Monday, December 28, 2009

Today's Quote

Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where we are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited.

Mainline Churches Declining, Aging and Lacking Diversity, New Study Reveals

Mainline Protestant churches in the United States have declined dramatically since the days of Eisenhower—from more than 80,000 churches in the 1950s to only about 72,000 today, according to a new report released by The Barna Group in early December.

No longer can the six major mainline denominations boast holding the majority of American congregants. According to the report, which was based on several national telephone surveys comparing data from studies conducted in 1998 with statistics from a new 2008 study, membership in mainline churches has taken more than a 25 percent dive. Only 15 percent of all American adults associate with a mainline church today, researchers found.

In addition to addressing the decline in mainline churches, the Barna report also examined the changes in the types of people who attend them as well as in the clergy overseeing them.

For example, the study noted, mainline churches are not doing a good job of attracting young adults and minorities. With more than one-third of mainline attendees being age 60 and above—and with the number of Hispanic and Asian congregants running at only 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively—the mainline church, it seems, is aging fast and not keeping pace when it comes to racial diversity.

One wonders if an aging clergy has something to do with those figures. Ten years ago, researchers noted, the average age of mainline senior pastors was 48. Now it’s 55. According to the study, this occurred because not enough young pastors are entering vocational ministry, and too many older pastors are refusing to retire.

For the full report, visit www.Barna.org.

[from www.foursquare.org - From the President]

Developing Effective Leaders

Developing your team into effective leaders requires more than just explaining how to do something. You must explain the why behind the how. Understanding the science behind a method is crucial to being able to effectively lead in times of unusual circumstance.

When it comes to systems, most rules have exceptions, but you can’t appropriately identify these exceptions unless you understand the principles behind the rule. Teaching rules alone creates carbon copy robots. Teaching principles creates leaders.

The Pharisees lived by rules with such rigidity that they missed the principles and the purpose behind the rules. Jesus knew the rules, but more importantly, Jesus understood the more important principles behind the rules. As a result, He made exceptions that made His ministry dramatically more fruitful and impactful than the office of a Pharisee.

Here’s the challenge – it is much easier to teach the how without the why. Teaching the science and principles behind it all requires the investment of a mentor. Often, it requires modeling. Managers teach rules. Leaders teach principles.

[This is a guest blog post from Kent Shaffer. Check-out his blog: ChurchRelevance.com.]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Enjoy

YuleLog4aCause.org from The Chapel on Vimeo.

Merry Xmas

Does "Xmas" take Christ out of Christmas?

Some people erroneously believe that the term Xmas was devised as part of an effort to “take Christ out of Christmas” or to literally “cross out Christ;” it is seen as evidence of the secularization of Christmas, as a symptom of the commercialization of the holiday (as the abbreviation has long been used by retailers).

Actually, the word “Christ” and its compounds, including “Christmas,” have been abbreviated in English for at least the past 1,000 years, long before the modern “Xmas” was commonly used. “Christ” was often written as “XP” or “Xt;” there are references in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as AD 1021. This X and P arose as the uppercase forms of the Greek letters X and P used in ancient abbreviations for Xpiotoc (Greek for “Christ”), and are still widely seen in many Eastern Orthodox icons depicting Jesus Christ. The labarum, an amalgamation of the two Greek letters rendered as XP, is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches.

The labarum, often called the Chi-Rho, is a Christian symbol representing Christ. The occasionally held belief that the “X” represents the cross on which Christ was crucified also has no basis in fact. Saint Andrew’s Cross is X-shaped, but Christ’s cross was probably shaped like a T or a †. Indeed, X-as-chi was associated with Christ long before X-as-cross could be, since the cross as a Christian symbol developed later. (The Greek letter Chi X stood for “Christ” in the ancient Greek acrostic IXOYE ichthys.) While some see the spelling of Christmas as Xmas a threat, others see it as a way to honor the martyrs. The use of X as an abbreviation for “cross” in modern abbreviated writing (e.g. “King’s X” for “King’s Cross”) may have reinforced this assumption.

In ancient Christian art, X and XP are abbreviations for Christ’s name. In many manuscripts of the New Testament and icons, X is an abbreviation for Christos, as is XC (the first and last letters in Greek, using the lunate sigma); compare IC for Jesus in Greek.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Christmas CD Pick 2009

My favorite Christmas CD this year is "I Love Christmas" by Bonita Eileen. It is absolutely awesome!

CLICK HERE to take a look.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Christmas Card - From Us to You


[Click on image to enlarge]

Bishop Elwood Matthews Funeral Online

The memorial service for Bishop Elwood Matthews will be webcast live on Sunday, December 20, beginning at 5:00 PM EST.


You may view the webcast by visiting the host church's website at www.findnewlife.com.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Voices of Lee Interview


Candace (Fuller) Whittington (R) from Mentone, Alabama.

Vote For Voices of Lee

Voices of Lee from Lee University has advanced to the final round of the “Sing-Off,” an a cappella competition on NBC. The show aired for the third straight night Wednesday and will culminate in a live finale, Monday, Dec. 21, when the results of voting will be revealed and the winner will be named.

