Husbands Are to Respect Their Wives, Too

August 23, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Rebekah Hargraves | 

   
(PHOTO: SCOTT WEBB)

Many blog posts, marriage seminars, and entire books have been written on the importance of wives respecting their husbands. After all, Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Did you know, however, that husbands are called by God to respect their wives, as well? This truly is a road that is to go both ways.

1 Peter 3:7

We see this concept taught by Paul in 1 Peter 3:7 which says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” The Greek word translated honor is timē, the literal meaning of which, in this context, is:

  • honour which belongs or is shown to one
  1. of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds
  2. deference, reverence

This is the same Greek word used in the following passages, as well:

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” ~1 Timothy 1:17

” Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” ~1 Timothy 5:17

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” ~Hebrews 2:9

Contrary to what some believe, the honor to be shown to women according to 1 Peter 3:7 is not a condescending “there, there” type of fake honor given to an overgrown child (this idea stems from a false perspective on the meaning of the term “weaker vessel“)!

Rather, it is the same as the kind of honor you would give to God, Christ, and ruling elders. This is not to say that you place your relationship with your wife on the same level as your relationship with God. He is to be your number one. It is also not to say that women are to be ruling over their husbands as would a ruling elder or a civil ruler. Marriage is a partnership. It is, however, to illustrate for us the magnitude of the honor, respect, and reverence that is to be shown to women by their husbands.

What This Means for Our Marriages

How could this understanding of the meaning behind the word “honor” in 1 Peter 3:7 change the landscape of Christian marriages in our day? I believe there are at least 3 ways this realization could positively impact marriage, and they are as follows:

Women were not made by God to be subordinate to men in any way, shape, or form. That is not womanhood by God’s design. Women are equal in worth to men, just as important as men, made in the image of God just as man was, and worthy of honor just as men are. This becomes crystal clear when we understand the meaning of the Greek word translated “honor”.

The idea that men are to “rule over”women (even kindly and with love and gentleness) is an unBiblical idea. The only place in all of Scripture where this concept is even set forth is in an incredibly negative light as a result of sin, the fall, and the curse (see Genesis 3:16b – “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”), not as a result of God’s design for relationships between men and women. That becomes clear when we understand the meaning of 1 Peter 3:7.

  • It does away with the practice of explaining away abuse against wives.

Love and Respect

The truth is that, Biblically speaking, both love and respect/reverence are to be shown to each spouse (Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4, Ephesians 5:33, and 1 Peter 3:7). That is what makes for a beautiful, fulfilling, impactful, God-honoring marriage! And that is what we should be seeking to live out ourselves and point others to, as well.

 

Sometimes the Most Spiritual Thing You Can Do Is Take a Nap

July 25, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Alex McFarland | Tue 24 Jul 2018 6:47 EDT

Have you ever considered your theology regarding R&R? It may be something we think about often, but Christians should make time to get rest for the body and the soul. Acts 3:19 speaks of “times of refreshing” that accompany (and follow) salvation in Christ. This refers primarily to the state of being in right relationship with God, and that ultimately believers will spend eternity in heaven with Him. But the Greek word most often translated as “refreshing” in English Bibles is a word for “breathing easily” or being “revived with fresh air.”

If you know Christ, reflect for a moment on what a blessed state you enjoy as a born-again person right this moment! Allow your standing in Jesus to lift your heart and fill you with rejoicing! Think of it—you are cleared of guilt before the Father; indwelt, filled, empowered by and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, and secure in the hand of Jesus Himself (John 10:28). We weren’t saved by works and we aren’t kept by works. But by Jesus’ inexplicable and immeasurable grace toward us, we are now friends of God (c.f., Romans 8:1; Ephesians 2:8; John 15:15).

Hebrews 4:10 speaks of Christians having entered into “God’s rest.” In our world today, it is very hard for Christians to slow down, unplug, calm one’s mind and . . . rest. In reality, resting is a privilege and is, in fact, a discipline much needed in every Christian’s life.

Some might object to a call for rest, reasoning that because the world at this moment is so dark and sinful, Christians should work all that much harder to spread the Gospel. The great minister Vance Havner (very influential in the life of Evangelist Billy Graham) once preached on the stewardship responsibility of getting proper rest. Dr. Havner said that it was right for Christians to plan for times of rest and vacation, and that not to do so was unwise. A lady came up and piously objected, “Well, you know the devil never sleeps! The devil never takes a vacation!” Dr. Havner responded, “Since when am I supposed to be like the devil?”

The great thinker Aquinas spoke on the appropriateness of rest, even giving his inimitable Thomistic “thumbs up” to “sports” and “entertainments.” Of course, in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas wasn’t speaking of the NFL or ESPN. But even then, there was the question of whether or not it was OK for Christians to play games or do things just for pure fun.

