Saturday, May 31, 2008

Adrian Varlack Elected President of the Historical Society of Church of God Movements

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Thursday (May 29, 2008) was the Seventh Annual Meeting for the Historical Society of Church of God Movements. We met at the Museum Center at Five Points in Cleveland, TN. There were 20 individuals present, representing five denominations, four archival repositories, a university, a community historical society, and several local churches. The theme for this year’s meeting was “The Development of Early Church of God Ecclesiology” and focused on the leadership roles of R.G. Spurling, founder, and A.J. Tomlinson, first general overseer.

Reverend Michael Padgett, the Society president and pastor of a Church of God Mountain Assembly congregation in Kentucky, moderated the meeting. Dr. Harold Hunter, (Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary) and director of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church Archives and Research Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, presented a paper in response to a paper written by Dr. Dale Coulter, (DPhil, Oxford University) and associate professor of historical theology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Dr. Coulter’s paper, “The Development of Ecclesiology in the Church of God (Cleveland, TN): A Forgotten Contribution?”, was published in Pneuma: Journal for the Society of Pentecostal Studies (29.1, 2007, p. 59-85).

Participants in this year’s annual meeting represented the Church of God (Cleveland), the Church of God of Prophecy, the Church of God Mountain Assembly, Zion Assembly Church of God, and the United Methodist Church. The historian for Cleveland/Bradley County, Tennessee, and Bible professors at Lee University were present as well.

New officers for the Society include Executive Secretary and Treasurer – Marie Spurling Crook (Zion Assembly COG), President – Adrian Varlack, Sr. (COGOP), First Vice President – Jerald Daffe (COG), and Second Vice President – Louis Morgan (COG).

The Society's mission and purpose are "to promote the study, interpretation and interpretation of the history and heritage of Church of God movements in their variety of expressions. It shall also seek to produce, and encourage the production of historical materials (written, audio-visual, Internet), to encourage the preservation of documents, records and photographs related to the movements, and to promote occasions for the movements to remember, appreciate and celebrate their history and heritage."

"Membership in the Historical Society of Church of God Movements is open to all persons who wish to learn more about the history and heritage of the movements, contribute to our historical understanding, or support the work of the Society."

The Society meets each year on the first Thursday after Memorial Day. The location for next year’s meeting will be announced soon.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Eight Laws of Spiritual Growth

#1 - Spiritual Growth is Incarnational

Spiritual growth is Christ in you…being a Christian is not trying to be like Christ…it is Christ living through you! (Galatians 2:20)
Spiritual growth is both mystical and practical. I Corinthians 3:6…in spiritual growth we have a part and God has a part! Philippians 2:12-13

We are to work out our salvation while God works in our salvation!

#2 - Spiritual Growth Is Intentional

You have to choose to grow! We grow by making commitments. You are as close to God as you choose to be…stop blaming others (husband, wife, friends…)

Get people to make commitment … not move to it. Once people make the commitment then they grow through it.

Jesus first asked people to follow Him … that’s it! It was three years later He asked people to take up their cross. The level of commitment deepened with time.

We need to be a balanced church that challenges people to both “come and see” and “come and die!” This is a process.

Everyone will NOT BE at the same level of commitment.

To the non believer Jesus said “come and see,” to the believer Jesus said “go and tell!”

Once again … commitment MUST be asked for!!! The heat must constantly be turned up!

Providing message notes helps people to remember the message – we forget around 95% of what we hear withing 72 hours. The problem many times is not a matter of dedication but rather retention!

Why use outline and handouts? #1, It increases attention. #2, It increases retention. #3, It increases participation. #4, You can cover more material in less time. #5, You can view the message for years to come. #6, It is the basis for small group discussions. #7, You can use multiple translations. #8, Unbelievers don’t bring Bibles – they don’t have Bibles … and even if they did they would not know where to find the passage!

#3 - Spiritual Growth Is Incremental

It happens in steps, not overnight. I Corinthians 3:18! A baby has to learn to breathe, to eat, to walk, to talk … what is true physically is true spiritually.

You’ve got to know Christ before you can love Him. You’ve got to love Him before you can serve Him. You have to serve Him before you can share Him…

#4 - Spiritual Growth Is Personal

Reality is we grow according to how we are shaped. II Corinthians 5:13

#5 - Spiritual Growth Is Habitual

We grow by developing good habits.

How do we develop habits? #1 - Give homework at the end of a message. (It’s not just about belief–it’s about behavior). #2 - Challenge people to journal. #3 - Provide a daily e-mail devotional/podcast.

#6 - Spiritual Growth Is Relational

A huge myth is that you can become spiritually mature on your own. We can only grow in community. American have gotten so into isolation that we don’t believe this.

If you are not in community then there are at least 58 commands in the Bible that you can’t do. You learn to love by being around unlovely people.

Knowledge makes us feel important … but love IS what is important. Hebrews 10:25

Three tools for relational growth - small groups, spiritual coaches, retreats!

#7 - Spiritual Growth Is Multi-Dimensional

Real maturity is so much more about knowing … it is about doing.

To be a Pharisee … you had to memorize the Torah! And these are the people that Jesus went off on! They KNEW but didn’t do!

We’ve got to be about public charity and personal purity!

#8 - Spiritual Growth Is Seasonal

There are times of growth and times of consolidation! In the fall and winter it may not look like you are growing … but you are actually putting down roots!

Just as sure as winter comes … so does spring and summer. NOTHING is on all of the time. No church can be in a continual state of growth.

Don’t worry about the speed & size of your church … worry about the growth of your people.

We grow in spurts! Pastors can’t push their people all of the time

Growth seasons are done around Saddleback during campaigns. “I love my church campaign, I want to grow campaign, etc.”

[Rick Warren]

Today's Quote

"Praying is more important than preaching. My family is more important than the church." - Jenstezen Franklin

Many Pastors Are Without Health Insurance

Many pastors in America are left to figure out their own health coverage with little or no help from their church or denomination, found a survey released this week.

“Thousands of pastors and churches are among the millions of Americans without health insurance,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, based on responses to the May Evangelical Leaders Survey.

The monthly survey asks the NAE board of directors questions based on relevant issues in society. The NAE board of directors includes the CEO’s of 60 church denominations, and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches. In the latest survey, the majority of respondents expressed that they had little or no help from their national denominations when it comes to securing health insurance.

Many pastors replied that they either received health insurance benefits through their spouse’s employer, a second job, or go without insurance.

“Well over 80 percent of our pastors get health insurance outside the life of the church,” reported one unnamed denominational CEO, according to NAE.

He said that about 10 percent of the pastors in his denomination receive coverage from Medicare or Medicaid.

However, he noted that his denomination did previously offer a health insurance plan, but stopped because younger and healthier ministers could obtain cheaper individual coverage than the national denominational plan that included coverage for older and more difficult to insure pastors.

