Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘John 3:16’

Pastor, You Might Be Sitting on the Solution.


Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

I was returning from San Diego to Atlanta after attending the memorial service of a friend who lost his wife to a long battle with cancer. Having arrived at the airport early, I decided to get some work done. I was in search of two things.

First, I looked for a wall socket to plug into so I didn’t drain the battery in my laptop and end up unable to work on the four-hour flight home. I was willing to sit anywhere if I could have an outlet, including the floor. The second thing I was in search of was a chocolate chip cookie. The cookie I quickly found. However, I made the mistake of reading the label of ingredients. It contained 38 grams of sugar! What? I’m proud to tell you that I ate less than half! But I couldn’t find a wall outlet anywhere.

A seat was open near the gate, facing out toward the planes, so I grabbed it. I like those “window” seats best because I enjoy watching the planes come and go, along with all the activity on the runways.

A young guy was sitting next to me with his Mac open too. Then I noticed it. He was plugged in! I couldn’t believe it, his seat had a plug right in the arm of the chair! I wished I had HIS seat! Then in a moment, I was overcome by the simultaneous emotions of happiness and embarrassment. Yes, my seat had a plug too. In fact, it had TWO plugs. I was thrilled. So I grabbed my cord and plugged in.  Two minutes later the gate attendant announced that it was time to board the plane.

Have you ever had a problem and found that you were sitting right on top of the solution? Sometimes the most unseen answers are in the most obvious places.

The following are few “simple” thoughts to help us all find the solutions we seek, especially because they might be right before us. These thoughts are simple to understand, but not so easy to consistently practice. Are you up for the challenge?

1. Slow down. When I’m in an airport, I’m usually moving fast. Actually, that’s how I operate all too often, moving fast with little margin. I’ve learned that if I don’t slow down at least for a short while each day I will lose my bearings and miss the obvious.  I may miss an important moment with a staff person or miss my sense of intuition in a meeting. Slowing down is vital, even if it doesn’t feel like you have time to slow down. Slowing down allows you to see, sense, and experience so much that you would otherwise miss.

2. Pay attention. Paying attention seems basic, but it actually requires a great deal of discipline especially when you are in very familiar territory. It’s easy to take things for granted and assume that you know all you need to know. Take a familiar Bible verse for example, like John 3:16, it’s easy to assume that you “know that one.”  When in fact, few verses contain more depth and richness that can be reflected on for a lifetime.

What do you take for granted that you need to take a closer look at?  Perhaps it’s your parking ministry? How about your ushers or greeters? Maybe it’s your nursery. When you consistently pay close attention you are likely to see solutions for improvement that you didn’t know existed.

3. Focus. It’s been said that the church never sleeps. Well, I say that even if no one else does. It’s also true that the church can lead you in a hundred different directions if you let it. Without focus you will spin your wheels and get little more than exhausted. Speed and pressure are important components of momentum but they also create problems. One of your primary responsibilities as a leader is to anticipate and solve problems. You can’t do your best problem solving without a laser focus on the issues at hand. Distraction is a great enemy of any leader.

You can see the progression so far.  Slow down, pay attention and focus. It’s a sequence. Let’s keep going.

4. Don’t make it more complicated than it really is. As leaders, we all have flaws. One of mine is that I can, on occasion, make something more complicated than it really is. That’s a little ironic because the staff I work with most closely tend to believe I can over-simplify what a task actually requires! Which do you tend to do? Over-complicate or over-simplify? We all lean in one direction, and being self-aware helps you lead better. Neither extreme is good, but I think that if you tend to over-complicate things, in general, you will get stuck in the details of the problem and miss the solutions that are often right in front of you. The remedy? Look up! Take a quick break. Slow down. Pay attention to the big picture and focus on what really matters.

5. Consider alternative possibilities. One of the practices the team does well at 12Stone is to consider more than one option. It’s never a good idea to latch on to the first idea and believe it’s the best solution. It might be, but more than likely there is another solution, perhaps even a better one. You can’t know the best solution until you’ve compared it to a couple other ideas. While at the airport, I could have worked on something different that didn’t require my laptop in order to save my battery for the flight. I could have asked to share a plug someone else was using. There are always alternative possibilities and they are often right in front of us.