Aquinas noted that our main purpose in life was to think on God, experience His presence and to worship our Triune Lord. Aquinas said that because rest and “fun” activities can leave us refreshed and prepared to resume thinking on God all the more effectively, then such things were appropriate.

Aquinas, John Wesley and other Christian leaders (Pat Robertson, for example, in the modern era) have recognized that getting proper rest is both a stewardship issue and a spiritual discipline. Aquinas believed that excesses (think materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, workaholism) were issues of temperance. He said that sins against temperance are among the most disgraceful “because they make us most like the irrational beasts.”

So, let’s re-humanize ourselves by heeding God’s call to rest. For you, that may mean taking a fast from technology (try it—power down your cellphone for 24 hours!). Take a break from bingeing on video games or watching hours of cat videos on YouTube. Be honest about your propensity to busy-ness, or even to work-a-holism. Slow down, meditate on Jesus, quietly read Scripture, listen for the still small voice and ask God for rest.

As a wise, elderly preacher from Kentucky once said to me, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

Alex McFarland is a speaker, writer and advocate for Christian apologetics. He serves as director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, a leading Christian college in the United States. He has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout North America and internationally and has preached in more than 1,300 churches.
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Keep Heaven on Your Mind

July 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Jentezen Franklin | Thu 5 Jul 2018 7:55 EDT

Life can be difficult. At any given time, there are precious people who are strained and stretched to their limit emotionally. There are people struggling with physical pain or pressured by financial difficulties. There are people challenged by disharmony and chaos in their families and their marriages. It’s part of life on earth.

Satan tries to keep us focused on our problems so we forget about our promises. He wants us to live shallow, earth-bound lives. Our enemy wants us to focus on the temporary and lose sight of the eternal, because we become dangerous to his plans when we have eternity in our sight.

He doesn’t want us to remember we are headed for heaven.

The Apostle John wrote these words while marooned on the Isle of Patmos: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne…” (Revelation 4:1-2)

Alone on the island, God allowed John to see a door. From behind the door, he heard a voice saying, “Come up here.” Come see what heaven’s like. Are you having a bad day, John? Maybe a bad month? Come up here and look at things from heaven’s perspective.

Suddenly, John found himself in heaven. He could peer into paradise. He began to experience the sounds, the sights, the beauty of heaven.

Heaven is a real place. Jesus Himself said in John 14 that heaven was a real place being prepared for all of us to live in. He even said if it wasn’t true, He would tell us.

Believe it—heaven is real.

We’re going to stand on those streets of gold one day. We’re going to hug everyone we love who arrived there before us. We’re going to dance in the presence of Jesus.

It’s real. It’s waiting for us. This world isn’t our final destination. It isn’t our true home. Our home is with our Father in heaven.

If you’ve lost a loved one and you’re suffering through the pain and the grief, think about heaven. Get heaven and eternity on your mind. One glorious day the grave is going to burst wide open and death is going to be swallowed up in victory.

Do you know why we have a generation who doesn’t think purity and holiness matters? It’s because they don’t really believe Jesus is coming back to take us to heaven.

We’re told in 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

When you hear someone say heaven isn’t real, you’re hearing a slanderous lie spread by the father of lies. Satan knows firsthand the majesty and splendor of heaven. Satan doesn’t want anyone to enjoy heaven. He got kicked out of that wonderful place. He’s bitter toward God, bitter toward God’s people, and bitter about heaven.

Don’t believe his lie. Be assured and comforted—heaven is real.

Imagine yourself there.

Imagine seeing your friends who love Jesus. They’re running to you in this beautiful place. You’re hugging each other and walking together in awe. You have a powerful new body! There’s no sickness, no sadness, no death. You’re talking and laughing.

Then you see someone approaching. It’s Jesus Himself walking toward you with a smile on His face. You fall down to your knees, but He pulls you up and holds you close. He whispers to you, “Welcome home.”

The old things of the earth are gone. Everything is new. You feel God’s love and His peace permeating this place. You are completely and totally at home, and deeply satisfied. It’s the place you always looked for on earth but never really found. And you know that this marvelous place made every trial, every heartache, every pain you experienced on earth totally worth it.

Take comfort in how Paul explains it to the Corinthians: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

I’m not telling you a fairy tale. This is what the Bible clearly teaches. We need to stand on it. If you’re having a bad day, come up here. You’re invited. Keep heaven on your mind..

If you’re going through something bleak on earth, come up here and you’ll see a whole new perspective.

Whether things are going well or falling apart, come up here.

One day you’ll truly be home forever—because heaven is real.

3 Ways Churches Think They Are Known in Their Community

July 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Thom S. Rainer | Sun 8 Jul 2018 9:10 EDT

Usually when I ask a question on social media, I expect a decent number of responses. Church leaders and members are typically gracious to me and share their opinions readily.

