Expectant Churches vs. Reactive Churches

Many churches live in reactive mode rather than expectant mode

Reactive churches are led by “fireman” leaders. That is, their leaders spend their time “putting out fires” rather than casting vision and raising up leaders. Keeping the congregation happy today consumes more energy than preparing them for tomorrow…. expectant churches are led by “ignitor” leaders. That is, their leaders see their responsibility as igniting fires among the... Continue Reading

Ministry to Grieving Parents

Knowing what to say and when to be there but quiet

Don’t expect that if you only knew the right thing to say or do, the right book or counselor to recommend, that everything would be OK. This kind of loss will hurt a while. Your persistent presence with us, refusing to give up on us, your choosing to be at ease with our sadness and struggle,... Continue Reading

25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently

Are teachers reaching their students? Here are 25 things successful educators do differently

What students take away from a successful education usually centers on a personal connection with a teacher who instilled passion and inspiration for their subject. It’s difficult to measure success, and in the world of academia, educators are continually re-evaluating how to quantify learning. But the first and most important question to ask is: Are... Continue Reading

Kurdistan Declares “Safe Haven” for Christian Refugees

Kurdistan has declared a safe-haven for Christian refugees, as Islamist militants extinguish the Christian presence in Iraq’s second city, Mosul

A ray of hope is the affirmation by Kurdish leaders that Christian refugees are being offered a safe haven in Kurdistan and will be welcomed, protected and free to practise their religion. Ainkawa is a mainly Christian district of Erbil, the Kurdish capital….‘In 2003 we had around 2,000 families living in Ainkawa, now we have... Continue Reading

Are We Too Concerned with Demons?

Too much concern with Satan and demons means that we focus less of our attention on Christ

We do not have to be possessed by a demon to get drunk. There is enough abiding wickedness in us to do it all by ourselves. We can never say, “The Devil made me do it.” We can say that we are tempted, incited, or seduced by Satan, but not that we are controlled or... Continue Reading

White House Caves on Religious Accommodations to HHS Mandate

The Obama administration announced that they would create a workaround to allow nonprofits to claim religious exemptions from the Obamacare contraception mandate

In a statement, a Justice Department official pointed to the Wheaton College decision as the impetus behind the decision. “In light of the Supreme Court order regarding Wheaton College, the Departments intend to augment their regulations to provide an alternative way for objecting nonprofit religious organizations to provide notification…” The Obama administration announced Tuesday evening... Continue Reading

A Web of Care: Internal Resources

Creating a web of care so that people find it hard to hide, get lost, slip away or fall through the cracks

There are always a number of people who have gifts of mercy and are relationally strong in helping others with wise counsel. Often, they have gained these skills and character qualities through the hard knocks of life. You know who they are because people talk about how they have been helped by them.   The... Continue Reading

Prayer Log

Lesson learned: I need to be faithful in my own ministry of prayer

The Spirit impressed upon me that I must be that “servant” (singular) who stands faithfully in the breech on behalf of the church God has brought me to serve.  I am to follow the model of the Servant Intercessor, who pleads day and night for His church. My very call as a pastor is one of prayer... Continue Reading

Slow to Anger; Quick to Reconcile

God is patient and long-suffering, and his just discipline progresses slowly

As men continue to walk in rebellion, God progressively leaves them be and turns them over to increased levels of depravity. Slowly, but consistently, God removes his restraining hand of grace, and individuals find themselves more and more buffeted by God’s disciplinary hand and the harsh consequences of their sin. God is quick to judge, but... Continue Reading

The Gospel For Mormons Who Reject It

A review of Starting at the Finish Line by John B. Wallace, a devout Mormon who ended up getting “burned out” by Mormon doctrine and practice.

The bulk of the book really talks about grace – the fact that Jesus came into the world to die for wicked sinners and give them the gift of eternal salvation by faith alone (not by works).  Time and time again Wallace explains how he was very works oriented in the Mormon religion.  He shows... Continue Reading

Looking Ahead, the Martyr’s Great Hope

How do you prepare for persecution ahead of time and find strength in the midst of it?