"We have tried two or three times to provide health insurance, but we have not been able to make it work,” admitted the head of a Pentecostal denomination, in the NAE survey.

Alternative health plan options listed by respondents included high deductible catastrophic coverage, self-insurance, health savings accounts, or coverage through non-insurance Christian organizations that receive monthly contributions that are available to those with large hospital and doctor’s bills.

“This is a large and growing problem for American pastors and churches,” explained Anderson. “So many churches are small and too many pastors are uninsured. There is no room in limited budgets for premiums or no way to get adequate insurance at any price. As clergy age with the rest of America’s population we may see a growing list of pastors entering retirement with bankrupting medical bills.”

The NAE said statistical analysis of responses to the open-ended question was difficult because of the many options pastors and churches are pursuing to get health insurance.

[By Jennifer Riley, Christian Post Reporter]

June 7 is Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom

Before you load up your family and head to Walt Disney World in Orlando, you might want to keep in mind that June 7 is the day when thousands of homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders will converge on the Magic Kingdom to demonstrate their passions in front of a captive audience of tens of thousands of children and unsuspecting parents. June 7 is "Gay Day" at Disney.

This annual event upsets many people, not just Christians. It is offensive to many because Gays openly demonstrate their same-sex affection. Most of them hang out on Main Street and the restaurants in order to be seen.

Just thought you might want to know before you get there.

How Many Americans Actually Help?

It seems that 72 percent of Americans say their lives have meaning and purpose because of faith. But there’s a gap between what we believe and how we act.

That’s the finding of a new Gallup Poll that was conducted with The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society. It examined “The Spiritual State of the Union.” To do this, it looked at Inner Commitment—people’s connection with God or a higher power — and Outer Commitment — how they live out their commitment through service to society.

Nearly 80 percent of people agreed with the statement “the overall health of the nation depends a great deal on the spiritual health of the nation.” And almost as many people agreed “life has meaning and purpose because of faith.” Sixty percent agreed with the idea that all people, regardless of race, creed, or wealth, are connected by a higher power and therefore we should accept everybody.

More than a third of Americans prefer to think of themselves as spiritual, rather than religious. And they defined spirituality in several ways, including belief in God or a higher power, or just seeking to be a good person and reach their full human potential.

But here’s the problem: Only 44 percent agreed with this statement: “I’m involved and try to help the lives of the poor and suffering.” Could it be that we’re not putting our money where our mouth is? Something to think about.

[John Tesh]

National Evangelist Michael Willingham

National Evangelist Michael Willingham is "setting the fields on fire." This former pastor and former denominational overseer left it all behind and answered a Call to an evangelistic ministry. And, God is "setting the fields on fire."

Originally from Alabama, now residing in Kentucky, Mike Willingham is traveling the nation, in revivals and camp meetings, ministering under a great anointing. The results speak for themselves. The gifts of the Spirit are operating, crowds arrive, and lives are changed.

Not limiting himself to invitations from a particular denomination or movement, this evangelist has a heart for helping all pastors no matter how large or small the church. After ministering in a number of large churches, he will be ministering next week in a small obscure neighborhood called Browntown, Alabama. The Browntown church is located in DeKalb County, Alabama, just off I-59, between Chattanooga and Birmingham. Pastor Butch Tanner (bltanner@farmerstel.com) invites everyone to attend.

Evangelist Michael Willingham can be reached at:

8013 Adams Run Road
Louisville, Kentucky 40228
Home Phone: 502-962-8964
Cell Phone: 502-797-1130
Email: michaelwillingham@insightbb.com

You might want to contact him soon. As the nation finds out about this ministry, his schedule is filling up very fast.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moves for Renewal

When God wants to renew a church, a country, or a movement, He always takes you through these moves:

1. PERSONAL RENEWAL - It is suddenly not about religion, but it's about a relationship. You realize that God is fond of you and you fall in love with Jesus.

2. RELATIONAL RENEWAL - After I end the war with God, I end the war with others. These first two renewals are all about loving God and loving others. There are two tell-tale signs of relational renewal: First, the singing gets better. Secondly, people hang around longer after church is over.

3. MISSIONAL RENEWAL - The church rediscovers that it has a cause and we get all the purposes of the church in alignment.

4. CULTURAL RENEWAL = You can not bring cultural renewal unless there is already personal, relational and missional renewal. Once that has happened then you are ready to bring cultural renewal in your church. The preaching will change the culture of your church more than anything else.

5. STRUCTURAL RENEWAL - There is no perfect structure for a church, that is why the Bible doesn't give us a structure.

6. INSTITUTIONAL RENEWAL - (This is an extra) Institutions are there to preserve the change of the previous generation. So this will be the last to change.

[Rick Warren]

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Why Does God Allow Hardship In a Leader's Life?

[From Pastor Steven Furtick by Steven Furtick]

To force our need to the surface … So we can comfort others with the comfort we have been comforted with.

To force the issue to the surface … So we can recognize it, and speak into it.

To force our faith to the surface … And produce a deeper gratitude in our lives.

Today's Quote

"Only those leaders who act boldly in times of crisis and change are willingly followed." -- Jim Kouzes

CGP F&S Committee Modifies Proposed Assembly Report

The Church of God of Prophecy is preparing for their International Assembly in Nashville, Tennessee, August 12-17, 2008. Business polity specifies that:

1. All Assembly Committees shall submit their major studies and comprehensive reports two years prior to the Assembly where it will be presented for consideration.
2. All local churches shall conduct their educational and study sessions concerning matters under consideration before an Assembly prior to January 31 of that Assembly year.
3. All final summaries or revisions of documents shall be sent to the field no less than ninety days prior to that Assembly.
4. All proxies must reach the General Overseer’s Office no later than 48 hours prior to the opening of the official business session.

The following e-mail was distributed May 27, 2008:

Greetings State/Regional Overseer,

Today the General Overseer’s Office was informed by the Secretary of the Finance and Stewardship Committee that the Committee “is withdrawing the Mission Fund section of their Report to the upcoming 95th International Assembly.”

To avoid confusion, we wish to inform you that this change will not be reflected in either the online version of the Report or the printed version already in the process of being mailed to the pastors and proxy representatives. A notice of this change will be posted to the website and included as part of the mailing materials.

Thank you for your attention to this message and for forwarding it to the ministry in your area.

Blessings, Shaun McKinley Administrative Liaison to the General Overseer

Small Churches

I've always been a big fan of small churches. That's partly because I don't fully understand how megachurches "do" real church, and partly because I prefer the rawness, freedom and community that comes from a smaller worship gathering.

Is it awkward at times? You bet. A little clumsy and unpolished? Sometimes. Yet those elements, to me, are exactly why small churches are such a treasure. I love that there doesn't have to be soft music playing behind every prayer, altar call or offering. I love that you can get to know — really know — the people sitting next to you, and that building real relationships isn't an option when it's impossible to hide among the crowds. (What crowds?!)

