Monday, July 30, 2012

A Good Word on Giving From Jack Graham

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

There was a man who was telling a deacon of his church one day, “The church just costs too much! We have these nice facilities, a pastoral staff, and are always doing things for the community. Why do we have to spend so much money?”

So the deacon said to him, “Let me tell you a little story. A number of years ago, a little boy was born into our home, and that child began to cost us. There were diapers, food, and all of the costs that come with a little baby. And as he grew, there were sports fees and activity fees. When he became a teenager, he began to eat us out of house and home. Then he decided he wanted to go to college, and we were poor for four more years.”

But he said, “His senior year at college, our son was killed in an automobile crash. And since then, he hasn’t cost us a dime.”

The deacon’s point was this: Anything that is alive will cost. And if the Church is to be a living and viable influence in the world, it must have the resources it needs to do so. So support your local church financially as a living, breathing organism, so that it can make a real impact in the world!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting Ready for a New School Year

The summer break is coming to an end soon. The month of August is a time for getting in last minute vacations and gearing up for the beginning of a new school year. Regular routines and Friday night football are just around the corner. It is a time of beginning again. January provides opportunity to set new goals and establish new patterns. I have found that the beginning of a new school year in August does the same.

My challenge to you is to take time in these weeks to do some evaluating. Ask yourself diagnostic questions that will help you to discern God’s will for the days ahead. Write down your impressions from God and make them a matter of daily prayer for yourself. Visit with another believer who knows you well to receive their spiritual counsel and encouragement. Determine what God would have you do next. Make sure you do something. Good intentions do not result in spiritual growth. Commitments and obedience will yield growth. Perhaps the following questions will help you get started:

  • What does God want to accomplish in my heart and life in the next year?
  • What does the Lord want to develop in my character?
  • What faith steps will I take this year for the first time?
  • Where will obedience to the will and ways of God lead me in the next several months?
  • Am I spending time reading the Bible each day?
  • Is my prayer life meaningful and am I connecting with God?
  • Am I consistent and obedient and Christ-honoring in giving my tithes and offerings?
  • Have I shared my faith with anyone in the last year?
  • What would God have me do in ministry beyond myself?
  • Have I found a meaningful place of service and ministry in my church?
  • Do I share God’s heart for the world? Is God leading me to be a part of an international mission trip this year?
  • Am I connected and committed to a small group of believers through a Bible Fellowship Group?
  • Have I ever lead someone else to make a commitment to Jesus Christ?
  • What have I done in the last year to improve my skills as a Christian parent?
  • Have I taken any tangible steps to enrich my marriage recently?
  • Does my attendance in worship services and my Bible Fellowship Group give testimony to a consistent Christian walk with God?
  • Would my neighbors and work associates say that I am a committed follower of Christ?
  • Would Christ introduce me as one of His committed followers?

Have a blessed spiritual journey! God has great things for you as you seek and obey Him.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Serving Communion to Former Cannibals

This is a fascinating story of missionary John G. Paton's ministry to a former cannibal tribe in Aniwa. Paton's story is a testament to the greatness of the grace of God and His ability to save.

The Temple Mount in Jesus' Day

This video provides a reconstruction of the temple at the time of Jesus.


Sometimes I just need some inspiration. I found it here today...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Your Pastor Is Not Your Political Activist

In a presidential election year church members often want their pastor to shift all priority toward being their political activist. John Piper speaks well to this.

This excerpt from John Piper begins as the 43:44 mark of his most recent sermon.

Here's the transcript:
Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. Pray that the church and her ministers would feed the flock of God with the word of God centered on the gospel of Christ crucified and risen. Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative initiatives, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word, and to the cross.
Please try to understand this concluding point. When I warn you against politicizing me, or politicizing the institution called Bethlehem, or the church in general, I do so not to diminish her power but to increase it. The impact of the church for the glory of Christ and the good of the world does not increase when she shifts her priorities from the worship of God and the winning of souls and the nurturing of faith and raising up of new generations of disciples. It doesn't. It feels in the moment that it does. "Look at how many people showed up for the rally!" Or "Look how many signatures in that church they got!" Or "Look how that committee is functioning!" It feels powerful, but give it a generation. And little by little, that vaunted power bleeds away the very nature of the church and its power.
If the whole counsel of God is preached with power week in and week out, Christians who are citizens of heaven and citizens of this democratic order will be energized as they ought to speak and act for the common good. It's your job, not mine. Don't look to me to wave the flag for your vote. Or wave the flag for your candidate.
Let me read you from this week's WORLD magazine the editorial by Marvin Olasky. Many of you are familiar with WORLD. WORLD is a very political magazine, and it ought to be. I just love the Marvin Olasky and the team at WORLD. I'm glad they're doing what they're doing. This is what he said in the article, pleading with churches not to be politicized:
Wise pastors prompt [Christians] to form associations outside the church, and leave the church to its central task from which so many blessings flow. That pattern in the 18th and 19th centuries worked exceptionally well. New England pastors in colonial times preached and taught what the Bible said about liberty, and the Sons of Liberty — not a subset of any particular church — eventually sponsored a tea party in Boston harbor. Pastors through America during those centuries preached about biblical poverty-fighting, and in city after city Christians formed organizations such as (in New York) the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor. (WORLD, June 16, 2012, 108)
My job is to feed the saints with such meals that they go out strengthened and robust and able to do the study and do the courage and do the action needed as salt and light in this world. And that will go away if you insist on the church and the ministry being the political leaders. It will and we can point to many where it has.

How Would You Like to Wear Your Joy?

A great devotional thought from John Piper on Isaiah 35:10:
“Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

Ten Tips for Ministering to Ministers and Their Families

This article from Lifeway Christian Resources recognizes the unique challenges faced by ministry families. How can we better minister to ministers? The suggestions here are simple and practical.

Seven Characteristics of Advancing Leaders

Many of these traits would be true in any leadership setting but they are particularly true in all areas of church leadership from vocational to volunteer.