In early 1984, I began serving as a pastor for the first time. I would ultimately serve four churches as a pastor and nine churches as an interim pastor. In 1984 I was a young 28-year-old pastor without a clue. Today I am 58-years-old, and I'm still not sure I have a clue. So much has changed. So much has changed in pastoring in just thirty years. Let's look at major ways the pastorate has changed in that time.
You'd think that Christians would be completely safe in the land of Gandhi. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. If I asked you to name the country that has witnessed the single greatest outburst of anti-Christian violence in recent years, you'd probably guess somewhere like North Korea or an Islamic country such as Egypt.
When our government is not in charge of something, it inserts itself into the enterprise, as is the case with the FDA's recent attempt to halt the sale of 23andMe DNA tests. Our government looked around the value-added business of personal genetic diagnostics and decided one thing was missing: government did not have a say-so.
We're at war. Or at least, war is being waged on our brothers and sisters in Christ across the globe. Sometime in November, the North Korean regime publicly executed eighty people in seven cities across the country. In each instance, a crowd was forced to watch as ten people, their heads covered with white bags, were tied to stakes and machine gunned to death.
As pastors and members we easily confuse the measure of greatness in the local church. We all know and admire the heavyweights whose numbers are the size of small cities. But one thing my senior pastor has taught me is not to elevate numbers beyond other dimensions of measurement God considers more important.
When we enter into a relationship with God, we experience a divine exchange where He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness. He also puts the seed of the Fruit of the Spirit in us (see Galatians 5:22-23). But in order for this fruit to grow in our lives, we have to study the Word and spend time with God so He can do this work in our soul.
Should a clergy's prayers be subject to censorship if given to solemnize a public meeting? A powerful atheist group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), thinks so, and has convinced a federal appellate court to enforce this sort of oversight. But the question is now squarely before the U.S. Supreme Court, having heard oral arguments earlier this month.
Priscilla Shirer, popular Bible teacher, author and conference speaker, recently spoke with The Christian Post about her new book, God Is Able, in which she unpacks Ephesians 3:20-21 to explain how Christians can personally apply the Scripture's proclamation that God can "do exceeding abundantly above and beyond anything that you can ask or think." The married mother of three also shared her views on women in ministry and why Christians need to get out of the pews and onto the pavement.
This season of Advent, beginning the first day of December, is full of the JOY of the Lord! What could be more wonderful than the Good News that the Savior is born, that God himself has come to Earth as the Messiah? The great prophesies are fulfilled, including these profound and awesome words of Isaiah:
Humor is a great tool to use when communicating God's Word to teeenagers (or anyone for that matter.) It breaks down barriers, captures attention and gets the audience's adrenalin kicked into high gear. As a result, teenagers are more ready to receive what you are seeking to teach them from God's Word.
We tend to idealize holidays, but human depravity doesn't go into hibernation between Thanksgiving and New Year's. One thing that will hit most Christians, sooner or later, are tensions within extended families at holiday time. Some of you will be visiting family members who are contemptuous of the Christian faith and downright hostile to the whole thing.
Yet in a similar way this had been the plight of that little band of Pilgrims who gathered together with Indian guests for the New World's first Thanksgiving dinner. They had suffered incredible losses and their difficulties were life-threatening at every turn. Their table would have also been meager in comparison to our own today, but they possessed an indomitable spirit of gratefulness to God.
Todd Burpo, whose book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back is set to become a full-length motion picture next year, calls the parts of the film he has seen "accurate" and well-made. Both book and movie narrate the near-death experience that reportedly brought his 3-year-old son, Colton Burpo, face-to-face with Jesus Christ.
When it comes to ministry leadership, I don't focus on trying to motivate other people. I worry about motivating me, and if I'm motivated it will be contagious. This is true in any area of ministry. Your duty is not necessarily to motivate others. But if you stay motivated, people will catch your enthusiasm. They will catch your vision.
Priscilla Shirer, Bible teacher, best-selling author and popular conference speaker, takes hold of two brief but weighty verses from the Book of Ephesians to remind readers that "just because God can doesn't mean He will," and "just because He hasn't doesn't mean He won't." The bottom line, according to Shirer, is to remember "that He is able" — but you won't ever know it unless you take God at His word and put your faith to the test.
Four immigration activists ended their 22-day fast that was aimed to pressure lawmakers to overhaul the nation's immigration system, while a new group of advocates took their place to continue the call for an immediate vote on a reform.
T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House has revealed the speakers lineup for his 2014 International Pastors and Leadership Conference organized under the theme of "Branching Out." Among the keynote speakers are Hillsong Church founder Brian C. Houston and Church of God in Christ Bishop Charles E. Blake, with the list of general session speakers including Bishop Jakes' wife, Serita Jakes and Bishop Vashti McKenzie of of the American Methodist Episcopal Church.
