Church & Ministry

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Posted 4/20/15 at 11:40 PM | Kyle Beshears

Daniels in Babylon

"The King Picture" by Anh Dung Nguyen

It seems that just about everyday there is something new in the news that spurs on the cultural conversation about Christianity in a direction that's, well, let's say, unhelpful.

Whether its another report of the über gracious and super Christ-like Westboro Baptist Church picketing a soldier's funeral or my home state of Indiana becoming embroiled in controversy over religious freedom laws, everywhere you turn there's a conversation about Christianity (or whatever forms of Christianity those things may be) where two sides aren't so much talking to one another as they are shouting past one another.

These conversations, I suspect, represent something more than their face value. Aren't aren't really about whether or not a family-sized fundamentalist congregation has the right to interrupt the grieving process of funerals. Neither are they really about whether or not some baker in Terre Haute can legally decline to bake a cake with two grooms as the toppers. FULL POST

Posted 4/20/15 at 1:14 PM | Christian Post Guest Voices

What the Preacher Should Say in the Wedding Ceremony

“…the two shall become one….” (Matthew 19:5)

The wedding ceremony is a great time–once in a lifetime for most people–for the pastor to get something across to two people in particular while hundreds are eavesdropping.

Not that the couple will remember a thing you say. (When Margaret and I stood at the altar, our pastor said some wonderful things that I found fascinating and inspiring. No exaggeration. I stood there alongside my bride and was blessed by his comments. Alas, no one was recording anything in 1962, and my mind retained his wonderful words for exactly half an hour, so whatever he said is gone forever.)

These days, someone is recording your wedding service.

The bride and groom and close relatives will keep the CD and/or DVD for the rest of their lives and will periodically play it again.

That’s when your words are finally heard and begin to sink in.

So, what do you want to say to them, pastor? What words of lasting value and incredible help can you utter during the ceremony which will make a huge difference down the road a year or two or ten? Before listing my suggestions, let me state the obvious: You have only so much time, and this is not the time nor place for a full sermon. Still, choose one or two great points you wish to lodge in their hearts forever and give it a shot. FULL POST

Posted 4/20/15 at 8:06 AM | Robin Schumacher

Predestination and God’s Sovereign Choice

Dan Delzell’s Christianpost article, Predestination and God's Desire to Save Everyone, reminded me of a statement made by theologian Loraine Boettner in his classic book on predestination: “The doctrine of Predestination has been made the subject of almost endless discussion, much of which, it must be admitted, was for the purpose of softening its outlines or of explaining it away.”[1]

I mean no disrespect at all to Mr. Delzell when I say that, only that his article – written from the Arminian point of view – is definitely something crafted to take the punch and sting out of what I believe the Biblical doctrine of predestination truly means. For example, Delzell writes: FULL POST

Posted 4/16/15 at 1:08 AM | Alex Murashko

Andy Stanley, Judah Smith, and Google.org Director To Address Thousands of Change Makers at Catalyst West

Catalyst

IRVINE, Calif. — More than 3,000 leaders who love the Church will gather on Thursday and Friday (April 16-17) for the 7th annual Catalyst West event — focusing on “unifying, equipping, and challenging this community of change makers to evoke lasting change within our culture and world,” organizers said.

This year’s event, held at Mariner’s Church Irvine, will bring a host of fresh voices and thought leaders, including a change maker panel featuring a conversation on how the Church is partnering with community agencies in LA to create holistic change. The schedule includes team collectives that will offer a time for intentional connection and reflection on session topics, as well as special musical guests and entertainers.

Catalyst will also showcase its new app for the first time for Catalyst West attendees. The Catalyst App includes interactive, informative and fun activities to enhance the live event experience as well as exclusive content and access to community 365 days of the year, Catalyst states. The Catalyst App is available for both iPhone and Catalyst is unique in its ability to reach across denominations and backgrounds in order to gather leaders around the call of being ambassadors of reconciliation in the world. FULL POST

Posted 4/15/15 at 2:44 PM | Thomas Rowley

Plastic Christianity

From drink bottles to styrofoam cups to those clamshells that ironically protect organic fruits at Costco, plastic—the material so famously and presciently proclaimed as the “future” to Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate—is taking over. Consider the so-called Pacific Ocean Garbage Patches—areas of open ocean concentration of man-made litter, much of it plastic. Plastic that kills marine birds, mammals and fish that mistakenly eat the floating plastic bits and get caught in the debris. On top of that is the prospect of toxic leaching.

Sure, recycling helps. But rates are somewhat discouraging. Landfills, of course, catch some. The rest (I’ve seen estimates nearing 50 percent) blows and flows downwind and downstream.

The Bible warns of pointing out the speck in another’s eye while ignoring the plank in your own. And our spring break trip to see family and enjoy the beach highlighted my vision impairment. I really wanted an ice tea and the fact that it came in a large styrofoam cup didn’t deter me. Same for when our family had had all we could swallow of the sulfur-tasting tap water and opted instead for a plastic bottle. We all knew we shouldn’t, but we did. The indulgences we tried to buy came in the form of picking up everything from abandoned swim fins to bait buckets on our morning beach walks. Then we drove past a church’s large electronic billboard by the highway announcing its Easter invitation: a 10,000 egg hunt. We sighed and remembered the brightly colored, candy-filled, petroleum-based containers Maria and I had hidden for our own sons when they were young. FULL POST

Posted 4/15/15 at 11:12 AM | Kristi Porter

Tune In to The Orange Conference, April 29–May 1

The Orange Conference, a conference for entire family ministry teams, will be held April 29–May 1, in Atlanta. For those who can’t attend in person, a Live Stream will be held to give those at home a glimpse of the event. Over 6,500 key influencers—senior, NextGen, student, children’s and preschool leaders—will gather in person to learn how to make the most of every phase in a kid’s life.

