Monday, February 28, 2011

The Morning After: RETRO 03

One of the great things about preaching is that usually I get to select my topic to preach. Yesterday, I was able to preach on one subject that means so much to me and my family. I was able to preach on the topic of MINISTRY. It was part of my continued series I have called RETRO: Looking Back So We Can Look Forward. The point is that we are looking at some aspects of church life that are often times thought of as out of style. We have talked about a view of authority (in the sense of the Scriptures). We have talked about preaching. And yesterday's title was Looking Back At Ministry So We Can Look Forward To Serving!

One of the fears of coming to a place that has been without a senior pastor for two years is that people might tend to have a let down. Many have worked hard in ministry and now they are just glad a senior pastor is here to do the work. And so they might take a break from the ministry they have been engaging in over the past years. I have consistently told the elders and now the people of the church that since I am here, their job is not over, but it is just starting all over again.

We spend the bulk of our time working our way through Colossians 1:28-29. It is a section of Scripture in which the Apostle Paul lays out his philosophy of ministry. It says,

"We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me."

We never want to be a church that might be described with a country club mentality. That is the place where the people sit back and say things like, "what's in it for me?" They pay their dues (in the form of offering), they hire professionals (they are called pastors), and they sit back and expect to be entertained. And if that doesn't happen or if their needs are not met, they will take their dues to the country club down the street.

I know that sounds harsh, but I also know how prevalent that mindset is within the church. Instead, Christians involved in the church are to be the ones who look at church with this mindset, "How can I serve?" From this passage,  I dealt with Six Keys To Serving In Ministry!

  1. Keep Jesus Central
  2. Use Appropriate Methods
  3. Engage All People
  4. Develop Biblical Goals
  5. Work Really Hard
  6. Always Trust God
If you want to hear the breakdown of all the points, feel free to go to the link above and listen to it. I hope and pray that you are engaged in your church, no matter where you go. I hope and pray that you are serving in ministry in the local church. There are so many things that can compete with the local church, don't let them. Jump in, be a team player, and help each other grow to maturity. Be a minister of Jesus to others.

For the glory of Jesus!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Strengths Finder 2.0, part 1

I am not much into personality tests. I'm really not. I think at times they can be hurtful to people as they find themselves put into some generic category. I guess one reason I am not much into them is that I do not understand how they function. How does answering 100 random questions make it possible for someone to pinpoint who I am as an individual. I would much rather they spend time with me and get to know me over time. But I guess I understand that many businesses do not have the time to do that. 

Well, as I was looking at churches, there was one church that asked me to take one of these tests. It is called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Let me just say that even though I am not into these tests, this one identified me better than any other test I have ever taken. If you purchase the book, you will get a free code to take the test on the website. 

This test is slightly different than other tests. What it tries to do is to identify your strengths and help you maximize them. Rath believes that too many people try to improve their weaknesses when what they should be doing is focus on the strengths. Actually, what it measures are your natural talents. After you take the assessment, they will respond to you with your top five strengths.

So I thought it would be fun for me to introduce myself to all of you over the next several weeks by giving you my top five strengths according to Strengths Finder 2.0. For those that know me, I will be interested to hear whether you agree with this test on who I am as a person. Here we go:

STRENGTH #1: BELIEF

Let me give you the basic theme description for the Belief Strength:
"People who are especially talented in the Belief theme have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life."

I was really glad to see this as one of my strengths. I guess I picked the right profession, huh? They go on to describe some of the characteristics of those with the Belief Strength:
"Some people might say you devote yourself to the welfare or interests of particular individuals by putting their needs ahead of your own. Chances are good that you place more importance on the purpose and value of what you do than on the monetary rewards that accompany success. It's very likely that you frequently engage in laborious tasks. You yearn to dedicate yourself to worthy causes or noble purposes."
So what do you think? Those that know me, do you think Strength #1 identifies me accurately?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 4 (Feb 25, 2011)

The reading for this week took us from Judges 16 to 1 Kings 16. The bulk of this reading is the historical accounts of the nation of Israel as they begin to look for a king and the struggles that come with that decision. This was one of my favorite weeks of reading so far. I say that mostly because the book of 1 Samuel is one of my favorite books. I love to read the interactions between Samuel, Saul, and David.