But when I asked a question about the reputation of their churches in the community, I was inundated with responses. Many wanted to share the good and the bad. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of the study was the three distinct groups in which the responses fell.

The question was simple: “What is your church known for in its community?”

Within a few minutes of my post, many responses came forth. After I read and added all of them, I saw three patterns emerge.

1. About one-half of the churches are known for ministries that require the community to come to the church itself. Great preaching. Incredible worship services. A friendly church. Great events at the church. How our members care for one another. You get the picture. These are all great responses, but they require the community to come to the church. If community members do not set foot on the church’s campus, they will never know about the ministries of the church. For the majority of the churches, the idea of community ministry is “you come to us.”

2. About one-fourth of the churches cited great ministries in and to the community. Partnering with schools in the community. Serving the community with food and clothes. Medical and dental ministries. Ministries to families, parents, and children in the community. The list goes on and on. It was exciting to read how many churches demonstrate their love for their community by actually going into the community.

3. About one-fourth of the churches said they were known for negative reasons. Preacher-eater churches. Congregational fights and splits. Legalism. Unfriendliness. One church leader said his church was known for two murders that occurred a few years apart on the church site. Ouch.

The social media poll did encourage me in many ways. Many of our churches are doing an incredible job connecting with and ministering to the communities in which they are located. And though I am certainly glad to see many church members excited about what is taking place on their church campuses, I fear many members think that community ministry means, “Y’all come to us, and we will minister to you.”

Of course, I am concerned, but not necessarily surprised, about the negative perceptions of some churches in the community. I pray those churches will begin to make a positive impact in the locations where they serve.

What is your church known for in the community? What are your members actually doing in the community and for the community?

The Army of God: A Great Awakening Coming

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Justin Steckbauer , | Jun 17, 2018 4:37 PM

There is hope. We will rise up. Great awakening is coming. Don’t think it, know it. We see great struggle, brokenness, and strife. But we don’t look upon the world, we look upon Jesus Christ, our glorious risen savior. Therefore we have great hope. Claim this hope as your own. Let it fire your spirit, and blaze to life the pits of your soul, and consume your heart, and fill your muscles with strength.

There is a roaring in the cities. There is a sinister revival taking place across the nations. The black onyx is rising. And it feels as if we are swimming in the flood waters. If we look at this dark river, spreading like locusts, exploding outward like clouds of mosquitoes to destroy all that is good in the world then we feel hopeless. If we look at that, and when we look at that, and stare at it, the strength drains from our muscles. The blood drains from our appendages. And our faces turn grey and white.

So we must not look upon the world with an endless gaze, we must look upon Jesus with an endless gaze. We must practice the presence of God. Because there is so much struggle and strife and polarization around us. We must constantly keep our mind stayed on Him.

As it says in the word: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” -Isaiah 26:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Fix your thoughts on Jesus. Listen to me, there is great sin around you everywhere. Sin threatens from every angle. And we must be clean of it. If we are soiled in the sin of the world when Jesus returns, then we won’t share in eternal life with Him. So we must live a radically different lifestyle, a lifestyle of true holiness.

Sin is everywhere. It’s as if we are in pure robes, walking across a muddy field. And we must be ever so careful to avoid being soiled by the world. We have our defenses up, and those defenses are fortified and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We are able to resist temptations of all kinds in the power of Christ.

And we are being sanctified in so many ways, so that our minds become foreign to the world. And the things of the world no longer interest us. And thus temptation comes, and finds an environment foreign to it’s nature. And it cannot prosper. Our minds, hearts, souls, and all our strength is fortified by God, as we seek Him and study His word.

This takes practice, and a daily lifestyle of repentance. And of peace, and love, and longsuffering. This is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. If someone told you it would be prosperity and wealth, they lied to you. This is a hard journey. And God sees all things. If we live a double life, acting one way in public and another in private, God sees. And he will hold us accountable.

Sometimes I see how people are living and I wonder at it: Don’t they realize, don’t they understand, don’t they know that one day they will be face to face with Jesus himself? And when I’m thinking of this, I’m thinking of pastors. And they don’t care, it seems. Don’t they think God is real? Then why be a pastor? And if they do believe God is real, don’t they realize that they will be judged, and condemned, if they don’t repent of watching pornography, of affairs on their husbands or wives, and other sins of the flesh?

Maybe it seems far away or less than real. But it is quite real. It will be a real experience. We’ll live through the judgment, moment by moment, and we’ll be conscious in eternity, day by day, forever, wherever we spend it. Yet we choose filthy little sins in this life, and give up eternal glory?