The Live Stream will include select main sessions, including the opening session with Orange founder Reggie Joiner, as well as speaker and author interviews, the debut of new family ministry resources, giveaways and much more.

Drawing together speakers, authors and church leaders from around the world, Orange sets out to rethink the way the traditional church model approaches family ministry. The event is structured around the Orange Strategy of partnering families with the church to have a greater impact on the faith of kids and youth. “Thinking Orange” blends two vital, yet often unconnected worlds to reshape the current ministry model. Every year thousands of family ministry teams attend the conference to get realigned, hear new ideas, discover resources and answers that are specific to their needs, network with innovators, bond as a team and have fun. FULL POST

Posted 4/15/15 at 10:52 AM | Jonathan Falwell

Is Jesus God?

The Barna Group has an interesting poll out in the wake of two recent television miniseries on the life of Jesus. The polling questions asked: (1) Was Jesus a real person and (2) is Jesus God?

The answers provided a bit of good news and a bit of bad news. First, most people firmly believe that Jesus truly existed, with more than 90 percent of respondents answering in the affirmative. However, the second question is where the problem arises. The Barna Group reported, “Most adults — not quite six in 10 — believe Jesus was God (56 percent), while about one-quarter say he was only a religious or spiritual leader like Mohammed or the Buddha (26 percent). The remaining one in six says they aren’t sure whether Jesus was divine (18 percent).”

That 44 percent who are unsure about Jesus, I believe, is our core target group, as representatives of Christ. They are the people who we need to reach with the Gospel, the people we need to be praying for, the people we need to be living rightly for. And certainly there are those in the 56 percent group that believe Jesus is God, but have not followed Him as Savior. And so the poll simply reveals what we pretty much recognize as true: our nation needs Jesus. FULL POST

Posted 4/13/15 at 9:57 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

Why I Turn Off That Radio Preacher

On the highway the other day and flipping through the radio dial, I came across a Seventh Day Adventist preacher in the middle of a sermon. Within five minutes, he had made two errors that revealed either his biblical incompetence or his spiritual presumption.

So I turned him off.

In the first instance, in trying to make the case for Christians today keeping the Sabbath, he equated the Ten Commandments with all our Lord’s statements in the Gospels about “keeping my commands” and “breaking these commandments.” In John chapters 14 and 15, for instance, several times our Lord says things like, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (14:15,21,23 and 15:10,14). That preacher said Jesus was referring to the Ten Commandments.

Not even close.

Jesus was not talking about the Ten Commandments!  He was talking about His own teachings, those found throughout the gospels. If you need proof, consider that when someone asked Jesus to name “the greatest commandment” (Matthew 22), He listed two that are not part of the “Ten”–loving God supremely (Deuteronomy 6) and loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19). So much for Jesus being fixated on the Ten Commandments the way that preacher is. FULL POST

Posted 4/10/15 at 9:27 AM | Christian Post Guest Voices

What Pastors Do That Cause Their Members to Cringe

“Lord, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us” (Mark 9:38).

Robert Schuller died last week. This founder of the Crystal Cathedral in California and founder/host of television’s “Hour of Power” broadcast was the “media pastor” to countless millions who would never have entered my church. He wrote books, did a lot of good, did much that was questionable, and drove us traditionalists out of our collective minds.

When I read of his passing, I posted this on my Facebook page:

My favorite Robert Schuller story: When he was a kid, his mother taught him piano lessons. Once, in the middle of a recital, his mind went blank and he forgot the rest of the piece he was playing. There was nothing to do but walk off the stage in humiliation. Later, his mother gave him some great advice. “Honey, any time you mess up in the middle of a piece, always end with a flourish and no one will ever remember what you did in the middle.” Schuller would say, “Some of you have messed up in the middle of your life. But my friend, you can end with a flourish if you start now.” FULL POST

Posted 4/8/15 at 7:53 PM | Mark Ellis

She found Jesus in Niger, faced horrible rejection and violence

Mounira and her son

By Mark Ellis

After she found Jesus, she left her faith in Islam behind. As a result, she endured physical abuse, divorce and abandonment because she chose Jesus as her Savior and Lord.

Mounira came from a deeply conservative Muslim family in Niger. After she received Christ, her family abandoned her and her son Maoulé, leaving them homeless and friendless. Even her husband rejected her due to her faith in Christ, according to a report by International Christian Concern (ICC).

When he caught her reading the Bible, he seized the Scriptures from her hands and tore it to shreds. On Sunday mornings, he locked Mounira in her room to keep her from attending church.

One night, after he returned late from work, Mounira’s husband beat her to the point of unconsciousness because she dared to pray in a corner of their house. Her son, Maoulé, quickly called Mounira’s pastor, who rushed her to the hospital, according to ICC. FULL POST

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