And maybe more than anything, I love that small churches allow everyone to be a key, active part of the body. No sideline-sitters (or at least not for long), all players. Because in small churches, everyone brings something of value.

[Marcus Yoars]

Celebrate Recovery 2008 Summit


[Click on image to enlarge it. For more information, click http://www.celebraterecovery.com/.]

Church Security

We recommend a great web site with resources on church security issues.

Check it out at http://www.churchsecuritymember.com/.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bible Tools

The cool thing about the internet is that there are so many useful and accessible tools to make the Scriptures come alive. The next time you are digging in the scriptures, either for your personal devotion or in preparation to teach others, check out these on-line resources. Bookmark them and come back to them often.

What Constitutes Change?

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What Is Really Happening In Lakeland?

Something is going on in Lakeland, Florida. Depending on who you listen to, it is either a hoax or a mighty move of God.

A revival started in Lakeland, Florida about 50 days ago. It started with meetings with Todd Bentley on April 2 at Ignited Church pastored by Steve Strader. This is also the church where Rodney Howard Browne's ministry really took off in the United States with extended meetings back in the early 90's.

For some reason, everything that calls itself "revival" comes under severe criticism from the Church community. Makes me wonder if real revival would be recognized if it ever arrived.

Someone reported that even Charisma Magazine was skeptical of the Lakeland outpouring. However, I see on Steven Strang's Blog that he is excited to see what is happening in Lakeland.

I've never seen any "revival meeting" get so much attention so fast. A long line of respected leaders have attended the meetings to see it for themselves. Most have come away saying it's a genuine move of God.

The Pentecostal movement which started at Azusa Street has had many revivals over the years and has had an enormous impact felt around the world. Yet many Pentecostals long for the "good-old-days" of revival that they experienced when they first came to Christ or received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many-- instead of praying for souls or even for more of God in their lives-- will pray for revival. The excitement that touches the spirit and the closeness to God that one feels in the service is something that many people long for.

Just because people are excited, don't say --as someone is quoted as saying--that it's the greatest move of God since Azusa Street. The revival may actually be short lived, or the long-term effects not so pleasant, if things begin to go awry.

What is happening in Lakeland seems to have good results at the present time. So why don't we nurture it and help it avoid pitfalls that could cause its demise?

Is the problem for the critics that something theological has been said that they disagree with? What else is new? I don't know of any movement nor any church that does not have varying theological views among it's clergy.

Steven Strang said, "I sensed nothing wrong in my spirit. I was encouraged by attending. I'm glad to see "revival" breaking out. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of healing and even stories about people being raised from the dead. I hope the revival continues because I believe that it is a fresh move of God."

I am accustomed to the secular media finding fault with everything Christian. But, it amazes me how Christians judge one another to the point of slander.

I say, the jury is still out on this revival. Let's wait and see if it proves to be real. Keep your criticism to yourself until we see what it accomplishes. If it is a move of God, and you attempt to discredit it, you will be opposing God. If it is not of God, it will be for naught.

Let’s pray that this revival grows. Pray for the leaders who are under enormous pressure to minister seven days a week under the glare of national and international media, as well as critics — both those who want to destroy the revival as well as those who want the revival to stay on track so it can continue to grow.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Now They Are Slaming Rod Parsley Also

The mainstream media is reporting that Pastor Rod Parsley called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it. And, since John McCain has close ties with Pastor Parsley, that makes him bad.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals.

A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."

The leader of a 12,000-member congregation, Parsley has written several books outlining his fundamentalist religious outlook, including the 2005 Silent No More. In this work, Parsley decries the "spiritual desperation" of the United States, and he blasts away at the usual suspects: activist judges, civil libertarians who advocate the separation of church and state, the homosexual "culture" ("homosexuals are anything but happy and carefree"), the "abortion industry," and the crass and profane entertainment industry. And Parsley targets another profound threat to the United States: the religion of Islam.

In a chapter titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah," Parsley warns there is a "war between Islam and Christian civilization." He continues: "I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore."

Pastor Parsley, who refers to himself as a "Christocrat," is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, the grassroots organization he founded, the Center for Moral Clarity, called for prosecuting people who commit adultery. In January, he compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. In the past Parsley's church has been accused of engaging in pro-Republican partisan activities in violation of its tax-exempt status.

This really upsets liberal extremists. So, they go after anything Christian and cast an accusing light on all religious conservatives. There is an attempt here to create an embarrassment because of what happened to Obama and his pastor.

Senator McCain Rejects Pastor Hagee's Endorsement

Today, Senator John McCain rejected the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee after audio surfaced in which Pastor Hagee said God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land. Pastor Hagee, who withdrew his endorsement at the same time, recently apologized for his anti-Catholic views.

McCain issued a statement which said, "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

Pastor Hagee also issued a statement saying he was tired of baseless attacks and he was removing himself from any active role in the 2008 campaign.

Theologically, Pastor Hagee believes that one of the greatest sins a Christian can commit is anti-Semitism — hence the reference in the video to the drinking of the blood of the Jews. He was reminding Christians, as he often does, of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism. He wastes no opportunity to teach Christians that one of the surest ways for a Christian to become a member of the "apostate church" is to engage in anti-Semitism.

For decades, John Hagee has easily been one of the most prominent Christian leaders fighting anti-Semitism. To him, loving Jews as much as one's Christian neighbors is a core tenet of his faith. In his book "In Defense of Israel," Pastor Hagee wrote, "Show me an anti-Semitic Christian, and I'll show you a spiritually dead Christian whose hatred for other human beings has strangled his faith." If anything, Mr. Hagee is obsessed with purging anti-Semitism from Christendom.

Thus, the book contains a lengthy discussion of the history of Christian anti-Semitism. (It is from this section that his critics have pulled quotes to argue that John Hagee is anti-Catholic. The leading critic, though, the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, this week announced a truce with Mr. Hagee.)

If only Mr. Rich had spent roughly 20 minutes to peruse the relevant chapter, he would have learned two important tidbits:
  1. Pastor Hagee's criticism was directed solely at the Catholic Church's past deeds, and
  2. Pastor Hagee also attacked Protestant anti-Semitism, with an in-depth exploration of Martin Luther's considerable influence on Nazi ideology.

Throwing stones from inside his glass house, Mr. Rich wrote, "Any 12-year-old with a laptop could have vetted this preacher in 30 seconds, tops."

Given how far off the mark he was, it is only fair to ask of Mr. Rich: Could he not find a "12-year-old with a laptop"?

Church Hopes For Healing Following Law Suit

It's not clear if a recent vote by members of a prominent Nashville-area Southern Baptist church will end a controversy over the pastor's leadership style.