The four-night NBC prime-time special began with eight a cappella groups and has narrowed the field this week to three groups. From these, the nation will choose a winner to receive a $100,000 cash prize and a Sony recording contract.

According to NBC producers, over 800 singing groups were considered as contestants, before eight were chosen in auditions around the country. Those eight, including Voices of Lee, were flown to California two weeks ago to prepare for this week’s “Sing Off” show.

The full episode and other video clips can be viewed at www.nbc.com/sing-off/index.shtml.
Voting will determine the winner that will be announced on Monday evening’s LIVE finale at 8:00 p.m. on NBC. Voting is opened at the end of Wednesday’s broadcast and closes on Sunday, December 20 at 9:00 a.m.

Those wishing to vote for Voices of Lee may do so by land-line, cell phone, text messaging, or email. There is a maximum allowance of ten votes per format:
  • For text messaging, text the number 3 to 33088
  • By land line and cell phone, call 1-877-674-6403
  • By email vote online at www.nbc.com/sing-off/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voices of Lee


The Voices of Lee, an a cappella singing group from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, is competing on NBC's Sing-Off this week. Tonight they won the opportunity to continue tomorrow night (8:00 PM EST).

Tonight, Candace (Fuller) Whittington (pictured above), sang a great solo with Voices of Lee. Candace is from Mentone, Alabama and is the granddaughter of a former COGOP pastor. She has blessed many local churches in the area with her singing for several years.

If you would like to vote tomorrow night, support the Voices of Lee.


Be their friend on Facebook: Voices

"Let My Spirit Go" - Elwood Matthews

Death Announcement - Oral Roberts

TV evangelist Oral Roberts has died at age 91, a day after he fell at his California home and was hospitalized.

Roberts founded Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., in 1963 and served as its president until 1993.

"Oral Roberts was the greatest man of God I've ever known," said his son, Richard Roberts, according to Tulsa TV station KTUL. "A modern-day apostle of the healing ministry, an author, educator, evangelist, prophet, and innovator, he was the only man of his generation to build a worldwide ministry, an accredited university, and a medical school."

Death Announcement - Elwood Matthews

Bishop Elwood Matthews, a long-time International leader in the Church of God of Prophecy passed away this morning. Below you will find the details of his memorial service which will be held on Sunday.

Elwood Matthews Memorial Service
Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 5:00 p.m.
New Life Fellowship, 6755 South Washington Avenue, Titusville, Florida 32780

For those wishing to send a card, Sister Roberta Matthews may be contacted at the following:

Roberta Matthews
7420 North U.S. Highway 1
Unit 206
Cocoa, FL 32927

Thank you for your prayers for the family during this time of loss.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Encourage Family Christmas Traditions

Family celebrations create memories that last a lifetime. We can all remember birthdays and holidays — the special occasions we celebrate every year and how our individual families do it and then as our children arrive on the scene we want to have them experience the good things that happened to us on those holidays.

Traditions are especially important during this season because they create a continuity of family heritage, drawing grandparents, parents, cousins and children together in a way that may happen only once a year. They are the threads that link one generation to the next.

Maybe the way your family celebrated Christmas was not the storybook kind. Whose is anyway? But the good news is we all get a chance to change and recreate our children’s memories and legacies. One word of caution, don’t be too hard on your parents, as my mom says, we did not have all the resources you kids do.

What will you do this year to create family traditions in your home?

[from Howtoencourage

Friday, December 4, 2009

"Merry Christmas"

A new Rasmussen national telephone survey finds that 72% of adults prefer "Merry Christmas," while only 22% like "Happy Holidays." The survey also found that older Americans favor "Merry Christmas" more than younger adults. See the full article.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Episcopal Bishop Gives Clergy Green Light to Wed Same-Sex Couples

Episcopal clergy in eastern Massachusetts are now allowed to solemnize marriages for "all eligible couples," including gay and lesbian couples.

“It’s time for us to offer to gay and lesbian people the same sacrament of fidelity that we offer to the heterosexual world," Bishop M. Thomas Shaw told The Boston Globe.

Shaw's decision to permit priests to officiate at same-sex weddings went into effect on Sunday. It comes five years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

"Christian marriage is a sacramental rite that has evolved in the church, along with confirmation, ordination, penance, and the anointing of the sick, and while it is not necessary for all, it must be open to all as a means of grace and sustenance to our Christian hope," the Episcopal bishop stated.

Leaders of the diocese met in August to develop a policy in response to a resolution passed by The Episcopal Church's highest legislative body this past summer. In July, The Episcopal Church adopted a resolution stating that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships.

The Episcopal Church's House of Deputies further approved a resolution opening the ordination process to all baptized members, including practicing homosexuals.

Dallas bishop the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton rejected the resolution, declaring that the Diocese of Dallas would continue to "stand with the larger Church in affirming the primacy of Scripture, the sanctity of marriage and the call to holiness of life."