Yes, we do. And let me tell you, and myself something: A few months ago, I was doing the same thing. With a little sin I liked to engage in. And I realized the realities of heaven and hell, but I comforted myself that God wouldn’t send me to hell, I’m special, God won’t punish me, or look on my sins, His grace is too much for that. But we’re called to repent. And so I was just playing games. Sinning, repenting, sinning repenting. And it’s amazing how I could lie to myself.

“Sin does not leap upon us fully armed. It steals in through a look, a swift, silent suggestion or imagination, but love and loyalty to Jesus will make you watchful and swift to rise up and cast out the subtle enemy. Do this and you shall live, and live victoriously.”-Samuel Logan Brengle

Once again we come back to it: The grace of God comes in and saves me from yet another sin that entangles and enslaves my eternal soul. It’s such a dangerous situation and we come at these sins and struggles with only weakness. Yet in weakness God brings great strength, and sin is overcome and holiness becomes a lifestyle, a lifestyle of lowly service, of love, and of thinking of others greater than ourselves. It’s beautiful and emotionally shocking in beautiful ways.

The trials are great. There is no questioning that. It’s so painful at times. Sometimes I end the day and I lay down in bed and feel like my soul was a punching bag that whole day, for people and their problems. And often because of my own failings. But the pain is real. The ache of the soul is so real.

Sometimes we need the pain, and the struggle, and the sorrow, and the difficulty that won’t end, and the broken part of you that won’t heal. It drives us toward God, closer and closer to him. We struggle with that. But the truth is that without the pain, and the strife, and the struggle, we would probably never return to God. We’d become prideful, and we wouldn’t return to the shepherd. We’d hike off on our own, and come to ruin.

But we do return, because of much sorrow. And we are wounded soldiers, wounded healers going into the field. I suppose to the world that seems like great weakness. In my mind it feels like great weakness. In fact, honestly it is weakness. It’s complete vulnerability and weakness.

And then you’ll be amazed by how God takes that total weakness, and it explodes into victory. But I don’t want to phrase it in a way that God makes it ‘possible.’ Or that God gives us the ability to have the victory, though that does happen. But more so God does it himself, through our obedience. God declares victory and it becomes true.

Gideon’s army didn’t need 100,000 to overcome the enemy. He only needed 300. But let’s be real, God could’ve done it with 3. Or 0.

What’s interesting is that when God’s angel first communicated to Gideon, he found him in total weakness. He was hiding, trying to reap his crops in a cellar. And God called him what he wasn’t yet, but would soon become: “Hail mighty warrior of God!” Gideon was hiding in terror, but God declared victory over him before the saga had even begun.

God delights to work through people who are truly yielded to him. So we must truly yield ourselves to him. Gideon had hidden faith within him, a radical faith that was daring to say: I can’t see how Lord, but I believe you will do the impossible. So how can we grow in our faith? It’s simple, but requires a daily method of life. It requires self-discipline, a God-ordered life.

America Needs Revival but It Must Start With Me

The Time Is Truly Ripe for a Revival
The ways to do it haven’t changed. Pray everyday, 30 min-2 hours a day. Set a goal, do it. (‘But I don’t want to be legalistic!’ Please, stop using that as an excuse to be spiritually lazy. God sees your heart, and He knows the truth.) Fast and pray from two or three meals a day, once or twice a week. Or more. Attend a good church community weekly, and attend small group/Bible study. And read the Bible each day, 2-4 chapters a day. Practice silence and solitude.

These practices haven’t changed in two thousand years. It’s just hard to do it. But, just do it. And if you can’t, because most of us can’t, then ask God. Go down on your knees before God and ask Him simply saying: “Lord, help me to read my Bible. Help me to pray for an hour a day. Please Lord make it possible!” And believe. And he will make the impossible possible. That’s where the battle starts though. It starts in you and me.

We can’t fight the battle if we are full of sin, lazy, and don’t practice the disciplines and church community. It starts internally, with you and me fighting ourselves. Greater is the man who conquers himself than he who conquers a city. Proverbs 16:32 (GNT) “It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities.”

So then, let us suppose that we do this. Let’s say that, perhaps 1,000 of us born again Christians do this. We really get free from all sin, and we really dedicate ourselves to holy living, in the most humble, meek, and loving way. And what if 10,000 Christians do that? What if 100,000 Christians do that, and keep living that way day by day and year by year? What if one million Christians did that worldwide? And what if 2.1 billion Christians worldwide, the general entirety of the church universal, did that? We’d see a great awakening like the world has never seen! A global great awakening! Could you imagine that? I can see it now. Believe for it.

The body of Christ is in need of great internal transformation, and a transformation that manifests itself externally to the glory of God and to the sort of great awakening that we all hope and long for.