Last summer, 71 members of Two Rivers Baptist Church began raising concerns over alleged mishandling of church finance by senior pastor Jerry Sutton and other church leaders. A church trustee, who was part of the "dissident group," as it was called, was removed from membership. The group sought access to financial records, such as air travel, personal expenses that were allegedly paid for with church credit cards, and other information. In September, a lawsuit was filed against the church, seeking access to the financial records, along with the removal of Sutton and other directors and officers in the church. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Pastor Sutton received a vote of confidence by the congregation. And early this year, a judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying she did not have jurisdiction in the case.

This month, during a hastily called business meeting, the church voted to remove the 71 dissident members from the congregation's rolls. Larry Crain, an attorney for the church, says the main issue was never financial records. In fact, he says thousands of pages of financial records were made available. The attorney believes the root cause of the dispute stems from a decision by Two Rivers last year to go to a contemporary worship service while also offering a traditional service. "It was a service called the 'eleVen:01' service that offered a different style of worship," Crain explains. "The music was more contemporary -- and virtually every one of the members who filed this lawsuit was upset [about that decision]. All of these were members who had attended the church over a number of years and felt that this change in the service, this going to a contemporary style of worship, was a wrong move."

But a spokesman for the plaintiffs sees things differently. Dennis Shipp, who has been a Two Rivers member since the early 1980s, says legal action was the only way to uncover the truth about the alleged financial improprieties. Shipp says the biblical admonition against believers taking each other to court is taken out of context by the other side. "That's what they keep using against us -- but First Peter also says that you obey the governor of your country, or whatever," he shares. "You can't just take one scripture out of the Bible and use that; that's not right." Continuing, Shipp says, "I think God's told us to stand up. Every time we've needed money for the lawsuit, and say we ask for a thousand dollars, we get two thousand dollars. You think God's not in that? People have given about $50,000 so far, and have no regrets about it." Shipp, who still considers himself a member of Two Rivers, believes there is only one way for Pastor Sutton to settle the matter. "I don't think the issue is going to be over until he steps down -- I really don't," he states. "Because I think he has lied from our pulpit time and time again, and that's just not what a pastor's supposed to do. He's supposed to be above reproach. And if he's violated one of the Ten Commandments, I think he needs to step down."

Two Rivers is one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in Nashville, which is also home to the denomination's headquarters. In fact, a number of high-profile Southern Baptist officials are members of the church.

As for church leaders, attorney Larry Crain says they can now put behind them what he says has been a major distraction. "This is an exciting time for the church," says the attorney. "They're now in a position, having put this behind them, to move forward and do what they were called to do." And there are signs that may be happening. In a letter dated May 12 and posted on the church's website, Pastor Sutton said his church would accept the 71 members back who were recently ousted. In the letter, Sutton said the dissidents must agree not to sue the church anymore, admit their behavior was wrong, and handle any concerns in an appropriate, Christ-like manner.

[Things are seldom about what people say they are about. Deeper issues are usually the case. Frequently pastors must deal with dissenting members who disagree with leadership style, worship style, or power/control issues. A balance must be found between overbearing leadership and members refusing to submit. A church split breaks a pastor's heart. The easiest thing to do in most cases is for the pastor to step down to save the church any further hardship. However, in the long run, members who sow discord will find another axe to grind. They live from one complaint to another. This same type of church disruption has happened in at least 52 other churches this year. What does it say about a group of people who would rather spend $50,000 on legal action than in the Harvest? Pastors need to be accountable. But when a faction of dissenting members disrupt the church, they must be dealt with.]

Charismatic Leadership

[By Dr. John C. Maxwell]

William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli were two of the fiercest political rivals of the 19th century. Their epic battles for control of the British Empire were marked by intense animosity that spilled over from the public arena into their personal lives. Ambitious, powerful, and politically astute, both men were spirited competitors and masterful politicians.

Though each man achieved impressive accomplishments for Britain, the quality that separated them as leaders was their approach to people. The difference is best illustrated by the account of a young woman who dined with the men on consecutive nights. When asked about her impression of the rival statesmen, she said, "When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England."

What distinguished Disraeli from Gladstone was charisma. Disraeli possessed a personal charm sorely lacking in the leadership style of his rival. His personal appeal attracted friends and created favorable impressions among acquaintances. Throughout his career, Disraeli's charisma gave him an edge over Gladstone.

Read the full article...

Today's Thought

God's Word is to be trusted, not just dusted.

Dottie Rambo's Funeral

The Home-going Celebration service for Dottie Rambo was held at Christ Church in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday of this week.

What a celebration is was! Bill Gaither was a big part of "gathering" the singers. It was a true send off for the "Queen of Gospel Music."

The Lee Singers from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee sang "He Looked Beyond My Faults." They were positioned in the center of all the singers present. Their rendition of Dottie's song was a Capella.

Many letters were presented from people who could not be present. President George Bush said that her music had helped him during his struggles with alcohol. President Bush also sent the flag that flew over the White House on mother's day.

As a grand finale, Sandi Patti sang "We Shall Behold Him." The entire congregation was moved.

About 2,500 people gathered for the farewell. They sang "I go to the Rock" more than once.

Entombment was at the mausoleum at Woodlawn-Roesch-Patton Memorial Park which immediately followed her Home-going Celebration.

Attend a Conference Via Internet

Thanks to the genius of Todd Wilson, you can now check out WhiteBoard on Conference Channel.

The amazing technology of Conference Channel will allow you to watch the conference, catch behind the scene video interviews, twitter and interact with people while sitting in front of your computer in your underwear.

So, click HERE and enjoy!

Fighting the Temptation to Control

If you struggle with control issues, here are a few suggestions:
  • Understand that releasing control empowers others.
  • Intentionally back off from time to time to see how people respond without you.
  • Stop doing things others can be doing.
  • Don’t manage the “how.” Evaluate the outcome.
  • After releasing responsibility to someone else, don’t re-assume responsibility because you didn’t like the outcome on their first attempt.
  • Do not permit inflexibility to have a foothold in your world or in the lives of people you lead.
  • As you release responsibility, be there for people like a father would be there for his child learning to ride a bike. But, don’t become obsessed with holding on to the bike. If my dad tried to run down the street with me for safety now as a 34 year old man, we’d both look foolish.
  • Teach people to do the same. If you’re a control freak. The people you work with will be as well. Empower your people and they’ll do the same.
  • Finally, understand that by choosing not to control, you will experience waves of creativity and high productivity. But, things will not look like you would imagine them to look. This is a good thing.

[Travis Johnson]

Time Management for Pastors

Here’s a time management principle for pastors.

Always ask: WHAT’S THE BEST USE OF MY TIME RIGHT NOW?

This nine word question can change everything. When you get up in the morning, ask: What’s the BEST use of my time right now? (Devotions anyone?)

When you first arrive in the office, ask: What’s the best use of my time right now? This question should help you focus on your most important project and get it done straight away.