But over the past few months a number of dioceses have decided to lift bans on the blessing of same-sex unions, with the Diocese of Massachusetts taking a step further to allow clergy to solemnize same-gender marriages.

"Your bishops understand this (resolution) to mean for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts that the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I," Shaw explained. "Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate."

He made clear that the provision is an allowance and not a requirement and that any member of the clergy may decline to wed gay and lesbian couples.

The eastern Massachusetts bishop noted to The Boston Globe that the diocese includes "a significant number of gay and lesbian clergy who are in partnerships" along with many gay and lesbian parishioners.

The Diocese of Massachusetts includes approximately 190 parishes and 77,000 church members.

[By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter]

Is this what happens when a denominational Bishop decides he is God?

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Allow Freedom of Speech

The Supreme Court for the second time in as many weeks refused to hear the case of a high school valedictorian who spoke about their faith in a graduation speech.

The high court said Monday that it would not hear the appeal of Erica Corder, who was forced to apologize for her 2006 speech at the Lewis-Palmer High School commencement in Monument, Colo.

Two weeks earlier, the justices said they would not revive the lawsuit filed by Brittany McComb of Henderson, Nev., who accused school officials of violating her free speech rights and having engaged in viewpoint discrimination when they censored her speech in 2006 because of its Christian content.

In both cases, school officials had screened the valedictorians’ speeches in advance and removed religious references, but the two speakers went forward with talking about their faith.

In Corder’s case, the principal threatened to withhold the valedictorian's diploma unless she issued a public apology for her actions. Notably, however, Corder was still not allowed to graduate even when she issued the apology and wasn't issued a diploma until she added the sentence: “I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did.”

In response, Corder sued, but federal courts threw out her lawsuit, saying the school didn't violate her rights because her remarks were "school-sponsored," rather than private speech.

Fla.-based legal group Liberty Counsel, which asked the Supreme Court to hear Corder's case, argued that "a valedictorian’s speech is not government speech."

“Everyone knows that a valedictorian earned the high GPA and understands the speech belongs to the student,” stated Liberty Counsel Founder Mathew Staver when his legal group filed the request with the Supreme Court in August. “It is reprehensible that the school district threatened to withhold Erica Corder’s diploma, merely because a few sentences of her 30-second speech included references to God.”

Despite the arguments, the school district maintains that "all actions taken by school officials were constitutionally appropriate."

The case is Corder v. Lewis-Palmer School District No. 38.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The President Did Not Use "God" in the National Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Obama issued a proclamation for the Thanksgiving holiday without once himself mentioning the God who is to be thanked on this day.

He did manage to include a quote from George Washington that mentions God, but the president's own words were mostly devoted to thanking Indians for the beginning of this uniquely American holiday and did so with not a mention of the Divine Providence that sustained our pilgrim forefathers.

[by Bryan Fischer, AFA]

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

On the first 21 days of 2010 the Church of God of Prophecy [and other ministries] will mobilize thousands to a time of fasting and prayer. This will be the fourth year that the call has gone out for the Church of God of Prophecy world wide to begin the year seeking God for His guidance, blessings, and power to do His will in this world. In the next few weeks we will send out 21 targets for prayer so that we can pray in unity, joining together in faith for God to bless us indeed so that we may be a blessing to lost people all around us.

Pastors, Leaders, Bishops, and Lay People we invite you to join in this Season of Seeking God on the first 21 days of January. There are many blessings that come through fasting and the Bible even mentions a few blessings that only come through seeking God in a fast. I am sure we all agree that our world needs the people of God to rise up and call on His name fervently. We will not be alone in this time of prayer and fasting. Many groups throughout many nations are declaring a time of fasting for the first days of this new year. You will not want to miss participating with others inside the Church of God of Prophecy as well as thousands beyond our ministry family as we seek God for great and mighty things this coming year.

"Call unto me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know." Jeremiah 33:3


R E Howard

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today's Quote

"People who want a theocracy tend to think they're Theo. If you find that God always agrees with you, something's wrong." - Pastor Rick Warren

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to Keep Your Church More Safe and Secure

Some Preparations to Consider:

1. Put additional staff in te Sacctuary, one close to the front and one in the rear at minimum.

2. Do not allow unknown people to approach the podium or stage.

3. Keep security staff in the foyers and parking lots.

4. If you are not using radios for discrete communication, you need to start soon.

5. Be aware of your surroundings and the people in them.

6. Be on the look out for inappropriate conduct and suspicious activities such as people in unusual areas of the church, or sitting alone in a car in the church parking lot and surrounding streets.

7. Also, recognize the potential areas of concern such as the back parking lots, balconies, back stage areas or baptisteries.

8. Watch for people wearing unusual clothes that could hide weapons.

9. Watch for large packages such as duffle bags, music instrument cases that could hide a rifle or shotgun.

10. Watch for people that appear to be very emotional or distressed as well as displaying signs of unrest such as sweating or nervously glancing in all directions.

11. Watch for people entering after the start of the service.

12. Consider reducing the number of unlocked doors and funnel members and guests through one or two doors that are being watched by the greeters and security team members.