The church really needs us to be evangelists, apostles, and disciplers. The church needs us to be evangelist equippers, to send out evangelists into the world to win people to Christ. The church needs us to be disciple equippers, to equip church members to disciple the church body toward holiness and spiritual disciplines. The church needs us to be apostles, embracing boldness, daring, and unconventional means and concepts to expand the kingdom of God into new terrain.

And as we discussed, to be able to do this effectively, we have to practice daily spiritual disciplines, diligent study of scripture and personally study various sub-disciplines of wisdom. We must also be willing to endure great struggle and difficulty. No great things done in the Spirit can be done easily.

So what would all this look like practically? This would look like a sincere body of believers in the church pressing out into the community and inwardly toward discipleship holiness. I see it as evangelism being “baked into” every ministry in the church to develop a culture of evangelism, and groups that go out weekly to talk to people door to door and on the streets and at events.

Just as important would be discipleship groups that closely resemble Wesley’s class and band meetings. These meetings would be weekly, and would encourage frank discussions regarding struggles, sin, righteousness, good deeds, and proclamation of the gospel related themes in small groups. Imagine the possibilities. I am just beginning to imagine it.

There is great hope for the future. We don’t have to feel lost and upset. We don’t have to look at the world and feel weak and troubled. We can look at Jesus and feel His total empowerment. But it starts with me, individually as a person, and then it can spread out to others. But it starts with us, internally, and then must burst forth externally. And I really, truly believe it will. This is just the beginning.

A new time is coming. God is doing a new thing in the body of Christ. I really believe that. I know it’s coming. A time is coming when the army of God will have victory after victory. We will rally, for Christ, for the lost, and we will spread the gospel anew to this generation.

It only takes one. It only takes a handful of people who are willing to step forward, in these endless tens of thousands of luke-warm churches and say no! Christ will have ALL there is of me! I reject this uniform standard of mediocrity! I reject luke-warm Christianity! I reject living with one foot in the church and one foot in the world! I reject being content to live in daily sin!

I radically believe that Christ can and will make me holy as He is holy. Believe. Step forward. Reject that halfway standard, even if 80% of the church is living in it. Give it all to Him. Step beyond the lukewarm church, which is simply a wide road to hell, and step into the fullness of Jesus Christ, the fullness of repentance, the fullness of submission to Him, and the fullness of the true Christian life of radical missional devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Justin Steckbauer is the founder of Lifestyleofpeace.com. He is a graduate magna cum laude from Liberty University, currently holding an associates degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a bachelors degree in the study of Religion. He is currently a graduate student at Olivet Nazarene University working on a masters degree in the study of Ministry. He is a cadet in training at the Salvation Army College for Officer’s training (CFOT) as well.

7 Reasons to Take Your Kids Out to Share the Gospel

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Greg Stier | Mon 18 Jun 2018 7:46 EDT

“Day after day, in the temple courtsand from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42

There’s something extraordinarily Biblical about Christians intentionally sharing the Gospel with others. From the bold early believers at the beginning of the church (Acts 4:31) to the Gospel proclaiming 144,000 Jewish evangelists at the end of time (Revelation 7), believers sharing the Good News with unbelievers is the norm, not the exception in Scripture.

It can be (and should be) the norm again today.

Over the last four decades I have witnessed again and again the power and impact of youth leaders taking teenagers out to intentionally share the Good News of Jesus with others. Now, I’m not talking about teenagers standing on a corner sign twirling a repent sign or passing out Gospel tracts like a Black Jack dealer in Vegas.

Churches That Help Parents Are ‘Growing Young’ Instead of Growing Old, Says Family Ministry Prof.

When I talk about “taking teenagers out” to share the Gospel I’m referring to taking them to a public place where other teenagers may be hanging out (think shopping mall, city center, main strip, etc.) And what do they do when they get there? They pray for and look for people, usually other teenagers, they can begin a conversation with in a natural way.

In John 4 Jesus engaged in “cold turkey” evangelism with a complete stranger (the woman at the well), but he did it in a very relational way. We can equip our teenagers to do the same.

At Dare 2 Share we teach teenagers to Ask-Admire-Admit. We teach them to ask questions and get to know someone personally. Along the way they try to find out what that person’s spiritual background is. They try to find areas of their belief system they can admire (like Paul did in Acts 17:22,23 with the men of the Areopagus.) And, finally, they admit the reason they’re a Christian is that they are so messed up they needed Jesus to save them.

This type of approach keeps it from becoming a presentation and makes it more of a conversation. It also opens up the opportunity for the Christian teenagers to share their own stories and the Gospel story in a more natural, engaging way.

So, with this as a backdrop, here are 7 reasons why you should consider taking your teenagers out to share their faith once a month or so:

1. It will help your teenagers grow in their faith.

Evangelism accelerates the discipleship process because it forces teenagers to put a bit of their social equity on the altar. When they share the Gospel with another teenager there is a chance they could be mocked. This risk fuels growth.