When it’s date night with your spouse, ask: What’s the best use of my time right now? (Hint: Put away the iphone and give your spouse your undivided attention.)

Get the idea? For me, this question has become a prayer. I’m constantly asking God to show me: What’s the best use of my time right now? This gives me focus and helps me prioritize.

In real estate, they will often say that the value of a property is determined by "its highest and best use." Its the same way with your time. The value of your time is measured by "its highest and best use." Make the decision this week to make the BEST use of your time on every occasion!

Click here to order Time Management for Busy Pastors

[Nelson Searcy]

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Regie Hamm Wins American Idol

Regie Hamm has had some success, but nothing like this.

Whether David Archuleta or David Cook prevails in Wednesday night's American Idol finale, Regie Hamm will be having the time of his life.

In the closing four minutes of tonight's two-hour show (Fox, 8:00 PM ET/PT), the newly crowned David will sing Time of My Life, Hamm's winner in the second American Idol Songwriter contest.

Yep, it's inspirational, says the Nashville singer/songwriter, who calls Life "a midtempo anthem, no surprises. (Fans) can wave their arms and light their lighters, all that cool stuff. We've all heard those finale songs, so you know the parameters and almost by osmosis what the moment is all about."

The song was among tens of thousands submitted and combed through by 19 Entertainment's more than 60 Artists & Repertoire staffers, who winnowed the list to a manageable pile before Idol creator Simon Fuller and his team pruned to 20 semifinalists, says Jeff King, 19's U.S. head of digital entertainment.

The task is "daunting," he says. "Not unlike the show, you get a wide variety, from comical to genius."

More than 500,000 voters chose Time of My Life from the 20 audio clips posted online. What gave Hamm's tune the edge?

"Its feel, its groove, the message," King says. "The lyrics aren't too sappy, and it's contemporary."

In a departure from Idol custom, producers decided against using the coronation song in competition. The David's each picked another tune from the 10 songs that received the most votes in the contest to sing Tuesday. Cook, 25, chose Dream Big by Emily Shackelton; Archuleta, 17, selected In This Moment by Ryan Gillmore. Both are on iTunes, which also will sell tonight's rendition of Life by the new Idol.

A year ago, the first song contest yielded melodramatic This Is My Now, a natural for pop singer Jordin Sparks and a handicap for beatboxer Blake Lewis, who was thrashed by the judges. That mismatch didn't trigger this year's shift, King says. The show simply wanted to offer the finalists flexibility.

At a cost of $600 and with help from friends, Hamm composed and recorded Life the week before the contest deadline.

"I tried to keep the show in mind, but it's autobiographical," he says. "It has to do with living in the now and letting the good times carry you through the bad times."

Hamm, 40, says his victory is a reversal of a career slump that began when he and his wife, Yolanda, adopted their daughter in China. Isabella, now 5, has the rare genetic disorder Angelman syndrome, which causes severe developmental delays. (They also have 19-month-old son Gabe.)

"I've been a housedad while my wife works at Starbucks, which provides insurance," Hamm says.

"When we find something (Isabella) responds to, we stick to it," he says. "The really bad singers on Idol make her laugh hysterically. We started watching because of her. When better singers come along in the top 10, Isabella loses interest, but then we're hooked."

Born in Nashville, Hamm traveled the country with his Pentecostal preacher father and played drums in the family band. Regie's father is Pastor Ron Hamm of Nashville, a former state overseer with the Church of God of Prophecy. Regie's grandfather, Ron's father, was also a life-long minister in the Church of God of Prophecy, Cleveland, Tennessee.

Regie wrote his first song at age 9. Influenced by Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley, Merle Haggard, Randy Newman and the Gershwins, he switched to piano and enjoyed some success writing and recording. On Thursday, his gospel/country Starlight EP hits iTunes. He co-wrote Something About Us, which is on Clay Aiken's new CD. (Attention, conspiracy theorists: Hamm also co-wrote the ballad In the Name of God with Scott Krippayne, who co-wrote 2007's winning Idol song.)

"I've made records and rubbed shoulders with people in the music industry, but nothing like this," Hamm says of his Idol conquest. "The last five years have been the toughest of my life. This one song has turned my career and my life around. It's a shot in the arm."

Medical Miracles Confirmed

Some 200 Christian doctors and medical professionals from more than 38 nations say medicine alone cannot deal with some of today’s worst illnesses and that “spiritual healing” is the remedy needed in the 21st century.

Medics from places like Bolivia, Brazil, Burundi, China, Indonesia, the U.S. and Vietnam gathered in Trondheim, Norway, May 14-25 for the 5th International Medical Conference organized by the World Christian Doctors Network (WCDN ). The theme of the event was “Spirituality and Medicine,” and the medical professionals examined actual case studies of miracles that were presented by various respected doctors as well as some patients.

The case studies of miracles they had experienced were flashed onto a big screen and then, after each presentation, were closely analyzed by their colleagues. The cases ranged from a man being raised from the dead to a detached retina being healed and a woman who received healing after being incapacitated when she was kicked by a horse.

...Read More

Monday, May 19, 2008

We Need One Another

So there I am, trying to avoid the pain of my cardio exercise at the health club by watching TV, fighting back tears as I watch the news story. Last week in a brand new softball stadium, a female player hit her very first home run. But in powering the ball over the fence, she tore something in her leg, which caused her to stumble to first base and stop, writhing in pain. She couldn't stand, let alone run. Her teammates ran from the dugout to help her around the bases, but the umpire stopped the girls and warned them that if they did this, her home run wouldn't count.

Then from the other side of the field, two girls from the opposing team came to the girl on the ground and asked the umpire, "What if we helped her?" Apparently, there's no rule against that. Perhaps the softball rule makers never thought it would happen. The pictures showed two girls in the opposing team's uniforms carrying their opponent around the bases, so that she could experience her first home run.

Even now I'm tearing up, replaying the story as I write. What a great metaphor for ministry leaders -- even when we hit a home run, we're still limited in our time, gifts, experience, and know-how. None of us has the ability it takes to get around the bases the way God wants. But there are others who can help us. Sometimes we may have kept them at arm's length because we feel they're incompetent, less spiritual, or non-gifted. But they have something to give.

Together, we can do it (that's what "synergy" means)!

Moses had his Aaron and Hur. Jesus had the Twelve and the 72. Who do we think we are to do so much of our ministry by ourselves? The greatest achievements in history and ministry have been accomplished by teams, in community. Perhaps if more of us would pull a ministry hamstring, we'd embrace our need for others. Today what can you do to engage the aid of others, perhaps some of whom might not even be on your radar? Go ahead -- the game's at stake.

[Alan Nelson]

Pastors' Wives Respond

Saturday, May 17, 2008

COGOP North America Presbyter's Mother-In-Law Passes Away

Laura Cathy, the mother of Linda Clements, wife of COGOP North America Presbyter Bishop Sam Clements, died last night around 10:00 PM.