6. Ask others who have found success with a similar problem. This is a great example of looking for my glasses when they are on my head. I was sitting next to a guy who was plugged in. Why didn’t I ask him about it or make a comment of some kind? Why did I let my mind think, even for just a few minutes, that it was just his seat, or end isle seats only, or every other seat only? I don’t know what thought was rattling around in my mind, but it wasn’t creative or productive. It was simply… “Hey, HE has a plug.”

Candidly, I’ve heard leaders respond like that hundreds of times. It’s that kind of thinking that will cause you and me to miss a solution, even the one we may be sitting on. Just ask. The amazing thing is that when we do ask, the answer is usually not some exotic kind of secret that we respond to with an “Oh my gosh, that blows my mind.”  It’s usually more like, “Oh, I can do that.”

The important thing is not only the solution in the moment; it’s also what you learned about finding solutions, especially the ones that you may be “sitting on.”

Written by Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland is Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

How Parents Influence Your View of God.


mom with kids
A parent has a powerful influence on how their children view God. (http://www.stockfreeimages.com)

The problem of belief in God has never been solely to convince the conscious mind. If it were, He would need only to raise up brilliant debaters and apologists rather than pastors and churches that nurture. Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10, KJV).

It is easy to confuse deep, heartfelt conviction with mere intellectual assent and to think salvation is thereby accomplished. I do not mean to say that anyone’s conversion experience is thereby invalid, but that it did not finish the process. We have been too easily convinced of completion.

When belief in the heart, to whatever degree, opens the floodgates of understanding to the mind and conviction to the spirit, and we respond in the sinner’s prayer to invite Jesus in, we are redeemed and justified. Our sins are washed away in the blood of the Lamb and our destinies are changed from hell to heaven. We are once and for all time fully saved.

But the experience of conversion is not all there is to being saved. Salvation has a larger meaning than justification, redemption, being born anew, going to heaven or all these put together.

Unbelieving Saints

Redemptionjustification, being born anew are entrances to the process of growing into salvation (1 Pet. 2). Going to heaven is the end product. All of what happens in between, the process ofsanctification and transformation, is the major part of salvation, which means “to become whole, to be healed.”

When we ask, “Have you been saved, brother?” we mean redeemed, justified, born anew and going to heaven. Well and good. But perhaps the question is confusing. If we mean, “Has the Lord gotten hold of you, paid the price, and set your face toward heaven?” every born-anew Christian ought to answer with an unqualified, “Yes, I’m saved, and I’m going to heaven.”

But concerning the process in this life of being saved, none ought ever to reply that it is all done. Each one should answer, “I’m saved, and I’m being saved every day,” because “by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14, NASB).

Although every believer is in process, he knows by faith that positionally he has already been made perfect and is already being raised up to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). Whatever further conversions of the heart we explore ought never to be taken to imply that our first conversion was invalid or insufficient.

On the other hand, no matter how dramatic or conclusive that conversion was, we run the risk of crippling our abundant life the moment we build a tabernacle as though it once and for all finished the process it, in fact, only began. The heart needs to be transformed anew every day, or we fail to grow in Jesus. Indeed, that is our primary definition of growth in Christ—further and further death and rebirth through continuing inner conversion.

Continual conversion of a believer’s heart moves the heart from unbelief to belief and repentance. This happens as the light of God’s Word reaches into the dark, hidden recesses of the heart, and begins to prepare it to produce good fruit (Matt. 13:3-8).

Historically, in America, sanctification has come to mean striving to live up to the law on the base of a supposedly transformed character. That struggle all too often has led to judgmentalism because tragically, the transformation had never been complete.

True, we are washed clean at the moment of conversion, and our consciences sprinkled (Heb. 9:14). But not all the character has been transformed at that moment.

Jesus is not yet that firmly seated as Lord in the inner depths of many Christians. It must hurt the Lord deeply that in churches considered most sound, sin so often still runs rampant, even among the leaders. Or where obvious sin has not reared its head, so little fruit of the Spirit is seen.

In such churches, conversion may be complete in the conscious mind, but the heart remains almost untouched.

The Lord must be allowed to fully occupy each believer’s heart. This will be accomplished through the weapon of the Word of God being spoken to one another through preaching of the Word, the ministry of small groups, and through diligent, intercessory prayer for and with each other. As the Word touches the places of unbelief in our hearts, we will arise in conversion to take up the battle cry against the flesh and make it our joy to plunge to inner death and rebirth.

