Church & Ministry

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Posted 1/31/15 at 11:16 PM | Dana Cottrell

The Twenty-Four Elders

The Twenty-Four Elders

In the early nineties while writing a lengthy thesis for my master of arts degree in biblical studies, the question was asked as to who are the twenty-four elders that figure prominently with the Lamb mentioned in Revelation 4. The question still comes up, so I thought it would be nice to reveal the answer in a blog for those who are interested. I answered the question in my thesis and subsequently in one of my books. In order to answer the question, I had to apply some Biblical Hermeneutics and allow the Bible to interpret itself.

The twenty-four elders were sitting on thrones and wore crowns of gold. This implies that they are kings. In reference to Jesus, John referred to Christians as kings and priests.

And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (Rev. 1:6).

Assuming that the kings are also priests, one may search the scriptures for the number 24 associated with priests. This association is found in 1st Chronicles 24:1–19 which lists the names of twenty-four priests who were the sons of Eleazar and Ithamar and who were to minister in the house of the Lord. The following lists the priests in the order given in the Bible, and the interpretations of the names are taken from various study guides. Not all study guides agree with some of the interpretations. FULL POST

Posted 1/30/15 at 10:05 AM | Phil Cooke

Why 2015 Will Be The Year of Online Video

A great number of media organizations are touting 2015 as the “Year of Digital Video.” Most of these predictions refer to the broad range of videos, movies, advertising, and other online content that is exploding on multiple platforms. But there’s plenty of reasons that 2015 will be the year of online video for churches, ministries, and nonprofits as well:

1) Fundraising and donor development are story driven.  When it comes to asking for support, your organization’s integrity, how many meals you furnished, or how long you’ve been in business are important. But if you really want to touch a potential donor, show them the story of lives that have been changed because of your work. Nothing shares those stories better or more powerfully than online video.

2) Online videos are relatively inexpensive.  While direct mail is still important, and your website is the cornerstone of your message, shooting and editing online videos are remarkably competitive when it comes to price. DSLR cameras are cheaper than ever, and a 1 or 2 person crew can do amazing things. You don’t need an entire department to make fantastic video productions. And farming the project out to freelancers or consultants could even be less expensive than full time employees. FULL POST

Posted 1/30/15 at 8:27 AM | Karen Kramer

Faith Outweighs Fear

Living in a politically correct world, where words and deeds can be recorded and replayed incessantly, why would someone willingly provoke the enemy’s anger? In a time when cartoons cause bloody massacres it would seem wise to put down the pen. Why incite people who want to kill for what they consider to be apostasy?

Christians are slaughtered for their faith and it would seem prudent to keep silent—out of fear. But is that what Jesus would do?

Sin is doing the wrong thing, but sin can be choosing not to do the right thing. If God has asked us to speak the truth in love, we need to. Fear keeps the multitudes silent. But faith allows us to use our lives in service to the King. That means serving the needy and praying for our enemies committing the atrocities. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. “ Matthew 5:44

Let’s not fear man, but instead fear God and seek His approval. We can be His light in this present darkness. When we speak from His Word and serve the hurting and the oppressed, we will lead others to Him. And in these perilous times, people need God’s love, protection, and salvation. FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 3:18 PM | Mark Ellis

Violence in Niger shocks Christians, but they keep worshipping

Christian Aid Mission/Christi Childs
Worship in burned-out church in Niamey

By Mark Ellis

Muslim riots in Niger sparked by the Charlie Hebdo magazine debacle led to 10 deaths and more than 70 churches burned in and around the capital, and it left many Christians wondering about this once tolerant country, where all religions got along well before this tragic incident.

“They are in shock,” says Amie Cotton, director of pubic relations at Christian Aid Mission. “Nothing like this has happened in Niger. They always lived peaceably before.”

Violence over the weekend of Jan. 16-18 left 46 Protestant churches and 15 Catholic churches burned in the capital city of Niamey along with Christian medical clinics and an orphanage. The 98 percent Muslim population has lived in relative peace with its tiny (0.3 percent) Christian minority for decades.

While some churches cancelled services on the Sunday following the destruction, some believers gathered in the charred, hulking remains of their sanctuaries and worshipped in the joy of the Lord. FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 2:33 PM | Thomas Rowley

Tears for Trout

Embarrassing as it is to admit: I cry a lot.

Raised in Texas in a time and culture where men did not shed tears, not publicly, I nonetheless find myself shedding more and more of them.

Some are tears of joy. Those welling up now as I listen to songs about creation and Creator by Nashville artists I’m glad to call friends. Those I blink back every time I watch this beautiful video by another gifted friend, Nathan Gerhardt. And the ones that leaked out last October watching my sons hold and release Coopers, Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed hawks that shot from the sky into mist nets before us to be measured, weighed and banded.

Others are tears of sorrow.