When Abraham put Isaac on the altar James reminds us that his, “his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete” (James 2:22.) Abraham’s faith was matured by his being willing to sacrifice what meant most to him … Isaac.

What means most to many of our teenagers is how they are perceived by other teenagers. When they share the Gospel with their peers, even in a shopping mall, they are putting this on the altar. This step of boldness can help their faith and actions work together to produce a more complete and robust faith.

2. It will accelerate their relational evangelism efforts.

For the last 25+ years of training teenagers to share the Gospel via Dare 2 Share I have seen this proven again and again. If teenagers can jump the high hurdle of sharing the Gospel with a complete stranger it gives them confidence to jump the even higher hurdle of sharing the Gospel with a friend.

When teenagers come back from an outreach experience they are pumped and excited. This is the prime time to challenge them to share this same message of hope with their friends.

For most teenagers engaging in an evangelistic conversation with their own classmates, teammates and friends is way harder than approaching a stranger in the shopping mall or on the street. Why? Because, when it comes to sharing Jesus with their close friends, they can lose more than just face, they can lose a friendship completely!

Sharing the Gospel with strangers enables them to gain evangelistic confidence. It helps give them the faith-sharing momentum they need to share Jesus with their friends.

3. It will give your teenagers Gospel fluency.

When I was a teenager our youth leader took us out every week to share our faith. On Friday nights we would gather together at someone’s house, pray for boldness, clarity and opportunities, and then disperse to local shopping malls and gathering places to engage others in Gospel conversations.

I would venture to say that, after years of doing this, the majority of us who shared our faith weekly had more Gospel fluency than the average seminary trained pastor. Why? Because there is nothing that will help you know the Gospel like sharing the Gospel with those who are unbelieving or skeptical.

The articulation of the Gospel leads to a deeper understanding of the Gospel. As Paul reminds us all in Philemon 6, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may know every good thing you have in Christ Jesus.”

I’ll never forget sharing my faith in middle school at a local shopping mall to two high school aged teenagers. As I shared the Gospel I vividly remember thinking to myself, “I believe this stuff. I really believe it!” Sharing the Gospel message verbally steeled it and sealed it in my soul.

Communicating the Gospel makes the Good News more meaningful to us. In the articulation of it we are reminded of it’s power and preciousness … and so are our teens.

4. It will energize the story-telling time in your youth group meetings.

If you want to have your youth group/small group meetings super-charged then include a story-telling time section during your program. Have the teenagers who have been sharing Jesus with strangers and friends share their stories in youth group.

When teenagers “Take 5 for The Cause” and share stories (good, bad or ugly) of their outreach experiences it supercharges the youth meeting. It breaks down the invisible wall of faith and action and raises the bar for the type of Christianity that does more than fill in blanks on a sermon outline.

5. It will fuel a hunger for learning God’s Word.

We teach teenagers to say “I don’t know but I’ll try to find out” as a kind of get-out-of-jail free card when they are asked a question they don’t have the answer to while sharing the Gospel. This motivates teenagers to study God’s Word for themselves to learn the answers.

If teenagers are regularly engaging atheists, Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims and more in spiritual discussions they’ll be getting asked difficult questions from time to time. This can spur a hunger and thirst for God’s Word like never before.

Wouldn’t it be great if your teenagers were grilling you with questions like, “How do we know the Bible is true?”, “How can we be sure Jesus rose physically from the grave?”and “Just exactly what is the Trinity and why do we believe in it?”

Your teenagers will ask these types of questions if they are actively sharing the Gospel with strangers and friends. You’ll discover them diving into God’s Word personally and passionately as a natural result of being engaged in evangelism.

6. It will motivate your teenagers to pray.

Just last week I went to a local shopping mall/casino in Johannesburg South Africa with about 150 mostly South African teenagers. The excitement was palpable as we engaged others in Gospel conversations.

And we didn’t even have to remind the teenagers or adult leaders to pray. Why? Because all of us were praying for confidence and clarity (myself included) as we shared the message of Jesus to others.

Evangelism can be scary … some would say downright terrifying. But it’s that very fear that forces us and our teenagers to pray and proclaim in utter dependence on the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 10 when Jesus sent his disciples on a “fishing trip” for lost souls he told them, “…at that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” Matthew 10:19,20. Evangelism, especially in the face of opposition, helps our teenagers stay fully dependent on the indwelling Holy Spirit through prayer.

7. It will help you and your adult leaders model evangelism.

One of the great benefits of taking your teenagers and adult leaders out to share the Gospel is that teenagers are able to witness their adult leaders witness. Teens will follow what the adults model. In Luke 6:40 Jesus emphasized this when he told his mostly-teenaged disciples, “No student is above their teacher but when they are fully trained they will be like their teacher.”