Purity of Heart

Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (KJV). Mark again those words, “pure in heart.” Jesus was saying that those whose hearts are purified come to understand and embrace God for who He actually is.

The inference is that because our hearts are not pure, we impute to God motives and ways that are not His. We do not see God, but only our projection of Him.

The Scripture teaches, “We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:19-21, NASB).

Here we see that the impurity is hate. Our hatred of fellow human beings colors what we see of God—or prevents it altogether.

This is one of the primary facts that necessitates continual conversion of the heart. Our hidden andforgotten judgments, especially against our fathers and mothers, prevent us from seeing God as He is.

“He who curses his father or his mother, his lamp will go out in time of darkness,” wrote Solomon (Prov. 20:20). Our judgments made against our parents in childhood, usually long forgotten, have darkened our spiritual eyes. We do not see ourselves, others, life or God accurately.

Many times people have come to us saying: “Don’t talk to me about a loving God. Why doesn’t He stop all the wars, or at least prevent some of the bestial things men do to men, sometimes in the very name of religion? Or doesn’t He care?” We have all heard statements like that.

Being prayer ministers, Paula and I never try to defend God. We avoid theological debates. We know the answer is not a mental one but a matter of an impure heart. We merely ask, “What was your father like?”

Invariably we uncover a history similar to what the person has imputed to God—cruelty, insensitivity, desertion, criticism and so forth. No matter what the mind may learn in Sunday school of a gentle and loving God who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16), the heart has been scarred and shaped by reactions to our earthly fathers.

As a result, we often project cruelty, insensitivity, desertion, criticism and other negative factors onto our understanding of who God is. Our minds may declare His goodness, but our behaviors reveal what the heart really thinks: “As [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, NKJV). Until we are able to forgive our natural fathers for the hurts they may have caused in our hearts, and repent for the judgments we have formed against them, we will not be able to truly see God as gentle, kind and lovingly present in our lives.

Repentance Fosters Healing

I (John) had a gentle, kind father who was a traveling salesman and gone much of the time. During the summer of 1979, I found myself puzzling over why thoughts of unbelief so often trooped through my mind.

In airports or while driving on busy freeways, I would find myself thinking, How can God really be concerned about every detail of all these people’s lives? Or, How can He actually know every hair that falls from every one of these teeming millions of heads? (See Matthew 10:30.)

My mind insisted, “This is purely a logical matter. After all, that’s a reasonable question to ask.” But my spirit was not at rest.

Finally I thought to ask the Lord. He instantly replied, “Your father had little time to notice what you were doing.” That revealed my inner world of judgments. I had judged, “Dad wouldn’t see, compliment, affirm or care.”

Nevermind that he did, in fact, do those things when he was home. My bitter root grew because he wasn’t always there. So, of course, God wouldn’t be there for me. And I worked so hard for Him!

Those thoughts plagued my mind most especially whenever Paula and I were busy serving the Lord. The little boy had been hurt because he worked so hard and received so little notice for it, and the grown-up subconsciously expected God to treat him like that, too.

Following the revelation, repentance was easy and joyous. I have never since been bothered by such nagging doubts. Now I do not merely have belief, but surety of knowing and feeling that my Father sees and approves of my service to Him. Now I have abiding fellowship with Him, in heart as well as spirit (1 John 1:3).

How many of us have come to our parents for something, and they said, “We’ll see,” and then forgot about it? Or our parents made a promise to buy us something, but either it never arrived or came so late that the joy of it was gone. Covertly, that colored our faith in God.

What kind of anger did we push down and forget, because we thought, It’s not good to be angry with Dad and Mom. What kind of resentful judgments did our hearts cherish and our minds forget?.

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ SPIRITLED WOMAN.

How to Cast Your Care for Good.


praying hands on Bible
Use this arsenal of Scriptures when you feel plagued by worry. (David Hensen/Stockvault.net)

Are you worried about a specific relationship or circumstance? This index, derived from Rx for Worryby James P. Gills, M.D., lists some key Bible verses you can use to battle worry and fear. These verses are God‘s promises that He is with us and will be our support and strength. Read them. Believe them. Let His Word become the foundation in your struggles!