13. Make sure that you have medical staff available if possible.

Above All;

Know that God will watch over us and trust that He puts one of us in place if a wolf decides to attack our church.

Plan for the worst possible situation and Pray for Gods best for the church.

[from Church Security Member

Is Your Church’s Vision Too Small?

Why do people love to give time, money, energy, and love to parachurch organizations when they don't give time, energy and love to their home church?

Craig Groeschel suggests that it could be because the parachurch organization has a bigger vision than your church! Craig says: "Almost daily, I hear great church members excited about their 'outside the church' ministry."

Instead of complaining about why they don’t give, serve, or care about the ministry of the local church, why not ask why.

You might solve the dilemma by casting such a compelling vision for the power of the local church that the vision would draw their hearts back to the local church.

Celebrate and embrace whatever they are doing to make a difference.

[from MMI Weblog]

Stressful Jobs that Pay Badly: #10 Pastor; #5 Worship Pastor

According to an article from CNNMoney.com, two major church roles have the distinction of being the most stressful jobs that pay badly!

Coming in at #5: Music Ministry Director - Median pay: $40,800 - % who say their job is stressful: 67%

You may not think of people who plan, direct and conduct performances for religious services as being under a particularly high amount of stress. But they also choose the appropriate psalm or hymn for every wedding and funeral -- only some of the most important events in a family's life. And those stressful situations can create some demanding clients.

"Every now and then you'll get a strange request," said Dan Fenn, Music Ministry Director at St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minn. "A couple of years ago I got a request to play the Beer Barrel Polka at a funeral. You have to ask yourself, is this appropriate for a worship service?"

Coming in at #10: Minister/Pastor - Median pay: $45,300 - % who say their job is stressful: 71%

They may answer to a higher calling, but all that spirituality does not come stress free. It's a lot of responsibility being an authority on morality. Leading religious worship every week and providing spiritual and moral guidance can be a heavy cross to bear for those in the ministry.

"People who are deathly sick, people with substance abuse problems, things of that nature, that can be emotionally draining," said Father Dan Skvir of Princeton, N.J. "I've had calls at 2 or 3 in the morning to come and attend to someone, people in imminent danger of death."


[from MMI Weblog]

Good Reading

Great editorial by Bishop Randall Howard: CLICK HERE to read.

Great article by Thomas Feltman: CLICK HERE to read.

Great article by Milton Gordon: CLICK HERE to read.

Great magazine with many additional great articles.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Call to Christian Conscience

In a 4,700 word treatise they have entitled, the Manhattan Declaration - a manifesto citing scripture and signed by some 148 Orthodox, Catholic and evangelical leaders, a warning of Civil Disobedience has been sounded.

The document, released in a Washington, DC press conference, is what conservative religious leaders say is a "line drawn in the sand" across three key issues they decree are non-negotiable despite the law:

1. the sanctity of human life (against abortion),

2. the institution of marriage as being between a man and woman (against gay marriage and gay teachings in schools), and

3. religious freedom (against political correctness).

Click A Call to Christian Conscience to read the manifesto.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tenn. pastor says church will present nativity scene despite objections from ACLU

A Tennessee pastor says his congregation will present its nativity scene in Clarksville despite objections from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pastor Steve Estep tells The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle that Grace Church of the Nazarene went through the proper channels to present the display and won't let the objection diminish their celebration.

ACLU attorney Tricia Herzfeld says the organization isn't asking the city do away with the riverfront Christmas observance, but rather implement an "equal-access" policy to allow other religious and non-religious groups to participate. She says the ACLU also wants the city to clearly state its non-endorsement and not provide funding for a religious display.

The display has not yet been constructed. City spokeswoman Christie Hill says the plan has been to present the display Dec. 11 and 12 when Grace Church is planning performances at the city's annual holiday festivities.

[The Leaf-Chronicle, http://www.theleafchronicle.com]

The Kind of Leader Others Want to Follow

The key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow, but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow. You must become someone others can trust to take them where they want to go. As you prepare yourself to become a better leader, use the following guidelines to help you grow:

  • Let go of your ego. The truly great leaders are not in leadership for personal gain. They lead in order to serve other people. Perhaps that is why Lawrence D. Bell remarked, "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things, and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."
  • Become a good follower first. Rare is the effective leader who didn't learn to become a good follower first. That is why a leadership institution such as the United States Military Academy teaches its officers to become effective followers first - and why West Point has produced more leaders than the Harvard Business School.
  • Build positive relationships. Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less. That means it is by nature relational. Today's generation of leaders seem particularly aware of this because title and position mean so little to them. They know intuitively that people go along with people they get along with.
  • Work with excellence. No one respects and follows mediocrity. Leaders who earn the right to lead give their all to what they do. They bring into play not only their skills and talents, but also great passion and hard work. They perform on the highest level of which they are capable.
  • Rely on discipline, not emotion. Leadership is often easy during the good times. It's when everything seems to be against you - when you're out of energy, and you don't want to lead - that you earn your place as a leader. During every season of life, leaders face crucial moments when they must choose between gearing up or giving up. To make it through those times, rely on the rock of discipline, not the shifting sand of emotion.
  • Make adding value your goal. When you look at the leaders whose names are revered long after they have finished leading, you find that they were men and women who helped people to live better lives and reach their potential. That is the highest calling of leadership - and its highest value.
  • Give your power away. One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a better leader by sharing whatever power you have, not by saving it all for yourself. You're meant to be a river, not a reservoir. If you use your power to empower others, your leadership will extend far beyond your grasp.