The first king, Saul, has his problems as he rejects the Lord. Then we see a young man David emerging as a man after God's own heart. But of course, we learn in 2 Samuel that he has his own issues. Solomon comes next and his heart is torn away from the Lord by his many wives. Then all chaos begins to happen as the kingdom of Israel is split.

What can be learned from all this? There is a saying I have heard throughout the years that adequately describes this section of Scripture. I don't even know who the originator is, but it goes something like this: The best of men are men at best. That is what I thought as I read this week. If you remember back when Israel requested a king, God told Samuel that the nation was not rejecting him as judge, but God as their leader. He even warned the people that the king would take their sons for war and their food and their land. Even the best king in the world will fail.

The summary: God is the only one who will not fail you. Trust in Him instead of some person or leader of your church or government. He alone will not let you down.

Now, what have you learned? Please keep reading. I appreciate those that post comments and hope the rest of you will as well. I hope and pray that you are still reading. Keep going, the Scriptures will continue to open up your life as you read them. I have posted the reading for the next couple of weeks. Until next Friday, have a great week!

February 26
1 Kings 17—2 Kings 4
February 27
2 Kings 5-15
February 28
2 Kings 16-25
March 1
1 Chronicles 1-9
March 2
1 Chronicles 10-23
March 3
1 Chronicles 24—2 Chronicles 7
March 4
2 Chronicles 8-23 (blog post day)
March 5
2 Chronicles 24-36
March 6
Ezra 1-10
March 7
Nehemiah 1-13
March 8
Nehemiah 14—Job 7
March 9
Job 8-24
March 10
Job 25-42
March 11
Job 43—Psalm 24 (blog post day)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Morning After: RETRO 02

Yesterday at church was a very unique experience. I continued in my short four week series that I have called RETRO. The topic I preached on was in fact preaching. Preaching on preaching is a very interesting and delicate subject. Basically, what I am telling people is what I should be doing. Well, in reality, the title of the message was Looking Back At Preaching So We Can Look Forward To Listening.

I did deal with the listening aspect of what happens in the preaching event, but I primarily wanted to state from the beginning the reasons why I preach. Over the years, there have been those inside and outside the church that have said preaching is no longer important. They have said that it doesn't work in a postmodern culture. They have said that it is impossible for people to sit still for long periods of time and to really understand what the preacher is saying. What they are really saying is that preaching is just basically out of style!

If preaching was to be something that would go out of style, Paul would not have been so bold to communicate to Timothy that his primary responsibility was to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:1-4). He was telling Timothy to be committed to that means of spreading the truth of God. 

My goal in this sermon was to show that preaching is not out of style, but is in fact the primary means God has instituted for learning to take place in the corporate gathering of the church. And as the preacher opens the Bible, interprets the Bible correctly, and re-preaches the Bible to his people, it is as if God is speaking. I shared with them Four Reasons Why I Will Be Committed To Preaching.
  1. I Will Preach Because God Is A Preacher
  2. I Will Preach Because God Calls Preachers
  3. I Will Preach Because God Instructs Preachers
  4. I Will Preach Because God Does His Work Through His Spirit
Let must just say one word about that last one. Even though I feel called to preaching, I am not sure I could stand up there week after week if I did not think God is the One to move in the hearts of people. If I didn't believe that He will do His intended work with His Word (Isa 55:11), it would be very hard to keep doing what I am doing. Some have said that only the Spirit of God can take the Word of God from the ear to the heart.

So I preach. And people hopefully will listen! I finished by challenging the people to work as hard at listening as they would want me to work at preaching. This is a partnership, a teamwork that I hope grows stronger and stronger as the years go by. To God Be The Glory!

Disclaimer: Much of what I preached is found in the first chapter of my book, Helping Johnny Listen. I would love for all those from CBC to read it and pass the word around about the book.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Chasm by Randy Alcorn