Visitation will be:

Saturday, May 17th, from 7pm-9pm
Sunday from 10am-9pm

Visitation on Saturday and Sunday at:
Taylor Funeral Home
214 N Main St
Dickson, TN 37055
(615) 446-2808

Funeral services:
Monday at 2:p.m. at the Crossroads COGOP

Please join me in prayer for the family.

United Methodists Serious About Leadership Development

About USD 642 million will be invested by the United Methodist Church in various programs to be developed worldwide in the 2008-2012 period, according to Bishop Gaspar João Domingos.

The amount was approved by participants to the United Methodist Church General Conference that took place in Texas under the theme “Future with Hope.”

According to the bishop, this amount will cover every program of the church worldwide, in the next four years, with USD 12 Million being allocated to the “Africa University” in Zimbabwe, from which USD 2 million will be in vested in theology courses.

During the meeting, several topics were analyzed such as “leadership for the challenges of the millennium,” “development of the church,” “ministry with the poor,” and “mission associated to global health” among others.

The conference brought together 992 delegates from various countries, with Angola represented by the church`s West and East conference.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Tribute To Pastors

Pastors are unique individuals who carry a lot of responsibility. They often live their lives in a fish bowl with members of society watching their every move waiting for direction or to pass judgment.

One of the primary purposes of this Blog is to give tribute to pastors, encourage them, and provide resources for them. A pastor’s work often goes unnoticed for those unfamiliar with the behind the scenes life of a pastor.

Here is a list, or tribute so to speak, about why pastors are so special:

Pastors Teach

Most likely a pastor’s most important trait is that they teach the word of God. We all need teachers when it comes to learning and growing in Christ. Discipleship is a critical need in the Body of Christ today. This is a huge responsibility for pastors.

Pastors Are Creative In Getting Our Attention

I have been fortunate in the past with some of the best pastor/teachers who have gone out of their way to prove a point. One pastor had a pizza delivered during service to prove a point about being hungry for God. He also made us wear hairnets as a reminder of how we should be servants. That took time and effort and creativity when he could have just gone on stage and read.

Pastors Pray

Pastors spend hours praying for their members, friends, community, etc. Whatever the need, pastors are bringing it before God. It is nice to know that despite all our troubles, we have someone who cares and prays for us.

Pastors Give

Pastors are constantly giving. They give their time, their money, their energy, etc. They work continually to share God’s love and God’s word. They plan so much time trying to meet the needs of the church and community. They give food, they give hope, they give money, facilities, entertainment, worship, etc. It often goes unnoticed how much a pastor gives.

Pastors Show Love

Pastors are some of the most loving people I know. They love the unlovable. They give their love to a messed-up humanity who seldom loves back.

Pastors Counsel

Pastors spend a lot of time counseling. When people are hurting, a pastor is there to help them get through this low in their life. In our marriage, pastors have provided tremendous counsel to help us be better husbands and wives by teaching us areas of improvement in God’s word. They provide every kind of counseling available from financial to spiritual to marriage to fears, etc. They will stop everything to be of assistance in times of need.

Pastors Cry and Laugh With You

Pastors are there to celebrate births, praises, miraculous recoveries or any joy with you. But pastors are also there when you are sick, dealing with loss of a loved one or just having a hard time.

This is just touching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to documenting all the great things pastors do for our society. So don’t forget to say a simple “Thank You" to your pastor. Never criticize your pastor unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. If your pastor was not there every time you wish they had been, just realize the pastor can only be in one place at a time.

Today's Quote

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -- Thomas Edison, Inventor

Top 68 Benefits of Children's Ministry

Heart To Heart

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” Prov. 4:23 (NIV). At first, this Scripture seems pretty self-explanatory until you start to dig deeper and realize that the “suggestion” from King Solomon was really not that at all. It was a warning, an admonition. Our hearts are the "wellspring of life," and you know what happens when a wellspring is contaminated by impurities: sickness, even death for those who depend on the wellspring for their sustenance. If you don’t guard the purity of your heart, you risk losing your life. With all the madness that is available to you today — on television, on the newsstand, on billboards, on the Internet — not guarding your heart can lead you horribly astray.

I have known this scripture for most of my adult life but it never came into focus until our children came along. Having a kid in the house — or in your car — suddenly makes you hypersensitive to everything. That guy is driving too fast. Those teenagers are cursing. That magazine in the store is disgusting. And when your new sensitivity alarm starts blaring, you are struck with the realization that somewhere along the way you stopped noticing all the inappropriate material in the world. You got used to it.

Have you ever driven into work and tuned in to Fluffy and Zippy and the Morning Zoo only to realize that all they’re doing is being horribly cynical, making fun of helpless people, talking about sex all morning and going right up to the edge of what the permissive FCC will allow? Have you also noticed that you brought a lot of that same cynicism into your workplace with you? Into your home?

There is a great line from The Untouchables movie when Elliot Ness realizes he has lost his pure heart in his quest to "nail" Gangster Al Capone. He says, “I have become what I beheld.”

Distracted by the prize of putting the legendary Capone behind bars, Ness uses tactics that he would never have considered before engaging Capone. He became that which he most despised, because he spent every waking hour (and many sleeping hours) gazing straight at it.

The danger we face by not “guarding our hearts” is that we can become what we behold.

Gossiperss and backstabbers get desensitized to a lot of pretty rotten stuff. They no longer realize the terrible harm they do.

[John Tesh]

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Are You Passionate About?

In John 15:11, Jesus said he came so that our joy may be complete and in John 16:33 he says that he has overcome the world.

If we trust Jesus we can trust that he has an answer to all our fears. We, then, need to get busy about assessing where we are.

So take some time and ask God for answers as you ask yourself a few questions:
  1. What am I passionate about?
  2. What am I good at?
  3. Who knows me better than anyone?
  4. How would that person answer #1 & #2 about me?
  5. Is that what I’m currently doing?
  6. If not, what changes do I need to make to get there?

Once you have done this, you must put your faith in action and trust God to protect you and provide for you as you follow him in fulfilling your divine purpose. Trust that He’ll make a way for you and trust that He’ll move the heart of whoever leads you to help you get there.

[From Shane]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Can You Relate?

After much reflection over the past few months and an attempt to determine where we go from here, I have concluded the following:
  • I don’t want to live a life full of regrets.
  • I don’t want to live a life that causes me to weep in front of my family in 30 years and apologize to them for not being there.
  • I don’t want to live a life where I am controlled by critics and naysayers.
  • I don’t want to live a life where I fear what man may think more than what God may think.
  • I don’t want to live a life that is not marked by generosity.
  • I don’t want to live a life in which my wife considers the church to be my mistress.
  • I don’t want to live a life that causes my daughters to hate God and the church.
  • I don’t want to live a life that allows those closest to me to disrespect me because I am not real.
  • I don’t want to live a life in which I have no fun because I am all work and no play.
  • I don’t want to live a life in which I look back and HATE the man I have become.
  • I don’t want to live a life in which church becomes normal and routine and the person of Jesus becomes boring and dull.