Two summers ago, I found myself alone on the once-famous Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone National Park. Maria, Jake and Michael were getting a snack while I took a nostalgic walk out onto the near-empty span over the river. As a boy, I’d stood on the bridge by my grandmother, mother, sister, cousins and dozens if not hundreds of others doing what people did back then on Fishing Bridge: fishing. My grandfather, father and uncle (none of whom I ever saw cry) stood waist deep in the flowing water below. Bridge fishers used night crawlers. Waders cast flies. All of us caught fish—lots and lots of Oncorhynchus clarkii, dubbed “cutthroat” trout for the brilliant red, pink and orange below the jaw. I can see and smell it all to this day. FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 11:57 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

My Biggest Problem in Crisis Ministry

Take last evening for instance.

A friend who is on the staff of a large church in the northern part of our state emailed about a family basically living in the ICU ward of a local hospital in our city. Doctors have told the parents nothing more can be done for the daughter. So they are standing by, waiting for God to take her.

My friend had planned to drive down to see them, but because of a cold decided it was best if he canceled and asked me to call on them.

An hour later, I was in the hospital room with the family.

The patient was either sleeping or heavily sedated and several family members and friends were seated around the room, talking softly. They greeted me warmly, having already been informed that I was coming.

Now, two things about this family I found amazing. They have lived in the intensive care units of their hospital back home and the one here for over 40 days. And yet, they have such a steady peace and beautiful joy about them.

And so, here is my problem, one I have frequently encountered when calling on the families of Godly people going through various kinds of crises: Do I enter into their joy or remain outside? FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 11:48 AM | Kristi Porter

Senior Leaders Will Learn to Help Their Churches Grow and Flourish at Every Phase at The Orange Conference 2015

The Orange Conference

The Orange Conference, a conference for entire family ministry teams, will be held April 29–May 1, 2015, in Atlanta. Over 6,000 key influencers—senior, NextGen, student, children’s and preschool leaders—will explore the unique and distinctive challenges and opportunities at every life stage, as well as discover new insights into influencing the faith and character of the next generation. In particular, senior and executive leaders will learn how connecting with families is a key to church growth.

Every senior leader has the desire to see their church grow and flourish in every phase of its existence. The question is how. And the answer is why senior leaders will gather at The Orange Conference. It’s a rare opportunity to connect with other leaders grappling with the same challenges, and to learn from those who have successfully crossed those hurdles. FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 11:35 AM | Phil Cooke

The Most Misunderstood Role in Ministry: The Executive Pastor

After decades working with churches around the world, I’ve discovered one of the most difficult challenges pastors face is finding the right “Executive Pastor.” Smaller churches don’t usually need one, but as churches grow, a leader in that role becomes more and more important. But in a significant number of cases, local pastors don’t really understand the job. In my opinion, one of the best XP’s in the country is Mike Buster, Executive Pastor at Prestonwood Church in Plano, Texas. He’s worked with Pastor Jack Graham for 28 years, and they’ve become a remarkable team. In fact, in my opinion, Jack Graham is one of the greatest leaders in the church today, therefore the standards at Prestonwood are high. So I asked Mike to tell me about the purpose, role, responsibilities, and challenges of being an XP. Here’s what he said: FULL POST

Posted 1/28/15 at 11:19 AM | Tim Challies

How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists

stop sign
Photo: Flickr/Clover Autrey - Creative Commons

Do you want to know how to make a Calvinist angry? Do you want to know how to offend a whole room full of them? Just bring up the old line about Reformed theology being incompatible with evangelism. We have all heard it, we have all read it, we have all rejected it.

It’s the word on the street, though, that Calvinists make poor evangelists. Many people are firmly convinced that there is a deep-rooted flaw embedded within Reformed theology that undermines evangelistic fervor. Most blame it on predestination. After all, if God has already chosen who will be saved, it negates at least some of our personal responsibility in calling people to respond to the gospel. Or perhaps it’s just the theological-mindedness that ties us down in petty disputes and nuanced distinctions instead of freeing us to get up, get out, and get on mission. FULL POST

Posted 1/27/15 at 5:38 PM | Heather Radu

Forgiving the Hardest of Hearts

Serving the poor

If you are involved in ministry to the poor for very long (probably less than a week), you will encounter people who abuse "the system." These people know what to say, when to say it, and exactly when the doors open. They take a little more than they need, and they always seem to find their way to the front of the line. They are the sort of people who make you want to throw up your hands and be done with the ministry.

When you work with the poor, you have to figure out how to deal with greedy people, but it is not easy. On the one hand, it seems pretty reasonable to say, "get out and stay out." If they cannot find generosity in their own hearts, then why should they share in ours? They are taking food from the mouths of those who need it more. On the other hand, these people do have needs that have to be met. And their behavior reveals that they have deep spiritual needs as well. What happens to them if we shut them out?

I cannot help but think of Matthew 18, where Peter asks Jesus, "how many times should I forgive my brother?" Jesus teaches Peter, and us, to keep on forgiving. A thousand thoughts pass through my mind at this point—what about people who waste our resources? What about those who abuse our trust? Drain our emotional energy? Spread lies? We are called to forgive them. Seventy times seven. FULL POST

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