I have read many of Randy Alcorn books, but this is the first time I have read a fictional work by him, and I simply loved it. The Chasm is an allegory, telling the story of Nick Seagrave in his pursuit of Charis, the beautiful city across the vast chasm. While being the story of Nick, it is in reality, my story. And your story. 
In the beginning, Alcorn vividly paints the picture of the endless pursuit of happiness that Nick experienced in his life. He portrays how the different paths he pursued did not bring the happiness he thought they would, but actually brought heartache and pain. They continue even when he takes the red path that leads him to the edge of the chasm and his interaction with the Woodsman. It will be the Woodsman who eventually shows him the way across the vast chasm.
What I appreciated about this book is that the gospel is very clear. Crossing the chasm is nothing that can be done on our own, but someone has to take us across. It’s focus on the death of Jesus and my part of putting Him to death was sobering and humbling. I was part of putting Him to death. And yet, He came to rescue me.
The Chasm is a very easy read. It is one of those books that could easily be read in one evening, and it would greatly be worth your time. It is one of those books that would be very helpful to give to those searching for the truth of the meaning of life. It is apparently an abbreviated version of The Edge of Eternity, a book that I am now very interested in picking up to read.

I received a copy of the book: The Chasm: A Journey to the Edge of Life by Randy Alcorn from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 3 (Feb 18, 2011)

What a week of reading? It began in Numbers 22 as the Lord was still giving the Law to the nation of Israel. It ended as the nation of Israel had possessed their land, but were in a continual cycle of disobedience that required the need of different judges to judge them (Judges 15).

What was it that struck you this week in reading? For me, I wanted to share just one thing. When the nation of Israel finally went in to possess their land, they were commanded by the Lord to completely destroy and get rid of all the inhabitants of their land. They were to kill them all or drive them all away. There is much danger that can happen when we finally think that our way is better than the Lord's way. I can imagine the scenario as it played out. They knew they were to wipe them out, but they also knew they were stronger than the people there. Maybe they knew about the history of their people, how they played the slave position back in Egypt. Now, they had the opportunity to have their own slaves. Joshua 17:13 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible.

"It came about when the sons of Israel became strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely."

They thought it was more to their advantage to have slaves than it was to get rid of the people. Of course, after a few generations, this comes back to haunt the people of Israel as they begin to intermarry and worship the gods of the Canaanites. Thus the continual cycle of disobedience that we find in the book of Judges.

I wondered as I read that how often I allow things in my life that I really need to just get rid of. Ever think that way? I think I need to drive some things out of my life completely so that in a few years it does not come back to haunt me. Think about it!

What are you learning? Keep going. In my personal opinion, these next couple weeks are great portions of the OT to read. They are filled with historical narratives. Here is the schedule for the next two weeks. Keep going and please post a comment or two so we can all learn from each other. I have appreciated the comments from a few of you over the past couple weeks. Keep it up!



February 19
Judges 16—1 Samuel 2
February 20
1 Samuel 3-15
February 21
1 Samuel 16-28
February 22
1 Samuel 29—2 Samuel 12
February 23
2 Samuel 13-22
February 24
2 Samuel 23—1 Kings 7
February 25
1 Kings 8-16 (blog post day)
February 26
1 Kings 17—2 Kings 4
February 27
2 Kings 5-15
February 28
2 Kings 16-25
March 1
1 Chronicles 1-9
March 2
1 Chronicles 10-23
March 3
1 Chronicles 24—2 Chronicles 7
March 4
2 Chronicles 8-23 (blog post day)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Morning After: RETRO 01

When I first started blogging, I decided every Monday morning I would post a blog on what I was able to teach the previous Sunday morning. It has been quite a while since I have done this, but since I started preaching yesterday at CBC, I wanted to resurrect this blog series.

Yesterday was my first Sunday to preach at Cornerstone Bible Church as the senior pastor. I knew this day was coming for some time and I knew I wanted to preach on the authority of the Bible. I started a short four week series that I am calling RETRO: Looking Back So We Can Look Forward. The purpose of this short series is to remind ourselves that while some things that happen in church might seem out of date, they need to be the norm for our ministries.

The first part of this series was called "Looking Back At AUTHORITY So We Can Look Forward To HUMILITY." My main idea was that the Bible is God's communication that contains all the necessary information that we need for salvation, the christian life, and church life. The Bible is God's special revelation so that we can know who He is and what He expects of us in this life. The Bible is different than any other book that has ever been written. For when we read the Bible, we do not just open it up, it opens us up (Heb. 4:12). My main text was 2 Timothy 3:14-17:

14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I wanted this first Sunday to emphasis over and over again that as I begin ministry here, the authority that we must submit ourselves to must be the Word of God. It alone is inspired and profitable for our life. It alone has the ability to teach us about God, to reveal us our sin, to restore us to a right relationship to Him, and to help us obey. It is His Word to us and we need to submit to it. So, do we? Do we submit? Do you submit? I ended with these four ways in which we display our humility to the Word of God.

