It is hard to overstate the importance of functional awe of God to your ministry. Awe of God is one thing that will keep a church from running off its rails and being diverted by the many agendas that can sidetrack any congregation.
Awe of God puts theology in its place. Theology is vitally important, but our awe of theology is dangerous if it doesn't produce practical awe of God. Awe of God puts the ministry strategies of the church in their proper place. We don't put our trust in strategies, but in the God of awesome glory who is the head of the church. Awe of God puts ministry gifts and experience in their proper place. I cannot grow arrogant and smug about my gifts, because unless those gifts are empowered by the glorious grace of the God I serve, they have no power to rescue or change anyone. Awe of God puts our music and liturgy in its proper place. Yes, we should want to lead people in worship that is both biblical and engaging, but we have no power to really engage the heart without the awesome presence of the Holy Spirit who propels and applies all we seek to do. Awe of God puts our buildings and property in their proper place. How a building is constructed, maintained, and used is very important, but buildings have never called or justified anyone – only a God of awesome sovereign grace can do so. Awe of God puts our history and traditions in their proper place. Yes, we should be thankful for the ways God has worked in our past, and we should seek to retain the things that are a proper expression of what he says is important. But we don't rest in our history – only in the God of glory who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The American society and public policy need to be much more authoritative about communicating the norm because certain behaviors and lifestyles are undesirable, one of the nation's leading experts on poverty and welfare said, adding that out-of-wedlock births needs to be "stigmatized."
David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values and the host for a discussion on "Is the Marriage Gap Driving American Inequality?" at the Center for Public Conversation in New York City on Thursday evening, showed a public-funded poster saying if you finish high school education, get a job and marry before having children, you have a 98 percent chance of not being in poverty.
Do you realize just how dramatically your lifestyle influences what you believe? It really does, just like your beliefs greatly influence your lifestyle. It is a cycle, and a circle. It keeps going around and around, unless you get off that merry-go-round and get on a new one.
Oswald Chambers described it this way: "The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience."
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently said that he believes creationism, evolution, and intelligent design should all be taught in the state's public schools so that children may be "exposed to the best facts."
"I believe all our children should be exposed to the best science," Jindal, a Republican, recently told NBC's Hoda Kotb when asked if he believes public schools should teach creationism.
"Bottom line, at the end of the day, we want our kids to be exposed to the best facts. Let's teach them about the big bang theory, let's teach them about evolution ... I've got no problem if a school board, a local school board, says we want to teach our kids about creationism, that people, some people, have these beliefs as well, let's teach them about 'intelligent design,'" Jindal added.48 comments
Most pastors preach or speak in a public forum 150 to 200 times a year. Many do more than that. Over time these preachers have the ability to discern if the congregation or audience is following them or if their minds are in another world.
Preachers are also too familiar with distractions. While it's the way of life of someone who gets in front of people to speak, it is no less annoying.
I asked a number of pastors to share with me the most frequent distractions they experience while preaching. Here are there responses in order of frequency. I also took a representative quote from one of the respondents for each item.
Beloved gospel singer George Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, N.C., soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, died Tuesday evening following a brief illness.
Graham's senior by ten years, Shea was a mainstay as the worship singer with a deep voice, who preceding the famous evangelist in song for every crusade for 60 years.
"Bev was one of the most humble, gracious men I have ever known and one of my closest friends," said Graham in a statement released by the BGEA. "I loved him as a brother. My prayer for his wife, Karlene, and his children, Ron and Elaine, is that God will strengthen them during this time."
The Boston Marathon is New England's most widely viewed sporting event. Over 500,000 people, 80 percent of Boston's population, show up to cheer on more than 20,000 runners. Begun in 1897, it's the world's oldest annual marathon. Until today, it was known for history and prestige. Now it will forever be known for tragedy as well.
At 2:50 PM EST, two simultaneous explosions ripped through the crowd at the marathon's finish line. Two people were killed; dozens were injured. "It sounded like a sonic boom. I haven't stopped shaking yet," said one onlooker. Security has been heightened at airports and cities across the nation. The White House believes the bombings to be an act of terrorism. At this hour, we don't know anything more about the perpetrators of this cowardly act.
In days of such uncertainty when any public event can become a tragedy, how should we respond? First, consider Psalm 91: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty" (v. 1). Clearly, the psalmist was writing in a time of adversity, yet five times he states his personal trust in his Lord: "I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust" (v. 2, my emphasis). A shelter is no help unless we trust it; a fortress can protect only those who are inside its walls. Faith does not protect us from all crises, but in them.
Legendary college football coach Urban Meyer tells a remarkable story about his father. During his senior year of high school Urban was drafted by the Atlanta Braves to play major league baseball. Soon after arriving in the minor leagues, however, he realized he didn't have the necessary talent and called his father to tell him he was quitting. His father informed Urban that if he quit, he would no longer be welcome in their home. "Just call your mom on Christmas," he said. Needless to say, Urban finished out the season and ended up embracing the incredibly conditional world of his father, a world in which failure was simply not an option, and reflection another word for "weakness wrapped in nostalgia."
Gary McIntosh and Charles Arn recently released a delightful new book, What Every Pastor Should Know. I love the data and research in the book. One of my favorite sections dealt with retention of members. Two of the most critical findings were:
Of all the members who drop out of church, 82 percent leave in the first year of their membership. Retention efforts are thus critical in the first twelve months after a member joins a church.
The pattern of dropout is not random. Most leave close to their six-month tenure or close to their twelve-month tenure. So church members seem to give new churches a "test" at both six months and twelve months. If the church passes the test at six months, the member will stay for another six months. If the church passes the test at the one-year mark, the member is likely assimilated into the church.2 comments
The average age at which Americans first marry is at a historic high – 27 for women and 29 for men. Should Christians welcome or beat back this trend? The Christian Post asked three Christian leaders to weigh in on this topic.