If we want our teenagers to share the Gospel with friends and strangers but we never do then maybe what we need is a mirror and not a bullhorn.

And I believe it’s good if teens sometimes witness adult leaders train wreck in evangelism. It helps them realize that they are not alone and that sometimes adults make mistakes or get slammed for sharing the Good News.

By the way, if you have adults who aren’t willing to share their faith, share this passage with them and let the Holy Spirit use it to convict. John 12:42,43 tells us, “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

Challenge them not to be like these early Jewish believers who didn’t openly acknowledge their faith because of the fear of being ostracized. Encourage them to boldly open their mouths and make known the mystery of the Gospel to friends and strangers alike (Ephesians 6:19.) When your teenagers see you and your adult leaders share their faith they are motivated to do the same.

Consider taking your teenagers out once a month or so to share the Gospel. I believe it will give your group a Gospel momentum, help them grow deeper in their faith and accelerate their relational evangelism efforts in ways you never imagined.

Eddie Long’s Successor at Georgia Megachurch, Bishop Stephen A Davis, Resigns

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter | 

 

Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over as senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, following the death of controversial longtime pastor Eddie Long in January 2017, has resigned.

According to the megachurch, Davis stepped down to concentrate on the New Birth ministry he founded in Birmingham, Alabama, which was formerly the Refiners House Church before becoming part of the New Birth expansion in 2010.

The resignation was accepted by the church’s board of directors.

“I love my New Birth family both in Birmingham and Stonecrest. However, at this time my wife, my children and the New Birth Birmingham family need my full attention,” Davis said in a statement Wednesday. “We will remain a[t] New Birth Church in Birmingham and maintain our relationships with New Birth Stonecrest Congregation.”

According to a press release sent by the church, Davis’ 16 months as senior pastor “allowed the New Birth ministry to continue moving forward following Bishop Long’s transition.”

The church expressed its gratitude for Davis for guiding the congregation with “heartfelt dedication and commitment.”

Long died last year of cancer at 63. He had faced multiple allegations that stemmed from lawsuits brought by men who accused Long of having sexual relationships with them as teenage members of his congregation. Although Long never publicly discussed the accusations, he settled with four of his accusers in 2011.

Davis’ resignation comes after rumors swirled in February that he had resigned and that there was a financial dispute between Davis and Long’s oldest son, Edward.

Michelle Porter, Davis’ executive administrator, shot down those rumors as false.

New Birth Board Chairman Thomas W. Dortch Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that all the travel required for Davis to keep up with his responsibilities was taking a toll. Dortch said that there was a “strain on Bishop Davis from having to come back and forth from Birmingham to Atlanta weekly while maintaining his other churches — one in Birmingham and one in Tuscaloosa.

Dortch said that the travel “became a major challenge for him.”

No information was provided on who will assume Davis’ position at New Birth Lithonia.

In Long’s book, The Untold Story: The Story of Adversity, Pain & Resilience, he claimed that New Birth had more than 25,000 members at one point in his career. But that number dwindled as he faced the allegations of sexual abuse. As previously reported, the church membership dropped to between 8,000 to 10,000 in 2016.

 

The Power of Peace – by Joyce Meyer

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

  • Having an attitude of peace and calm is priceless. It’s an attitude that says, “I’m trusting God,” and it speaks powerfully to people. But it takes time, focus and the grace of God to be consistently peaceful.
One way to develop consistent peace is to learn to live “in the now.” We can spend a lot of time thinking about the past or wondering what the future holds…but we can’t accomplish anything unless our mind is focused on today.

The Bible tells us that God gives us grace for each day that we live. I believe that grace is the power, enablement or energy to do what we need to do—and He gives it generously, as we need it.

We need to make a decision every morning to say, “God has given me today. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

The Real Source of Stress

Too often our stress level is tied up in our circumstances. You could be stressed because you’re always busy or you’re struggling financially or because you’re not getting along with someone you love.

It could be a number of things, but what’s interesting is that these situations are not the cause of your stress. Stress is really caused by your reaction to each situation.

We don’t have to work at trying to get rid of every stressful situation. We need to learn how to embrace peace.

See, we’re always trying to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the Bible says that in the world there will be tribulation. That’s why Jesus said, “Cheer up, I have overcome the world.”

We don’t have to work at trying to get rid of every stressful situation. We need to learn how to embrace peace.

7 Ways to Practice Peace

I believe that one of the keys to maintaining peace in your life is to take small steps toward peace every day. Here are a few tips for having a more peaceful lifestyle.

1. Be selective with how you spend your time. You may be trying to do too many things and end up doing none of them well. Hurrying is trying to do more than the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. Be led by the Spirit.