(by John Maxwell)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Click HERE for your animated card.

Today's Quote

"The more we take pleasure in loving and serving God, the greater our capacity to take pleasure in loving and serving people. When we are secure in Christ, the rewards of investing our lives in people exceed the pains that people can cause." - Kenneth Boa via Larry Duncan

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Today's Quote

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials." - Chinese proverb

Friday, November 20, 2009

Maine Churches Being Threatened

Gay activists in Maine are urging people to report churches that supported Question 1 — the initiative that restored the definition of marriage to one man and one woman — to the IRS.

According to the activists, these churches should be investigated with the possibility of losing their tax-exempt status.

The Alliance Defense Fund has offered free legal assistance to churches being singled out.

[CitizenLink.com]

Woman Pastor Rejected

The Georgia Baptist Convention has cut ties with the First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., — ending its 148-year-old relationship — over the congregation's 2007 vote to hire a woman as senior pastor, according to the Associated Baptist Press. The 2,700-member church is one of several historic congregations in what is now metropolitan Atlanta and one of the largest and most prominent churches traditionally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention to be led by a woman pastor.

Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell read a letter at the end of both worship services Nov. 15 from Robert White, executive director of the 1.3 million-member state convention. It informed her that messengers to the group's recent annual meeting took action to declare them "not a cooperating church" because "a woman is serving as senior pastor." White said funds received from the First Baptist Church of Decatur during 2009 will be returned.

"Obviously, the severing of a relationship after so many years is unfortunate and gives the world-at-large another reason to conclude that Baptists care more about putting people out than gathering them in," Pennington-Russell said in an e-mail Nov. 16. "At the same time, I don't think this came as a surprise to many in our congregation and, to be honest, having a Southern Baptist affiliation has not been especially helpful when it comes to connecting with our largely unchurched community."

Last year, the Georgia Baptist Convention changed policies to decline funds sent by churches "not in cooperation and harmony with the approved work and purpose" of the convention, largely "as a result of questions raised regarding First Baptist Church of Decatur" and their female senior pastor, said convention leaders.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kentucky has a state "Holiday" Tree

Here we go again. Why does America want to take Christ out of Christmas?

Last week, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's administration referred to the Christmas tree on the state capitol lawn as a "holiday" tree.

Many people called in unhappy about the decision and within days of hearing these complaints, Gov. Beshear issued a statement declaring that the tree officially would be considered a Christmas tree.

Thank you Gov. Beshear!

Dr. James Dobson to Leave Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family founder and chairman emeritus James C. Dobson, Ph.D., will leave the ministry as its primary radio voice at the end of February.

Dr. Dobson's departure from the radio program and from official affiliation with the organization he founded in 1977 is just the "third chapter in a transition that began in 2003," when Dr. Dobson stepped down as Focus president, said Jim Daly, the ministry's president and CEO. It was a mutual decision between Dr. Dobson and the ministry's board of directors, which Dr. Dobson left in February of this year, Daly added.

"The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — and Dr. Dobson's season at Focus on the Family has been remarkable," Daly said. "He has done a superlative job in modeling the graceful transition of leadership from one generation to the next.

"We're excited about continuing the work he began, and following the biblical principles he's always followed, to reach today's families."

Dobson, who will continue to record new radio broadcasts between now and the end of February, remains "a man of health and vigor" and will continue to make his voice heard in the public square, Daly said.

"Dr. Dobson is a wordsmith, but one word I don't suspect we'll hear him using is 'retirement,'" Daly explained. "We wish him great success in whatever he decides to tackle next."

"Focus on the Family has never been about one man," he added. "That's why Dr. Dobson has always refused to have his name put on any building here. It's about doing the Lord's work in helping families."

[For more on this story, read H.B. London's latest blog entry on "The Heart of a Pastor."]

Today's Quote

"Be as much troubled by unjust praise, as by unjust slander" - Puritan Philip Henry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Latter-Day Saints Back "gay rights" Ordinance

The Salt Lake City Council has passed a non-discrimination ordinance making it illegal to fire or evict somebody because of their sexual orientation. The measure was approved unanimously, and even had the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The LDS issued a statement backing the ordinance, saying they were against discrimination against anyone, but that they supported traditional marriage. Church spokesman Michael Otterson said, "The church supports these ordinances because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage."