Are you worried, anxious, afraid, or troubled?
God will give you peace.
In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. … He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. —Psalm 18:6, 19

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.—Psalm 46:1-2

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? —Psalm 56:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. —Isaiah 26:3

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me . . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.—John 14:1, 27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.—John 16:33

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7


Are you worried about the future?
God will guide you.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.—Psalm 25:9

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. —Psalm 32:8

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.—Psalm 37:23-24

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. —Proverbs 16:3

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.—James 1:5


Are you afraid of feeling alone?
God will never leave you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.—Deuteronomy 31:6

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. —saiah 58:9

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.—Zephaniah 3:17

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.—John 14:18


Are you worried no one loves you?
God loves you.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:38-39

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. —1 John 3:16

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. —1 John 4:10


Are you worried that God could never forgive your sins?
God’s salvation overcomes all sins and guilt.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. —Psalm 103:12

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. —1 John 1:9


Do you feel depressed?
God will comfort you.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. —Psalm 42:11


Are you worried because you face opposition?
God is with you.
If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31


Are you worried about physical needs?
God will provide.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.—Matthew 6:25-34

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!—Matthew 7:11

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. —Luke 12:6-7

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:19


Do you worry about your safety?
God will protect you.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. —Psalm 4:8

The Lord will keep you from all harm-he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.—Psalm 121:7-8


Do you worry so much that you can’t sleep?
God will ease your fears.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. —Psalm 3:5

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. -Psalm 4:8

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. —Proverbs 3:24


Are you worried about your appearance?
God looks at your heart.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” —1 Samuel 16:7

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11


Are you worried about your health?
God will give you strength.
A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. —Psalm 34:19

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.—Isaiah 58:11

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord, “because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.”—Jeremiah 30:17

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. —James 5:14-15


Are you worried about getting old?
God will stay with you.
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.—Psalm 92:12-14
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. —Isaiah 46:4


Are you worried about dying?
God offers eternal life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.—Psalm 23:4

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.—John 3:16

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. —John 10:28

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. —Hebrews 2:14-15

Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE.

FELICIA ABRAHAM

5 Keys to Rebounding From Financial Ruin.


couple breaking piggy bank
(© beemanja/http://www.istockphoto.com)
OK, here are some tried-and-true tools, gleaned from different people who’ve been there, done that, to help you grow trust in Papa God on your journey through the valley of the shadow of financial death.
1. Don’t Give Up Hope
He will continue to be faithful to us no matter what: “If we are not faithful, he will still be faithful. Christ cannot deny who he is” (2 Tim. 2:13, CEV).
Separate your needs from your wants. Sometimes we get confused and pray for a Mercedes when what we really need is a bicycle. But Yahweh, Master of all things great and small, knows the difference: “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need” (Phil. 4:19, MSG).
2. Sweeten Your Bitter Words
You might have to eat them one day. Don’t dwell on the unfairness of your poverty. Be careful what you say; be careful what you think: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right” (Phil. 4:8, NLT).
3. Keep Communication Lines Open
Scripture tells us, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, NASB). Talk to your heavenly Father—even cry out your frustrations. Then dry your tears and thank Him for the blessings you do have. If you need a little perspective on your blessings, visit a surgical ward. Or a homeless shelter. Or a battered women’s center.
Remember what God has done for you. He gave you the ultimate sacrifice: His Son on a cross. Salvation. Eternal life. Quote John 3:16 to refresh your recall.
4. Keep Serving Others
Do this even if you feel you’re the one needing service: “God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do” (Heb. 6:10, NLT). Give of yourself to the poor and needy even when you think you don’t have anything to give.
The best blessing you can give someone is your time. Use your downtime to bless someone.
5. Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Jesus
Do the things you know you need to do to honor your Savior, even if you don’t feel like it: “Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you” (Prov. 4:25). Go to church, hang out with believers, study your Bible and listen to Christian music—because feeding our faith starves our fears.
Hey, I know all too well that ominous dread that seizes your heart when official-looking men with clipboards appear at your door. Or when your electricity is turned off. Or when you run out of answers when your kids don’t understand why they can’t go places and do the same things their friends do. And you’re bone tired. And more discouraged than you’ve ever been in your life.
I really do know. I’ve been there. And I want to offer you hope. There is life after financial death. Cling to hope, dear one, because fear is devoid of hope, and hope is devoid of fear. And as Lazarus discovered, hope is what Papa God does best.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ Spiritled Woman.
Debora M. Coty is the author of 10 books and is a newspaper columnist, orthopedic occupational therapist and tennis addict. Follow her on Twitter @deboracoty.