[From Perry Nible]

Study Shows Students Want Spiritual Fulfillment

Though many students drop out of church during the college years, a new study suggests their longing for meaning and purpose only intensifies.

Church attendance among participants in the UCLA study dropped from nearly 44 percent to about 25 percent between the students freshman and junior years. During that period, emotional distress deepened. The number of students who said, "My life is filled with stress and anxiety," shot up from 26 percent during the first year of college to more than 41 percent as a senior. The percentage that felt "overwhelmed" increased from 31.8 percent to 46.3 percent, while depression jumped from about 9 percent to more than 12 percent.

This was accompanied by an apparent rising interest in moral and spiritual matters. While 41.2 percent of first-year students in 2004 reported they considered developing a meaningful philosophy of life "very important" or "essential," in 2007 more than 55 percent agreed.

Additionally, the perceived importance of "integrating spirituality into my life" increased from 41.8 percent in 2004 to more than 50 percent in 2007, and the desire for "attaining inner harmony" climbed from 48.7 to 62.6.

"What I see in local Chi Alpha groups nationwide confirms the findings of the study," says Dennis Gaylor, Assemblies of God national director for Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. "Students are hungry for dynamic worship, authentic relationships and vibrant spirituality. They want to make a difference in the world. Their life stage is ground zero for finding meaning and purpose and making decisions that will last a lifetime."

[For more information about Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, see http://www.chialpha.com/. Christina Quick, Today's Pentecostal Evangel .]

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dottie Rambo Dies In Bus Wreck

Another person who influenced my life has gone on to be with the Lord.

I worked in Gospel Music radio in my early years. One of the most spiritual groups I ever spent time with was Buck, Dottie and Reba Rambo. They always stood in a circle, held hands, and prayed together before going on stage. I will never forget the occasions they asked me to stand in with them and pray for them. I was not really their pastor, but I appreciated the opportunity to pray with them.

"Dottie" died early this morning when her tour bus ran off the highway and struck an embankment. She was 74.

Seven other people on the bus were injured in the wreck about two miles east of Mount Vernon on Interstate 44, the Missouri Highway Patrol said. They were hospitalized in Springfield with moderate to severe injuries, according to the patrol.

It was unclear whether the crash was related to the severe storms and tornadoes that hit the region yesterday. Storms also swept through the area later in the night, according to the National Weather Service.

"Dottie," who lived in Nashville, Tenn., was on her way to a Mother's Day performance in Texas.

"She was a giant in the gospel music industry," said Beckie Simmons, Rambo's agent. "Dolly Parton recorded some of her songs."

Parton sent condolences to "everyone involved in this terrible tragedy."

"I know Dottie is in heaven in the arms of God right now, but our earth angel will surely be missed," Parton said in a statement. "Dottie was a dear friend, a fellow singer, songwriter and entertainer, and as of late my duet singing partner."

Dottie Rambo was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame last year and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

She has had more than 2,500 published songs, including gospel classics such as "He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need" and the 1982 Gospel Music Association Song of the Year, "We Shall Behold Him."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Best Christian Places To Work

The Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI) announced the 33 Certified Best Christian Workplaces in the US for 2008 at the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) conference.

Parachurch & Mission:
- Apartment Life - Hurst, TX
- Coalition for Christian Outreach - Pittsburg, PA
- Crown Financial Ministries - Gainesville, GA
- EQUIP - Duluth, GA
- Joni and Friends - Agoura Hills, CA
- MOPS International - Denver, CO
- New Mission Systems Int. - For Myers, FL
- Open Doors with Brother Andrew - Santa Ana, CA
- Tacoma Rescue Mission - Tacoma, WA
Christian Schools:
- Bellevue Christian School - Bellevue, WA
- Christian Heritage Academy - Northfield, IL
- Indian Rocks Christian School - Largo, FL
- Lenawee Christian School - Adrian, MI
- Stoneybrooke Christian School - Ladera Ranch, CA
- Wheaton Academy - West Chicago, IL
Higher Education:
- Evangel University - Springfield, MO
- Huntington University - Huntington, IN
- The Master's College - Santa Clarita, CA
- The Master's Seminary - Santa Clarita, CA
- Olivet Nazarene University - Bourbonnas, IL
- Phoenix Seminary - Phoenix, AZ
Publishing:
- Harvest House Publishers - Eugene, OR
- Howard Books - West Monroe, LA
- Urban Ministries, Inc. - Calumet City, IL
- INJOY Stewardship Services - Duluth, GA
Service and Product:
- Alliance Defense Fund - Scottsdale, AZ
- DeMoss Group, Inc. - Duluth, GA
- Envoy Financial - Colorado Springs, CO
- Logos Research Systems Inc. - Bellingham, WA
- Samaritan Ministries Int. - Peoria, IL
Churches:
- Crossroads Community - Cincinnati, OH
- Southland Christian Church - Lexington, KY

The survey, administered by the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), involved more than 7,834 employees in 67 organizations across the US to identify great workplaces with a Christian mission and/or values.

Based on the survey, people love to work for the Best Christian Workplaces for two reasons: the cause and the culture. As one staff member said, "I get to use my skills to help thousands of the poorest children in the world ... and work at a place where people care about me." "This is a good example of why people are measurably more engaged and fulfilled in their jobs working for these Christian organizations," says Al Lopus, President of BCWI.

The Best Christian Workplaces Institute has surveyed more than 65,000 employees across North America in the past six years. BCWI is a research based organizational and human resources consulting firm based on Mercer Island, Washington.

"With the tight labor market, organizations are more concerned than ever about finding and keeping their talent. Having high levels of employee engagement not only leads to superior results but is like a magnet for attracting loyal staff," says Lopus. For more information about the survey log on to http://www.bcwinstitute.com/ or contact Al Lopus, (206) 230-8111 or alopus@bcwinstitute.com.

Best Christian Workplaces Institute's purpose is to serve faith-based organizations by creating processes of discovery, facilitating organizational effectiveness and encouraging practices that build healthy workplaces.

[Source: Christian Newswire]

Why Preach?

Since the goal of preaching is that God may change lives through His Word, preaching is the ultimate tool for church growth. But how can you be effective in communication through preaching? Listed below are eight questions to ask about your preaching.

1. Who will I be preaching to?

Asking questions like, "What are their needs?", "What are their hurts?", and, "What are their interests?" will help us focus on where the people are. Why ask? Because although there are three things that always get one's attention:

- Things that threaten us.
- Things that are unusual.
- Things that we value.

"A preacher can only consistently keep people's attention by focusing on what people value."

2. What does the bible say about their needs? Since the Bible is the Book of Life, is will have the answer to peoples needs! The preacher's task is to show the Bible to be relevant for today's needs.