Reaction to the decree was swift from conservative groups such as the Sutherland Institute, an independent, conservative public policy organization based in Salt Lake City. Stan Rasmussen, public affairs manager with the Institute, says the Mormon Church's support of the ordinance is problematic. "We do not support, abide, encourage or tolerate discrimination that is inappropriate. We think there are ways, [in fact] we know there are ways to address those concerns [which] do not include the incorporating of these phrases into city ordinances," Rasmussen argues. "An example would be a hate crimes bill several years ago which conservatives and liberals collaborated to craft. [It] addressed all concerns without including that vague language of 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity.'" The Sutherland Institute will encourage state lawmakers to pass laws which seek to reverse Salt Lake City's new ordinances.

Tuesday's passage made Salt Lake City the first Utah community to prohibit bias based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Exceptions in the legislation allow churches to maintain, without penalty, religious principles and religion-based codes of conduct or rules. Homosexuals are welcome in the Mormon Church, but must remain celibate to retain church callings and full membership.

[by Allie Martin - OneNewsNow]

Today's Quote

“No two plants grow in the same way, at the same rate, or to the same size. Each plant’s growth pattern is unique. The same is true of churches. No two churches will ever grow in identical ways. God intends for your church to be unique.” – Pastor Rick Warren

Pastor Heroes

Pastors are in the trenches everyday building and communicating vision, leading change, studying, resolving conflict, leading staff, planning the weekend, caring for family, and working through growth issues. They are often misunderstood, judged, criticized and mistreated. They are the unsung heroes of our day.

There would be no denominations without local churches. There would be no district, area, state, or national offices without local churches. There would be no funds used by denominations, missions, or leaders without local churches. The local church is the engine that runs all faith-based efforts around the world.

It is more challenging to be a pastor today that ever before. Many people think they could do it easily, and many former pastors talk about how easy it should be. But neither have any idea what it is really like in today's world.

Did you or your church honor your pastor in October? If not, it is never too late. If you did, continue an effort every month to create better understanding between your congregation and your pastor.

Thank you Pastor for all that you do. Just keep in mind that you may not be fully appreciated here and now, but our real reward is on the other side. You are laying up treasurers in Heaven. Keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today's Quote

"America's veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world." - John Doolittle

Veterans Day

Take a moment today to fly your flag and shake a veteran's hand.

Today is Veterans Day. It is the anniversary of the Armistice that was signed in Compiegne Forest by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I after four years of battles. On Monday, Nov. 11, 1918, the day began with the laying down of arms, blowing of whistles, impromptu parades and the closing of places of business. A year later, President Woodrow Wilson issued his Armistice Day proclamation -- the last paragraph setting the tone for all future occasions: "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations."

For decades Armistice Day was commemorated until it was changed to Veterans Day by an act of Congress in 1954. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called on citizens of the country to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of all who fought gallantly preserving the liberty of our country. President Eisenhower referred to the name change to Veterans Day in honor of the servicemen of all America's wars.

Veterans Day takes on special meaning once again today as thousands upon thousands of American servicemen and women are fighting wars in the Middle East. Take a moment today to fly your flag, shake a veteran's hand and tell him or her "thank you." And say a prayer for all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on the battlefield on this Veterans Day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"The Overseer" Mothers Hundreds

Lucia Rosetta Howe will never know what it is like to give birth to a child, but she has, over the past 50 years, single-handedly raised more than 200 children from her May Pen, Clarendon, Jamaica home.

The 82-year-old pastor has also seen to the establishment of 19 churches, both locally and abroad - some of which her foster children are now pastoring.

"The overseer." as Howe is affectionately called, shared her passion for children with the Sunday Observer during a recent visit to her home. And while her body has now been rendered incapable of much work due to arthritis, she related her years of working in service to the Lord.

"I just had a love for children - to care for them to see that they come out to be something good," she said. "In fact, somebody wanted me to be married, but I wasn't interested in marriage. I was interested in preaching, and I felt that I would have children for the Lord rather than anybody else," she said.

She was at the time a member of the Church of God of Prophecy in Rosewell, Clarendon, Jamaica, where she and her seven siblings were raised by parents who were lay preachers. She remained in that church until 1957 when she was asked by "the overseer" to take charge of the May Pen branch.

This was a huge undertaking for the then 30-year-old, but she took up the responsibility and remained there until 1961, when she resigned.

"The young people used to come to the church to hear me preach. I was very slim then," she boasted, holding on to the handles of the motorised stroller she now uses to get around.

Despite her success there, Howe decided to build her own church - The Good News Release Centre of the Prophetic Church of God - in May Pen in 1962. She went on to build others in Manchester, Westmoreland, New York, Connecticut, Canada and India.

As her ministry grew, so did the number of children she took in. Most of them were given to her by their parents who were unable to take care of them.

"She took five children from one husband and wife because they didn't have it. They got sickly and had problems, so she fostered those five children and sent them to school [high school] until they graduated," said Pastor Beverley Brown, who was among the first group of children that Howe took in.

She added that Howe fed them, clothed them and saw to it that they received an education.
"Some of them [those children] are abroad, some of them are in different parts of Jamaica. We have university graduates; we have one teacher at one of those prominent high schools in Kingston; we have one who has her master's and is a chartered accountant; and others who are doing just as well," said Brown.