Thriving Among the Dying Churches.


by Thom Schultz


 

photoLast Sunday we drove past numerous half-empty church parking lots. Finally we found our way to a thriving church
that’s bucking the trend–and breaking the rules.

Chances are you’ve never heard of the “lead pastor” (actually, they don’t like titles here) who oversees one of the largest churches in America. More than 5,000 people gather each
week in multiple locations throughout the area.

But this is no showy “multi-site” mega-church featuring some silver-tongued orator on a big screen. There’s no professional praise band. No pipe organ. No fancy building.

This is no new church plant. Its been around for 27 years. And, unlike the majority of churches in America, it continues to grow.

Its leader is no twenty-something hipster. She (yes, she) is 76-year-old Tillie Burgin, a white-haired, soft-spoken Texan whom the locals call Miss Tillie. She leads Mission Arlington in the sprawling urban area between Dallas and Fort Worth.

We slipped inside Mission Arlington to film this story for our upcoming documentary on the state of the church in America. Many of our other stories depict the decline of the church. But this story illustrates several characteristics that renewed our hope for the future of the church.

Unlike so many other contemporary churches that tout the term “missional,” this ministry consistently acts it out. Using the tagline “Taking Church to the People,” Mission Arlington directly serves hundreds of people every day of the week with spiritual, physical and emotional support. It brings food, clothing, furniture and medical care to all who need it.

And all are welcome. Miss Tillie likes to stress a particular word from John 3:16–“whosoever.” And she doesn’t wait for the whosoevers to come to her. She has empowered thousands of volunteers to take the church to the people.

Mission Arlington has formed 329 mini-congregations that meet weekly in houses, apartment complexes, mobile home parks, community centers and playgrounds. When they fill the available space, they form a new little congregation at a different location. Volunteer ministers lead these small groups through simple Bible explorations for adults, youth and children. If someone brings a guitar they may sing a few songs.

And where’s Miss Tillie? She’s not preaching. She’s not in the spotlight. She’s back at the headquarters praying and encouraging more volunteers to go out to serve in the name of Christ. And her genuine humility is absolutely contagious.

But make no mistake. She gives all the credit to God. As we said goodbye Sunday afternoon, she cautioned us to get this story straight. “This is about what Jesus is doing here.”

This article appeared on HolySoup.com . June 26, 2013. Thom Schultz is an eclectic author and the founder of Group Publishing and Lifetree Café. Holy Soup offers innovative approaches to ministry, and challenges the status quo of today’s church.

 

Time Is Running Out, Are You Ready?.


Time is not on your side20130627-202338.jpg
“…but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:53

You can see it everywhere you look, things are different now. That part of your mind that’s screaming at you that something is not right, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Time is rushing forward away from you, unstoppable.

The bible said these days would come, and behold, they are nearly here. America’s moral fiber has been obliterated, with all manner of sin and perversion paraded openly. Proudly. The Gay Revolution has arrived, and will destroy everything it touches. The American President has become the official LGBTQ spokesperson, deftly leading us down the sin-slimed rabbit hole of what God destroyed Sodom for. Think about that.

But we are not afraid of God. Not anymore.

The bible talks about a time of literal Hell on earth called the Great Tribulation. It will happen shortly afterThe Lord Jesus Christ comes for His church as He promised to do in the Rapture. We who are saved and redeemed by the shed Blood of the Lamb live in hour-by-hour anticipation of that moment. It will happen. But for those of you who are not saved, monstrous tribulation awaits. It sits just a few steps ahead of where you are right now like a yawning dragon, mouth open, waiting for you to walk right in.