  1. We display humility when we read the Bible!
  2. We display humility when we seek the Bible!
  3. We display humility when we share the Bible!
  4. We display humility when we don't worship the Bible!
My prayer this week is that we all read, seek, and share the Bible this week, but all of that should drive us to worship the God of the Word. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 2 (Feb 11, 2011)

Let's be honest, this was a tough week of reading. Our reading this week took us from the beginning of Exodus to the middle of Numbers. Many times when people begin to read the Bible all the way through, they say they get stumbled up in the book of Leviticus. Well, in fact, the end of Exodus starts the difficult parts of the Scriptures to understand.

Moses has led the people out of Egypt and is getting the Law from the Lord. And the Lord is very specific about what He desires His people to be and do. There are aspects of the Law and rules that are set forth by God that make a lot of sense. And then there are things that we simply do not get in our culture today. But as I was reading this portion, I was struck with one aspect of the Law: how could they really fulfill it? And then, that's the point. We learn from the New Testament that the Law was given to show us our sin. It was meant to show us our need. I can well imagine that God telling them to stone someone for gathering firewood on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32-36) was simply a reminder to the people that the Lord was in charge and they were not. It was a test of their heart as to whether they were willing to submit to Him. And God wanted His people to be separate from the other peoples of the day.

And then there is the repetition. Specifically in the book of Numbers, the Bible seems to repeat itself for chapters. Why? As I was reading it this week, I kept telling myself "ALL Scripture is inspired and profitable . . . (2 Tim. 3:16). That means all of it. And what Paul was specifically saying was the OT Scriptures were inspired and profitable. Those specific repetitions were meant to be there for a purpose for us to learn about how God wanted things to be for the nation of Israel.

Well, any thoughts? I hope you are still reading. I would love to hear what you thought as you read this past week. Please respond as it will be an encouragement to everyone who reads. Keep going. Here is the reading schedule for the next couple of weeks. Enjoy.


February 12
Numbers 22-32
February 13
Numbers 33—Deuteronomy 7
February 14
Deuteronomy 8-23
February 15
Deuteronomy 24-34
February 16
Joshua 1-14
February 17
Joshua 15—Judges 3
February 18
Judges 4-15 (blog post day)
February 19
Judges 16—1 Samuel 2
February 20
1 Samuel 3-15
February 21
1 Samuel 16-28
February 22
1 Samuel 29—2 Samuel 12
February 23
2 Samuel 13-22
February 24
2 Samuel 23—1 Kings 7
February 25
1 Kings 8-16 (blog post day)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cornerstone Bible Church

Last week, I told a bit about my previous church, Grace Bible Church in Hutchinson, Kansas. At the end of that blog, I said I would say a bit about my new church, Cornerstone Bible Church in Middlefield, Ohio. As of yet, I have not done that. It has been a very busy couple of weeks as I have been getting acclimated to the office and ministry here at CBC. But I wanted to share with everyone a letter I wrote yesterday to the church here. It will be part of the annual report that will be passed out in the next couple of weeks. I guess, this is somewhat of a spoiler for those that go to Cornerstone. Here you go...