"I am proud of where they are at now in terms of their profession," added Howe, who was a primary school teacher for eight years prior to becoming a full-time pastor.

As a pastor, "the overseer" introduced a number of ministries in her church that would allow her to impart her knowledge of sewing, crocheting, embroidery, cooking, making jams and baking cakes.

Some of her children are now using these skills to make a living for themselves. One of them is 68-year-old Mazi Thomas, who was taken in by Howe, at the age of 14 years.

"She taught me how to crochet and so I now crochet for everybody in the community," she told the Sunday Observer.

Howe also gave her a chicken coop and a refrigerator, a few years ago, and Thomas has since been supplying restaurants and households in the area with chicken.

Pastor Brown said she and her foster sisters and brothers are very grateful for the sacrifice "the overseer" made in raising them.

"It was a faith venture. It's not that she had it in lump sum, but there were days that the Lord provided. There were difficult days, of course, but we went through," she said.

[BY NADINE WILSON, Sunday Observer staff reporter, wilsonn@jamaicaobserver.com]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today's Quote

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." – Melody Beattie

Friday, November 6, 2009

15 Signs That A Church Is In Trouble

  1. When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.
  2. When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them … in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!
  3. The focus of the church is to build a great church (complete with the pastors picture … and his wife’s … on everything) and not the Kingdom of God.
  4. The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural.
  5. The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!
  6. The leaders within the church cease to be coachable.
  7. There is a loss of a sense of urgency! (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong and the cross is no longer important!)
  8. Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!
  9. The church is reactive rather than proactive.
  10. The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”
  11. The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are … to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone … especially the big givers!
  12. The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”
  13. The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.
  14. The people learn how to depend on one man to minister to everyone rather than everyone embracing their role in the body, thus allowing the body to care for itself.
  15. When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.

[from Perry Noble dot com by perry]

10 Signs of a Secure Leader

  1. Realizes he has nothing to prove!
  2. Works for the applause of heaven and not for the applause of men.
  3. Seeks God for direction instead of merely asking Him for permission.
  4. Doesn’t pretend that he has all the answers.
  5. Seeks to submit to the Spirit instead of constantly grieving Him.
  6. Understands that he will go insane if his goal is for everyone to understand him.
  7. Is willing to repent when he is wrong … and do whatever it takes to make things right.
  8. Puts personal preferences aside when making decisions that will impact the church.
  9. Has a sense of desperation for God … fully understanding the reality of John 15:5.
  10. Refuses to compromise the vision … even when it may be convenient to do so!

[from Perry Noble dot com by perry]

Authentic Leadership

Authenticity is an important value when speaking of church leaders. Today's church desires leaders to be real, open, honest and genuine. Today' church demands leaders to share their questions, their struggles and their stories.

We can relate to a leader who has been where we've been. Authenticity fuels connection and relevance.

Are there churches and parishioners who do not want authenticity? Are all pastors allowed to be authentic? What happens when pastors are not allowed to be authentic?

[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham, and Rindy Walton]

Anybody Can Start An Argument

Many times, the Pharisees and the Sadducees tried to engage Jesus in debate. Instead of taking the bait, Jesus would say something succinct and truthful to bring the dispute to a quick end.

As Heaven's ambassadors, how should we act when others try to engage us in an argument?

"It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel." — Proverbs 20:3

The Game Just Changed for Mobile Bible Study

The new Logos Bible Software iPhone app has totally revolutionized "Bible study on the go." There have already been more than 10,000 downloads within the first few days of release — all from a simple Twitter announcement that it was available. Seconds later, a flood of "re-tweets" and social networking word-of-mouth lit up the Internet, and that's just the beginning. So what is this incredible app that has taken off like a rocket? A whole new way to access Bible study on the go.

At its most basic level, this free download from the App Store will give you immediate access to more than 30 Bibles* from http://bible.logos.com/.

Also, when you sign up for a free account with Logos you will gain access to about another 30 free books!

And, when you register your account with www.Logos.com you will be able to access any free books from publishers that want to showcase new titles, or random books that we offer from time to time on free preview. You never know what might show up in your Logos Bible Software iPhone library some day. Imagine picking up your iPhone and seeing the hottest new title available in your library for free preview! One book per month, week, day? Who knows!

And, add any Logos 4 base package and watch your resources grow as much of your library is synced with your iPhone or iPod Touch; the resources are available and your favorites, bookmarks and settings are transferred from one platform to another. Walk away from your desktop or laptop and your location is saved in the books you are using so that you can pick up where you left off on your iPhone.

The Logos iPhone app is so much more than a simple Bible reader. Mobile Bible study is transformed with multiple versions of the Bible that can be read, searched, cross referenced and compared. You can set-up reading plans that are synced from your desktop or laptop so your Bible reading is always on schedule. In addition, finding a passage is as easy as typing in the reference, using the book navigator, or dragging the scrollbar to the right location.