Look at the graphic in this story, it shows you two choices. God is asking you to pick one, to choose. Choose life in Heaven with Jesus Christ and live forever with the redeemed. The other choice is eternal torment in fire unquenchable prepared for the Devil and His angels. But know this: God recognizes no neutrality. Making no choice is the same as choosing Hell.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Time is almost up. Where will YOU spend eternity?.

by NTEB News Desk

What Every Christian Should Know… How to Do.


Dr. James Emery White

You’ve seen the articles:

“What every driver should know how to do.”

“What every parent should know how to do.”

“What every student should know how to do.”

The idea is that just as there are certain things we should know, as in facts or figures or cultural literacy, there are certain things we should also know how to do.

For example, every driver should know how to fill up their gas tank, check the oil, and change a tire (we’ll assume that because they have a license, they know how to drive – no jokes, please).

Yet such matters are different than knowing about cars.

What we’re talking about is the practical knowledge needed if you are going to drive one.

Got it?

Okay, now that we’ve got the set-up, here’s the question:

Does this apply for someone hoping to follow Christ?

This isn’t talked about much. We outline a great deal about what a Christian should know theologically (about Jesus, the cross, the Bible), and what they should feel personally (forgiven, blessed, united), but not much about what a Christian should be able to do.

The key word is “able.”

To my thinking, this is a huge hole in current strategies surrounding discipleship.

The discipleship currently in vogue is termed “formation.” Usually this means making our personal relationship with Jesus even more personal. In other words, Christ being formed in us.

Which is, of course, good.

But somehow we seem to miss out on the importance of learning how to do certain things.

It’s like the value of the old Foxfire books. I don’t know if you remember them, but they were a series of books designed to capture how to do certain things before technology causes us to forget. Such as,

How do you plant a garden?

How do you breed chickens and gather eggs?

How do you turn cotton into cloth?

How do you milk a cow?

I’m no prepper, but maybe I’m watching too much of The Walking Dead. But if we lose these basic skills, we lose more than we realize.

So here are five things every Christian should be able to do.

Not simply what they should do, think about doing, or want to do – but actually be trained to be “able”to do – before it’s gone as a lost art. All of the “Sample Teaching Series” listed below can be found on the Message Downloads page of ChurchandCulture.org.

1.       Read the Bible.

There is a difference between someone knowing they should read their Bible, even trying to read their Bible, and knowing how to read their Bible. Where should they start? How do they interpret it? How should it be applied?

Helpful Reading: Gordon Fee, How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth.

Sample Teaching Series: “How to Bible”

2.       Pray.

Praying is not something most people know how to do beyond desperate 911 calls for help. Progressing through the great movements of prayer, such as adoration, or confession, or thanksgiving and supplication is a needed skill.

Helpful Reading: Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray.

Sample Teaching Series: “Power Praying”

3.       Share their faith.

Whether it’s taking someone through the “Roman Road,” or a simple rendering of John 3:16, knowing how to witness is often absent in a Christ follower’s life. Even if it’s just being able to relay their “story” in regard to faith, being able to testify is essential.

Helpful Reading: Rebecca Pippert, Out of the Saltshaker.

Sample Teaching Series: “Sent”

4.       Manage their resources.

We all have been given the big three to manage: time, talent and treasure. The idea of comprehensive “stewardship” is often reduced to tithing. Not to disparage the importance of that discipline in any way, but it is making something radically comprehensive a bit truncated. True stewardship involves managing not only financial resources, but all of our material assets, as well as our time, abilities, skills and spiritual gifts.

Helpful Reading: Randy AlcornThe Treasure Principle.

Sample Teaching Series: “MapQuest: Journeying to Financial Freedom” or “My New Year’s Revolution”

5.       Worship.

The act of worship is more than singing a song. It involves a preparation of the heart and mind, and then the engagement of prayer and Word, song and gift, sacrament and symbol. But how do you worship God in spirit and truth? If nothing else, people should understand how to embrace and engage the great sacraments of the church.

Helpful Reading: Ralph Martin, Worship in the Early Church and The Worship of God.

Sample Teaching Series: “Live Out Loud” (Baptism) and “Communion Weekend” (The Lord’s Supper)

I know, there’s more than these five we should know how to “do.” And I also know that a fulsome understanding of discipleship should never be reduced to training along these lines.

But still…

Don’t you think we all ought to know how to do at least these five?

James Emery White

 

Editor’s Note

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book isThe Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

Tag Cloud