he sees the need for our preaching to reach out and grab the listener quickly and hold on to them unto the final application is made.

How the Book may affect my preaching

I intend to employ as many principles from the book as I can.   I believe I am at the point where I can assume that the Lord has given me this text to make some adjustments to my preparation process.  The book is simple and easy to follow.  I attended the required homiletics classes during my seminary years, but never really got the hang of preparing a sermon as a step-by-step-process; as a result I see that I may be omitting some very important steps such as “formally” developing a fallen condition focus based on man’s needs and God’s gracious solution.  I tend to pick the text and eventually bump into the FCF somewhere during the process. I also tend to preach from narratives, so I was especially interested in the chapter that talked about using narratives to bring out biblical principles.  I believe that the book has caused me to think about the amount of time that I am putting into sermon preparation and whether I am using the time as efficiently as possible.

Mike's Book Review: "The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text"

Posted on Mar 23 , 2010 in Announcements

Book Review by Mike Higgins–yes, I do read books :)

Book: The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text by Sidney Greidanus

Description of the Reading

When I first started reading this book, I figured it would be difficult and extremely technical as compared to the other books that I had read on the subject of sermon prep and preaching.  I was initially bogged down in the early chapters on historical-critical method and the various types of criticisms that can be used to help preachers prepare to preach a text and I just knew this book would be a tough read.   I tend to get frustrated when I have to constantly stop and look up technical terms or re-read sentences to understand what they are saying.  However as I got out of the “hedgerows” and into chapter four, things got better.  And as it turns out, that this book has greatly informed my sermon preparation.  The detailed descriptions of the different types of literature in the Bible and how to interpret this literature, helps me see the scriptures more clearly.  I am a “systems” type of person and I appreciate it when something helps me see how parts of the system fit into the whole.  I am thankful for Greidanus’ guidelines for interpretation as they have reinforced the fact that the Scriptures may all be inspired by God, but they are not all the same and must always be preached as dictated by their appropriate genre (history, wisdom, epistle, poetry, etc.)

Central Concerns of the Author

The bottomline up front is that the author wants the reader to understand that the bible is about God; God’s love, redemption, judgment, plans, etc.  He wants the reader to understand that all of the characters in the bible are accessories to grace, mercy or judgment, but that God Himself is what the Scriptures are about.  Next, I believe the author is concerned that preachers prepare sermons that say what the original authors intended.  I believe the author wants the reader to understand that doing the proper exegesis of a text and understanding the literal, historical, and theological interpretation of the text in view will serve to provide a sermon that is true to the original audience but also relevant to the contemporary congregation.  The author stresses that we should always pick a complete unit to use as our preaching text and that text should be treated with various litmus tests to bring out what is really before us. The author wants us to understand that preachers are given the task of bringing people the word of God and that this task is worth doing well.  He seems burdened to get us (preachers) to “slow down” and put time into doing justice to the work of “rightly diving the word of truth.”  The author presents his feelings of disappointment when preachers isolate a set of scriptures outside of their proper context and then tries to use them to support a personal agenda, for example using Malachi 3:8-10 just to get people to pay their tithes without considering the surrounding scriptures to tell the whole story.  The author challenges us to treat the genres of Old Testament prophecies, histories, poetry and narratives and New Testament gospel narratives and epistles in accordance with their genres so as to get the maximum understanding out of the writings.

How the Book may affect my preaching

This book has already caused me to slow down and dig beeper into the historical, literary, and theological meanings of the ‘preaching unit” (see, already I am adapting the language of the book).  I am presently preaching through The Gospel of Mark and have discovered that, according to Greidanus, I employ the “inductive” form of preaching.  This was refreshing as I personally did not know what my style was called.   I just pick a text and pray over it, stay with it, live and sleep with it until I feel I understand it and then preach it.  I have never stopped to classify my form of sermon prep, I just employ what gets me where I am going.  I have always thought that the sermon was a trip to a conclusion that I, as a preacher, help the congregation to arrive at using transitions or helpful road signs along the way.  I especially love preaching New Testament narratives, and Greidanus’ book has deeply influenced how I look at this wonderful genre.  Of course, I will consult Greidanus’ guidelines when I am preaching from any of the other types of  literature in the scriptures.  The important thing to me is that this book provides guidelines that will make my sermon prep not only simpler, but better–more impacting.  As an army guy, I am always looking for something that will enhance ‘mission accomplishment.”  I am always looking for the “regulation” that covers what I am trying to do—maybe that’s what I love about the reformed faith—it has a theology for almost everything!

Greidanus has done the preacher a great service and I wish I had read this book sooner as I see a lot of my own mistakes highlighted in its pages.  I am seriously concerned with preaching that keeps Christ as the central character and does not focus too much on the other characters of a narrative.  It is so easy to give too much attention to the faith and circumstances of the Syro-Phenician Woman in Mark Chapter Seven and forget about Jesus’ call to persevering faith, His compassion, and His sovereignty over demons.  I hope to remember how the author calls us to remember that the Bible is “God’s words about God.”  I am also reminded by the book that I tend to moralize things especially in the conclusion of my sermons and I have started watching that tendency very closely as not to nullify God’s grace.  Good book.

Walking Up The King's Highway

Posted on Feb 03 , 2010 in Announcements






Here's the Problem

Posted on Jan 19 , 2010 in Announcements

We are not satisfied.  Our culture tells us that we need more.  We are falling for the big lie that we are not supposed to be satisfied with Christ alone.  We are wearing ourselves out trying to make things better financially and physically, but we have forsaken the spiritual.  Jesus said that he who sought to save his life himself would lose it, but we don’t really believe that anymore.  We have become god and are attempting to use our human “power” and “might” to fix things that only God can fix.  The best we can do is put a bandaid on a compound fracture.

As a pastor, my prayer for the church in the West is that she will not fall victim to the spirit of “Just do it,” and “Obey your thirst.”  Trials and temptations come to strengthen our faith in someone who is greater than ourselves.  However, the problem is not the world, it is us.  Let’s recover our sense of awe of God by meditating on his word in scripture such as Psalms 23 which tells us “that the Lord is our Shepherd, we have everything we need.”

Former Sr. Pastor Mike Higgins

Candace Lashay " Diamond"

Posted on Dec 31 , 2009 in Announcements

Sermon for December 20, 2009: Proof of God's Mercy

Posted on Dec 27 , 2009 in Announcements

Pastor Mike Higgins uses the Book of Mark to prove the mercy of God.

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Korey Bowie & Invested- "Favor Aint Fair"

Posted on Dec 27 , 2009 in Announcements