This application was created with the desire to bring the functionality of Logos Bible Software 4 to your iPhone. In particular, the ability to dig deeper into Scripture with the Passage Guide. Enter a verse and click “Go” to receive a report linking directly to commentaries referencing your verse. The Passage Guide also provides cross references, media resources, topics, and interesting words — all linked to resources in your library.

Do an in-depth Bible Word Study from anywhere by a simple "tap and hold" on any word, in a Bible with a reverse interlinear, and a pop-up will display the English word along with all the original language information. From this pop-up, click Bible Word Study to see the definition, pronunciation, translations, and example uses of the various translations.

For more information check out some great screenshots and information, read FAQs, and check out some customer reviews at the app store!

Today's Quote

"The greatest churches in history are yet to be built. Are you prepared to be used by God? Willing to pay the price? To be hated?" - Pastor Rick Warren

Church Music Copyright

Think twice before singing that new worship song next Sunday or before using that movie clip as an illustration in your sermon. Believe it or not, even with the very best of intentions, courts have found churches financially liable for using the works of another person without permission.

Copyright is an important concept for all churches and ministries to understand in order to protect themselves, both against infringing on the rights of others and on having their own rights infringed upon. With the incredible creativity that has been flowing out of Christian ministry in the last decade, it is probable that many churches will create their own copyrightable works, and those works should be afforded every legal protection ...

read more

Church, school leaders join together to help all succeed

North Carolina Anson County's faith and education leaders are joining together with the goal of helping all students in the county achieve and succeed. At a breakfast Saturday morning at Kesler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Wadesboro, about 25-30 local pastors and bishops gathered with Michael McLeod, executive director for individual and organizational accountability for the Anson County school system and also pastor of Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church, to discuss ways the local faith community can help students better succeed in school. McLeod is leading the effort, along with Pastor Iris Tillman of the Church of God of Prophecy in Morven and Pastor Dannie Williamson of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

"Our slogan is 'All Means All,'" McLeod explained. "That means all of our students will succeed, and all of our community will be involved." In a brainstorming session, McLeod said he, Tillman and Williamson decided what better place to start than with the local churches. "We've come together to find out how we can better serve the community," Tillman said. "We're spreading throughout the county. We hope to help bring changes to the environment in our schools."

Matt Walton, pastor at First Baptist Church of Wadesboro, stated that he'd been wanting to get more involved with the local school system, but this group beat him to it. "You've answered my prayers," he said. Tillman told the audience that she has been a volunteer in the schools for more than 30 years, and is often called to schools if a parent cannot make it to discipline a child who is a member of her church. "It's one thing to sit around and talk about what needs to be done and another to do what needs to be done," Tillman said. She related stories of helping her grandson to decide not to join a gang, and how she helped a fifth-grader who was about to be kicked out of school— by having him do manual labor at her home. That child is now a senior in high school.

She also pointed out that many believe that prayer is no longer in schools, but that is not true. "If children want to pray, nobody can stop them," she said. "The doors to our schools are being opened to us to allow us to talk to kids. We, as a faith-based community, need to be involved in the school system." Tillman said that many schools in the county need volunteers to help give teachers a break during the day, volunteers to read to students, cafeteria workers and so on.

Buz Parks of the Anson Baptist Association pointed out that he foresees a wall between people wanting to help and not knowing exactly what to do. He stressed the need for an orientation for church members to get involved in volunteering. "Many are intimidated," he said. "They're afraid they're going to say or do something to embarrass themselves." Tillman, McLeod and Williamson plan to organize training sessions for volunteers and hope to get church-based volunteers and pastors into the schools early next year.

George Senter of Faith Baptist Church was surprised to learn that it's OK for pastors to visit members of their congregation in school. Tillman responded that she'd gotten parents' permission to be able to visit the children in school.

The training for volunteers will be organized soon, McLeod said. "We will have detailed job descriptions," he explained. "This [breakfast meeting] was to let you know we're coming to you. It will be systemized; this is a strategic plan." By February, he added, the community as a whole will be aware of what the faith leaders are doing.

[by Abby Cavenaugh]

President Declares November Military Family Month

President Barack Obama has declared November as Military Family Month.

The proclamation reads:

"No one pays a higher price for our freedom than members of our nation's military and their families. As sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and mothers and fathers are deployed, military families endure with exceptional resilience and courage. They provide our troops with invaluable encouragement and love, and serve our nation in their own right. During Military Family Month, we honor the families of our armed forces and thank them for their dedication to our country.

"Though only a small percentage of our nation's population, our troops bear the great responsibility of protecting our people. They, along with their families, serve us every day with courage and dignity. Ensuring that military families receive the respect they deserve and the support they have earned is a top priority for my administration.

"The strength of our nation is measured not just by our success on the battlefield, but also by our ability to support those families who have made so many sacrifices for us. Time and again, military families have shown their heart in the face of adversity. We have a solemn obligation to ensure that while our men and women in uniform discharge their duties, we do all we can to promote and preserve the well-being of their families. We must also support the families of our wounded warriors and our fallen heroes who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy. ...

"Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2009 as Military Family Month. I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in the support of our service members and our nation."