Godly men and women, suffering for their faith, do not ultimately hope in release from an earthly prison. The wife of de Bres, and many martyr’s wives of the past oriented their hope around heaven, trusting the truth of God’s word that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory... Continue Reading

Autopsy of a Deceased Church: A Review

Thom Rainer’s book is the result of the study of 14 dying churches to see what went wrong

The most pervasive and common thread of our autopsies was that the deceased churches lived for a long time with the past as hero. They held on more tightly with each progressive year. They often clung to things of the past with desperation and fear. And when any internal or external force tried to change... Continue Reading

When God Loves Me Too Much

He loves me too much to give me that thing I am convinced I need.

Whatever it is—an object, a person, a position, a recognition, an award—God expresses his love in withholding it from me. He knows me far better than I know myself. He knows what I need, and he knows what I don’t need. He knows what would soon step into that place he reserves for himself.   I... Continue Reading

Sexual Assault: What Does the Hook-Up Culture Have To Do with It?

The sexual assault epidemic on college campuses is created, in part, by the effects of the hook-up culture.

This series of vague and variable sexual expectations clashes dangerously with the carte blanche given to young American adults. After all, boys will be boys and girls will go wild. The selfish individualism expected among adolescents and young adults tells us not to take “no”for an answer. Respect for ideas of sexual integrity—the concept that sex might... Continue Reading

How Should a Pastor Respond When He is Praised for a Good Sermon?

Here are 4 suggestions for how to respond in a God-honoring way.

The great temptation when complimented about a sermon is to think the fruit of our labors ultimately is about us and because of us.  When a kind word is extended to us about our sermon, make sure God is credited and praised.  Not superficially, but sincerely.  We can give God glory with our lips in response, but inside be eaten up... Continue Reading

Jesus Is Not Only Sympathetic; He Can Change Things

Jesus, our great high priest, is waiting and longing to help us.

So often somebody tells me about a hard time they are going through and I may be sympathetic but often I can’t do anything about it. I can pray for them, but I can’t change their situation. I can’t lift their burden or heal them or take their sadness or provide all they need. I... Continue Reading

To the Women of America: 4 Reasons to Hate 50 Shades of Grey

Let me try to explain why you are too good for this movie

The problem with the sex portrayed in this movie, or in any trashy romance novel you find at the airport, or in many other films and TV shows, or in many actual relationships, is that it’s always self-seeking, never honest, never truthful, never trusting, and never protecting. There is no hope in it, no kindness,... Continue Reading

Ex-Mars Hill Church Members: ‘We are not anonymous’

The dissenting voices in his church speak of a harsh, judgmental, dictatorial environment.

Disillusioned former Mars Hill Church members, faced with senior pastor Mark Driscoll’s claim that they “remain anonymous,” have taken to Facebook to deliver on-the-record explanations of why they departed the Seattle-based megachurch. They have invited those who left the church to make a declaration:  “Dear Pastor Mark and Mars Hill: We are not anonymous.”  ... Continue Reading

Steady Destruction — and Deafening Silence

The Islamic State destroys Jonah’s tomb and other Judeo-Christian sites in Mosul while President Obama remains mute

Islamic State fighters have seized all 30 churches and monasteries in the Mosul area, removing their crosses and burning or destroying many of the buildings. They have converted to a mosque the Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Mosul’s Al Shurta district, Mar Ephraim, installing loudspeakers issuing calls to Islamic prayer. Two ancient monasteries have been looted... Continue Reading

N Is for Nazareth

Christians around the world are changing their social media avatars to the arabic letter “n.”

“Nazareth, though, reminds us that God’s purposes are global, transcending our tribal and national categories. When Jesus preached in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth, he was received with joy and awe, until he told his fellow villagers that they really didn’t understand what he was saying. Jesus demonstrated that God’s purposes had always gone “outside... Continue Reading

Persecuted Christians and You

Do we care about persecuted Christians around the world?