3. What is the most practical way to say it? Application is the central task in preaching. So, preaching must be practical enough for people to know what to do. How to make preaching more practical?

- Always aim for action.
- Tell the people why.
- Show them how.

Exhortation without explanation leads to frustration. Too often people respond to a message with the expression, "Yes, but how?" In other words, I agree with what you're saying, but "how do I do it?"

4. What is the most positive way to say it? Jesus never tried to convert anyone with anger. Although the Scriptures clearly warn of judgment, negative preaching only produces negative people.

Read the entire article here

Dealing With Critics

Every pastor and ministry leader must deal with critics. It is part of ministry in the 21st Century. The question is not if, but when. It is impossible to meet everyone's unrealistic expectations.

So, when the critic comes forward, or begins work behind the scenes, what is the leader to do? Consider the following:

#1 - The Explanation Phase

Sit down with the people that are critical of the ministry that the Lord has called you to do, and reason with them and help them to fully understand why you do ministry the way you do it.

However, most critics don’t want an explanation … they want an argument. They want the chance to shame you, to speak down to you, to tell you how right they are … and how inept you are. So, sometimes, the explanation attempt is fruitless and pointless.

#2 - The Argument Phase

Argument can involve the critic, but sometimes involves the critic and all his/her followers -- everyone who has a negative word to say about the ministry.

Be careful not to allow a “us versus them” mentality to develop.

The Apostle Paul warns in II Timothy 2:23 not to have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments. Arguments can be both foolish and stupid.

#3 - The Anger Phase

Even ministers can allow anger to get the best of them. But, anger will control you. It will drive your decisions and will be impossible to hide. You will spend all your time trying to respond to critics rather than really listening to the Lord. Be careful, it will damage you emotionally and spiritually.

Paul warns in Ephesians 4:27 NOT to give the devil a foothold.

If you are not careful, you will end up beating up hundreds of people just because of one e-mail from a negative person. If you are a church leader, please do not allow Satan to control you through your critics. The price is too high. And, you will spend all of your time on defense rather than on offense!

#4 - The Ignore Phase

Don't read their blogs. Don't read their MySpace page. Don’t receive their e-mails. This either does one of two things to them …

First of all – it REALLY ticks them off. But then second of all, they usually go away. Seriously, if you refuse to put fuel on the fire they start, it will eventually go out.

I love what Nehemiah said in Nehemiah 6:1-4 when his critics tried to get him to take his eyes off of the work, “I am doing a great work … and I cannot come down.” That must become your rallying cry.

I will admit that it’s hard at times. But, by not getting into arguments with critics, it will set you free in a major way.

Always listen to those who love the Lord and love you. Never listen to a blogger or MySpace addict/stalker who has no life OR someone who sends you an email with a fake address. I don’t have time for them – and neither do you!

#5 - The Compassion Phase

In Luke 15 when the prodigal son comes home and the older brother doesn’t come in the house to meet him, the Father goes outside and pleads with the older brother to come in.

I think we are called to do the same. Because in that story, it would seem that the oder brother (who was the critic) was just as lost as the younger one.

Jesus dealt with this as well. He did weep over Jerusalem. But, He also turned over temple tables. There IS a time to respond in boldness. But there is also a time to respond with compassion. Because, well, people just don’t understand.

Compassion does not mean trying to explain to them, or even exchanging emails with them. But, it means praying for them (NOT the Psalm 3:7 prayer) and asking God to allow them to come into the house and celebrate what He is doing -- even if it isn’t their style.

[Based on notes from Perry Noble]

Seventh-Day Adventists Church Controversy

Dwight Hall, president of Remnant Publications, a non-profit Christian publisher, announces the release of Dr. Herbert E. Douglass' A Fork in the Road, a powerful new exposé that chronicles a significant and controversial chapter in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

A key eye-witness to the drama surrounding the publication of Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine in 1957, Dr. Douglass shares his personal experience, and often provocative insights, with the backlash of the book and its continuing repercussions on church theology today. Says Dwight Hall, "Let there be no mistake: this isn't just a passive documentation of the events that followed Questions on Doctrine; it offers an important historical context from an insider's own experience in the crisis. It's a riveting read that asks and answers a lot of questions today's Adventist believers and thinkers are sure to have."

Asked why he chose to tackle the topic after 50 years, Dr. Douglass responded, "Most, if not all, of the so-called 'dissident' groups of the last 45 years are direct results of the positions espoused by Questions on Doctrine on the atonement and the incarnation. Our church needs insight now into this complex history as it seeks not only healing but also growth in the years to come."

Both informative and riveting, A Fork in the Road also shares evidence brought to light by Julius Nam and George Knight, who show the depth of criticism by those who were alarmed by the book's reformulation of Adventist theology -- even as private letters and other evidences show how an important defender of Adventist theology was left to stand alone in the outcry.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Herbert Douglass has served as a pastor, ministry president, college professor, and administrator. He is also the author of more than 13 books and numerous articles focusing on Christ, the great controversy, and the church.

(For more information about A Fork in the Road, and to order copies, contact Remnant Publications at 517- 279-1304. You may also visit www.RemnantPublications.com. Or write to Remnant Publications • 649 E. Chicago Road • Coldwater, MI 49036.)

[Source: Christian Newswire]

Russian Christians Concerned About New President

As Russia swears in Dmitry Medvedev as its newest president today, evangelical Christians throughout the historically anti-western nation are reacting with anxiety and uncertainty over the future of their ministries.

Many Christian groups worry that Medvedev, who was elected this year in what many analysts describe as a mostly lopsided, unfair, and uncontested election, will continue many of the authoritarian and repressive directives attacking religious freedom that have characterized the past eight years of the country during outgoing President Vladimir Putin’s administration.

Paul Tokarchouk of Russian Ministries, an evangelical organization based in Russia, said that it remains to be seen what kind of treatment Christian groups will receive over the next few years, though it would probably be a continuation of what Christians in the country have already experienced.

"I think the new president, Mr. Medvedev, will be more open to keep the law and keep those regulations that are already in the law and keep those regulations that are already in the constitution," he said, according to Mission Network News.

In the past, many foreign Christian groups have faced harassment and government scrutiny, Tokarchouk said.

"[The Russian government] consider as a threat, foreign Christians who would help strengthen the evangelical church and the evangelical church becomes strong and more influential and that is the threat that they see in this relationship,” he explained.

Tokarchouk emphasized, however, that Russian Ministries was at the forefront of preparing for the future through its summer ministry programs that would train and empower the gospel among young people throughout Russia.

"The number one need is for dedicated, trained, influential people from this young generation who would be willing to take the Gospel to their peers, to their society and who would be relevant,” he said.

“Our prayer is that God would use young generation leaders to reach thousands and thousands of kids,” he added.

[By Joshua Goldberg - Christian Post Reporter]