Television host and journalist Martin Bashir has resigned from his MSNBC show after reflecting on his highly controversial comments made about former GOP Vice Presidential nominee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, adding that he "deeply regrets" what he said.
A bill has been proposed in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly that would crack down on a practice known as "revenge porn."
The park department of Morton Grove, Illinois has rejected a donation from an atheist teacher and blogger, saying that it would prefer to avoid becoming involved in any First Amendment dispute or controversy. The donation had initially been sent to compensate for lost funds after a veterans' group pulled donations to the department after one of its commissioners refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance back in early November.
While some users have experienced difficulty logging onto Healthcare.gov, also known as the "Obamacare website," the White House explained that users are not getting an error page as they did before, but are being placed in a queue. Critics say the website is not working as well as the White House claims.
One person or several anonymous Christians in the U.S. are partaking in an Instagram campaign called "Tips for Jesus" in which they post photos of receipts from restaurants across the country showing the generous tip they have left for servers or bartenders, often times averaging in the $5,000 range. This campaign follows a series of media stories that have painted Christians and others as inadequate tippers.
A growing online community called "NoFap" with more than 83,000 members on Reddit.com is helping people kick pornography and masturbation addictions, and even Christians are finding a haven for healing in it.
"Preachers of L.A.," the faith-based Oxygen network reality show that Christians seem to love to hate but apparently like to watch in record numbers, has led to online discussions about various hot-button issues. One topic in particular featured in the docu-series that elicited strong responses is "shacking up," or the state of an unmarried couple living together as if they are husband and wife. The situation suggests that a shacking couple is a couple having sex, or facing the temptation to have sex. But is "shacking" even mentioned in the Bible?
Strip Church Network, an organization that first aimed at reaching out to women working primarily in Las Vegas strip clubs for the last five years, has taken their ministry efforts nationwide, spreading hope to strippers in other cities where the sex industry also exists, say its leaders.
A Pennsylvania Episcopal church body will soon undergo a major two-pronged construction project with an estimated price tag of $110 million.
Inside the introduction written by theologian John Piper to Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent, a book of devotionals designed especially for Advent 2013 by Desiring God, a ministry he founded, the pastor answers the question, "What does Jesus want for Christmas?"
A Texas megachurch recently gave more than 12,500 pounds of food and personal care items to a community food bank that was in desperate need of donations.
LifeWay Christian Resource will relaunch their "True Love Waits" program later this month in honor of its 20th anniversary along with a revamped curriculum for its international campaign designed to challenge young adults to make a commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage.
Disney's new musical, "Frozen," may have done well at the box office, but it failed to convince all Christian reviewers. While some hailed the film as a masterpiece of sacrificial love, others attacked it as a lower quality cartoon.
Trinity Broadcasting Network is set to air a TV special to honor the life of its co-founder, Dr. Paul Crouch, who died on Saturday, but there will be no public memorial service, as per his wishes.
How crazy did Americans become about the Robertson family this year? If Yahoo search data is any evidence – very.
Former National Basketball Association star Magic Johnson recently told Anderson Cooper that he is Christian but that he also supports his openly gay son.
A Christ-centered network of microfinance institutions is helping to provide life-changing mobile banking services in greatly impoverished communities in Rwanda so that people could find more security in life.
Assem Abdel Magid, a member of the Islamic party Gamaah Islamiya, has renewed his threats against the Coptic Church and its leaders, who he accused again of supporting what he called a "coup."
A statue depicting Jesus as a homeless man that the pope blessed last month, has been stolen from outside a Toronto church.
A recently published study by Chinese researchers may provide definitive evidence for the pro-life claim that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer.
Croatians voted against same-sex marriage in a national referendum Sunday, breaking the recent trend of European countries moving away from traditional marriage, and going against the views of their president and prime minister.
An influential aboriginal tribal group in southern India has lodged a formal police complaint seeking penal action against missionaries for allegedly converting more than 1,000 original indigenous families to Christianity by "allurement" and "brainwashing."
A nonprofit organization that works to connect Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies has ranked some of the nation's most recognizable brands in its annual Christmas shopping guide.
The American Family Association is calling for a limited one-month boycott of Radio Shack, accusing the company of censoring the word "Christmas" from its holiday promotions and advertising.
Management at a Cleveland branch of Walmart, America's largest food chain, sparked a fierce debate over whether employee compensation is too low after a food drive was started at the branch to make sure the neediest of the store's workers had enough to eat for Thanksgiving.