“No one has a more legitimate claim on our concern than severely-persecuted Christians, wherever they may be found. They are especially precious in the Lord’s sight, and they suffer the greatest injustice. With them in mind, Scripture says the world is not worthy of them (Heb 11.38). And what could be more unjust than violence... Continue Reading

Soli Deo Gloria: To God Alone Be the Glory

No semi-Pelagian can ever say with authenticity: “To God alone be the glory.”

“For the semi-Pelagian, God may be gracious, but in addition to God’s grace, my work of response is absolutely essential. Here grace is not effectual, and such grace, in the final analysis, is not really saving grace. In fact, salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end. Yes, I must believe. Yes, I must... Continue Reading

What Makes Marriage So Hard?

Who knew marriage could be so hard? And painful? And beautiful.

“It all started when my husband made a simple comment at lunch in which he defended an old family friend. I’m ashamed to say that I struggle to show kindness to this person. In many ways, I’m jealous of her seemingly easier life. My husband’s words picked at a sinful scab in my heart. Jealousy,... Continue Reading

Sorry 666: Churches Fear 990 More

How more ministries going digital could unwittingly aid atheists targeting church tax breaks

“Many churches leverage today’s technology so those beyond their walls can participate. But Christian legal experts are concerned that blurred lines between “church” and “ministry” will eventually spur the IRS to reexamine what constitutes a church. (The agency last stripped a nonprofit of church status in 2004, largely because the broadcasting- and publishing-focused group mostly... Continue Reading

Please Don’t Say These Six Things at My Funeral

They say the dead don’t care, but I’m not dead yet, so as long as I’m still alive, I’d like to have some say in what goes on at my funeral

“Don’t turn my funeral into a celebration of my moral resume. For one thing, I don’t have one. I’m guilty of far more immoral acts than moral ones. Secondly, even if I were the male equivalent of Mother Teresa, don’t eulogize me. Talk about the goodness of the Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and... Continue Reading

Trumpeting a Dinosaur Horn

A partially fossilized triceratops horn offers evidence the animal lived less than 65 million years ago, say scientists who discovered it

“These are real dinosaur tissues, loaded with real dinosaur cells,” Anderson said. “How is it they were preserved?” He believes the preservation of soft tissue challenges the assumption that the fossil is at least 65 million years old. According to the evolutionary timescale, triceratops lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, which would have... Continue Reading

Counsels For Old Age

"Sanctified activity" is followed by "sanctified decline" as a believer ages

“In January 1847, at the age of seventy three, some four years before he died, Pye Smith preached two sermons on “Old age, its characteristics, obligations and adapted blessings,” one from Psalm 71.9 and a second from John 21.18-19 on Christ’s charge to Peter. He divided adult life into two main periods. Each, he maintained,... Continue Reading

50 Shades of Strange

In the months building up to this movie, we need to be engaging this 50 shades of strange, asking good questions.

This is an opportunity for believers to reach out to our unbelieving friends and ask if this is really the road that we want to go down. Do we really want to be encouragers of promiscuity and abuse? Do we really believe that this is good sex? Do we want our sons and daughters to... Continue Reading

14 Sobering Reminders When Confronting Sin

These reminders keep us serious, humble, and prayerful throughout this process.

But we must also remember the encouraging wonder of Christ’s glorious person and saving work. His redemption is deeper, wider, longer, and higher than any sin. His salvation is more powerful than sin and can heal the deepest wound. His love can expel and replace the love of sin. He can straighten out the most... Continue Reading

Is Christianity Inherently Undemocratic? Hierarchy and Predestination

In his well-known book Christian Faith and Modern Democracy, Robert P. Kraynak argues that Christianity is inherently illiberal and undemocratic.

Christians are therefore called to conform to Christ in their attitudes towards all persons, laying down their lives in humility and service. Any other ethical use of the doctrine of predestination is ideological and self-serving. None of this requires that Christianity is inherently liberal of course, let alone democratic. That would depend both on what... Continue Reading