2. Be prepared to say no nicely. Sometimes we take on things we know we shouldn’t, just because we’re uncomfortable saying no. If you feel this pressure, ask God to put your spirit at rest and give you loving words to speak that will take away the unnecessary awkwardness of saying no.

3. Resist the spirit of procrastination. It’s the attitude that says I’m going to sit here and wait until I feel like doing what I need to do. But God’s Word tells us to exercise self-discipline. Do what you need to do now so you can fully enjoy your times of rest.

4. Eliminate key distractions. If you know you are easily distracted, set some guidelines for yourself. Don’t let them keep you up late at night so you oversleep the next morning and end up setting yourself up for a hurried, stressful day.

5. Set appropriate boundaries for interruptions. Life is full of interruptions, but we can learn to set boundaries that help us manage them in healthy ways. Schedule times when you are “off-limits.” Let your calls go to voicemail, turn off your email, and decide to get back to people after your “off-limits” time is over. Trust the Holy Spirit to tell you when there is a true emergency.

6. Modify your life.
 Ask God to show you “out-of-the-box” ways to save time and trouble. For instance, when I don’t have time to do the dishes, I use paper plates. And if I’m having a birthday party for one of my kids and don’t have time to make a meal, we just have cake and ice cream.

7. Listen for the Holy Spirit. 
If you can see that your plan is not producing peace, go back to God; pray for peace and for wisdom to make changes that will benefit your life.

If you can learn to trust God “in the now,” receive His grace as you need it, and you can become a truly peaceful person. Now that’s powerful!

Most Bible-Centered Americans Say They Need Daily Scripture Reading More Than Drinking Coffee: Survey

May 16, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Anugrah Kumar ,  


(PHOTO:ROD LONG)

A majority of Bible-centered Americans say they need the Bible more than coffee to jumpstart their mornings, according to a new nationwide study by American Bible Society.

For 61 percent of “Bible-engaged” Americans, the need for reading the Bible is stronger than their urge for caffeine, reveals the research, commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Group.

The study gave four choices — coffee, something sweet, social media and the Bible — and asked respondents which of these did they consider a daily necessity. Bible-centered adults are the only segment in which a majority insist on the Bible as a daily necessity at 61 percent. Bible-engaged adults prefer the Bible over the other three choices offered, but to a lesser extent at 43 percent. One in five who are Bible-friendly prefer the Bible over coffee, sweets and social media (21 percent).

“Elders and Boomers are more likely to say that coffee is something they must have during the day (46 percent and 47 percent), compared to 32 percent of millennials and 30 percent of Gen X. Segments more likely to choose the Bible are married adults, college graduates, households with children under 18 and residents of the South.”

The 2018 State of the Bible Report also shows that 42 percent of Americans say they were more fearful today than they were five years ago, but they’re also more hopeful about the future. And 41 percent feel peaceful when reading the Bible and 81 percent of Americans have a great sense of hope for the future.

“We are now able to give better context into how Americans are or are not interacting with the Bible and how that impacts their lives,” Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society, says in the report. “We are finding the more engaged with the Bible someone is, the more hopeful and peaceful they are, along with a greater awareness of their need for the Bible.”

The survey, for which 2,040 interviews were conducted online and on phone, also reveals that 42 percent of Americans are more generous after reading the Bible, 54 percent are more loving towards one another and 56 percent are more willing to engage with their faith.

When asked a series of questions about the Bible’s intent, most “Bible users” see it as a letter from God expressing his love and salvation for them, a way to know what God expects from them, and a rulebook or guide on how to live their best life.

Bible users are defined in the study as individuals who read, listen to or pray with the Bible on their own at least 3-4 times a year, outside of a church service or church event.

Last year, a poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that about half of all Americans say a prayer over their food at least a few times a week.

Rural and urban Americans, Northerners and Southerners, Catholics and Protestants, Democrats and Republicans, all say grace, though to varying degrees, the poll showed.

 

We ARE the Church!

May 16, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Rod Anderson 

 

 

It is becoming increasingly popular today to assume that since the essence of worship is the language of the gospel, then it follows that worship is all of life, and there is nothing distinct or significant about corporate gatherings of worship.

 Several problems with this perspective exist, however, deserving careful consideration. First, the nature of the church must be defined biblically. While it is true that “church” in the New Testament sometimes refers to the universal number of believers in Christ, (See, for example, Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22–23, 3:10, 3:21, 4:4, 5:23–27, 1 Corinthians 10:32, 11:22, 12:28, Colossians 1:18, 24, and Hebrews 12:23.) it most often refers specifically to a local gathering of such believers. For example, Paul addressed letters “to the church of God that is in Corinth (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1), “to the churches of Galatia” (Gal 1:2), and “to the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Thess 1:1).

 

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