Cornerstone Bible Church, 
Let me start by thanking you for your kind welcome to me and my family over the course of the past couple of weeks. We are truly thankful for all that you have done to make us feel part of your family. From the time that I felt called into pastoral ministry, I always knew there would be a time in my life when I would step into a senior (lead) pastor role at some church. And you’re the church! I wanted to take this opportunity to explain to you how we got to CBC.
I want you to know the main reason I was drawn here was because of the relationships I foresaw being built with the elders. We chose CBC over other ministry opportunities primarily because we felt called to go to a place where I could be part of a team of men who work together to shepherd God’s people. I saw that in these men. I know there will be ups and downs with them, but I pray that they will be involved in my life as I am involved with them. Let me be so bold at the beginning to request of you to pray for all the elders on a continual basis. This is not a position to be taken lightly as we are told in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” When you pray for the elders, I want you to see past the first part of that verse (obey and submit) and think of the second part (those who give an account). I ask you to pray for unity, patience, vision, and forgiveness. Continually through his epistles, Paul asked for the people to pray for him. Trust me, if Paul needed the prayers of the people he ministered to, we need them more.
Another reason that drew me to CBC was an apparent fit with my giftedness and the needs. Almost every spiritual gifts test I have ever taken has told me that my primary gifts are administration, preaching/teaching, and leading. Those were not new revelations to me, for they have been revealed and confirmed to me over the years of being involved in ministry. I love to preach and I hope you will come to understand that. Yet I also love casting vision and leading people. And I love things to be done with decency, order, and excellence (Col. 3:17). Let me be very clear, I am not saying that there hasn’t been preaching, leadership, or administration at CBC. What I am saying is that while candidating, these things came up time and again as we talked to different people as needs at CBC. So, it is my commitment to you to use my gifts to help you do the work of ministry. Paul says it like this: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11–12). I want to preach, lead, and administrate in order to equip you to do the work of the ministry so that the church is built up. Nothing would please me more. 
On the first Sunday here as I greeted you, I mentioned to you that I am not Jesus. Let me reiterate that, I am not your functional savior in any way. It has been over two years since you have had someone in this position, but let me remind you I am a human just like you. My goal is to point you not to me, but to the One who is our Savior. His name is Jesus. He is much greater than any pastor could ever be. It is my prayer that my life and message will be a reflection of Him in all things. And if that is the case, then I beg of you to follow my example (1 Cor. 11:1). 
I am sure over the next couple of weeks and months you will get a glimpse of my passions and heart for ministry. I am excited to see what the Lord is going to do in and through our relationship as we strive to reach Geauga County. 
Serving Jesus, 
Thadeus L Bergmeier 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An update on Desiring God by John Piper

If you have tracked with this blog for any time, you know that in the month of January, I posted a series of blogs that I called The Books! These were the top 31 books that have been shaped me as a person and pastor. The number one book on that list was Desiring God by John Piper. Well, I guess I just missed this, but the 25th anniversary edition of that book has just been released.

What I love about Piper is that he is so open about his feelings and thoughts. In this short video they just released, Piper reads from a journal entry back in 1986, the day after he received the first copy of Desiring God. This video humbles me as I know how I responded when I received the first copy of my book. But it also humbles me as I can see a great value to journaling after watching this.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 1 (Feb 4, 2011)

This is only the fourth day of our reading plan together, which means you should finish the book of Genesis today. Four days through Genesis. How did it go for you? I thought that each week, I would share a few of the details that stood out to me and I would really hope if you would share some of yours as well. So here goes.

The first thing as I read through the book of Genesis is that these great men of God (patriarchs) are not much different to us. In fact, if we were to have a movie made today about these guys, I am fairly sure not many of us would go see it (because of its rating). As well, I am fairly sure many people who have never read the Bible would be shocked to hear that these things happened in the Bible. So what was it that made God still treat these people as His people? His choice! But they do seem to come around in the end, don't they?

Another thing that struck me as I read this was God's preservation of His people. I have read the story of Joseph so many times, but I am always brought back to a realization of God taking care of His people even through the horrible choices of men. Joseph said it like this: "As for you,  you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive" (Gen 50:20). Think about what really happened to Joseph. We know the end of the story so we seem to think it is okay, but what about when he is sold into slavery? What about when he sits in prison? Hindsight is always 20/20, but what if we think of our situations today knowing that the Lord has a plan, is provident in what is happening? How will that change the way we look at our current situations?

What about you? I would love to hear what has impacted you in your reading this week. Please share a comment so we can all learn from each other.

One last thing, I will keep posting the schedule each week, but will keep them two weeks ahead in case you want to read ahead of the plan. Keep going! Trust me, the result in your life will be worth the journey!

February 5
Exodus 1-15
February 6
Exodus 16-28
February 7
Exodus 29-40
February 8
Leviticus 1-14
February 9
Leviticus 15-27
February 10
Numbers 1-8
February 11
Numbers 9-21 (blog post day)
February 12
Numbers 22-32
February 13
Numbers 33—Deuteronomy 7
February 14
Deuteronomy 8-23
February 15
Deuteronomy 24-34
February 16
Joshua 1-14
February 17
Joshua 15—Judges 3
February 18
Judges 4-15 (blog post day)